Along The Railway Line | South East Mainline | Grove Park Railway Station

Grove Park Railway Station

Opened in 1871 by the South East Railway Company, it was actually provided at this location as a land owner requested it.  A station building was put on the London bound side and it had an ornate canopy across the platforms.

The station became a junction in 1878 when the Bromley branch line came into use.  By 1899, it had increased to 6 platforms, and a total remodelling of the trackwork came in the early 1900’s

Grove Park Railway Station

It only had one goods siding, which was eventually removed in 1961, and in 1962 the Hither Green power box opened and the signal box at Grove Park was closed.

Further alterations to the station occurred in the mid 1970s, with the canopies replaced with metal ones, and so at least at platform level, the station lost its charm.

Grove Park Railway Station Railway Children Mural

A short distance away from the station is the Railway Children walk.  The author of the book lived in Grove Park, and I was expecting something a little more spectacular, but it is just a small walkway, which does however take you over a bridge spanning Grove Park Carriage Sidings.

At time of writing, there are 4 trains per hour to London, and 4 trains per hour towards Orpington, 2 of which then carry on to Sevenoaks. There are also trains along the Bromley branch at the rate of 2 per hour. Peak times and Sundays vary.

For the enthusiast, there is a lot of traffic, and views away from the station are particularly good, especially towards Orpington.

Entry and exits for 2021 / 2022 were 1, 583, 636

A video from the station in 2022 is below :

Many thanks for reading, and remember if you can :

“Get out there, get on the railway, and see where it takes you” ©

Along The Railway Line | South East Mainline | Elmstead Woods Railway Station

Opened in 1904 as just Elmstead, the station was actually quite large considering that even from the outset not many stopping services would be provided.  The four track section would enter two separate tunnels on the London bound direction at the end of the platforms.

Elmstead Woods railway station tunnel

The station building on the coastbound side is very good for a quiet station, with extensive canopies either side.  There was a building on the London bound side also, but this was demolished sometime in the 1960s’

All the platforms are served by a long footbridge, originally fully covered, but part of that was removed in the renovations of the 1960’s.  This remaining cover has been repaired and repainted in the last few years and looks great.

Elmstead Woods Railway Station bridge

On thing of note is that the station never had any goods yard, the one at nearby Chislehurst being sufficient.  It did however have its own signal box, positioned on the coastbound side of the London bound platform.  However this became out of use in 1960 when a new power box was installed at Chislehurst.

The station only really uses platforms 3 and 4 as stopping platforms, the other two lines being used for through traffic, although their platforms still remain.

The Elmstead Wood gardening club look after the super green areas on platforms two and three.  A recently added feature to these gardens are these fantastic bear carvings by Will Lee which were provided by the Chislehurst Society, and form part of a bear trail, the website details of which I will leave below.

Elmstead Woods Railway Station Bear Trail

It is a great area to walk through, and perhaps relax a little while you wait for your train.  The gardening club is always keen for volunteers so please visit their site by following the link below if you wish to help out.

Main statistics:

Elmstead Woods opened in 1904

It has four trains in both directions off-peak, with additional trains during peak hours.

the entry and exit figures for 2019-2020 were 1, 033, 002

Elmstead woods is a great place to sit and relax whether you are a railway enthusiast or not.  Its recent refurbishment is fantastic and the well-tended gardens make this a very pleasant station indeed.

My video from the station is below :

Links are as follows :

Elmstead Woods Station gardening club

Chislehurst society bear trail

Will Lee Woodcarving

Many thanks for reading, and remember :

“If you can, get out there, get on the railway and see where it takes you” (c)

Hollingbourne Railway Station | Along the railway line | Kent Downs Line

I visited this railway station for the first time in March 2022, and at that time it seemed that the building was undergoing some demolition within. I subsequently found out that this was part of a regeneration project, which was to create a community hub.

Fast forward to January 2023, and I attended an open day at the Station which not only celebrated the opening of this community space, but also asked the local people what they would like to come from the rooms within the building.

