The Origins of Redhill Station By Peter Manning

Few stations in Britain can have as complex a history as Redhill Station. It was born out of the ‘Railway Mania’ of the 1830’s and 1840’s, through the merger of three early stations that no longer exist, around a junction that was established by Parliament and gave birth to the present-day town of Redhill. It was for many years at the centre of fierce competition between the London & Brighton Railway (later the London Brighton & South Coast Railway) and the South Eastern Railway and for a while, was the most important junction in Southern England.

Historical Background

Before the coming of the railway the area where the town of Redhill and Redhill railway station now stand was nothing more than a marshy area with no particular distinguishing features and few houses.

The first notable development was the construction of a new slip-road to the then London-Brighton road in 1816, from Gatton Park to Povey Cross (now the A23), to shorten the old route to Brighton by avoiding Reigate.i Philips (1885)ii tells us that the shortening of the route was “so that the Prince Regent could reside at the latter town [Brighton] without infringing a hostile Act, passed to limit his residence to within fifty miles of the metropolis”.

During the early 19th century Brighton had become the social capital of the south-east. It was a favourite of the Prince Regent (later to become George IV) “who, as Prince, had a palace at either end, and made these fifty-odd miles in a very special sense, a Via Regia”.iii. By 1815 the Brighton Road was one of the busiest coaching routes in the country with 100,000 people making the journey between London and Brighton each year.iv When the new slip-road opened a coaching inn, the Somers Arms, was built where the London-Brighton coach route crossed the existing coaching routes from Guildford to Maidstone and Windsor to Brighton (on the corner of present-day Mill St and the Brighton Road (A23) – the building is still standing and is now a private residence). The coaching stop appears in Paterson’s Roads (1831) under the name of the nearest topographical feature, “Red Hill”,v the peak of the greensand ridge that runs south of Reigate.

The First Railways

The first Act of Parliament authorising a railway to the due south of London, the London & Croydon Railway, was passed in 1835. Its passage was substantially aided by the fact that the line largely followed the old Croydon Canal which did not require the acquisition of any important private properties. Parliament signalled its wish that the country should not be ‘cut up’ and that it saw the Croydon Railway as the outlet for future lines to Kent and Sussex,vi essentially to Dover and Brighton.


The Dover Line

There had been early plans to construct a railway through Kent. Between the years 1825 and 1835 various routes through North and Mid Kent had been proposed but not proceeded with as the promoters had received no encouragement from Kentish towns and universal rejection from the county’s landowners.vii

A line to Dover, via Croydon, was planned by the promoters of the proposed South Eastern Railway Company but they were not attracted to use the Croydon Railway’s line and they initially proposed to Parliament a separate line from the South Western Railway’s line to Croydon. The Speaker indicated that Parliament would not approve a second outlet so the South Eastern resubmitted its plans to Parliament in 1836, utilising the Croydon line, commencing its own line from the Croydon’s terminus.viii

Unlike previous attempts, the South Eastern’s promoters had the support of the towns along the proposed line through Tunbridge (as it was then spelt) and the Weald of Kent.ix. A rival scheme was submitted by the promoters of a Central Kent Railway Company but they failed to convince Parliament and the South Eastern Railway Act was passed in June 1836, permitting the South Eastern to continue the London & Croydon Railway line through the Caterham Valley to Dover, via Oxted and Tunbridge. The South Eastern had also submitted a plan to branch the line from Oxted to Brighton but this did not receive Parliamentary approval.x


The Brighton Line

Just as Dover was an important commercial town for its link to continental Europe, so the popularity of Brighton, as the most fashionable town in the South, made it an early target for railway speculators. The first plans for a London-Brighton line were draughted as early as April 1823xi, but it wasn’t until 1836 that Parliament was asked to consider the Bills necessary to acquire the land to build the line.

Soon after the South Eastern had submitted their application for the Dover line to Parliament, four competing schemes, known as ‘The Direct’ or ‘Rennie’s’, ‘Stephenson’s’, ‘Cundy’s’ and ‘Gibbs’ were submitted for lines to Brighton.

Robert Stephenson’s technically easier route via Leatherhead, Dorking and Horsham was the favourite and received approval in the House of Commons by a large majority. It was then submitted to the House of Lords which had recently approved the Dover line. The Lords rejected the Leatherhead and Dorking route to Brighton as, in their previously stated view, the Dover and Brighton lines should, as far as possible, follow the same route before deviatingxii. The Brighton line proposal was therefore resubmitted to Parliament, this time in the form of Sir John Rennie’s ‘Direct’ route running parallel with the Dover line beyond Croydon. The revised route received the approval of both Houses and the Act was passed in 1837 but with certain provisions.

