A brief history

Tunbridge Wells West station is the headquarters of the Spa Valley Railway; the engine shed was built in 1886 and is a unique survivor from the age of steam. It's the only one left from the many which used to exist in the south of England still performing its original purpose!

TW West Railway Sign, Spa Valley Railway

We are the railway with "A DESTINATION AT EVERY STATION!"

The line goes from Tunbridge Wells West Station through High Rocks where the memorial is situated.

High Rocks, Spa Valley Railway

Onto Groombridge where passengers can alight to explore Groombridge Place & The Enchanted Forest.

Groombridge, Spa Valley Railway

Then finally the end of the line Eridge station which links up to the main line to London.

Eridge, Spa Valley Railway

The train was a popular mode of transport and allowed many, for the first time, to explore other towns and cities. Tunbridge Wells had two stations built by rival companies; Tunbridge Wells Central, opened in 1845 by the South Eastern Railway, which is now the sole mainline station, and Tunbridge Wells West, which was opened by the London Brighton & South Coast Railway in 1866. The latter is now the headquarters of today's Spa Valley Railway.

Gradually lines began to close all around with the Eridge to Hailsham branch (the Cuckoo Line) in 1965, East Grinstead to Groombridge in 1967, and then Uckfield to Lewes in 1969. Unfortunately as the popularity of the motor-car increased, train services were severely cut back due to the lack of patronage and the Tunbridge Wells to Eridge section closed on 6th July 1985.

Spa Valley Railway Track

Following closure and a hastily-convened meeting in Groombridge village hall, a charitable society was quickly established to fight for the reopening of the Tunbridge Wells to Eridge line.

In 1994, with a generous loan from Tunbridge Wells Borough Council, the society acquired the line and by winter 1996 they were running trains on 1/2 a mile of track towards Groombridge, hauled by RSH 0-6-0T "North Downs".

After an amazing effort by members, the line was again opened through to Groombridge in August 1997, which took the total length up to three and a half miles. News spread about the route and passenger numbers rose.

The owner of the High Rocks Inn built a station at High Rocks, half way between Tunbridge Wells and Groombridge which opened in August 1998.

2004 saw the railway's first resident ex-mainline steam engine return to service in 2005, the railway celebrated the 20 years since the closure of the railway by British Railways.

Steam Train on Spa Valley Railway

Since the extension opened the Spa Valley Railway has seen a number of major changes, we have launched our now very popular High Weald Belle Dining trains, commissioned phase 1 of the signalling scheme at Groombridge which allows us to pass trains under the control of our newly built Signal Box, revamped some major events which has helped boost visitor numbers and we also commemorated 30 years of the lines closure by bringing two 'Thumpers' together for the very first time in preservation!

This success story would not have happened without the determination and selflessness from members so what does the future hold? The Spa Valley Railway is run entirely by volunteer members from the station staff to the engine drivers and we are always looking out for more people to join the ranks. Why not join us and be a part of it all?

Spa Valley Railway

www.spavalleyrailway.co.uk  | 01892 527715 | enquiries@spavalleyrailway.co.uk


Related

Easter Specials on the Spa Valley Railway
Participatory Event
Easter Specials on the Spa Valley Railway

Visit the Spa Valley Railway at Easter to find the eggs around the line!

Spring Diesel Gala at The Spa Valley Railway
Show / Display
Spring Diesel Gala at The Spa Valley Railway

An enthusiasts' paradise.  This weekend will be featuring some of the working locomotives from the home fleet, and there may even be a visiting one too!

Summer Diesel Gala at The Spa Valley Railway
Festival
Spa Valley Railway, Tunbridge Wells

The well known and extremely popular Summer Diesel Gala is back in 2019 with a visit from 'Greyhound'.

9th CAMRA Real Ale & Cider Festival and Autumn Diesel Gala at the Spa Valley Railway
Festival
Spa Valley Railway, Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA), Cider and Diesel festival in Royal Tunbridge Wells.

Come and enjoy one of the biggest beer festivals in Kent and Sussex from Friday 18th through til Sunday 20th October 2019

Summer Transport Festival at The Spa Valley Railway
Festival
Summer Transport Festival at The Spa Valley Railway

The Summer Transport Festival - A gathering of steam on the road and rails, vintage vehicles and a whole lot of fun for all the family!

Kids for a Quid at the Spa Valley Railway
Participatory Event
Kids for a Quid at the Spa Valley Railway

Kids for a Quid! Visitors this coming weekend (24 and 25 February) can book a train journey and explore any of the destinations along the line including High Rocks, Groombridge, Eridge and Royal Tunbridge Wells. There is also a 'Kids for a Quid' promotion taking place this weekend when all children can travel for a quid with a paying adult. A family of 2 adults and 2 children can enjoy all day travel for just £26! You can either book online in advance to save time at the ticket office or just turn up on the day!

Groombridge Place and The Enchanted Forest
Garden
The Rose Garden at Groombridge Place

Groombridge Place near Tunbridge Wells offers a fun day out for all the family with award winning gardens, and the Enchanted Forest, with its giant tree swings and other exciting thrills to discover.

High Rocks
Natural Feature
High Rocks near Royal Tunbridge Wells

Acres of breathtaking sandstone rocks interlinked with bridges provide a scenic walk in a tranquil woodland setting.

The High Rocks
Italian
High Rocks near Royal Tunbridge Wells

Bar, restaurant and function venue including weddings

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