Memories of Three Bridges

We arrived in Crawley to set up home immediately after our marriage in September 1967. At that time Crawley still had that intangible ‘New Town’ feel to it.

We have both qualified as librarians that summer. David became Technical Librarian at APV on Manor Royal, whilst I took up the post of the very first qualified full-time librarian at Thomas Bennett School in Tilgate. I moved on to work as librarian at MEL company on Manor Royal some time later.

From our ‘Labour-saving’ Taylor Woodrow home in Crossways, Three Bridges (that estate agent’s description has remained a puzzle to me ever since!) we both cycled to our respective jobs using the cycle-track from Woolborough Land, Northgate to Manor Royal.

Crossways was a convenient location for the town centre and Queens Square – then the focus of shopping in Crawley. The Queensway Store closed in 1968 and re-opened as Tesco. I remember being present at the ‘grand re-opening’ ceremony preformed one week day afternoon by Tony Blackburn, the disc-jockey.

Three Bridges was still a complete retail entity at this time. The CO-OP Store was on the corner of North Road and Hazelwick Road and it was here that I did my weekend shopping. Further along North Road where Forge Road joins it and on the site of the ‘Georgian’ town houses was a shop remaining from pre-new town days. It was run by Mr Bill Owen who opened on Sundays till noon. I recall feeling very guilty and a bad organiser if I ever needed to pop across for something on a Sunday morning. How attitudes have changed!

The local shopping parade in Gales Drive still had the original line-up of shops. Two small supermarkets, a Spar and Budgen. Mr Hazelwood has his electrical shop next door to Spar. We had a dry-cleaners and launderette. Mr and Mrs Gillet ran the greengrocers, and the hardware shop was run by Mr and Mrs Lyons. The remaining premises were a Bank, Chemist, Newsagent, Fish and Chips and the little cabin at the far end was a wool and haberdashery shop, adjacent to the Maid of Sussex public house.

David actually began his job as the Librarian at APV in July 1967 and he lived for about 6 weeks at ‘Jordans’ on the London Road – then the premises of the APV Sports and Social Club. These building fell into disrepair but are at this time being restored and the site re-developed by a brewery chain into a large family pub complex to be called appropriately ‘The Jordans’.

Our life in Three Bridges revolved around our jobs, shopping, gardening and D.I.Y. Recreation was often walks on the footpaths to the lake at Milton Mount and the woodland wilderness around it. Entertainment was going to the cinema in the High Street and we frequently went to plays and shows put on in the Masonic Hall, Ifield Green by the Ifield Players – now in residence at the Ifield Barn Theatre. We found the proximity of our home to Three Bridges Railway Station very convenient and began to explore Sussex which was new to both of us. Eating out was an occasional ‘treat’. It was then possible to catch the bus in North Road direct to Charlwood, so we sometimes went to the ‘Limes Bistro’ restaurant (still in business) which was considered a rather ‘chic’ place to eat.

In 1973 our daughter was born and a whole new world of pre-school and playgroup activities opened up. Yet even in the mid-70’s the ‘New Town’ atmosphere was fading and community spirit was less evident. On the whole we thought we’ve been glad we had the opportunity to start our married life in Three Bridges, Crawley New Town.

(Jacqueline Baynes, Written November 1995)


Parade of shops
Three Bridges Shopping Parade

Leave a comment

Valerie White

2 years ago

This could have almost been written by me. I grew up in Gales Drive and share the many of the same memories as Jacqueline Baines. My father also worked at APV. I am interested in the mention of Bill Owen in the shop corner of forge Road and North Road as I have recently been looking at my family tree and discovered that Bill Owen and his son Jack were/are quite closely related to my mother and me.
We only lived a couple of roads away from them and weren’t aware of their existence and probably they weren’t aware of ours.I would love to hear from anyone who remembers them

Joe O Grafy

2 months ago

Wonderful memories of Jordan’s
Worked for APV Limerick Ireland.
Had many a visit to Crawley site during 1970/1980
Wonderful people
I remember APV Crawley had 3300 employed
Shame the factory no longer exists.
I have customers that still have APV Puma Pumps
On site-they don’t make them like that anymore
Best of British Engineering
Really sad how this wonderful company was destroyed by take overs

Gary Streeter

4 weeks ago

Born in Crawley in 1963 I grew up living in Monksfield, Three Bridges and attended the TB infants and junior schools before going to Hazelwick for O and A-levels. I took a gap year in 1982-83 working as a computer operator at APV on PDP-11/70 and Prime minicomputers which turned out to be a great introduction to “big-league” computers before I went on to Leeds University and graduated in 1987 with a 1st class Hons degree in Computer Science. Many fond memories of growing up in Crawley particularly the numerous green spaces and parks that were incorporated into the New Town plans. I spent many hours at the now gone swimming pool / sports center in Haslett Avenue. Crawley was also an excellent base for train travel to London and Brighton both being about 1/2 hour away. A good town and good time for a child to grow up in.

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