Bickley, Petts Wood, and St Mary Cray Junctions
Under British Railways, there was considerable modification. As part of the 1959 Kent Coast Electrification of the ‘’Chatham’’ main line, the quadruple track was extended from Bickley, through to Swanley. All junctions were also re-signalled with colour lighting, which saw the emergence of a ‘’power box’’ in-between the diverging main line routes. This took over the functions of the mechanical cabins at Bickley, Chislehurst, and Petts Wood Junctions from 31st May 1959 onwards. The junctions themselves were realigned during the works, which had begun in 1958, to relax speed limits. Track was pre-assembled at New Cross Gate and subsequently brought down in numerous large trainloads to the area, it being inserted during months of weekend engineering works. The ‘’up’’ and ‘’down’’ Bickley Loops were realigned to allow the speed restriction to be raised from 30 MPH to 50 MPH. The re-slewing of the ‘’down’’ loop also resulted in the rebuilding of the bridge it passed under, this of which carried the four-track ex-SER mainline.
Renaming of Connections: 1959
''Chislehurst Loops'' become ''Chatham Loops''
''Bickley Loops'' become ''Tonbridge Loops''
The 1959-opened Chislehurst Junction ‘’power box’’ remained the primary cabin for this maze of lines until 12th June 1983. On this day, the scope of the Victoria Panel was expanded, its control stretching to reach the boundary of the Rochester Panel of 1959. As part of these works, the ''Down'' Chatham Loop was signalled for reversible running. The Chislehurst Junction ‘’power box’’ did, however, retain control of the ex-SER trunk line for a further ten years – in 1993, its responsibilities were transferred to the Ashford Panel, which was being commissioned piecemeal. Previously, in 1992, the ‘’Up’’ and ‘’Down’’ Tonbridge Loops had been doubled to accommodated the Eurostar formations, these of which were to commence regular service on 14th November 1994.
Drawn by David Glasspool
In 1975, unrefurbished 4 CEP No. 7205 is seen passing Petts Wood Junction, leading another unit of the class on a Ramsgate to London Charing Cross service. The single-storey brick substation to the right of the unit marks the former position of the mechanical signal box. © David Glasspool Collection
19th April 2006
A southward view from the platforms of Chislehurst on 19th April 2006 shows the diamond crossing between the ''slow'' and ''fast'' lines. Also revealed is the end of the ''up'' Chatham Loop, in the centre background. © David Glasspool
24th February 2010
Class 375 No. 375814 trails on the end of a Charing Cross service in this northward view overlooking Petts Wood Junction. Four-track running on this section of line commenced on 6th June 1904. The double-track on left is that of the ''up'' Tonbridge Loop. © David Glasspool
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