The layout depicts Wickhambreux Road on the Canterbury Light Railway in late summer of 1938, just prior to the second world war. The station, which is over a mile from the village of Wickhambreux, lies between Canterbury and Wingham Town and sits west of the junction to Wickhambreux Colliery. The railway was authorised under Light Railway Order 426 in 1920 to enable the exploitation of coal reserves in the area. Built by the colliery company, the line was completed in early 1922 linking the Colliery to SECR exchange sidings in Canterbury and to the East Kent Railway exchange sidings in Wingham. The railway operated under the name Canterbury Light Railway, although it was a wholly owned company of the Wickhambreux Colliery Company.
The Colliery needed the railway to give them access to both the port of Dover and to the national network for the distribution of the high grade coal they mined. The colliery was a relatively small concern and could only finance the building of a narrow 2’3” gauge light railway. It was the intention of the company that the narrow gauge track would be replaced by standard gauge once the colliery output warranted this and link directly to both the SECR and the EKR, this never happened. Coal was initially required to be transhipped to the standard gauge at either Canterbury or Wingham; this labour consuming task was very quickly done away with by the introduction of transporter wagons to carry standard gauge coal wagons to and from the Colliery. Wickhambreux is at the heart of the Kent orchards, with fruit and hop growers providing additional seasonal goods traffic for the railway. There was a daily, if infrequent, passenger service between Canterbury and Wingham, and daily trains to transport miners to and from the Colliery.
The CLR owned a variety of locomotives and rolling stock during its lifetime, all were purchased second hand from other railways. Some items of rolling stock, such as the transporter wagons, were constructed in the colliery workshops. Locomotives and rolling stock were maintained, for the most part, in the workshops at Wickhambreux Road.
By 1940s the railway was very run down and poorly maintained. The railway remained in private ownership until it eventually closed in 1951. I have searched high and low for any remaining evidence of this quaint and quirky railway but have found none, maybe it’s all a figment of my imagination!
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