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Tunbridge Wells West

Tunbridge Wells West was one of two stations serving the spa town of Tunbridge Wells. The first was opened in 1845 with the arrival of the South Eastern Railway, eventually becoming Tunbridge Wells Central, then reverting to plain Tunbridge Wells and the second was Tunbridge Wells West which opened when the LB&SCR arrived at the town in 1866. About ten years later a tunnel was constructed to link the two stations and allow through running between the former company's Hastings line (which it left at Grove Junction) and the latter company's Brighton line. From their station the LB&SCR ran trains to London, Brighton and Eastbourne and in later years services operated through the tunnel to Tonbridge and beyond.

The station prospered throughout the years of the LB&SCR and the Southern Railway, frequently handling more than 100 trains a day, until the British Railways days of the mid 1960s when it started to lose its routes. First the line to Eastbourne went when the Eridge-Hailsham section closed in 1965, then the important cross-country route to East Grinstead followed suit in 1967 leading up to the loss of the route to Brighton when that line was truncated at Uckfield in 1969. Services were cut back drastically and eventually the station was closed with the Tunbridge Wells to Eridge line on 6 July 1985.

All was not lost, though, as a preservation movement formed and, first as the Tunbridge Wells and Eridge Preservation Society and later as the Spa Valley Railway, slowly returned life to the station, opening with just half a mile of running line in 1996, which was extended to Groombridge in 1997, (where a new station had to be built) with the ultimate aim of returning to Eridge.

 
Tunbridge Wells West The grand facade of Tunbridge Wells West station. This once-important station had services to Brighton via Lewes, Tonbridge, Eastbourne via Hailsham, Oxted via East Grinstead and Victoria via East Grinstead and Three Bridges.

photograph by Ray Soper

 
Tunbridge Wells West (75F) shed in 1964. H class 0-4-4Ts 31263 and 31551 are both fully prepared and ready for their next turns of duty on push and pull services. 31263 will be working the afternoon through service from Tunbridge Wells West to Three Bridges via East Grinstead.

photograph by Keith Harwood

Tunbridge Wells West
 
Tunbridge Wells West During the latter years of steam the BR Standard 4 tanks were the mainstay of the remaining non-electrified ex-LBSCR branch lines. Here two are captured awaiting their respective departures from Tunbridge Wells West.

photograph by Keith Harwood

 
An unidentified class 207 "thumper" photographed on the line from Grove Junction to Tunbridge Wells West during April 1974.

photograph by Clive Standen

Tunbridge Wells West
 
Tunbridge Wells West Between Tunbridge Wells West and Grove Junction is a tunnel, seen here with another unidentified TWW-bound "thumper" entering in April 1974.

photograph by Clive Standen

 
Another view of the tunnel, seen here in August 1983 from a train entering the other end of the tunnel. Being straight, the daylight at the far end can be clearly seen! (See next page for a view since closure).

photograph by kind permission of Alan Elliott

Tunbridge Wells West
 
Tunbridge Wells West Three years after closure, in July 1988, the station is looking very sad and dilapidated but still in situ as it awaits the outcome of the fight to restore services.

photograph by kind permission of Alan Elliott

 
A closer view, looking in the other direction towards the station throat.

photograph by kind permission of Alan Elliott

Tunbridge Wells West
 
Tunbridge Wells West The station throat and 'B' Signalbox. Like a sleeping giant the station and its tracks await the day when wheels will once again keep the rust from the rails.

photograph by kind permission of Alan Elliott

 
The tunnel, seen here in July 1988, seems not to have closed but to be just sleeping awhile, awaiting the return of the trains.

photograph by kind permission of Alan Elliott

Tunbridge Wells West

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This page was last updated 27 August 2004

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