The Hatfield & St Albans Railway
The Plan and the Building
At 11.40pm on November 30th 1845 a plan was deposited at the office of the Clerk of the Peace in St Albans, for a railway to run from St Albans, via Hatfield, to Hertford: this was at the height of “railway mania”. At this time, there was a railway in Hertford, a branch from the London to Cambridge line, which left that line at Broxbourne. There was no railway in Hatfield, nor was there one in St Albans. As it turned out, that 1845 plan came to nothing, and the plan can now be found in the Hertfordshire archives. Hatfield got a railway on 7th August 1850, when the first section of the London to York line opened between London and Peterborough, with Hatfield as one of the stops: St Albans got its first railway when a branch was opened from Watford on 5th May 1858.
Plans continued to be hatched, at least in people’s minds, if not on paper. Lord Ebury had a grand plan for a number of short railways to join Hertford with Uxbridge, with possible extensions further east. That 1858 branch became part of the route. 1862 was a good year for Lord Ebury’s plans, for on June 30th the Act of Parliament authorising the Hatfield & St Albans Railway was passed, and on 1st October his Watford and Rickmansworth Railway was opened.
Land purchases soon get underway. Much of the land at the Hatfield end was owned by Lord Salisbury, and some at the St Albans end by Lord Verulam. Negotiations were conducted with owners and occupiers: some of these were straightforward, but a few dragged on during construction, and some of these involved the threat of legal action against the railway.
On 17th July 1863 the contract to build the line was let to Francis Rummens, at a cost of £68,400, with one third of that to be paid in shares. During August and September 1864 three workers were killed in the execution of their duties. The line was completed in 1865, the Board of Trade inspection passed the line, and it opened on 16th October, from Hatfield to the new St Albans station at London Road. The opening of the intermediate station, at Springfield (later renamed as Smallford), was delayed, firstly by the Company delaying its construction, to save money, and secondly, by the contractor, who wasn’t happy with how he was being paid. The station did open on 1st February 1866, and from 1st November 1866, the line from London Road to the London & North Western’s station was used: the whole line was now operational.
Click here to download the Plans & Sections 1862 (6 pages) PDF
(PDF – requires Adobe Reader or similar to open)
All pictures on this page were taken with permission from HALS (Hertfordshire Archives, Hertford)