London, Chatham and Dover Railway

London, Chatham and Dover Railway

The London, Chatham and Dover Railway (LCDR) was a railway company in south-eastern England from 1859 until the 1923 grouping which united it with other companies to form the Southern Railway. Its lines ran through London and northern and eastern Kent to form a significant part of the Greater London commuter network. From the start the railway was in an impecunious position.

The Chatham, as it was always known, was much criticised for its often lamentable carriage stock and poor punctuality, but in two respects 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 had an excellent safety record.

East Kent Railway

The LCDR began as the East Kent Railway (EKR). Its first line was from Strood near Rochester to Faversham, opened in two parts:
* 29 March 1858: Strood - Chatham, with a station at Rochester
* 25 January 1858: Chatham - Faversham, with stations at Gillingham (originally called "New Brompton"), Rainham, Sittingbourne, Teynham, and Faversham.
* 22 November 1858: The Mid-Kent Railway constructed a line from Bromley Junction (near Norbury) to Bickley. This line connected with the West End of London and Crystal Palace Railway (WELCPR) which later provided the necessary access to London.In 1859 the EKR changed its name to the LCDR though Dover had not then been reached.

London, Chatham and Dover Railway

* 1860 openings:
** 9 July 1860: Faversham - Canterbury (now the East station) - Whitstable (old station)
** 19 July 1860: "Sittingbourne & Sheerness Railway", which became part of LCDR from 1866), including Queenborough. Sheerness-on-Sea railway station dates from 1883: the original terminus became the freight depot. There are branch lines to Queenborough Pier and Sheerness Dockyard. See Sheerness Line.
** 3 December 1860: opening of line between Bickley and Rochester, connecting the two parts of the network; opening of St Mary Cray, Farningham Road and Rochester Bridge stations (the latter being closed in 1917)
** ??? 1860: Crystal Palace and South London Junction Railway - Diverges from the LCDR mainline at Brixton to Crystal Palace High Level via Nunhead
* 1861 openings:
** Meopham and Sole Street stations
** 22 July 1861: extension from Canterbury East to Dover, with Bekesbourne, Adisham, Shepherd's Well and Dover Priory stations opening with the line.
** 31 July 1861: Whitstable to Herne Bay
** 1 November 1861: Route to Victoria station opened: LCDR first access to London
* 1862 openings:
** 2 June 1862: the "Sevenoaks" Railway opened from Sevenoaks Junction (later called Swanley Junction, now Swanley station) to Sevenoaks. Worked by LCDR, with stations at Eynsford, Shoreham, Otford, and Sevenoaks Bat & Ball. See Maidstone East Line
** 1 July 1862: Swanley station (then named Sevenoaks Junction)
** 6 October 1862: stations along the WELCPR line towards Victoria opened: including Penge East, Sydenham Hill, Herne Hill, and Clapham. Knight's Hill, now West Dulwich was also opened.
* 1863 openings:
** Wandsworth Road station
** 5 October 1863: Herne Bay to Ramsgate. Birchington-on-Sea, Margate, and Broadstairs stations all opening with the line

Second London line

* 1 June 1864: the first section of railway to serve the City of London, when the line from Herne Hill to Blackfriars Bridge station (south of the river), was opened
* 1 June 1865: Ludgate Hill station opened (closed 3 March 1929) across the river. In 1886, St Pauls station was opened by the London, Chatham and Dover Railway: it was reached on a parallel bridge across the river.

Stations on the City Branch were
*Herne Hill (opened 1862)
*Loughborough Junction (opened 1864 on west chord as Loughborough Road, renamed when City line and east chord platforms opened in 1872, west platforms closed 1916, east platforms closed 1925)
*Camberwell (opened 1862, closed 1916)
*Walworth Road (opened 1863, closed 1916)
*Borough Road (opened 1864, closed 1907)
*Elephant & Castle (opened 1864)
*Blackfriars Bridge (opened 1864, goods only from 1885, closed 1964)
*Blackfriars (opened 1886 as St Pauls, renamed 1937)
*Ludgate Hill (opened 1865, closed 1929)
*Holborn Viaduct (opened 1874, closed 1990)
*Holborn Viaduct (Low Level) (opened 1874 as Snow Hill, renamed 1912, closed 1916)


