There were two
notable developments within a short space of time, the first occurring in 1883.
This saw the ''Lydd Military Railway'' come into use, which connected the nearby
Army Camp with the branch, via the goods yard. As this connection was
southward-facing, as per the goods sidings, a reversal manoeuvre was
required to proceed from the Army Camp, to Appledore. The Army Camp did provide
an interesting traffic of regiment horses in box vans, these quite often being
handled at Lydd station itself. Following shortly after the military branch was
an appendix of the Dungeness branch, to New Romney & Littlestone-on-Sea. The same Lydd Railway Company
had received Parliamentary approval for this in 1882, which resulted in the
construction of the three-mile single-track stretch from what became ‘’Romney
Junction’’, just south of Lydd. Opening on 19th June 1884, New Romney &
Littlestone-on-Sea station had been built to virtually the same style as that at
Lydd, and an SER-designed signal box had appeared at Romney Junction. Finally,
the SER absorbed the independent Lydd Railway Company in 1895.
The New Romney branch was never a busy one; in fact, traffic along it was so light that in 1911 it was decided to close the signal box at Romney Junction and, for economical reasons, replace it with a ground frame. The signal box would probably have been made redundant some twenty-six years later anyway, had this not occurred. 1927 marked the advent of the Romney Hythe & Dymchurch Railway and by 1929, the narrow gauge line had reached Dungeness. The Southern Railway saw the holidaymakers line as a threat so significant, that it decided to re-align the course of the New Romney branch. In all fairness, however, the decision had also been partly instigated by housing development along the seafront. A more coastal route was assumed, which resulted in Romney Junction being re-sited further south, a short distance from Dungeness. The rearrangements came into effect on 4th July 1937. The original stretch of line southwards to Dungeness was closed to passengers, but remained open for freight traffic. Meanwhile, two additional halts had been opened on the New Romney branch: Greatstone-on-Sea and Lydd-on-Sea. The creation of the latter saw the first Lydd station to acquire a ‘’Town’’ suffix to aid differentiation between the two. The Lydd Military Railway had been totally lifted over a decade earlier.
Under British Railways, there were numerous changes. The building of Dungeness Nuclear Power Station began in 1961, the materials coming in by road. The bridge to the immediate north of Lydd Town posed problems to the large lorry loads, it being too small, thus the decision was taken to create a level crossing between it and the platforms. This had the advantage of posing no size or weight restrictions, and alongside it, a brick-built hut was constructed to control the gates. The short stretch between Romney Junction and Dungeness had since closed completely to all traffic in May 1953. From 26th February 1962 onwards, the branch was worked by Hampshire / Berkshire DEMUs, the Appledore line having escaped electrification – in fact, the route had been included in Dr Beeching’s closure report of 1963. Subsequent protests by residents along the line secured its immediate future, coupled by the fact that the Traffic Commissioners would not approve replacement bus services. However, as far as passenger traffic was concerned, the Lydd branch would not be so lucky. On 6th March 1967, the last service along the Lydd Town and New Romney branches ran, all stations along the lines closing. Two years earlier, Dungeness ‘’A’’ Nuclear Power station had begun operation, which had generated a new form of freight traffic for the Dungeness branch: nuclear waste. A gravel operation was also still in existence at this time. Indeed, we still see the nuclear traffic traversing the route today, top and tailed by a pair of diesels. It is quite common to think of a green gooey radioactive liquid occupying the flask, but usually it is filled with nothing more than grass clippings. Mention should also be made of the lighthouses at Dungeness. The first was brought into use in 1904 and had a fifty-seven year career. It had to be replaced by a new build, which came into use on 20th November I961 - the nuclear reactors of the power station blocked the light path of the original.
Lydd Town’s goods facilities closed later than the station, not going out of use until 4th October 1971. Thereafter, considerable degrading of the layout ensued. Every goods yard siding was lifted, but the passing loop and level crossing were retained. All ‘’down’’ side structures – waiting shelter, signal box and platform – were demolished. The ‘’up’’ side was luckier: the main building, complete with canopies, was retained, as was the goods shed. A significant structure which was lost on this side, however, was the water tower. Despite suffering a bout of fire damage, Lydd Town’s main station building has survived remarkably well. In May 2006, the British Rail Board (Residual) put the site on the market for redevelopment which, regrettably, may see the historic buildings finally succumb.
18th June 2006
Until the late 1990s, the layout here still retained a passing loop, but being little used, it was removed to leave
just a single-track. © David Glasspool
18th June 2006
A close-up view of the station building reveals the structure to be in seemingly solid condition. The slate roofing
is complete, the brickwork on the nearside has been repaired, and the canopy is still in existence, albeit with
obvious gaps. The lightly used nature of this freight dedicated line ensures that the rails always have a top
layer of rust. © David Glasspool
18th June 2006
Moving westwards from the previous views, the goods yard site is revealed. The shed still stands prominent on
the right, complete with slate roof. A track never passed through this structure, hence its comparatively small
width. In this view, it is evident that the station building also retains its entrance canopy. With the whole site
being put on the market by the British Rail Board (Residual), these historic buildings could be razed to the ground.
© David Glasspool
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