Stone Crossing

As part of the North Kent Line electrification, the Southern Railway set about modernising halts at Stone Crossing and Swanscombe. In fact, the company built a completely new station at the latter, 840-yards east of the existing SE&CR halt, of which it replaced on 6th July 1930. At Stone Crossing Halt, the existing station site was retained, but numerous alterations made. In 1930, the platforms were rebuilt with prefabricated concrete, and waiting shelters of this material also came into use on both surfaces. The ramps at their eastern ends, however, remained of timber construction. Electric lights upon tall concrete posts replaced gas lamps, and new ticket booths – also of prefabricated concrete construction – came into use beside the level crossing, on both sides of the running lines. In addition, new upper quadrant signals were installed at the eastern end of the ‘’down’’ platform on 28th June 1930 – a peculiarity of this installation was that the signal post shared the gantry with a telegraph post. Public electric services were extended from Dartford through to Gravesend on 6th July 1930.

During 1956, the platforms were extended at their western ends with prefabricated concrete, as part of the ten-car train scheme. The latter was devised as a way to relieve overcrowding on North Kent services during the peak hours, the earlier concept of double-decker trains being deemed impractical. Similar platform lengthening took place at numerous sites, and ten-car trains commenced between Charing Cross and Dartford via Bexleyheath on 14th June 1954, and via the Sidcup line on 15th June 1955. On 11th June 1956, ten car trains started to run via Greenwich, Blackheath, and Charlton, and on 16th of the same month were extended from Dartford to Gillingham.

It is believed that the ‘’Halt’’ suffix was dropped from the station name at the same time as that at Swanscombe, on 5th May 1969. Re-signalling of the North Kent routes soon got underway, with all three lines to Dartford being equipped with four-aspect colour lights. Beyond, to Gravesend and Rochester Bridge Junction (where North Kent and ‘’Chatham’’ lines met), three aspect colour lights were installed. From 1st November 1970, a new signalling panel at Dartford took control of the line between Falconwood and Northfleet, and thereafter Stone Crossing’s cabin was relegated to the status of gate box and ticket office. At this time, the SR ticket booths on either side of the crossing were demolished, and the signal box modified to incorporate a door on the western elevation, in addition to a miniature canopy. Three years earlier, the crossing keeper’s house had been demolished.

How much of the original SE&CR station still exists today? Very little, in fact. The signal box is undoubtedly the veteran structure on the site, dating from the halt’s opening in 1908, but everything else is of a later origin. The platforms are now an incredible 800-feet long, having received two notable extensions: the aforementioned lengthening in 1956, but also a second extension in 1992, for twelve-vehicle ‘’Networker’’ trains. For this, the platforms were fitted with cameras and television screens as part of a move towards ‘’driver only operation’’, where all train functions could be controlled from the cab, without the need for a guard. In 2008, the last bastions of the SR station, the prefabricated concrete waiting shelters, were demolished and replaced by soulless fully glazed types. The latter had started to arrive in force at many stations from 2004 onwards. At present, it is proposed to install a footbridge between the platforms, to replace the level crossing.

2nd May 2004

The station's namesake is pictured here on a hot 2nd May 2004. To the left of the main gate is the pedestrian walkway and this gate can be automatically locked from the former signal box when a train is approaching. © David Glasspool

7th September 2004

The former signal box was still sporting sash-style windows in 2004. The small canopy was added in 1970, when the cabin became a ticket office. Underneath the canopy, a door and ticket window were installed. © David Glasspool

7th September 2004

A very rural scene on 7th September 2004 as a view towards Dartford shows the station flanked by impressive rows of trees. The photograph is deceptive, for immediately to the right of the vegetation exists a plethora of business units which have emerged around the Dartford Crossing. At the ''up'' platform, we see a Charing Cross via Sidcup service. © David Glasspool