Bekesbourne has been an unfortunate case and as a result of severe degrading and rationalisation, has become one of Kent’s bleakest stations. It originally opened with the LC&DR’s Canterbury to Dover extension on 22nd July 1861 and at its prime was an intermediate station typical in character of its building company. The main station building on the ‘’up’’ side replicated that which is still in existence at Shepherds Well, whilst the ‘’down’’ side was host to a small timber waiting shelter, again another feature still extant at the latter. Indeed, the goods shed here was arranged similarly to that at nearby Adisham, being positioned to the left of the station building, albeit in much closer proximity. Goods provision at Bekesbourne was, however, not as generous, only two sidings (including the line feeding the shed building) being on offer. The station’s signal box, opened in about 1878, was a peculiarity; it was only one-storey high, positioned on the ‘’up’’ platform and sandwiched in-between the station building and the goods shed. The LC&DR does not seem to have repeated this trait at other stations, at least along its Dover main line, which made this arrangement somewhat unique.
Before station rationalisation, there were a few additions since opening. The first notable inclusion was the lattice footbridge, erected in 1911 to supersede a track foot crossing at the western ends of the platforms. As recounted in the Adisham section, post-1900 footbridges of this type differ from 19th Century erections by demonstrating lattice struts positioned wider apart. In the summer of 1958 the platforms were lengthened at their eastern ends utilising prefabricated concrete sections, in preparation for the commencement of electric operation the following year. Extensions also came concurrent with concrete bracket lampposts supporting electric lighting. Thereafter, the station’s fortunes declined - quite severely, in fact. The first blow, although somewhat customary for most intermediate stations, was the withdrawal of goods facilities in June 1961, coal having been a frequent traffic handled here. This was followed on 18th October 1964 by the closure of the signal box, its functions being assumed by the elevated cabin at Canterbury East. The bulldozers moved in during 1970 and except for the lattice footbridge, razed all structures to the ground. Their replacements were the far more inferior and dreaded rectangular ‘’bus shelters’’ of the period, and the concrete bracket lamps succumbed to more modern round-post metal equivalents. Then, in 1991, the bus shelters of 1970 were replaced with similarly sized glazed designs comprising a curved roof, but the charm of the station had long since gone.
12th February 2005
Canterbury is behind the camera in this view of Bekesbourne on 12th February 2005. The platforms are the oldest remnant of the LC&DR station, but the footbridge is at least of SE&CR origin. The bus shelters here are from 1991 and were painted red when first commissioned.
© David Glasspool