The Mid Kent line today runs from Lewisham via Elmers End to Hayes, with a short branch to Beckenham Junction.  However originally this was intended to take a different route and proceed all the way to the Kent coast.

The first scheme aimed to end in Tonbridge with a branch to Bromley but it failed in 1845. In 1850 a more ambitious plan to run a railway from New Cross (Gate) through Bromley, Otford and Snodland then on by various branches to Dover, Maidstone, Sevenoaks and Faversham made an appearance but disappeared just as rapidly.

Another scheme to link Lewisham with Croydon and Bromley popped up in 1851, 1852 and 1853, making its last appearance in 1854. It has to be remembered just how few people lived in all these places – the total population of the country was less than a third of today’s and much more dispersed.

The proposal of 1852 had at its start the newly built railway from London to Dartford via Lewisham.  The line would branch off at Lewisham and then head south passing to the east of Beckenham, through Bromley at about the location of the future station at Bromley South, and then head parallel to the main turnpike road but somewhat east of it.

It would then have continued through Crofton, and to the east of the centre of Farnborough Village to terminate at a point just before Green Street Green is reached, where Shire Lane then crossed Farnborough Hill. It is likely that a further proposal was in preparation to carry the route further to the south but this was not submitted.


Tha Route changes

At about this time the West End of London and Crystal Palace Railway gained approval to build their line from Crystal Palace to Beckenham, and then onward to Farnborough. As a consequence the route of the Mid Kent line was changed to run from Lewisham to Beckenham to meet the other line, with the intention to then share the West End of London and Crystal Palace line through to Farnborough. But in fact the line from Beckehnam to Farnborough was never built.

The Mid Kent line to Beckenham was completed in 1857 and operated by the South Eastern Railway. The Mid Kent Railway Company was then instrumental in building the four mile connection from Shortlands to St. Mary Cray that became part of the London Chatham and Dover main line see Development of the Main Lines

The remaining interests of the company were absorbed into the South Eastern Railway in August 1866.

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