A potted history

Opened in 1884, it was one of many which appeared on the Maidstone and Ashford railway.  From the outset it had a crème brickwork building with icicle style valance, and this is pretty much the same today. 

Hollingbourne Railway Station

Hollingbourne is quite a rural station, but this did not stop it from having an extensive goods facility.  All sidings were on the London bound side, one of which was a dock line.  The others were around 500 ft in length, all of which connected with the London bound line.

A through brick goods shed was inbetween the dock and other sidings, however access to the building was only to be done by running in the opposite direction on the London bound line to join with the connection to the yard.  A bit of an inconvenience, but space constraints were to blame.

A signal box, typical of the time was placed at the east of the Ashford bound platform.  This not only controlled the yard, but a significant portion of the line to and from the station.

Nothing much changed until the 1960’s, when the goods yard closed, just before electrification came to the line in 1961.  This electrification meant a concrete footbridge needed to be installed at the same time to remove the need of the foot crossing.

The signal box continued in use until 1984, when the Maidstone East panel took over block signalling duties, and the semaphore signals were replaced with 3 aspect colour ones.  Also at this time the station building was cleaned and refurbished.

Around the 1990’s however the ticket office was closed, but thankfully the building was kept, and even had a re-roof at some point.  Fast forward to 2021 and the Kent Community Rail Partnership in association with Sustrains put forward a plan to convert the majority of the building to community use.  The plan was accepted in April 2021.

So here were are today with the help of Southeastern railway, Kent community rail partnership and of course the local community, especially Maria Domican who has worked tirelessly throughout to bring this building back to life.

The new community hub

Now lets take a look at the transformation that has occurred to the station building.  The shutter and window work is excellent, but before we see more of the finished product, here are a few photographs taken during the extensive building work.

This final photo of the vaulted ceiling shows the extent of the roof.

Unfortunately due to the inevitability of how much the rooms would cost to heat if the ceiling remained this high, a decision was made to put in a false ceiling, although as you can see it is still of quite a height.  The timbers can be accessed however through a hatch.

Hollingbourne railway station community hub

The area you see above is the main hall, which could be used for many events.  Everyone attending the open day was asked to fill in a questionnaire, which asked the community what they would like to see within the building, and I am pleased to report that many were indeed filled in and handed back.

Hollingbourne railway station community hub

The area above is the kitchen, which when fully fitted, should be able to cater for commuters and school children in the morning.  It will however require volunteers to be run, something which the organisers are looking for.  Of course there is direct access to the main hall from here.

A book library seems to have already been set up in the main hall, which is great.

Hollingbourne railway station community hub

This smaller area above is to be found the other side of the hall, and could possibly be used as a small office space, perhaps for those working from home to come and sit quietly.

Off of this room is a fully accessible toilet, to which a baby changer may be installed in the near future.

Hollingbourne railway station community hub

The station at Hollingbourne has really been transformed into a fantastic community hub, and the interest from the community on the day was fantastic to see.  I really hope that the space will be used regularly.  I have some links below If you wish more information or to even volunteer.

Hollingbourne station

Kent Community Rail Partnership

A link to my YouTube video is below

Many thanks for reading and if you can :

“Get out there, Get on the Railway and see where it takes you” (c)

Along The Railway Line | South East Mainline | Chislehurst Railway Station

Chislehurst railway station building

The original station was opened some 800 yards away from the current site in 1865, as Chislehurst and Bickley Park.

A cut off line to Tonbridge opened in 1868, and this meant the station was re-located to its current location in the same year.

Five London bound sidings were to be found here, controlled by a signal box on the coastbound side, which also had a small single siding too.  Cottages for railway workers were provided by 1869.

Originally two station buildings on either side were present, but the London bound one was demolished in the early 1900’s in order for extra tracks to be laid.  It was however rebuilt sometime after this work was done.

Small changes were to be implemented at the station in the next hundred years and by 1968 the good yards were closed.  By the late 1970s the London bound station was demolished, but thankfully the coastbound one was kept.  In fact, many original features can still be seen as we’ll see in the pictures below.

The two photos below show the island platform as well as the elaborate canopy, shown closer in the lower photo.

