THE WESTERHAM VALLEY RAILWAY
by David Gould
It was Victorian determination that brought the Westerham Valley Railway
into being, with Dr. Thompson and Lt. Col. Charles Arthur Madan Warde of
Westerham, enthusiasts, along with William Tipping of Brasted Place, and
builder Richard Durtnell pushing hard for the 4.5
miles of track to link us with Dunton Green.
But equally unstoppable forces were to lead to its demise some 80 years later.
Once buses became more frequent which would take passengers to Sevenoaks and the
mainline to London, a stopping train journey and change at Dunton Green was less
The first train arrived in Westerham with typical Victorian pomp and ceremony on
6th July 1881. Flags flew, fireworks lit the sky and the band played on the Green.
Speakers at a special banquet looked forward to a fresh era of prosperity for the
town, with new industries growing and thriving through improved links with the capital.
Together with the new station, across the road The Crown' advertising itself as
a 'family hotel', now welcomed the commercial travellers who in those days moved
around by rail to do their business. Local landladies also cashed in on providing
staging posts for their 'regular gentlemen', and sure enough, the area prospered
with its many market gardens sending fresh fruit and vegetables to town and
receiving as ballast in return, horse manure from the vast numbers of London
stables and mews. There was also much handling of milk churns, Westerham Ales
and coffins made to order and sent on to Dunton Green for finishing off.
Eighty years later in October 1961 the line closed, despite heroic efforts to save
it. But I still remember the city gents in bowler hats and furled umbrellas who
were allowed to drive the little train, and help stoke the boiler between Westerham
and Dunton Green on the last day. Our children (and we too) were devastated as for
the last time the toy-train rattled past us to Dunton Green with fireworks emanating
from the engine-driver's cab. The sight, sound and smell, and the busyness of those
trains had been part of life in Westerham as long as they could remember: they
even set off for school according to its whistling across the road from
But now it was indeed the end of a line which at Westerham had boasted buffers
worthy of Thomas the Tank Engine. No 'fat director bestrode the platform. But
the little Flyer would wait till passengers hurrying to board the train had made
it, or if on the platform, had completed their farewells. A WW2 bomb fell across
the line, and Italian prisoners of war helped load and unload ammunition and
stores to be collected for Biggin Hill. Today - Westerham accepts but surely
regrets that instead of its little train rattling to and fro against the background
of the North Downs, we now have the roar of the inevitable M25 motorway.
The Westerham Valley railway achieved fame only in it's last couple
of years when it became subject of an amazingly high-handed oficial
decision to close it against the wishes of a substantial number of
The following web pages should be dedicated to the Westerham Valley
Railway Company who built
the railway and the publications that some of the information has
been taken from.
1) David Gould "Westerham Valley Railway - Locomotion papers 72"
published by The Oakwood Press 1974. This book can be purchased from
Kevin Robertson Books
Kevin Robertson Books
PO BOX 279, Southampton,Hants, SO32 3ZX
Tel: 01489 877880 or firstname.lastname@example.org