The railway was a boon for local businesses.
While the railway was under construction we found numerous advertisements in local newspapers, such as the Maidstone Journal, inviting local carpenters, well diggers and other tradesmen to tender for work in the construction of the railway itself.
Our groups found evidence to show that it was used to attract business by a local school where, for an extra pound on top of its fees, included return railway fare for students travelling from afar.
Coal merchants were established in Marden early in the history of the Railway. In a trade directory from 1855 there is an entry for the manager of the Medway Coal Company, the first to be founded. In later years Marden had three coal merchants. The cost of coal in the area was discussed in the evidence to the Opposed Bill Committee, who were told that the cost of coal in Kent compared unfavourably to that in other areas because of the high cost of road-carriage.
In 1851, the Census shows that Henry Brown had set up an Earthenware Pottery Company which employed two potters and a potteries clerk. Presumably the ability to bring in raw material cheaply and easily on the railway, and perhaps send finished goods by the same means, was part of the attraction of Marden as a business location. It was called the South Eastern Potteries.
We also found a notice in the Maidstone Gazette advertising the fact that, due to an arrangement between the South Eastern Railway Company and Maidstone Coach Proprietors, H Appleyard would in future be able to supply the morning papers in Maidstone from 11.15.