The creation of modern Folkestone resulted from the arrival of South Eastern Railways’ line from London Bridge and their subsequent development of the harbour and continental routes.
“A marvellous change has been wrought in the circumstances of this town by the South Eastern Railway. If any place on the coast of England is entitled to a visit or to be patronised as a watering place, it is Folkestone. Although the town, at present, offers but little attraction, it will, probably, at no distant period be raised not only to be one of the most important towns on the south coast of England, but also to be a favourite watering place”.
The railway arrived in Folkestone in 1843 and then ground to a halt at a temporary station whilst construction of the Foord Road Viaduct was undertaken. Once the massive span was opened on 18th December 1843, the railway line continued and the permanent Junction Station was established east of the viaduct. When the harbour branch line was opened to passenger traffic in 1849, the Harbour Station was built to the south.
Forty or so years later, Folkestone had expanded to the north and west and the original stations were no longer convenient. The South Eastern Railway Company was persuaded to open a new station where the Cheriton Road went under the railway line, known as “Cheriton Arch”, on the site of the temporary station. Unfortunately, passengers did not associate “Cheriton Arch” with Folkestone and failed to get off and so the name was changed to “Radnor Park Station” but that was equally confusing. Finally the name was changed to “Folkestone Central” in 1895.
The original brick built “Cheriton Arch” can be clearly seen in the sketch above. It was replaced with a steel girder arch in 1894 in order to accommodate motor cars and now provides a “Lucky Gateway” to the town.
Folkestone’s Railways, Brian Hart, Wild Swan Publications, 2002