Film maker bids for success with drama about historic railway line

PUBLISHED: 15:27 01 September 2010

Gerald Pecksen, director, checks notes prior to filming

Gerald Pecksen, director, checks notes prior to filming


A 17th century home is the setting for a forthcoming docudrama about the events leading up to the opening of an historic railway line now buried under the M25.

Omnibus outside Squerryes

Westerham’s Squerryes Court, which featured in the BBC’s adaptation of Jane Austin’s Emma, will play host to the filming of Unfounded Rumours- a period production by West Wickham based group Spring Park Film Makers about the line between Sevenoaks and Westerham..

It is set in the late 19th century and will be entered into the North versus South film competition in November.

Gerald Pecksen, writer and director of the short film has recreated the story leading up to the opening of the Westerham line, which was closed in the 1960s.

He said: “The residents wanted the line because they had to endure the appalling horse-pulled omnibus. We have put such an awful lot of effort into the film. It is currently being produced. We may be amateurs but we are not amateurish.”

Traders and residents rallied for a railway line because the road was rough between Sevenoaks and Westerham and the wealthy wanted a quicker mode of transport instead of the horse-pulled omnibus.

Royal Assent for a four-and-three-quarter-mile-long branch between Dunton Green and Westerham was formally received on July 24 1876 and a single-track branch came into use on July 7 1881.

Spring Park Film Makers chairman Graham Evans said: “We are very excited. The acting is good and the setting and props are excellent. A relative of the current owner of Squerryes lobbied for the opening of the line so it is historically apt.”

The line was a success until the 1960s when the government proposed its closure

Opponents formed the Westerham Valley Railway Association (WVRA) in 1962. They managed to buy a lease of the station building in the same year.

The group nearly succeeded in setting up its own commuter service but Kent County Council stopped the project with a compulsory purchase order for the track bed.

It claimed it was necessary for the building London Orbital motorway which later became the M25.

The council asked for £26,000 (about £380,000 at 2007 prices) to compensate for installing a bridge over the line, a sum which the WVRA could not afford. Westerham’s station building was flattened during 1966.

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