Station Name: DUNTON GREEN
(Westerham branch platform)


[Source: Nick Catford]

Dunton Green Station Gallery 2: Before 1935 - June 1959



A view, probably from the early 1930s and prior to electrification being extended to Sevenoaks in 1935, from Dunton Green's main line platforms looking north towards Knockholt and London. A train can be seen approaching in the distance. The Westerham branch platform is on the far left and largely out of view but the connection to the branch can be seen in the distance. Following relocation of the signal box, visible beyond the platform ahead of the camera, an aerial ropeway system was installed to convey the Westerham branch token to and from the signal box and branch platform. The odd-looking structure at the end of the up platform is the elevated stage at the west end of the ropeway. Plenty of gas lighting can be seen with its Sugg's Windsor pattern casements, as can examples of the SER barley-sugar twist standards. The L&SWR also used this design but the two could be distinguished by the more pronounced twist of the SER design. The advertisement at extreme right appears to be a poster rather than an enamel example. Unfortunately it is unreadable. Smoke deflector plates can just be seen fixed to the underside of the footbridge.
Photo from John Mann collection


The Sentinel steam railcar, described and further illustrated in the Westerham pages, stands at Dunton Green on 28 March 1936. No.6, as the railcar was numbered, had apparently operated a trial between Tonbridge and Westerham on 17 October 1935. Presumably 'Tonbridge' refers to the shed, rather than the station, and was not a public service. Evidently this trial was considered a success, hence the railcar's subsequent spell in service on the Westerham branch - which was not a success. The location is the headshunt (technically a trap siding protecting the main line from the branch) just north of the station. The main line is out of view behind the railcar and Dunton Green station is off the picture to the right. By the time this photograph was taken, electric trains were operating through Dunton Green to Sevenoaks. The steam railcar must have made an interesting contrast with the electric multiple units. Some authors are prone to ridiculing steam railcars but in their day they were a serious attempt to reduce operating costs. In truth they were in some ways the forerunners of the infinitely more successful BR classes 121/2 and the later Class 153 diesel railcars so the principle of the self-powered railcar lives on. The track the railcar sits on above appears rather longer than it does in later photographs taken from the station platform. Whether the headshunt/trap siding was subsequently shortened or if camera angles play tricks is not known. A further difficult to answer question is why the railcar was stabled here rather than on the loop opposite the platform.
Photo by RW Kidner


Dunton Green branch platform with a train approaching from Westerham on an unknown date. The train is a Class H tank and one of the ex-rail-motor sets. The branch down starting signal is still a lower quadrant type but now mounted on a shorter post. In the background the housing estate built just prior to WW2 can be seen. Mounted on the wall to the left, is a Southern 'target' nameplate while further along the platform the suspended sign directing passengers to the footbridge, main line platforms and way out can be seen. The bases of the canopy supports appear to have been painted white fairly recently. The lower section of the signal post is also showing the wartime paint scheme while the locomotive does not appear to be carrying a BR smokebox numberplate. We can therefore conclude that the photograph dates from the immediate postwar years. A footpath ran via a subway beneath the branch platform towards its far end and surfaced via steps between the branch and main platforms. A permanent way hut is seen is inside the entrance to the goods yard.
Photo from John Mann collection


Dunton Green's branch platform in August 1950 with a train arriving from Westerham. A few passengers are waiting for the return journey along the branch. The train is one of the ex-steam rail-motor push-and-pull sets. The locomotive is unidentified and could have been from classes R, R1 or H at this time. The track through the platform pre-dated the branch and began life as a siding but was probably realigned when the branch platform was built. The track branching off at the end of the platform led to the rather basic goods yard. This and, of course, the track through the platform was to outlive the branch by a number of years. Two Southern style ground signals are visible, the nearest one having its back to the camera. The piebald lamp standards were a hangover from the blackout during WW2. Southern 'target' namebplates can be seen fixed to the lamps. Unlike Westerham branch stations, Dunton Green would go on to receive BR totem namaplates. The building between the branch shelter and the footbridge is an electricity sub-station with a covered way out of view in front which connected all three of the station's platforms. 'Covered way' was an archaic railway term for a covered footbridge and was also applied to other structures such as canopies over station entrances.
Photo from John Mann collection

