The East Kent Railway (Hardback)
The Line That Ran to Nowhere
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The East Kent Railway was one of Britain's less well known light railways. A part of the Colonel Stephens group of lines, the East Kent Railway was meant to open up the newly discovered Kent coal field and help to make its shareholders wealthy. However, things took a different turn when the projected collieries along the line did not materialise the way the promoters had first envisaged.
The only colliery to produce quantities of coal was Tilmanstone, near Shepherdswell, which opened in 1912. Other pits were started along the formation of the line from Shepherdswell to Wingham, but in these cases only the surface buildings or test shafts were constructed before the work was abandoned. This was largely due to flooding and the poor calorific quality of East Kent coal, which had to be mixed with other coal to be effectively used.
There were four collieries completed in Kent, the East Kent Railway only served one of them and this together with the other three lasted until the latter part of the 20th century.
The railway operated a loss making passenger service to Wingham and for a few years to Sandwich Road halt on the line to Richborough Port line. However, the service to Wingham Canterbury Road came to an end in October 1948, after British Railways had taken control.
The East Kent Railway lasted through two world wars and was nationalised in 1948, becoming part of the Southern Region of British Railways, before closing to traffic in 1984 during the coal strike.
The new series of ‘Light Railway Profiles’ from Pen and Sword starts with a brief history of this interesting railway which mainly covered the Kent coalfields in the eastern part of the county and contains probably more photographs of the whole setup than there has ever been in one publication before. Highly recommended.Peter Harding, Branch Line & Light Railway Publications