Saturday, December 17, 2016

Fame again for Shippea Hill


Last January I wrote (here) at considerable length about my membership of that select club of 22 people who, in 2014-15, had  found (or concocted) a reason to alight at or depart from Shippea Hill station in Cambridgeshire.   So select was this club that, in the annual statistics of passenger usage at British railway stations that year, Shippea Hill had the distinction of coming lowest.

Now the station is in the news again:  according to this year's statistics it has retained its position of honour, having attracted a grand total of twelve passengers.  It might seem natural to ask why so few people should use it, but, when it comes to Shippea Hill, as I explained last year, the question is really why the figure should be as high as it is!  For Shippea Hill is notable for having purported to serve, since 1845, a blank, unpopulated fen, the 'hill' of its name turning out to be a patch of ground qualifying as a hill only because it is not below sea level, as all the land around it is.  As for the trains, there is a single service per week-day, in one direction only, which calls on request only and is totally unsupplemented and uncomplemented by any bus or even a practical service at the next station, Lakenheath.  There is no pub, shop or phone box; there is only the unchecked wind, the uncompromising Fenland horizon and the small bluish vessel of Ely Cathedral, eight miles away.

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