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The Railway

The Railway was historically named The Albert until 2014, and with the Grange (next door) are on the site where Knights Templars and later Knights Hospitallers had a chapel and farm buildings until c1500. It was licenced as The Albert in 1842, and once had what might have been a ship's figurehead of an African chief outside (1880s-1990s - see photograph below). It was brought from London by innkeeper George Best.

The Albert was in the middle of 25 acres of ground that had earlier been the "site of the manor of Witham". It was where the manor house would have been if there had been one (instead the lords of the manor lived at Cressing Temple).

Local historian Maurice Smith wrote in the 1960s “The Ancient Order of Foresters met at the Albert Hotel and their branch was named 'Court of the Indian Chief' after the figurehead standing outside the Hotel. During the present century, the ceremonial activities of the Societies began to decline and it became more difficult to sustain membership after the introduction of the National Health Service in 1948. In the 1950s the club room of the Foresters at the Albert Hotel did reveal some of the former glories.

A first-floor fire broke out at the pub in September 2013. It had originally been due to open under new management and a new name, The Railway, in mid-December. However, the damage caused by the fire was more extensive than first thought and it did not re-opened until January 2014.

Sources: Janet Gyford; Witham & Countryside Society; Albert Poulter; Braintree & Witham Times.

Text and Photographs: John Palombi and Cyril Taylor unless otherwise accredited. Illustrations: John Finch and Julie & John Denney. Translations: Google.com. Original Concept: Joy Vaughan, Witham Town Centre Strategy Group. Narration: John Rhodes
 

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