Saturday, 16 July 2011

East Croydon to East Grinstead

East Croydon has proved to be a handy station for connecting trains. There are three island platforms with 6 lines. I have changed here a few times and checked out the station. Accessibility has been much improved and it is a good place to change trains if you want to avoid Victoria and London Bridge.

I reported my trip from East Croydon to Tonbridge in a previous post and on Tuesday, I went to East Grinstead. I arrived at East Croydon, headed up the ramp, went through the ticket barrier and entered a maze for the ticket.  I bought a boundary zone 6 return to East Grinstead and headed back to the ticket barrier and asked where to go.  It was Platform 6 and I had a few minutes to wait.  The station staff on the platform were very helpful and have all sorts of information which they can rattle off, such as the number of coaches in relation to where you are standing.  This is useful as the position depends on your starting point.

East Croydon is a busy station and you need to be aware of commuters on the ramps. I changed from the Thameslink at St Pancras going south and on the return changed at City Thameslink. Both interchange stations have platform staff who can arrange help at your destination. The new Thameslink trains have automatic announcements but you may have to ask “Where are we” on the older rolling stock. 

East Grinstead is on the Oxted line and it possible to change at Oxted and get a train to Uckfield. The journey is pleasant and I spent a few hours in East Grinstead. There is a lot to do once you have found the town centre. The town is old with many Elizabethan, Tudor and Jacobean buildings. There is a museum which was closed when I went on a Tuesday. There is also the Sackville College, a Jacobean alms house which is open at certain times. I went to St Swithun's Church, which I found after instructions from a member of staff at Boots, the chemist, where I had bought a sandwich, selected by staff.

Some locals gave me directions to the library where I met Simon Kerr, the Tourism and Information officer of East Grinsted. Simon was a mine of information. Before I lost my sight I had been to East Grinstead and had been on the Bluebell Railway. Simon told me that this steam railway would be connected to the Network from 2012 so it will be easier to do this on your own from next year. The current connection is via a bus which was not running when I went.   Simon also mentioned that the town had a 350 seat theatre based at the Checkermead Centre.

In my short trip I found St Swithun's which is well worth a visit and I was sorely tempted to pull a bellrope which was hanging from a tower! An 18th century alarm bell which I have pressed in trains, planes and elevators (lifts).  I had lunch in the Bar Kuba which is on the High Street with a side door near the Museum. I could make out the impressive skyline of the buildings and picked the timber framed buildings with my peripheral vision. The information which Simon gave me was read to me later and I found that I had covered most of the sites and sights though I had not appreciated them at the time.  I would put East Grinstead in the same rank as St Albans. Another pleasant town which can be done on ones own.

Navigation Tips

Ask East Grinstead Station staff for instructions to London Road and High Street. There is an awkward roundabout which is best approached anti-clockwise. East Grinstead has two tone tactile crossings of high quality and reliable alignment. London Road has the usual stores with logos which I can recognise from the colour and “script” such as Boots, Clarks and Santander. It may be worth refamiliarising yourself with some changes. People often offer directions naming a cafe or a bank or a mobile phone store or even a charity shop. I recognised the British Heart Foundation in London Road. A mix of logo and colour (I can see some red now!)

In summary, a good trip near London.  Return rail fare £4.75 with Freedom Pass and Railcard.  Thanks to:
- the lady at Boots who helped me pick a sandwich and advised me on what to visit;
- the people in St Swithun's, who helped me pick some postcards;
- the staff at Bar Kuba for help with lunch;
- the lady in the street who told me what the Stone House was and where to find the library;
- the Southern Railway staff and other staff at stations enroute at East Croydon and City Thameslink.

Finally a very big thank you to Simon Kerr. If out and about it can often be difficult to get local information.  This shows the importance of our library and museum services around the country Use them or lose them!


Comments received from Simon Kerr at the East Grinstead Tourism Initiative (  Used with permission.

Thank you for the kind words …  I loved your expression about ‘a serendipity trip’ which I think I shall borrow for our future publicity material, if you don’t object.

I was also heartened by your remarks about the two tone tactile crossings here, and if you don’t mind I would like to pass on your comments to our County Highways Department –
I’m sure they would welcome some positive feedback.

 interestingly we are due to have a brand new station here and the ‘First turn of the spade’ ceremony will take place this coming Monday, so we might at long last have a brand new station to greet you soon.