Watford Central tube station

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Watford Central
The 'Moon Under Water', High Street, Watford - geograph.org.uk - 610214.jpg
44 High Street, Watford, planned as Watford Central station
Hertfordshire UK location map.svg
Red pog.svg
Watford Central
Location of Watford Central in Hertfordshire
Location Watford, Hertfordshire
Local authorityWatford
OwnerNever Opened
Railway companies
Original company Metropolitan Railway
Key dates
1927Building purchased by the MR
Other information
WGS84 51°39′23″N0°23′52″W / 51.656444°N 0.39789°W / 51.656444; -0.39789 Coordinates: 51°39′23″N0°23′52″W / 51.656444°N 0.39789°W / 51.656444; -0.39789
Underground sign at Westminster.jpg London transportportal

Watford Central was a planned station on the London Underground in Watford, Hertfordshire. The station was to be part of a proposed extension of the Metropolitan line from the present-day Watford Underground station to Watford's High Street opposite Clarendon Road. Had the line been built, Watford Central would have been the terminus of the branch line. [1] The building which was planned to be the station booking hall has long gone, however the facade was retained and a new building constructed behind it. It is now The Moon Under Water public house.

London Underground rapid transit system in London, United Kingdom

The London Underground is a public rapid transit system serving London, England and some parts of the adjacent counties of Buckinghamshire, Essex and Hertfordshire in the United Kingdom.

Watford Town & Borough in England

Watford is a town and borough in Hertfordshire, South East England, 15 miles (24 km) northwest of central London.

Hertfordshire County of England

Hertfordshire is one of the home counties in southern England. It is bordered by Bedfordshire and Cambridgeshire to the north, Essex to the east, Greater London to the south, and Buckinghamshire to the west. For government statistical purposes, it is placed in the East of England region.



Approximate routes proposed in 1927 for the Met line extension to Watford Central 1927 Met line extension to Watford Central.png
Approximate routes proposed in 1927 for the Met line extension to Watford Central

Building a line to Watford had been an ambition of the Metropolitan Railway Company for several years. Watford was already served by the LNWR main line, but Watford Urban District Council began to lobby the MR to extend their line into the town. By 1911 Watford had grown enough to make a new railway connection seem commercially viable. At this time, the MR shared tracks with the Great Central Railway (GCR) and these companies had formed the Metropolitan and Great Central Joint Railway; together they drew up plans to construct a branch line to Watford town centre, receiving Parliamentary approval in 1912. In the original plans, the Metropolitan line was to terminate at a passenger station located on Hempstead Road, close to the northern end of the High Street, with a goods station a mile further south at Cassiobury Park Avenue. [2] The Urban District Council had recently purchased parts of the Cassiobury Estate from the Earl of Essex to create Cassiobury Park and were opposed to the MR driving a railway across their beautiful municipal park and objected to this scheme. [3]

Metropolitan Railway underground railway in London

The Metropolitan Railway was a passenger and goods railway that served London from 1863 to 1933, its main line heading north-west from the capital's financial heart in the City to what were to become the Middlesex suburbs. Its first line connected the main-line railway termini at Paddington, Euston, and King's Cross to the City. The first section was built beneath the New Road using the "cut-and-cover" method between Paddington and King's Cross and in tunnel and cuttings beside Farringdon Road from King's Cross to near Smithfield, near the City. It opened to the public on 10 January 1863 with gas-lit wooden carriages hauled by steam locomotives, the world's first passenger-carrying designated underground railway.

London and North Western Railway former railway company in United Kingdom

The London and North Western Railway was a British railway company between 1846 and 1922. In the late 19th century the L&NWR was the largest joint stock company in the United Kingdom.

Great Central Railway British pre-grouping railway company (1897–1922)

The Great Central Railway in England came into being when the Manchester, Sheffield and Lincolnshire Railway changed its name in 1897, anticipating the opening in 1899 of its London Extension. On 1 January 1923, the company was grouped into the London and North Eastern Railway.

The outbreak of World War I in 1914 hampered the project's development, and it was not until 1922 that construction of the Watford branch commenced. By this stage, the GCR was financially less secure and the MR instead formed a joint committee with the London and North Eastern Railway (LNER), the Watford Joint Committee. Opposition from local politicians to the Cassiobury route meant that the terminus had to be sited next to the new goods yard in the Cassiobury area of the town, some distance from the centre. Watford station opened as the terminus of the Metropolitan Railway Watford branch in 1925. [2] [3] [4] [5]

World War I 1914–1918 global war starting in Europe

World War I, also known as the First World War or the Great War, was a global war originating in Europe that lasted from 28 July 1914 to 11 November 1918. Contemporaneously described as "the war to end all wars", it led to the mobilisation of more than 70 million military personnel, including 60 million Europeans, making it one of the largest wars in history. It is also one of the deadliest conflicts in history, with an estimated nine million combatants and seven million civilian deaths as a direct result of the war, while resulting genocides and the resulting 1918 influenza pandemic caused another 50 to 100 million deaths worldwide.

London and North Eastern Railway British “Big 4” railway company, active 1923–1947

The London and North Eastern Railway (LNER) was the second largest of the "Big Four" railway companies created by the Railways Act 1921 in Britain. It operated from 1 January 1923 until nationalisation on 1 January 1948. At that time, it was divided into the new British Railways' Eastern Region, North Eastern Region, and partially the Scottish Region.


The Cassiobury Estate is a suburban residential area of Watford in Hertfordshire, England. It is bounded to the south by Cassiobury Park, the main public park in the town, to the west by playing fields next to the River Gade, and to the northeast by Hempstead Road. It is mostly characterised by 1930s Mock Tudor houses.

