London – Bromley (Borough of) – Bromley North Branch Line

The lighting in this photo isn’t at all ideal, but I couldn’t use the night mode as this takes a few seconds of keeping the phone still and people kept walking in front of me. There are better day-time photos available on-line anyway…… I went on a little visit to Bromley to have a look at this slightly odd branch line, which goes to just three stations.

And here is this quirky section of line, comprising the three stations of Grove Park, Sundridge Park and Bromley North.

From Openstreetmap the branch line is clearly visible, coming off the South Eastern Main Line.

The main part of the station building was closed, so the line could only be accessed by walking around the side. I poked my camera through the gates to take a photo of the concourse area that passengers couldn’t access. There was a sad event in April 1920, when a couple abandoned a four-week old baby on the train from Charing Cross railway station and the child was discovered here and taken to the waiting room, before the police later took the poor young soul to Bromley Infirmary. The newspaper noted that the child was left in the second-class section of the train….

This area hasn’t much changed since the railway station was built in 1878, the odd set-up is historic and not because the line has been cut off during its history.

The platforms at Bromley North railway station, with the station being extensively remodelled in the mid-1920s, which annoyed the dozen tradesmen who had premises at the station and were given notice to leave in 1924. The Southern Railway Company were displeased to discover in 1939 that their leading parcel porter and a colleague at the station had been on the steal for some time, primarily pinching clothes. The police investigated the two men responsible, Frederick William Smart (aged 52) and Sidney White (aged 40 and no relation) and they were sentenced to six months in prison.

And the train coming in, with another not very clear photo…..

The train just goes up and down the branch line, it’s not particularly decadent, but it is perfectly functional.

And here we are ten minutes later at Grove Park, where there are direct trains into London. When the station was built, there were direct trains to London from these branch line stations, but they became peak-only in 1976 and they were then entirely withdrawn in 1990.

These are the main lines into London, the branch line is at the rear of the photo and can be accessed by going over that bridge.

The railway set-up is the same today as it was 100 years ago when the map was produced, but the entire area is now surrounded by housing.

There has been some debate as to whether more can be done with this line, but there’s a limited capacity on the mainline which means that there aren’t really that many options available. For the moment this little set-up remains as a slight oddity and I can’t imagine this arrangement makes much money for the rail company, especially given the alternative bus alternatives that are available, and that there’s another railway station in Bromley. However, I’m glad it’s all still here (although surprised that it wasn’t closed down in the 1960s or 1970s), it felt just slightly quirky….