changing faces of the church of St Richard

Over the years, Three Bridges has been home to three churches called St Richard’s.

These pictures were brought in by Margaret Luetchford, of Three Bridges, and show snapshots of the life of the second church to bear the name.

Crawley History - St Richard's Church, Three Bridges'Pictures courtesy of Margaret Lutchford

Crawley History - St Richard's Church, Three Bridges'Pictures courtesy of Margaret Lutchford

Mrs Luetchford said the original church stood in Jubilee Walk.

The second version – designed by architect Geoffrey Claridge – opened in 1955 in Gales Drive.

The curate-in-charge was the Rev LW Johnstone and, once building was complete, the church had a healthy £98 left in the kitty.

It was demolished in 1994 after being declared unsafe.

The current St Richard’s opened in 1995 on much the same spot, with half the land sold for development, which helped finance the new building.

Three of these pictures show BBC cameras in St Richard’s MkII filming a televised Christmas address by Bishop George Bell, Bishop of Chichester.

The tug of war photo was taken c1990 – but what was the occasion and do you recognise any of the tuggers?

The demolition of the second church was first discussed in 1987 following an architect’s report which found the brickwork to be crumbling and the felt roof to be unsafe.

On Wednesday April 15 of that year, the Crawley Observer reported that the cost of repairing the faults had been estimated as high as £60,000 and that plans for a smaller church and sheltered housing complex were in the pipeline.

Rector of Crawley, Michael Goode, was quoted as saying: “The church has never been used to its capacity.

“It only has a small congregation who have to cope with a church which is really designed for the whole town.

“We started to ask the question if it was responsible to expect the congregation to start raising more money – that’s not what a congregation is for.”

Demolition started in August 1994 – with parishioners meeting in Three Bridges Scout Hut while the new church was built – and parish churchwarden Hugh Luetchford calling it “the end of an era”.

Can you name any of the people in these pictures? Email, call 01293 845058 or write to the Crawley Observer, 4 The Boulevard, Crawley, West Sussex RH10 1XY