Rail­way an im­por­tant part of town’s past

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - Remember When? -

Any­one with knowl­edge of Ash­ford will know that it was once a rail­way town.

The Ash­ford lo­co­mo­tive works was built by the South East­ern Rail­way on a new 185-acre site in 1847, re­plac­ing an ear­lier lo­co­mo­tive re­pair fa­cil­ity at New Cross in Lon­don. By 1850 more than 130 houses had been built for staff, called Al­fred Town by the rail­way but New Town by ev­ery­one else, close by.

The site em­ployed about 600 peo­ple in 1851, in­creas­ing to about 950 by 1861, and about 1,300 by 1882.

A car­riage and wagon works was opened on an ad­ja­cent 32-acre site in 1850.

On Jan­uary 1, 1899 the rail­way en­tered into a work­ing union with the Lon­don Chatham and Dover Rail­way, form­ing the South East­ern and Chatham Rail­way (SECR). Each an­tecedent com­pany had its own lo­co­mo­tive works, but Ash­ford was larger than the Longhedge works and so be­came the prin­ci­pal lo­co­mo­tive works for the new or­gan­i­sa­tion.

Af­ter the group­ing of the SECR with the Lon­don, Brighton and South Coast Rail­way and the Lon­don and South Western Rail­way to form the South­ern Rail­way on Jan­uary 1, 1923 most new lo­co­mo­tive and car­riage de­sign and con­struc­tion was trans­ferred to the more mod­ern fa­cil­i­ties at Eastleigh Works in Hamp­shire.

Nev­er­the­less, Ash­ford con­tin­ued to build and ser­vice lo­co­mo­tives and wag­ons un­til well af­ter the na­tion­al­i­sa­tion of the rail­ways to form Bri­tish Rail­ways in 1948.

The lo­co­mo­tive work­shops closed on June 16, 1962. The last lo­co­mo­tive to be re­paired at Ash­ford was N class 2-6-0 no 31400 on June 9.

The wagon works con­tin­ued for two decades, pro­duc­ing con­ti­nen­tal ferry vans, Freight­liner ve­hi­cles, mer­rygo-round coal hop­per wag­ons and the Car­tic4 ar­tic­u­lated car trans­porter. It be­came one of BREL’s main wagon works but, as trade de­clined, it op­er­ated on a -de­creas­ing scale un­til clo­sure in 1982.

The mas­sive site is cur­rently be­ing de­vel­oped for hous­ing with plans to cre­ate the Ash­ford In­ter­na­tional Model Rail­way Ex­cel­lence Cen­tre (AIMREC) on part of the site due to be sub­mit­ted soon.

Do you have any pho­to­graphs or slides that you would be will­ing to lend me to en­able them to be scanned and fea­tured in the Ken­tish Ex­press? If so please write to me, Steve Sal­ter, at Ken­tish Ex­press Re­mem­ber When, 34-36 North Street, Ash­ford, TN24 8JR or email me at re­mem­ber­when_k­mash@ hot­mail.co.uk or fol­low me on Twit­ter @SteveKMAsh­ford. Or you can also leave a tele­phone mes­sage for me with brief de­tails by call­ing 01233 623232.

The in­side of one of the gi­ant re­pair sheds at the Klondye works in New­town, pic­tured in 2004, long af­ter the clo­sure of the rail works.

Two 60 ton propane gas tanks at Ash­ford rail works in 1980

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