Kent Rail

Charing

 

This is one of a number of sites on the route from Swanley to Ashford which has stood the test of time particularly well. Charing came into use with the ''Maidstone & Ashford Railway’s’’ 18¾-mile eastward extension from the county town to the ‘’home’’ of the SER on 1st July 1884. Those stations east of Maidstone could directly trace their design traits back to the structures of the original 1862-opened Sevenoaks line. Indeed, it would certainly appear to be the case that such buildings were based on a modified design of Bat & Ball’s main structure – they are undoubtedly worthy of comparison. Six stations in total were commissioned on the 1884 line: Bearsted, Hollingbourne, Harrietsham, Lenham, Charing, Hothfield, and Ashford (the LC&DR’s terminus). The sites listed featured large two-storey pitched-roof main buildings. However, there was a significant difference among the group: Bearsted, Hollingbourne, Harrietsham, and Hothfield were all constituted of the crème brickwork used extensively by the LC&DR along the original ‘’Chatham’’ main line of 1860. However, the remaining sites instead demonstrated wholly red brick structures, reminiscent of those stations west of Maidstone, at Malling (West), Borough Green, and Otford. The red brick buildings on the 1884 extension are also more substantial than their crème brick counterparts.

As already touched upon, Charing, being red-brick in nature, featured its substantial main building on the ‘’down’’ platform. Seemingly rural stations commanded such large structures in light of the Station Master’s accommodation being amalgamated with the ticket office and passenger waiting facilities. Indeed, when the LC&DR opened its Gravesend branch in 1886, the sites at both Southfleet and Rosherville were provided with large two-storey houses which were isolated from the stations themselves. Thus, the station buildings at these locations were comparatively modest, demonstrating only a single storey. As per all intermediate sites along the 1884 Ashford extension, Charing was graced with an attractive brick-built sloped-roof waiting shelter, this featuring on the ‘’up’’ side. This itself demonstrated a rectangular canopy – which matched the design of its larger counterpart on the ‘’down’’ platform – in addition to featuring the LC&DR’s distinctive arched window frames in both eastern and western wall elevations, complete with glazing. Attention should be drawn to the fact that no station along this section of line was provided with a footbridge; passengers utilised track foot crossings, the one at Charing being situated at the western extremities of the platform surfaces.

Rural the station may have been, the layout here was in fact quite extensive. Every station on the 1884 extension was provided with freight facilities, which included the once common goods shed. Seven sidings were once evident on the ‘’down’’ side at Charing, six of which were westward-facing. One of these tracks formed a dock line, which terminated behind the ‘’down’’ platform, shortly before the main station building was reached. Of the remaining five, all trailed off from the running lines (of which there were direct connections with both ‘’up’’ and ‘’down’’ tracks) at an angle of about forty degrees. Finally, the seventh siding was to the contrary, it being eastward-facing. It did, however, have direct facing connections with both the aforementioned goods yard and the ‘’down’’ running line. The ‘’up’’ side was not without storage capacity, and a westward-facing refuge siding of considerable length (approximately 246 yards) was in evidence, this terminating behind the ‘’up’’ platform. As per the original Bat & Ball line and the Otford to Maidstone extension, contractors Saxby & Farmer were drafted in to signal the 1884 route to Ashford. One of this company’s attractive two-storey high signal cabins, complete with a brick base and timber upper half, was positioned just beyond the western end of the ‘’up’’ platform.

 


1965

 

This Maidstone-bound view from the footbridge is of interest, because it includes the Saxby & Farmer signal

box and the ''up'' starter at the end of the platform. On the right, behind the ''down'' platform, we see evidence

of the goods yard, the sidings which had recently been lifted. On the left, behind the ''up'' platform, is the lengthy

refuge siding mentioned in the main text. Swan neck lampposts abound on both platforms. © David Glasspool Collection

 


19th April 2007

 

An eastward view from 19th April 2007 shows a number of interesting features. Firstly, the attractive waiting

shelter is in view - note the chunks taken out of the canopy, to allow for the passage of large container wagons.

The window indentations are still much in evidence, although have for long been bricked up. Sandwiched in-between

the main station building and the waiting shelter, straddling the tracks, is the concrete footbridge of 1961, whilst

behind that is again the rebuilt bridge arch. This view also indicates just how tall the lamp posts actually are.

David Glasspool

 


19th April 2007

 

The recent platform extensions, complete with short sections of new palisade fencing, are witnessed on 19th

April 2007, as Class 375 No. 375816 trundles in from Lenham with a stopping service. David Glasspool

 


 

Next: The History Continues >>

 


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