Train approaching platform 6 was axed by Dr Beeching

Did you know there used to be six platforms at Three Bridges Station?

Well there were – and if it wasn’t for Dr Richard Beeching, we could all travel to East Grinstead by rail without having to go miles out of our way.

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If you peek through the fence on platform 5 you’ll be looking at the spot where platform 6 used to stand.

It was never electrified and closed on January 2 1967 as part of the good doctor’s cull of branch lines.

In his defence, Dr Beeching had a very tough job. He became chairman of the British Railways Board in 1961 and set about addressing the massive financial losses the railways were enduring – estimated to be some £300,000 a day.

That’s more money than most of us could ever hope to see today – in 1961 it was an unfathomable amount.

He had to cut costs and so 6,000 miles of track and 2,363 stations were lost – not to mention thousands of jobs.

Without his cuts, though, none of us would be as likely to wax lyrical about the good old days of steam, and Thomas the Tank Engine would have been nowhere near as popular.

Trains had been puffing their way between Three Bridges and East Grinstead since July 1855 (work to build it began on November 22 1853).

The branch line was the idea of engineer John Rastrick, who was renowned for his work on the London to Brighton line.

Originally there was only one stop, at Rowfant, but Grange Road followed in 1860 to serve the people of Crawley Down.

The line was constructed by the East Grinstead Railway Company and operated by the London, Brighton and South Coast Railway (LBSCR).

The first level crossing was known as Compasses, so called because it stood next to an inn of the same name.

Several goods trains are known to have ploughed through the closed wooden gates over the years after the watchman failed to make his early morning post in time to open them.

The old branch line is now known as the Worth Way and it’s an amazing walk, if you have the time. You don’t get to East Grinstead half as quickly as you once could but you’re less likely to get squashed by a passing steam train.

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