BROMLEY HAYES AND FARNBOROUGH - 1894


  

This railway would have commenced at a junction with the Up line of the then London Chatham and Dover Railway at Bromley (South) station, just east of the platforms,  and then proceed about two miles to Hayes, or more specifically to a point: “in a field numbered 205 on the 1 to 2500 Ordnance Survey map of the said parish (Hayes) at a point near the fence forming the southern boundary of the said field two hundred yards or thereabouts measured in an easterly direction from the south-east corner of Baston Farm House”.

It would then have continued for a further mile and a half terminating in ‘Field 19’ in the village of Farnborough. The map shows that this was actually at Locksbottom by the junction between Hastings Road (A21) and Crofton Road, essentially where the Farnborough Park estate is now. The route was similar to part of the earlier joint proposal by the London Chatham and Dover and Southeastern Railways.  Click on the maps to enlarge.


The proposer of the bill appeared not to have thought the project through very thoroughly. Maybe he was caught up in the ‘railway mania’ at the end of the nineteenth century that saw many projects proposed that may not have had the strongest justification. Some of these were built, and some substantial fortunes were lost.  In this case the proposer crucially omitted to gain the support of a well connected land owner, whose interests were very relevant to the success or otherwise of the project.  This resulted in the following:


Petition Against the Proposal

A petition against the proposal was heard in the parliamentary session of 1895.  It was raised by Archibald Cameron Norman of Bromley, owner of an estate centred on a mansion ‘The Rookery’, see photo. The mansion no longer exists but the name lives on in the names of Rookery Lane and Rookery Lake, by Bromley College.
 

He claimed that over two thirds of the proposed railway would pass through his estate. More specifically he objected that (paraphrasing):

  • it would run for a considerable distance on an embankment up to 15 feet high in full view of the mansion, injuring and almost destroying its convenience and amenity
  • It would pass near to other property owned by the petitioner, and affect the resale value and rental potential
  • in the case of Baston House the proposed route skirts the property in such a way as to evade liability for compensation while still affecting its convenience and value
  • the embankment for the railway would bisect his estate and make it far less attractive for future housing development   
  • the railway would make it far more difficult for the petitioner to operate the farms on the estate ·        
  • with the exception of the village of Hayes, which is already served by a railway, the route of the proposed railway is sparsely populated, being mainly farms and woodland,  and therefore does not merit a railway ·        
  • the connection to Farnborough is circuitous and therefore not convenient ·        
  • for all of the above reasons no public necessity for the line can be shown ·        
  • the railway cannot be constructed for the capital amount stated in the bill ·        
  • the proponents of the bill are not financially sound.
In conclusion, the petition claimed that the bill contained many clauses and provisions injurious to the petitioner, but did not contain any provisions to protect his own rights, probity and interests.
 

Outcome

The idea for the railway appears to have sunk without trace following this skirmish. To what extent the petition was decisive, or it was just an ill conceived plan in the first place, we will never know.   

 
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