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 | 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 | 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 | Staplehurst Railway Station

Opened in 1842 by the South Eastern Railway Company, Staplehurst was very much like any other rural station on the line. Staggered platforms and a tongue and groove timber building, similar to that at Pluckley, were erected in 1844.

Staplehurst Railway station

Goods facilities were placed on the London bound side in 1875, which included a coal depot and a through goods shed with four sidings. By 1885 they were complemented by more goods facilities on the coast bound side. The coal part of this yard remained right up to 1971, which was quite an achievement.

Staplehurst Railway Station

This new station building was erected in 1988 and the station was made fully accessible with the addition of this new footbridge with integrated lifts in 2008. the interior of the station building is clean and functional and during the morning peak it also has a refreshment kiosk.

staplehurst railway station

The entry and exit figures for 2019-2020 were 855 082

Staplehurst is a fairly modern station with little to show of its past, however a well-proportioned station building gives it a little character and the fully accessible platforms make it a functional place to catch a train. For the enthusiast the sight lines are very good, and it is fairly quiet, so videography should be ok.

Below is a video I shot for my ‘Along The Railway Line’ series in 2021 :

As always, thanks for reading, and if you can :

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

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

Headcorn railway station

Headcorn was opened in 1842 by the South East Railway Company, initially as a terminus for the line as the extension to Dover had yet to be completed. The original station building was made of tongue and groove timber, similar to that at Pluckley, and a goods facility was also provided here.

This goods facility was provided by a single track which intercepted both running lines and led to sidings and a turntable on the Ashford bound side. In 1905, the Kent and East Sussex railway extended to Headcorn, and its platform ran parallel with the London-bound side. The link to Headcorn remained until 1954 when it was closed due to unprofitability.

The fast central tracks you see here were actually the original running lines. They were put into this configuration in the 1920s when the station was rebuilt, with two new platforms and two new slow lines. The other track you see on your left, behind the London bound platform, is a goods loop installed for the channel tunnel freight trains. This view looking coast bound will enable you to see clearly see the divergence to the slow lines.

As well as the goods loop on the right, the new station building was opened in 1989. A neat red brick design, it is very pleasant, and is kept in good order by the station staff . The taxi rank and bus stop are located just outside the building, like the exterior the interior is very clean and functional

At time of writing passenger traffic is provided by class 375 electric multiple units

Station signage at Headcorn is great, detailing all there is to do around the area. This includes the “Big Cat Sanctuary” and “Biddenden vineyards”, which are a short bus ride away. As already noted, bus and taxi ranks outside the station building will help you do this.

The entry and exit figures for 2019-2020 were 610 226.

Headcorn has some excellent views for the enthusiast, as well as many other sites of interest away from the station. The newish station building is functional, and although not the original, does not look out of place.

Below is a link to a small video I filmed here in 2021.

Thanks for reading, and if you can :

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

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

Pluckley Railway Station

A very charming rural station set in the heart of Kent, which is more that meets the eye.

A railway station has been in the area since 1842, but this current station opened in 1844. As with most small stations in this area it has a staggered platform design. The building here is not the original, but a rebuild done in 1885 and is a superb example of a south east railway structure. In fact it is the oldest station building in the country still in regular use, albeit only on weekday mornings.

Pluckley railway station

Pluckley had various sidings in its time, serving a coal yard and goods yard, the latter supplying horse manure. But the main purpose of the station yard was to supply the Pluckley tile and brickworks to the west of the station.

Many walks can be had from this station, and the areas rich history can be seen on an information board just outside the station building.

Entry and Exit figures for 2019 / 2020 were 122 696

Although very unassuming at first, Pluckley railway station has a charm which lends itself to further exploration. The area around the station is steeped with history and the overall feel is that the station is loved by the community. I hope this continues, as it would be a shame to lose the old station building and the history which surrounds it.

A video I took in 2021 takes you on a tour of this station.

Top Ten Least Used Railway Stations in Suffolk | 2 – Brampton (Suffolk)

Brampton was opened in 1854 by the East Suffolk Railway, on the same day the rest of the East Suffolk line opened.  The railway station and indeed line was absorbed into the Great Eastern Railway in 1862

It serves not only Brampton, but other villages nearby like Redisham.

Finding out any history for this station has proved extremely difficult, both in paper and internet form.  So if anyone has anything to add, please comment down below, it will be most appreciated.

It used to be a request stop, but on the day of my visit in 2021 it was not, and a check of the timetables seem to confirm that, for the time being at least, it is now a regular stop on the line.

A good set of walks in the local area get to this point, and there is even a circular walk from the station via Shadingfield, which is contained within a free walks booklet.

Passenger services at time of writing are provided by class 755 Bi-Mode units.

Passenger exit and entry figures for 2019 / 2020 were 9, 858

In conclusion, Brampton is a charming and very quiet station along this line. It is also very well maintained. The fact that it is no longer a request stop gives hope that it will remain so for a many years to come. For the enthusiast sight lines are excellent, a visit when an engineering train is due would be recommended.

Below is a video taken in 2021 as part of this series.

Top Ten Least Used Railway Stations in Suffolk | 3 – Somerleyton

Somerleyton was opened in 1847 by the Norfolk Railway.  This was taken over, like all on the surrounding lines, in the mid 1800’s by the Great Eastern Railway.  The village which it serves is around 1 mile from here.

As well as Somerleyton hall, which has featured in many films and tv shows including the crown as a replica for Sandringham, the village has another claim to fame.  It was home to the first testing of the hovercraft, which was built by Sir Christopher Cockerell.

The line moves towards Norwich over the river Waveney via the Somerleyton swing bridge, pictured below. This can yield some pretty good photos and video of trains coming to and from the station.

Even after extensive research , I could not find any documentation of sidings at this location, however there used to be a major brickworks nearby, so I would assume that they would have had a siding or two.  If anyone knows anymore, please comment below.

In fact, details about the station history are extremely sparse, I would welcome more information to flesh out this Blog, but unfortunately after a lot of looking this is all the history I could find.

At time of writing , passenger services are provided by class 755 Bi-Mode Units. Other movements are very rare, with just an occasional engineering, measurement or rail head treatment train.

The entry and exit figures for 2019 / 2020 were 10, 898.

Somerleyton is a very picturesque station, plenty of flowers and trees, plus good sweeping views of the track make it ideal for photography and videography; just check to see if an engineering train is due and it should yield a superb and unique photo. The original station building is a bonus, albeit now in private hands. Overall a superb little station which hopefully will remain open in the future.

Oh and also comment about pronunciation of this station, I am unsure of it, and wary of getting it wrong!

Below is my Vlog which I filmed during a visit in 2021 :