Station Name: DUNGENESS

[Source: Nick Catford]


Date opened: 1.4.1883
Location: Immediately north of Dungeness old lighthouse at the end of Dungeness Road.
Company on opening: Lydd Railway
Date closed to passengers: 4.7.1937
Date closed completely: May 1953
Company on closing: Southern Railway
Present state: The clinker and timber platform is still partially extant although very very degraded after years of coastal erosion leaving little more than a mound with a few upright timbers along the platform edge. The concrete base of the station building can still be seen. The gallery of pictures shows the gradual erosion of the station between 1960 - 2006
County: Kent
OS Grid Ref: TR088171
Date of visit: May 1969, November 1982, April 1995 and 3.1.2006

Notes: Dungeness is the most southerly point in Kent and the branch line terminated at the foot of the beach lighthouse. The single platform was of clinker constructions faced with old wooden sleepers along the edge face of the platform. There was a weatherboarded building incorporating a ticket office, waiting room, ladies room and toilets. Eventually a new ticket office was provided in a small wooden hut alongside and the waiting room enlarged..

The track layout consisted of a run-around loop for the engine and two sidings, the 'Admiralty Siding' serving the Admiralty signal station and a private siding serving ballast pits.

With the opening of the new alignment along the coat to New Romney in 1937, the passenger service was withdrawn from Dungeness with Lydd-on-Sea providing a replacement for passengers albeit 1 1/2 miles away. The freight service was retained until 1953. A short section of the branch was reinstated in the early 1960's to serve Dungeness Power Station.

BRIEF HISTORY OF THE NEW ROMNEY & DUNGENESS BRANCH LINES
The Ashford - Hastings line opened on 13th February 1851 but was not profitable and gave little incentive for the South Eastern Railway to build a branch line across Romney Marsh. Following local pressure for a branch line serving Lydd and New Romney and the possibility of a new cross channel port being developed at Dungeness, a number of schemes were proposed. Although the Dungeness port was never built, the Lydd Railway Company obtained an Act on 8th April 1881 to build a line from the South Eastern Railway at Appledore to Dungeness, with a second act of 19th June 1882 authorising a further branch extending north along the coast to New Romney

The line opened to passengers between Appledore and Lydd on 7 December 1881, with freight services to Dungeness, until that too opened to passengers on April 1883. The only intermediate station was at Brookland. Although nominally independent, the service was provided by the South Eastern Railway and many of the Lydd Railway Company directors
wprominent in the SER. The line had 12 level crossings in its 8 mile length.


The New Romney line opened on 19 June 1884 and some unusual workings were introduced with two branches being worked by one locomotive requiring some trains serving Dungeness to reverse back to Lydd Town before proceeding on to New Romney. This procedure was greatly simplified when push-pull trains were introduced.

In 1895 the local company was absorbed into the South Eastern Railway. With the Dungeness port scheme abandoned, the SER obtained powers in 1900 to extend their line to Hythe but this was never built.

Kitson steam railcars were introduced onto the line in 1906/7 and with the development of military ranges and a large army camp at Lydd, the line was well used until the end of WW1. Passenger numbers were now in decline although agricultural freight, including Romney Marsh sheep remained profitable. By the 1920's New Romney was served by 9 trains a day while Dungeness was relegated to 3.

With the increase in pleasure traffic in the 1930's and new residential and proposed holiday camp development along the coast, the Southern Railway

received powers under the 1935 Southern Railway Act to realign the New Romney branch with a new junction one mile to the southeast with two new halts at Lydd-on-Sea and Greatstone-on-Sea; the new line opened on 4 July 1937. At the same time the station at Lydd was renamed Lydd Town and passenger services to Dungeness was withdrawn, although the freight service was retained.
The line remained open with a reduced service during WW2 although an obvious target for enemy aircraft. A heavily armoured train was allocated to Ashford - Hastings - New Romney group of lines with regular patrols being undertaken.

Nationalisation in 1948 initially brought few changes but with competition from busses and the popularity of the motor car in the 1950's traffic continued to decline and economies were inevitable including the withdrawal of the Dungeness freight service in 1952 and the removal of the passing loop at Lydd-on-Sea.

In the early 1960's the line received a new use with the opening of Dungeness Nuclear Power Station in 1965. The passenger service was improved with steam being replaced by two-car diesel-electrics providing 11 trains a day in 1962; with most running through to Ashford. This new prosperity was not to last however and both the Ashford - Hastings line and with it the
New Romney branch were proposed for closure in the 1963 Beeching Report.

The goods services to New Romney was withdrawn in 1964 but the threat of closure was suspended until 1966 when the Minister of Transport announced that the passenger service on the New Romney branch would cease on 6th March 1967. The Ashford - Hastings line was however reprieved although some sections were eventually singled.

Goods services to Lydd continued until 1971 and the line was still in use for the removal of ballast aggregates and waste from Dungeness B nuclear power station. All track beyond Romney Junction has been lifted. The only passenger movements since closure have been occasional troop trains and railtours, the most recent being the Lydd Ranger Railtour on 13th March 2005.

Further reading: The New Romney Branch Line by Peter Harding. Published by the author in 1983 ISBN : 0952345889
Railways South East Volume 2 No 1 Winter 1989/90 ISSN 0953-0835
Branch Lines of the Southern Railway Volume 2 by George Reeve & Chris Hawkins - Wild Swan 1983 ISBN 906867 14 2 - Tickets from Michael Stewart, Route map drawn by Alan Young

Web sites: Railways in Kent, Southern E Group and KARE for pictures of nuclear waste trains

To see the other stations on the New Romney and Dungeness branches click on the station name: Appledore, Brookland Halt, Lydd Town, Lydd-on-Sea Halt, Greatstone-on-Sea Halt & New Romney & Littlestone-on-Sea


Dungeness Station in 1910
Copyright photo from John Alsop collection



Although closed in 1937 Dungeness station is still shown on this 1940 1:2,500 OS map. The curving track to the right is the turning circle at the end of the Romney Hythe & Dymchurch Light Railway,


A post grouping view of Dungeness station.

Dungeness station in 1962
P
hoto by Terry Tracey

Dungeness station in January 2006
P
hoto by Nick Catford

1905

c. 1960

1966

1969

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1975

1982

1982

1982

1995

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2006

2006

 


Click on thumbnail to enlarge

 

 

 

:[Source: Nick Catford]


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