African Railway Hardwood Railway Sleepers in Folkestone • 2017

This morning I listened to ACME architects speaking about their place-making efforts on Folkestone’s seafront and harbour area…all very interesting and positive.

The new broadwalk is made of reclaimed African hardwood railway sleepers, probably of Azobe wood. This amazing timber is practically waterproof…that’s good, as it’s only a few feet from the sea!

A quick web search reveals that these timber railway sleepers were used extensively on African railways for most of the 20C. The railway system in Africa is being modernised by the Chinese and the sleepers are being replaced in pre-cast concrete…stronger and less expensive, but much less interesting.

The whole of the seaside development in the UK was facilitated by the railways…and so the whole thing of place- making in Folkestone is linked to the various forms of railway heritage that attach to the town. This is evident in the re-development and restoration of the Harbour station.

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