Meopham

 

This station was somewhat interesting in its composition, incorporating the modest brick of the East Kent Railway, juxtaposed with the economical timber reminiscent of the South Eastern Railway. Through running between Canterbury and Victoria via Chatham commenced on 3rd December 1860, but Meopham opened on 6th May of the following year, which probably explains the station's unusual composition. Like a number of stations along the route, Meopham was provided with a two-storey station master's house on the ''up'' side, but waiting accommodation and the ticket office were incorporated within a single-storey clapboard building, adjacent to the house. However, utilising clapboard on the ''up'' side still at least allowed the canopy valance to be replicated on the ''down'' side timber shelter, which was of the standard square LC&DR design. As per usual, no footbridge was provided here from the outset, a track foot crossing instead being used - the former did not appear until after the Grouping. The signal box here was also a later addition to the site, opening circa 1876 and situated on the ''down'' side, beyond the platforms.

 

The station's delayed opening still allowed it to capitalise over its much later counterpart at Fawkham (Longfield), by staking claim to its own single-track goods shed, the latter location only being provided with two sidings to deal with freight traffic. Siding provision at Meopham was actually quite generous, for there were three lengthy tracks situated on the ''up'' side, to the east of the platforms, feeding off the same series of points as the goods shed, which was also located on this side. There was an additional siding, the longest of the lot, positioned on the ''down'' side and overlooked by the signalman from his aforementioned cabin. Like most yards along the route, the main commodity handled here was coal, used to power the house fires of the village.

 

The first electrics arrived on the route on 2nd July 1939 as a result of the Gillingham electrification by the Southern Railway, but services beyond this location remained fronted by steam. However, it would be the February 1956-approved Kent Coast Electrification Scheme which would see noticeable changes implemented; the first was platform lengthening at the ''country'' end of Meopham during 1959, such extensions being fabricated by concrete (both cheaper and quicker to erect than traditional brick platforms). Extension of platforms was not possible in the London direction as a consequence of the road bridge. Next was the switching over of all scheduled services via the ''Chatham'' line from steam to electric traction, the new Summer timetable coming into use on 15th June 1959. Goods traffic lasted at the station a few years longer, the shed and sidings not being decommissioned until April 1962. The station also had a dock line here to serve a cattle pen, but this went out of use earlier, in 1959, the track's site being required for the platform extensions. It was bad news for passengers early on during the next decade: the traditional clapboard structures on both platforms were demolished in 1971 and replaced by the dreadful ''CLASP'' modular structures, which were sadly the norm at the time. With the rebuild also came a more austere footbridge, this located to the east of the station buildings, the old bridge having been situated to the west. This relocation was most probably in light of the concrete platform extensions, therefore reducing the distance passengers had to walk. What is perhaps surprising here is the former Station Master's house survival of the 1971 rebuild; indeed, it is more robust than the now demolished clapboard structures, but plenty of historic brick buildings were also flattened at the time. It instead found a new use as a restaurant and saw eastward and southward brick extensions to modify it for this role. It currently operates as an Indian restaurant. The whole goods yard site was obliterated during the station rebuild and today it is now the station car park.

 


 

Meopham

The general station layout is viewed on 1st October 2004, looking London-bound. The old station

master's house is evident on the left, although this structure has no operational connection with

the railway anymore. It has now become an Indian restaurant. The CLASP ticket office is evident

alongside, as is the associated waiting shelter's canopy on the ''down'' side. David Glasspool

 


 

Another London-bound view, but this time on the night of 16th April 2006, shows the well lit

platforms. David Glasspool

 


 

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