Top Ten Least Used Stations In Kent : 3 – Beltring

Beltring was opened in 1909 by the South Eastern and Chatham Railway as Beltring and Banbridge halt. These small stations were put along the line mainly to serve small rural locations, which would only be served otherwise by local trams.

railway station

Station buildings on such halts did not exist, but they did provide waiting shelters on both platforms, and their modern equivalents are still provided today.

railway station

A small siding for local goods produced by farmers was placed behind the London bound platform, and existed right up until 1961 when the line was electrified. Where the siding once stood, a farm exists today.

sheep in fields

The only way to cross to either platform is by the road level crossing. Along the platforms, many posters can be seen and some detail the Kent Rail Partnership and walks which can be taken from this station.

level crossing
notice board railway

Being one of the most rural stations on this list, the nearest housing estate being 20 minutes away, Beltring is certainly a niche station. However, it does provide fantastic straight line views both up and down the line, allowing enthusiasts good photographic opportunities of both passenger and freight services which frequent the line. Just remember that as with the majority of these smaller stations, there are no toilet facilities.

uk train

Here is a video of Beltring, made as part of the “Least used stations in Kent” series I produced on my YouTube channel.

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Top Ten Least Used Stations In Kent : 6 – Dumpton Park

Opened in 1926, the station was opened to facilitate a reduction in lines between Ramsgate and Margate. The station was quite a lavish affair, identical to that at Broadstairs. The station platforms were reached by use of a covered walkway, which lead to a lift down to the platforms. The space for the lift can still be seen in this photograph:

In 1936, close to the station, the line down to Ramsgate harbour was re-opened. This was commonly known as the ‘Tunnel Railway’, and helped boost passenger numbers to Dumpton Park. However with its demise in 1965, the fate of Dumpton Park seemed to be sealed. I will cover the tunnel railway hopefully later this year (2021).

Once the Tunnel Railway closed, passenger numbers steadily dwindled at Dumpton Park. The station building was un-ceremonially demolished in the early 1970’s, and soon after the lift shaft and canopy roof over the bridge disappeared.

What is left today is a pretty sad mono-platform, only accessible by the steps off the footbridge. It does have an electronic ticket machine, posters and a help point, but all of the charm has gone. A housing estate now surrounds the entrance, which is easy to miss if you don’t know where to look.

Towards Ramsgate

Towards Broadstairs

Stopping passenger traffic is (at time of writing) class 375 Electric Multiple Units. There are various through trains throughout the day (mainly Class 395 ‘Javelin’s’). Freight is mostly non existent, with some engineering trains mainly during the weekend, if work is going on in the area.

A video from my YouTube channel is below, if you wish to view.

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Top Ten Least Used Stations In Kent : 7 – Adisham

Adisham was opened in 1861 by the London, Chatham and Dover railway. The station building was a virtual replica to that found at Sole Street, with an all over white paint finish. Situated on Dover “Down” side of the line, it still sports its original and unusual Chimney vents, as can be seen below.

There was a small shelter put onto the London bound side. A goods shed was put to the south of the main building on the “Down” side, a structure which still stands today (in the middle to the right in the picture below), although it is now used as business premises.

A signal box of grand design was put on the “Up” side around 1878. Being of a timber construction, it was higher than the main building, and was quite an unusual design. Unfortunately it was removed in the early 2000’s, a casualty of the re-signalling of all the line.

The station used to be quite busy, being on the line which served many of the Kent Collieries. But with the closure of these in the late 1980’s, passenger traffic has substantially declined, but it still regularly commands passenger entry and exit numbers of between 25 and 27 thousand per year.

Saying that, here are the figures for Adisham. The station at time of writing gets 2 trains per hour in peak hours, and 1 train per hour off peak and at weekends. Freight or engineering trains are rarely seen. According to the ORR figures of 2018/2019 it had 27,600 exit and entry’s. Stopping services are provided by class 375 Electric Multiple Units.

A video about Adisham can be found on my YouTube channel, which you can view by clicking on the link below :

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Top Ten Least Used Stations In Kent : 9 – Yalding

This time, I am on the Medway Valley line, visiting the 9th least used station in Kent, Yalding. Opened in 1844 as a platform only station, its first station building opened in 1846. At first access to both platforms was via a track crossing.

