The heart of the present railway containing most of our passenger facilities, the Colonel Stephens Museum, our Carriage workshop and last but not least the administrative headquarters of the Charitable Trust that owns and runs the railway. The Rother Valley Railway extended up the hill from Rolvenden in 1903 and onwards to Headcorn in 1905 (abandoned in 1954) renaming itself the Kent and East Sussex Railway in the process.
The station site still shows many signs of this former status as a through station and chief station of the original railway. The line still curves up the hill for several hundred yards to provide access to the yards on both sides of the main line with its passing now, 'run round' loop. The main building is the second on the site, replacing an early temporary building that was moved to Headcorn within a year or so from opening. It is, unusually for a Colonel Stephens building, built of brick with wood infills and externally is virtually as built. Nearest the road is the Station office which was the railways operational office when opened (the administration was undertaken at Tonbridge) and which is still used by the Stationmaster.
It's also where bookings for the Wealden Pullman and other special events such as Thomas and Santa can be made. Next door is the Booking Office with the adjacent Booking Hall, which was at one time somewhat larger containing a waiting area with pot-bellied stove and simple benches. Next door was the Goods Office that has now been converted to a very interesting Gift Shop. Finally and typically at the end of the building is the only toilet on the original station; a gents' urinal flushed with typical Stephens economy by the rainwater pipe. This is now mercifully supplemented by a mains flush and modern toilets in the centre of the site.
The platform is extended from the original main platform but otherwise largely as built. It lost its companion platform opposite when British Railways closed the passenger service and a carriage siding is now on its site. The platform is still lit by lampposts manufactured by the railway at Rolvenden in a pioneering use of concrete by W H Austin. The Station nameboard is a replica of the original, which is now in the Museum, and is in the original blue enamel as are others on the line. The Locomotive water tower at the platform end is a Southern Railway one formerly at Hoo Junction, Kent.
Facing the platform is the Carriage Repair shed, which was built by the present operators but which contains interesting features such as windows and doors from Rye giving the appearance of an authentic SECR building. It was built on the site of a goods siding which was subsequently used to service the Romney Huts beyond which were built during WW2 to house emergency food supplies. Since the early 1960s, these have been an important industrial estate for Tenterden and most importantly one contains the Railway's Museum. The yard and viewing area in front of the carriage siding contains the goods yard crane from Hawkhurst station and between it and the Museum is a grassy picnic area with good countryside views unimpeded by the car park which sits down in the valley conveniently below eye level. Finally on this side is the all important signal box brought there from Chilham. The original railway was well signalled for a light railway but boxes were considered an unnecessary luxury. The present railway is signalled as a Southern Railway branch line, something it never was.
Turning to the old goods yard behind platform one's original siding, remains the area that was a busy coal yard until near closure in 1961 suppling not only domestic heating in the town, but the gas works and the large West Cross Hospital. The siding is now used to house our dining train, 'The Wealden Pullman' when not in use. Next to this is the pioneering Refreshment Rooms, a building moved here from Maidstone where it was probably the first purpose built bus station in the country. It was re-erected by volunteers and even contains the original clock which displays its mechanism inside. Outside are benches with parasols for summer dining. Nearby is a children's play area which is heavily shaded but has tables and chairs.
Strolling back across the site past the purpose built toilet block you'll pass back to the front of the station building where another small building is in use as an information and leaflet office. Adjacent are the Railway's administration offices.