Stoke Junction Halt

On 14th May 1932, the Southern Railway (SR) opened a 1¾-mile-long single-track branch line to Allhallows-on-Sea, upon the Hoo Peninsula in North West Kent. The branch had been authorised in June 1929, construction started in August 1931 (ref: The Railway Magazine, March 1933), and it joined the 1882 Hoo Junction to Port Victoria line 9¾-miles east of the former. The point of divergence of Port Victoria and Allhallows-on-Sea routes was named "Stoke Junction", which had until that time been the location of a level crossing, gate box, crossing keeper’s cottage, and a siding on the southern side of the line.

A station by the name of "Stoke Junction Halt" came into passenger use two months later than the branch line to Allhallows-on-Sea, on 17th July 1932, at the start of the SR’s summer timetable. A single platform constructed from standard prefabricated concrete components, 120-feet-long, was erected on the northern side of the single-track line, west of the level crossing and junction, and upon this was situated a small timber waiting shelter. The SR replaced the existing gate box with a then new signal box that was equipped with tablet instruments (ref: The Railway Magazine, March 1933); a passing loop was provided beyond the junction on the Allhallows-on-Sea branch, and the existing siding — which, based on period maps, dated from the earliest years — was retained. Two trains daily in either direction were maintained to Grain Crossing Halt and Port Victoria after the opening of the Allhallows-on-Sea branch.

The section of line between Stoke Junction and Port Victoria was worked on the key token signalling system. Effective from Sunday, 2nd September 1951, this section was cut back to a then new station at Grain, opened that day and situated 400-yards east of Grain Crossing Halt, the latter of which it replaced. Between Grain station and Port Victoria, the existing single-track line was converted into a siding (ref: British Railways, Southern Operating Area, Signal Instruction No. 1, 1951). Port Victoria had officially closed to passenger traffic as and from 11th June of the same year (ref: Clinker's Register, 1980).

By May 1960, the local press was reporting on proposals by the Transport Commission to withdraw passenger services between Gravesend (Central), Allhallows-on-Sea, and Grain. In November of the following year, formal adverts were placed by British Railways’ Southern Region in local newspapers, stating that the last passenger trains between those stations would run on 3rd December 1961. Closure to passengers was effective from the following day, and ten passenger stations went out of use: Grain, Allhallows-On-Sea, Stoke Junction Halt, Middle Stoke Halt, Beluncle Halt, Sharnal Street, High Halstow Halt, Cliffe, Uralite Halt, and Denton Halt. The last of those stations named had the distinction of being located upon the electrified North Kent Line and only being served by steam-hauled trains.

The Signalling Record Society’s Signal Box Register (Volume 4, Southern Railway Register Section A14: Hoo Junction to Port Victoria) indicates that the signal box at the former Stoke Junction closed on 4th December 1966. The same source suggests that this was the original cabin from 1882 although, as earlier mentioned, The Railway Magazine of March 1933 indicates that the SR provided a new signal box in 1932. The level crossing was eventually bypassed by the road after completion of a bridge over the railway in 2011.

20th November 1961

An eastward view has Stoke Siding, which dated from the line’s earliest years, in the right foreground, flanked on one side by stacks of coal and equipped with a loading gauge. The signal box can just be glimpsed emerging from behind the van in the background. To the left of the van can just be seen the gates of Stoke Level Crossing, beyond which is the junction between Allhallows-on-Sea and Grain branches. Continuing in the left background is the roof of the crossing keeper’s cottage and, finally, the prefabricated concrete platform of Stoke Junction Halt. Unlike the other halts along the branch from Hoo Junction that were rebuilt wholly in prefabrication concrete, Stoke Junction retained a timber waiting shelter for its entire career. © David Glasspool Collection