This has always been a quiet and unassuming station, lacking the architectural grandeur associated with a great many of the sites along the Maidstone and Ashford line. The ‘’Sevenoaks, Maidstone & Tunbridge Railway’’ opened the single-track branch between Otford and Maidstone on 1st June 1874, Kemsing coming into use on this date. Double-track working along the route occurred on 1st July 1882, followed by an eastward extension from Maidstone to Ashford on 1st July 1884. Delightful architectural pieces came into existence at the likes of Wrotham & Borough Green, Malling, and even the diminutive Barming, but Kemsing was of a somewhat different ilk. Whilst brick-built waiting accommodation did exist at this site, its appearance was clinical, reflective of the sparse population the platforms served.

At the eastern end of the ‘’up’’ platform existed a single-storey brick-built waiting shelter, complete with a backward-sloping roof. An anomaly along the route as far as main buildings were concerned, the derivation of its design is not totally alien, for it appears to have been based on the same outline as those timber-built waiting shelters once found at neighbours Wrotham & Borough Green, and Malling.

The ‘’down’’ platform’s waiting accommodation was even more conservative, but nevertheless familiar, it featuring one of the aforementioned fully enclosed and glazed timber shelters. This did not reside opposite the building of the ‘’up’’ side, but rather to the west of it; such structural positions can still be witnessed at today’s station (more of later). In light of the platform buildings provided at Kemsing, the most imposing structure transpired to be the signal box. Saxby & Farmer signalled the Otford to Ashford route throughout, and one of their distinctive cabins appeared just beyond the western end of the ‘’down’’ platform. Between Kemsing and Barming inclusive (but excluding the latterly-opened East Malling Halt), the signal cabins were built to a standardised design of two-storeys high, being mostly of timber construction, complete with a hipped slated roof. The stations of Maidstone (East) and beyond were instead equipped with an alternate Saxby & Farmer signal box design, again standardised amongst those sites. These had been built with a solid brick base and a timber upper half, and featured a simpler pitched roof.

What Kemsing lacked structurally it compensated for in goods facilities, which were unusually large for a station of its size. There were six sidings in total, all of which were laid on the ‘’up’’ side, to the west of the platforms. Four were westward-facing, and one of these lines passed through a goods shed lying at about 20 degrees to the running lines. Of those stations which opened with the Maidstone and Ashford extensions of the original Bat & Ball route, it was only Barming which lacked goods shed provision.

Under the Southern Railway’s tenure of the station, there was a structural addition. In January 1935, the Bat & Ball line from Swanley, through to Tubs Hill, was electrified. The Otford to Maidstone East extension did not receive such treatment for another four and a half years, the line becoming ‘’live’’ as far as the county town on 2nd July 1939. In preparation for this, an Exmouth Junction-manufactured prefabricated concrete footbridge was installed at the eastern extremities of Kemsing’s platforms, replacing the existing track foot crossing which was also positioned at this spot. However, it was under British Railways auspices that the greatest changes occurred at the site. The initial casualty was that of the goods yard, closure of the sidings coming on 31st October 1960, the first freight withdrawal on the route. Nevertheless, the mechanical signal box lasted until 1964, although that at nearby Otford Junction lasted for nearly two decades longer. Preceding even this occurrence was the lengthening of both platform surfaces at either end with prefabricated concrete, in conjunction with the Kent Coast Electrification. Although the Otford to Maidstone section of the route had been ''live'' since 1939, the extension of third rail from Maidstone East to Ashford in 1961 also sought to bring longer twelve-vehicle EMU formations. Scheduled electric through-running to Ashford via Maidstone became a reality on 9th October 1961, but the full accelerated service did not come into use until 18th June of the following year.

The original platform structures at Kemsing soldiered on, managing to escape being replaced by the dreadful modular CLASP shelters of the late 1960s and 1970s. However, the Business Sector era beginning 1982 brought with it a new wave of station changes, at least as far as the South Eastern Division was concerned. Circa the formation of Network SouthEast in 1986, Kemsing lost its modest waiting accommodation on both platforms. Replacement was in the form of even smaller rectangular bus shelter-style structures of a standardised design, leaving only the prefabricated concrete footbridge to provide some mild interest to the observing historian. Despite these losses, the station still retains an original feature which most stations have since lost: the wrought-iron fencing which lines the outer edges of the platforms.

Kemsing Luggage Label: April 1927. © Raymond Fuell

20th October 1972

A westward view from the SR footbridge shows a plethora of detail from a bygone age. In evidence are the 19th Century waiting rooms, which lacked the grandeur of other stations along the line, even to the extent of not having canopies. Concrete lampposts and hexagonal lampshades abound on both platforms, the latter of which were still lined at the rear with their original iron railings. In the background can be seen the prefabricated concrete platform extensions dating from the Kent Coast Electrification Scheme, beyond which is a track foot crossing. © Tom Burnham

20th October 2006

An eastward view of Kemsing reveals the soulless waiting accommodation, the concrete footbridge of 1939, the concrete platform extensions and, finally, the railings which date from the site's earliest years. © David Glasspool