Snowdown Halt

Snowdon Colliery was established here in 1907 after coal deposits were found in abundance underneath the plentiful chalk composition of Kent. With the flooding of the first shaft, coal extraction would not begin until 1912, but a station – Snowdown Halt – did appear some two years later, in 1914, on the existing main line between Canterbury East and Dover. This was for the benefit of the colliery workers, most of who came from Dover, but many still walked the whole distance and if they were unable to reach work, they were simply not paid. Opened by the SE&CR, the station was typical of many of the company’s latterly conceived halts, being of all-wood construction with no waiting accommodation. The mining operation actually went bust in 1922 in response to a strike by workers the previous year, but the station remained and in 1924, the colliery was bought-out by another company, Pearson & Dorman Long. This company not only re-opened the Snowdown complex, but also opened another colliery at Betteshanger and established a purpose-built village for the miners, at Aylesham. A halt was opened at the latter in 1928.

The existing structure at Snowdown today is evidently not the original halt of 1914, but would instead appear to date from 1954, when a number of ex-SE&CR wooden platforms were rebuilt by the Southern Region into prefabricated concrete. The two wooden waiting shelters are decidedly of Southern Railway origin, being based on the same fundamental design as those which formerly graced Aylesham Halt. Indeed, this station is a lucky case, for it escaped the dreadful CLASP rebuildings of the late 1960s and 1970s which neighbours Aylesham and Bekesbourne were subject to. However, there were minor modifications to the halt during this period, these simply being the removal of the 1954 concrete bracket lampposts and installation of round posted metal examples in their place. The shelters themselves have also seen alterations: the side windows were filled in and the wooden panelling removed from their façades, leaving the structures ''open'' from the front. It is worth noting that these shelters have never boasted a canopy valance. Although electric services commenced on 15th June 1959 along this line as a result of the Kent Coast Electrification, the Faversham to Dover section via Canterbury East retained its semaphore signalling and indeed, Snowdon retained a signal box on the ''down'' side, to the south of the platforms, which had controlled access to the colliery rail network since 1953. When the colliery closed in 1987, the associated sidings still remained and were taken over by British Rail for storing train loads of components for the Channel Tunnel construction project. After this usage had finished, the signal box was mothballed and switched out of use permanently, but its officially decommissioning did not come until 2005; it still stands today, complete with glazing.


 

A northward view on 12th February 2005 reveals the two waiting shelters upon the Southern Region

concrete platforms. The road bridge in the centre has provided a passage between the two platforms

from the outset, and the staircases can clearly be picked out on either side. A semaphore signal can

just about be deciphered at the end of the curve, beyond the road bridge. One of the distinctive

orange-brick colliery pitched-roof buildings can be seen emerging on the right. This was in fact

the colliery rail network's engine shed. David Glasspool

 


 

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