A Potted History of the Railways of Epsom and Ewell


Epsom (Upper High St) Station LBSC Railway. This image was originally dated c.1895 but, as it shows electrified track which only occurred in 1929, it is now thought to have been taken sometime after October  1973.
Epsom (Upper High St) Station LBSC Railway. This image was originally dated c.1895
but, as it shows electrified track which only occurred in 1929, it is now thought
to have been taken sometime after October 1973.
Image courtesy of Surrey Libraries and is held in the
Epsom & Ewell Local And Family History Centre Collection

The first railway to open in the Epsom and Ewell area was the London, Brighton and South Coast Railway's (LBSCR) line from West Croydon via Sutton which opened in 1847 with trains from London Bridge and from 1860 Victoria. This line terminated at a station in what is today called Upper High Street, but was then called Station Road.

The second railway to open, on 4 April 1859, was the London and South Western Railway's (LSWR) line from Waterloo via a junction just east of Wimbledon station to a station on the site of the present Epsom station. The Epsom tracks running parallel to the Main Line, to diverge at "Epsom Junction", the future site of Raynes Park station.

Epsom LSWR Station c1880
Epsom LSWR Station c1880
Image courtesy of Surrey Libraries and is held in the
Epsom & Ewell Local And Family History Centre Collection

In 1859 a single track line opened from Epsom to Leatherhead which was jointly owned by LBSCR and LSWR. LSWR trains used this section of line from 1 Feb 1859 with LBSCR running trains from 8 August via a link line built from Epsom's LBSCR station to the LSWR station. The LBSCR trains ran through the Epsom LSWR station without stopping. Later the line became double track and continued from Leatherhead to Dorking and Horsham with this section initially being promoted by the Hosham, Dorking & Leatherhead Railway which was absorbed by the LBSCR in 1864. The new route opened on 11 March 1867, the LBSCR having a new through station in Leatherhead, which is still in use, while the remains of the separate LSWR station (initially a terminus) can be seen on the opposite side of Station Road. It was not until 2 February 1885 that this also became a through station, when the LSWR extended its line from Leatherhead to Bookham and Effingham Junction. Trains ran through to Horsley or Guildford, because Effingham Junction station itself did not open until July 1888.

On 1 January 1923, the LBSCR and LSWR companies were absorbed (along with other railways in Kent) into Southern Railway. This new railway company was split into three divisions: - Central (the ex-LBSCR lines); South Eastern (the Kent lines); and South Western (the ex-LSWR lines), with the ex-LBSCR station being renamed Epsom Town.

In 1925 the railways in Epsom were electrified using the third rail system.

Epsom Station - Alterations to lines 10 Feb 1929
Epsom Station - Alterations to lines 10 Feb 1929
Image courtesy of Surrey Libraries and is held in the
Epsom & Ewell Local And Family History Centre Collection

After Grouping, the Southern Railway clearly had no need to maintain two stations in both Leatherhead and Epsom. At Leatherhead, a short connection was built in 1927 to allow Effingham Junction trains to use the LBSCR station - as they still do today. The tracks were retained into, though not beyond, the LSWR station for use as carriage sidings; no doubt the old platforms provided convenient access for carriage cleaners, these being in use up to the early 1970s and the lines were only removed after the bridge over Randalls Road was damaged by a lorry. At Epsom, the LSWR premises were demolished and completely rebuilt into the station's present form, allowing trains from both lines to call at its platforms from 3 March 1929. On the same date the LBSCR station was closed to passengers, but retained for many years as a goods depot.

Epsom Station (LSWR)  c1928
Epsom Station (LSWR) c1928
Image courtesy of Surrey Libraries and is held in the
Epsom & Ewell Local And Family History Centre Collection

Since then the railways have stayed much the same. In 1948 the railways were nationalised and the Southern Railway became the Southern Region of British Railways (later just British Rail). The three Divisions continued as before.

In the late 1980s, Network South East was created as a focus for the railways in the South East of England. One of the first major projects (apart from painting all the lamp posts red) was to reopen the Snow Hill tunnel (in the City of London) which linked the railways of North and South London, and Thameslink was created. A new service, Luton to Guildford was introduced which ran via St Albans, West Hampstead, Kings Cross Thameslink, St Paul's Thameslink, Blackfriars, Elephant & Castle, Herne Hill, West Croydon, Sutton, Epsom, Leatherhead, Bookham and Effingham Junction. This route operated for only a few years as although the trains were direct they were slow.

When the railways were privatised, two of the newly created Train Operating Companies served Epsom: Network South Central for the ex LBSCR lines (which has had various names, but is now called Southern) and South West Trains for the ex LSWR lines.

Based on an article by Ian Hardy 09 May 2007
With additional information supplied by Stephen Spark in 2009 and Geoff Smith in 2011.



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