Chislehurst railway station island platform
Chislehurst railway station. island platform
Chislehurst railway station island platform
Chislehurst railway station island platform canopy

The underpass is also very well looked after as you can see below.

Chislehurst railway station pedestrian underpass
Chislehurst railway station pedestrian underpass

Many of the finer details in the canopies can also be seen.

Chislehurst railway station canopy columns
Canopy columns

The station is busy with many trains either stopping or passing through.

Passing trains at Chislehurst railway station
Passing trains at Chislehurst

Chislehurst is a great commuter station, and it is nice to see the grand station building, canopies and underpass are not only standing, but in very good condition.

Overall, the Chislehurst has fantastic views for the enthusiast. There is always something passing or stopping, and both ends of the platforms have amazing opportunities for photography and videography.

Railway tracks going away from Chislehurst railway station
A view away from Chislehurst

Below is a video taken in 2021 :

Thanks for reading, I’ll leave you with my tagline :

If you can, get out there, get on the railway, and see where it takes you.” ©

Along The Railway Line | South East Mainline | Petts Wood Railway Station

A railway line had been going through this site from 1868, but it would not be until after the electrification of the line in the 1920’s, that a station would be built in this new commuter town.

Petts Wood station building
Petts Wood station building

Petts Wood opened in 1928, initially with only a single island platform, but a second would be added some 5 years later.  The station building is unique, likened by some to resemble a signal box.

A small goods and coal yard was added on the coastbound side, however no goods shed was ever built on the site, and this facility lasted until 1968.

Petts Wood railway station
Petts Wood railway station

In 1962, signalling was transferred to the new box at Chislehurst, and over the next 40 years, shelters and other platform buildings and furniture was either removed or replaced.  Today it is a station of function rather than elegance, however the station building does still retain some charm.

At time of writing, passenger services are provided by class 376, 465, 466 and 700 Electric Multiple Units.

Class 376
Class 376

There are 6 trains per hour in both directions on weekdays, with a slightly reduced service at the weekends.

The entry and exit figures for 2019 / 2020 were 2 215 876

As I have previously noted, Petts Wood is a station which is more function over style.  However, the quirky station building still exits and it has good passenger facilities, its only let down being it has no step free access. For the enthusiast, fantastic views of all lines are too be had, especially from the connecting footbridge.

Petts Wood railway station
Petts Wood railway station from footbridge

Below is a video that was shot in 2021:

Thanks for reading, I’ll leave you with my tagline :

If you can, get out there, get on the railway, and see where it takes you.” ©

Along The Railway Line | South East Mainline | Chelsfield Railway Station

The station was opened in 1868 by the South Eastern Railway Company, and originally had a familiar staggered platform arrangement with clapboard construction buildings and a lattice footbridge, which was installed from the start, negating the need for a passenger foot crossing.

A goods siding would not appear until 1871, this was placed behind the coast bound platform. However, by the end of the 19th century, this had increased to three more. Two of these were on the London bound side and were coal sidings. All were controlled by a two-story signal box placed at the south of the coast bound platform.

By 1935, electrification of the route required the platforms to be extended, and an electric substation was installed just behind the coast bound platform. By 1957 the staggered platform arrangement was all but lost, this was to help accommodate 12-car trains. All goods services were removed by the end of 1964.

Unfortunately, the signal box was destroyed by fire in 1971, and all operations were switched to Orpington. In 1973 the station building suffered the same fate, and after consultation a new modern glazed building was erected in its place, and still stands today. The photo below shows that the glass acts as a shell for the main ticket office inside.

Chelsfield railway station
Chelsfield station building
Chelsfield railway station ticket office
Chelsfield railway station ticket office
Chelsfield railway station ticket office
Chelsfield railway station ticket office

The view below is from the south end of platform 2, shows an impressive sweeping curve into Chelsfield tunnel, which (like Knockholt) is said to be an inspiration for the tunnel in the book ‘The Railway Children’.

Chelsfield tunnel
Chelsfield tunnel

Below is the view of the station as taken from the impressive road bridge. Note the electric substation on the left.

