History Files
 

 

Modern Britain

Railway Walks: Whitstable to Canterbury West

by Peter Kessler, 28 July 2012. Updated 13 April 2013

This was the first of Britain's railways to regularly carry ordinary passengers in trains hauled by steam power, albeit not along the full length of the line. Even so, the Canterbury & Whitstable Railway opened on 3 May 1830, six months before its better-known rival in the north, the Liverpool & Manchester Railway (which holds the honour of being the very first double-track mainline railway). The C&W was mostly single track, and it followed a difficult route of about 9.9 km (6.1 miles) across the high inclines of the North Downs in East Kent. Known colloquially as the Crab & Winkle, its pioneering status was partly its undoing, as the cost of upgrading it would have been high. It was closed to passengers in 1931. Final closure came in 1952, with a brief respite in 1953 following severe flooding of the east coast of Britain. Today its surviving remnants are fairly obscure in places, but they can be found.

If you would like to submit your own photos of disused railway lines, contact us. Return to the Railway Walks index.

 

 

     


Main Sources

Conolly, W Philip - British Railways Pre-Grouping Atlas and Gazetteer, Fourth Edition, Ian Allen, London, 1965

Hart, Brian - The Canterbury & Whitstable Railway, Wild Swan Publications Ltd, Didcot, 1991

Kentish Gazette

Ratcliffe, R L - The Canterbury & Whitstable Railway, 1830-1980 Pictorial Survey, The Locomotive Club of Great Britain, London, 1980

Online Sources

The Crab & Winkle Line Trust

Kent History Forum: The Canterbury & Whitstable Railway

Rail Album: Stephenson's Invicta

 

 

     
Images and text copyright P L Kessler except where stated. An original feature for the History Files.