Station Name: HORSMONDEN

 

[Source: Nick Catford]


Date opened: 1.10.1892
Location: On the north side of Goudhurst 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 and is in use trading as the 'Old Station Garage'. The station master's house is in private occupation.
County: Kent
OS Grid Ref: TQ705404
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 materalise 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.

HORSMONDEN STATION
Horsmonden Station had a single platform located on the up side of the line. The station was provided with a loop which also served a fruit packing station. The station had a single storey corrugated iron clad building, typical of those built by Col. Stephens. There was a two road goods yard at the back of the station with a three storey brick stationmaster's house facing onto the road.

Sources:

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: Goudhurst, Cranbrook & Hawkhurst

 

Horsmonden Station in September 1967
P
hoto by Nick Catford



Horsmonden Station during the 'Farewell to Steam' railtour on 13.6.1961
Photo by John M Cramp (from 30937 Photographic Group web site)

Horsmonden Station in 1960
Photo by J. L. Smith

 

1961

1967

 



Click on thumbnail to enlarge


 

 

 

[Source: Nick Catford]


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