Notes: The original East Grinstead station of 1855 was replaced
by a new station a few yards to the north in 1866 when the line
was extended to Tunbridge Wells. The earlier station was retained
for goods. With the opening of the Lewes line in 1882 the station
was once again resited some distance to the west.
The Lewes line opened on 1.8.1882 but the new station was not
finished so the 1866 station remained open and all trains between
Three Bridges and Tunbridge Wells continued to use it. The High
Level station finally opened on 15.10.1883 and the 1866 station
was closed. It was demolished in February 1908.
The doors from the refreshment room were removed in 1969 and later donated to the Bluebell Railway. They have now been re-hung on the booking office at Kingscote.
BRIEF HISTORY OF THE THREE
BRIDGES - TUNBRIDGE WELLS WEST RAILWAY
Following a public meeting in 1852, the East Grinstead Railway
Company was in formed and in November of that year applied to
parliament for powers to construct a 6 3/4 mile branch line
from a terminus at East Grinstead to a junction with the London
Brighton & South Coast Railway's main line at Three Bridges.
The bill received Royal Assent on 8th July 1853 and the branch
line opened on 9th July 1855 with a single intermediate station
at Rowfant; a second station at Grange Road was added in April
The new line was an immediate success carrying both passengers
and goods. Even before the line opened there was talk of an
extension to Tunbridge Wells and the East Grinstead Groombridge
and Tunbridge Wells Railway Act was passed on 7th August 1862.
Prior to this date the Brighton, Uckfield and Tunbridge Wells
Railway had their Act passed in 1861 for an extension from the
existing terminus at Uckfield to a new terminus at Tunbridge
Wells and work on this line had already started in April 1862.
The EGG & TWR proposed to obtain powers to run over the
BU & TWR line between Groombridge and Tunbridge Wells but
before either line was opened the two companies were absorbed
into the London Brighton & South Coast Railway in January
||The extension to Tunbridge Wells
was opened on 1st October 1866, nearly two years before
the, line from Uckfield was ready; it was single throughout
except for a resited East Grinstead Station and at Groombridge
There were three intermediate stations at Forest Row, Hartfield
Despite the success of the original line to East Grinstead,
the extension proved less popular and the initial passenger
service of 6 trains each way per day was soon reduced to save
money, the goods service was however more profitable.
The extension from Uckfield to Groombridge was opened on 3rd
August 1868 and on 1st February 1876 a short spur through Grove
Tunnel was opened between the LBSC terminus and Tunbridge Wells
to a junction with the South Eastern Railway south of their
own station in the town to allow the running of through trains.
On 5th April 1880 the LBSC extended their line from Hailsham
to a junction with the Uckfield line at Eridge with services
running on into Tunbridge Wells.
With the opening of the Lewes & East Grinstead Railway
and the Croydon, Oxted and East Grinstead Railway in 1883 it
was once again necessary to resite East Grinstead Station. The
two new lines approached the Three Bridges line at right angles
from the north and south respectively. Because of the angle
it was impossible to take the L & GR into the existing station
so a new station was built quarter of a mile to the west with
two island platforms on the old line above and at right angles
to a new station at the end on junction between the EGR and
the CO & EGR with a sharply curving spur linking the two
The final line in the equation was the Oxted and Groombridge
Railway which opened on 1st October 1888 bringing yet another
service into Tunbridge Wells.
|The opening of these new routes from London
all reduced passenger numbers on the line from Three Bridges
which was now the longest out of four routes from London
to Tunbridge Wells. Only one intermediate station, Forest
Row was able to build up quite respectable commuter traffic
to London with several trains terminating there.
With ever rising operating costs a new rail motor service consisting
of a single carriage hauled or propelled by a small tank engine
was introduced in 1906. A new halt was opened at High Rocks
between Groombridge and Tunbridge Wells, served only by the
rail motors. These new trains eventually halted the decline
in passenger revenue with the service reaching its peak in 1914.
WW1 had little affect on the line and some new services were
introduced following the formation of the Southern Railway in
1923. WW2 brought a reduction in services with the withdrawal
of the rail motors. A government oil store was established at
Rowfant bringing an increase in freight traffic. After the war
some passenger services were reinstated but by 1950 both passenger
and freight service were in decline and BR was considering the
possible closure of the line between Three Bridges and Ashurst
Junction in 1951 with passenger numbers at Hartfield in 1949
being only a quarter of those carried in 1923.
The East Grinstead - Lewes line closed in May 1955 but the
Three Bridges line survived with a new timetable being introduced
in June 1955. There was a marked improvement in passenger numbers,
especially between Three Bridges and East Grinstead but despite
a proposal to introduce diesel-electric train in 1962 the line
was threatened by the Beeching Axe (Dr. Beeching lived in East
Grinstead) when the Three bridges - Tunbridge Wells line was
one of many proposed for closure in March 1963. (The only line
to remain open was the line from London - East Grinstead via
Oxted on which Dr. Beeching was a first class season ticket
Despite strong local objections and a new timetable, Barbara
Castle confirmed closure of the line between Three Bridges and
Groombridge from 1st January 1967. Although originally proposed
for closure the section between Groombridge and Tunbridge Wells
West (West was added to the name in 1923) remained open.
Track lifting began at the east end of the line late in 1967
and was not completed until 1970. In July 1979 much of the trackbed
between Three Bridges and East Grinstead was turned into a public
footpath and cycleway known as Worth
Way. The 9 1/2 mile section of line between East Grinstead
and Groombridge has also been converted into a public footpath
and cycleway known as Forest
Although the route into Tunbridge Wells West remained open
there was no investment in the line and by the early 1980's
the track and signaling needed replacing. With the planned removal
of Grove Junction during the upgrade of the Tonbridge - Hastings
line British Rail decided they could no longer justify keeping
the line open and announced closure of the line from 16th May
1983. Once again there were strong objections but these were
outweighed by British Rail's cost argument. They estimated that
to upgrade the infrastructure, while retaining the existing
services, would give a £175,000 loss per year and the
Secretary of State confirmed closure of the line on 6th July
Grove Junction was removed the day after closure but the line
from Eridge to Tunbridge Wells remained in use until 10th August
1985 when the depot was closed.
Shortly after closure the Tunbridge Wells and Eridge Railway
Preservation Society was formed with an aim of reinstating the
passenger service on the line. The Society acquired the line
in the early 1990's and by winter 1996 they had refurbished
half a mile of track and were able to run a steam service from
their base on part of the old Tunbridge Wells West station site.
TWERPS later merged with the North Downs Steam Railway at Dartford,
Kent. The line is now known as The
Spa Valley Railways, a name chosen as the result of a competition.
The Spa Valley
Railways now runs for 3 1/2 miles to a new station at Groombridge
with an intermediate station at High Rocks built by the owner
of the High Rocks Inn and Restaurant.
Further reading: Three Bridges to Tunbridge Wells by David
Gould Oakwood Press 1983
ISBN 0 85361 299 4
lines to East Grinstead by Vic Mitchell & Keith Smith
- Middleton Press 1984
ISBN ISBN 090652007X
Fore more pictures of East Grinstead High Level Station in the
1960's see Southern
Sixties Signalboxes web site
To see the other
stations on the Three Bridges - Tunbridge Wells West line click
on the station name: Three
Grange Road, Forest
High Rocks Halt