An engine shed had been planned for Gillingham in as early as 1884 (then named ''New Brompton'') by the LC&DR, consisting of three lines and a 50ft turntable northwest of the structure. Opening in 1885, the shed's locomotive allocation during SE&CR days consisted mainly of ''H'' and ''D'' class suburban tank engines, which worked services through the Medway towns and along the branch line to the Isle of Sheppey. Electrification came comparatively early to the North Kent Line and the ex-LC&DR route from Victoria through to the Medway towns, inevitably seeing the locomotive numbers on shed at Gillingham drop considerably, the fifty engine allocation having been reduced by half by 1950. The shed mostly accommodated ex-SECR 'C' class 0-6-0 tender locomotives and a handful of Ivatt 2-6-2 tanks until complete electrification resulted in these types being either withdrawn from service or allocated to alternate sheds.
Like the engine shed, this was built on the ''up'' side of the running lines, but on the eastern side of the level crossing. It opened in 1939 as part of the Southern Railway's electrification of ex-SE&CR suburban lines, direct London to Gillingham and Maidstone West electric services commencing on 2nd July of that year. The depot building measured 820 foot by 30 foot, and accommodated four terminating tracks, it being capable of accommodating twelve car formations. A mechanical carriage washer was also installed onsite, this being similar to those which had appeared at Oprington and Slade Green in 1935. The 1939 scheme involved electrifying 117 miles of track, which incorporated the Gravesend to Maidstone West extension, and installing third rail between Swanley Junction and Gillingham, and between Otford Junction and Maidstone East. The works were priced at £1,750,000, equating to £74,564,850 at 2006 prices.
The main allocation of EMU was 2 Hal from the outset; as a result, the predominantly suburban tank engines - ex-SE&CR ''H'' Class - disappeared from the steam shed, along with a number of tender engine ''D'' Class 4-4-0s, virtually halving the shed's locomotive allocation. Ex-SE&CR 0-6-0 ''C'' Class tender engines retained a strong presence, however. From 1952 onwards, 2 / 4 EPB units began arriving at the depot, replacing pre-Grouping suburban unit types; this was followed by general modernisation of the electric facilities in connection with the 1959 electrification of the ''Chatham'' line. The shed struggled on beyond 1959 as a depot for the few steam engines which worked the freight along the Sheerness branch line, until the dieselisation of such traffic in June 1960, which rendered the depot obsolete. As a result it closed on 13th of that month. In 1993 this site gave way to a new automatic signalling centre, which had replaced the original industrial development of 1972. Of course, the EMU shed remains, complete with new corrugated metal sides and roof.
With thanks to Colin Duff for confirming crucial information.
An eastward view on 11th March 2004 reveals a double slip at the bottom left and the main EMU
shed on the right. In the background are two Class 465 units and Bulleid 2 EPB No. 930003. The
signal bracket above the digital clock was formerly host to a pair of semaphores. David Glasspool
A trio of sidings and associated carriage walkways are located to the right (south) of the EMU
shed and are also seen on 11th March 2004. David Glasspool
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