The original building was destroyed by fire in 1893, and the replacement building was opened in 1894. This still stands today, however it has been boarded up in recent years and is no longer in use. It would be nice to see a small shop open, but I am unsure about how busy this could get. Still it seems a shame that such a substantial building is left empty.

A signal box was positioned beside a level crossing and the station building, but this closed in 1986 and has now unfortunately been removed. A footbridge across the platforms was added in 1895 and happily still survives.

Below is a view from the footbridge towards Maidstone

And here is a view towards Paddock Wood

For track views Yalding is a fantastic place. Freight and engineering trains are quite often on the route, check the Real Time Trains website for up to date details on workings. The straight track towards Paddock wood gives great views of all types of workings, whereas the Maidstone bound side has a great curve after the station for side on views. Couple this with mandatory horns because of foot crossings, and this is a great place to view freight.

Below is the Vlog associated with this post.

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Top ten least used stations in Kent 10 – Ashurst

Part of a new series on my YouTube channel, I visit all the top ten least used stations in Kent, starting with Ashurst.

Opened in 1888 by the London, Brighton and South Coast Railway, the station is at time of writing operated by Southern, a subsidiary of Govia Thameslink.

It has a reasonable sized car park next to it, one of only a handful on this list, and the overall setting is very pleasant. Below you can see the view along the tracks towards London.

Here is a view towards Ukfield. The line is actually known as the Ukfield branch of the Oxted line. Class 171 Diesel Multiple Units operate on the line at the time of writing.

The station has the usual help points, dot matrix displays, and two wooden shelters. There is also an additional modern shelter on the London bound platform.

A very pleasant station, with good views for the enthusiast, however traffic is mainly passenger.

For a full overview of the station, please view the YouTube video below.

Ill blog again next week with mini overview of the next on the list. Many thanks for reading.

This Train Terminates Here : My Debut Book!

Well, it is finally out of the bag, so to speak. My first book is now available to order on Amazon. I decided to self publish, and that was an eye opener let me tell you! I have learnt so much in the last year and three quarters since I started it, and I hope the finished result is going to be enjoyed by a few people at least.

But what is it about? Well here is the title:

‘This Train Terminates Here : London Railway Termini Up To 2020’

The book not only gives brief histories of the 14 London termini, but also gives a walkthrough of each one, highlighting the many statues, sculptures and plaques along the way.

I hope that anyone who reads the book will come away with better knowledge of these fantastic stations, and maybe will be tempted to visit one or more of them to see the articles themselves. I see the book as a snapshot of the current termini, as many may not be the same in the future (especially Euston).

Below is a link to the book, as well as a few photgraphs of the book, just to give you an idea.

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London Waterloo Station Walkthrough

On my other YouTube channel, John Explores, I take a small walk through Waterloo Station.


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London Termini – Marylebone

The last terminus to be built in London, Marylebone has never really been finished. It was designed with future expansion in mind, but still only has 6 platforms today, and for much of its life only had 4. Very quiet during the day it springs into live during the rush hours, or when a major event is going on at the nearby Wembley complex. However this is its charm. With an expansive concourse, it’s just a nice place to sit and reflect during those quiet times.

A Brief History

The station was built for the Grand Central Railway, a company formed out of the Manchester, Sheffield and Lincolnshire Railway. The terminus for that railway was only 2 miles north of Marylebone, but building an extension down to Marylebone would come with massive planning problems.

One of these was from the MCC at the Lords Cricket Ground, who massively objected to the original proposals which would see the railway go straight through the nursery end of the ground. After many years of argument, it was agreed that the railway company would purchase and relocate the orphanage next to the ground. This would enable the railway to be put in place using the ‘cut and cover’ technique. The ground was then put back as it was, with the railway running under the Nursey end.

The work on this completed in 1898, and it was then that the Grand Central Railway title was introduced. The new terminus however suffered from the money spent to do all the extra work, including a high speed railway link for the railway to Nottingham. It was therefore proposed to be a simple but elegant terminus.

A four platform trainshed was put in place, which only covered 495ft of the total 950ft platform length. It was envisioned that more platforms would be added during the early 20th century, but low passenger numbers would mean that this didn’t happen at this time. However the station would boast an extensive concourse, and the glass roof provided natural light which flooded in.

