The railway arrived in 1843, giving Colchester a rapid link with London and the rest of the country, though it had little impact on the Victorian town. Colchester generated its own economic recovery in the late 19th centry through a range of successful local enterprises: mills, clothing and boot factories, breweries and building firms. The most prominent of these new industries was engineering: Britannia machine tools, Mumford's marine engineers and Paxman's steam engines and boilers. Export led, Paxman's was to be for almost a hundred years the town's largest employer. The company continued to supply major contract in recent years, including the diesel engines for British Rail's high speed train fleet.
Colchester Borough Council, with the active assistance of these booming local industries, developed an impressive range of new public facilities in the late Victorian and Edwardian town. Castle Park, a public library, new schools and an electricity supply which also fed a council run tramway system were all opened in this period. During the Victorian era the town's population had more than trebled, totallying 40,000 by 1901.
Two surviving landmarks on the Colchester skyline symbolise these Victorian achievements. The first is the great water town put up in 1882, which was know locally as Jumbo after the famous elephant at London Zoo. The second is the Town Hall, completed in 1902 and still the town's grandest building. Its elaborate ornamentation in stained glass and craved stone includes most of the key figures in Colchester's long history. It is a confident, if rose tinted, celebration of the town's heritage, serving as a constant reminder of Colchester's historic past.