Middle Stoke Halt

This was one of a series of minor stations — by definition, "halts" — which came into use between Gravesend Central and Port Victoria in July 1906 to serve a rather scattered community upon the Hoo Peninsula in North West Kent. As mentioned in the High Halstow Halt section, at the turn of the 20th Century the “rail motor” concept had started to gain momentum. Rail motors comprised a single chassis, upon which was a carriage body combined with a compact locomotive. These vehicles were seen as the answer by London & South Western, London Brighton & South Coast, and South Eastern & Chatham Railways to the question of how to provide a passenger service to small communities — not necessarily located in town centres and busy suburbs — at a comparatively low cost.

Middle Stoke Halt was situated 12⅓-route miles east of Gravesend Central, on the north western side of the single-track line that had originally opened in 1882. The station started life as a single timber-built platform, which was host to a diminutive waiting shelter of the same material.

A timetable in The Gravesend Reporter from 30th June 1906, advertising the service from July, shows five trains serving Middle Stoke Halt in either direction Monday to Friday. On Saturdays, there were seven services in the Grain direction and six in the Gravesend direction; on Sundays, three services called in either direction.

The original timber platform was replaced by a prefabricated concrete structure, the components of which were undoubtedly cast at Exmouth Junction works. The shelter aside, the design and construction of the then new structure was identical to those additional platforms that appeared at Cliffe and Sharnal Street stations in combination with the doubling of the 1¾-mile-long Allhallows-on-Sea branch, works on the latter of which were completed in preparation for the 1935 summer season. Therefore, your author feels that it is reasonable to assume that the concrete platform of Middle Stoke Halt was a Southern Railway (SR) product from the same time. A rectangular concrete waiting shelter, built to a standard design with a flat roof and casement windows, was also a feature of the rebuilt station.

In spite of early SR optimism regarding the development of Allhallows-on-Sea into a holiday resort, and modest passenger flows generated in later years by workers connected to the Anglo-Iranian Oil Refinery on Grain (construction started in 1950; the first crude oil arrived in November 1952), the line across the Hoo Peninsula was always a peaceful backwater of the North Kent railway network. Inevitable withdrawal of passenger services between Gravesend and Allhallows-on-Sea/Grain was raised by British Railways to the South Eastern Transport Users’ Consultative Committee, and subsequently advertised in local newspapers in the following year. Closure of Middle Stoke Halt to passengers, in addition to all other stations situated between Gravesend Central (exclusive), Allhallows-on-Sea, and Grain, was effective from Monday, 4th December 1961.

20th November 1961

A view towards Sharnal Street and Hoo Junction shows the halt in its ultimate form. The platform and waiting shelter were built to standard designs, using precast components from Exmouth Junction Concrete Works. Beyond the platform, there is little on the horizon — a typical Hoo Peninsula scene. © David Glasspool Collection