Station Name: CRANBROOK

[Source: Nick Catford]
Date opened: 4.9.1893
Location: At the end of an approach road running west from Hawkhurst Road
Company on opening: Cranbrook & Paddock Wood Railway
Date closed to passengers: 12.6.1961
Date closed completely: 12.6.1961
Company on closing: British Railways (Southern Region)
Present state: The main station building survives as a pottery and the adjacent station master's house is in private occupation.
County: Kent
OS Grid Ref: TQ753346
Date of visit: September 1967

Notes: There were several proposals to build branch lines in the Weald of Kent all promoted by local groups rather than the South Eastern Railway who preferred to step in at a later stage to rescue the ailing companies once the money ran out. Most of the early proposals quickly ran out of steam but in 1864, the Weald of Kent Railway obtained powers to build a line from Paddock Wood to Hythe running through Cranbrook and Tenterden. Although this railway failed to matearilise the Cranbrook & Paddock Wood Railway was incorporated in 1877 to build the northern section of the Weald of Kent line between Paddock Wood and Cranbrook. The line was to be built with local money but the South Eastern Railway agreed to contribute towards the venture once construction had started

Construction started in 1879 but the money quickly ran out and the South Eastern Railway appeared to have lost interest. Despite this, a second Act was obtained in 1882 for a 1.5 mile extension from Cranbrook to Hawkhurst and eventually the South Eastern Railway agreed to support the line in order to prevent their arch-rival, the London, Chatham & Dover Railway, from gaining a foothold in what they regarded as their territory.

Further delays meant that it was twelve years before the line was ready for passengers, the first section, from Paddock Wood to Hope Mill for Goudhurst & Lamberhurst opening on 1 October 1892. Nearly a year passed before the final part of the line came into service, the extension to Hawkhurst via Cranbrook opening on 4 September 1893; on the same date Hope Mill was renamed Goudhurst.

Holman Stephens, later known as Colonel Stephens, was the resident engineer during construction. The line was single throughout, with passing loops provided at all three intermediate stations, though only Goudhurst had two platforms. A short bay platform was provided at Hawkhurst. The Sentinell-Cammell steam railbus originally used on the Brighton-Devils Dyke branch put in a brief appearance in 1936 but was not a success. Goods traffic was mainly fruit and hops outwards and coal inwards. One mainstay was the transport of a million potted plants a year on behalf of F. W. Woolworth to branches all over the country.

From the outset all train services were operated by the South Eastern Railway, though the Cranbrook and Paddock Wood Railway was not officially absorbed until 1900. The SER and the LCDR combined in 1899 under agreement that both companies would retain their independence while being administered under a management committee operating as the South Eastern & Chatham Railway. The LCDR was itself incorporated into the Southern Railway under the 1923 grouping and finally British Railways after nationalisation in 1948.

From the offset traffic on the line was light, due in part to the inconvenient locations of stations. Extra traffic was generated during the hop picking season which, at its height, brought up to 26 special trains a day with each train carrying up to 350 people. By 1959 this traffic had declined and the line was carrying less than 200 passengers a day, many of them children. The final blow came when the local education authority took out a contract with the Maidstone & District Motor Company to transport the children by bus. Despite rumours of electrification, closure was announced and the line finally closed on 12 June 1961.

On the following day a 'Farewell to Steam' tour organised by the Locomotive Club of Great Britain visited the line and was the last public train to run into Hawkhurst. The track was lifted in 1964 and in 1967 the station sites were offered for sale.

Cranbrook Station was also badly sited, although it was close to the tiny village of Hartley it was two miles from Cranbrook. The station had a single platform on the down side of the line with a single storey corrugated iron clad building and the three storey brick station master's house alongside. There was a goods yard serving a short bay platform on the down side of the line with a brick goods shed and on the opposite side of the line a goods only passing loop. There was a second goods shed at the far end of the yard.

