Bellingham

 

Bellingham came into use with the Catford Loop line on 1st July 1892, being a station somewhat typical of the route. Of those sites along the line, architecture was standardised on two basic variants. Catford, Beckenham Hill, and Ravensbourne were all of the same ilk; all had single-storey red-brick station buildings which demonstrated square window frames and prominent pitched roof sections (of which Beckenham Hill is the only surviving example). We now come to the second type of design - that implemented at Crofton Park and Bellingham. The station buildings here, also single-storey in nature and constituted of red brick, were based on a square ground area of 38 ft by 38 ft, and featured distinctive semi-circular windows. The pitched roofs did, however, bear some resemblance to counterparts at Beckenham Hill, Catford, and Ravensbourne. In common with all stations along the Loop, Bellingham's main building was positioned on the ''up'' side; it resided at street level, above the running lines, at the southern end of the layout. As touched upon in the Ravensbourne section, the LC&DR seemed to favour high-level station entrances during this period, although those at the likes of the rebuilt Bickley and Bromley (South) stations actually straddled the tracks. Furthermore, the latter were also built using crème brickwork, which had been preferred by the LC&DR since its earliest days. Red brick stations, such as those on the Catford Loop and Maidstone (East) lines, were indeed not alien to the company's railway system, although this variant was decidedly outnumbered  by sites of crème brick construction. Blending well with the topic of station buildings is that which concerns that platform canopies, this being a subject in its own right. The examples at Bellingham were triangular in nature, extending northwards from the road bridge for a length of 125 feet. Interestingly, canopies at every station along the Catford Loop, on both ''up'' and ''down'' sides, were this long. Furthermore, despite today's variations in design, all stations along the route would appear to have demonstrated the pitched roof canopy design still in use at both Crofton Park and Bellingham. This canopy variant was dispensed with at Ravensbourne, Beckenham Hill, and Catford, after 1900, under SE&CR auspices, although an equally intricate upward-sloping design came into use at these stations (today, wholly authentic examples exist only at Ravensbourne). Finally, Bellingham's platforms were linked by the Catford Loop's seemingly trademark fully enclosed footbridge, which rested at the southern ends of the platforms, immediately adjacent to, and parallel with, the road bridge.

 

Ravensbourne was the only station along the five-mile loop to open with goods sidings, but Bellingham was to acquire such facilities under the SE&CR. Eventually, three northward-facing sidings were in evidence behind the ''down'' platform. Indeed, a reversal manoeuvre into these gave access to a further, southward-facing siding, in addition to a private connection with Robertson's Jam Factory, on Bromley Road. The layout was controlled by a Saxby & Farmer signal box (identical to that still in use at Sturry), positioned beyond the northern end of the ''down'' platform. This structure had been a feature of the station from the outset, despite the initial lack of sidings.

 

Under the Southern Railway came a number of changes, beginning with the electrification of the route. EMU crew training on the routes from Victoria and Holborn Viaduct, to Orpington via Bickley Junction (and including the Catford Loop) commenced on 1st April 1925, with the full suburban electric service coming into effect on 12th July of the same year. In connection with the third rail scheme, platforms were lengthened in a northward direction utilising Exmouth Junction-manufactured prefabricated concrete. Electrification was good news for the residents of the nearby Bellingham Estate, who were to benefit from an improved rail service to and from the capital. The London County Council had begun construction of the estate in 1921, and further expansion of the housing complex occurred in 1936. Seventeen years after the advent of third rail, the SR was compelled to make to make a structural replacement it had not foreseen: that of the signal box. German bombs destroyed the Saxby & Farmer cabin. In response to this, a reinforced two-storey high austere-looking signal box was erected on the former's site. At least the replacement structure would stand more robust to a nearby bomb blast, should it occur. A replacement signal box of this design was also erected at Petts Wood Junction for the same reasons.

 

The layout's ownership under British Railways initially yielded expansion. South of the road bridge, four electrified sidings were commissioned in 1955, three of which extended for some 555 feet, the fourth being 700 foot long. This addition was followed four years later by the installation of colour aspect signalling along the route, in connection with ''Phase 1'' of the Kent Coast Electrification. The then new signalling system came into use on 22nd March 1959, but Bellingham's 1942-opened signal box remained in use, despite others along the route closing (Ravensbourne's cabin survived for an additional two years for the sake of the goods sidings). Indeed, it lasted until 1982, when the Victoria Panel's scope was expanded, subsequently going out of use on 17th January of that year. Goods facilities here were not withdrawn until 25th March 1968, six and a half years after the closure of the sidings at Ravensbourne. Structurally, the station retained all of its LC&DR features during this period, including the enclosed footbridge. However, during the 1990s, passengers using the latter became exposed to the elements, after removal of the roof and wooden side walls. The original riveted metal frame of LC&DR vintage, however, remains.

 


 

Bellingham: 23rd February 2007

When viewed on 23rd February 2007, the station building retained a smart appearance,

showing its red brick, semi-circular windows, and pitched roof sections to good effect.

As shown here, the western third of the structure has been let out for commercial use.

David Glasspool

 


 

Bellingham: 23rd February 2007

This southward view on 23rd February 2007 from platform level reveals that the canopies

remain faithful to their original 1892 pitched-roof design. The outline of the station building

can be seen on the right, above the canopy. The navy blue-painted footbridge, now lacking

a roof, can just be picked out in front of the road bridge. Beyond the latter are the electrified

sidings of 1955, which were particularly full with stock on this day. David Glasspool

 


 

Bellingham: 23rd February 2007

No. 465919, one of the units refurbished by Wabtec at Doncaster, was stabled in the

nearest siding to the station on 23rd February 2007. Further Class 465 formations

can be seen in the remaining sidings in the distance of this southward view.

David Glasspool

 


 

A Bellingham platform ticket from circa 1960. The price was 3d when

issued, which equates to £0.20 at 2006 prices. Raymond Fuell

 


 

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