South Eastern Railway allocation of Shares letter 1844
The SER was incorporated by the South Eastern Railway Act 1836 which authorised the Construction of a railway commencing by a junction with the proposed London and Croydon Railway at Croydon and terminating at Arch Cliff near Old Road between Dover and Folkestone. An act of the following year changed the northern terminus to, again, a junction with the London and Croydon Railway but this time at Penge Common in the Parish of Battersea.
Other schemes were also being promoted at the same time and eventually, Parliament insisted on one, shared route to London from Kent. The SER agreed to this and became responsible for the length between Stoat's Nest and Earlswood Common, some 6.5 miles. Along with the three other participating companies (the London & Greenwich, London & Croydon and London & Brighton Railways), the SER gained access to London Bridge Station. The railway from Earlswood Common to Dover would be the SER's own railway upon which the other three companies would not run.
The line was opened in sections and completed by 7 Feb 1844.
The SER gained further acts to extend its lines and also took over and leased other railway companies until it finally owned nearly 383 miles of line with a further 23 miles jointly owned with other companies by 1898. It also leased or rented 16 miles. After taking over the Whitstable Lines and the Continental Stream Packet in 1853, the SER also had an interest in shipping, especially ferries to the Continent.
Under the powers of the South Eastern and London, Chatham and Dover railway companies Act 1899, the SER's undertaking was merged with that of the London, Chatham and Dover Railway Company's under the control of the South Eastern and Chatham railway companies' Managing Committee. However, the SER remained an independent company until it was, with its partner and other companies, grouped by virtue of the Railways (Southern Group) Amalgamation Scheme 1922 to form the Southern Railway Company on 1 Jan 1923.