The Medway Valley Line is the name given to the a British railway line linking Strood and the Medway Towns with Maidstone West and onward to Paddock Wood, Tonbridge and London St Pancras International (peak only). The section from Maidstone West to Tonbridge passes through some of Kent’s most picturesque countryside along the narrower sections of the River Medway.
The line was built in two stages by the South Eastern Railway (SER). The first stage opened on 24 September 1844 and was a branch off the SER’s first main line that crossed Kent between the coast ports of Dover and Folkestone and the LBSCR’s main line at Redhill. According to a contemporary report in The Times newspaper, the opening of the branch line was an attempt to convey hops and fruit traffic back to Maidstone, which was losing trade to various points along the Dover line. The junction was at Paddock Wood and followed the Medway Valley down to the county town of Maidstone that had been by-passed by the new main line. Twelve years later, on 18 June 1856 the extension of the line further down the Medway Valley was opened, to join the North Kent Line at Strood (which had opened in 1847). The extension was built by the railway contractor Edward Betts, who lived locally at Preston Hall and through whose estate the line partially passed. Betts arranged for his local station at Aylesford to be built in a much grander style than the other country stations along the line.
The SER merged with local rival London, Chatham and Dover Railway (LCDR) on 1 January 1899 to form the South Eastern and Chatham Railway (SECR). Post World War One, the railways were “grouped” and the SECR became part of Southern Railway.
The line serves the following stations: Strood, Cuxton, Halling, Snodland, New Hythe, Aylesford, Maidstone Barracks, Maidstone West, East Farleigh, Wateringbury, Yalding, Beltring, Paddock Wood and Tonbridge. During 2005, the signalling systems were upgraded, replacing the traditional semaphore signals with colour light signals. The line from Strood to Maidstone West was electrified (at 750 V DC third rail) by the Southern Railway, opening on 2 July 1939. The rest of the line from Paddock Wood to Maidstone West was electrified under Stage 2 of Kent Coast electrification by BR’s 1955 Modernisation Plan, opening to traffic on 18 June 1962.
The choice of the more detailed issues in this model railway project are:
It gives a broad diversity of railway themes and environmental rural scenery.