Groombridge Railway Station - Decline


Until 1965 north-south services were run in two sections: Victoria - Tunbridge Wells West, and Tunbridge Wells West - Brighton/Eastbourne. These two sections interconnected at Groombridge where with Eastbourne and Tunbridge Wells coaches were detached from London trains; traffic grew from around 80 trains per day in the 1900s to 120 in the 1930s and more than 200 per day in the 1950s. The pattern of operations changed completely in the wake of the Beeching Report when the relative importance of Groombridge and Eridge as railway junctions diminished with the closure of one after another of the lines in the area. The Cuckoo Line was the first to go in June 1965, followed by the line from Three Bridges and East Grinstead in January 1967 and then the Uckfield line to the south of Uckfield in 1969. The line between Ashurst Junction and Groombridge, was taken out on 5 January 1969. At the same time, the signal box opened in 1958 was closed leaving the block signalling section between Tunbridge Wells West and Birchden Junction.

The section from Birchden Junction to Grove Junction remained open with an hourly off peak 3-coach DEMU shuttle between Eridge and Tonbridge with connecting services at Eridge was provided for Uckfield line passengers. By the 1980s the section had been gradually run-down with little maintenance, disruptions to service patterns and the reduction of services to a dozen or so per day, all of which took its toll on passenger numbers, although some commuter traffic did remain. Groombridge station was staffed on the morning shift only by the wife of a railwayman at Tunbridge Wells West, and she kept the station clean and presentable, whilst the tracks outside became overgrown, the 1958 signal box remained boarded-up and the goods yard contained a moribund coal merchant's business. In 1985 the Department for Transport gave British Rail the go-ahead to close the line from Eridge to Tunbridge Wells provided alternative bus services were provided, and it was announced that the last service would run on 6 July. A private company called "Surrey Downs Ltd" proposed running a joint service with BR from Tonbridge to Uckfield, but this never materialised amid scepticism from BR that somebody outside the industry could make a loss-making line pay.

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