Station Name: WESTERHAM

[Source: Nick Catford]

Westerham Station Gallery 2: c1907 - March 1938


A circa 1907 postcard view of Westerham station. As was the case with many branch lines, the terminus at Westerham was built as a through station as it had been intended to continue to Oxted. It is said that this scheme was abandoned due to problems with marshy ground beyond Westerham. In the view above, what appears to be a Stirling Q or Q1 0-4-4T has arrived. Assuming the year 1907 to be accurate, steam rail-motors were by this time operating the branch service. This may therefore suggest that the quite lengthy train seen above was one of the through services from London, probably Charing Cross. Stirling in this case was James Stirling, brother of the better known Patrick Stirling. Both had a background with the Glasgow & South Western Railway where James was apprenticed to his older brother. Despite the apparent ochre colour in the above view, the locomotive would have been in the attractive SE&CR lined green livery. On the right is the somewhat basic goods shed while in the right distance the water tower and engine shed with another locomotive, or possibly a steam rail-motor, in residence can be seen. The extensive use of wood for the construction of Westerham branch buildings is very obvious in this view, and the general scene is somewhat reminiscent of a Colonel Stephens railway, of which there were four in Kent. Ballast, it will be noted, covers the sleepers. This practice was once common but it made inspection and maintenance difficult and was ultimately banned
by the Board of Trade.
Copyright photo from John Alsop collection

The public house and hotel at Westerham known as 'Crown' around the turn of the twentieth century. The Crown was opened in 1882, the year after the station. The building was demolished in 1990 and a modern suite of offices stands upon the site and is named 'The Crown'. On the right the railway station forecourt and part of the station building can be seen. The forecourt comprised a recessed part of London Road forming a bus turning circle in front of the station.
Click here for more pictures of the Crown Hotel.
Photo from Ted Burgess collection


SE&CR steam rail-motor No.3 stands at Westerham in 1907 with plenty of staff posing. Harry Wainwright introduced eight rail-motors in 1904/5 but they differed in detail. Most obvious were Nos. 1 and 2 which were intended for the Sheppey Light Railway and had longer side tanks. These 'tanks' were actually coal bunkers, as is evident above, with water carried in well tanks. The rail-motors were of the articulated type and the fairly conventional engine portions were built by Messrs Kitson. They also represented the first use of Belpaire boilers, as evidenced by the flat-topped firebox, by the SE&CR. Despite making life easier by eliminating the need to 'run round' at termini, the rail-motors were disliked and had been 'laid aside', to use a popular phrase of the time, by 1914. However, the First World War brought a change of policy and the rail-motors were to continue in service with the last one bowing out in 1920. Their most familiar haunt was the Croydon area. Following eventual withdrawal the carriage portions were converted into four two-car hauled sets circa 1923, two of which were articulated twins while the other two were non-articulated push-and-pull sets. The coach portion of No.3 was paired with that of No.8 to form articulated twin set No.514. The other articulated twin became set No.513, formed from rail-motors 1 and 2. Both articulated pairs, which were unique to the Southern Railway, are known to have survived until at least 1959. For further details of the ex-rail-motor twin sets see the image of push-and-pull set No.482 at Westerham. Above, note the period advertisements; country rambles; Red Star Line Dover - New York plus, among others, what appears to be an early form of estate agent's advertisement. Note also the sign for the Telegraph Office, the telegraph being the
forerunner of the telephone.
Copyright photo from John Alsop collection


An advertisement from the 1909 Bassett - Lowke catalogue for an 0 gauge model of SE&CR steam railmotor No.1. This particular railmotor operated on the Sheppey Light Railway together with No.2 and was similar to those which operated on the Westerham branch, differing only in detail of the engine portion. These models, which were live steam, were produced by Carette for Bassett - Lowke in both 0 gauge and gauge 1. These early models, understandably given the production methods of the time, were crude and detail was at best 'representative' but a decent job was made of the railmotor models with a carriage portion which is instantly recognisable. Compare the model with the image of a SE&CR railmotor at Westerham and also the push-pull sets into which they were ultimately converted. Note, in the advertisement, the term 'Motor-Coaches'. These vehicles came to be invariably referred to as 'Steam Railmotors', 'Steam Railcars' or simply 'Railmotors' so it is interesting to speculate whether 'Motor-Coaches' was a Bassett - Lowke term or if it was the name applied to the drawings supplied by the SE&CR Locomotive Superintendent, Harry Wainwright


