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London, Chatham and Dover Railway

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1868. Kendall's Pneumatic Brake and Inter-Communication Apparatus.
1892. Damage in the snow storm.

of Victoria Station, London.

The London, Chatham and Dover Railway (LC&DR) was a railway company that operated in south-eastern England between 1859 and 1923 before grouping into the Southern Railway. Its lines ran through London and eastern/northern Kent, and formed a significant part of the Greater London commuter network. The company served Dover, carrying considerable traffic for the boats to the continent. From the start the railway was in an impecunious position.

Although the Chatham, as it was always known, was subject to much criticism for its often lamentable carriage stock and poor punctuality, in two respects at least it was very good: it used the highly effective Westinghouse brake on its passenger stock, and the Sykes 'Lock and Block' system of signalling. It was actually a line with an excellent safety record.

For a small and indigent company the Chatham was lucky in its locomotive engineers. After a very patchy start, with a miscellany of Crampton engines and other oddities, it had two very competent engineers: William Martley and William Kirtley.

1853 The East Kent Railway was incorporated.

Construction was not fast; in March 1858 the section from Strood was opened as far as Faversham

1859 The East Kent Railway changed its name to the London, Chatham and Dover Railway.

1860 William Martley was appointed locomotive superintendent, and commissioned some very effective locomotives, notably the 0-4-2 well tanks of the 'Scotchmen' (1866) and 'Large Scotchmen' (1873) classes for the suburban services; and the 'Europa' class (1873) of 2-4-0s, which ran the mail trains to and from Dover, the line's crack service.

The Mid-Kent Railway was connected to the West End of London and Crystal Palace Railway which provided the "Chatham" with a connection to Victoria Station, which the "Chatham" entered on 1st December 1860.

1860 The company obtained powers to build its own line from Penge to Battersea, from where it could reach Victoria station by way of the Victoria Station and Pimlico Railway.

The same Act gave permission for a scheme to extend the company's lines into the City of London. The first stage of this was a line north from Herne Hill via Loughborough Junction to a terminus Blackfriars Bridge Railway Station.

1862 A contract was placed for a route giving the railway access to London. The whole of the line, including two bridges across the Thames, was constructed by Peto and Betts, in partnership with Mr. Crampton.

1862 The company's part of Victoria Railway Station was completed and opened.

1864 The Blackfriars Bridge Railway Station was opened on the South side of the River Thames in London.

1864 The first service train passed over Blackfriars Railway Bridge

The LCDR's Metropolitan Extensions from London Bridge to Victoria opened.

The company's finances deteriorated; by 1866 it needed extra funds as it could not meet its obligations. Special arrangements were made allowing the company to raise capital.

By 1871 the company's connections to the Metropolitan Railway allowed access to Kings Cross and Moorgate.

1874 Holborn Viaduct Station was opened as an additional terminus in London.

1874 Snow Hill station opened on 1 August. It was below ground in the Snow Hill Railway Tunnel, which linked the LC&DR to the Metropolitan Railway south of Farringdon. The station was adjacent to Holborn Viaduct station and was renamed Holborn Viaduct Low Level in 1912.

1874 William Kirtley came from the Midland Railway, following the death of William Martley. He was the nephew of Matthew Kirtley, the Midland's famous locomotive superintendent. Kirtley produced a series of excellent designs, robust and good performers - the A series of 0-4-4 tanks for suburban services, the B series of 0-6-0 goods engines; the T class of shunting engines; the M series of 4-4-0 express passenger engines; and a final R series of enlarged 0-4-4 tanks. These, rather than Stirling's Ashford products, formed the basis for SE&CR development under Wainwright, not least because it was Robert Surtees from Longhedge who led design work for the successor organisation. The R series led to the SE&CR's R1 and subsequent H class; the Bs to the famous C class; and the Ms to the D and E classes, which in their rebuilt Maunsell form may have been the best British inside-cylinder 4-4-0s.

1875 See 1875 Number of Locomotives

1884 A new line from Maidstone to Ashford was opened (mainly intended to keep competition out of the area).

1886 With the opening of the St. Paul's station on the North side of the River, the original passenger facility at Blackfriars could be closed and the station limited to being a freight depot.

1888 See Locomotive Stock June 1888

1894 Antwerp Exhibition. Awarded Diploma of Honour for Railway Plant. [1]

1898 An arrangement was made with the South Eastern Railway for "an improved, efficient, and economical working of the competitive traffic", the new agreement taking affect from 1st January 1899. [2]. The combined operation was known as the South Eastern and Chatham Railways.

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. The Engineer of 2nd November 1894 p387
  2. The Stock Exchange Year Book 1908
  • Southern Railway, by C. F. Dendy Marshall, 1963.