Station Name: SWANLEY JUNCTION

[Source: Nick Catford]


Swanley Junction Station Gallery 2:
c1910 - 27 June 1937


A final view from circa 1910 looking north-east along Station Road; the station is behind the photographer. A horse-drawn cart loaded with sacks of coal is emerging from the goods yard on the right. A number of local coal merchants had offices in the yard. The sign on the right reads 'Swanley Junction Coal and Coke Co'; it is mounted on the roof of one of the merchants' offices at the entrance to the yard. The main line is behind the houses on the left; these houses have now been demolished and the land is a council car park.
Photo from John Mann collection

Swanley Junction station looking south-west along the up main line platform circa 1920s. The running-in board invites passengers to change for Sevenoaks and Maidstone. Water columns are seen at the ends of both platforms and the junction signal box is seen at the far end of the down platform. The station forecourt is behind the fence on the left. A couple of vehicles, probably cabs, are visible. The footbridge has now been covered, this having been carried out before WW1.
Copyright photo from John Alsop collection

Looking east along the Sevenoaks line from the station footbridge c1920s. Goldsel Road bridge is seen and on the far side the goods shed can just be made out. Note the boarded staff crossing in the foreground; before the footbridge was built c1905 passengers had to use similar barrow crossings at the ends of the platforms to reach the two outer platforms. Note the trailing refuge siding running behind the down platform on the left; this was added by the SE&CR.
Photo from Swanley History Group

SE&CR E class 4-4-0 No.507 with an up main line train at Swanley Junction. Displaying instantly recognisable Wainwright features, No.507 was new in September 1908 so this would be the earliest possible date for this photograph. The latest date would be 1920 when she was rebuilt, by Beyer Peacock, to become a member of the E1 class and thereafter taking on a typical Maunsell appearance. The headcode tells us that the train is a Ramsgate Harbour to Victoria service and will operate via the Catford Loop. This headcode dated from a reorganisation by the SE&CR in 1917, thus from all these observations we can pin down the date of the photograph to the 1917 - 1920 period. No.507 was to enjoy a long life and as British Railways No.31507 was to remain in service until July 1961. In this view the sleepers are still largely covered by ballast, which would appear to be ash. The track on the right is a short siding fitted with trap points, visible here.
Photo from John Mann collection

Class H 0-4-4T No.1177 takes the line towards Otford sometime in Southern Railway days. The headcode discs tell us that the train is heading for the Maidstone East line. Having previously been No.177 and then, when the Southern was formed, No.A177, she was numbered 1177 sometime after 1928 and probably in 1931. Electric lighting has appeared on the station but conductor rails have yet to be laid, so this photograph will date from the early 1930s. The first three vehicles of the train are a 'birdcage' 3-set and it would appear another such set is also attached. No.1177 spent many years as a Tonbridge resident and as BR No.31177 saw action on the Westerham branch during the morning of that line's last day although she did not operate the final services. Like the Westerham branch, No.31177 also bowed out in 1961.
Photo from John Mann collection

A collection of cheerful station staff pose for the photographer at the London end of the down branch platform c1930s. The man on the left would have been the stationmaster. The junction signal box is seen in the distance on the down main line platform.
Photo from Swanley History Group

Goldsel Road bridge over the Sevenoaks branch in 1935. The entrance to the goods yard is on the far side of the bridge alongside the office of the Swanley Junction Coal & Coke Company.
Photo from Jim Lake collection

Sometime in the 1930s, and prior to electrification, a train from the Ramsgate direction departs Swanley Junction, left, behind what appears to be a Class L1 4-4-0. On the right a Class D1 4-4-0 waits with a train from the Maidstone East line. The Southern headcode disc/lamp system differed from that used elsewhere in that it had six positions: one centrally below or in front of the chimney; one each side of the smokebox; and three on the bufferbeam. As seen in other photographs taken around this time, Swanley Junction has electric lighting installed but retains as mix of upper and lower quadrant semaphore signals. There are two signal boxes, one being the camera at the end of the platform and the other around the curve on the up side opposite the goods yard.
Photo from John Mann collection

