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Trench Warfare Light Railway


Phil996
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While browsing for Kent maps I came across a map of 'The South East Division London Suburbs' showing current and disused railways in North Kent and South East London. The map is here - http://www.kentrail.co.uk/south_eastern_division_map.htm

At the right of the map, just above Dartford, is a disused line marked 'Trench Warfare Light Railway' and just above that 'Thames Ammunition Works.

On Google Earth the area near where this branch would have run seems largely undeveloped, except for a new-looking warehouse complex. I think the line of the branch would have been along the road running north east from co-ordinates 51 27 37 83 N, 0 11 56 16 E but I can't see any sign of a railway, training trenches or the like.

Can anyone shed any light on this?

Phil

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While browsing for Kent maps I came across a map of 'The South East Division London Suburbs' showing current and disused railways in North Kent and South East London. The map is here - http://www.kentrail.co.uk/south_eastern_division_map.htm

At the right of the map, just above Dartford, is a disused line marked 'Trench Warfare Light Railway' and just above that 'Thames Ammunition Works.

On Google Earth the area near where this branch would have run seems largely undeveloped, except for a new-looking warehouse complex. I think the line of the branch would have been along the road running north east from co-ordinates 51 27 37 83 N, 0 11 56 16 E but I can't see any sign of a railway, training trenches or the like.

Can anyone shed any light on this?

Phil

This line opened in 1917 to connect the Thames ammunition works to the SECR at Slade Green. It could not have been a military line as such because it is not recorded as such. It was probably opened by the private owners of the Thames side ammunition works. The line was lifted by 1924 having been used to access a rubbish dump.

If you are interested an excellent book to study is "Military Railways in Kent" by R. M. Lyne published in 1983.

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Thanks Phil, that's interesting. I guess maybe whoever drew the map might have known more about railways than WW1 and called it a 'trench warfare' railway because it led to the ammo works and they had a vague notion that trench warfare was something to do with the war.

Best wishes

Phil

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Thanks Phil, that's interesting. I guess maybe whoever drew the map might have known more about railways than WW1 and called it a 'trench warfare' railway because it led to the ammo works and they had a vague notion that trench warfare was something to do with the war.

Best wishes

Phil

Thats ok, I recall seeing the phrase used elswere but I cannot find were if I can do so I will let you know. It might have been a "catch all" phrase in use at that time.
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Hi Phil

I've just Googled "Trench Warfare Light Railway" as a phrase (which I should have done in the first place) and found this - http://www.kentrail.co.uk/Slade%20Green%20Depot.htm - an article on the same website as the map about Slade Green depot with a paragraph where it's described as the Trench Warfare .... But of course it's possible that the mapmaker and the article-writer are one and the same!

There's also a mention at http://www.hfstephens-museum.org.uk/tenter...98--winter-2005 of an article in the Tenterden Terrier entitled 'History of the light railway built during the First World War from Slade Green station to a trench mortar bomb filling factory on Crayford Marshes'. So if the factory's work was specifically producing trench mortar bombs I suppose it's likely the locals would have called the line the Trench Warfare etc etc even if that wasn't an official title.

Anyway, it's an interesting left-over from the war and unusual in this neck of the woods for an area of land to be more or less the same as it was in WW1 - of course it's marshland so probably not very suitable for building.

Thanks again for your help with this.

Phil

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Hi Phil

I've just Googled "Trench Warfare Light Railway" as a phrase (which I should have done in the first place) and found this - http://www.kentrail.co.uk/Slade%20Green%20Depot.htm - an article on the same website as the map about Slade Green depot with a paragraph where it's described as the Trench Warfare .... But of course it's possible that the mapmaker and the article-writer are one and the same!

There's also a mention at http://www.hfstephens-museum.org.uk/tenter...98--winter-2005 of an article in the Tenterden Terrier entitled 'History of the light railway built during the First World War from Slade Green station to a trench mortar bomb filling factory on Crayford Marshes'. So if the factory's work was specifically producing trench mortar bombs I suppose it's likely the locals would have called the line the Trench Warfare etc etc even if that wasn't an official title.

Anyway, it's an interesting left-over from the war and unusual in this neck of the woods for an area of land to be more or less the same as it was in WW1 - of course it's marshland so probably not very suitable for building.

Thanks again for your help with this.

Phil

So thats were I knew the expression from. I have several books on the Col. Stevens railways.
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There was a further explosives factory further down the Thames past Gravesend at Cliffe (opposite East Tilbury). It was owned by Curtis & Harvey. An amazing amount of this still remains. It must have had transport links too.

There was a thread on here a couple of years ago about it:

http://1914-1918.invisionzone.com/forums/i...mp;#entry820691

I have seen it from the air a number of times, but only found out its significance a couple of weeks ago. Here is a recent picture

EastTilbury.jpg

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Hi TJJ

That's an interesting picture - are the regular blobs part of the old factory, do you know? I guess there must have been hundreds of small factories all turned over to the war effort. I live a few miles from Cliffe and much of the riverside areas have hardly changed in decades, if not centuries.

Phil

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The banks of the Thames were littered with munitions factorys. Probably because they were between Woolwich and Shoebury. There was one at Shell point opposite Grain (Kinnochs) that had its own railway (the Corringham light Railway) and built a village to accommodate its workers (Kinnochtown). There was still traces up until the 1960's. If you are looking for WW1 relics in the Kent area There is the remains of two u-boats still to be seen in the river Medway.

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The dark shapes are the surviving buildings. There are another four rows of the smaller structures where the buildings have gone but the bases are still visible. The main group of four buildings also appears to have had a couple more alongside which are now gone. There were explosions on the site, so the buildings were set apart for safety.

TJJ

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  • 4 years later...

If anyone is still interested in this thread, I think you'll find that this line ran to National Factory no. 86, officially designated "Erith, Crayfordness, Slade Green, Kent", a "Trench Warfare Filling Factory" filling 2-in. and 6-in. trench mortar bombs.

The National Factory opened in January 1916 and was directly controlled by the Ministry of Munitions. I'm not sure whether it was previously the Thames Ammunition Works, but I think after the war it was used under private ownership (W. V. Gilbert) to break down munitions, and was the site of a tragic explosion in 1924 when 14 workers lost their lives.

Noel

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