BROMLEY FARNBOROUGH and WEST WICKHAM - 1865


  

This was the last of the proposals drawn up during the early phase of railway building, while the network that we know today was still emerging.  It is notable for two reasons:

* it was a joint proposal by the London Chatham and Dover Railway (LC&DR) and the South Eastern Railway (SER) who were generally at that stage bitter rivals; it would have connected to the main lines of both companies

* although never built, part of it did see the light of day as a branch line, which has remained problematic ever since.

This map shows that the line would have started at a junction with the South Eastern main line at or near the current station at Grove Park. The map is somewhat misleading as the main line had by then only been completed as far as Chislehurst. The line would have crossed the LC&DR line at right angles by Bromley (South) station, and there would have also been a connecting spur up from the LC&DR.


From Bromley the line would proceed via Hayes to Farnborough.  The map shows the intended route and it can be seen that it would pass through what is now Norman Park to Hayes. Then on to Baston and Farnborough with a major junction to take a branch line to Coney Hall with halts at two of Sir John Farnaby Lennard’s farms. The line to one of the halts was to be extended towards Eden Park and Elmers End.

These detailed plans at Locksbottom and Farnborough make reference to the earlier approved West London and Crystal Palace (Farnborough Extension) Act, which used virtually the same alignment.  As with the earlier act the point of termination was by the junction between the High Street and Tubbenden Lane.


The proposal went the same way as the others of around that time, most probably for similar reasons of insufficient potential traffic to justify the expenditure.

However there had long been pressure from the land and business owners in Bromley to build a direct connection to the City of London, preferably using a station closer to the centre of the town than Bromley South. Eventually the first part of the proposal, the connection with the South Eastern mainline was revived and the line was built by the 'Bromley Direct Railway Company', in co-operation with the SER. It opened in 1878 but instead of going to Bromley South a new and disconnected terminus was built (Bromley North). 

Operationally this branch has been problematic since the main line was quadrupled, as the branch emerges on the fast lines rather than the slow.  To avoid taking up increasingly valuable train paths through to London it was downgraded to a shuttle service going only to Grove Park in 1990.

In modern times there have been ideas to convert the line to be part of the Croydon tram system, the DLR and even the Bakerloo Line extension to Lewisham, but enthusiasm for these now appears to have lapsed.

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