As many visitors to our website may recall, what is now The Alban Way was once the Hatfield-St Albans Railway. The Line opened on 16th October 1865, 150 years ago, and, to celebrate this anniversary, we organised a range of free events – with publicity flyers distributed to over 4000 local homes!
Friday 16th October was the actual anniversary
- During the day 40 people joined us for a fascinating guided walk from Hatfield to St Albans – and we had a vintage bus ride for the return journey to Hatfield!
- In the evening over 70 people attended a Lecture at The University of Hertfordshire on the History of the Hatfield-St Albans Railway Line and the impact it had on local communities – washed down with some delicious light refreshments. There was also an exhibition of the ‘Bringing the History of Smallford Station to Life’ Project, models of Smallford Station and Hill End Halt and a range of railway memorabilia.
Sunday 18th October
A wide range of activities took place along Alban Way, attended, we believe, by around 1000 people – what a great turnout. There were guided walks and cycle rides and many visitors will have seen people dressed in Victorian and Edwardian Costumes riding their vintage bikes – what a spectacular impact they had! Pupils from Fleetville Junior School had also put up a display on their fence for passers-by to see.
There was a wide variety activities based at four locations –
- Nast Hyde Halt: On Ellenbrook Field there were craft stalls, a mini funfair, an exhibition and a range of musical entertainment.
- Smallford Station: Many youngsters enjoyed miniature railway rides provided by NLSME (North London Society of Model Engineers – who have their working models in Colney Heath), Colney Heath WI provided warm sustenance, St John Ambulance provided first aid and there were several exhibitions (The Smallford Station Project and two associated models – one of Smallford Station the other of Hill End Halt), CMS showing the plans for developing the St Albans stretch of Alban Way and providing information on walks in Hertfordshire. And, just down the line, members from City Church in Lyon Way kindly provided some light refreshments.
- Hill End/Highfield Garden of Rest: Highfield Park Trust had an excellent stall showing their research into the History of Highfield Park and the former Cell Barnes and Hill End Hospitals, together with a fascinating display from the Marconi Instruments Heritage Collection – Marconi being based nearby for many years – on the opposite side of the track.
- Old London Road Station: Sopwell Residents Association and the St Albans Signal Box Team had exhibitions and there was a variety of folk music – singing and dancing displays.
Guided Walk Booklet
As a further commemoration of the anniversary, members of our Smallford Station Project Team designed and produced a 16-page Guided Walk Booklet. This is available free from Colney Heath Parish Office, local libraries and St Albans Tourist Information Centre.
You can also download it from this website using the following link: smallford.org/walk-the-train-along-alban-way/
Members of St Albans Movie Makers were around all day videoing everything – so we will have a documentary DVD from them which will be published on our website. Watch this space!
We were really pleased with such a fantastic turnout and most grateful to the many people who helped make this event happen – over 40 of us planning and working together since last February – and the many people and organisations organising the activities on the day.
We’re also grateful to our financial sponsors – these include Colney Heath Parish Council, Hatfield Town Council, four County Councillors (Dreda Gordon, Sandy Walkington, Chris White and Rob Prowse), University of Hertfordshire Heritage Hub and three local businesses – Village Vets (Smallford), Pearce Recycling and Meteor Communications (based in The Camp Area). Many visitors also kindly made voluntary donations and it looks like over £2000 has been raised and will go towards the planned restoration of the Smallford Station.