Station Name: GREATSTONE-ON-SEA HALT

[Source: Nick Catford]

Date opened: 4.7.1937
Location: At the end of Baldwin Road
Company on opening: Southern Railway
Date closed to passengers: 6.3.1967
Date closed completely: 6.3.1967
Company on closing: British Railways (Southern Region)
Present state: The platform has been demolished leaving only a slightly raised area of ground. An access road to a school car park runs across the site of the platform. The large concrete forecourt is still extant and used for residential parking.
County: Kent
OS Grid Ref: TR077225
Date of visit: June 1968, May 1969, May 1975 and 3.1.2006

Notes: Greatstone-on-Sea Halt was built when the new alignment to New Romney was built in 1937. The station had a long single platform on the up side with a small waiting shelter and an extensive forecourt for coaches. The station was built to handle the expected influx of traffic from the new Maddieson Holiday Camp, hotels and residential development; this never materialised as holidaymakers were more likely to use the two Romney Hythe and Dymchurch Railway stations nearby (see map below)

Even one of those has now closed. The RHDR's Greatstone-on Sea was planned as a full station to serve the new town that everyone expected would grow up there in the thirties. The housing estates failed to materialise and the two platforms, bridge, booking office etc. soon became redundant and a series of downgrades followed. By 1971 all of the buildings had
disappeared and trains haven't stopped here since the mid seventies. A wartime shelter and some footings are all that remain.

On 20.9.1954 Greatstone-on-Sea lost its staff and was downgraded to a halt. The platform was demolished some time after 1983.

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
were prominentin 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 also 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, New Romney & Littlestone-on-Sea & Dungeness


Greatstone-on-Sea Halt in May 1960
Photo by T Wright


Greatstone-on-Sea Halt looking south in June 1968, 15 months after closure
P
hoto by Nick Catford

Greatstone-on-Sea Halt looking north in 1973
P
hoto by John Baker

Greatstone-on-Sea Halt looking south in May 1975
P
hoto by Nick Catford

1960's

1966

January 1967

January 1967

1968

1969

1969

1969

1969

1969

1969

1975


click on thumbnail to enlarge

 

 

 

:[Source: Nick Catford]


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