John Speller's Web Pages Ashford Works

John Speller's Web Pages - SE&CR
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In 1847 the South Eastern Railway purchased a 185-acre site adjoining its station at Ashford, Kent, in order to build a new locomotive works to replace the original rather cramped repair shops at New Cross in London. A carriage and wagon works was added in 1850. The works was described thus in George S. Measom's The Official Illustrated Guide to the South-Eastern Railway (1853):

"The depot comprises a large engine-shed, 208 feet long and 64 feet broad (over which is a tank holding 55,000 gallons of water), a carriage and truck house 645 feet in extent, capable of containing fifty carriages and eighty trucks, with a general store-room 216 feet long and 40 feet wide. The workshops extend to a length of 396 feet, with an uniform breadth of 45 feet, being divided into two compartments, one for repairing engines and provided with a powerful traversing crane; the other, the machine-shop or turnery, where the finishing of the engine-work is done. There is also a smith's shop, with twenty forges, which is altogether 175 feet long and 45 feet broad; a boiler and wheel-hooping shop, of nearly similar dimensions; and a tender shop of about half the size of the above. All these departments are conducted, under a resident engineer, by a staff of nearly 500 workmen."

The first new locomotive turned out by Ashford Works in 1850 was a curious little vertical-boilered 0-4-0 tank known as the "Coffee Pot." This was followed by an order of ten "Hastings" Class 2-4-0's built to the design of James Cudworth in 1853-54 and fitted with Cudworth's curious double firebox, designed to facilitate the use of coal. A number of improvements were carried out over the years, and with the formation of the South Eastern & Chatham Railways Joint Committee in 1899 Ashford became the principal locomotive works for the SE&CR. Following the Grouping of 1923 Ashford was forced to play second fiddle to Eastleigh Works, but nevertheless the repair and the occasional construction of locomotives continued there until final closure under British Railways in 1962. A video of coupling rods being forged in 1947 may be seen here and a video of the works in September 1959 may be seen here.
Measom's engraving of Ashford Works in 1853
"Coffee Pot," the 0-4-0T inspection engine that was the first locomotive to be constructed at Ashford Works in 1850
2-4-0 No. 160, one of the "Hastings Class," the first class of ten new locomotives to be constructed at Ashford in 1853-54
Wainwright "D" Class 4-4-0 No. 504, one of a class of 21 locomotives built at Ashford in 1901-07
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