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The History of Kent

Copyright Kent Past 2010

History of London Chatham and Dover Railway

The London, Chatham and Dover Railway (LC&DR) replaced the East Kent Railway (EKR), and operated from 1859 until the 1923 grouping which united it with other companies to form the Southern Railway. Its lines ran through the London suburbs, north and east Kent, forming a significant part of the Greater London commuter network. From the start, the railway was in an impecunious position.

The Chatham, as it was always known, was much criticised for its often lamentable carriage stock and poor punctuality, but in two respects it was very good: it used the highly effective Westinghouse brake on its passenger stock, and the Sykes 'Lock and Block' system of signalling. It had an excellent safety record.

The LC&DR began life as the (EKR). Its first line was from
Strood near Rochester to Faversham, opened in two parts:
+ 29 March 1858: Strood - Chatham, the station at Rochester opened only after the rival SER opened Chatham Central station.
+ 25 January 1858:
Chatham - Faversham, with stations at Gillingham, Rainham, Sittingbourne, Teynham, and Faversham. Gillingham, was originally named New Brompton, in May 1886 the word Gillingham was added. The station was finally renamed Gillingham on 1 October 1912.
+ 3 March 1858: The West End of London & Crystal Palace Railway (WELCP) opened the extension of their line from Norwood (Crystal Palace) to Beckenham Junction (opened as Beckenham) and Shortlands (opened as Bromley).
+ 22 November 1858: The Mid-Kent Railway constructed a line from New Beckenham to Beckenham Junction station and obtained running rights over the WELCP to Bromley (Shortlands) from there the Crays Company was building a line on to Bromley South (Bromley Common) and Bickley (opened as Southborough Road).

The Mid Kent line connected with the WELCPR, which later provided the necessary access to London. After absorbing the Crays Company, and gaining running rights over the Mid Kent metals to Beckenham Junction, the LC&DR eventually bought the track between Beckenham Junction, Birkbeck and Bromley Junction, while the LBSCR absorbed the rest of the WELCPR.

In 1859, the EKR changed its name to the LC&DR though Dover had not then been reached. This coincided with the Western Extension via Longfield to join the Crays Company metals at Southborough Road (now Bickley). As can be seen the evolution of the lines in the Bromley area was confused to say the least.
+ 1860 openings:
o 9 July 1860: Faversham - Canterbury (now the East station) - Whitstable (old station)
o 19 July 1860: Sittingbourne & Sheerness Railway, which became part of LC&DR from 1866,
Queenborough. Sheerness-on-Sea station date from 1883: the original terminus became the freight depot. There are branch lines to Queenborough Pier and Sheerness Dockyard.
o 3 December 1860: opening of line between Bickley and Rochester, connecting the two parts of the network; opening of St Mary Cray, Farningham Road and Rochester Bridge stations (the latter being closed in 1917)
o 1860: Crystal Palace and South London Junction Railway - Diverges from the LC&DR mainline at Brixton to Crystal Palace High Level via Nunhead
+ 1861 openings:
o
Meopham and Sole Street stations.
o 22 July 1861: extension from Canterbury East to Dover, with Bekesbourne, Adisham, Shepherd's Well and Dover Priory stations opening with the line.
o 31 July 1861: Whitstable to Herne Bay.
o 1 November 1861: Route to Victoria station opened: LC&DR first access to London.
+ 1862 openings:
o 2 June 1862: the
Sevenoaks Railway opened from Sevenoaks Junction (later called Swanley Junction, now Swanley station) to Sevenoaks. Worked by LC&DR, with stations at Eynsford, Shoreham, Otford, and Sevenoaks Bat & Ball.
o 1 July 1862: Swanley station (then named Sevenoaks Junction)
o 6 October 1862: stations along the Metropolitan Extension line towards Victoria opened: including Penge East, Sydenham Hill, Herne Hill, and Clapham. Knight's Hill, now West Dulwich was also opened.
� 1863 openings:
o Wandsworth Road station
o 5 October 1863: Herne Bay to Ramsgate. Birchington-on-Sea, Margate, and Broadstairs stations both opening with the line.
+ 1 June 1864: the first section of railway to serve the City of London, when the line from Herne Hill to Blackfriars Bridge station (south of the river), was opened. Prior to this, from October 1862, the terminus had been at Elephant & Castle.
+ 1 June 1865: Ludgate Hill station opened (closed 3 March 1929) across the river. In 1886, St Pauls station was opened, being reached on a parallel bridge across the river.
Stations on the City Branch were
+ Herne Hill (opened 1862)
+ Loughborough Junction (opened 1 March 1863 on west chord as Loughborough Road, renamed when City line and east chord platforms opened in 1872, west platforms closed 1916, east platforms closed 1925)
+ Camberwell (opened as Camberwell New Road 6 October 1862, closed 1916)
+ Walworth Road (opened as Camberwell Gate 1 May 1863, closed 1916)
+ Borough Road (opened 1 June 1864, closed 1907)
+ Elephant & Castle (opened 6 October 1862)
+ Blackfriars Bridge (opened 1 June 1864, goods only from 1885, closed 1964)
+ Blackfriars (opened 1886 as St Pauls, renamed 1937)
+ Ludgate Hill (opened 1865, closed 1929)
+ Holborn Viaduct (opened 1874, closed 1990)
+ Holborn Viaduct (Low Level) (opened 1874 as Snow Hill, renamed 1912, closed 1916)
+ 1872 openings:
o Longfield opened as Fawkham for Longfield and Hartley
o Loughborough Road (the first station at what is now Loughborough Junction station)
+ 1 June 1874: Otford to Maidstone East line, with
Kemsing, Borough Green, West Malling, Barming and Maidstone East stations opening with the line. See Maidstone East Line.
+ 1886: Gravesend Railway branch line to Gravesend (Gravesend West) was constructed from the Chatham Main Line at Fawkham Junction (just before Longfield station).
+ 15 June 1881: Dover Priory to Deal, Dover & Deal Joint Railway (LC&DR/SER.
+ 1 July 1884: Maidstone East to Ashford with intermediate stations opening at Bearsted, Hollingbourne, Harrietsham,
Lenham, and Charing.
+ 1 October 1884: Kent House, west of Beckenham Junction
+ 1 July 1892: Catford Loop Line - Shortlands and Nunhead Railway (constructed 1889) was incorporated with the Crystal Palace and South London Junction Railway to form a loop, effectively quadrupling the LC&DR main line. This date also saw the bay platforms at Kent House opening.

On 1 January 1899 the undertaking of the LC&DR was, by arrangement, joined with that of the SER for united working under a Management Committee composed of the directors of the two Companies. The arrangement was confirmed by Act of Parliament on 5 August 1899 by the South Eastern and London, Chatham and Dover Railway Act 1899.

The rolling stock and steamboats of the two companies were thereafter worked as one concern. Some rationalisation of competing stations occurred but it was not fully resolved. Between 1902 and 1904, connections were built to allow LC&DR trains through running on ex-SER lines, notably in the Bickley area where the two main lines crossed. The rationalisation of the lines in Thanet to create a line which ran through from Margate via Ramsgate to Minster did not take place until after the grouping.


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