The provisions called for the abandonment of the South Eastern’s parallel line so that “much expenditure of money and much intersection of the country might be very advantageously avoided”xiii. In return the Brighton company had to consent to a clause that if the South Eastern Railway agreed to abandon construction of its parallel line beyond Croydon and share the Brighton line as far south as a new junction to be built near Earlswood Common, the Brighton company would then have to sell that part of the line to the South Eastern, at cost.xiv The South Eastern was to have two years to exercise the option.

Agreement was reached but subsequently amended in March 1839 so that instead of the South Eastern taking possession of all twelve miles of the line from Croydon to Earlswood Common, they would split the line with each company taking six miles to include, “all works, stations, lands, spoil heaps and hereditaments” but excluding any ‘station hospitals for engines’ built by the Brighton companyxv. The Agreement stated that the companies would draw lots as to who would get which half of the section and that the South Eastern railway would pay half the costs on or before 30th December 1840 or within one month of the opening of the line.

It was also agreed that that the Brighton company should be allowed to build the line in the way they wished, without interference from the South Eastern, and that when completed the twelve miles between Croydon and Earlswood would stay under Brighton company control until the South Eastern obtained an Act of Parliament authorising the amendment and “Capital and interest of one moiety be paid to the Brighton Company”xvi The South Eastern obtained their Act in July 1839 authorising them to amend their approved line “so that the same should form a Junction with the London & Brighton Railway thereby authorized to be made at any point upon or to the North of Earlswood Common”xvii.

It is not known when or where the drawing of lots took place, although it is recorded in a subsequent Deed of Arrangement that a formal agreement was executed between the two companies on 25th April 1839, presumably after the lots had been drawn.xviii The Brighton company drew the northern part of the line and the South Eastern company drew the southern part, which included the expensive engineering and tunnelling works north of Merstham and control of the new junction to the north of Earlswood Common.

The Brighton company duly built the line, including the new junction, opening it as far as Haywards Heath on 12th July 1841, and through to Brighton on 21st September.

On 9th April 1842 the South Eastern gave notice to Parliament that it intended to open the first section of its line to Dover, from the joint junction with the Brighton Railway at Red Hill, to Tunbridge on or after 9th May 1842xix. The line opened on 26th May.xx

On 19th May 1842 the South Eastern gave the required two months notice to the Brighton company that it would make payment on 19th July and take control of the six miles of the Brighton line to the north of the junction, as permitted by Parliament. The Brighton company was obliged to submit its account for settlement for half the construction costs of the twelve mile section to the South Eastern for payment on that date. If there was any disagreement over costs the South Eastern was obliged to invest the Brighton company’s estimate in 3% Bank Consolidated Annuities which would then be held in Trust by four trustees, two from each company, until agreement was reached. Following the purchase of the Annuities the South Eastern would be allowed to take control of the line pending settlement.

Not surprisingly, there were considerable disagreements over the accounts so the South Eastern bought £357,410.10.8 of Annuities, which were vested in the Trustees, and took control of the six miles north of the junction on 19th July 1842. It was not until August 1845 that a financial settlement was finally reached and sufficient of the Annuities were sold to realise £340,000 at a value date of 17th July 1844, which was paid over to the Brighton company and the transaction completedxxi.


The Early Stations

It must be borne in mind that when the first stations around the junction were built the town of Redhill did not exist; these stations were built primarily to serve Reigate, then the only significant town in the area. References were often made to Red Hill or Redhill when referring to the area around the greensand ridge of that name or its adjacent coaching stop, which were one mile to the south of the present town, not to any settlement. References were also made to Red Hill, Redhill or Reigate, meaning the area around the junction. Indeed the South Eastern’s station at the junction was called Reigate although the town was two miles away. To add to the confusion the two railway companies sometimes referred to their opponent’s station by the name of their own station, e.g. the Brighton company might refer to the South Eastern’s Reigate station as ‘Red Hill’ in their minutes. However, they were consistent in their references torhstn their own station names and these are the names used below.

Initially three stations were built in close proximity to the junction, Red Hill to the south, Merstham to the north and Reigate, which, as mentioned above, was on the junction, but positioned on the curve of the Dover line, just after the line had parted from the Brighton line. All three stations were closed to passenger traffic by 1844 and combined to form a joint station on the site of the present-day Redhill station.


