Station Name: BRASTED

[Source: Nick Catford]

Brasted Station Gallery 2: c1950s - May 1961

Brasted, looking towards Westerham, on an unknown date but during BR days and after the station was downgraded to an unstaffed halt in 1955, if the maturing undergrowth is anything to go by. The object on the roof of the corrugated hut, left, was probably a ventilator. The hut was a lamp room; it appeared at the station after 1909, lamps having previously been stored in the station building.
Photo from John Mann collection

Class H No.31279 propels away from a somewhat forlorn-looking Brasted while operating duty 306. The date is unknown but this locomotive resided at Tonbridge between June 1958 and June 1959 so will be within that one-year window. The train is one of the ex-rail-motor sets, 481 or 482, which is right for this period. These two sets were also withdrawn during 1959 but by then had spent a short while on the Grain / Allhallows services. With this in mind, and with the above view seemingly taken during the summer, the photograph most likely dates from August or September 1958.
Copyright photo from Colour Rail 308975

Class H No.31279 pauses at Brasted with a service for Dunton Green. This view probably shows the same train as in the other view of this locomotive thought to have been taken in 1958. The dark patch on the smokebox door is deduced to be a shadow.
Copyright photo from Colour Rail 309255

A view of Brasted from a train on 25 October 1958. The train is heading for Dunton Green and comprises, the photographer informs us, ex-SE&CR set 663. Little is on record about this particular set but the National Railway Museum does have a drawing of certain technical features relating specifically to this set. The NRM also states the set was of SER origin but this detail is academic. The locomotive would, in 1958, have been the by-then-usual Class H tank. On the right a coal merchant's lorry is seen. It belongs to P Hawksfield & Son, a Dover-based coal merchant with an office in Rochester. There are also a couple of open wagons in the goods yard. The Southern 'target' nameplate is quite prominent in this view but rather less prominent are passengers. In many instances where Southern stations were downgraded to halts the word 'Halt' was hand painted onto the bottom part of the circular section. Photographic evidence show that this happed at Brasted, albeit somewhat crudely. This would have been done at the same time as the 'Brasted Halt' running-in board was provided during, or
subsequent to 1955.
Photo by David Pearson

An undated trackside view of Brasted station looking towards Westerham on a damp and dismal day. The presence of a large number of posters, on both the station building and the railings, suggests Brasted was still a staffed station, as opposed to an unstaffed halt, at this time. The car on the right is a Morris of the Oxford, Isis and Cowley 1200 range and was first introduced, as the Oxford Series II, in May 1954. We can therefore date the image to no earlier than May 1954. A Southern 'target' nameboard can be seen on the nearest lamp standard and, unlike Chevening Halt, the station was gas lit. The lamps appear to have been of the same Sugg 'Littleton' type as installed at Westerham. Out of interest the Morris Oxford Series II was also produced under licence in India as the Hindustan Landmaster and in 1957 the tooling for the Oxford Series III was sent to India and the car emerged as the simpler-styled and well-known Hindustan Ambassador. Production continued until as late as May 2014, some sixty years after the above photograph was taken and around half a century after the Westerham branch ceased to exist.
Copyright photo John Mann collection

On 26 July 1959, Class H No.31518 working duty 304 approaches Brasted with a service for Westerham, the driver having closed the regulator as the train coasts towards the station. The train is one of the former rail-motor sets, either 481 or 482, and is in red livery. It would appear a couple of passengers are anxious to alight from the train. This locomotive would go on to operate the final push-and-pull services on the branch just over two years later, but with Maunsell set No.610.
Photo by Chris Gammell

Brasted looking towards Dunton Green sometime in 1960. A fair amount of activity is evident; apart from the group of people on the platform, others appear to be heading for the station from the cars on the right. The car on the extreme right is a Rover P4; a rather splendid range of cars often referred to as 'The Working Man's Rolls Royce'. The photograph is a little vivid and colours somewhat misrepresented. The station building appears rather more buff than it actually was and the Rover was probably in what Rover called ' Shadow Green', a rather restrained greyish-green colour.

