Westenhanger

 

This station began life as a typical SER rural outpost, built according to the company’s prevailing ‘’economical’’ policy. However, it later became host to a somewhat extensive layout, to cater for the traffic generated by racehorse spectators. ‘’Westenhanger & Hythe’’ came into use with the Ashford to Folkestone section of the SER’s Dover trunk line on 28th June 1843, and comprised a layout quintessential of its building company. A pair of staggered platforms were brought into use, separated by a brown-brick road bridge. The latter could be used to traverse between the two surfaces or, alternatively, a track foot crossing was in evidence (a common feature of those stations which lacked footbridges). The platforms were arranged in such a manner that passengers using the track foot crossing always passed behind a stabled train, rather than in front of it, to avoid passengers being struck by a departing service (Staplehurst and Pluckley, to name but two sites, were also laid out in such a way). The ‘’up’’ platform was host to the main station building: this was a modest single-storey timber affair with a slated pitched roof, built to a standardised design. The SER favoured such buildings, because they could be erected quickly and cheaply – several stations along the company’s Weald of Kent route received structures of this ilk. Westenhanger’s ‘’down’’ platform continued for a short distance through the aforementioned road bridge, to meet the track foot crossing linking it with the eastern end of the ‘’up’’ surface. Waiting accommodation on the ‘’down’’ platform comprised a basic timber shelter, reminiscent of that which still exists at Pluckley, and this was positioned immediately to the west of the road bridge.

Goods facilities here comprised a single raised surface that resided on the opposite side of the running lines to the ‘up’’ station platform. Upon this elevated area existed cattle pens and a brick-built pitched-roof goods shed, the latter of which came complete with double wooden doors at its western end. Unusually, this structure was not rail-served; any freight would initially be unloaded from wagons onto the platform, and then transferred to the shed building. The platform was, however, served by a dedicated westward-facing siding, rather than feeding directly off the ‘’down’’ running line. The ‘’up’’ side was host to a westward-facing dock line, this of which itself formed a head shunt for a small eastward-facing siding. The layout was controlled by a diminutive timber signal box, no bigger than a garden shed, situated upon the western end of the ‘’down’’ platform, immediately adjacent the waiting shelter.

Change was soon afoot: in 1861, the existing ‘’up’’ side timber-built structure was replaced by an imposing two-storey-high yellow brick station building. In terms of a small, rural station, this structure was certainly grand, giving the impression that the site was more important than it was in reality. The structure was built to a rectangular floor plan of 30-feet by 35-feet, and peculiarly, all but one elevation had symmetrically-arranged top windows. An obvious oddity of the building from the outset was the brick colour: the structure was constituted of roughly half yellow brick, and half crème brick. It would appear that two distinctly separate types of brick batch were used during the construction – to the casual observer, the station building appears as though restorers only found time to clean half of the brickwork! Continuing on the theme of incongruous colours, a visit to the station today also reveals that the structure’s chimneystacks are of red brick construction! When originally opened in 1861, a flat-roofed platform canopy, complete with spiked valance, extended from the structure’s northern elevation, running the length of the building.

On 9th October 1874, the Hythe and Sandgate branch was commissioned, and until a station at Sandling Junction was commissioned on New Year’s Day 1888, passengers had to change between the branch and the main line at Westenhanger. It was at this stage that the ‘’& Hythe’’ suffix was dropped from the station name. Later, circa 1880, expansion of the layout occurred: a bay platform was commissioned – this merely involved laying an eastward-facing line behind the existing ‘’down’’ platform surface. A lengthy westward-facing siding also came into use directly opposite, beside the ‘’up’’ line. Re-signalling of the arrangement witnessed the commissioning of a new timber signal box, of SER design. This was positioned at the eastern end of the ‘’up’’ platform, immediately adjacent the road bridge, and replaced the garden shed affair directly opposite, on the ‘’down’’ surface. Circa 1888, the main ‘’up’’ side building received a single-storey addition to its eastern elevation, this being completed with an external finish akin to those unusual buildings erected at Nutfield and Sandling Junction.

 


22nd June 2007

 

A southward view reveals the 2003-opened CTRL in the foreground, the extensive grounds of Folkestone

Racecourse in the background, and the boarded up station building in the centre. In this view, we gain our

first glimpse of the peculiar brick work colour variation. David Glasspool

 


22nd June 2007

 

A westward view shows Class 375 No. 375712 running Dover Priory-bound. The unit is passing the site of

the ''down'' side goods yard, which consisted of a single siding serving an elevated platform and goods shed.

The differing shades of brickwork of the main station building are obvious in this view, and the red brick

chimneystacks are also witnessed. David Glasspool

 


22nd June 2007

 

A westward view from the ''down'' platform shows the staggered platform arrangement to good effect, which

has been lost at a number of stations over the years as a result of subsequent platform lengthening. Pictured

is the recent road bridge which spans both Kent Coast and CTRL lines. The platform staircase is of the same

period, as is the palisade fencing on the right. David Glasspool

 


 

Next: the History Continues >>

 


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