Red Hill, 1841-1844 (London & Brighton Railway)

The Brighton Company originally planned to build a station at Wiggy Farm (present day Wiggie Lane, to the north of the current Redhill station). However, on 2nd April 1839 the Works Committee for that part of the line noted a “great difficulty with having the Turnpike Road so near to the Railway on account of the screen required by the Act and having given the subject their best consideration they recommend that a station for the convenience of the Reigate traffic should be made on or near to Mr Tucker’s property at Red Hill instead of on Wiggy Farm as originally intended, if this can be done consistently with the agreement of Lord Monson and others. It will improve the company’s property at Red Hill as it will be immediately on the Cross Roads from Reigate to Oxted and Godstone [present day Hooley Lane, very close to the ‘Red Hill’ coaching inn, the Somers Arms]”xxii.

What isn’t recorded is to what degree, if any, the dividing of the 12 mile section from Croydon to Reigate between the two companies had any bearing on this decision as it was made just before the formal agreement for the split was signed on 25th April 1839. It seems likely that the two companies had already drawn lots for who would own which section of the line and the Brighton company, realising that their station at Wiggy Farm would come under South Eastern ownership and management in the near future, whereby they would lose their station serving Reigate, decided to abandon that station and build another south of the junction at Red Hill and beyond the reach of the South Eastern.

The Red Hill station was not built until at least late 1840 as the Brighton company’s Chairman, John Harman, Engineer, John Rastrick and station architect, David Mocatta arerhstn recorded as going “to Red Hill to mark out the site of the station there”xxiii in September 1840.


The site of the Red Hill, 1841-1844 London & Brighton Railway station was in Hooley Lane, Redhill, and is now a small industrial estate. The bridge carrying the track from the present Redhill station across Hooley Lane can be seen on the left of the photo.


The site has not been used for railway purposes since around 1981 but some of the old buildings remain. Above is one of two old engine sheds. Photo taken in 1993..


The other engine shed is shown above. Hardly visible is an electric train that has just left Earlswood Station passing under the distant bridge en route for Redhill.


Another trackside building carries a name board for a Redhill timber yard that ceased trading 15-20 years before this photo was taken in 1993.


Another of the old buildings on the site.


The station master's cottage was across from the station on the corner of Hooley Lane and Brook Road. This photo was taken in 1993 and the site is now occupied by flats.


Reigate, 1842-1844 (South Eastern Railway)

The South Eastern opened the first section of the Dover main line, as far as Tunbridge, on 26th May 1842xxiv with five stations on the line. The South Eastern’s Board minutes record “The Stations viz. Reigate, Godstone, Edenbridge, Penshurst and Tunbridge, have been created at a moderate cost leaving to a future period their enlargement and embellishment should circumstances render it necessary, ample land having been secured of such purposes”.xxv

The Inspector of Railways, Maj. Gen. Pasley, paints a charming picture of the stations on the line in his pre-opening inspection report to Parliament; “Station Houses – These are sufficiently convenient and very handsome, but not on a large scale or of an expensive construction, being built of wood, stuccoed outside so as to represent stone and lined with canvas inside, painted or papered so as to resemble the usual finishing of apartments, nothing but the fine places being of brick and stone.” xxvi

Railway historians have presumed Reigate station to have been in a number of different locations, however, Mogg, in his Dover Railway Guide of 1843 gives a detailed description of the position of the station. “Leaving the Reigate station the Railway, constructed with a sweep on a rise of 1 in 274, arrives in about half a mile, principally through Redstone Hill cutting, at the road leading from Reigate to Godstone [present day Hooley Lane] over which it is carried.”xxvii

General Pasley also describes the station’s position in his report when reviewing the curves on the new Dover line; “Curves – The sharpest curve is at the Redhill Station of which the radius is half a mile, but there the locomotive Engines necessarily go slow.”xxviii [N.B. General Pasley misquotes the name of the station as the South Eastern clearly refers to ‘Reigate’ as one of the five new stations in their Board minute of 30th May 1842, (above) however his description of the position of the station is quite clear as after the curve at the junction there is no other curve and the line then runs straight for many miles].

These two descriptions, coupled with the fact that Reigate Station is never mentioned, in either company’s minutes, as a station that potentially could share the Kent and Sussex traffic, i.e. being north of the junction, places it just south of the current site of Redhill Station, just beyond where the present Tonbridge line splits at the junction. (See also the reference to the response of the Brighton directors of 5th November 1843, below, saying that it was “dangerous that the exchange of Kent and Brighton traffic should be made at the junction of the South Eastern line and exceedingly inconvenient for Brighton trains to stop at a point so near to their [the SER’s] Reigate Station”).

Indeed, leaving present-day Redhill Station, just beyond the car park as the Tonbridge line branches away from the Brighton line, there is a single storey building built on a grass bank which in turn sits on a foundation of old bricks. The foundation of old bricks could well be the foundation of the SER’s Reigate station as its position would tally with the combination of descriptions given above, I.e. very close to the junction (the Brighton’s letter of 5th November 1843), on a curve (General Pasley’s description) and about half a mile from Hooley Lane (Mogg’s description).

Reigate station was closed in March 1844 and the infrastructure physically moved the few yards north to the site of the current Redhill station where it formed the new Joint Station with the Brighton company. The South Eastern’s accounts show payments to contractors in March 1844 “for removing and reconstructing Reigate Station to form the Joint Station” and for “moving the station and restoring the same with additions to platforms, fencing, Tankhouse, Engine House, including woodwork and switch boxes”.xxix


Merstham, 1841-1843 (London & Brighton Railway, acquired by the South Eastern Railway, July 1842)

As mentioned, above, the Brighton Company decided to abandon its plans to build a station at Wiggy Farm provided it could reach agreement with Lord Monson, the owner of Gatton Park and several of the surrounding farms. It seems likely that this agreement was the one that included the building of an alternative station at Battlebridge Farm (present day Battlebridge Lane), just north of Wiggy Farm, as it is known that Lord Monson negotiated the building of a station on his land as one of the conditions of selling the land to the Brighton The station was called Merstham (although it was a mile south of the village of the same name).


The old Gatton station building between Merstham and Redhill at Battlebridge 1841 – 1843/4. The original Merstham station. It opened on 1st December 1841 and was 200 yards north of Battlebridge Lane. Wells Nurseries occupied the site behind the station for many years A nameplate on the signal box to the right of the station bears the words ‘Thornton Sidings Signals’.

(Photo courtesy Ian Sherlock)


Lord Monson died in October 1841, soon after the opening of the railway, at the very young age of 32. The succeeding Lord Monson had little interest in Gatton Park and continued to live in his family home in Lincolnshire, leaving the management of Gatton Park to the late Lord Monson’s widow, the Countess of Warwickxxxi.

It seems that the Brighton company had not intended Merstham to be a station of any importance or functionality, other than to fulfil the agreement with the late Lord Monson, and it doesn’t seem to have opened for some months after the line commenced operations on 12th July 1841. The Brighton company’s Board minutes of 1st July record that “Consideration of the Tender for Merstham and Hassocks Gate Stations be postponed”xxxii and on 16th December 1841 the minutes show an application from the Countess of Warwick that “if the Company would make a carriage platform at Merstham Station she would allow spoil to be deposited in a sand pit on her property”. This was approvedxxxiii.

The South Eastern, when it took control of Merstham Station on 19th July 1842, seems to have attached even less importance to it as the Brighton company’s minutes show a letter, dated less than a month later from their solicitors, Sweet, Sutton & Co, stating that the South Eastern “cannot pull down Merstham station or shut it up”.xxxiv So, it is clear that from the date of acquisition the South Eastern intended to close Merstham.

That didn’t stop the Brighton company from sending a deputation to the South Eastern’s Board on 4th October with “proposals for the accommodation of the Kent and Brighton Traffic” with the Brighton company suggesting that exchange of passengers should take place at Merstham Station. The South Eastern objected to this and suggested the exchange should take place at the junction “as the only fitting place it should be”, even though no station existed there. They also, for the first time, suggested the building of a joint station. The proposal was left with the Brighton deputation to take back to its Board.xxxv

The Chairman and several directors of the Brighton company were clearly not attracted to the proposal and took matters into their own hands, on 22nd October, by ordering all Brighton 1st class trains to stop at Merstham because the South Eastern were carrying “from their Reigate Station all the Merstham Traffic in consequence of the inconvenience felt by the inhabitants of that District in the London Brighton Railway’s 1st class trains not stopping there, and overtures had been received from the South Eastern Railway by Sir Wm Jolliffe on the subject of a station [the future joint station] on his property which would prejudice the interests of the London & Brighton Railway.”xxxvi

On the 5th November the Brighton directors formally replied to the South Eastern’s proposals saying that it “would be most objectionable and dangerous that the exchange of Kent and Brighton traffic should be made at the junction of the South Eastern line and exceedingly inconvenient for Brighton trains to stop at a point so near to their Reigate Station”. The Brighton company continued to press for the exchange to be made at Merstham Station.xxxvii

At the same time the Brighton company took legal advice and received the opinion of Messrs. C. Austin and Charles Swann. The legal opinion described the background to the dispute and mentioned that the Brighton company had erected a station and gas house at Merstham and laid pipes in the Merstham tunnel to light it. Since the South Eastern had taken possession of the line lying nearest Red Hill, in July 1842, the South Eastern had continued to use the Brighton’s stations at Croydon, Godstone Road and Stoat’s Nest, for payment of a toll, and that the Brighton had been using the South Eastern’s station at Merstham without paying a toll and not intending to do so. It was also mentioned that the cost of the land for Merstham Station and the gas works had been included in the account sent to the South Eastern, but not the cost of erecting Merstham station (indicating that the Brighton company wanted to continue to have some claim on it).

It was stated that the South Eastern had given notice to the Brighton company that it intended not to light the Merstham Tunnel with gas and that they would ‘stop up’ Merstham Station. The Brighton company sought an opinion on whether the South Eastern could do so. In the opinion of Messrs. Austin and Swann the South Eastern were free to close Merstham station but were obliged to continue lighting the tunnel. They also added that there was nothing in the Acts of Parliament entitling the South Eastern to use the Brighton’s stations without their consentxxxviii (indicating they had been doing so).

On the 22nd November the South Eastern responded to the Brighton directors’ reply of the 5th, saying that they could not understand what danger could arise and suggested moving the Brighton company’s Red Hill Station to the junction. They added that the point of junction would be the most convenient spot and that the South Eastern Railway had ample land which they would appropriate for the purpose.xxxix

The inhabitants of Reigate also added their weight to the matter, submitting a petition to the Brighton company in February 1843 “praying that a station should be formed for the traffic of that town where the junction of the two lines takes place at Red Hill,” which was referred to the Brighton’s committee that met on South Eastern affairs.xl The Brighton company seems to have ignored the South Eastern’s proposal as in April 1843 the latter’s Board wrote saying that they would proceed to reduce Merstham by closing the sidings, as it was only kept open for the Brighton traffic.xli

This brought the Brighton company to the table again and a conference with the Brighton directors was arranged at Merstham station on 26th April. The South Eastern directors informed the Brighton company that they did not wish to continue to use Merstham and agreed, at their own expense, to provide temporary accommodation at the junction to meet the needs of the Kent and Sussex traffic with two platforms, water cranes and “such accommodation for loading and unloading horses and carriages and booking passengers.” They also agreed to the
free use of their ‘New Road’ [Station Road] so that the experiment could be tried.xlii The Brighton Board responded on the 5th May acknowledging the offer with thanks but declining it.xliii

The South Eastern increased the pressure further in early July by proposing a branch from Tunbridge Wells to Brighton “because of the difficulties exchanging passengers at Reigate with the Brighton Company”,xliv which again prompted the Brighton company to send a deputation to meet with the South Eastern directors.

The South Eastern said that Brighton traffic should be mutually carried on and the proceeds divided equally. Their engineer, William Cubitt, explained plans for the exchange of traffic and satisfied the Brighton deputation that there was no danger from the two companies’ trains making the proposed station a stopping place.xlv

Yet again there was no formal response from the Brighton company so, in September 1843, the South Eastern gave notice to the Brighton company that they would close Merstham station on 1st October.xlvi This left the Brighton directors with few options so they resolved to send another deputation to the South Eastern and to advertise that their trains would no longer stop at Merstham.xlvii
A special meeting was arranged on 25th September to discuss a new joint station at Reigate [i.e. at the junction].

A plan of the proposed Reigate station had been produced by the South Eastern at a cost £10,000 (indicating that a considerable amount of surveying and planning had already been undertaken). The South Eastern said they wanted only one station for both companies to which the Brighton company objected having already incurred the expense of building their own station, to the south, at Red Hill; but all agreed that the junction was the best position for the station. It was therefore agreed to have a joint station at Reigate (i.e. at the junction) provided it was at reasonable expensexlviii which, it was proposed, would be partly achieved by physically moving the South Eastern’s “present station at Reigate to the place agreed upon.”xlix

A further conference was proposed on the 1st November,l where William Cubitt produced the plan for Reigate Station and proposed that it be built on South Eastern land, at South Eastern expense with the Brighton company paying a tariff based on the tariff that the South Eastern paid to use the Brighton’s station at Croydon. The Brighton directors went to away to

(N.B. an undated plan of the proposed Reigate station is held by the National Archives at Kew. It is likely that it is the plan that was produced at the September/November 1843 meetings. If so , it already shows a proposed line to the west (the current Guildford/Reading line), as well as the Brighton and Dover lines, so it is clear that the South Eastern saw the junction as having significant strategic importance).

On the 27th November the Brighton directors responded saying that they wanted a different fare structure to which the South Eastern , having apparently run out of patience, said they would go ahead with the building of the joint station on their own and the Brighton company could decide what they wanted to do at some future time.lii

The Brighton minutes note receipt of the South Eastern’s letter of the 29th November and they replied saying that they were disappointed that their letter of the 27th had not been accepted and that they were “not pledged on the subject”.liii

In the October the Brighton directors had received a letter from the Countess of Warwick regarding the closure of Merstham Station, which they passed to their solicitors, Sutton & Co,liv who replied in December stating that it was clearly arranged with the late Lord Monson that a station at Merstham should be made and kept open,lv but no further action seems to have been taken by either party.

The Brighton company seem to have finally accepted that they had no alternative but to cooperate with the South Eastern so on 22nd December they sent a letter to the South Eastern inviting a deputation to consider arrangements for working joint trains to and from Red Hill (as the Brighton company referred to the junction)lvi and on 2nd January 1844 the South Eastern minutes note receipt of a letter from the Brighton company proposing a


Reigate and Red Hill – The Joint Station

So the foundations for discussion for operating the new Joint Station, which was to become present-day Redhill, had been laid. The South Eastern appears to have wasted no time in establishing some form of station at the junction as a note of 27th January 1844 stated that “the Dover train would stop at the new station at the junction at Red Hill with effect from the 29th January.”lviii

The South Eastern continued to build the new Joint Station, which also involved removing their existing Reigate station to the site, during February, and on 5th March the South Eastern Board was advised that the new Reigate Station had been completed. The Company Secretary was instructed to advise the Brighton company, which he did on 6th March, inviting the Brighton company to enter into arrangements for trains to stop at the junction.lix

The Brighton company replied, agreeing “to conduct their business at Reigate conditionally on Six Months notice being given or required in the event of either party wishing to withdraw from the engagement," which the South Eastern agreed to.lx The South Eastern was informed that Brighton company trains would stop at the junction station at Red Hill from Monday, 15th April 1844.lxi

Right: - A map with the positions of the Redhill Stations past and present marked. Also shown is the
early Merstham station
(Peter Manning).

A letter was subsequently received from the Brighton company requesting that Reigate Station “might be called the ‘Reigate & Red Hill Station’ and that the Finger Posts on the High Roads might have ‘To Dover and Brighton Station’ marked on them,” which the South Eastern agreed to, even though, confusingly the Brighton company continued to refer to the station as just ‘Red Hill’ and the South Eastern likewise referred to it as just ‘Reigate’. It seems to have been publicly known by either name as Bradshaw’s guide to the Brighton Line of 1844 described the station as “Reigate or Red Hill Station – The Dover trains here branch off on their way to Tunbridge etc. but the same facilities are afforded on the line to both”.lxii

It seems certain that passenger traffic at the original Red Hill station ceased at around the time the Brighton company moved its trains to the Joint Station, although the original station site continued to be used as a goods station at least until 1885.lxiii Many of the early buildings are still standing today as part of what is now known as Hockley Business Park, on what is still called ‘Brighton Terrace’, in Hooley Lane, just north of present-day Earlswood station.

Likewise, although passenger traffic ceased at the original Merstham Station in October 1843, the station house was not demolished and was still standing 90 years later, in 1933.lxiv A new Merstham Station was built one mile north of the original station, adjacent to the village of Merstham (the current site) in October 1844 and was rebuilt in 1905.lxv

As mentioned above, the South Eastern saw the junction as the strategic southern hub in their network, planning a further branch line linking with lines to the west; which was already envisaged when the plans for the new joint station were drawn up in 1843.

In their progress report of December 1845 they said “The Line from Reigate to Dorking will, it is considered, be peculiarly valuable to this Company as opening a communication to the westward, which will in all probability at no distant day be carried out so as to form almost a direct Line between Dover and Bristol. The importance of this line will be felt when the opening of the Great North Line of France and the other Lines in progress towards Germany and the Mediterranean, shall have altered, as they inevitably will, the whole character of the communication between this Country and the Continent.”lxvi

The Reading, Guildford and Reigate Railway, which had been leased to the South Eastern in perpetuity in 1846, commenced operations in 1849 (and was absorbed into the South Eastern Railway in 1852). A station was opened in Reigate itself and called ‘Reigate Town’ (present day Reigate station). Reigate & Red Hill station also changed its name at this point to Reigate Junction.


The Birth of Redhill Town

Not surprisingly, such an important junction began to generate its own needs for commerce and habitation and in 1846 the Countess of Warwick leased a large quantity of land for 99 years, for development. This stimulated building and houses were erected in Warwick Road, Station Road, High St and Grove Road;lxvii the area becoming known as Warwick Town.

Properties also sprang up close to the Joint Station and it is said that the Post Office that had opened on White Post Hill in 1843, close to the original Red Hill Station in Hooley Lane, moved to Station Road bringing with it its ‘Red Hill’ franking stamp. The area around the station developed its own identity, known as ‘Redhill’. When the station was rebuilt in 1858 it changed its name from Reigate Junction to Red Hill Junction (keeping the old style of spelling Red Hill) to reflect the new identity of the area immediately around the station.

Warwick Town to the north and Redhill to the south continued to exist side by side for a few yearslxviii but by 1892, Charles Harper tells us that Warwick Town had become Redhill ‘by natural selection’
and the former name had disappeared.lxix Red Hill Junction finally adopted the same spelling style as the town when it became plain ‘Redhill’ in 1929.

A 1913 ticket bearing the old form of spelling of Red Hill.

This photo taken on 22nd August 1929 shows the brand new 'Redhill' sign. An LB&SCR luggage label with the newer
form of
spelling of Redhill

The Quarry Line

The London & Brighton Railway (later the London Brighton & South Coast Railway) was in constant conflict with the South Eastern Railway, particularly at the three points where the two companies’ services met, at London Bridge, Redhill and Hastings. The levels to which the two companies would go can be judged by an incident in February 1851 when the South Eastern, having finally opened its line into Hastings, started delaying Brighton trains and traffic in retaliation for the Brighton company having held up development of the South Eastern’s Hastings line. On one occasion the South Eastern removed rails at Bo-Peep Junction to trap Brighton trains, used a ballast train to block sidings at Hastings where the Brighton company stored its coaching stock and locked the Brighton’s agent in his office. When the Brighton company hired an omnibus to take its passengers from Hastings to St Leonards the South Eastern then blockaded Hastings Station to stop the vehicle from leavinglxx.

The sharing of the Brighton line as far as Red Hill Junction also led to logistical difficulties and conflict. The South Eastern found development of its services baulked by the amount of traffic generated by the Brighton company and the latter, in turn, complained about the South Eastern’s inefficiency and perversity.
The long-term solution was for the Brighton company to build a separate line to avoid the bottleneck at the South
Eastern owned Redhill and Parliamentary approval was received in 1894 for a new 6.5 mile, two-track line to run parallel with the original line.

Like the original line it also involved extensive engineering works. Because of the residential development that had taken place in the 50 years since the first line opened the new line had to cross from the west of the original line to the east on a flyover in the cutting north of Merstham tunnel and then through two new tunnels, bypassing the Red Hill Junction bottleneck, linking up again with the Brighton line at Earlswood. The new line, known as the Quarry Line, opened on 5th November 1899lxxi and with the doubling of tracks north from Croydon to London, Victoria and south from Earlswood to the Balcombe Tunnel there were four operative lines for two-thirds of the route from London-Brighton. Plans to extend the four tracks through to Brighton were dropped with the success of the suburban electrification experiment and the onset of World War I.

So the story came full circle. After 50 years of conflict Parliament finally gave in and allowed each company to have its own line beyond Croydon, something that it had insisted should not happen when it initially authorised the first Brighton and Dover lines in 1837. But out of those 50 years was born an important railway junction, for a time the most important in the south-east, and the present-day town and station of Redhill.

Peter Manning
May 2010

  An LB&SCR summer 1912 timetable. The building shown at the top is the Victoria New Station, Grosvenor Hotel and Annexe.
i The Brighton Road, Charles G Harper, 1892
ii Geological, Historical & Topographical Description of the Borough of Reigate, R. Phillips, 1885
iii The Brighton Road, Charles G Harper, 1892
iv Croydon’s Railways, M.W.G. Skinner, 1985
v Paterson’s Roads, Edward Mogg, 1831
vi ibid
vii South Eastern Railway, General Statement of the Projects and The Position of The Company 1845-6
viii ibid
ix ibid
x Croydon’s Railways, M.W.G. Skinner, 1985
xi ibid
xii South Eastern Railway, General Statement of the Projects and The Position of The Company 1845-6
xiii Ibid
xiv ibid
xv Articles of Agreement between LB&R and SER, 20th March 1839
xvi Ibid
xvii 2&3 Victoriae Cap 1 xxix 1839
xviii Deed of Arrangement between SER and L&BR, 21st August 1845
xix SER, Notice to Parliament, 9th April 1842
xx The London, Brighton & South Coast Railway, Vol. 1, J.T. Howard Turner, 1977
xxi Deed of Arrangement between SER and L&BR, 21st August 1845
xxii L&BR Monday Committee, 2nd April 1839
xxiii L&BR, Committee of Works minutes, 1st September 1840
xxiv SER, Board Minutes, 30th May 1842
xxv ibid
xxvi Report from the Insp. Gen. Of Railways, Board of Trade to the Earl of Ripon, 30th May 1842
xxvii Mogg’s South Eastern or London and Dover Railway, and Tunbridge Wells, Hythe, Folkestone and Dover Guide, Edward Mogg, 1843
xxviii Report from the Insp. Gen. Of Railways, Board of Trade to the Earl of Ripon, 30th May 1842
xxix SER, No.3 Construction, Accountants Records, 1843-1845
xxx Gentlemen of Merstham and Gatton, A.B.deM. Hunter, 1993
xxxi ibid
xxxii L&BR Board minute, 1st July 1841
xxxiii L&BR Board minute, 16th December 1841
xxxiv L&BR Board minute, 17th August 1842 (Letter from Sweet, Sutton & Co of the same date)
xxxv SER Board minute, 4th October 1842
xxxvi L&BR Board minute, 22nd October 1842
xxxvii SER Board minute, 5th November 1842.
xxxviii Legal Opinion of Messrs C. Austin and C. Swann for the LB&R, 17th November 1842
xxxix SER Board minute, 22nd November 1842
xl L&BR Board minute, 25th February 1843
xli SER Board minute, 5th April 1843
xlii SER Board minute, 2nd May 1843
xliii SER Board minute, 8th May 1843
xliv SER Board minute, 7th July 1843
xlv ibid
xlvi SER Board minute, 19th September 1843
xlvii LB&R Board minute, 21st September 1843
xlviii SER Board minute, 25th September 1843
xlix L&BR Board minute12th October 1843
l SER Board minute, 24th October 1843
li SER Board minute, 1st November 1843
lii SER Board minute, 28th November 1843
liii L&BR Board minute, 30th November 1843
liv L&BR Board minute, 12th October 1843
lv L&BR Board minute, 14th December 1843
lvi L&BR Board minute, 22nd December 1843
lvii SER Board minute, 2nd January 1844
lviii SER Board minute, 30th January 1844
lix SER Board minute, 5th March 1844
lx SER Board minute, 2nd April 1844
lxi L&BR Board minute, 1st April 1844
lxii Bradshaw’s Descriptive Guide to the London & Brighton Railway, Bradshaw, 1844
lxiii Geological, Historical & Topographical Description of the Borough of Reigate, R. Phillips, 1885
lxiv East Croydon to Three Bridges, Vic Mitchell and Keith Smith, Middleton Press, 1988
lxv ibid
lxvi South Eastern Railway, General Statement of the Projects and The Position of The Company 1845-6
lxvii Geological, Historical & Topographical Description of the Borough of Reigate, R. Phillips, 1885
lxviii 1871 Ordnance Survey Map
lxix The Brighton Road, Charles G Harper, 1892
lxx The London, Brighton & South Coast Railway, Vol.2, JT Howard Turner, 1978
lxxi Croydon’s Railways, M.W.G. Skinner, 1985



The above is the result of considerable research carried out by Peter Manning and grateful thanks are extended to him for allowing his work to be reproduced here. Non-acknowledged photos are from the collection of Alan Moore.

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