Angerstein adventure: Take a very rare Greenwich rail trip

Deceptively rural-looking: The Angerstein Wharf freight line line

Deceptively rural-looking: The Angerstein Wharf freight line at Farmdale Road, Greenwich

Its existence goes almost unnoticed by most locals, but you’ve a rare – if expensive – chance to travel along the historic Angerstein Wharf branch line to the Thames this November.

The single-track line, which branches off the North Kent route just west of Charlton station, was built by local landowner John Angerstein and opened in 1852.

It’s served as a freight line for all its existence, linking to riverfront industries in both Greenwich and Charlton, which the line acts as a boundary between. As well as running to Angerstein Wharf, it also ran deep into the old East Greenwich gas works. I can certainly remember the screech the slow-moving goods trains made during the early ’80s.

The line had a revival in the 1990s, and is still used to carry aggregates, in particular from Bardon Hill Quarry in Leicestershire.

Proposals for passenger services – from a planned ferry in Victorian times to a service to the Millennium Dome in the 1990s – have all come to nothing, and only a handful of special passenger trains have made the trip up the line.

Now details of one of them have emerged. So if you’ve always wondered what it’d be like to ride along the line, now’s your chance – although it’ll be part of a punishingly-long day on the rails.

It’s part of a railtour called Doctor Hoo, which departs from Waterloo at 8.15am on Saturday 8 November. It’ll take the old Eurostar tracks to head towards Lewisham and Slade Green before turning back to Charlton and up the Angerstein line. It’ll then turn back to head towards Gravesend and a line through the Isle of Grain, before exploring a branch line to Dungeness and returning to Waterloo at 7.05pm.

Tickets start from £72.50 – so if it’s something you’ve always wanted to do, block a day out and shell out…

5 comments

  1. marymills

    I am discovering I cannot print this – I am just off to a conference with many elderly men, who love trains, but won’t go near the net ”my wife won’t allow the internet in the house’ , to quote one of them. They will read bits of paper though
    Anyway – two things – this info came, I think, originally from Andrew who spoke at the Charlton Society recently on the Charlton British Ropes site – and people should know more about it before the whole site turns into flats.
    and – I have actually been on one of these trips – and arrived at the crossing off Fairthorn Road to Alan and a crowd of locals who had been gathered together to cheer us on. But, as you said, a long and punishing day.

  2. Plumstead Resident

    Thanks for publicising this.

    I wonder how many freight trains actually use that line? I do see a few use the line and a derailment a few months ago as a train tried to cross into the Blackheath line caused chaos.

  3. Chris

    It’s used every day!
    The nerd in me really likes seeing the aggregate trucks going over the Woolwich Road!
    The miser in me also wishes Darryl hadn’t posted the details of this trip!!

  4. john

    After reading this article I took the plunge and booked tickets. I live on Bramshot Avenue and have crossed this line by foot many times. I enjoy travelling by train and just simply staring out the window, but I must admit I was a bit apprehensive because of your ‘punishingly-long’ comment 🙂 11 hours is a long time. However, it was a great day. I suppose it was made better by taking the ‘dining’ option (old-fashioned first class carriages, a spot-on full English breakfast, four-course dinner and a fair bit of booze), but the journey was interesting and far from boring. Yes, my fellow travellers were definitely of a type: ‘peas in a pod’ as one said, who I heard commenting on the madness that a 3365B couldn’t couple with a 3367 🙂 But these are affable types, and the world needs people like them.

    The only downside was that there was a broken track at Angerstein and we couldn’t go all the way down.

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