Albany Park

In early 1934, adverts appeared in newspapers promoting a new housing estate in Sidcup by the name of “Albany Park”. Built by “New Ideal Homesteads Ltd”, semi-detached brick-built houses were available for £395 (£29,830 at 2021 prices) freehold, which could be secured for a £1 deposit, and weekly repayments — including rates, water, and insurance — amounted to 12 shillings 8 pence (£47.81 at 2021 prices) [ref: Daily Herald, 22nd February 1934]. The nearest station at that time was Sidcup, situated on the Dartford Loop Line, which was promoted as being under half an hour’s journey time from London Bridge by “Southern Electric”. The expansion of the urban sprawl from London into North West Kent had been largely driven by electrification of the three lines to Dartford — via Woolwich, Sidcup, and Bexleyheath — in 1926.

Albany Park Estate was large enough to attract its own railway station, situated 75-chains east of Sidcup and 12-miles 68-chains from Charing Cross. Perhaps the cost of providing platforms was funded, at least in part, by the estate’s developer. The station opened to traffic on 7th July 1935 (ref: The Railway Magazine, September 1935). Two platforms of prefabricated concrete construction, each 520-feet in length, were situated either side of the double track within a cutting, which ran along what was then the estate’s southern perimeter. Each platform was covered for 100-feet of its length by an upward-sloping canopy comprising a steel framework and plain timber valance, supported at the rear by a brick wall. Underneath each canopy, extending for about a third of its length, was a timber-built waiting room, whilst on the "up" platform, within the supporting struts of the footbridge, was a brick-built store room. A fully enclosed glazed footbridge, situated immediately west of the canopies, linked the platforms with the main building. Of the latter, this was situated at high level, at the top of the cutting on the northern side of the railway; it was a simple square-shaped building of brown brick construction, purely functional in design and lacking any finesse, situated at 45 degrees to the platforms. A mirror image station, albeit with some detail differences, was brought into use at Falconwood on 1st January 1936 (ref: The Railway Magazine, January 1936) to serve a then new residential development similar to Albany Park.

No sidings were ever laid at Albany Park; indeed, the station’s location within a restricted cutting would have posed a challenge accommodating anything more than the running lines. Presumably, any rail-delivered goods for the estate, such as coal, would have been handled at the yards of adjacent Sidcup and Bexley stations. Nevertheless, a signal box was evident at Albany Park, located just beyond the eastern end of the London-bound platform. This was a single-storey structure of brown brick construction, of similar proportions to the former cabin still in situ at Stone Crossing. The signal box is absent from the 1936 Ordnance Survey edition, but perhaps that is in error and the cabin was genuinely in existence from the outset.

Both platforms were lengthened at their London ends using prefabricated concrete components, to accommodate ten-car train formations that started to operate via Sidcup from 15th June 1955 (ref: Southern Electric 1909 - 1979, G. T. Moody). By the 1959 Ordnance Survey edition, the footbridge had been extended southwards and opened up on that side of the cutting; the 1951 edition still shows no access to the station from the south side being possible. A major earthslip between Albany Park and Sidcup occurred as a result of violent thunderstorms on the evening of Friday, 5th September 1958 (ref: The Railway Magazine, November 1958).

On Sunday, 1st November 1970, Albany Park signal box was abolished (ref: British Rail Southern, South Eastern Division, Signal Instruction No. 31 S.E.D.). Colour light signals replaced semaphores, the former of which were controlled from a then new signal box at Dartford, and Track Circuit Block working was introduced.

As of 1983, the timber waiting rooms underneath each canopy were still present; however, by 1994, these had gone. In about 2004, palisade fencing was installed within the footbridge, to separate the footpath route across the cutting from the entrances to the platforms. The timber canopy valances were still there in July 2009, but by August 2010 had been replaced by corrugated metal sheeting. At that time, the station took on an all-grey colour scheme.

August 1999

A London-bound view shows two-tone green Class 47 No. 47114 “Freightliner Bulk” passing a station which had changed little since opening, bound for Thamesport with containers in tow. The flat roof of the station building can just be seen above the cutting, to the top right of the locomotive’s cab. © David Glasspool Collection

23rd March 2006

Another London-bound view shows that red had since given way to dark blue on the lampposts. Underneath both canopies once existed timber waiting rooms, and the footbridge formerly had a complete line of glazing beneath its roof line. The footbridge was extended left (southwards) in brick during the 1950s to link both sides of the cutting. © David Glasspool

23rd March 2006

Save for “Southern Railway” branding, the main building was little changed in this view since opening. Very much a functional design with no finesse, similar structures came into use at Falconwood and Barnehurst. The building is situated at 45 degrees to the running lines. © David Glasspool