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".
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.