The SE&CR was born as an unholy alliance between two bitter rivals and, after it had buried the hatchets they had been throwing at one another, found success. The South Eastern & Chatham Railway more or less invented the cross-channel ferry and certainly ensured it was a mass transit operation. Special trains were run from all parts of Britain to connect with ferries at Ramsgate, Dover and Folkestone. The Kent coast also provided easy access to the seaside for those living south of the River Thames and the resorts of Margate, Herne Bay, Ramsgate, Broadstairs, Deal and Sandwich. These resorts had scheduled service trains run to them until the 1960s.
The SE&CR was also a commuter network of startling complexity and also took on electrification of the locomotive stock as well as the signalling system, albeit at a slower rate than the Brighton line. Consequently only the outer reaches of the SE&CR in Kent and less well used lines retained any mechanical signalling. Deal and Hastings are exceptions and yet even the relative haven of Canterbury East has been updated in recent years. Here, Allen Jackson presents an array of photographs in a lavish illustration of the story of the South Eastern & Chatham Railway routes, both before and after the most recent modernisation schemes.