The station opened on the original southern half of what latterly became known as the ''Medway Valley Line'', between Paddock Wood and Maidstone West. Services commenced along the single track on 25th September 1844. Double-track arrived in 1846 and it was in this year that the standard SER station layout emerged: consists were two staggered platforms, each separated by a level crossing, and the familiar clapboard station building - economical, but practical. To finish off, a double-track goods shed was situated on the ''up'' side, but given the staggered nature of the platforms, was opposite the ''down'' platform. Unlike the station building, the goods shed was constituted of solid red brick, but it is the main clapboard structure which is of particular interest. It was one of the first ever timber buildings erected by the SER, later to become synonymous with the company, but it did differ from its later clapboard counterparts, examples of which can be found on this website's Bexley and Northfleet pages. What was usually the norm with clapboards was the incorporation of a platform canopy stretching the length of the building; at East Farleigh, the arrangement is somewhat unique and quaint. Smaller awnings provided protection just over the two evident doorways, although perhaps this could be considered generous in light of the absence of any protection at many other contemporary SER country stations. It is worth noting that the station building did at least incorporate a proportion of brick content: the double chimney stacks and the foundations.
More clapboard arrived on the scene in 1892 with the erection of a signal box, sandwiched in-between the station building and the level crossing. Again, it was the standard SER design with weatherboard sides and sash window frames. With electrification as far as Maidstone West on 2nd July 1939, the service between the aforementioned station and Paddock Wood was push-pull; there had previously been through services from London and terminating trains at Strood. At Paddock Wood, other steam-hauled services were connected with, although beyond Maidstone West, trains to London via the North Kent Line were usually electric. Full electrification through to Paddock Wood came on 12th June 1961.
Despite modernisation, the station retained its semaphores and signal box at a time when many other stations in the region were losing such features - the semaphores were to last for over four decades longer. The goods shed had closed on 3rd June 1961, but the building was retained for several years afterwards, although no trace of it remains today. In the early 1970s, the standard ''Modern Image'' flat-roofed bus shelter arrived on the ''up'' platform - in 1988 these were replaced by today's curved roof structures. The signal box was the next to see change, this losing its SER-styled sash frames in 2002, being replaced by modern aluminium-framed double-glazed windows. This was followed in December 2004 by the re-signalling of the whole Medway Valley Line, semaphores being replaced with aspect colour lights during 2005, such having been completed at the end of October of that year. On the 5th of the following month, salvage squads from the Kent & East Sussex, Bluebell and Swanage Railways arrived in force to acquire any useful parts. Some decommissioned components from the Medway Valley Line will, however, be retained by Network Rail for re-use on other surviving semaphores around the country.
A 4 VEP is seen forming the Strood to Paddock Wood shuttle service in this view from the footbridge in October 1981. In addition to the signal box retaining its sash-style windows, the main building was also still host to its brick-built chimneystacks. The platform was still equipped with BR (S) prefabricated concrete lampposts. The former site of the goods yard is on the left.
© Denis Hooker
30th August 1999
4 Cig No. 1843 is seen departing East Farleigh for Maidstone West, at a time when the charming signal box was still host to SER sash-style windows. 4 Cig units first received South Eastern Division allocation in July 1991, when thirteen of the type were transferred from Brighton to Ramsgate.
© David Glasspool Collection
9th February 2000
A year 2000 view shows a 4 VEP approaching on the 10:00 Maidstone West to London Bridge service. The main building's chimneystacks were long gone by this time, and the signal box was on the verge of renovation.
© Denis Hooker