Frinton Crossing Gates
The first train ran to Walton on 17th May 1867 and at this time Frinton was a hamlet consisting of a couple of farms
and associated cottages containing around 50 persons and boasting the second smallest Church in the country, certainly
not a place to warrant a station or even an official wayside halt. The railway line cut across two lanes as it passed
inland of Frinton; these were negotiated with level crossings, one on the site still used at the top of Connaught Avenue
and the other, providing access from Kirby Cross, crossed the line where the current roadway bends and there is a petrol station.
On 8th June 1888 Great Eastern Railway opened a station at Frinton with new Station buildings and a goods yard.
In the early 1900's the Kirby Cross road was redirected along the northern boundary of the railway to join the
Walton Road, (now Elmtree Avenue), and the level crossing west of the station was abandoned. In the mid 1860’s
it was the crossing leading from Frinton to what was then the main road from Walton to Colchester, passing through
Kirby-le-Soken, which was considered the more important thoroughfare and had the crossing keeper’s cottage and ground-frame
levers built next to it.
(Information above has been extracted from '100 Years Of Frinton Railway' by Jeremy M. Russell 1989)
John (Jack) Bright (seen in the photographs above and to the right), lived in the Crossing Cottage from 1922 to 1959 and
worked as the signalman and crossing keeper.
During his time here he met many famous people including the German Diplomat, Von Ribbentrop, who stayed at Frinton
before the Second World War, also Gracie Fields who had a house named ‘Tinkerbell’ in Greenway and Sir Winston Churchill,
who once came by train to inspect the coastal war defences.
The signal box at the Gates was straffed by a low flying German Plane during World War 2 and a
cannon shell tore a hole in one of the signal levers. Fortunately Jack was not in his hut at the time
and although ‘Gate House’ was also damaged by machine gun and cannon fire, both Jack and his wife, who
were both in the house, escaped injury.
For most of his time at ‘Gate House’ Jack was on duty from around 6 am until
about 10:30 pm when the last train to Walton passed through. Until the later years he had
only one day off duty each alternate Sunday. Holiday consisted of one week per year. A very rough estimate of the number of
times that Jack opened
and closed the gates, using a timetable from 1957 is that he would have opened or closed the gates around
380 times a week. This is amazing considering that he had an artificial leg. Jack was wounded
whilst being held as a POW during the First World War and after returning to the UK the infection was
so bad that his leg was amputated below the knee.
The Gates at Frinton were an iconic landmark and on 18th April 2009 at 2:00 am Frinton Crossing Gates were removed by Network Rail.
Much to the annoyance of local residents and campaigners who had arranged for a final protest to be made later that day.
The gates are back
The Gates have been put on display outside of Frinton Station building and there was a 'Closing of the Gates Ceremony on 9th April 2012'.
At noon on Monday, 9th April an old Station Bell was rung outside of the entrance to Frinton on Sea Station.
A crowd gathered, despite the rain. Jerry Russell stepped forward and gave a brief history of Frinton's iconic
Railway Crossing Gates and how in April 2009 they were removed by Network Rail and replaced by an electric barrier,
despite fierce objections from residents. Since then the 'Gates' have been stored and refurbished by Frinton & Walton Heritage
Trust. Jerry then handed over to Trevor Bright who's grandfather had been signalman at Frinton and who had lived at the
Crossing Cottage and operated the Railway Crossing Gates between 1922 and 1959. Trevor thanked the Trust for all the work that they
do and then officially closed the gates for the last time at their new location outside of the entrance to Frinton Station.