The Bexleyheath Railway

The new Eltham Station opened on 17 March 1985, seen in the summer of 2000.
Looking towards London, the front of the train is where the old Well Hall station used to be.
Photograph. John King.

The Bexleyheath line was built by the Bexleyheath Railway Company, it was independent from the main railway company, the South Eastern which owned the other two lines in the area. The company was made up of local landowner, who wanted to enhance the value of their agricultural land for building.

The line was opened for traffic on Wednesday 1 May 1895. Eight and a quarter miles long it ran from Blackheath to Dartford. The stations in between were Kidbrooke, Well Hall, Welling, Bexleyheath, and Barnehurst. Eltham Park was added in July 1908 and Falconwood in January 1936.

There were several problems with the planning of the railway, there were problems with which line the Bexleyheath lines should connect with. First off it was decided to have the line connect from Well Hall station to a point to meet the Sidcup Loop Line at Lee. It was objected to the line crossing Eltham Green. Albemarle Cator objected to the line crossing his estate in a cutting, but finally agreed to a cut and cover tunnel. A tight and dangerous curve from Well Hall to Blackheath was needed to make the line further south from a former alignment so it would not cut across the well Hall Estate and Gardens.

The line was built to conform with the South Easters standards, it was built in 1890 by William Rigby of Nottingham. Large embankments, cuttings, and a tunnel were needed as the land was far from flat.

Edith Nesbit the writer of the famous book 'The Railway Children' wrote this book whilst residing at Well Hall next to the railway, the book was probable based on the railway near Knockholt however.

The Bridge over Westhorne Avenue, was a later addition. It was added when the road was built as the South Circular Road in November 19 31. It was constructed between last train Saturday night and noon on Sunday.

In 1953 to accommodate longer trains platforms on the line were extended. Because of the curve at Well Hall the platforms had to be extended over the road bridge. Eltham station was constructed to the East of Well Hall Station. Well Hall station was in the way of the new cutting for the new A2 road. Eltham railway and bus station was built on a raft covering the road. The station was opened on 17 March 1985. The stations at Well Hall and Eltham Park were closed on the previous day. After the opening of Eltham station the ends of the platforms were not very far from Eltham Park.

A major rail crash happened at Well Hall on Sunday evening 11 June 1972. An excursion train returning from Margate came off the track on the sharp curve outside the station. Six lives were lost including the driver, and 126 people were injured. A diesel locomotive pulling ten coaches entered the curve which has a 20 mph speed restriction at 65 mph.

Picture: Mirror Syndicate International.

This page was designed and is maintained by Toby and John King, I would accept any comments or questions  See Index Page

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