St Michaels Tunnel

(Photos 8 & 9 © Bluebell Railway Museum Archive/
John J Smith collection
)

Comprising a single platform and small corrugated hut, the modest halt at St Michaels was added to the Kent & East Sussex Light Railway in 1912 to serve a small community on the outskirts of Tenterden. Its ticket office - if you could call it that - closed in 1938 and the local infrastructure's decline continued until services were withdrawn on 4th January 1954.

The line was engineered and operated by Colonel H F Stephens. One of his 'bigger' feats was St Michaels Tunnel, located just north of the halt. Opened in 1905 as part of an extension from Tenterden to Headcorn, it is just 31 yards in length and curves to the east on a radius of approximately 30 chains.

The portals are neat, brick-built affairs with a masonry string course and copings. Wing walls extend outwards parallel to the track - the east-side wall at the south end is cracked top to bottom. Horseshoe shaped in profile, the lining comprises four rings of brick and features a single refuge. Timber brackets supported telegraph wires.

Despite almost 60 years of redundancy, the structure remains in fair condition except for the cracked wing wall and some spalling of the north portal's headwall. The interior has found function as a wood store, used by the householder whose property it stands on.

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