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Croydon, Merstham & Godstone Railway

Rail Album for railway and other photographs

 
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The genesis of the Croydon, Merstham & Godstone Railway was a plan to build a canal from the Thames to the British Navy yard at Portsmouth.  This would allow supplies and men to be transported between the two locations without hindrance from hostile French Navy vessels in the English Channel.  

The plan was to extend the Surrey Canal, which ran from Rotherhithe to Croydon.  However, the Surrey Canal faced serious water shortages, and any extension to it would suffer from the same problem.  The practical solution was to extend the Surrey Iron Railway towards the coast, the first part of which was to be the Croydon, Merstham & Godstone Railway.  The next phase was to be a further extension as far as Reigate, a map for which is in the Surrey History Centre, but this extension was never built.
 
 
Rail Album for railway and other photographs
Plaque at Quality Street, Merstham, in 1984. Technically the line was an extension of the Surrey iron Railway and it was opened to Merstham in July 1805.
 
A meeting was held in the Spread Eagle Hotel at Wandsworth on 3rd June 1802 to consider the proposal to extend the Surrey Iron Railway line to Portsmouth.  Following this meeting a report was presented on 7th October 1802.
 
The suggested line was from the SIR at Croydon to Reigate via Merstham, with a branch to Godstone. The line was single track, in contrast to the Surrey Iron Railway, which was double tracked.

 
Rail Album for railway and other photographs
Example plate on display in Quality Street, Merstham, in 1984.
 
William Jessop (engineer of the Surrey Iron Railway) and Josias Jessop were to be the engineers of the new line and a petition went to parliament on 13th December 1802 which was passed as Act 43 Geo III cap.35 and became law on 17th May 1803 as The Croydon, Merstham & Godstone Iron Railway Company.
   
         
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Tenders were invited for the building of the line and the Butterley Company won the contract at 36,350.
 
The ruling gradient on the line was 1 in 144, which resulted in a 30' deep cutting north of Merstham and a 20' embankment with an archway over the Chipstead Valley Road at Smitham Bottom, near the Red Lion. Work was completed in August 1805 at a cost of 41,800 (some sources say 45,000).
 
According to two German mining engineers who visited the line in the 1820s it was opened 24th July 1805 and a further act of parliament relating to the railway was passed in 1806.
 
 Rail Album for railway and other photographs
Example track on display in Quality Street, Merstham, in 1984
 
The line was  8.75 miles long with a nominal gauge of 4'2".  Wagons had gross weight of 3 tons and were normally hauled in trains of five by one horse.
 
 
Rail Album for railway and other photographs
Track at Quality Street, Merstham, on 8th June 1991.
 

 
Rail Album for railway and other photographs
Example track on display in Quality Street, Merstham, in 1984

The line closed in 1837 (or 1838 or 1839 according to some sources).  The canal basin at Croydon was filled in and is today the site of West Croydon station.  Tramway Road in Croydon was renamed and is today Church Road.
 
Rail Album for railway and other photographs
The track is on display in this garden in Quality Street, Merstham. 8th June 1991.
 
Following the advent of the steam railway locomotive it was not long before the promoters of the London & Brighton Railway proposed to build part of their line on land belonging to the Croydon, Merstham & Godstone Railway, the purchase occurred in 1837 or 1838.
 
 
Rail Album for railway and other photographs
Track at Quality Street, Merstham, on 8th June 1991.
 

         
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 A section of track is on display in the Rotary Field, Purley, and another was in a small public garden in Quality Street, Merstham (near the original route, but not on it).
  
Much of the line's earthworks can be traced between Purley and Merstham, including a small overbridge.  Little remains of the firestone quarry area at Merstham due to the construction there of the M25 motorway.
 
Rail Album for railway and other photographs
Track at Quality Street, Merstham, 8th June 1991.   
 
A section of track is on display in the Rotary Field, Purley, and another is in a small public garden in Quality Street, Merstham (near the original route, but not on it).
 
 
Rail Album for railway and other photographs
Preserved track at Quality Street, Merstham, 27th December 1988.
 
Much of the line's earthworks can be traced between Purley and Merstham, including a small overbridge.  Little remains of the firestone quarry area at Merstham due to the construction there of the M25 motorway.
 

 
Rail Album for railway and other photographs
Example track on display in Quality Street, Merstham, in 1984.
 

The Croydon, Merstham & Godstone Railway was an extension to the Surrey Iron Railway
 
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