Chelsfield railway station
Chelsfield railway station

Passenger services at time of recording are provided by either class 466 465 or 376 electric multiple units

Chelsfield has two trains per hour in each direction off-peak, with many additional services during the peak times, and at those peak times these run to Cannon Street and not to Charing Cross.

The 2019 2020 exit and entry figures were 973 208

Chelsfield road bridge
Chelsfield road bridge

Chelsfield was a surprisingly good station to visit, not least for the excellent sweeping views down the line towards the Chelsfield tunnel. The ticket office is a good example of 1970’s architecture, and although not to everyone’s taste, does show the style of the time. For the enthusiast, the aforementioned tunnel is a bonus, but also the variety in traffic, including freight, will give you a good deal of photographic and video opportunities.

Here is a video of the station, filmed in 2021

Thanks for reading, I’ll leave you with my tagline :

If you can, get out there, get on the railway, and see where it takes you.” ©

Along The Railway Line | South East Mainline | Knockholt Railway Station

Knockholt was opened in 1876 as “Halsted for Knockholt” by the South East Railway Company.  The name was chosen as it was closer to the village of Halsted.

However, this soon changed when the railway company merged with the South Eastern and Chatham railway in 1899.  By 1900, the station had been renamed Knockholt, even though the village was 3 miles away.  The official reason is that it was to avoid confusion with Halsted in Essex.  But a more popular view is that it changed because the deputy chairman of the new company lived in Knockholt, and he wanted the prestige of a station named after where he lived.

Knockholt railway station road bridge
View from platform 2

Knockholts’ main claim to fame is that it is one of the inspirations for the book “ The Railway Children”.  The author Edith Nesbit lived close by at Halsted Hall and was able to see the station house from the balconies.

This canopy on platform two is probably the only remaining original structure here, but is in good order and is very nice to see it is still standing.

Knockholt railway station shelter
Platform two shelter at Knockholt

This station building replaces the original, and as far as it goes, I think it is of 1980’s origin, please correct me in the comments if you know better!!  It is of nice design, and serves its purpose, however at time of writing is only open in the mornings.

Knockholt Railway Station
Knockholt Railway Station

The station has two trains per hour in both directions off-peak Monday to Saturday. Extra trains run during the peak hours, and it only has one train per hour in each direction on Sundays.

The 2019 / 2020 entry and exit figures were 250 766.

Knockholt is a nice station to visit, although a lot of construction was taking place during my visit in 2022, which did rather spoil videography. The original shelter on platform two is worth seeing however and is certainly a grand design even by today’s standards. It is a shame that the original station building no longer exists, but at least it does have one!!

Knockholt railway station
Knockholt Railway Station

Below is a video taken in 2021

Thanks for reading, I’ll leave you with my tagline :

If you can, get out there, get on the railway, and see where it takes you.” ©

Along The Railway Line | South East Mainline | Dunton Green Railway Station

Dunton Green was opened in 1868 by the South Eastern Railway Company, and it had a familiar clapboard station building similar to that of the one at Hildenborough.  It also had a single siding on the London bound side, and this was incorporated into a proper running line when a branch line to Westerham was opened in 1881.

This branch line had its own station building as well as a three-story high signal box. As this new branch line cut through access to the village, a subway was constructed to gain access, but more on this later.

Three new goods sidings were also constructed at this time on the branch line section. The signal box had a short life however, as a signal modernization scheme in the early 1900s had it demolished in favour of a two-story design. By 1934 the newly formed southern region began the electrification program and Dunton Green had its platforms lengthened, with the first electric train running through the station from 1935.

Dunton Green railway station
Dunton Green railway station

Unfortunately Dunton Green’s recent history is less illustrious. In 1961 the branch line closed, and over the next 35 years the station went into rapid decline, culminating in the complete removal of the station in the mid-1990s and at time of writing, a new station building has never been rebuilt at this location.

