Station Name: HERTFORD NORTH (First site)
|Location:||At the end of Railway Approach|
|Company on opening:||Great Northern Railway|
|Date closed to passengers:||2.6.1924|
|Date closed completely:||18.4.1966|
|Company on closing:||London & North Eastern Railway|
Demolished - the station was demolished c.1980. The site is partially covered by a large industrial unit, while the east end of the site is awaiting redevelopment. Part of the goods yard was lost under an extension to Mc Mullen's brewery. To the west of the station the bridge over the River Beane has gone, and the alignment between the river and Port Hill has been used for a small industrial estate. The Port Hill overbridge is extant but the arches have all been bricked up, and there is no evidence of the engine shed. To the east of Port Hill the overgrown track bed is extant as far as Archers Close but with no public access. Beyond that is the start of the Cole Green Way.
|OS Grid Ref:||TL324130|
|Date of visit:||April 1975, March 1976 & 1st January 2011|
Notes: The first railway station was built by the Northern and Eastern Railway in 1843 opposite what is now The Great Eastern Tavern in Railway Street. This position, rather than one closer to the town, was chosen so as to keep the station at some distance from both the prison and Christ's Hospital School. The station was at the terminus of the new branch line from the London-Cambridge railway at Broxbourne. This station was renamed Hertford East in 1923.
In 1858 a second station was built at Cowbridge with the branch from the Great Northern Railway from Welwyn. The station was adjacent to Mc Mullen's Brewery, with access via a wide spur off Hartham Lane, which still exists today. Although this station was officially called Hertford it was more usually known as Cowbridge and is even shown as such in timetables, although not on tickets. In 1888 a link to the first station was added; this was used only for goods traffic and never had a passenger service.
The station was renamed Hertford North on 1st July 1923, but its days were numbered as a new Hertford North station was opened on 2nd June 1924 following the completion of the loop from the Great Northern line from Wood Green (now Alexandra Palace) to Stevenage. At this time services into Cowbridge were diverted into the new station, with the old station being retained for goods traffic as there were no facilities at the new Hertford North. The goods station was downgraded to a coal depot only on 3rd January 1966, closing completely on 18th April 1966. Cowbridge station was demolished c.1980.
BRIEF HISTORY OF THE HERTFORD NORTH TO WELWYN GARDEN CITY LINE
On 3rd July 1854, the Hertford & Welwyn Junction Railway received parliamentary authority to build a line from the Eastern Counties Railway at Hertford to a triangular junction with the GNR at Digswell with running powers into Digswell (which was later renamed Welwyn North). On 30th September 1854, there was a proposal to extend this line across the GNR to Luton and Dunstable linking three established railway companies (ECR, GNR & LNWR). Not wanting to be left out, the GNR offered to work the line between Hatfield and Luton although it was not prepared to provide any finance.
The Hertford line was opened to goods traffic on the last day of February 1888, with passenger services running from 1st March 1858 between Hertford (often referred to as Cowbridge) and Welwyn Junction on the GNR; the service was operated jointly by the GNR and the ECR.
Welwyn Junction station provided interchange facilities with the Great Northern, and passengers could continue their journey south towards Kings Cross or north towards Peterborough. No intermediate stations were opened with the line, but by December 1858 stations at Cole Green and Hertingfordbury appeared in company timetables. The line continued east for a further 1200 yards beyond Hertford station to connect with the Eastern Counties terminus (later Hertford East) but this connection was never used by passenger trains.
Work on the Luton line had been progressing during the amalgamation negotiations, and the first section of the line between Luton and Dunstable opened for passenger traffic on 3rd May 1858.
Welwyn Junction station closed on the same day with trains on both lines making a junction with the Great Northern, and the services terminated at Hatfield where a bay platform was provided for Hertford trains..
The Hertford, Luton & Dunstable Railway was absorbed by the GNR under the Great Northern Railway Act of 12th June 1861. This gave the GNR exclusive rights to operate the line. In December 1868 new parallel lines into Hatfield were brought into use for both branch services, and the earlier junctions were removed in January 1869.
In an attempt to attract more passengers to the Hertford line railmotors were introduced in 1905, and two new halts (Attimore Hall and Hatfield Hyde) between Welwyn junction and Cole Green first appeared in public timetables in May 1905, but they were not well used and closed a month later.
A new through station at Hertford North opened on 2nd June 1924 with the opening of the Hertford loop line, when the Enfield branch was extended north to create a diversionary route for the main line to King’s Cross. The new station was less well sited for the town centre than the earlier branch terminus at Cowbridge but it did provide Hertford with a service north to Stevenage for the first time. Cowbridge was now redundant and closed to passengers although it continued to handle goods traffic as there were no goods facilities at the new station.
Sentinel-Cammell steam railcars were tried on the line in 1930s and, although popular with passengers, could not cater for peak demand. From 17th September 1944 most trains from Hertford terminated at Welwyn Garden City rather than Hatfield.
The goods service remained in operation until 1962 when both intermediate stations were closed completely; the track was lifted shortly after closure. A goods service was retained to Hertford North (Cowbridge) until 18th April 1966, and the connecting line to Hertford East closed at the same time. All traffic over the line ceased on 23rd May 1966 with the closure of the landfill site at Hollywell Hyde.
The 6.5 mile Cole Green Way cycle and bridleway between Welwyn Garden City and Hertford now follows the course of the line. It is part of National Cycle Network Route 61, and the Lea Valley Walk.
Sources: Hatfield, Luton & Dunstable Railway by G & S Woodward (1977). Published by Oakwood Press ISBN 978-0-853614-58-6.
For further reading see Hertfordshire's lost railways by Keith Scholey ISBN ISBN 1 84033231 X and Branch Lined around Hertford & Hatfield by Vic Mitchell & Keith Smith (2009) Published by Middleton Press ISBN 978-1-906008-58-1. Other web sites: Lost Lines includes a series of photographs taken along the Hertford - Hatfield line in 1990.
To see other stations on the Hertford North - Welwyn Garden City line click on the station name: Welwyn Garden City, Welwyn Junction, Attimore Hall Halt, Hatfield Hyde Halt, Cole Green & Hertingfordbury
|Last updated: Sunday, 21-May-2017 10:09:40 BST||
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