The MR was keen to promote its new destination as part of its Metro-Land advertising campaign; posters published by the MR in 1925 promoting the new route "by Metro to Watford" depicted an illustrated view of Watford High Street on market day, belying the remote location of the station. [6] [7] While the MR was able to provide a shuttle bus service from its station to the town centre, [8] the Metropolitan branch line passenger numbers compared unfavourably with rival services into central London offered by the LMS and the UERL Bakerloo line from the more centrally located Watford Junction and Watford High Street stations. The LNER pulled out of the venture after the General Strike of 1926. [3]

London, Midland and Scottish Railway British “Big 4” railway company, active 1923–1947

The London, Midland and Scottish Railway (LMS) was a British railway company. It was formed on 1 January 1923 under the Railways Act of 1921, which required the grouping of over 120 separate railways into four. The companies merged into the LMS included the London and North Western Railway, Midland Railway, the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway, several Scottish railway companies, and numerous other, smaller ventures.

Underground Electric Railways Company of London holding company for underground railways and bus operators in London

The Underground Electric Railways Company of London Limited (UERL), known operationally as the Underground for much of its existence, was established in 1902. It was the holding company for the three deep-level "tube" underground railway lines opened in London during 1906 and 1907: the Baker Street and Waterloo Railway, the Charing Cross, Euston and Hampstead Railway and the Great Northern, Piccadilly and Brompton Railway. It was also the parent company from 1902 of the District Railway, which it electrified between 1903 and 1905. The UERL is a precursor of today's London Underground; its three tube lines form the central sections of today's Bakerloo, Northern and Piccadilly lines.

Bakerloo line London Underground line

The Bakerloo line is a London Underground line that runs between Harrow & Wealdstone in suburban north-west London and Elephant & Castle in south London, via the West End. Coloured brown on the Tube map, it serves 25 stations, of which 15 are below ground, over 14.4 miles (23.2 km). It runs partly on the surface and partly at deep level.

Watford Met station Watford Tube Station.JPG
Watford Met station

The remote location of Watford Met station was clearly proving to be unsatisfactory, and the MR drew up plans to extend the line into the town centre. In 1927 the company purchased a property at 44 Watford High Street, the Empress Tea Rooms and Winter Gardens. A strip of land behind the property provided about 2.5 acres, enough for redevelopment as a railway station with a High Street frontage. [9] Parliamentary approval given in 1929.

The MR put forward alternative routes for the line extension: [9]

Neither scheme was enacted and neither tunnel was built. The terminus was to remain at its Cassiobury location

The building

The property purchased by the Metropolitan Railway at 44 High Street is located on the western side of the street close to the junction with Clarendon Road. The original building was named Derby House, and after extensive refurbishment in 1916 which included refacing of the frontage and the addition of two medallions of Queen Victoria, the rear garden was opened as The Empress Winter Gardens and Tea Lounge. [10]

The premises still stand today and have local listed building status, although the elaborate Winter Garden buildings which once stood behind the property have been demolished. [10] For a brief period in 1921, the Winter Gardens served as a makeshift cinema, serving teas to patrons in the intervals. [11] After acquisition by the Metropolitan Railway in 1927, 44 High Street was let out to a succession of tenants and eventually passed to the Lewis Omnibus Company, which was itself taken over by the London Passenger Transport Board in 1933. [12] [13] In the following years, the building was used as a furniture shop and later it became a branch of the clothing retailer, Next. Today the building is occupied by Wetherspoons as The Moon Under Water public house. [14]

Metropolitan line extension

Croxley Rail Link Croxley rail link map.png
Croxley Rail Link

Over 80 years after the MR first attempted to extend its line into central Watford, a new scheme was approved in 2011 to continue the Metropolitan line across the town to Watford Junction station. The Metropolitan line extension is also known as the Croxley Rail Link . [15] A disused stretch of former British Rail track which ran to Croxley Green station would be reinstated, connecting the Metropolitan line with the Watford DC Line at Watford High Street (London Overground) and sharing track to the terminus at Watford Junction. The project is funded jointly by Hertfordshire County Council and Transport for London. Should this project go ahead, the Watford Met tube station would close to passengers. [16]

On 25 January 2017, the Watford Observer newspaper published an update on the Croxley Rail Link confirming work had stopped as there was an ongoing funding issue. [17]

Preceding station  Underground no-text.svg London Underground  Following station
Watford   Metropolitan Railway
Watford extension
(Never completed)

See also

Related Research Articles

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  8. Unknown photographer (1927). "Inventory no: 1999/28830 – Photograph of Metropolitan Railway single deck coach outside Watford MR station". London Transport Museum photographic collection. Archived from the original on 9 August 2013.Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  9. 1 2 Goudie, F. W.; Stuckey; Douglas (1990). West of Watford : L.N.W.R., L.M.S., Metropolitan, L.N.E.R., Bakerloo, Watford, Croxley Green, Rickmansworth. Bracknell: Forge Books. ISBN   9780904662184.
  10. 1 2 "44 High Street". Locally Listed Buildings in Watford. Watford Borough Council. 2011. p. 55. Archived from the original (PDF) on 29 September 2013.Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
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  12. Horne p.96
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  14. Binnie, Adam (17 December 2011). "Croxley Rail Link project to resurrect historic track". Watford Observer . Archived from the original on 10 August 2013.Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  15. https://tfl.gov.uk/travel-information/improvements-and-projects/metropolitan-line-extension
  16. "Croxley Rail Link". Transport for London. Archived from the original on 2 December 2008.Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  17. http://www.watfordobserver.co.uk/news/15047214.UPDATE__Met_Line_extension__Mayor_confirms_work_has_stopped/