This is yet another variation of standard LC&DR intermediate station
architecture which can be found along the company’s original main line to the
south Kent coast. It opened as ‘’Ewell’’ marginally later than its counterparts
at Shepherds Well and Adisham, coming into use on 1st August 1862. This is
probably a reasonable explanation as to why the main building here, located on
the ‘’down’’ side, is also slightly larger than at the aforementioned stations.
The station name was short-lived, ‘’Kearsney’’ appearing on the name boards from
1st February 1869. However, this was accompanied by the suffix ‘’for River &
Ewell’’. Two platform faces were extant from the outset, but with the
commissioning of the Dover & Deal Joint Line this was set to increase. The then
new line opened on 15th June 1881, although LC&DR trains could only access it
with a reversal at Dover Priory. A direct connection from the London direction
came into use on 1st July 1882 in the form of Deal Junction and the Kearsney
Loop. This gave Kearsney, which was an insignificant intermediate stop, greater
importance. A northern-facing bay line was installed on the ‘’up’’ side, a
number of trains now starting here. This was in addition to a turntable,
positioned at the London end of the ‘’down’’ platform, utilised by those
terminating locomotives from the Joint Line. The ‘’up’’ side timber waiting
shelter, complete with intricate canopy, was abolished and replaced by a
platform canopy, this being designed in similar vein to those found on island
platforms. In connection with this, a timber waiting shelter was installed on
the ‘’down’’ side; therefore it is quite possible that this was in fact the
original ‘’up’’ side structure re-used. Further on the recycling theme:
comparatively speaking, for one of those stations which did not open with a
footbridge, Kearsney acquired such a structure fairly early on. During 1885 /
1886, the LC&DR decided to comprehensively rebuild Chatham, which included the
provision of a new high-level entrance and, incorporated within this, a new
footbridge. Subsequently, the original lattice footbridge here was transferred
to Kearsney, the station probably being chosen as a result of its then recent
function as an interchange point with the Deal line.
The customary goods facilities at Kearsney were humble in nature: a single-track brick-built goods shed was situated behind the ‘’down’’ platform, only just to the south of the station building. The goods building boasted the familiar flat-roofed canopy on its eastern elevation, for the benefit of unloading commodities to road transport. In addition to the shed track, there were an additional two sidings, one of which was arranged in a head-shunt fashion. A further pair of sidings, on the ‘’up’’ and ‘’down’’ sides respectively, were positioned at the northern ends of the platforms, but these came into use later, appearing with the bay platform in 1882. The SE&CR then augmented the layout north of the platforms with a third siding, positioned on the ‘’down’’ side. The whole complex was controlled by an all-timber, two-storey signal box of Saxby & Farmer design, which came into use in about 1876. This was situated at the Dover end of the ‘’up’’ platform.
The whole ‘’Chatham’’ line was electrified in 1959, the accelerated timetable coming into use on 15th June of that year on both Thanet and Dover Priory routes. This resulted in the bay line at Kearsney being made redundant, but greater rationalisation occurred with the closure of the goods yard on 4th September 1961 and the removal of the ‘’up’’ sidings. Those sidings on the ‘’down’’ side, to the north of the platforms, remained in use for storing colliery traffic until the permanent cessation of this in 1986. Meanwhile, structural demolitions had occurred at the station during the 1970s. These included the obliteration of the ‘’up’’ side platform canopy and associated waiting facilities, their replacement coming in the form of a single, flat-roofed ‘’bus shelter’’. It was not rosy for the ‘’down’’ side either: the timber waiting shelter (very similar in design to that at Eynsford) was demolished, the small canopy of the main station building becoming the only platform weather protection thereafter. The goods shed was also mostly razed to the ground, but the lower half of its western retaining wall was kept to line the rear of the platform. On this section of wall, formerly hidden behind the waiting shelter was, however, a historical gem. A painted station sign displaying ‘’Kearsney for River and Ewell’’ was still in existence. This presumably dates from when the station’s name was changed in 1869. The final casualty was the Saxby & Farmer signal box: this was closed on 7th December 1980, when the 1930-installed cabin at Dover Priory assumed its functions.
The concrete extensions at the northern end of the platforms look misleadingly of 1950s origin, but they are in fact much more recent. They date from 1990, during a general infrastructure and rolling stock upgrade programme by Network SouthEast. Indeed, longer formations would now be able to stop at Kearsney and in August 1991, a mock-up of the proposed ‘’Networker’’ for the South Eastern Division main lines was put on display. Designated the ‘’Class 471’’, the project did not materialise and was part-replaced by the hastily-conceived Class 365. Kearsney’s station building had since seen its windows boarded up, but the remaining lattice footbridge must be one of the oldest in the county.
A southward view on 12th February 2005 reveals the solid-looking station building of 1862, now with
boarded-up windows. Note the quaint canopy, a common feature of this type of LC&DR architecture.
The footbridge here, second-hand from Chatham, must be one of, if not the oldest on the route.
The building's entrance is a peculiar one, this being the consequence of an additional perpendicular
extension, as seen on the right. Despite this, a small entrance canopy remains a feature, demonstrating
the same patterned valance as those larger examples at Adisham, Sole Street and Farningham Road.
A northward view reveals the concrete platform extensions of 1990, which could easily be mistaken
as 1950s fabrications. Stations on the South Eastern Division suburban network received similar
treatment to accommodate twelve vehicle trains, which subsequently never ran. David Glasspool
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