A station hotel was built opposite the station on Melcombe place, and is arguably the most opulent of all the London station hotels. A massive central atrium is inside and it still has that feel of early 20th Century rail travel. It was only converted once, into railway offices between 1945 and 1986. It was then purchased in 1986 and re-opened as a hotel in 1993.

Marylebone was never going to be a busy station however. The nearby Euston and Kings cross had been taking passengers north for over 40 years. Many attempts to close the station occurred between 1960 and 1986 (the Beeching review and cuts of 1966 meant that Marylebone would only provide trains as far north as Birmingham), but eventually was given a full reprieve as British Rail decided to creative a new working group for the station.

This allowed it to be more adventurous with its route planning, including heritage excursions and special event trains. The privatisation of the UK rail network in 1996 saw Chiltern Railways take over, and they have successfully managed it ever since.

A quick view of the current station

Moving toward the main entrance at Melcombe Place, you will see the ornate canopy over the road and taxi rank. Behind you is the impressive Landmark London Hotel. The pillars here are great, black with a red motif around a third of the way up.

As we enter via the main entrance on Melcombe Place you will see above the writing of Marylebone Station in stonework. Next to this you can still see the uncoloured logo of Network South East (the last British Rail operator for the line before privatisation).

Entering the station, note the GCR logos on the gates. In fact this logo can be found all around the station, especially over exits in the brickwork. The station here opens out in front of you, with the platforms directly ahead under the impressive canopy and trainshed.

Move slightly further in and you will se an electronic information board to your left. Underneath this are electronic ticketing machines. Turn left now, and go towards and past these information boards so that they are on your right as you go past. You will see the station information booth in front of you. This is also the station reception as well.

Moving past the information centre you will see yet more electronic ticket machines below some distinctive Network South East branding. If you now turn directly to your right you will see the ticket office. Moving forward a little further and the entrance to the Underground station is on your left.

Ticket machines with the old Network Southeast branding still visible

Turn 180 degrees back towards the information centre and go past it. The ladies toilets are directly in front of you. Now turn right and walk down this part of the concourse. Various retail outlets are on your left, the current M&S store is housed in what used to be the ticketing hall. Some Cash machines are on your right.

Around half way down this hall on the left are three plaques. The top one is the coat of arms of the Great Central Railway, the next is dedicated to the centenary of the birth of Sir John Betjeman, and the last one is dedicated to the centenary of the station in 1999.

Moving back down the concourse to the end wall, where a further three plaques sit. These are dedicated to those railway employees who died during World War One. Two are on bronze sheets and the third is on a marble stone.

The marble plaque dedication to railway workers who were killed in the First World War

Carry on down past the plaques, and as it narrows, the Gents toilets are on your right. Now carry on through the arch and past a public house. You will see an exit here, but of more interest is the framed information on the walls, detailing the history of the station. They are very interesting and worth spending time reading.

Information boards at the entrance to the station at Harewood Avenue

Instead of exiting into Harewood avenue, lets re-trace our steps back into the station and go towards the Information centre once more. Take time to look up an appreciate the roof here, with the light flooding in over the whole concourse.

Go past the information boards and turn left to see the platforms ahead of you. If you are able, go through the gate lines onto these platforms. You really get the sense of the wider than usual platforms, and there is an extensive bike rack on platform 3 which is nearly two thirds the length of the trainshed.

The huge bike rack at platform 3

Move out further past the edge of the roof and look back. This shows off the trainshed really well, with the ornate pillars of red which hold it up. The station really does have a great feel, and although not as grand as say St Pancras, is nonetheless extremely appealing.

A view back to the trainshed

A view of trains departing and arriving at Marylebone can be seen below


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London Termini – London Bridge

London Bridge is the oldest of the Termini in London, and one of the combined termini where terminating platforms are alongside through services. Often derided in the past as gloomy and difficult to navigate, a 21st Century makeover was completed in 2018. It is now a sleek modern building, its angled lines smoothed out with a curvy façade on one side. London’s tallest building, The Shard, towers above it, literally pinpointing the stations position.

