Braintree via White Notley and Cressing
The through train service to Liverpool Street on this line was introduced in 1990 as a result of vigorous lobbying by the Witham and Braintree Rail Users Association. People still take the shuttle into Witham and wait five minutes for a fast connection. The early hour of the last through train used to strand passengers in London, but there are now late evening trains which solves the problem.
Few commuters use White Notley. The station is kept open because there is a level crossing here, manned by human hand until recently. Cressing is another walk-to-the-station village. The station is no more than a country halt with a platform and shelter. The village has 1,700 inhabitants, two pubs and a post office. It also has its own primary school, though the nearest secondary schools are in Braintree. A three-bedroom semi could be bought for at least £275,000. Old Cressing, part of which is a conservation area, is scissored from new Cressing by the main road. As one parish councillor put it, ‘Nobody would ever describe it as quaint, or even picturesque, but it is a good working village.’ Braintree is the birthplace of the Crittall window and about as pretty – but it has improved hugely in recent years. There are entire estates built on the outskirts which are full of former Londoners, happy to swap the East End for a slower pace of life, better schools and no traffic jams. It also now has the Freeport shopping village and Great Notley Village, a development of 2,000 homes with some smart detailing. Many thousands more new homes are planned in this area. Property prices in Braintree vary from £140,000 for a three-bedroom semi to £300,000 for a four-bedroom detached house, and £700,000 for a five-bedroom cottage with equestrian facilities and substantial grounds.