A green and pleasant land

Published by: mike on 19th Jun 2018 | View all blogs by mike

  Knockholt and Chelsfield are two stations on the commuter line linking London to Sevenoaks in Kent.  Knockholt Station should have been called Halstead but the name Knockholt was chosen to avoid confusion with another Halstead in Essex.

     Knockholt parish is centered on Knockholt Pound.  Knockholt Pound is few miles from Knockholt Station and both are a few miles from Knockholt village.   This is confusing!

     Is there any reason for anyone - apart from weary commuters - to alight at these stations?   Is there any reason to walk across the railway bridge at Chelsfield? Is there any reason to look down the railway cut towards Knockholt?   Is there any reason to wave at passing trains? 

   This is the railway cut that inspired ‘The Railway Children‘ 

    E.S.Nesbit spent the happiest years of her childhood in Halstead and it is recalled that she walked across the fields or paths to Knockholt or Chelmsfield and the newly built railway line.   The area had its own painter, Samuel Palmer, who lived at Shoreham. He might well have walked the few miles to Chelsfield.

    I have been exploring this area by foot and the local buses.  I live near a station on the same commuter line - though further towards London.   

    Chelsfield Village is separated from Chelsfield Station by the Orpington bypass and they seem separate entities.   The village is surrounded by farmland. 

   Chelsfield Village had been a childhood home of  the author, Miss Read.  Does anybody remember Miss Read?

   In the 1970 film of ‘The Railway Children’, the location had been the Yorkshire moors of the Brontes.  The  Keighley and Worth Valley Railway was chosen for its vintage stations and railway stock.

    Sadly, there might have been a suitable Kent line which could have been used as a  location for the film. This line was axed by Beeching  

    Most of the ‘Westerham Flyer’ was demolished by 1967.  This line ran from Westerham to Dunton Green where it joined the main line to London.  The two intermediate stations were Chevening and Brasted.  There were five miles of track.

      Brasted is one of the villages on the A25 from Westerham to Sevenoaks..  A path at the rear of the church leads to a noisy road where the path ceases to be.     

   Brasted Station is under the concrete of the M2 motorway!




  • Caducean Whisks
    by Caducean Whisks 1 month ago
    That's very interesting, Mike, and nicely written. Never knew The Railway Children was set down south.
    One point - do you mean Chelsfield rather than Chelmsfield?
  • Athelstone
    by Athelstone 1 month ago
    And of course that's Shoreham in Kent as opposed to Shoreham in Sussex, the latter also being known as Shoreham by everybody except map makers and the railways who refer to it as Shoreham-by-Sea.

    I remember Miss Read. I met her often. She was Dora Saint and she lived with her husband Douglas in the same cul-de-sac in Newbury where I grew up until I moved in the mid-70s. Douglas was deputy head of my secondary school.
  • Mat
    by Mat 1 month ago
    Yes, I like your writes when you go exploring, Mike, they're very satisfying. More please. Would you write about the South Bank, Southwark even - that stretch up toward Wren's house?

    I do like Shoreham-on Sea. I surfed there a bit when I was a Brighton 'boy.' Also, down there - that fantastic fishmongers and then the weird housing estate on the beach. It's cool...
  • Athelstone
    by Athelstone 1 month ago
    I was a big fan of the Shoreham power station when it was a two chimney mini-version of Battersea, Then it was one chimney, then a pile of bricks. Now it's a rather ugly warehouse with a single shiny metal chimney in the Toytown style favoured by the architects of Canary Wharf etc. A few years ago the government revealed plans of suitable sites for nuclear power stations were they to replace other types. Shoreham was high on the list.
  • Mat
    by Mat 1 month ago
    Isn't it one of those places that deserves a second blink? We lived in Pevensey for a while - that was similar/like Dungeness
  • mike
    by mike 1 month ago
    Dear Whisks.
    I did mean Chelmsfield. Whoops! It is rather difficult to get to many of the north Kent scenic sights by public transport. In particular the National Trust properties around Ide Hill, Toys Hill and Crockham Hill, I tried to research the area in some depth as it is where my family came from - the brewers, farmers, mill owners and coach builders. They were all connected with the local hop industry, Journalism was a branch line! Whoops, again.
    Dear Athelstone.
    I wrote of an aunt who wrote children's stories and a novel She had been a great fan of MissRead whose novels were always in local libraries. Nesbit is a clear influence and you could say her children's novel is 'The Railway Children' updated to 1960. Her essays include a family with a name very close to Bastable.
    I' would have liked write a novel about the Southbank but it is one of the great literary sites and is much written about.
  • Caducean Whisks
    by Caducean Whisks 1 month ago
    Dear Mike,
    I think you mean, 'I did mean Chelsfield.' :-D Chelmsfield seems to be a region of Chelmsford in Essex, according to MrG.
    Double Whoops.
  • mike
    by mike 1 month ago
    Dear Whisks,
    Qhoops! I have changed it now. My legs are much better and I've got up to 10 mile walks. Yesterday I did the paths around lleaves Green and encompassed Downe and Biggin Hill.
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