John Whittingdale officiated at a train-naming ceremony at Wickford station to mark the 125th anniversary of the Crouch Valley Line.

The train naming ceremony completed a series of events put together by Abellio Greater Anglia and the Essex and South Suffolk Community Rail Partnership to celebrate the anniversary. Originally called the ‘Dengie Hundred’ section of Essex Railways; The Crouch Valley Line, as it has become known, was opened to passengers in July 1889 by the Great Eastern Railway Company. This 16.5 mile stretch of railway is now operated by Abellio Greater Anglia who run 334 services a week with approximately 1.6 million passenger journeys a year made through the seven stations along the route.

John Whittingdale MP unveiled the newly named Class 321 train ‘Crouch Valley 1889 – 2014’ to honour the occasion and an additional commemorative plaque was presented to John Jolly to be exhibited at the Mangapps railway museum in Burnham on Crouch.

John Whittingdale MP said, “I am delighted to be able to take part in this naming ceremony of the new “Crouch Valley 1889-2014” train, which is the culmination of the events to celebrate the 125th anniversary of the Crouch Valley line. Having already attended events at both South Woodham Ferrers and Burnham on Crouch stations marking the anniversary, I am very conscious of the importance of the line to my constituents. I very much welcome the commitment shown by Abellio Greater Anglia to the future of the service which I know will be of great reassurance to passengers and to local residents.”

John Whittingdale is pictured unveiling the new train with Jonathan Denby, Head of Corporate Affairs for Greater Anglia and later with Una Norman, Cllr Bob Boyce, Ursula Benjafield, County Councillor Ray Howard and Jonathan Denby.

John Whittingdale cut the ribbon to open the new facilities at Stock Post Office at 36 High Street, Stock. As part of the Post Office programme to modernise the network and extend opening hours for customers, the new Stock Post Office offers services from an open-plan counter instead of a full screened counter. The branch will now open significantly earlier and close later with no lunchtime closing. This offers customers an extra 30 hours Post Office Service each week. John joined Lesley Pervez who has been Subpostmistress at Stock Post Office for 20 years as well as local resident Steve Davis who took a break from snooker to show his support for his local post office.

John Whittingdale MP said: "I am delighted to be able to open the new Stock Post Office and congratulate Lesley Pervez on all her hard work. I am very conscious of the vital role that Post Offices play in many village communities and it is very good news that Stock will now have a new modern branch. In particular, I am sure that local residents in Stock will welcome the longer opening hours and the more customer friendly design which will ensure that the Post Office continues to play a central part in the life of the village”

John Whittingdale attended a celebratory tea at Knightswood Centre to thank all those volunteers who support the Dengie Project Trust. The Dengie Project Trust provides a range of services to empower older people to make choices, enabling them to reach optimum levels of health and fitness and to lead rich, safe and fulfilling lives. The Trust seeks to assist and enable people, who live to the South of Maldon Town and in the surrounding villages and hamlets on the Dengie Peninsular.

John presented certificates to all the volunteers in recognition of their support. The event was held as part of Volunteers Week.


John is pictured with Sharon Dodson, Trust Manager.

John Whittingdale attended the Armed Forces Day ceremony organised by Maldon District Council at Stow Maries Aerodrome. At 1.00pm, a flag raising ceremony took place and a short service. The Tiger Club Turbulent Display Team then flew a Missing Man formation in tribute to the Stow airmen who lost their lives.

Following the ceremony, John visited the exhibitions including the aircraft that had flown in for the day. These included two reproduction BE2es operated by the World War 1 Aviation Heritage Trust which had been brought over from New Zealand. They are intended to return to Stow Maries once the hangars are completed. One of the two aircraft is in RFC 37 Squadron’s colours. 37 Squadron was based at Stow Maries from 1916 to 1919.

John is pictured by the War Memorial at the Aerodrome and also standing by one of the BE2e airplanes with Dick Forsythe of the World War 1 Aviation Heritage Trust, his daughter and the pilot.

John Whittingdale met Chief Inspector Alan Cook, District Commander for Maldon and Chelmsford to discuss local policing issues. Chief Inspector who was previously staff officer to the Chief Constable of Essex has recently taken up post and is responsible for policing throughout the Maldon District and Chelmsford City areas. John discussed with him the forthcoming changes to Policing in the county which will restore local commands as well as issues of concern to residents such as anti-social behaviour and rural crime.