The South Eastern Railway's invasion into eastern Kent was authorised by an Act of Parliament on 23rd May 1844. Parliament had permitted the SER to construct a line diverging from its main Dover trunk route at Ashford, which would take a north easterly heading to reach the historic City of Canterbury, thence on to Minster, Ramsgate and ultimately, Margate. The latter was reached on 1st December 1846, the line having opened piecemeal to Canterbury on 6th February, and Ramsgate on 13th April. Before the completion of the line, the SER had been planning another cheap extension southwards to Sandwich and Walmer, the company having a noticeable affinity for circuitous routes. The then new line would be simple to construct, as the route traversed flat coastal land which, with fundamental preparations, would readily accept track.
Deal was soon reached and passenger traffic commenced to the terminus on 1st July 1847, just half a year after the opening of the through route to Margate. It is thought that the original terminus station consisted of what is now today's ''down'' side platform and buildings, with the then common pitched station overall roof, spanning the width of two parallel tracks. To the north of the station was sited a small two-road single-ended engine shed, which was sub-shed to that at Ramsgate. The line to Sandwich and Deal attracted modest amounts of traffic, the former latterly becoming the home of two of Britain's most famous golf courses, both carved out among the sand dunes, whilst the latter still retained an adequate marine trade. The line was set to receive greater levels of traffic when the two main rival companies battling to serve Kentish towns - the SER and LC&DR - paradoxically established a joint committee, as authorised by Parliament by an Act in 1874, to construct a line between the SER's existing station at Deal, and Dover. Emotions were not running so high between the two companies at the time, thus the two could feasibly join forces to complete the then new line. What would transpire to be a route of no longer than 8½ miles would take some seven years to actually complete, as the rate of construction slowed down due to periodic exhaustion of manpower and resources of both railway companies. The extension was known colloquially as the ''Dover & Deal Joint Line'', opening on 15th June 1881, and joined the existing LC&DR trunk route at a junction one mile north of Dover Priory. The SER were subsequently given running powers over the line into Dover Priory.
Meanwhile, Deal had acquired an extra platform, separated from the existing ''down'' side by three parallel through lines. The engine shed had been rebuilt to a three-road single-ended arrangement, whilst both ''up'' and ''down'' sides acquired additional sidings. Despite the station being modified as a result of the joint venture, architecture and design remained wholly-SER, with no traces of LC&DR involvement. Since the undertaking of the Dover & Deal Joint Line, it had become increasingly clear to both companies that amalgamation would soon be on the horizon, this of which occurred on 1st January 1899. Both companies had become unpopular with the public over time, thus a newly-Christened ''South Eastern & Chatham Railway'' now had the opportunity to redeem itself. As a result of the amalgamation, Deal's motive power depot became sub-shed to Dover.
Little changed at Deal station until the 1923 Grouping. The engine shed was the first casualty, being closed to steam traction in September 1930, its locomotive allocation being transferred to the then newly-built shed at Ramsgate. Thereafter, the building was used by the Civil & Mechanical Engineering department, surviving a number of bombing raids during World War II. Further Southern Railway alterations included area re-signalling, which saw the re-arranging of track work at the southern most point of the station, permitting platforms to be lengthened up to the road bridge. The goods shed in the the ''down'' side yard, north of the platforms, was demolished in 1940 and the whole area became dedicated to the handling of coal traffic. The last act of the Southern Railway before the impending railway Nationalisation was the dismantling of the overall roof across the ''down'' side track and centre line, shortly after World War II.
The line via Deal and Sandwich had been included in Phase 2 of the Kent Coast Electrification Scheme and on 2nd January 1961 had received third rail. As a result, the Southern Region instigated a track rationalisation programme which saw the removal of the engine shed and turntable site, although a number of sidings on the ''down'' side were retained. The ''up'' side single-storey brick-built station building saw demolition circa 1968, it having retained its traditional SER-style canopy until the very end - conversely, the ''down'' side had received a much more austere equivalent after the removal of the overall roof. Freight traffic made a brief comeback in 1979 as the former coal yard area was used to store piles of aggregate, this of which was to be used for the Thames Barrier at Greenwich. After the completion of the barrier, the remaining sidings were lifted and the centre through line between the platforms removed, it having been classified on paper as a siding by the Southern Railway. The reason for this was an interesting one: the SR decreed that all trains using the line were scheduled to stop at Deal, thus the centre track was eligible for siding status due to the absence of any through traffic.
12th February 2005
A northward view reveals the original terminus station building and lattice footbridge, the latter of which was formerly covered. Beyond the footbridge exists the signal box and a single post semaphore signal. The extension to Dover opened on 15th June 1881, when the left-hand platform opened with a single-storey brick-built structure. This was subsequently demolished and has been replaced by a complete contrast - a single bus shelter!
© David Glasspool
12th February 2005
An interesting semaphore signal is still in evidence at the south end of the station, by the road bridge. The signal arm is halfway down the post. ''EBZ'' is the signaling code for Deal - similar examples include ''EDH'' for Canterbury West and ''EBT'' for Wye.
© David Glasspool