Transportation => Tramways & Railways => Topic started by: JohnWalker on January 13, 2018, 11:14:58

Title: Lost Gillingham Railway Explored
Post by: JohnWalker on January 13, 2018, 11:14:58
Some of you might find this video of the Gillingham Railway interesting. (
Title: Re: Lost Gillingham Railway Explored
Post by: Alastair on January 13, 2018, 15:23:18
Fascinating, John - thanks for posting.

Title: Re: Lost Gillingham Railway Explored
Post by: smiler on January 13, 2018, 18:19:08
Very interesting and still being used in the 90s
Title: Re: Lost Gillingham Railway Explored
Post by: Signals99 on January 14, 2018, 10:12:22
Hi all, this section of now defunct rail opened up a lot of memories for me, thank you.
I worked out of Gillingham loco sheds, as foot plate crew, my very first solo firing turn as a "passed cleaner" with driver 'Buck 'Eldridge was on the dockyard pilot, on that very section of permanent way shown. You learned the hard way on that turn, bringing a rake of trucks up from the yard with a C class loco was a fireman's nightmare.
Title: Re: Lost Gillingham Railway Explored
Post by: MedwayDweller on January 15, 2018, 21:34:23
Great find JohnWalker. I live very close to the line and regularly walk over the stretch between Burnt Oak Terrace and Parr Avenue which is in effect a viaduct going over the line. The arches below are mighty and looking over the wall down at the line makes you realise how high over it you are. I've always wondered what it was like to walk the line but I'd never trespass, now we can see. How ignorant and lazy it is that people think it acceptable to throw their rubbish down on to the line and looking at the amount of graffiti present is would seem that plenty of lowlife visit the tracks. It would be wonderful if Medway Council did convert the line into a cycle path and walk, the route would connect the busy area around the docks with it's University and College with the High Street area. Would be a lovely green space though I'm not sure how stable those trees are on such steep soil.

Does anybody know how the line was physically created? Did the dockyard authorities identify the need for a line and see a natural route where it could run up to the main line or did much excavation have to take place? As I have said previously the track is so deep compared to the streets and house above it. Also, was the line created after the roads above it i.e. was the road (Burnt Oak Terrace/Parr Avenue) already running above the line and they had to carve out a route for the line underneath or did the roads come afterwards and a bridge created to carry traffic above. Hope this makes sense and I've not overlooked anything obvious which would give an answer!
Title: Re: Lost Gillingham Railway Explored
Post by: smiffy on January 15, 2018, 22:12:32
I think Burnt Oak Terrace pretty much ended near the Royal Observatory Inn. This was just about where the cutting went through and it carried on as a trackway giving access to a brickfield, so I would guess that the bridge was built after the railway was finished.

There is a related post here:

Another related one here:
Title: Re: Lost Gillingham Railway Explored
Post by: Sentinel S4 on January 15, 2018, 22:58:11
In answer to at least one question posed. The line was built by the London, Chatham and Dover Railway at the request of the Admiralty. The LCDR finaced the line to the Dock Yard Gate from there it was Navy. When it was worked the trains ran down the bank and through into a 'Quarantine' area where the loco crew was not allowed to leave the footplate. They had a Dock Yard Police man on the footplate from the time they stopped until they went back through the gate heading up the bank back to Gillingham. In the later days of steam it was most often a C class 0-6-0 that worked tender first down, two fold reasons the incline being one and a lack of turning facilities being the other. The LCDR did well out of the Navy contract over the years as everything except passengers went down or up it. I have no idea what the area looked like before the branch was built but seeing how substantial the bridges are then I will assume that the roads were already there, no railway other than the Metropolitan in London and the Romney, Hythe and Dymchurch built bridges 'on spec' and they were a few in 'Metro-Land' and two on the Dungeness extension (Kerton Rd and Dervile Rd as there was nothing there when the line went through).

It is a very heavily engineer branch that would have taken much excavation as there was and is no easy or identifiable natural route to the Docks from Gillingham station which is well above sea level. Remember the branch is in a deep cutting all the way, in fact it cut through the same hill that the main line tunnels through after crossing Luton arches. There were plans by the SER to extend their Chatham Town branch along the river side into the Docks from the town end but the LCDR made a better offer, and I believe there was a little opposition from Chatham Town Council to having a busy branch almost through the town center.

Title: Re: Lost Gillingham Railway Explored
Post by: conan on January 15, 2018, 23:43:14
The 1892--1914 era OS map shows the bridge in place but no buildings on the opposite side to Burnt House Terrace

Title: Re: Lost Gillingham Railway Explored
Post by: smiffy on January 16, 2018, 00:44:15
I can only assume that there was an arrangement with the brickworks that access from Burnt Oak Terrace would be maintained after the cutting went through. Must have been quite costly as it's quite a substantial bridge.
Title: Re: Lost Gillingham Railway Explored
Post by: DGM on January 17, 2018, 20:14:11
John, many thanks for posting the video.  It was very interesting to see the current state of the Dockyard Branch having first travelled over it on a nuclear waste movement in the early 1980's, then on spoil trains in the 1990's and finally having to walk it many times during the works to restore the Branch use in 2002.  While the route will never see trains again it would be nice to see it restored as a footpath rather than being used as a linear refuse tip.