Clock House

The Addiscombe extension of the Mid-Kent Line from Beckenham opened on 1st April 1864 and gave the SER a ‘’back door’’ entrance to the LB&SCR stronghold of Croydon. However, the delightfully-named Clock House was a much later opening, eventually coming into use in June 1890. The station took its name from the clock tower of stables belonging to a nearby red-brick mansion, dating back to the early 18th Century. This was the sole main development in the area when the railway first passed through in 1864. The high street we know today (Beckenham Road) was a typical country lane surrounded by fields as far as the eye could see. By the late 19th Century, these green fields had rapidly given way to terraced housing and large semi-detached properties, as part of the urban sprawl. The opening of the station in 1890 kept the ‘’Clock House’’ name alive, for in 1896 its namesake was pulled down. Swimming baths were built on its site soon after.

Clock House resided 10 miles 23-chains from Charing Cross. An attractive station, it looked more like the brainchild of the LC&DR than an SER creation. A 90-foot-long ‘’high-level’’ station building straddled the running lines at the northern ends of the platforms, reminiscent of those stations of the SER’s rival at Bickley, Bromley, and Chatham. The main building was single-storey and of crème brick construction, and even the arched window frames looked more akin to LC&DR design practice. Virtually identical buildings came into use at Woodside and Elmers End. Down below existed two platforms, both of which were lined at their rears by high crème brick walls. They were accessed from the ‘’high-level’’ station building by flights of substantial brick-built staircases, covered for their full extent by an arched corrugated roof. Each platform was host to a splendid canopy, of standard SER design. They featured a semi-circular cross-section, an intricate clover-patterned timber valance, and ‘’up’’ and ‘’down’’ side canopies were 230-feet and 260-feet in length respectively. In addition, the ‘’up’’ platform had the luxury of waiting rooms. The latter were housed within a structure fabricated from the same brickwork as the ‘’high-level’’ building, the former of which had a hipped slated roof and was about 40-feet in length.

Behind the ‘’down’’ platform could be found a single southward-facing siding. This constituted the goods yard, and had a trailing connection with the ‘’down’’ line. Immediately north of this connection existed a trailing crossover between ‘’up’’ and ‘’down’’ running lines. The layout was controlled by an SER-designed all-timber signal box, located about 20-yards south of the ‘’up’’ platform. The cabin was of clapboard construction, complete with sash-style windows and a hipped slated roof. By 1912, the goods yard had acquired a second southward-facing siding, and the main traffic dealt with here was coal. 430-yards south of the station, on the ‘’up’’ side of the line, existed an electricity works belonging to ''Beckenham Urban District Council.'' The works was built as part of a Parliamentary Bill passed in 1903, which authorised the council to ‘’carry out street improvements to construct and work tramways and to make farther provision in regard to the electricity.’’ Maps up until at least the Great War period show no railway connection, but by 1933, a single trailing siding coming off the ‘’up’’ line had emerged (this was still evident in 1954).

The Southern Railway era brought the customary cosmetic alterations such as Swan Neck lamps and ‘’Target’’ platform signs, but layout simplification also took place early on. The SR soon electrified ex-SE&CR suburban lines, laying third rail from the London termini through to the Bromley North, Addiscombe, and Hayes branches during 1925. On 1st December of that year, electric services over these lines were scheduled to start, but these were put off until 28th February 1926 due to power supply problems. As part of this scheme, the trailing crossover at Clock House, south of the platforms, was removed. The connection between the goods sidings and ‘’down’’ line remained unchanged.

Typically, the British Railways era was one of rationalisation. The first casualty at Clock House was the SER signal box, this closing on 19th August 1962. Its removal permitted the southward extension of the platforms with prefabricated concrete, which coincided with the installation of a new design of electric lamp. Three-aspect colour lights were brought into use at the site at this time, but strangely, the rest of the Mid-Kent Line retained semaphore signals. Closure of the goods yard, which never expanded beyond two sidings, followed on 19th April 1965. Thereafter, the station remained largely intact, surviving the 1960s and 1970s with a full complement of original station structures, even retaining full-length SER canopies. Then, in the early 1980s, most of the platform structures were razed to the ground, save for a short 65-foot length of the ‘’up’’ side canopy. The latter retained SER stanchions, but the canopy was completely rebuilt. Tall lampposts were erected along those parts of the platform which were once under cover. The retaining walls which lined the rear of both platforms were retained, but that on the ‘’up’’ side cut down in height, except for that section which supported the remaining part of canopy. The staircase between the main building and ‘’down’’ platform lost its roof, but that on the ‘’up’’ side retained most of its cover.

Clock House: 1894

Ordnance Survey of Clock House dated 1894. At this time, the goods yard comprised just one siding, and a trailing crossover existed between the running lines, south of the platforms. The shaded areas indicate the extent of the platform canopies and station buildings. The station's namesake is marked on the right-hand side of the map and was soon to be demolished.


Looking London-bound, we see a rather blackened station building, BR Sausage Totems, and hexagonal lampshades. The clock face on the station building remains to this day. © David Glasspool Collection

Late 1970s

Typical 1970s British Rail signage and surface dirt from decades of pollution, but at least the original main building still stood. The architecture here was replicated further down the line at Woodside. © Kevin McArdell

Late 1970s

The "high-level" station building fronts onto Beckenham Road and at this time, the northern parapet of the bridge over the railway retained a feature from pre-Grouping days. The SE&CR sign in this northward view warned about the limitations of heavy loads driving over the road bridge. © Kevin McArdell