Directional signs at the junction of Station Road and High Street in 1936. Note the traffic signals. This type was the forerunner of the electrically-illuminated signals we know today. Previously all manner of weird and wonderful, to modern eyes, types had existed.
The aftermath of an accident which occurred at Swanley Junction on Sunday 27 June 1937. The locomotive, L class 4-4-0 No.1768, was hauling the 8.17pm train from Margate to Victoria via Canterbury West, Ashford and Maidstone East. Running late and out-of-path the train passed, at speed, a signal at danger. 'At speed' should not be taken out of context and it means simply not slowing or stopping; there was a 20mph restriction round the curve through Swanley Junction and witnesses estimates varied between 20 - 25mph and as high as 50mph. Lieutenant - Colonel A Mount, in his Report for the Ministry of Transport, concluded that speed was nearer to the lower estimate. The train had been due to make an addition stop at Swanley Junction to pick up passengers who had missed a connection owing to a late-running push-and-pull train from Gillingham. The driver of the ex-Margate train was aware of this but precisely why he failed to stop was never established, Lt Col Mount being forced to conclude that the cause of the accident was probably down to a combination of short notice and poor communication. Signalman Reeves, on duty in Swanley Yard box* did, however, readily admit that he had made an error by accepting the ex-Margate train without sufficient overrun. Under scrutiny this admission can be attributed to the short notice and poor communication as Lt Col Mount was happy to put Reeves’s actions down to oversight. Upon passing the signal at danger the train collided with a loaded wagon and empty 2-car passenger set which were standing on the siding on the up side at the London end of the station (this siding can be seen in the photograph showing SE&CR No.507). The ex-Margate train was loaded to seven carriages: 3-set No.535 and 4-set No.182 which comprised brake third No.3341; composite No.5418; brake third No.3324 and brake third No.4090; composite No.5175; composite No.5176; and brake third No. 4089 respectively. There were 100 passengers on the train of whom, sadly, four lost their lives. [*It is assumed signalman Reeves was on duty in Swanley Yard box, as opposed to Swanley Junction box, as the Report did not make this entirely clear.]
Photo from Jim Lake collection
The train crew comprised Driver Aplin, Fireman Morgan and Guard Godwin. Both Aplin and Morgan suffered shock with Morgan in addition receiving minor injuries; both were otherwise unhurt. There is no record on any notable injuries to Mr Godwin, despite him being at the front of the train at the time of the accident, and indeed he went on to assist the passengers. In this photograph we can see the wrecked wagon in front of the locomotive. The 'E' suggests that the wagon belonged to the LNER. What at first glance looks like one wrecked carriage is in fact the telescoped 2-set No.768 which comprised brake third No.3986 and composite No.6220. Both vehicles had wooden bodies built on steel frames. Levels of safety are often viewed retrospectively; the BR Mk1, for example, once considered safe is now banned from regular main line use but, again, this is retrospective and no vehicle, be it road or rail, can ever be called 100% safe. Nevertheless this photograph shows only too well how vulnerable the old wooden bodied carriages were, even in a relatively low speed collision as occurred here. The ‘L’ class locomotives, of which there were 22 examples, came to be known as 'The Germans' or 'German Locomotives' owing to ten of them being built by Borsig Werke. The remainder were built by Beyer Peacock, including No.1768 which went on to become British Railways No.31768 and survived until December 1961. The hut on the right is a 33kV electrical switching station and was not damaged. Stewarts Lane (spelled with apostrophe in the Report) and Bricklayers Arms breakdown trains attended. Ambulances from Farningham, Sidcup and Dartford attended, taking the injured (and presumably the dead) to Dartford County Hospital. Wilmington and Swanley Fire Brigades also attended as did police. Local taxi drivers also assisted.
Photo from Swanley History Group

A German surveillance photo of the train crash. This came with German script on the back (see below) which, when translated, reads: Serious Railway Accident in England. Shortly before midnight on Sunday an express train travelling from the English resort of Margate, Kent, was incorrectly switched at Swanley Junction to the wrong track and crashed at full speed into a number of carriages which were parked there. Four people were killed and twelve seriously injured. The photo clearly shows the cause of the accident: the track where the carriages were parked can be seen, with some of the them totally destroyed. Click here to see a larger version.
Photo from Swanley History Group


Click here for Swanley Junction Station Gallery 3: 1938 - 3 June 1959

 

 

 

[Source: Nick Catford]




Last updated: Friday, 26-May-2017 10:07:17 BST
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