Saturday’s sunny weather saw a large group of regulars and guests from the Railway Arms commemorate the 160th anniversary of the ‘cutting of the first sod’ ceremony which marked the first day of construction of the Saffron Walden Branch Line on 18th May 1863.
In keeping with this historic event, the commemoration was supported by the Town Mayor and, on this occasion, several former mayors also attended. They and others, including shareholders and management committee members from Saffron Walden Community Pub Ltd, listened as the mayor read an amusing excerpt from Peter Paye’s excellent history of the branch line, recalling the original ceremony. The 19th-century event saw senior dignitaries march to the tune of the town band to a point where the line was to cross the Fulfen Slade. All went well until it was realised that, despite meticulous preparations, nobody had remembered to bring a spade, and a man had to be sent to a nearby farmhouse to borrow one!
After lively discussions, reminiscences and, of course photographs, the modern-day party returned to the Railway Arms for a very welcome, beautifully presented, buffet lunch.
The event was the first in a series of commemorations planned in the run up to the 160th anniversary of the opening of the branch line on 23rd November 2025. Keep an eye on www.railwayarms.co.uk/events/ for details.