Friday, 28 June 2013

River Colne. Watford Lower High Street

River Colne
The Colne flows south and west, with a canalised diverted section to the west.

Post to the south Watford
Post to the west Watford Stadium

Aldenham Road
1 The Railway Arms. This is a stock brick building with a stable behind dating from the mid-19th.  If ‘arms’ is not just the commonly used pub designation but refers to heraldic arms – then it might be named for those of the London Midland and Scottish Railway  The inn sign shows a ‘'Royal Scot' class locomotive in original parallel boiler form, surmounted by the LMS circular device as used on coaching stock’.
A.T Roberts, Mechanical Engineers. This firm was established in 1896 as a ‘smithy’ on a site which was previously a chalk pit.
Electricity sub station.

Blackwell Drive
This is the drive to Wiggenhall now a road of suburban housing mainly built in the 1950s

Bridge Place
Bus depot. This was operated by National from 1925 and used by London General Country Service from 1926 and subsequently operated by the London Passenger Transport Board. In 1935 Green Line Coaches ran from there and the first models of some London Transport Country Bus services. Space was rented on the gas works site opposite to accommodate buses under repair. It was closed in 1959 following construction of the garage at Garston, but closure was triggered by a bus workers strike in 1958.  The site is now a car park for local big shed shops.

Cannon Road
Presumably named after the nearby Cannon Brewery

Chalk Hill
10 Waste Transfer Station
14 former farm house. Timber-framed 17th building,
18 office building. This was once part of a row of four semi-detached properties and is set back behind gardens.  It is possible that the it is 18th
Flint and rubble wall. The wall is said to have been made up of rubble from demolished cottages and maybe waste from a stone mason
Bushey Lime Works. The chalk pit in which these works were situated has been worked from since, at least, the 18th. In the 19th it was frequently visited by geologists and botanists – at which time it was known as Bushey Kiln.   The pit – which was of considerable size – was infilled.

Dalton Way
Dalton Way encircles the Century Park trading estate built on the site of the bus depot and some other works and passed twice under the rail viaduct between Bushey and Watford high Street stations. The enclosed area covers the path of a diversion from the river Colne which crossed the gas and water works sites.
Railway viaduct. This impressive brick viaduct was built around 1913 by the London and North West Railway as part of their New Lines project. It diverged from the main line on the north side of Bushey Station and carried the railway on a sweeping curve towards Watford High Street Station to join the branch line to West Watford and Croxley Green branch. It was however run as part of the Bakerloo Line with special stock designed to handle both main line and underground service. From the 1960s this service was reduced and closed when the Jubilee Line opened. It has however since been reinstated.
Croxley Green Curve construction of the New Lines in included a triangular junction to Bushey. The western end of the curve retained the name Croxley Green Junction and included the junction between the Croxley Green and Rickmansworth branches.
Colne Junction The eastern end of the curve at the railway triangle junction became Colne Junction

Deacons Hill
Tommy Deacon’s Hill. This was a new road cut in the 1920s from part of the Wiggenhall Estate and to replace Blackwell Drive. The Deacon family has lived at Wiggenhall, and Thomas Deacon had died in 1780. He is said to have died as a result of a fall from a horse and to haunt the road in the interests of road safety.

