Tattenham Corner Railway

In 1885 Henry Cosmo Orme Bonsor, the son of Joseph Bonsor of Polesden Lacey, purchased the Kingswood Warren estate. He was a City financier, a Director of the Bank of England and became MP for Kingswood. He foresaw that bringing a railway to Kingswood would enhance the value of land which had never been very good for agricultural purposes, and would attract London financiers who wished to live in a healthy rural environment.

Accordingly, in 1896, he turned his attention to railways, became chairman of the South Eastern Railway, and proposed a line from Purley through the Chipstead valley to Kingswood. This idea initially met with some opposition from his fellow directors, since the line followed difficult terrain involving deep cuttings, high bridges, tunnels and tight bends. However, Bonsor won the day and construction began in 1896.

The new railway became fit to operate trains over a single track as far as Kingswood on 2nd November 1897 and regular services began a week later. In 1899 Chipstead station (named Chipstead and Banstead Downs) was opened, equipped with a passing loop, and the following year trains ran to Walton-on-the-Hill (now Tadworth). In November 1900 the track was doubled and on Derby Day 1901 trains ran through to Tattenham Corner. Woodmansterne station was not built until the 1930s.

Kingswood Station was built to an elegant standard, no doubt because it was Bonsor's personal railhead. In order to attract day trippers to the area and, perhaps, potential house-buyers, an open air terrace was provided on top of the platform canopy for afternoon tea. However, by 1920 soot and steam from the locomotives discharged immediately beneath the customers' noses had rendered that enterprise unprofitable!

Electric trains appeared on the line in March 1928 and were operating the complete service by June of that year. However, steam engines continued to be used for freight and shunting duties until the freight sidings at Chipstead and other stations on the line were finally closed in 1962.

The most notable event on the line was the passage of the Royal Train to Tattenham Corner on Derby Day each year, hauled by a steam locomotive until 1963. The Royal Train was discontinued in 1998 to save costs to the Royal Purse!

November 9th 1997 marked the centenary of the opening of the line for passenger services. A special train bearing the name of Sir Cosmo Bonsor was created which operates on the Tattenham Corner line today.

In the 1980s the railway implemented a policy of replacing old railway station buildings on branch lines with shelters and ticket cabins. Consequently, the Chipstead station building became very dilapidated and was no longer used by railway passengers. It was sold to a developer in 1998 and divided vertically to create three town houses.