HE is probably best known for being the founding father of Clacton, but a few years earlier engineer Peter Schuyler Bruff had also put Walton firmly on the map.

Bruff had bought Burnt House Farm, in Walton, in 1855 and began working on developing the town into a seaside resort.

And on May 17, 1867, Walton station was opened at the end of the new railway line by the Tendring Hundred Railway.

A new exhibition marking the 150th anniversary goes on show at Walton Maritime Museum this weekend.

Museum curator Josie Close said: “It all goes back to the railway mania of the 1840s.

“Suddenly everyone realised railway technology was the thing and by putting a line in, you could develop areas which were previously inaccessible.

“It was Peter Bruff who understood the potential for Walton. He was instrumental not just in getting the railway here, but also the pier.

“It was extended so paddle steamers could come here from London.

“It was a great trip out to get on at the Tower of London, sail down the Thames and you could then go back by train.”

Clacton and Frinton Gazette:

  • Walton, Frinton and Kirby Cross stationmaster Mr CM Wadley shakes hands with chief clerk Mr H Welton as he bids farewell to staff in 1937 after eight years

The railway also brought other benefits.

“Working on the railway was a job for life,” said Josie.

“You encouraged your sons and the rest of your family to get involved.

“Young lads made a start as cleaners. They had to clean the boilers and the pipes that took the steam through to the pistons, so you got the performance you wanted out of your high-powered locomotives.

“They were red hot when the train finished its journey so they had to wait for it to cool down. Then they would rod all the pipes to ensure you got a whoosh of steam to fire the pistons.”

The paddle steamers had only sailed to Walton during the summer, but the railway opened the resort up an all-year destination.

A famous advertisement later proclaimed: “Walton on Naze – It’s quicker by rail”

The picture shows golfers playing at the foot of the landmark tower on the old Naze course in front of golden beaches.

“It was pretty canny marketing really and that was the time of Walton’s great prosperity,” said Josie.

“Walton was extremely prosperous. It had everything and was a really flourishing town, with the hotels doing big business.

“The golf club brought in people who were wealthy. There is a local story about them flashing their giant emeralds.”

Clacton and Frinton Gazette:

  • RAIL VETERAN: Ivan Amos was a driver and fireman on the railway from 1942-1983

The Naze Golf Club had opened in the Twenties and continued to thrive until the start of the Second World War when the land was taken over by the war department for anti-aircraft positions and observation posts.

The course was destroyed and never reopened.

The railway line had also been important for freight, bringing coal to the area and allowing farmers to transport their cattle to market instead of using barges.

“Trains were suddenly a conduit for commerce and, of course, they allowed people to go to work in Colchester and brought other people into Walton,” said Josie.

“It really opened up the resort to new visitors, and during both world wars it was very important for moving troops around to protect the area which was very much thought of as a potential invasion site.”

Frinton station was part built at the same time as Walton, but did not open for another 21 years - in 1888.

The exhibition also sheds light on some of those who worked on the railway line.

The line had been taken over Great Eastern Railways in 1883.

John License had been associated with GER since he was a boy, and joined the company in 1869 as a lad porter at Ipswich.

In 1875, he was moved to Walton as a guard on the Tendring Hundred line, and remained there for 34 years. A favourite joke of the time was the Walton train could not travel “without a License”.

Clacton and Frinton Gazette:

  • ON GUARD: John License worked on the line for more than 30 years.

There were three trains each way a day between Walton and Colchester.

Third-class passengers needed umbrellas for protection against the elements in the open-sided carriages.

Cattle was taken to Colchester market on Saturday morning’s first train, and before Clacton was developed as a resort 25,000 holidaymakers would head to Walton by train in the month of June alone, with sometimes as many as 3,000 a day making the journey.

Bill Reynolds, lived in Victoria Road, Walton, and worker as an LNER driver on the Thorpe to Walton line.

On December 10, 1927, he stepped down from his can and on to the line, but failed to see another engine being driven towards the turntable.

Bill, then 54, was caught between the side of the engine and the wall. Despite being carried ten yards and crushed against the locomotive coal stage he was not as badly injured as first feared and escaped with serious bruising.

He lived to be 84 and died in 1960. Ernie Wilson was chief attendant in the restaurant car on the Essex Coast Express for 40 years before retiring in 1961.

Born in 1896 he joined the LNER in 1920 and his kippers were legendary.

One Frinton resident recalled: “There was no finer breakfast than Ernie’s pair of kippers at 1s 6d.”

Clacton and Frinton Gazette:

  • END OF THE LINE: Famed for his kippers, Ernie Wilson says goodbye to driver D Webb after his last run on the Essex Coast Express.

The museum, on East Terrace, is open from 2-4pm over both May bank holidays and daily from June to September.