The South Eastern Railway Company (SER) operated in south-eastern England from 1836 until 1922.
The company was formed to construct a route from London to Dover. Branch lines were later opened to Tunbridge Wells, Hastings, Canterbury and other places in Kent.
The SER absorbed or leased other railways, including the London & Greenwich Railway and the Canterbury & Whitstable Railway. Most of the company’s routes were in Kent, eastern Sussex and the London suburbs, with a long cross-country route from Redhill in Surrey to Reading, Berkshire.
Much of the company’s early history saw attempts at expansion and feuding with its neighbours; the London Brighton & South Coast Railway (LBSCR) in the west, and the London, Chatham & Dover Railway (LCDR) to the north-east.
However, in 1899 the SER agreed with the LCDR to share operation of the two railways, work them as a single system and pool receipts : but it was not a full amalgamation.
The SER and LCDR remained separate companies until becoming constituents of the Southern Railway on 1st January 1923.