Station Name: PURFLEET RIFLE RANGE
[Source: Nick Catford]
Purfleet Rifle Range, known variously as a station or a halt, looking towards Rainham and Fenchurch Street. Impressions are that troops have just disembarked from a Down train but it is possible the scene was deliberately posed soon after the station opened and the latter may be borne out by the spotless running-in board on the right. Note there was another such board further along the platform; there was probably a third closer to the signal box and level crossing behind the camera. The soldiers crossing the footbridge are carrying their rifles which would have been the famous Lee-Enfield and either the .22 training version or most likely one of the .303 SMLE variants. In the left background can just be discerned one of the numbered firing targets, all of which were located on the west side of the site. On the right sits a Great Eastern Railway open wagon, there being basic goods facilities on this side of the station. The platform face on the left never had, as far as is known, a track serving it. The track at extreme left curved away into the rifle range. There was a runround loop, one set of points for which can just be discerned, but otherwise the spur was single track. It ended at a transfer shed which, by scaling aerial photographs, measured 160ft x 100ft. Some maps imply the standard gauge spur entered this shed but this was not the case, at least not in later years, it actually ended alongside the shed where an unloading dock of some form would have been provided. The internal narrow gauge system did, however, enter the shed and what few scant details are known of the narrow gauge system
are given elsewhere.
Photo from John Mann collection
1897 1:2,500 OS map shows the site before the station was built A siding already existed, this was usually known as Purfleet Siding but also known as Ordnance Crossing Siding. A signal box and crossing keepers cottage are seen on the west sid of the crossing with a footbridge on the east side.
1947 1:2,500 OS map. The staggered platforms of Purfleet Rifle Range station are clearly seen as is the shelter on the island platform. There is a footbridge at the level crossing and another wider footbridge at the north end of the up platform spanning the platforms and the spur into the cordite store. Steps are seen down to each platform and a thirds stairway gives access to the rifle range. The building close to the steps probably includes a ticket office. A standard gauge spur with a passing loop curves round to enter the cordite store. A narrow gauge line from the store runs south towards the River Thames. It passes the eight magazines of the WW2 EAM, each magazine having rail access. On the approach to the five gunpowder magazines the line splits, one line serving the magazine while the other runs onto a jetty on the River Thames. A branch from this lines also runs along a riverside quay with a travelling crane. Click here for a larger version.
1947 1:2,500 OS map. Close up view of the track arrangement for the spur into the cordite store.
1960 2½" OS map.
Purfleet Rifle Range station in 1950, two years after closure to passenger traffic. The station remained intact at this time, the shelter is clearly seen on the up platform. Immediately west of the station a standard gauge spur curves round to the cordite store which is surrounded by earth banks for blast protection. A narrow gauge line comes out of the cordite store passing eight WW2 anti-aircraft ammunition magazines (EAM). A spur from this line is seen entering the EAM at its south end. The land top left is part of Purfleet Rifle Range. Click here for a larger version.
Photo from Britain From Above reproduced with permission
Purfleet Rifle Range station in July 1952, some four years after closure. The deterioration is obvious and indicative of the basic means by which the station was constructed. It was nevertheless quite expansive and as can be seen had staggered platforms. This layout was dictated by the access point into the rifle range and the location of the level crossing, behind the camera. Some debate exists regarding whether a halt or a station. Railway tickets were issued from Purfleet Rifle Range and given that trains serving it were suburban in nature, ie of non corridor stock, tickets must have been issued from an office on site and probably located in the building seen in the left background. The fact tickets were issued on location technically makes it a station rather than a halt but nevertheless surviving, cast, WD signs, of which at least two survive, bear the title 'PURFLEET RIFLERANGE HALT'. On the left an LMS style nameboard still stands while on the right coal merchants are unloading coal in the modest goods facility. Their lorry appears, of course, to be a Bedford and possibly an M Type. At far left some wagons sit on the spur into the rifle range, or perhaps on the runround loop. In the distance is a short goods train and a member of staff going about his duties. No doubt some shunting is ongoing or has just been completed. As mentioned previously, behind the camera was Tank Hill Road level crossing and the signal box.
Copyright photo from Stations UK
An unknown train approaching Purfleet Rifle Range c1950s. Rifle Range signal box and the crossing keepers cottage are seen. Both have now been demolished.
Photo from the Purfleet Heritage and Military Centre
One of 8 rail served WW2 anti-aircraft magazines south west of Purfleet Rifle range station in March 1997. A standard gauge siding ran from immediately north of the station on the up side (see map above) into a blast protected exchange shed. From the shed a narrow gauge line originally served five 1759 gunpowder magazines close to the River Thames. When the anti-aircraft magazines were built they were linked to the narrow gauge line. The concrete blocks in front of each entrance are loading docks.
Photo by Nick Catford
This view, facing due south, shows what is thought to be the sole remaining section of the range's former narrow gauge internal system in March 1997. The bridge is a typical military concrete structure while the stanchions for the railings are not, as it may appear, made from old rails but from sections of what we now call RSJ (Rolled Steel Joist) On its way to the jetty, the narrow gauge line twice crossed the meandering Mar Dyke; once near the transfer shed and again on the approach to the jetty. The bridge seen here is that near the transfer shed, which stood a short distance to the photographer's right. The line in this area was on a lengthy curve, hence the transfer shed being to the right, with the only straight section within this curve being that seen here on the bridge. With careful examination of the photograph it can be seen that the track at the far end of the bridge recommences its curve to the right. The bridge and embedded track still survive within the RSPB reserve
Photo by Nick Catford
The site of Purfleet Rifle Rand in September 1999 during work to realign Tank Road to the west. The halt was immediately west of the level crossing. The new road alignment crosses the east end of the halt site. The site of Purfleet Rifle Range signal box is now occupied by a white cabin to the west of the crossing, the box box closed in 1980, and the control of the level crossing was transferred to Purfleet box.
One of two surviving War Department cast iron station signs is displayed on one of the buildings in the RSPB reserve the occupies the rifle range. (May 2018).
Photo by Phil Mann
The former Tank Hill Road level crossing seen from the New Tank Hill Road bridge in June 2018. The crossing was abolished in 1999. Purfleet Rifle Range station's up platform was immediately west of the crossing; the platforms were staggered.
Photo by Nick Catford
Looking west at the site of Purfleet Rifle Range station seen from New Tank Hill Road bridge
in June 2018.
Photo by Nick Catford