Sandling Junction

As part of the Kent Coast Electrification Scheme, three-aspect colour signalling was installed on the section of line between Smeeth and Archcliffe Junction. These formally replaced semaphores on 18th February 1962, marking the end for the SER signal box at Sandling. The decommissioning of this cabin saw that access to the still extant single track of the closed Hythe branch was controlled from a ground frame, the latter of which was released by the signalman at Westenhanger. When the cabin at Westenhanger was taken out of use, Sandling's ground frame could be controlled from Ashford’s "power box". After 1970, infrastructure cutbacks at the station were severe. The former "up" side branch line station building was demolished, the truncated remains of the Hythe branch lifted, the footbridge lost its roof, and all existing structures on the "down" main line platform dispensed with. Only a 100-foot-long section of platform canopy was retained on the "up" main line platform, fronting the still extant building, which had become the main ticket office. One of BR's trademark CLASP waiting shelters, 15-feet-long, emerged on the "down" platform.

The rural landscape north of the station was subject to considerable redevelopment after the April 1999 announcement revealing that ''Balfour Beatty Major Projects'' had won the contract to build the ten mile Ashford to Cheriton section of the CTRL’s ‘’Phase 1’’. This section runs parallel with the Kent Coast route for virtually its entire extent, and is elevated above the ex-SER line in the vicinity of Sandling. The whole of the CTRL’s ‘’Phase 1’’ was formally deemed complete on 5th August 2003, and scheduled international passenger services began using the new high speed route on 28th September of that year. Three years later, the CLASP waiting shelter on Sandling's ''down'' platform was demolished, subsequently being replaced by a modern-looking bus shelter equivalent.

During 1960, numerous wooden-bodied Pullman vehicles were withdrawn from service to become camping coaches. Conversions took place at the Pullman Car Company's Preston Park Works, every British Railways Region being a recipient of the modified vehicles. In March of that year, Third Class cars Nos. 15 and 16 were withdrawn for rebuilding into this format, the pair being bound for the Southern Region at Sandling.

Sandling Pullmans

Pullman Nos. 15 and 16: The carriages were completed during World War I, initially being commissioned into service during 1918 as ambulance cars by the LNWR. The end of the conflict rendered the ambulance vehicles obsolete, and in 1921 both carriages were rebuilt into Pullman cars under the instruction of the Midland Railway's Carriage & Wagon Superintendent, Thomas Clayton. Further re-buildings took place in 1932, when both vehicles were converted into Kitchen Cars (or, in Pullman parlance, ''Supply Cars'') at the Pullman Car Co.'s Longhedge Works in Battersea. Most of the Pullman workshops had transferred to Preston Park, Brighton, four years previously, where a vacant LB&SCR engine shed building had become available. The carriages comprised no seats, but a partial rebuild of each Pullman in 1937, this time at Preston Park, provided a bar counter. A final in-service rebuild of both carriages occurred in 1949, again at Preston Park, which sought to convert the pair to Brake Parlour Cars. A last visit to Preston Park in 1960 involved the conversion of the vehicles to Camping Coaches: this involved the blocking up of the gangway ends, but the restoration of the umber and cream livery. The carriages formerly displayed ''CAR No. 15 THIRD CLASS'' and ''CAR No. 16 THIRD CLASS''' respectively, within their name panels upon the lower half umber-coloured panel; these designations were replaced by ''CAMPING COACH'' text in a simpler, larger font. Car No. 15 was recoded by the Southern Region as No. P42, and Car No. 16 similarly became No. P41.


1990

4 CEP No. 1521 is seen entering Sandling whilst forming a Charing Cross to Ramsgate service, via Dover Priory. Of note is the final flight of footbridge stairs, on the right, which is encased in brick. © John Horton


February 1996

Class 373 No. 3217 is seen forming the rear of a "Eurostar" service, Chunnel-bound, about to plunge into the 954-yard-long Saltwood Tunnel. The embankment on the left was later re-landscaped to carry the Channel Tunnel Rail Link (CTRL), as seen below. © David Glasspool Collection


22nd June 2007

Over ten years later, the catenary masts of the CTRL are now visible upon the embankment. An ascent of the CTRL from just east of Westenhanger avoided the boring of a second tunnel. Another tunnel, in the form of the 100-yard-long Sandling Tunnel, exists 650 yards west of the platforms. © David Glasspool


21st June 2007

In the foreground is the track bed of the Hythe branch, which has partly become host to a ramped entrance to the platform. On the left is the triangular platform surface, created by the convergence of the "down" branch and "up" main line faces. The main line can just be seen emerging behind the fence, on the far left. © David Glasspool


22nd June 2007

A day later, the entire triangular platform surface, now devoid of a canopy, is observed in this eastward view. The track bed of the ''down'' Hythe platform line can clearly be seen on the right, whilst on the left is the main station building of the trunk line station. Directly ahead, marked by the small hut emerging from behind the vegetation, is where one of the refuge sidings terminated. At this point, there is now access to a pleasant foot path along part of the former track bed. © David Glasspool