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The History of Kent

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History of Ashford Station

Ashford's connection with the railway commenced on 1st December 1842 with the opening of a section of the South Eastern Railways line from London to Dover, via Ashford. Initially a terminus until the line was extended in June 1843 to Folkestone. SER obtained parliamentary approval to build a line from Ashford to Margate in 1844. Soon after arriving, in the town, SER constructed a large locomotive works on a 185 acre site, which would be developed further in the years that followed.

The Brighton Lewes & Hastings Company built a line from Lewes in Sussex that ran along the coast via Hastings, to Ashford, although the SER operated the line, which opened on 13th February 1851.

Maidstone and Ashford Railway opened a line in July 1884 although it was taken over by the London Chatham and Dover Railway, with the station being named Ashford West, and had a small locomotive shed. The station and sheds were closed on 1st January 1899 with the merger of the SER and LC&DR.

Following the 1923 Grouping,
Southern Railway replaced the old SER sheds in 1931, with a larger more modern engine complex.

In 1961, a third rail was installed, with an overhead catenary electric system being erected above the sidings to the east of the platforms, which was deemed safer for workers when trains were marshalled in yards, compared to an exposed live rail. The full electric timetable came into use on 18th June 1962. As electrification was pushed through, the depot became home to a diminishing locomotive allocation until closing completely to steam in 1963. Despite the switch to Diesel locomotives, the depot was demolished in 1968. Ashford works, although busy, was reduced in size in 1967.

A new lease of life was given to Ashford, when in 1985 the Channel Tunnel Bill was created, with the town playing a key role. Ashford station was replaced with a three-storey glazed building, parallel with the original platform 1. The platforms were linked by enclosed footbridges which stretched to the new platforms 5 and 6. Platforms 3 to 6 had overhead catenary installed, whilst retaining third rail, and formal station completion came in 1995, international trains served it from 8th January 1996 onwards.

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