Home Kent News Gravesend’s forgotten railway station and line that lies decaying in plain sight

Gravesend’s forgotten railway station and line that lies decaying in plain sight

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Original article from Kent Live

Kent is full of disused train stations dating back as far as the Victorian era.

Many of these have since faded from memory however – but few are as oddly prominent as Gravesend West, a station that stretches out over the Thames, but has been disused for half a century.

The station's past is an odd one, but one that is still very much visible in Gravesend and the surrounding countryside.

Read more: Kent's abandoned and hidden railway stations now frozen in time

In fact, if you look at aerial views of Gravesham, you can actually still see where Gravesend's old train line used to run, breaking off from one of the still operational Southeastern rail lines at Pinden, just east of Longfield.

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Gravesend West not only connected the town to London, but also to Essex – as the station was served by boat trains, which connected to ferries across the Thames to Tilbury, and also to nearby coastal towns.

The primary use was freight though, and speaks to the history of Gravesend in the 1800s.

With the red lines added in to fill the gaps, it's clear to see where Gravesend's old rail line once stood.

Originally, Gravesend West was simply Gravesend – the second major rail station built in the town in 1886, though it was renamed in 1899 to Gravesend West Street to avoid confusion.

You can see very little of the station from the street level on West Street

The station extended over West Street as it is today, with the pier functioning as part of the goods yard, whilst boats also launched from there, taking holidaygoers to Southend, Clacton-on-Sea, Walton-on-the-Naze, Felixstowe, Harwich and Great Yarmouth.

It also served as a means to link Kent to the Netherlands during the First World War, this service continuing right the way through until the Second World War – with some signs being put up in Dutch during this period to accommodate those travelling from Europe.

The transfer of the connection to The Netherlands to Tilbury – the Essex town on the opposite shore of the Thames – pushed the station into decline.

The structure of the Pier still stretches out into the Thames, though it is stripped bare.

Passenger services were ended in 1953, and by 1968, even the use of the station for freight was discontinued, and since then it has been abandoned.

The decline of the station has changed the shape of this part of Gravesend permanently – with the car park for Wickes now built where the tracks once ran.

The nearby Wickes car park stands where part of the old rail line and station once brought passengers to Gravesend West.

The station platforms themselves were demolished in 1991, and the bridge over West Street was knocked down in 2006, after conservation efforts in 2001 were brushed aside.

The pier is currently all that remains of the station – and it may yet survive into a new incarnation.

As the development boards around the site suggest – that make it very difficult to see the pier itself – there is a planned redevelopment for the pier, which would transform the old site into something not dissimilar to London's Southbank.

There looks to be little work going on at the former site of the station

With business spaces, new blocks of flats and public seating space, the preservation of the pier is central to the project's proposals – though there seems to be very little work being done at the moment.

A relic of a lost part of Kent's history when Gravesham was once a central part of England's dockyards, the regeneration of West Street Pier might be just what Gravesend's riverside needs.

Original Article