Dunton Green railway station

This picture is of the subway which still connects the station to Dunton Green village (credit for these are below as I was unable to photograph on the day of my visit)

Dunton Green station underpass

(c)Lamberhurst (Ravenseft)

commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Dunton_Green_Railway_Station_3.jpg

At time of writing passenger traffic is provided by class 465 or class 376 electric multiple units.

Class 465
Class 465
Class 376
Class 376

The statistics for Dunton Green are that it opened in 1868, it has two trains per hour in both directions off-peak and Saturdays, with additional trains at peak times (this is reduced to only one train per hour in both directions on Sundays).

The entry and exit figures for 2019-2020 were 258 682.

The absence of a station building (at time of writing) really makes a visit to this station unappealing if you are a casual enthusiast. However, the location and relatively good frequency of service makes the stations survival a must. Photography and videography are ok, but I would advise that perhaps a visit to another railway station on the line nearby could wield better and more atmospheric results.

Below is a video filmed in 2021:

Thanks for reading, I’ll leave you with my tagline :

If you can, get out there, get on the railway, and see where it takes you.” ©

Along The Railway Line | South East Mainline | Hildenborough Railway Station

Hildenborough was opened in 1868 by the South Eastern Railway company. It is the only station between the larger Tonbridge and Sevenoaks stations.  Unusually for the time, the platforms were not staggered, but placed opposite each other from the start.  

As with all others on the line, crossing the track was done by means of a foot crossing placed at the end of the Tonbridge bound side.  The station when it opened had one single siding placed on the coastbound side, and this was joined by two further sidings on the London bound side in the 1890s. A third was added by the end of the century.

The substation you see below was put here during the 1960s as part of the electrification scheme, and replaced the siding on the coastbound platform.

Hildenborough Railway Station Kent
Hildenborough railway station – view to platform 2 and substation

In this view from the bridge towards Tonbridge, you can clearly see the break in the third rail in the foreground. This is where the staff foot crossing used to be. The line curves away from the station as it leaves towards Tonbridge.

Hildenborough Railway Station Kent

The station building seen here below original, however it had external rendering work done to protect the station in the 1950’s, but at least it survived the cull which many succumbed to in the 1960’s.  A further building is adjacent to it, which is currently owned by a coffee shop.

Hildenborough Railway Station Kent
Hildenborough railway station

This view from platform 2 shows the original features quite well including the sash windows which were common for the southeast railway.

Hildenborough railway station platform 1
Hildenborough railway station platform 1

At the time of writing, passenger traffic is undertaken either by class 375 electric multiple units, or during the peak times, class 466 electric multiple units may also be seen.

The passenger entry and exit figures for 2019-2020 were 573 762.

Hildenborough offers good sight lines for the Enthusiast and the original station building gives it lots of character, however the electric substation is quite noisy and can impact videography. at times.  But that should detract from the fact that Hildenborough is still a thoroughly lovely station which is well maintained.

Below is a video I filmed in 2021 :

Thanks for reading :

If you can, get out there, get on the railway, and see where it takes you.” ©

Along The Railway Line | South East Mainline | Marden Railway Station

Marden railway station

Opened in 1842 by the South Eastern Railway Company, Marden soon grew into quite an important station on the line.  Eventually there would be many sidings carrying such items such as hops and apples, plus various other agricultural items including cattle.

Eight cottages were constructed for the railway workers needed to staff the station through the day and of course the station master had one of his own.

The diagram below shows Marden as it was around the 1950s, and it gives you an idea of how many sidings were available at the station the majority of freight stopped at modern in 1963 mainly due to the spread of the UK motorway network but also due to the line being electrified.

The new station building was erected in 1987 and is of a contemporary brick design, not dissimilar to that at Headcorn (albeit smaller).  The interior is functional and clean with a small refreshment kiosk, however the whole of it is only staffed on a part-time basis mainly in the mornings.

Marden railway station

At time of Writing (2022), passenger traffic is provided by class 375 electric multiple units.

The entry and exit figures for 2019-2020 were 565 472.

To look at Marden station today you would not believe how large it once was, however a charming new station building makes this station a pleasant visit, albeit not blessed with many facilities.

Below is a video I produced in 2021 as part of my “Along the railway line” series: