The Herne Bay Railway Historian

CommunityAd feature Mark Jones, The Herne Bay Railway Historian, discussing Herne Bay’s long lost railway.

 

Construction of a new lift and footbridge between platforms at Herne Bay station is expected to be completed later this year, improving access to the London bound (up) platform.

Although the current station was originally opened in 1864, the London-bound platform was reconstructed by the Southern Railway in 1926 following the “Grouping” of smaller railway companies into the “Big Four”. The new platform provided improved shelter from the elements with an extensive iron and wood canopy which had an apex glass roof to allow light through.

An up-loop line was installed for school and excursion trains. Although useful, it brought an end to the direct footpath from the Eddington underpass to the up platform and was replaced with a set of steps. The steps were used by actor Roy Kinnear in Ken Russell’s 1964 feature film “French Dressing”. Some artistic licence however given in the sequence of steps used in the film, as they were the only steps that were gated at the top. The platform was extended in 1959 to accommodate the new twelve-car electric trains that brought an end to the steam era on the Kent Coast.

Originally both the up and down platforms were much shorter in length, with a public foot crossing at the eastern end of the station leading to London bound platform, controlled by a crossing keeper.

Following the tragic death of 19-year-old Mary Ann Fuller who was struck by a train whilst using the crossing on 5th August 1883, calls were made for an underpass to be built.

This came in 1887 with the extension of the down platform to accommodate five extra coaches. The up platform was also extended to accommodate two extra coaches, although coaches were much shorter than their modern-day equivalent.

Cut into the western end of the up platform was a short bay platform used by excursion trains.

On 1st August 1895, two cars were detached from an excursion train too long for the platform and shunted onto the main line to allow passengers to board. This was to have tragic consequences. An approaching goods train from Ramsgate failed to stop at the home signal and ran into the back of the passenger train. There were a number of factors behind the accident which tragically resulted in the death of a young girl named Alice Maud Harrison who hadn’t yet reached her fifth birthday.

In 1898 construction of the up sidings began [now a bus depot]. This included a loading platform next to the signal box. Situated alongside Eddington Lane, the yard was largely used for coal deliveries. After the sidings were taken out of use in 1968, the yard continued to take coal deliveries by road. The location of the 1879 built signal box was considered a contributing factor in the 1895 train crash and was relocated to the western end of the down platform by Southern Railway in 1926.

In 1902, Spiers & Pond who operated the refreshment rooms, asked for permission to construct an additional bar/tea room on the up platform. They stated passengers were crossing the line to get to the existing refreshment room. Permission was granted under their current license, but it’s unclear if the new building was ever built. From April 1905 the licence was transferred to J. Lyons & Co.

Little is known about the waiting room which was situated on the former up platform, for there are no photographs in circulation. What we do know is that the waiting room was a relatively small building situated at the easterly end of the up platform which was demolished in 1926. Two notable events took place in that room.

On 6th January 1910, the station staff were given a New Year’s party in the waiting room, with musical accompaniment from the piano, with the fire aglow. The room had been draped with flags, and tables ladened with food. Station master Thomas Duncan McIntosh who had been unwell at that time was given a hearty welcome by the railwaymen. A toast was made to The King, followed by the National Anthem. The celebrations came to an end at 2am with a performance of “Auld Lang Syne”.

On 7th December 1913, Thomas Dawson Blackmore, RSPCA inspector from London, attempted to murder his younger lover in the waiting room. Blackmore, a married 37 year old, had become involved entangled in a love triangle involving 24 year old Eleanor Chester, the daughter of an engineer driver from Shrewsbury. Blackmore had plotted to poison Miss Chester before taking his own life, but the young lady managed to escape. Despite her ordeal, Miss Chester still called out for help to save Blackmore, but there was nothing that could be done. Mr. Blackmore had sent a farewell letter to his wife.

 

Mark Jones, The Herne Bay Railway Historian.

Facebook: @railwaysofhernebay

Twitter: @HerneBayRailway

Mark will be giving a history talk on the “Passmore Edwards Herne Bay Railwaymen’s & Friendly Societies Convalescent Homes” for the Herne & Broomfield Local History Group, on Tuesday 5th March. Find out more here.

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