North Watford History Group

north-watford-history.org.uk

Watford North Station

Watford North Station

Bushey Mill Lane map

The branch line of the London and North Western Railway between Watford Junction and St Albans opened in 1858, and became known as the Abbey line or the Abbey Flyer.

In North Watford, there was a gated level crossing where the railway line crossed Bushey Mill Lane. By 1881 and until at least 1901, the gateman was Thomas Gray, born c. 1834, living at Railway Cottage, Bushey Mill Lane. In 1861, he had been a labourer in a silk factory, and may have been encouraged to pursue a job in the railways by his father-in-law, James King, born c. 1798, who worked for the Railway Police. [1]

Watford North Station opened in Bushey Mill Lane in 1910 to serve the manufacturing companies in the area. [2] It was initially called Callowland Station, but was renamed Watford North in 1927. The facilities for passengers were minimal, consisting of an "open-fronted waiting shelter" and a ticket hut. [3]

Local industry was both stimulated and well-served by the Abbey line. Dr Tibbles' Vi-Cocoa Factory, built in 1899, in what later became Sandown Road, had its own railway siding. This almost certainly predated Watford North Station, and continued after its opening, as shown by train timetables. [4]

Businesses near the Abbey line in North Watford continued to develop and by 1938, those with their own railway sidings included the following: [5]

  • Blaw, Knox & Co.
  • British Industrial Industries Ltd.
  • Fishburn Printing Company
  • Greycaine Ltd.
  • Cowan Hulbert & Co.
  • Hygena Cabinet Company
  • McCaskey Register Company
  • McMillan & Co.
  • Milliken Brothers
  • Penfold Fencing
  • Petro-Flex Tubing Company
  • Alfred J Pratt & Co.
  • Watford Foundry
  • Watford Co-op

The railway remained central to the transport of goods until, starting in the 1950s, road transport began to replace it, leading to a gradual run down of the goods facilities at Watford North Station. [6]

In 1963, the Abbey line narrowly escaped closure, and in 1966, Watford North, together with other stations on the line, was downgraded to become an unstaffed halt. [7]

In 1995, there was a proposal to cut services on the Abbey line and to replace electric trains with diesels. In response to this, a rail user group called ABFLY was formed, which successfully lobbied to keep electric trains and has continued to work for improvements. [8] In 2005, a Community Rail Partnership for the Abbey line was established with the objective of increasing community involvement and improving services and facilities. One of its projects is a station adoption scheme and there is currently a group at Watford North, which inspects the station at least once a week and reports to the group station manager. [9]

Photographs

Watford North Station

Watford North station from Bushey Mill Lane level crossing.

Map


View Larger Map

Map showing location of:
Watford North marker Watford North station

Credits

Research: Jill Waterson; North Watford History Group.
Author: Jill Waterson; North Watford History Group.
Photographs: Jill Waterson; North Watford History Group.

References

  1. 1861–1901 censuses
  2. Line History; The Abbey Flyer Users' Group website
  3. Jenkins, Stanley C.; The Watford to St Albans Branch, 2nd edition, 2008; page 67
  4. 1922 timetable in Jenkins, Stanley C.; The Watford to St Albans Branch, 2nd edition, 2008; pages 32-33
  5. Jenkins, Stanley C.; The Watford to St Albans Branch, 2nd edition, 2008; page 67
  6. Jenkins, Stanley C.; The Watford to St Albans Branch, 2nd edition, 2008; page 67
  7. Jenkins, Stanley C.; The Watford to St Albans Branch, 2nd edition, 2008; page 50
  8. Aims; The Abbey Flyer Users' Group website
  9. Station Adoption; Abbey line Community Rail Partnership website

[Added by Glen: 11:25pm 21 Oct 2008]
[Updated by Glen: 11:12pm 11 Nov 2008]
[Updated by Glen: 9:58pm 5 Jan 2009]
[Updated by Glen: 9:35pm 23 Mar 2009]

This page was last updated on 24 October 2009.