The Area map
North Watford covers the area to the north of the town of Watford, in Hertfordshire, north of London. The county of Hertfordshire now borders the London boroughs of Harrow, Barnet and Enfield, which themselves, in earlier times had formed part of the county of Middlesex. Located around 15 miles from the centre of London, on the main north west road (now the A41), to Aylesbury and beyond, Watford has always been closely-linked to London. When one considers that before motorised transport, when journeys were done on foot or by horse, the distances that could be covered in a day were somewhat more limited than would be thought of today.
Watford in Hertfordshire should not be confused with Watford in Northamptonshire, where the north-south divide is said to be exhibited, due to the geological feature of the Watford Gap. This features in the English language in such contexts as "… north of the Watford Gap," to indicate a location in the northern part of Britain.
Although there is earlier evidence for the existence of settlements in the area, the best known historical reference to Watford surrounds the granting of a charter by Henry I, to allow the holding of a market here. Watford remained a small town until the middle of the 19th century, and the area of North Watford was sparsely populated, being mainly manorial estate and farming land. The arrival of the railway in Watford changed the land usage in and around the town, and for North Watford in particular, this started a period of building and development, which still continues. Because of the ability to supply goods to London easily, and the modern road and rail links to elsewhere in the country, the area became attractive to industry, and there were a number of printers located here. The appearance of trades and industry in the area led an explosive increase in the size of the population and, in turn a need for housing. Today, North Watford is primarily a residential area. Businesses are mostly in the service and and retail sectors. Its location, being a short distance from London, without having the costs of living in London, now attracts commuters.
It is difficult to draw boundaries around an area that is now essentially part of a larger town, and any attempt will involve some degree elasticity. Because of the importance of the railways to the development of the area, North Watford History Group has chosen to use Watford Junction station as the apex for defining the area of interest. The boundary follows the west coast main line from Watford Junction out as far as the current A41 (North Western Avenue); it then follows the line of the A41 round to the river Colne, before following the course of the river back towards the town centre. The river is crossed by Colonial Way, and the boundary follows Colonial Way, as far as Clive Way, using the line of the industrial areas alongside the St Albans branch line to return to Watford Junction station. This is illustrated by the highlighted area of the map, below.
[Added by Glen: 6:33pm 13 Apr 2009]