A brief history

In 1831 a railway was proposed between Greenwich and Tooley Street. Because it would run through very congested streets, it was agreed that the best course of action was to build a viaduct. This would become a huge 878 arch bridge, made from 60 million bricks which were made in Sittingbourne, Kent. Initially the viaduct had a walkway which people could use for the sum of 1 pence, enabling elevated views of the city. However this was closed during the expansion of 1840.

Partly opened in 1836 as far as Spar Road, the full line to London Bridge was opened in December 1836. The station at this time was very basic, steps or ramps up to the platforms which were totally open to the elements having no sheltering roof or trainshed whatsoever.

Expansion came very quickly, with the London and Croydon Railway Company and The South Eastern Railway company taking routes North and South respectively between 1839 and 1842. The increased traffic gave the station a new building in 1844, the first of many rebuilds London Bridge would have.

The most significant of these was in 1850, where the station was divided in two, the South Eastern taking control of the North side, and the newly formed London, Brighton and South Coast railway company the South side. A huge wall was erected, with both sides having differing rules and regulations, causing services such as horse drawn taxis to pay differing charges as they traversed the station.

This remined in place until 1923, when all the southern rail companies were amalgamated into the Southern Railway Company. A footbridge was built to link the two stations in 1928.

The arches under the station were used in the Second World War as air raid shelters, although conditions were very grim. Inspections declared they were unfit for use and demanded improvements to make them both safer and hygienic. Unfortunately, before any real improvements were made, a bomb hit London Bridge in February 1941, killing 68 and injuring a further 175.

A Major rebuild of the infrastructure and station occurred in the 1970’s. This included new signalling and rerouting of the lines in and out of London Bridge. The building was given a modern design, but people would still complain that it was cramped and uninviting.

It wasn’t until the early 2000’s that another rebuild would take place. The most radical and expensive so far, this time they seem to have got it right , as I shall explain in the rest of the blog.

A quick view of the current station

Although I label this as a quick view, the station is so vast that being quick here is not something i’d recommend if you wish to appreciate this new station.

Entering from the underground station, after going up the escalators you enter a passageway which is Joiner Street. Move into Joiner Street and you should soon see on your left the entrance to the Western Arches.

The Western Arches

Moving into here, the old pillars that are holding up the railway above you, go down this corridor in a pleasant symmetrical fashion. Shops are placed at the side, and the feel of this section is fantastic.

At the end of the passageway is another intersection, this time with Stanier street. Of note here is the plaques along the wall detailing the history of the station layout, well worth a look if you have the time.

Plaque in Stanier Street

Moving back to the end of the Western arches, and head of you is the main concourse – a sleeper in on one of the walls just as you are about to enter the concourse is dedicated to the opening in 2018.

Dedication plaque

Turning right here will take you down past more shops on your right, and the main ticket office on your left. Carry on down to the exit and you will see on your left a memorial to the railway workers who died in the first world war. This exit would take you into St Thomas’ street, next to St Thomas’ hospital, should you go through it.

First World War Memorial

Turning back into the main concourse, head all the way back to the Western Arches and carry on. You will see various gateline entrances to your right, as well as a big escalator and stairs in the middle which will take you up to the upper concourse and the bus station. Lets go up and take a quick look.

Up the escalator ahead of you is the glass frontage of what used to be known as the main entrance to the station. If you were to exit there, the Shard would be immediately to your right, with the bus station immediately in from of you. It is worth going out here just to marvel not only at the Shard, but the impressive all glass frontage to the station here (see the opening picture of this blog post).

Moving around the upper concourse the sense of natural light and space is very evident. Moving to the left you will find gatelines for Platforms 10-15. If you gain access to these platforms, try to take a moment to stand at the end of the terminating platforms, and you will be greeted by a very pleasant sight as the canopy structure over the platforms snakes away from you, yet another good photo opportunity.

A view down platforms 14 and 15

Lets go back downstairs to the main concourse, and turn right towards the exit for Tooley Street. Various gatelines will be on your right, as well as an information centre. Exiting into Tooly Street will give you a look at the new sweeping façade at this entrance. This mixes well with the original arches, which can be seen meandering away towards Greenwich. The view as you enter the station again is below.

View after entering via Tooley Street, note the huge escalators towering above you.

