Crofton Park


Of all the stations along the Catford Loop, Crofton Park remains the most faithful to its LC&DR heritage, having avoided the many economies and changes experienced by other sites along the line. The station opened with the 4.7-mile long route between Nunhead and Shortlands on 1st July 1892. In both the Ravensbourne and Bellingham sections of this website, it has already been made clear that architecture along the line took on two basic forms: the former, Beckenham Hill, and Catford were of one distinct type, whilst the latter and Crofton Park were of another. All stations opened with single-storey red-brick main buildings positioned on the ‘’up’’ side, but there were variations among the group. The buildings at Catford and Ravensbourne were virtually identical in appearance, except for some minor differences in pitched roof design. Both demonstrated square window frames and prominent pitched roof sections. Beckenham Hill’s structure, however, differed in size; whilst it shared the aforementioned design traits of Catford and Ravensbourne, the building was double their length, in addition to being the only one to reside at the same level as the platforms (which would seem to explain why a larger design could be produced there). To say that Bellingham and Crofton Park were merely ‘’similar’’ could, undeniably, be considered an understatement, for the two sites utilised structural features which were literally mirror-image copies of each other. The station buildings, for instance, were based on exactly the same square ground area of 38 ft by 38 ft, and incorporated identical semi-circular windows and pitched-roof sections. However, whilst the façade of Bellingham’s building was Shortlands-facing, that of Crofton Park was London-facing, which saw the footbridge at the latter enter the opposite side of the building. Furthermore, as a consequence of the running lines at Crofton Park not lying perpendicular with the above high street (as was the case at Bellingham), but rather curving away, the station building resided at an angle to the platforms. This necessitated a longer footbridge connecting appendix between the ticket office and ‘’up’’ platform. In fact, the footbridge here was the longest on the route, stretching for some 95 feet between the station building and the ‘’down’’ side. This was not wholly due to the awkward angle of the main structure; when the Catford Loop was originally laid, an unusually wide gap was left between the ‘’up’’ and ‘’down’’ lines, which separated the platforms by an additional four feet. As customary on the route, the footbridge was fully enclosed, utilising a riveted metal base and a timber upper half.

Copious mention has been made of the station building; it is now worth turning attention to those structures at platform level. Each surface was protected from the outset by a 125-foot long pitched-roof canopy, supported by four wrought-iron struts. This was a standardised design used at all stations along the route from the outset. However, during the SE&CR’s tenure in the early 20th Century, the type was dispensed with at a number of stations, an alternate and equally attractive design being put in place at Ravensbourne, Beckenham Hill, and Catford. At most sites along the route, the canopies were backed at their rear with a brick wall, and featured timber wrap-around sides. Catford was the exception here, the waiting facilities instead being wholly timber-backed at their rear, thus reducing weight upon the railway viaduct the platforms resided on. Saxby & Farmer were hired by the LC&DR to signal the Catford Loop, and one of this contractor’s familiar cabins emerged at the ‘’country’’ end of Crofton Park’s ‘’up’’ platform, identical in design to that still in existence at the ex-SER’s Sturry station. Whilst the signal box may have controlled this particular section of line, there were no goods sidings to control. Unlike Ravensbourne, which boasted a goods yard from the outset, the environs of Crofton Park urbanised rapidly, so much that residential roads and industry flanked either platform; space for any sizeable goods arrangement was non-existent.

Service transformation occurred on ex-SE&CR suburban lines under Southern Railway ownership. The 1923-formed company moved swiftly to electrify such routes, and as early as 1st April 1925, EMU crew training had commenced along the Catford Loop. This was in connection with the electrification of the routes from Victoria and Holborn Viaduct, to Orpington via Bickley Junction. The full suburban electric service came into effect on 12th July 1925, and the scheme had included extension of both platforms at their ‘’country’’ ends utilising the ubiquitous prefabricated concrete. For this, the tracks were realigned at their ‘’country’’ end, reducing the unusually large gap between them. The ‘’up’’ line was slewed towards the ‘’down’’ track, which permitted the former’s platform to be extended beyond the signal box. Naturally, the wide gap between the lines remained the same in-between the original platform surface sections of 1892. The platforms’ gas lamp design was also altered during electrification, replacing the traditional Victorian ‘’diamond’’ lamp holders with rounded equivalents.

The British Railways era was unusually kind to Crofton Park, the station experiencing little degrading. This is perhaps emphasised by the fact that there were no additional facilities, such as goods sidings, to dispense with, such being features of the layouts at both Bellingham and Ravensbourne. The only notable loss was that of the Saxby & Farmer signal cabin, this having its swansong on 22nd March 1959, colour aspect light signalling replacing semaphores the following day. There appears to have been no extension of the platforms since the SR’s electrification of 1925, which allowed the station to accommodate eight-vehicle EMU formations, but the original LC&DR brick sections have since been refaced with smooth concrete. Although the enclosed footbridge has witnessed its windows being boarded up, structurally this station has changed little since its earliest days, leaving it as the Catford Loop’s most architecturally complete site.



The smart station building, which is worth comparing with Bellingham, was viewed on

23rd February 2007. The enclosed footbridge can be seen entering the structure from

the left. David Glasspool



A London-bound view from 18th June 2007 shows all major structures from 1892 remaining

intact. As can be seen at the bottom right of the picture, the tracks begin to assume an unusually

wide course apart. Although there was once a trailing crossover here, this does not explain why

such a large separation between the lines was required. David Glasspool



Mesh has replaced glazing in the footbridge window holes, but other than this, the cavernous

footbridge retains its Victorian charm and, thankfully, has avoided having its roof dismantled.

This 18th June 2007 view reveals the footbridge ''kink'' in the background, the change in direction

being required to meet the booking hall. David Glasspool



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