Hainault Forest Website

Written, Designed and with Photographs by Brian Ecott

 Forest History

Hainault Forest Railway 1857


The Eastern Counties Railway line through Ilford had been in existence for about 20 years when a plan and proposal for a branch line was lodged at Essex County Hall in 1857. Railway lines sprung up all over the Country and were fragmented and owned by small companies. There often appeared to be no regard as to whether a railway would have sufficient passengers and freight to support it.


The total length of the planned branch line would be 5 miles and 8 chains and would start at Ilford Station and go eastwards for one mile  then branch northwards following Seven Kings Water to Hainhault Forest terminating at Lord's Old Pond.

     Land surveyors' linear measures prior to metrication:

1 link = 7.92 inches

1 chain = 100 links

10 chains = 1 furlong

8 furlongs = 1 mile

Conversion table (square measure)

1 acre = 0.4047 hectares

2.71 acres = 1 hectare (10,000m)

The route of the line is shown below superimposed on the first edition Ordnance Survey map July 12th 1844.  In 1851 Hainault Forest was disafforested and almost immediately 3,000 acres of woodland belonging to the Crown was cut down and the cleared area was divided up into Crown farms like Foxburrows, Forest and Hainault Farms which were set up in 1856/7. New roads were built - New North Road, Forest Road and Chigwell Row to Collier Row road was improved.  The restored Hainault Forest did not come into being until 1903/6.

What was the purpose of the railway? What did the shareholders aim to achieve?

It could have been for residents of Chigwell Row for travel to Ilford and London.

It may be that produce (milk, grain, vegetables) from the farms would be transported to the markets in London.


The line was never built.


Thanks to the Essex Record Office.  The engineers maps can be seen at the ERO  Ref Q/RUm 2/117