The rare sight of a double-headed push-and-pull train at Dunton Green's Westerham platform on an unknown date during BR days. Double-heading may occur for a number of reasons but to see it on a short branch line with a push-and-pull train is rather puzzling. Both locomotives are Class H tanks with that nearest the camera being No.31239. She is obviously working the branch as she carries a relevant duty number. No.31239 was sent to Tonbridge shed in May 1951 but was not push-and-pull fitted until the end of May 1953. Therefore it is quite possible that she was attached to the branch train for a couple of trips to test her newly fitted equipment, with the second locomotive remaining in attendance in case of any problems. On the way to Westerham, driving trailer leading, either of the locomotives could operate the push-and-pull equipment while on the way back to Dunton Green the push-and-pull equipment would not be required so the locomotives would operate in the conventional manner. If we are to assume this explanation to be correct, the photograph will date from late May or very early June 1953. The train is one of the ex-LB&SCR sets but these were around for a very long time, together with the ex-rail-motor sets, so its presence does not help confirm the date. Note the typically Southern concrete platform facing and the brackets which presumably carry the wires for the branch down starting signal, right background. The down platform canopy seen on the left is the same length as the original up platform canopy but its length was doubled during the early twentieth century improvements.
Photo from John Mann collection


The main line platforms at Dunton Green, looking north towards Knockholt and London. The Westerham branch platform is out of view behind the fence on the left. Evidence of wartime is still present on the lamp standards but now very weathered. The informative running-in board on the left looks like a BR Southern Region example but Brasted is yet to be suffixed with the word 'Halt'. This suggests that the photograph is pre-1955. Note that the tracks are now electrified, this having been extended to Sevenoaks in 1935. The down platform was extended south at the same time; the join between the original and the extension is seen here. Had things gone to plan, Dunton Green and the Westerham branch would have seen electric trains in SE&CR days but on a rather peculiar, to modern eyes, 1500v DC fourth-rail system. At the Grouping, the Southern Railway inherited the LB&SCR overhead electrified lines and the L&SWR third-rail lines, both systems being confined to within London. The Southern Railway, in its plans to extend electrification, decided to standardise on the former L&SWR 660v/750v DC third-rail system and this is the system still in use today. What came to be known as the Kent Coast Electrification was also part of the pre-war plans but this was seriously interrupted by WW2 and postwar was a matter of greater urgency. As a result, electric trains to the coast did not pass through Dunton Green until 1961. The third-rail DC system has its drawbacks but is far less prone to damage and disruption than the overhead system and, of course, is much less of an eyesore. Greater clearances are also needed to install wires under bridges and in tunnels, which requires expensive engineering. Those who propose converting all the former Southern Region DC lines to 25kv overhead, ostensibly save money, may care to bear these points in mind.
Photo from John Mann collection


Maunsell Schools class 4-4-0 No.30927 'Clifton' passes Dunton Green with what appears to be a short parcels train sometime in the 1950s. The class of 40 locomotives, all named after public schools, are said to have been built to the restricted Hastings gauge although the truth behind this claim is something of a mystery to this day and the loading gauge may have come about coincidentally as a result of attempts to reduce axle loading. The cab, however, does seem to have been designed at the outset for the Hastings gauge. Whatever the truth may be, the class was a familiar sight throughout Kent and parts of Sussex. The headcode discs suggest that this loco is working between Dover and Bricklayers Arms. She was based at this shed for much of the 1950s and survived until January 1962. A Southern 'target' nameplate can be seen beneath the footbridge pier on the left.
Photo copyright Ron Strutt

