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In 1847 George Hudson - "the "Railway King" - chose Stratford in East London as the site for the new railway workshops of the Eastern Counties Railway, which later became the basis of the Great Eastern Railway.
Stratford Works expanded over the years and in 1896 a wagon building and repair section was added about a mile down the line, at Temple Mills. Stratford Works was eventually closed down in 1963 and Temple Mills emerged as a main works in its own right it was during this year that modifications were carried out to facilitate the movements of the longer wheel based vehicles such as Freightliner wagons. At that time a section of the Freightliner wagon repair activity, in the main Wagon Repair Shop, was converted to a bogie repair flow line, and two additional overhead cranes were installed.
After Temple Mills became part of BREL in 1970 the old type of container repair activity was redeveloped to enable the Works to undertake major repairs and refurbishing to all types of the modern ISO containers for British Rail and private companies.
In 1974 shot-blasting facilities were developed to meet refurbishing requirements on containers and Presflo wagons.
A new scheme was agreed in 1975 and completed in March 1977, giving a production flow for refurbishing containers and bulk wagons by shot-blasting and painting.
A wide variety of wagons came into the Works for repair, including many of the more recent and sophisticated types such as Cartic, Presflo and Freightliner vehicles. In addition the works also repaired road vehicles and their associated trailers for private operators.
Temple Mills carried out some important "pioneering" work in the 1960s notably in early trials of the Freightliner concept and building wooden "mock-ups" of the Cartic car-carrying vehicles and the projected Channel Tunnel rolling stock.
1970s The Works employed a work force of almost 400 and covered an area of 22 acres, of which six acres are covered. Bounded on the West by open playing fields, on the North and East by the railway and on the South by Ruckholt Road - an expanding artery to and from London.