Station Name: LYDD TOWN

[Source: Nick Catford]

Date opened: 7.12.1881
Location: On the east side of Station Road (B2075)
Company on opening: Lydd Railway Company
Date closed to passengers: 6.3.1967
Date closed completely: 4.10.1971.
Company on closing: British Railways (Southern Region)
Present state: The down platform and signal box been demolished but the up platform and the main station building remain largely intact and derelict. Some internal walls were removed during the 1970's when the station was used as a motor workshop. The station building is boarded up and empty but has suffered from vandalism over the last 20 years within some light recent fire damage to the south end of the building when an adjacent modern shed was destroyed. The extensive goods yard is also undeveloped with the brick goods shed and loading dock extant.
County: Kent
OS Grid Ref: TR050215
Date of visit: June 1968, May 1969, May 1975, November 1982, April 1995 and 3.1.2006

Notes: The station was originally named Lydd and was renamed Lydd Town on 4.7.1937 with the opening of Lydd-on-Sea Halt on the new alignment to New Romney.

Lydd Town Station had two platforms with a passing loop and an extensive goods yard. The main station building was on the up side with a standard SER waiting shelter on the down side. The goods yard included a goods shed, loading dock, cattle pens, coal pens, turntable, water tower and numerous other small buildings. There were four sidings one of which linked
in to an extensive private railway system, the Lydd Military Railway; within Lydd army camp and ranges which at its peak incorporated over five miles of track. The Lydd Military Railway was out of use by the mid 1920's and the track was lifted in 1926/27. Military traffic at the station remained very heavy, even into the late 1950's. The stationmaster lived in a large detached house on the south side of the station.

Immediately before entering the station the line passed under the only overbridge on the line and beside it a level crossing which was added in the early 1960's to cater for heavy construction traffic bound for Dungeness Power Station.

The station closed to passenger traffic on 6.3.1967 but general freight traffic continued to be handled until 4.10.1971. The station was used as a vehicle repair workshop at least until the mid 1980's but the whole site is now derelict. The down platform was demolished in the early 1970's and the passing loop was removed 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 prominent 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 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.

NEW London Airport Authority is now planning to upgrade the aerodrome at Lydd into an international airport with an annual capacity of over 2 million passengers. The aerodrome has already been renamed London Ashford Airport. The local housing committees are planning for a massive influx of immigrant labour to fill the thousands of unskilled job
which will be created for the construction and operation of the airport, the opening of a motorway link with the M20, and plans are being drawn up to provide the airport with a rail connection which could include include a reopening of at least part of the branch line. See The Case for Lydd (PDF)

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-on-Sea Halt, Greatstone-on-Sea Halt, New Romney & Littlestone-on-Sea and Dungeness


Lydd Station before May 1910
Copyright photo from John Alsop collection



Lydd Town Station looking south in June 1968, 15 months after closure
P
hoto by Nick Catford

Lydd Town Station and goods yard looking south in November 1982
P
hoto by Nick Catford

Click here for more pictures of Lydd Town station


 

 

 

:[Source: Nick Catford]


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