Folkestone West

 

Mention should be made of the ‘’Continental Traffic Agreement’’ between the SER and LC&DR. Formally signed on 7th October 1865, the contract stated that the receipts from all Continental traffic stretching from Hastings to Margate was to be directed into a common pool of funds. Also included within this scheme was all domestic traffic between the capital, Folkestone, and Dover. The money accumulated in this fashion would subsequently be reallocated to the companies, the SER and LC&DR initially receiving 68% and 32% of the takings respectively. A hidden agenda of the SER’s during the 1881 rebuilding of Shorncliffe Camp was to deprive the LC&DR of funds. To do this, the station was recreated on a much larger scale than its predecessor: this would attract local passengers away from Folkestone Junction and Harbour stations. Then, by retaining the name ‘’Shorncliffe Camp’’, the SER could claim that the station was in fact not part of Folkestone, thus was not bound by the agreement! Unfortunately for the company, the LC&DR’s subsequent legal action of 1887 cost a significant sum in compensation - some £85,000 - and Shorncliffe Camp was included within the agreement; the existing name was, however, retained.

The Southern Railway brought early change to the station’s name. On 2nd July 1926, the ‘’Camp’’ suffix was dropped; 40,000 Canadian troops had been in training at the nearby British Army base during the first half of World War I. The SR altered the lamppost design at the station, but even more significant was the degrading and subsequent closure of the Elham Valley Line at Cheriton Junction, which removed Shorncliffe’s importance as an interchange point for such services. However, in retrospect, this branch to Canterbury was always loss-making, which resulted in the majority of it closing to passenger traffic on 2nd December 1940. This was not before the line’s singling during World War I. Only the small stretch between Cheriton Junction and Lyminge remained in use: passenger traffic over this ceased on 16th June 1947 and total closure came on 10th October of the same year. Despite this, the additional third track installed for slow traffic from the branch remained in use and indeed, as part of the Kent Coast Electrification, was to be joined by another line. During 1960 / 1961, the stretch of line between Cheriton Junction and Folkestone Central was quadrupled, which included the complete rebuilding of the latter. As far as Shorncliffe was concerned, the loops were opened out as running lines. This required the rebuilding of the ‘’up’’ platform’s western end, which followed the curvature of the loop line. The decision was also taken at this time to rebuild both platforms in prefabricated concrete. Electric services commenced on this stretch of line on 12th June 1961, and although Folkestone East power box came into use on 18th February 1962, it would seem likely that Shorncliffe’s cabin remained open beyond this date for the existing goods yard. Most goods traffic was officially withdrawn from the site as of 26th April 1965, but coal continued to be handled here until 22nd April 1968. Meanwhile, further changes had occurred: the bay platform had gone out of use and the ornate canopies had been replaced with shorter plain metal types. On 10th September 1962, the station had also been renamed ‘’Folkestone West’’, now harmonious with the Central and East stations. The final spout of degrading came after the 1994 closure of Dover Western Docks as a result of the Channel Tunnel opening. With the loss of boat traffic over the Folkestone Line, the quadrupled section between Cheriton and Central station was degraded to double-track working, which prevented any passing at the West station. Consequently, the running lines diverge apart at this point to serve the spaced-out platform faces.

 


 

The existence of this totem was somewhat short-lived. The station retained the name ''Shorncliffe'' until 10th September 1962, after

which it became ''Folkestone West''. Approximately eight years down the line, totems such as this began being replaced by plain

white rectangular name boards. Raymond Fuell

 


 

A westward view on 21st June 2007 reveals the former site of the ''up'' side goods yard, which

remains undeveloped, instead serving as road access to the line. David Glasspool

 


 

Both structures are visible in this 21st June 2007 view, taken from the ''down'' side. The bay

platforms on this side formerly came in from the right. Their site is now partly used for car

parking, but much of the land appears to have become a junk yard. David Glasspool

 


 

The ''down'' side was also seen on 25th February 2006, complete with palisade fencing. This

replaced a chest-height brick wall. Also, note the height of the canopy here: the station building's

retaining wall for this used to stretch about another three lengths of fencing to the right, but has

only recently been cut back to accommodate the palisade barricade. The valances here are now

uninspiring corrugated metal, but once the framework was graced with the design still in

existence at Chislehurst. The space where an additional two tracks laid is obvious.

David Glasspool

 


 

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