Chatham Historic Dockyard Railway
Standard Gauge Railway

In 1856, the Admiralty were in discussions with the East Kent Railway Company about a standard gauge branch line being constructed to connect Chatham Dockyard with the national railway network, this resulted in the East Kent Railway Company adding the Chatham Dockyard Branch to its 1856 Strood to St. Mary Cray Scheme, but the Dockyard Branch was not constructed.

In 1865, the London, Chatham & Dover Railway Company produced the Chatham Dockyard Branch Scheme, which resulted in the London, Chatham & Dover Railway, Branch to Chatham Dockyard Act, this Act was laid before Parliament on the 10th August 1866, with the Railway Company being given three years to complete construction. But due to the London, Chatham & Dover Railway's financial situation no work was undertaken to construct the Dockyard Branch.

In 1873, the London, Chatham & Dover Railway, laid plans before Parliament to construct a standard gauge branch line connecting Chatham Dockyard with the national railway network, the estimated cost, being £57,000.

The London, Chatham & Dover Railway Company was given Royal Assent on the 15th May 1873 with the Dockyard Branch officially opening on the 16th February 1877.

The single standard gauge line branched off the London, Chatham & Dover Railway's Victoria to Dover main line at New Brompton [ now, Gillingham].

The branch was connected to the down line, but could only be accessed by trains travelling in the up direction, at the Dockyard, the branch was met by a network of narrow [ 18in ] gauge lines of earlier origin.

This layout began being superseded by the more common standard gauge lines at the turn of the century and by the end of World War 1, the narrow gauge had become obsolete.

The replacement standard gauge network was still akin to its smaller predecessor in nature: it was a large complicated system, featuring tight curves negotiable only by small tank locomotives with a 0-4-0 or 0-6-0 wheel arrangement.

Lines served the Royal Navy's ship building yards and Nos. 1 and 2 Basins, whilst also Jinking with the Merchant Navy at No.3 Basin.

At its peak, it was estimated there was approximately 17 miles of standard gauge railway within the Dockyard.

Upon the closure of the Dockyard on the 31st March 1984, the Eastern Dock Area, which accounted for No.3 Basin and the surrounding land, was to be retained for commercial shipping and connection with the national railway network would be maintained, with the line terminating adjacent to No.3 Basin.

With the opening of The Historic Dockyard in 1985, just under one mile of the standard gauge internal railway system remained, the remaining section which is laid tramway style, starts from a point just outside the Historic Dockyard, adjacent to No.7 Slip, ~lDd runs through the middle of the Historic Dockyard to the far end of Anchor Wharf.

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