Bromley South

Beyond Bromley existed a 20-mile gap in the railway, up until to Strood. At the latter, the metals of two companies merged: those of the South Eastern (SER) and East Kent Railways (EKR). In brief, the SER had reached Strood with their North Kent Line in 1849 and the company’s decision not to extend this east over the Medway to Rochester and Chatham, and thence to Faversham, led to the formation of the independent EKR. The EKR Act came into being on 4th August 1853, which allowed the company to build a 48½-mile double-track line between Strood and Canterbury. At Strood, it was the EKR’s intention to run over the SER’s North Kent Line, through which it would eventually be able to make a connection with the WEL&CPR’s network, thus providing access to the proposed West End terminus of Victoria.

East Kent Railway Openings
The SER countered the EKR’s proposals, claiming that the North Kent Line was already at capacity and was unable to accommodate extra trains. A less than perfect solution saw carriages of EKR trains attached to the rear of SER services at Strood and conveyed over the North Kent Line to London. This was to be an interim measure for the EKR, since the company took the decision to pursue an independent route to the capital, joining up with those fledgling lines in the Bromley area. The EKR's plan was to link up with the Mid-Kent at St Mary Cray, through an extension of its own line from Strood (as mentioned in the earlier Bromley Record excerpt).

East Kent Railway
Victoria Station & Pimlico Railway
Mid-Kent (Bromley to St Mary's Cray)
The EKR was known as the ‘’London Chatham & Dover Railway’’ (LC&DR) from 1st August 1859. On 3rd December of the following year, direct running between Canterbury and London Victoria, via Chatham and Bromley, was possible. Quick expansion in the east saw Herne Bay reached on 13th July 1861, Dover on 22nd of the same month, and Ramsgate on 5th October 1863. By an Act of 7th August 1862, the LC&DR was authorised to lease the Mid-Kent (Bromley to St Mary Cray), this coming into effect on 1st September of the following year.

The LC&DR had overcome one rival, the SER, but the company now had the London, Brighton, and South Coast Railway (LB&SCR), its neighbour at Victoria station, to contend with. The WEL&CPR, the lines of which the LC&DR used westwards from Beckenham to reach Victoria, had been purchased by the LB&SCR in 1859. Naturally, the latter levied toll payments on the LC&DR and gave preference to its own trains on the line. This saw the building of an avoiding line by the LC&DR between Beckenham and Battersea, which bypassed the existing WEL&CPR route to provide a quicker, more direct line to Victoria, ensuring the company was not at the mercy of the LB&SCR.

LC&DR Openings

During the twenty years following commencement of through running between London and Canterbury over the LC&DR route, the population of Bromley more than doubled. This was a prosperous and rapidly expanding borough, which received a second railway line to the capital in the late 1870s. Promoted as the ‘’Bromley Direct Railway’’, this was a venture backed by the SER and involved construction of a 1½-mile-long branch from Grove Park. Opened on 1st January 1878, the branch offered a shorter distance to London (Charing Cross), although the LC&DR route still had quicker journey times between Victoria and Bromley. Hereafter, the stations were known as ‘’Bromley LCDR’’ and ‘’Bromley SER’’.

The growth of railway traffic led to the birth of a couple of relief schemes aimed at taking pressure off the London end of the existing LC&DR main line. The first received Royal Assent on 12th August 1889 under the name of the ''Shortlands & Nunhead Railway Company'', today better known as the ‘’Catford Loop’’. This opened on 1st July 1892; it left the course of the Crystal Palace/Greenwich Park line at Nunhead and joined the main line at Shortlands. Originally leased by the LC&DR from the independent concern, it was purchased outright in 1896. Coinciding with this project was that of quadrupling the main line between Shortlands and Bickley, a route mileage of 2¼. This project began in 1893 and involved rebuilding of stations at Shortlands, Bromley, and Bickley.

Both Bickley and Bromley received ‘’high-level’’ station buildings during quadrupling works, as per the rebuilt Chatham, which straddled the tracks and faced onto a road bridge. These were attractive and pleasing single-storey structures, which featured crème brickwork and slated hipped roofs, frescoed with orange brick lining around curved windows. A pair of island platforms, about 610-feet-long, were constructed at both sites, those at Bromley extending east from the station building. At platform level, crème brick offices and waiting rooms were constructed, whilst copious protection from the elements was provided by splendid canopies on each island. These were of a triangular cross-section, sporting intricate timber valances upon an iron framework, and chimneystacks from the platform offices protruded through their roofs. The platforms were linked by an enclosed timber footbridge which backed onto the rear of the ‘’high-level’’ station building.

27th February 2004

Bromley South 27th September 2004

By the time of this view, the footbridge of 1986 was under a thick layer of grime, the canopies continued to wear dreary corrugated metal valances, but at least the platform offices looked well-cared for. © David Glasspool

27th February 2004

Bromley South 27th September 2004

Just sailing through: a ''Eurostar'' formation is seen nearing journey's end as it passes platform 3 in the ''up'' direction, Waterloo-bound. © David Glasspool

27th February 2004

Bromley South 27th February 2004

Spruce crème brickwork and ornate canopy brackets are evident in this westward view of platform 4. © David Glasspool


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