The History of Kent
Copyright Kent Past 2010
History of East Kent Railway
he East Kent Railway (EKR) was incorporated in 1853 for the construction of a line
from the South Eastern Railway's (SER), North Kent line at to the city of
. Extensions to the line were also sanctioned: eastwards to St Mary Cray
to connect with the Mid-
In 1850, the railway provision in the north of the county of Kent was very poor. It was 102 miles by the main SER route from London to Margate and ; and , important towns even at that date, were only served by the branch line from the SER main line; and , and the Isle of Sheppey had no railway communication at all. A large meeting was held at Rochester on 29 January 1850 to discuss the need for a railway connecting Strood to Dover. Although the idea of an independent railway was adopted, the plans came to nothing; eventually, three years later the EKR came into being.
The construction of the line took a long time: it was not until March 1858 that the section from Strood was opened as far as Faversham and that was single track line (with provision for doubling) throughout its length. That line was only 18.5 miles in length, and had taken five years to build. The service was only five trains per day in each direction, with a journey time of 50 minutes.
The slow progress of construction was because of the perilous financial state of the EKR throughout is existence. Contractors were often left unpaid; although the schemes for the extensions were going ahead. One problem was that the SER obstructed the work; it even refused to handle EKR traffic. This led to the latter seeking a different route into London: the opening of the West End of London and Crystal Palace Railway (WELCPR) and the Mid-
All that remained was the Act authorising the EKR extension to St Mary Cray, and this was granted in 1858: in the following year, the East Kent Railway changed its name to the London, Chatham and Dover Railway
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