If you walk along the bank of the River Medway in Maidstone on the Fant side, near the foot of Bower Lane you will find the remains of a large brick pillar, seemingly serving no purpose.
It is all that is left of the bridge that once carried the rail track that spurred off the Medway Valley Line across the water to enter the Tovil Goods Station on the Tovil side of the river. (Now the site of the Lidl supermarket.)
The spur came into use about 1886 and didn’t close until 1977, during which time it played an important role in bringing in supplies and exporting the products of the various papers mills which were then at the heart of Tovil.
At its peak, the station had 11 sidings for wagons to be loaded and unloaded.
But although it only ever went the curving half mile to the Tovil Goods Station, the line was originally planned with a much more ambitious scheme in mind.
The idea was for a new rail-line to follow along the foot of Loose Valley past the village of Loose and then out to Headcorn - a distance of nine miles.
It was to be known as the Loose Valley Railway.
South Eastern Railway (SER) obtained a Bill of Parliament for its construction in 1880, which included the power of compulsory purchase.
But there was a great deal of local opposition, not least from the owners of Hayle Mill in Tovil, then making world-class quality paper by hand. They feared that soot from the engines would damage the quality of their product.
The protests were re-enacted by Tovil residents as part of the Loose Valley Community Pageant to celebrate the Millennium in 2,000, which saw a number of "playlets" performed at half a dozen places along the Loose Stream.
SER got no farther than the construction of a lattice girder bridge over The Medway leading to Tovil Goods Station (with just three sidings at the time) and a signal box before giving up and in 1885 selling the rights to Lydd Railway Company.
But even Lydd found the estimated cost of construction proved too high and the line never materialised.
In those days, Tovil was not a parish on its own right (that didn’t happen until as late as 1987), but rather was a community of around 700 souls spread across the parishes of Loose and East Farleigh. It was a large employment area with several paper mills, flour mills and even a mill making gunpowder.
The SER had already opened “Tovil” station to serve the growing workforce on New Year’s Day 1884, though ironically it was on the north bank of the river, so not in Tovil at all.
A footbridge had also existed connecting the two sides of the river since 1871.
In 1894, Albert E. Reed established his paper-making business in Tovil. His company was so successful it later expanded to new sites at Aylesford (1920), Greenhithe (1952), and Gravesend (1961).
Responding to the growth, Tovil Goods Station was expanded to 11 sidings with a large iron-framed goods shed.
On May 10, 1906, a new company - the Headcorn & Maidstone Junction Light Railway - was formed to revive the plans for a line through Loose to Headcorn.
This time, the idea was for a “light railway” which could be constructed with lighter weight track, steeper gradients and tighter bends than a standard railway - so making construction less expensive, but meaning the speed of the engines would have to be significantly curtailed.
It made no difference, as the line again never got past the planning stage.
Tovil Station itself closed on March 15, 1943. Tovil Goods Station closed October 3, 1977.
The rail bridge over the Medway was dismantled and sold for scrap in 1982.
Images of the bridge are hard to come by, but Joan Wood, 88, has one hanging on the wall of her home in Westwood Road, Maidstone.
It was drawn by her father, Albert Butler, in 1931 and shows the Tovil footbridge in the foreground and the rail bridge behind.
She explained: “My family lived in Bower Lane just up from the bridge.
“I spent a lot of my childhood in Tovil. I especially liked to watch the farrier at work in his shed just up from The Rose pub. There was also a very kindly man called Mr Avery who owned a pleasure cruiser called The Swan.
“He would always give me a free ride on my birthday.”
Sadly Mr Butler, the artist, died in 1948. He was only 45.