A look back into the different world of circa 1912. On the right stands the station building with its small forecourt which doubled as a carriage (later bus) turning circle. Outside of the station building are a number of posters, no doubt delightfully colourful, some benches and a large gas lantern. The road appears not to be metalled, as with many others at that time, but the scene is generally pleasant with trees and gas lighting. Left of centre, a man is walking his dogs while on the right what are either four young girls or a mother and three young girls head towards the station with a perambulator. There appears to be a sense of urgency, so perhaps father's train is due to arrive. The Crown Hotel is out of view to the left.
Photo from John Mann collection


Westerham station looking north-west from the cattle dock c1912. As might be expected of rural Kent plenty of greenery is to be seen and the garden on the left appears reasonably well tended. This scene belies the fact that Westerham is only just beyond the fringe of what we now call Greater London. The points leading to the goods shed are hand-operated while rodding from the signal box to the loop points can be seen towards the left.
Copyright photo from John Alsop collection

A circa 1912 view of the facilities at Westerham and looking towards Dunton Green; this view is an enlargement of part of the picture above. On the right is the goods shed with loading gauge just visible and, in the background, the water tower and engine shed with locomotive in attendance. To the immediate left of the engine shed, the water crane can just be made out. The 3-coach train on the left appears to comprise ex-SER 4-wheelers and is largely obscuring the station platform and signal box, the latter being a Messrs Stevens design. Part of the platform canopy is visible above the coaches and to the left. Dumped at lower right are what appear to be sections of underground drain piping of the type still familiar today. No close-up views of the engine shed have come to light; the shed was demolished shortly after it was closed in 1925.
Copyright photo from John Alsop collection


Southern Railway 'Flying Bedstead' Class B1 4-4-0 No.458 stands at Westerham with the 3.15pm service from Dunton Green in November 1927 with a short train of three coaches which appear to be ex-LC&DR four or six-wheelers. The B1 class had a rather interesting, or muddled, history and the numbering system was also rather messy. Starting life as Class B, 20 were built by Messrs Neilson, Reid & Co with a further nine built at Ashford in 1898-99. All bar two were rebuilt by Wainwright, their distinguishing feature being domed boilers. Of the two un-rebuilt examples, No.458 was one and No.34 the other. These two were constructed by Neilson, Reid and at Ashford respectively. The class is perhaps most famous for an incident during WWII when a few were parked over ash pits at various sheds, surrounded by sandbags and used as makeshift air raid shelters. The Southern Railway, in its early years, prefixed the numbers of many pre-grouping locomotives with an 'A'. A few of the B1s were so treated but No.458 was not one of them. The 'A' was eventually dropped and ‘1000’ added to the original number, No.458 thus becoming No.1458, but it is not known if this number was actually carried for she was withdrawn in December 1931. The other 'odd man out', No.34, had gone the previous year. A few of the class soldiered on into BR days but only one is thought to have received its BR number, No.31446, but this was not the final class member in service. No.31446 went in September 1949 and the final member, No.1443, lasted until February 1951. Back at Westerham, note the fire buckets on the bicycle shed. Photographic evidence suggests that these were later removed and dumped on the platform, probably to make their presence more obvious. The crossover in the right foreground appears in very few photographs. It would have provided an end-loading facility for the goods dock and was removed during Southern Railway days and the end of the dock provided with railings. The reason for its removal is not known, but one suspects that its use interfered with operation of the run-round loop although this would have become purely academic once push-and-pull trains regularly worked the branch.
Copyright photo by HC Casserley


Class R1 0-4-4T No.1707 waits at Westerham with the Crown Hotel in the background sometime in the 1930s. Photographs of the Westerham branch showing locomotives at the London end of their trains are uncommon. The carriages appear to be ex-SE&CR but it is unclear if this is a push-and-pull set or if the locomotive is required to run round; if the latter it may explain why it is at this end of the train. The R1 seen above took the number 1707 as a result of the Southern's 1931 renumbering scheme, having previously been numbered A707. Some confusion exists regarding the subsequent history of this loco. Two of the 15-strong class, A701 and A702, were early withdrawals, going in 1929 but the remainder survived into British Railways days. Some sources state No.1707 went in 1947 but the overwhelming majority of sources confirm that 13 of the class did indeed survive into BR days with No.1707 being withdrawn from Tonbridge shed in February 1949 and apparently without receiving its allocated BR number, 31707.
Photo from Jim Lake collection


