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 Barham Village History


History Genealogy The Barham Family

Opening and Early Days


The Elham Valley is a natural fold in the North Downs running approximately north - south between Canterbury and Folkestone.   In the early 1860s a number of influential landowners promoted their own railway through the valley and in 1865 the first prospectus was published.   Plans were for it to be a light railway with a maximum axle load of 8 tons and a top speed of 25 mph.   Severe financial difficulties plagued the scheme and it was wound up in 1873.

Meanwhile the London, Chatham & Dover Railway had floated proposals for a new line linking Folkestone and Dover and Canterbury via the Alkham Valley.   Its bitter rival, the South Eastern Railway viewed this with some alarm and viewed the prospect of constructing its own scheme, roughly taking the route previously proposed.   In 1879 the scheme was complete and by 1881 Royal Assent for the original light railway was gained.

Arguments over the respective benefits of both schemes reached a peak by 1884 when the South Eastern was forced to adopt the light railway company, agreeing not only to construct the line as double track to main line standards but absorbing it once the line was completed.   The first sod was cut at Peene on Thursday 28th August 1884 with the Chairman's speech including the words: -

"I believe that the small town of Folkestone will increase in prosperity and that those small villages on the line will spring into townships.   I also anticipate that the City of Canterbury will gain much vigour through the project and in addition we may also hope that the beaux of Shorncliffe may be brought into closer contact with the Canterbury belles to the increased welfare and happiness of both".

Barham station was opened on 3rd July 1887 with a service of 6 trains on weekdays and 4 on Sundays - trains from Folkestone.   From 1st July 1889 to line was opened to Canterbury. A siding, for local farmers, was added at Wigmore (two miles south of the station) in 1888 and the station gained a footbridge in 1890. By the Summer of 1909 there were 9 weekday and 5 Sunday trains.

There was also a freight train leaving Shorncliffe just after noon calling at Barham at about 1pm on its way to Canterbury West.   It also stopped on its return journey at about 2.30pm.   Both stops were for 5 minutes.

Singling of the Line

Originally opened as double track the route was singled and signal boxes demolished starting on 25th October 1931.
The above photograph of Barham dates from 1936 and clearly shows Station Road centre right
plus South Barham Road and Railway Hill, Derringstone at the bottom right.

The singling was probably a result of the passing of the "Southern Railway (Road Transport) Act 1928" in which the railway acquired 49% of the East Kent Road Car Company thus making the maintenance of non profitable rail services open to cost reduction measures.


1939 Traffic Statistics - Barham Station

Passenger tickets issued


Season Tickets issued


Platform tickets issued


Tickets collected


Parcels forwarded


Parcels received


Horses forwarded


Horses received


Churns of milk forwarded


Churns of milk received


Tons of general goods forwarded


Tons of general goods received


Tons of Coke and Coal received


Lavatory pennies received


* - Churns were sent from Bishopsbourne

The Elham Valley Railway timetable for Summer 1936

Elham Valley Military Railway

During World War ll the railway was taken over by the military.   Click here to view this part of its history.

Final Run-down, Closure and Demolition

The railway returned to civilian use from 19th February 1945 with a freight service from Folkestone Junction to Canterbury West serving Barham at about 11.00am and by the return service at about 2.30pm.   Passenger trains, however, never returned to Barham as services were cut back to a Folkestone - Lyminge shuttle.

The Southern Railway announced electrification of Kent's Main Lines and the Elham Valley was to have been served by diesel trains but the electrification scheme took until 1962 to be delivered - by which time the local rail service had been closed for 17 years (after the military trains, carrying local passengers, had ceased).

This poster advertises the termination of passenger train services.

Barham railway station officially closed completely on 1st October 1947 along with the rest of the railway line.

(No Southern passenger trains had operated since 1940)

Jack Heathfield locking up the station for the final time.

Frederick (Jack) Heathfield was a local character - read more

Barham Station was sold by British Railways for 850 in 1960 for housing development.
It was demolished in November 1963 - many remains of the railway still exist - read more

The present "Heathfield Way" was named after Jack Heathfield.
Joe Fox the porter was also remembered with "Fox Close" being named after him.