Ashford International celebrates milestone

Southeastern celebrated Ashford International’s 175th birthday today (Friday) with a ceremony to mark the station’s rich history.

The event, which was attended by dignitaries including Leader of Ashford Borough Council Cllr Gerry Clarkson CBE, featured a photographic exhibition donated by Ashford Borough Museum, as well as memorabilia supplied by rail heritage group Network SouthEast Railway Society.

To mark the occasion, Cllr Gerry Clarkson CBE unveiled a specially named train, with the name plate ‘Ashford, Proudly served by rail for 175 years’.

Over the past 175 years, the station has played a crucial role connecting communities in Kent and the South East.

Today, Ashford International station is used by over 3.6 million passengers each year, and still provides a vital link between Kent and central London.

Cllr Gerry Clarkson, Leader of Ashford Borough Council, said: “Ashford has a very long and proud relationship with the railway. It has played an important role in the borough’s history and been a catalyst in our ongoing growth and development.

“It’s amazing to think how much has changed since the first steam engine travelled into Ashford Station – acting as a link between Croydon and Dover.

Today Ashford International provides a much greater link, connecting not only to the capital but also to mainland Europe.

“I was delighted to celebrate the 175th anniversary of the station. It was a great chance to reflect on Ashford’s heritage and to discuss how future rail services will continue to play an important role in the borough’s ongoing success with Southeastern staff.”

To mark the occasion, Ashford International Station Manager Jim Wells and his team cut characterful figures in Victorian fancy dress, as they handed out commemorative birthday cake to passengers.

Ian Sharp Ashford Borough Museum curator, said: “It has been great to reflect upon the history of Ashford International for this exhibition, in particular looking back at the images of locomotives from the 1847 Railway works.

“I hope passengers will take their time to enjoy the archival images and memorabilia which will be available in the station for the coming week.”

David Wornham, Passenger Services Director at Southeastern, added: “This is a very special day for Ashford International and our dedicated station employees.

“Today’s passengers living in and around Ashford have some of the best opportunities to access London and Kent.

“Over the last 10 years, we’ve been particularly proud to run the UK’s only premier High Speed service. For our Ashford passengers this has meant cutting journey times in to London from 83 minutes to 37 minutes – something unimaginable for passengers in 1842!”