The BR Southern Region running-in board seen here in 1960, making it perfectly clear that (from 19 September 1955) Brasted was a halt and no longer a station. This sign had been mounted on top of the original board which is visible in several post-closure views. It is not known if this BR sign was of the familiar stove-enamel type or if it was conventionally painted. Given that it was no more than five years old at the time it was photographed it does not appear to have weathered very well, suggesting it was painted. Southern green (which came in various shades over the years) was notorious for weathering badly and not just in coastal areas where its resilience was especially bad. On the left the ex-LB&SCR van body which sat for many years at Brasted can be seen. It survived closure of the branch and was wheel-less yet retaining its underframe. It was removed in 1965. A close-up view of the van appears elsewhere in these pages.
Copyright photo from Colour Rail 106096

In March 1960 Class H No.31519 departs Brasted with a Westerham service. The Westerham branch was to outlive No.31519 as she was withdrawn from Tonbridge shed in February 1961. In that same year a number of other class members were push-and-pull fitted for use on services centred upon Tunbridge Wells West and Oxted, so the push-and-pull gear from No.31519 may well have ended up fitted to one of those. The locomotive had only intermittent periods at Tonbridge shed and as a result was one of the less-photographed members of the class on the Westerham branch. The train is one of the ex-LB&SCR push-and-pull sets, probably either 731 or 732. Many of these older sets of pre-grouping origin were painted in the red livery seen above which was rather more pleasing to the eye than the varnished, unlined malachite green of the later sets.
Photo from David Glasspool collection

A further view from March 1960 showing No.31519 propelling a service to Dunton Green away from Brasted. This is one of the very few views showing the goods yard fan at the east end of Brasted station site. The signal box once stood at a spot on the up side and behind where the train is in this view. Subsequent to its abolition, siding access from the running line was via ground frame but it is out of view in this image. As recorded elsewhere, the goods train, in BR days at least, ran in the early morning before passenger services commenced and then late at night after the final passenger train of the day had run. The goods locomotives were the same ones which took up, or came off, the branch passenger service but a number of different locomotives would do a stint on the branch during the
course of the day.
Photo from David Glasspool collection

On 14 May 1960 Class H tank No.31500 and push-pull, to use the Southern's term for this method of operation, set arrives at Brasted with a Westerham-bound service as what looks like two children wait on the platform. The train is the 4.50pm ex-Dunton Green. The set is probably ex-LB&SCR No.723, which is known to have been on the branch around this time. Despite Brasted becoming an unstaffed halt almost five years previously, signage and posters remain giving the impression of a staffed station. The Southern Railway had devoted some attention to the station in the mid-1930s, the most obvious of which is the replacement of the gas lamps with the Sugg 'Littleton' type and swan-neck brackets as at Westerham. Some sources state the Southern also raised the level of the platform although what actually appears to have happened is the platform was simply resurfaced rather than raised. The telegraph pole carries a line to the station building but it is not known if a telephone was still present after the station became unstaffed. A further mystery surrounds the gas lamps subsequent to Brasted becoming an unstaffed halt. It is not known if they were altered to light automatically or if somebody had to light and extinguish them manually; if the latter then the mystery is who. The obvious answer might be train crew but at the time of writing this in unconfirmed. Public gas lighting often had a continually burning pilot and the mantles were lit by a 'lamp lighter' (on the railways this was usually a porter's job) who operated a valve by means of a pole. Some gas lighting, however, was automatic using either a clockwork or electric timer, the clockwork timer needing only occasional rewinding, but there is no evidence of either system being installed at Brasted.
Copyright photo from John Alsop collection

On 27 May 1961 an unidentified Class H tank departs Brasted for Westerham, the station by this time being an unstaffed halt. The surge of alighted passengers is conspicuous by its absence. The train appears to be one of the Maunsell sets. The usual trimmings of this fairly remote rural location can be seen; the ‘Way Out’ sign; the Southern Railway fencing; the Littleton gas lamp with Southern swan-neck bracket and nameplate. This particular nameplate is rather curious as towards the end of the line's existence the 'target' vanished leaving the wooden backboard to which it was screwed. This is apparent above. Today, the chuff of the Class H exhaust and panting of the Westinghouse pump has given way to the noise of the M25 and its cars with drivers on their mobile phones, Eddie Stobart lorries going efficiently about their business and drab-looking Asda lorries which seem governed not to exceed 50mph. Where the locomotive is seen is now and emergency access point onto the M25.
Copyright photo from Colour Rail 197522A

Click here for Brasted Station Gallery 3: 1961 - Last Day

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