BECKENHAM AND BEYOND - 1850s


  

Despite the many early proposals, nothing actually got built.  The two dominant companies, the SER and the LB&SCR having resolved their territorial disputes settled down to consolidate their existing businesses.

The SER lost interest in expanding into North and East Kent, even though this had now become 'home territory' as a consequence of the agreement with the LB&SCR. Instead during the 1850s a number of smaller and independent companies produced proposals to provide this area with a service, see the menu to the right.  Many of these would have passed through Farnborough. 

Southeastern Railway

Nevertheless the Southeastern appreciated that their route to the coast was very circuitous.  In 1855 they produced a proposal for a more direct line from Lewisham to Tonbridge.  As can be seen from the maps it passed to the east of Bromley, with a connecting branch, and then continued between Orpington and St. Mary Cray to enter the Darenth Valley, which afforded the easiest way to the south, through the only gap in the north downs.



This second map shows a close-up of the alignment in the area from Bromley southward past Farnborough and Orpington, then via Lullingstone and Otford..



Once through the gap in the Downs the line would have continued south to join the earlier line just to the east of Tonbridge, and also to the east of the line as eventually built.

The proposal was abandoned, possibly because, there was no immediate competition to the company's dominance in Kent, and the Southeastern was already involved in a number of schemes to build further lines deeper into the county, stretching their financial resources.  However the board of the Southeastern was also at the time very divided, so it is possible simply that they could not come to an agreement how to proceed.  It proved to be a very costly mistake as it left the door open to the East Kent Railway to open their own through route to London a decade later.  This utilised in part the same gap in the north Downs through the Darenth Valley, which obliged the Southeastern to respond by taking a more expensive route through the tunnels at Polhill and Sevenoaks. See Completing the Main Lines.


Returning to the London area,  two proposals from smaller companies were approved and got the necessary funding, resulting in two lines being built from the London direction to what is now Beckenham Junction.

West End of London and Crystal Palace Railway

The West End of London and Crystal Palace Railway was a short-lived but nevertheless important company that built a line in South London connecting to both the South Western main line from Waterloo and the Brighton main line from London Bridge, They were instrumental also in extending the line through Wandsworth (Clapham Junction) to what became London Victoria station.  

The first part of the line, from New Wandsworth to Crystal Palace, opened 1st December 1856 and the extension to Norwood in 1857.

A further extension was immediately planned and approved to continue easterl towards Beckenham. Bromley, Farnborough and beyond.

See West End of London and Crystal Palace

But the line was built only as far as what is now Shortlands station.

The company was sold to the LB&SCR in 1859.


Mid Kent Railway

The first proposal using this name, of 1852, had at its start the newly built railway from London to Dartford via Lewisham.  The line would branch off at Lewisham and then head south passing to the east of Beckenham, through Bromley at about the location of the future station at Bromley South. From there it would run parallel to the main turnpike road but somewhat east of it through Farnborough onward into Kent.

See Mid Kent Railway

However once it became clear that the WEL&CPR would be successful in building their line to Beckenham, the Mid Kent changed their route to also go to Beckenham. 
The line from Lewisham was built and completed by 1857.  It was worked by the Southeastern Railway under a ten year agreement.

The company intended to extend their line from Beckenham  through to Croydon, but that never happened. However extensions were built to Addiscombe, to Selsdon south of Croydon on the Brighton main line, and to Hayes via West Wickham.

Later the Mid Kent Railway built the link from Shortlands to St. Mary Cray that completed the through route from North Kent to London, see Completing the Main Lines This line was leased to the LC&DR in 1862. The remaining interests of the Mid Kent were taken over by the SER in August 1866.

After many years of neglect and falling traffic the Selsdon link closed in 1982, and the Addiscombe branch in 1997. Parts of both lines reopened in 2000 as lines of Croydon Tramlink.

The Hayes branch is still in operation as a main line railway, although there have been proposals to convert this to be used for the southward extension of the Bakerloo Line.

RAILWAYS

 


Lines in the Beckenham Area

This map shows the lines through Beckenham Junction, as built  before the onward extension of the mid Kent line toward Addiscombe and Hayes, together with, branching off to the south,  the alignments of the earlier proposals for the various lines through Farnborough.



The dotted line to the left is the proposed route for the new more direct line toward London.  This is now the main line to London Victoria.

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