As recounted in the Ramsgate section of the website, two separate concerns were in fierce competition with each other to serve what were considered prime locations in Kent; the companies were the South Eastern Railway and the London Chatham & Dover Railway. The South Eastern could, technically, have Parliament partly to blame for the formation of its rival, and partly itself. The avoiding of North East Kent by both the Redhill to Dover line (Parliament decreeing that only one entrance to the south of London was required, that of the London & Croydon Railway) and the North Kent Line instigated the formation of the ''East Kent Railway'' in 1853. The company's backing came mainly from the inhabitants of Faversham, and with the East Kent embarking on a new line between the capital and the English Channel Port, the battle for Kent had begun.
The first company to reach Thanet was the earlier-formed SER, which had received authorisation from Parliament for the construction of a thirty-four mile branch from Ashford to Margate. Ashford laid on the company's main Redhill to Dover line (which was not yet complete at the time) and provided a rather circuitous route between the London and the Thanet resorts. The branch was opened piecemeal, Canterbury and Ramsgate stations being commissioned on 6th February and 13th April 1846 respectively, whilst a temporary wooden station at Margate became operational on 1st December 1846. However, from the East Kent Railway's humble beginnings of running a railway service between Faversham and Chatham since 25th January 1858, the company was beginning to become a serious threat to the South Eastern, who had hitherto enjoyed the fruits of its railway empire. By the 13th July 1861 the East Kent, now renamed as the London Chatham & Dover Railway (LC&DR), began a service between Faversham and Herne Bay by means of leasing and later absorbing a smaller concern known as the ''Herne Bay & Faversham Railway''. Expansion continued thereafter, with the LC&DR approaching Margate from the west and then following the outline of the Thanet coast, to approach Ramsgate from the north. On 5th October 1863 the LC&CR opened the line throughout to Ramsgate (Harbour) via Margate (West) and Broadstairs on 5th October 1863. In review, Thanet was now served by two main lines built by two independent companies and its main coastal resorts of Margate and Ramsgate had two stations each to their name.
As explained in both the Margate and Ramsgate sections, rationalisation of lines and closure of duplicate stations in Thanet only came under Southern Railway ownership. Work began in 1926, involving the construction of a 1½ mile loop line between Ramsgate Town (of the SER) to Ramsgate Harbour (of the LC&DR), which avoided the need for a reversing manoeuvre to be performed at either station to continue onto Margate. Closure ensued: both Ramsgate stations ceased to function and were replaced by a then new impressive four-platform through station built by the SR upon the loop line. The site of Margate West was subsequently expanded and a brand new station built, but Broadstairs was an exception to the rule, the original station remaining open. This was because it was situated on the tight curve around Thanet which was reused by the SR, but simply converted into a loop with the opening of the 1½ mile extension: work was complete by 2nd July 1926. Consequently, Broadstairs retained LC&DR architecture, at least on the ''up'' side, which consisted of a two-storey brick building reflecting the shape of those stations situated on the LSWR's main line west of Salisbury - Axminster and Crewkerne, to name but two. The ''down'' side had been host to a smaller single-storey timber structure, but that had given way in 1926 to a far more substantial, despite being single-storey, brick building of SR design, complete with bell tower. The bricks used were identical in colour to those incorporated into Margate and Ramsgate stations. The imposing ''up'' side building then succumbed two years before World War II, as the SR standardised the station, erecting in its place a far more conservative single-storey structure in keeping with the ''down'' side of 1926. The ornate canopy was, however, retained.
Mention should be made of goods facilities. The LC&DR provided these on the station's ''up'' side, at the Margate end of the station building. Initially, this simply consisted of a single siding and a brick-built goods shed, complete with a wagon turntable just to the north of the building's entrance. Rotation of individual vehicles was a very common practice at the time, and not just for those companies in the South Eastern Division area. As expected for the period, the main traffic dealt with here was coal and as the Victorian resort expanded, the demand for this commodity followed suit. This necessitated the installation of further lines, the goods shed eventually being flanked by the main running tracks on its eastern side and an additional four sidings on its western side. With the decline of coal-fuelled fires and the general reduction in freight by rail, closure to the goods yard came on 3rd June 1963.
The ''Chatham'' line from Victoria through to Ramsgate, was included within Phase 1 of the Kent Coast Electrification Scheme. For this, a standard modification of platform lengthening at the station occurred, concrete extensions appearing at the south. Full electric working commenced on 15th June 1959, but it was not until the 1970s that passengers had a footbridge to utilise between the platforms. Up until then, passengers used the main road to pass underneath the railway, then up a flight of stairs (still in evidence) to the platforms. The 1970s footbridge is so basic in design to the point of ugliness, but at least it is a convenient facility.
A Southern Railway luggage label to Broadstairs. ''Stock 787'' was applied to all SR luggage labels, and was a practice inherited
from the LSWR. Raymond Fuell
A southward view from the cab of a Ramsgate-bound service in 1985 reveals prefabricated concrete platform
extensions and the 1970s footbridge, with the belfry of the 1926 SR ''down'' building rising above it on the left.
The car park on the right is on the former site of the goods yard. John Horton
10th March 2006
The main station building itself is of simple, but practical design, the prominent bell tower providing
some style. The rather damp scene is from 10th March 2006, and the building was in sound condition,
home to the ''Isle of Thanet Railway Society''. David Glasspool
10th March 2006
A northward view on 10th March 2006 towards Margate reveals the simple, but nevertheless
pleasing, station building and ornate canopies. The station lies on the distinct curve which
rounds the edge of Thanet. The footbridge in the background is of 1970s origin. David Glasspool
10th March 2006
A southward view towards Ramsgate on 10th March 2006 shows the position of the main station
building (left) and the curvature of the track, following the coastline of Thanet. Like Margate and
Ramsgate, the structures date from 1926 when the Southern Railway undertook a rationalisation of
the lines in the area, closing duplicate stations. The former glazing of the canopy roofs was replaced
by British Rail with the then customary corrugated sheeting. David Glasspool
General Station Review
Originally opened: 5th October 1863 (LC&DR station) 2nd July 1926 (Southern Railway station)
Level of originality: Very good. All major Southern Railway structures survive
General Condition: Buildings and canopies are solidly built - no concerns here (as of last visit)
London Chatham & Dover Railway (1863 - 1898)
South Eastern & Chatham Railway (1899 - 1922)
Southern Railway (1923 - 1947)
British Rail Southern Region (1948 - 1981)
London & South East (1982 -1986)
Network SouthEast (1986 - 1995)
Connex South Eastern (1996 - 2003)
South Eastern Trains (2004 - 2006)
Return to Index
Return to the Kent Rail Homepage or alternatively, check for Updates.
Website & Copyright information - Links - Contact the Webmaster
All content is copyright © David Glasspool