|In days gone by goods traffic was of the utmost importance
to the Railway Companies and to handle it they built large and complex
marshalling yards. They also needed yards to exchange freight between
themselves and one such was Hither Green. To a railway enthusiast with no
particular allegiances this could be a mecca with various different visiting
locomotive types from each of the other three main Railways all contibuting to
making Hither Green a unique place on the Southern.
An added interest came in recent years when, in conjunction with the Kent Coast electrification scheme, Hither Green Yard became one of the sites that installed an overhead power supply so that the 1959-introduced type HA electric locos could work in the sidings without the risks to the railway staff posed by the third rail. The introduction during 1962 of the electro-diesel locomotive, however, meant trains could be moved from yards or sidings to the electrified running lines on diesel power, thus eliminating the need for the overhead catenary - the use of which declined until it was competely disused by 1975. Also in connection with the electrification a new depot was opened to cater for continental fruit and vegetable traffic which arrived via the Dunkerque-Dover train ferry. A 1000ft building was erected, provided unloading facilities for some 50-60 continental wagons.
Hither Green Sidings from the south in 1960. The up yard and connection to
the continental Freight depot is under construction to the left and the masts
for the overhead catenary are in position. To the right there are two class 71
electric locos and D8405 with a brake van. At this time semaphore signals were
still very much in evidence, phase two of the re-signalling scheme that went
with the electrification would see a new power Signalbox at Hither Green,
controlling four-aspect colour lights, from 4 February 1962.
photograph by John Lewis
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This page was last updated 3 December 2002