More on: Chislehurst Railway Station

The coming of the railway to Chislehurst was the start of a new phase for Chislehurst. It was completed shortly before the Emperor Napoleon's family arrival here in 1870 enhanced Chislehurst's desirability as a place to live, and enabling London merchants and professionals to live here and commute into the City with ease. The present station is at the south-western boundary of Chislehurst, not because the residents wanted it as far away as possible from the village, but because the line followed the shortest and most convenient route from Lewisham to Tonbridge. It does have the happy consequence (perhaps not so happy for commuters) that the station and related traffic is some way from the High Street and Royal Parade.

In June 1862, South Eastern Railways obtained Royal Assent on 30th June 1862 for a twenty-four mile cut-off line between what is now St Johns, and Tonbridge. This reduced the distance from London Bridge to Tonbridge and beyond by some 12½ miles.

1,500 workers ensured the line was opened to traffic as far as Chislehurst by July 1865. The first station here was a temporary affair, named 'Chislehurst & Bickley Park', and remained the end of the line for just under three years.

Station pre 1900When the line reached Sevenoaks Tubs Hill in March 1868, a new station was built at Chislehurst, 600 yards south of the existing platforms. Two platform faces were in evidence, coupled with a large single-storey red brick building with three pitched roof sections, the latter located on the 'down' side. This attractive structure is that which is still in evidence today and is of typical SER design, with similar examples appearing at Ashford and Tonbridge in the same year. What is interesting to note, however, is that both Orpington and Sevenoaks were subject to cheap clapboard structures – Chislehurst's brick building perhaps reflected the likely clientele it would have received, there being a small number of large properties in the area. A marginally smaller version of the main building was also provided on the 'up' platform, sitting directly opposite its 'down' side counterpart.

The 'Bickley Park' suffix did not last beyond the life of the first station, its removal coinciding with the opening of the Dartford Loop Line in September 1866. Passenger trains finally began running through to Tonbridge and beyond from May 1868.

The goods yard at Chislehurst was located on the 'up' side, next to the former site of the first station, and opened when the latter closed in 1868 and saw its platforms shifted 600 yards southwards. Five northward-facing sidings were in evidence, these controlled by a SER-designed signal box, positioned opposite the yard, on the 'down' side. The sidings were joined ten years later by one set of semi-detached cottages for railway workers. The 1868 station did acquire a single northward facing siding on its 'down' side, which terminated behind the platform. It seems appropriate to mention here that freight was the first type of traffic to commence along the whole of the Tonbridge cut-off line, such trains running from 3rd February 1868 onwards.

The South Eastern and Central Railway was formed in 1899, and this company appeared to act quickly in implementing a route upgrade programme, and four tracks were put into use between St Johns and Orpington. Begun in 1900, this huge project saw the total reconstruction of some stations, the opening of a new one, and direct connections being made between a number of main lines. At Chislehurst, the 'down' building remained, but that on the 'up' side was demolished to permit widening of the track bed. The advent of four tracks resulted in four platform faces, two of which constituted an island; all were linked by a subway. Like the 'down' side, the 'up' side acquired a northward facing siding which terminated behind the platform, and also became host to a new building, built in sympathy with that of 1868 (but somewhat shorter).

(Much of this information is borrowed from David Glasspool's excellent Kentrail website, and well worth a visit)