Otford Junction

On 1st August 1859 the ‘’Sevenoaks Railway’’ Act was passed:

The works which it would appear by the deposited plans to be intended to authorize the new Company to execute are a Railway, length 7 miles 76 chains, from a junction with the authorized line of the Western Extension of the East Kent Railway, in the parish of Sutton-at-Hone, to a point near Sevenoaks (Railway and Canal Bills: Session 1859)

The line was single track and capital of £120,000 was authorised in the form of £20 shares, in addition to a further £40,000 in loans. Of the Western Extension of the East Kent Railway mentioned above, this came into use on 3rd December 1860 between Strood and St Mary Cray. The Sevenoaks Railway, which joined this line at what became ‘’Swanley Junction’’, was brought into use for public traffic on 2nd June 1862 and terminated on Sevenoaks’ northern periphery. A station on the outskirts of Sevenoaks was forced on the railway by local landowners, who objected to the line running over or near their land.

On 7th July 1862, the ‘’Sevenoaks Railway’’ was empowered to double the route and construct a 15⅓-mile single-track line to Maidstone. As a result, the company was renamed the ‘’Sevenoaks, Maidstone & Tunbridge Railway’’ and was authorised to raise capital of £825,000, in the form of £10 shares, and a further £271,000 in loans. The Maidstone line came into regular use on 1st June 1874; this branched off sharply from the Sevenoaks route one mile north of the terminus at the latter, where the London-facing Otford Junction was created. On the same day, Otford’s first station came into use at the junction, beside a farm. This comprised three platform faces, its raison d’être being to serve as an interchange point between Sevenoaks and Maidstone trains.

In the meantime, there had been changes at the southern end of the line. The South Eastern Railway arrived in Sevenoaks in 1868, opening a large station (Sevenoaks Tubs Hill) on 2nd March of that year in a much more central location than that of 1862. Originally a terminus for the line from Charing Cross/Cannon Street via Chislehurst, the route was opened to passenger services through to Tonbridge on 1st May 1868, freight having traversed the entire stretch since the previous February. This provided the necessary impetus for the original Sevenoaks Railway via Otford to be extended the extra mile southwards, connecting with the SER main line immediately north of Tubs Hill station. The connecting line came into use on 1st August 1869; the original terminus station was known thereafter as ‘’Sevenoaks Bat & Ball’’, the suffix being adopted from a local pub.

Historic documentation reflects that the LC&DR did not start working the Swanley to Sevenoaks line until 30th June 1870, suggesting it was operated by the independent Sevenoaks, Maidstone & Tunbridge Railway until that time. This was followed by the smaller concern being vested in the LC&DR on 30th June 1879. Powers to double the Maidstone branch had previously been secured on 11th August 1875.

As part of the works to double the Maidstone line, alterations were made at Otford Junction. About 750-yards south of here, a second connection was made between the Maidstone and Sevenoaks lines, allowing direct running between these towns and creating a triangular junction in the process. This double-track loop came into use on 1st November 1880, which resulted in the closure of the interchange platform at Otford Junction and, somewhat surprisingly, the eventual lifting of the original northern part of the triangle. Thereafter, any London to Maidstone trains via Swanley called, and subsequently reversed, at Sevenoaks. Double-track working along the entire stretch of the Maidstone line commenced on 1st July 1882 and, on the 1st of the following month, a ‘’proper’’ station was opened to serve the village of Otford. This was located nearly ⅔-mile north of the original Otford Junction.

Otford Junction: 1909


Otford Junction: 1909

The sidings to the left of the Swanley to Bat & Ball line served a rubbish dump, the refuse being brought down to the site by rail from Southwark. The site was formerly host to ''St John's Brickyard'', this having ceased operation in 1897. Drawn by David Glasspool

9th April 1978


Otford Junction: 9th April 1978

A distant view looking west showing Otford Junction Signal Box, which was located on an isolated embankment approximately half a mile south of Otford Station. A new bridge to cross the future M26 motorway had been constructed immediately to the north of the junction, but stood unused for several years until the motorway was eventually constructed and opened in September 1980. © David Morgan

9th April 1978


Otford Junction: 9th April 1978

Taken from what would now be the M26 central reservation, a closer view of the new motorway bridge with a 2 HAP unit crossing the junction on a Victoria to Maidstone East service. © David Morgan


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