Tonbridge West Yard
TOPS Code: TG
In 1940, the Southern Railway published the report ''Alternative Routes for Traffic Across River Thames'', which outlined wartime diversions that could be taken to keep freight traffic out of the capital. Part of this scheme included stabling and sorting goods trains at huge marshalling yards outside London, of which the 1928-opened sidings at Hoo Junction were included. To cope with heavy wartime freight traffic, and to support Hoo Junction in this role, the SR commissioned another extensive marshalling yard at Tonbridge, in 1941. This was located within the fork of the diverging routes to Redhill and Sevenoaks, west of the station, and comprised two dozen sidings running parallel with the Redhill line for approximately ⅓- mile.
By David Morgan
Unfortunately, the yard is currently under threat of redevelopment to provide stabling sidings for Thameslink stock and may only last another couple of years in its present form. The current Thameslink proposals for Tonbridge, should they come to pass, involve the construction of five freight holding sidings adjacent to the Redhill line on the site of the existing Jubilee Carriage Sidings, with the remainder of the yard (including the disused dead end sidings on the northern side) being replaced by carriage servicing sidings to hold fixed formation 12-car sets. This will potentially involve the elimination of most freight activity at Tonbridge, an outcome common to many railway "improvement schemes" in recent years.
An eastward view towards the station, taken from the well known lattice footbridge, shows the plethora of tracks converging towards ''A'' signal box. In the immediate foreground is a Bulleid ''Coffee Pot'', whilst to the right is an ex-SE&CR ''C'' Class. In the middle-distance, on the right, can be seen the signal gantry which at that time controlled the station approaches on the Redhill line. © David Glasspool Collection
Class 73 No. 73125, seen with Gillingham Driver Mick Bruce, is about to work the 11:26 pick-up goods to Hoo Junction via the Medway Valley Line. From front to rear, the train comprised box vans for the Metal Box Factory just before Strood; open wagons for China Clay for Strood Yard; and a cement tank for the Holborough Works at Snodland, complete with the guard in his van at the rear. © Roger Goodrum
Tonbridge ''power box'', opened on 18th March 1962, forms the backdrop of this view showing Class 33 No. 33003. This locomotive was withdrawn after crash damage in August 1987. The points in the yard are changed manually; their white levers can be seen to the left of the diesel shunter. © Wayne Walsh
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