Site Records


Site Name: Golgotha Tunnel (East Kent Light Railway)

Shepherdswell
Kent
OS Grid Ref: Between TR265488 & TR269490

Sub Brit site visit May 1984, June 1994 & April 2008

[Source: Paul Sowan]

The East Kent Light Railway, opened in 1911, was projected primarily to serve the freight needs of the Kent coalfield, although subsequently passengers were also conveyed between Shepherdswell on the London, Chatham & Dover Railway’s Canterbury to Dover main line, to a junction at Eastry, from whence ran lines to Richborough Port and Canterbury Road (some nine kilometres short of Canterbury.)  A number of collieries (such as Wingham at TR 2557 and Woodnesborough at TR 2956), partially developed in the district, failed before production commenced, although that at Tilmanstone (TR 2850) sent coal to the docks at Dover via the EKLR and the main line, at least until the mine short-circuited this route when it constructed an independent overhead conveyor system direct from the pit head to the Eastern Docks (via its own twin tunnels through the chalk cliffs the bricked-up entrances to which can be seen from the ferry terminal.).

Photo:West portal

The line from Shepherdswell (TR 2548) to Eythorne (TR 2849) was to have run across flat land around a small hill, but disagreements with a landowner led to Stephens driving his only tunnel, the 550 yards Golgotha tunnel between those two stations.

Photo:East portal in April 2008
Photo by Nick Catford

This, approached from Shepherdswell via quite a deep cutting, was planned to be a single bore twin-track tunnel, and was equipped with appropriately wide portals.  However, to save on costs (the hallmark of Stephens’ lines) only half the chalk was excavated and a single track laid through the opened-out western side of the structure.  The line through this tunnel opened for business in 1912, but was closed in 1987. It has subsequently been re-opened and is now used for trains operated by a railway preservation society based at Shepherdswell, running trains through the tunnel to Eythorne and back.

Photo:To save costs only half the chalk was excavated. The remaining chalk could be removed if the line through the tunnel was ever doubled. This view is just inside the west portal in June 1994
Photo by Nick Catford

East portal
August 1984

West portal
August 1984

Looking towards
west portal 8.1984

West portal
June 1994

West portal
June 1994

Inside east portal
June 1994

East portal
June 1994

East portal
April 2008

West portal
April 2008

West portal
April 2008

West portal
April 2008

Crossing west
of tunnel - 5.2008

Eythorne Road
crossing

Safety recess
April 2008

Safety recess
April 2008

Safety recess
April 2008

Click on thumbnail to enlarge

[Source: Paul Sowan]

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