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)