Moving into the station, we go through a gateline into the inner concourse. Impressive concrete pillars, looking like huge egg timers, are dotted around, with seating around their circumfrence. The space here is very welcoming due to the high ceiling. Various lifts are in the centre too, and ahead of you are the huge escalators which take you to platforms 1-15.

A view across the concourse post gateline, with the lift shafts, pillars and high roof.

Departure boards are placed around the lifts and on the side walls, really the wealth of information about arriving and departing train services is comprehensive.

I visited during rush hour, and yes it was busy, but the station layout as it is now didn’t seem to have any major congestion points. The station and surrounding structure is still being worked on, but all the major components are open, and it seems that at last London Bridge is able to cope with the passenger numbers it receives.

The video below shows London Bridge platforms at evening rush hour.


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London Termini – Cannon Street

The essence of a true commuter station, very quiet during the day but in the morning and evening a hive of activity. Served only by the SouthEastern Railway and serving only Kent and Sussex, this central London hub has a varied but solid history.

A Brief History

The South Eastern Railway Company started construction in 1863, from a design by Sir John Hawkshaw. The railway entered via a 706ft bridge which at this stage only carried 5 lines. This was increased to 10 during the late 1800’s. The engine shed roof was an impressive 190ft wide and more than 680ft long, with a central lantern section which ran almost the entire length.

On the bridge side, two towers sit either side of the bridge, each adorned with a square domed roof and spire. It was found during restoration in 1986, that the east tower contained a water tank, either for replenishing the locomotives or for use in powering the stations hydraulic lift systems.

A hotel was built on the front entrance of the station. At only 5 stories it was one of the smallest station hotels, but had turrets mirroring those of the main towers. Like most railway hotels however, the popularity waned in the early 1900’s and it closed to customers in 1931.

The station officially opened in September 1866, and provided additional services to and from Charing Cross via a 7 minute shuttle, considerably quicker than the 35 minute walk. However, the advent of the district railway a few years later would render these shuttles almost useless.

The trainshed roof was extensively damaged during an air raid in 1941, and engineers deemed that replacing the glass would not be possible. The structure stood in skeleton form until 1958, when it was demolished in the first re-model of the station.

The new office complex which replaced the hotel was derided by critics, and certainly wasn’t as grand as the original Hotel. It was followed in the 1980’s by a ‘floating’ office block above the station platforms, held up by a 6000 ton metal frame. The block nearest the river has a roof garden, and slightly protrudes the two towers.

A quick view of the station today

Going in via the right hand steps on Cannon Street itself, you are greeted by a British Rail Sign hanging from the roof and a blue “Welcome to Cannon Street Station” sign. Immediately at the top of the two flights of stairs to your right is the entrance to the Underground station.

The low ceiling, clad in silver stripes with bright lighting makes you feel penned in. The floor, a cream tile with grey borders almost makes it feel like a department store. This aside, you remember that this is just a “people mover” station, so modern clean almost clinical lines wont be noticed by the thousands using it each day.

View to the station entrance from platform 7

To the right is a coffee shop, then the ticketing office and finally the toilets. Straight ahead are the gatelines to platforms 4-7. Look to your left here and a statue called “The Plumbers Apprentice”, which commemorates 400 years of the Worshipful Company of Plumbers. Their hall was once on the ground of the station.

The Plumbers Apprentice

Carry on past the statue and on your right will be ticketing machines and the gatelines to platforms 1-3. Directly ahead is a retail outlet and a pub/restaurant. Turning back towards the street and by the steps on your right is the lift down to the Underground Station.

Moving onto the platforms, ex Network South East overhead clocks continue to click away, and the pillars in the centre of the platform still contain the Network South East colour banding at the base.

As you move outside, to the left is a view over the River Thames to Tower Bridge, HMS Belfast and The Shard. To the Right you will see both Southwark and Blackfriars bridges, as well as the Tate Modern.

But look back towards the station and the full glory of the two original towers rise before you. A very impressive site, and totally at odds with the office block in the middle, yet somehow it does fit together. In my view it only goes to enhance the old structure.

The two towers of Cannon Street

Cannon Street with all its stark modern looks deceives you, and the small things like the Statue, Network South East reminders and of course the towers are reasons to just spend a little more time looking around you, rather than rushing to get that train home.


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