RAIL CHRONOLOGY : The demise of "HALTS" and "PLATFORMS" on British Rail

Page last updated: 14 July 2019

Initially denoting a small, unstaffed stopping place (often on request only), the use of the term halt became slightly arbitrary when what had been full stations were de-staffed and, in some cases, made request stops. As the 1960s progressed, the suffix was applied to some de-staffed stations but not others, to some request stops but not others. When the 6 May 1968 timetables appeared the London Midland Region had removed the suffix from all its publicly advertised stopping places, while the other Regions in England and Wales followed suit with the timetable from 5 May 1969. (1)

The suffix did remain operative for a further 15 years in Scotland until dropped from the final four remaining publicly advertised locations (Balmossie, Carfin, Golf Street, Rosyth) and the one unadvertised public location (I B M, on the Wemyss Bay line (2)) with effect from the 16 May 1983 timetable. Incidentally, twelve months prior to that, Rogart had lost the suffix that had latterly been bestowed upon it.

The suffix platform - last appended to Wootton Wawen - was dropped from 6 May 1974.

Although shown as plain Coombe in the operator's and the national timetables for December 2007, the operator's and the National Rail websites had added the suffix “Halt” by January 2008. From 18 May 2008 the location was further, formally, renamed Coombe Junction Halt while adjacent location, St. Keyne, was renamed St. Keyne Wishing Well Halt from the same date. It is not explained why the other two intermediate stations on the Looe branch are not also redesignated halts.

Various heritage/preserved lines use the suffixes for some of their stopping places.

(1) The suffix continues to be used on two unadvertised locations available only for railway staff - Staff Halt (at Durnsford Road, Wimbledon) and Battersea Pier Sidings Staff Halt (more usually referred to as Battersea Pier Staff Halt) - believed to be the last remaining active on the 'national' network. The former Folkestone East station also performs a similar function. The well known Hoo Junction Staff Halt - in north Kent - ceased to be used from some date between 1998 and 2002.

(2) Despite the suffix "halt" appearing neither in the national timetable nor the operator's local timetable, the location continued to be referred to as "IBM Halt" in some National Rail and derivative on-line material - while the ScotRail webpage (accessed 14 July 2019) advising the withdrawal of services from 9 December 2018 continues to use the halt suffix.

Richard Maund

Adapted from a note by the author in Railway & Canal Historical Society Railway Chronology Group Co-ordinating Newsletter no.45, January 2006.

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