Running single-track as it leaves Twenty, the M & GN route continued its level and undeviating line towards Spalding, reaching, after only 1 miles, the small station of Counter Drain. This, like Twenty, took its name from the drainage works of past centuries, although the dyke which gave that name is rather more prominent and imposing than Twenty’s insignificant ditch, and flows strongly past the station immediately to the west of the level crossing, necessitating a substantial girder bridge
(No 223) to take the railway over it. Also at this point, the River Glen runs parallel with Counter Drain, so yet another bridge (No 225) was required, built, like the earlier one over the Bourne Eau, of girders laid on concrete blocks. Under the guidance of William Marriott (Engineer & Locomotive Superintendent of the E & M in 1883 and later Engineer & Traffic Manager of the M & GN from (1919-24) the M & GN pioneered the use of reinforced concrete for railway structures. A concrete shop was laid out at the Melton Constable works, and Marriott designed and patented a machine for making the concrete blocks that were used for building so many of the gatehouse cabins and PW huts along the line. The works also produced concrete signal posts, sleepers, window frames, station nameboards (like the ones that used to be on Twenty station) and many other items such as the rounded blocks used on the Glen bridge which were put in when the bridge was renewed around 1900, and which replaced the original wooden substructure. An unusual feature of Counter Drain bridge is that its piers are also cast concrete, although they have been built to resemble the wooden piers which they replaced.
The surrounding land at this point lies below the level of the road, and, therefore, when the railway had come across the road by the level crossing, it was some height above the station yard, which dipped sharply away from the road. For this reason, the station itself was situated not next to the road, as was usual, but two hundred yards further along the track, by which point the land and the
line had converged to more compatible levels. Even so, the difference between the two was still such that the level of the station house ground floor was below that of the platform, which had to be reached by a couple of steps from the ticket-office door.
A small signalbox. standing on the east side of the road, controlled the half dozen signals and the goods loop, containing the goods shed, which was the sole extent of the station’s facilities. The shed, like the one at Twenty, was originally wooden, but was replaced by a more solidly-built affair on a concrete base.
The story goes that since the signalbox was so far away from the station, when the stationmaster was wanted for the telegraph in the box the signalman attracted his attention by pulling the Down starter on and off until it provoked a response.
There was a proposal in 1929 to provide a passing loop for passenger trains, the points being motor-operated from Twenty signalbox, but nothing came of this.
Although apparently in an extremely isolated position, Counter Drain station was within reach of the reasonably substantial population of Tongue End, which sprawls untidily along the side of the road a mile or so to the south. These potential passengers gave the station five stopping trains in each direction each day, although the TUCC inquiry at Bourne elicited the rather depressing
fact that only three people from Tongue End regularly used the train service from Counter Drain,
Like Twenty, the staple goods traffic of the area was agricultural potatoes (seed and ware), sugarbeet pressed hay and straw, and grain. The handling of this traffic was dealt with by two pick-up freight trains each day, although one of these only stopped at Counter Drain if required. Both of these trains ran in the Up direction
(from Spalding to Bourne), since Bourne, rather than Spalding, was looked upon as the distribution centre for this station. There were no Down stopping freight trains. although several goods trains did pass through in the course of the day.
The station itself was demolished m 1965, and therefore can no longer be seen, although the site is still visible. The two river bridges remain, as does the yard gate, and until recently even one of the level crossing gates had survived, bent and broken, but still recognisable, and laid tidily on Counter Drain bridge.
The River Glen bridge can be reached by walking across Counter Drain bridge, and from there can be seen a hundred yards away, the 4-mile-post at the side of the track, although this is now on private property and can only be viewed from a distance.
The house which stands at the entrance to the station yard was built at some time in the 1930s to accommodate the gate keeper when the signalbox was taken out of service and replaced by a small concrete block cabin. As an indication of the flatness and straightness of the rail route in this part of the country, it is possible to stand on the site of the level crossing and look directly
eastwards to see the few remaining buildings of North Drove station, 1.75 miles away, and when the Spalding avoiding line was still in existence it was even possible to see as far away as that. Between Counter Drain and North Drove was Gatehouse No 105, which controlled the level crossing over Iron Bar Drove. Like Counter Drain station, this house was demolished in 1965, but its site can be seen by taking the first turn right after leaving Counter Drain, and proceeding for about half a mile until the route of the trackbed becomes apparent converging with the road.
The house stood on the south side of the line, and on the Spalding side of Iron Bar Drove.
Continuing along Iron Bar Drove and turning left at the next junction along the river bank will bring you to the site of North Drove station.