Railway travel in Thanet

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- by ALF “Legs” Beeching.


In September it was the 150th Anniversary of the construction of the Tivoli Railway Arch and to expand upon this I wish to celebrate this by drawing the reader’s attention to some of the interesting facts surrounding this engineering achievement. An item from the local press dated 10/3/1863 tells the reader at that time what the conditions were like in that area as follows-. The soft and unyielding nature of the ground in, ”Brook’s Marsh”, have greatly added to the labour of constructing the new line. The weight of the embankment causes the ground around to rise in waves. The quantity of chalk which has already been cast upon the embankment is as much as excess of the amount calculated as sufficient to complete the entire filling but the soft unyielding soil of the meadows seem to have given way under the enormous pressure and have swallowed up several thousand loads. The bridge over the South Eastern Company’s line is in a forward state as well as over the Coast Guard Road at the Hartsdown Road and the diversion of the Garlinge Road is in progress. Near the Company’s premises on the Galinge Road may at present be seen some very large “Screw Piles”, the invention of Mr.W.Mitchell, the blind engineer.


The site of the Station of the Kent Coast Railway has at length been decided upon. It is to be in front of the Royal Crescent and the entrance between Buenos Ayres and the present Station of the South Eastern Railway. On Thursday last, the ground was stumped out. This will be used for the main line traffic but there is to be a second Station for traffic between Ramsgate and Margate, the site will be near the Cinque Ports Arms Inn.

The works of the Kent Coast Railway in this neighbourhood are daily assuming a more finished appearance and such rapid progress is now being made that no doubt need be entertained that the line will be opened for trafficat the appointed time—September next.

The monster embankment across the “Brooks” is now complete least so far as to admit of ballast wagons being worked over the entire length from the other side of the South Eastern Railway. The bridge over the latter line is also being rapidly constructed, a portion of the iron girders—which are of immense size– have already been fixed. There is a small piece of cutting to finish near St.Peters and when this is done the line between Reculvers and St.Peters, a distance of 10 miles will have been formed except that the permanent metals have not been laid the entire distance. The Station has been commenced with full vigour the foundation, being nearly finished. We understand that there is t be a Refreshment Room at the Station and that a residence for the Station Master will be erected in close proximity to it. A commencement has also been made with the local traffic branch which will extend from the main line about the middle of “The Brooks”. To the “Cinque Ports Arms”, where a Station will be erected.


The portion of the new line of railway between Margate and Birchington is now almost complete. The metals having been laid for the reception of the first locomotive which arrived by the South Eastern Railway a few days ago. It was built by Stephenson in 1846 at Newcastle-upon-Tyne. The charge for this conveyance was £27-5-4d, being at the rate of 2d per ton per mile and Tender weighing 32 tons. The total cost of bringing the engine to Margate from Newcastle was £74-11-1 halfpenny.

I am sure there are other lengthy items but this gives the reader a skeletal view of the early days of Railway travel in Thanet. ALF “Legs” Beeching


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