Push-and-pull set No.481 at Westerham in June 1934. This was one of the sets converted from steam rail-motor carriage portions during the previous decade; 481 and 482 being the non-articulated pair. The locomotive was probably an R1 0-4-4T. On the left an open wagon with tarpaulin is seen. We have no way of knowing the content of the wagon other than that it was something which needed to be kept dry.
Copyright photo by HC Casserley

of a handful of views known to exist of the Southern Railway Sentinel steam railcar departing Westerham; the date is 28 March 1936. Sadly this strange looking machine attracts more ridicule than serious research, so not a great deal of reliable information is available. The railcar carried the number 6 on the trailing end cabside just below the cantrail and at the diagonally opposite position at the powered end. This is assumed to be the railcar's stock number but why '6' is a mystery as the Southern had no nos. 1 - 5. However, the railcar seems to have been purely experimental so it may have been numbered in a non capital-stock series. Authorised by Richard Maunsell of the Southern Railway, the railcar was new in 1933 and appears to have been yet another attempt to provide economies of operation in that its design went further than the more familiar LNER and LMS Sentinel railcars. Construction was very obviously ultra-lightweight and tare weight is thought to have been in the region of a mere 11 tons - more or less the same as a modern double-decker bus. Obviously lightweight construction went hand in hand with structural strength and these factors may explain the rounded ends of the railcar. As was usual with Sentinel railcars, construction was by Metropolitan Cammell with Sentinel supplying the running gear, boiler etc. As a one-off, it must have been an expensive project for Metropolitan Cammell and indeed the Southern Railway. Further orders, which must have been hoped for, were not of course forthcoming. Drawings of the railcar have survived and the interior layout suggests it was designed for one man operation. A driver's seat was provided at both ends and the boiler was fitted with an automatic stoker and crusher. At the trailing end, the driver sat in what could be described as a combined cab and luggage compartment. Seating was provided for 44 passengers, access being by single leaf sliding doors, presumably hand-operated, located centrally on each side of the body and leading into a small vestibule. The boiler was the standard Sentinel vertical type, automatic stoker excepted, and the engine was Sentinel's familiar 2-cylinder type. However, some sources quote the engine as being a compound, others a simple. Drive appears to have been to the inner axle of the power bogie, possibly with chain drive to the outer axle but this detail is unconfirmed. See the following image for a clearer view and further details.
Photo by RW Kidner


This image shows the railcar at Devil's Dyke terminus near Brighton, the line being better known as the 'Dyke branch'. It is included to give a much clearer view of the railcar. On this occasion the 48ft 4in-long railcar has its trailing end nearest the camera, while the reverse applies to the Westerham view. Whilst the body design may appear odd for both Sentinel-Cammell and the Southern Railway, it will be realised that this style was fashionable in the 1930s so would not have looked as strange then as it does now. The half-drop windows were also in vogue at the time and were most familiar on pre-war road buses. Note the roof destination board above the door. Lettering and lining were applied to the body but the livery is unclear and it has been suggested it was Lake (a shade of maroon). The drums on the outside of the bogies were, it is believed, brake drums. This design was not especially unusual as it also appeared on some of the early internal combustion railcars. Clearly, sanding gear was provided. Note the rudimentary buffing bars and the link and pin coupling. The buffing bars were no doubt a weight saving innovation but would have been useless in the event of a collision with a conventional railway vehicle. Incidentally, the Daimler Company produced a petrol railcar in the early twentieth century which had similar rounded cab ends to the Sentinel albeit it much more tramcar-like. The Daimler was given proper buffing gear and in this form it looked quite attractive. Sentinel No.6 (this number is visible above) operated the Dyke branch for around two years. It was unable to cope with the steep gradients and the brakes were inadequate for the return journey, so it was transferred away for trials on other lines including the Westerham branch where it lasted only a few months. No.6 appears to have remained in service until 1940 and photographs of it exist, dumped in derelict condition at Ashford Works around this time. It eventually disappeared and is believed to have been scrapped in 1942.
Copyright photo by HC Casserley


In March 1938 an R1 class 0-4-4T waits at Westerham. These locomotives had a slightly complex history. They were based on the London, Chatham & Dover Railway R class designed by William Kirtley, nephew of the better-known Matthew Kirtley, and dated from 1891. Eight years later when the SE&CR was formed, a need for more 0-4-4T locomotives arose and following much boardroom bickering it was decided to build a modified version of the R class. The outcome was the R1. Only 15 were built, by Messrs Sharp, Stewart & Co, due to being superseded by Wainwright's H class. The identity of the locomotive seen above is unclear but it appears to be No.705, one a batch originally intended for the former LC&DR section. The last R1 survived until 1956. The push-and-pull set is either No.481 or 482, one of the sets rebuilt from former steam rail-motor carriage portions. At bottom right and on several pictures above we see a pile of drainpipes which were probably due to be despatched from the goods yard. They are likely to have come from the London Road and Covers Farm Brick and Tile Works.
Copyright photo by HC Casserley

Click here for Westerham Station Gallery 3:
1947 - 1950

 

 

 

[Source: Nick Catford]


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