PROJECT TO IMPROVE ACCESS, HEALTH AND TOURISM
ALONG A HISTORIC RAILWAY ROUTE IN WHITSTABLE, KENT
charity, the Crab and Winkle Line Trust, is leading a project
with Canterbury City Council, Kent County Council and Sustrans
to build two pedestrian bridges in Whitstable, Kent along
the route of the world’s third oldest railway. The six-mile
route, built by the Stephensons, is 175 years old. The bridges
will cross two roads and a railway and allow pedestrian access
to the town centre, harbour, beach, medical centre and six
to Whitstable railway opened in 1830 and was the third railway
line ever to be built. It was the first in the world regularly
to take passengers. The
first ever season tickets were sold in Canterbury to take
people to the Whitstable beach for the summer season. The
Industrial Revolution took place here – George and Robert
Stephenson built the route, Telford built Whitstable harbour
and Brunel used the route’s tunnel as his inspiration.
The world’s oldest railway bridge was on the route.
But this bridge was knocked down in the 1969 and the whole
route became abandoned, overgrown and forgotten.
the Crab and Winkle Line Trust was formed to bring the route
back into public use. 40% of the route is now accessible and
part of National Cycle Network Route 1. To bring the route
into the centre of Whitstable, we need to re-bridge two roads
and the London-to-Ramsgate railway. Two bridges are needed,
of 48-metre and 13-metre spans. The bridges will link the
existing foot path on the south to the town centre and Whitstable
harbour on the north. No easy, step-free pedestrian link currently
of the project
Crab and Winkle Line at Whitstable will bring material benefits
to the people of Whitstable and to the whole district.
First, Whitstable has severe traffic problems. There is only
one major road into the town, and no safe, step-free pedestrian
or wheelchair access into the town centre. This increases
short-distance car journeys. The bridges would provide a convenient
traffic-free route from houses to shops, from houses to schools
and from houses to the beach – all journeys of a mile
or less. Traffic and parking problems would decrease, and
a safe route to six schools would be created.
• Second, there are health benefits, particularly for
young people walking to schools, of a re-bridged line. Local
doctors have expressed strong support for the scheme which
would make the town’s medical centre more accessible
• Third, the whole community will benefit from less
anti-social behaviour and vandalism on the abandoned, overgrown
land beside the bridges. Local residents’ associations
are in support of the scheme.
• Fourth, the district will benefit from better access
for tourists to the centre of Whitstable. The current route
from Canterbury finishes in the residential district south
of the bridges, leaving visitors unable to find their way
into the town – a poor first impression. An innovative
bridge, and the history of the route, should become a tourist
attraction in its own right.
• Fifth, the bridges will bring this forgotten part
of Whitstable’s history back to life, and be an attraction
for schools and tourists and a source of local pride.
is led by the Crab and Winkle Line Trust, a registered charity
(no. 1077110) established in 1997 to bring back the whole
of the old Canterbury-to-Whitstable railway into public use.
The Trust has already ensured public access to 40% of the
original route. The Trust is joined in partnership on the
Whitstable bridges project by Canterbury City Council, who
own land to either side of the site of the bridges, by Kent
County Council, responsible for transport policy in the county,
by Sustrans, the civil engineering charity, by Kent Police,
and by firms of architects, and civil engineers. The route
is part of the Council’s corporate plan, ten-year transport
action plan, walking and cycling strategy and climate change
and Winkle Trust are consulting local residents and others
with an interest in the project. Consultation took place in
2003 and 2004, with support being expressed by local residents
in the press and at public meetings hosted by the Whitstable
Society. Further consultation will take place in 2005 with
local interest groups, including pedestrians, cyclists, disabled
users, schools, the Chamber of Commerce and others. Specific
issues to be consulted on include: the bridge design, shared
access for walkers, cyclists and the disabled, and access
around the bridges.
drawing of possible Crab and Winkle bridges
looks promising. We have the backing of many, including the
Council, the police and Sustrans, the national sustainable
transport charity, as well as of local people. But the task
ahead is daunting. As you'll see from the reverse of this
leaflet, to get a fully open line, we will need to solve many
problems — some small (like putting up signposts) and
some enormous (like reopening the tunnel). We can only achieve
this with sustained support from local people and from those
further afield. So help us make a real difference to the quality
of life in East Kent.
Term - to increase the present 50% of the line already in
public access to 70% by bringing more sections into public
Term - to see if there can be a 'light at the end of the tunnel'.
Only 4% is collapsed which leaves 96% uncollapsed. Some of
the tunnel has been filled but we are assured that it is repairable.
drawing courtesy of David Stewart, Architect, Lee Evans Partnership