An un-rebuilt Bulleid Pacific approaches Dunton Green with a London Bridge to Tonbridge service on an unknown date in the 1950s. Dunton Green signal box can be seen on the right, with the Westerham branch and its trap siding in the foreground. Note the conductor rails on the main lines are protected with wooden boarding; this is a common sight in areas where staff may need access to track in the course of their duties. Unfortunately, the image is too small and of too poor a quality to enable positive identification of the locomotive. However, it appears to be one of the Battle of Britain class with nameplates fitted lower down to enable attachment of the arrow adornment when operating the 'Golden Arrow' named train. The headcode discs suggest that the train is a London Bridge to Tonbridge service. The stock comprises a motley collection of BR MkI, Bulleid and Maunsell vehicles with at least one of the latter being to the narrower Hastings gauge. The Bulleid Pacifics came in three classes; the heavier Merchant Navy and the lightweight West Country and Battle of Britain 'go anywhere' versions. Their history, technical and general, is too complex for inclusion in an image caption but can be read on several internet sites including Wikipedia. Several members of all versions have survived into preservation. A brief description of the Golden Arrow can be read here and a Britannia Pacific can be seen leaving Victoria with the arrow adornment fixed to its smoke deflector on the same page.
Photo copyright Ron Strutt


Sometime in the mid 1950s Class H No.31239, having left Chevening Halt just a minute or so previously, slows on the approach to Dunton Green with one of the ex-steam rail-motor sets. The curve into the station commences just behind and to the right of the photographer. Towards the top right Dunton Green Primary School can be seen and, above the train, the industrial buildings which once stood on the west side of London Road. The train has passed beneath London Road bridge, left background, which today is partially infilled with one arch remaining open as a footpath subway provided for the benefit of the school. The footpath is, however, at a somewhat higher level than the former railway track reflecting the infilling of the cutting. This is one of the very few known photographs showing the railway when still in use at London Road.
Photo from John Mann collection


The Class H locomotive waiting at the branch platform at Dunton Green appears to be No.31517. She was at Tonbridge shed from the summer of 1955, carries the second style of BR logo and is in charge of one of the ex-LB&SCR sets. These observations would date the image to the later 1950s.
The signal box, left background, was built by the SE&CR to a Saxby & Farmer design; it contained a 50-lever frame.
Photo by Chris Gammell


Dunton Green station looking towards Sevenoaks, left, and Westerham, right. The image is undated but is post 1955 as the running-in board on the left mentions Brasted Halt. Note the point rodding on the right, connected via cranks to pass beneath the tracks to the signal box. As can be deduced, mechanical signal box levers required a reasonable degree of physical fitness to operate but there was a knack to it and once this had been learned the job was quite easy. Note, too, that the face of the branch platform is of concrete with wooden edging while the London end of the Down main platform, far left, is of brick facing with stone or brick edging. The main line platforms had been extended in readiness for the 1935 electrification to Sevenoaks; the extended country end of the down main line platform was given concrete facing while the up main line platform appears to have been given concrete facing along its entire length at some point in time. The covered way linking the branch platform shelter with the up main line platform salter and the footbridge is seen.
Photo from John Mann collection

A further colour view of the branch train at Dunton Green, this time with Class H No.31164 on 21 March 1959. The train is one of the ex-rail-motor sets and the steam heating is doing its job. This views show more of the hotchpotch of wooden buildings which made up Dunton Green station at the time. The end of the main station building is seen on the far right; this survived until the mid 1990s, long after the other buildings had been demolished.
Copyright photo from Colour Rail BRS1810

On 14 June 1959 Class H No.31239 is in charge of duty 303 at Dunton Green. The locomotive is in the condition quite typical of the class which seemingly meant a filthy boiler and smokebox with near-spotless tanks, cab and bunker. Note that she still bears the early BR logo, facing forwards. The train is one of the ex-steam rail-motor conversions, either 481 or 482, in the red livery which suited them quite well. The eight SE&CR steam rail-motors were converted into 4 x 2-car sets, the other two being articulated sets 513/4 which, as far as is known, never worked on the Westerham branch. The slab-sided areas of the carriages, seen above, were, when in rail-motor form, the trailing ends which contained the brake and driving compartments. The former engine portions were located at the opposite ends, in other words at what became the inner ends of the two vehicles as seen above. In push-and-pull form the two vehicles, which had open plan seating, were given an internal gangway connection. Only one vehicle of each set retained driving controls, however.
Copyright photo from Colour Rail 340838

Click here for Dunton Green Station Gallery 3:
After April 1960 - Last Day

 

 

 

[Source: Nick Catford]



Last updated: Wednesday, 17-May-2017 09:06:25 BST
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