The station's name was a little deceptive in that the town of Cranbrook was two miles away. When the line was originally being constructed, local landowners had demanded high prices for the sale of their agricultural land and the South Eastern Railway had refused, amending the route of the line so that Cranbrook Station was actually located in Hartley. The villagers came to regret being excluded from the line, and an attempt was made to have a light railway constructed to Hartley. This was never realised.

The station was closed with the line on 12 June 1961. The station building was used for several years by Brian O'Donoghue and Keith Harding as 'Cranbrook Station Pottery'. This has now closed

Route map drawn by Alan Young. Tickets from Michael Stewart.

Click here to see A lost Highway, a 5minute film abvout the Hawkhurst branch. Click here to see 'The last train - June 10th 1961'. A 7 minute film.


Other books:

  • Branch Line to Hawkhurst by Vic Mitchell & Keith Smith, Middleton Press 1989
    ISBN 0 906520 66 5
  • The Hawkhurst Branch by Brian Hart - Wild Swan ISBN 1874103542
  • Railways of Arcadia by John Scott Morgan - P.E. Waters 1989 ISBN 0 948904 50X

To see the other stations on the Hawkhurst Branch click on the station name: Horsmonden, Goudhurst & Hawkhurst

Cranbrook Station Gallery 1 Opening Day - Last Day

The first train at Cranbrook Station on 4th September 1893
Photo from Tenterden Railway Company

1908 1:2,500 OS map showing the layout of Cranbrook station and goods yard. The yard comprised two sidings, one serving a coal depot at the far end of the yard; at the other end it ran behnd the north-west end of the platform. Unusually for a small station Cranbrook had two goods sheds served by the secons siding. The signal box is located on the platform at the south end of the station building. Six railway cottages are seen to the north of the station.

Cranbrook station looking north-west from Hall Farm bridge before December 1909. Note the neatly tended station garden on the right.
Copyright photo from John Alsop collection

Cranbrook station looking north-west c1910. Four railway cottages are seen on the right.
Copyright photo from John Alsop collection

Cranbrook station looking south-east c late 1950s.
Photo frm John Mann collection

Cranbrook station looking north-west c late 1950s. The main station building was typical of those designed by Colonel Stephens, single storey corrugated iron with a narrow timber awning resting on five timber posts. The three-storey brick stationmaster's with three dormer windows was also typical of the line. One of two engine sheds at Cranbrook is seen beyond the platform.
Photo frm John Mann collection

H Class 0-4-4T 31543 is being propelled into Cranbrook station in October 1960. The youing boys on the patform are 'helping' the station master who is standing behind the wooden post. One ius wearing a railway hat amd nother is holding the single line token. 31543 was one of a class of 66 locomotives originally designed for suburban passenger work, designed by Harry Wainwright in 1904. Most of the class were later equipped for push-pull working for use on rural branch lines. 31543 was built in January 1909 at Ashford works and was originally numbered 543. It was renubered to to 1543 by thge Southern Railway with the 3 prefix added after nationalisation. It was withdrawn from Tonbridge Wells West shed in July 1963 and cut up at Eastleigh works the following year.
Photo by HB Priestley

31543 is again seen, this time pulling out of Cranbrook station bound for Hawkhurst in October 1960.
Photo by H. B. Priestley

An H Class push-and-pull unit is seen at Cranbrook station in 1960.
hoto by K A Stone

31543 was regularly seen on the Hawkhurst branch as closure approached. Seen here pulling out of Cranbrook station bound for Hawkhurst in October 1960.
Copyright photo from Colour Rail

Stationmaster George Burring, the last stationmaster at Cranbrook c1960. After closure in 1961, George Burring moved to Sandling Junction.
Photo received from Phillip Hamilton

Cranbrook station on a wet day in April 1961, seem from a passing train.
Copyright photo by R M Casserley

Cranbrook station looking north-west from Hall Farm bridge on Saturday 10 June 1961, the last day of public service.
Photo by Ian D Nolan, from his Flickr photostream

Click here for Cranbrook Station Gallery 2
Last Day - July 2014




[Source: Nick Catford]

Home Page
Last updated: Wednesday, 17-May-2017 09:21:50 CEST
© 1998-2014 Disused Stations