Later openings

* 1872 openings:
** Longfield
** Loughborough Road (the first station at what is now Loughborough Junction station)
* 1 June 1874: Otford to Maidstone East line, with Kemsing, Borough Green, West Malling, Barming and Maidstone East stations opening with the line. See Maidstone East Line.
* 1886: Gravesend Railway branch line to Gravesend (Gravesend West) was constructed from the Chatham Main Line at Fawkham Junction (just before Longfield station). []
* 15 June 1881: Dover Priory to Deal, "Dover & Deal Joint Railway" (LCDR/South Eastern Railway). See Kent Coast Line.
* 1 July 1884: Maidstone East to Ashford with intermediate stations opening at Bearsted, Hollingbourne, Harrietsham, Lenham, and Charing. See Maidstone East Line
* 1 October 1884: Kent House, west of Beckenham Junction
* 1 July 1892: Catford Loop Line - Shortlands and Nunhead Railway (constructed 1889) was incorporated with the Crystal Palace and South London Junction Railway to from a loop, effectively quadrupling the LCDR main line.

Dates to be established
* Greenwich Park branch - Nunhead to Greenwich Park, closed by Southern on 1st January 1926.

Stations on the Greenwich Branch were
*Brockley Lane (opened 1872: shut to passengers 1917: closed 1970)
*Lewisham Road (opened 1871: closed 1917)
*Blackheath Hill (opened 1871: closed 1917)
*Greenwich Park (opened 1888: closed 1917)

Formation of the South Eastern & Chatham Railway

On 1 January 1899 the undertaking of the LCDR was, by arrangement, joined with that of the South Eastern Railway for united working under a Management Committee composed of the directors of the two Companies. The arrangement was confirmed by Act of Parliament on 5 August 1899 by the "South Eastern and London, Chatham and Dover Railway Act 1899".

The rolling stock and steamboats of the two companies were thereafter worked as one concern. Some rationalisation of competing stations occurred but it was not fully resolved. Between 1902 and 1904, connections were built to allow LCDR trains through running on ex-SER lines, notably in the Bickley area where the two main lines crossed. The rationalisation of the lines in Thanet to create a line which ran through from Margate via Ramsgate to Minster did not take place until after the grouping. The former Ramsgate Harbour station of the Chatham, accessed via a line through a tunnel leaving the current line near what is now Dumpton Park, then became part of the beach facilities. See South Eastern and Chatham Railway and South Eastern Railway.

Line details

Principal engineering works

* Blackfriars Bridge: 933 ft (279 m) long
* Battersea Bridge: 740 ft (222 m)
* Viaduct carrying extension to Blackfriars: 742 brick arches, 94 girder bridges

Steepest gradient

* Rochester Bridge - Sole Street: five miles at 1:100


* Shepherd's Well Tunnel: 2376 yd (2138 m)
* Sydenham Hill Tunnel: 2200 yd (1980 m) - this was allegedly Queen Victoria's least favourite tunnel

Locomotive Works

* The locomotive works were at Longhedge, in Battersea, and the old erecting shop can still be seen. The former SER works at Ashford took over locomotive building for the joint concern, but some building work at Longhedge continued for a few years.

Rolling stock

Both the South Eastern and London, Chatham and Dover Railway companies' locomotives were painted black each with their own style of lining but, when taken over by the South Eastern and Chatham Railways Managing Committee (SE&CR), dark green was adopted with an elaborate lining scheme. After some trials with a hybrid colour scheme (SER maroon on the upper parts and LC&DR teak on the lower), the SE&CR adopted the dark maroon/lake livery for passenger stock. Ex-LC&DR locomotives were renumbered by adding 459 to the running numbers (ie locomotive No 1 became No 460, etc); SER locomotives retained their existing mumbers.

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

William Martley was appointed in 1860, and commissioned some very effective performers, 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 Chatham's crack service.

William Kirtley came from the Midland Railway in 1874, following the death of 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.

1923 Grouping

In 1923 the LCDR and the SER, the London, Brighton and South Coast Railway (LBSCR), and the London and South Western Railway (LSWR) were joined to form the Southern Railway.


*cite book|last=Nock|first=O. S.|title=The South Eastern & Chatham Railway|publisher=Ian Allen Ltd|year=1961 - particularly for the EKR history
*cite book|title=Railway Year Book 1912|publisher=Railway Publishing Company
*cite book|last=Body|first=Geoffrey |title=Railways of the Southern Region|publisher=PSL Field Guide|year=1989
*cite book|last=Bradley|first=D. L.|title=The Locomotives of the London Chatham and Dover Railway|publisher=Railway Correspondence and Travel Society|year=1960

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