East Bury Road
This was formerly called Hamper Mill Lane
Cliff Villa. This stood alongside the church, on raised ground.
Kingsfield House. This was owned by the King family and built about 1880. In 1928 it became Freelands School which in 1933 it was renamed Kingsfield School. It was a private boys’ ‘preparatory’ school and it closed in 1970.
Bushey Station. Opened in 1841 it now lies between Watford Junction and Watford High Street and Carpenders Park on the London Overground and the Main Line into Euston.  The first station here was opened in 1841 to serve the railway line built by the London and Birmingham Railway Company. This was replaced by the current station buildings when plans were drawn by the Chief Engineer’s Department of the London and North Western Railway Company in 1911 when the suburban line to Watford was electrified. From 1917 it was used by the Bakerloo Line.  Technically the site is in Oxhey and the station was originally called ‘Bushey and Oxhey’. In 1939-44 called ‘Ampersand Railway Station’ – and the name sign was painted out leaving the word ‘and’. In 1974 it was renamed ‘Bushey’ . The buildings are described as ‘An excellent example of an early twentieth century railway station’ which may have been designed by Reginald Wynn Owen.  Note the loco on the weather vane
Oxhey Park. In 1919 Watford Council’s Estates Committee met on Wiggenhall Bridge to view the Wiggenhall Estate and later purchased it and in 1924 land was allocated for the park.  This opens onto Eastbury Road along its south boundary and originally there was a wrought iron fence with gates alongside the Eastbury Road frontage and some remain although most were given to the war effort in the 1940s.  The riverside walk was set up a boat house provided, although later demolished. A new play area was opened in 2011 and the park is used for hurling marches, since Glen Rovers GAA Club and Watford Irish Club play there.
The Dell. Wooded area shown as a hollow before the park was built  - presumably an old pit.

Farthing Close
Farthing Close is a ‘exclusive’ gated estate near the site of Farthing Lane
Cottages - lath-and-plaster cottages which became slum property and were demolished.
Farthing Lane Methodist chapel opened in 1838 and closed in 1868;

Kingsfield Road
55 in the wall can be seen locally fired bricks

Lammas Road
St James’ Church. This was consecrated in 1913, when a new parish was created. It was originally designed by Arthur Durrant and the 1928 chancel was designed by Martin Travers and Thomas Grant. Regular services ended in 1971 and the building was declared redundant. It was later converted into a sports hall for Watford Fields School.
War Memorial. This commemorates the names of local men from the former St James Parish who died fighting during the Great War. It was unveiled in 1921 and is built of Portland stone with a large cross on a stepped plinth. Four panels list the names of those who died.
Railway Bridge
8a The Curate’s House. Previously the vicarage for St James’ parish church, closed in the 1970s, it was built in 1949

Local Board Road
1a 19th brick building with a pyramid topped ventilation tower and a loading hatch.  Its shape relates to a former water channel which ran behind it,
Terrace of three mid-19th houses – these are earlier than most such housing in Watford.
Waterworks pumping station. Small brick water pumping station built for the Watford Local Board of Health in 1854 and later the building is now used by the Pump House Theatre. It was designed by Charles Ayres.  In 1850 the Local Board of Health was set up to improve the local water supply. It was decided to pump water to the town from a holding reservoir and these works were built for that use. A new pumping engine was added in 1885. The buildings went out of use in 1972 and was taken over by the theatre 
Pump House Theatre, the building was converted to provide a theatre auditorium and rehearsal room. Other improvements have been carried out making a centre to support the local community and it mainly provides help and coordination for artists, groups and local societies

Lower High Street
194 Benskin's Watford Cannon Brewery Ltd. Benskin's began as a brewery owned by John Pope the late 17th which was passed to the Dyson family in 1741 and sold to Benskin in 1867. Over the next century Benzoin acquired all the other Watford Breweries and some others with pubs throughout southern England.  The site in the High Street was called Three Tunes Yard and Buskin’s had two large traditional maltings on the site and one built later. There was capacity to stable 40 horses. There was a railway extension built in the 1870s, with a siding running into the brewery. They were taken over by Ind Coope in 1957 and Benskin has remained as a brand name for Allied Brewers and now Carlsberg, Denmark. Brewing ended in Watford in 1972 when they had 636 tied houses. The brewery buildings were demolished in 1978, except for the offices.
196 Watford Museums.  This is housed in what was the head office of Benskin's Brewery from 1868. It is a large red brick house with the date of 1775 on a rainwater head with initials JAD– which may refer to one of the Dyson, brewers here. Entrance gates on the High Street.
200 Kings House and Queens House. Once part of the brewery complex and now in office use.
203 Three Tuns Pub. This was the Brewery Tap which was demolished in 1932
Sedgwick's Brewery. This probably began in a brew house owned by William Smith in the Watford High Street in 1655. In 1790 the Watford Brewery was sold to George Whittingstall. Whittingstall expanded the brewery and on his death it passed to Edmund Fearnley-Whittingstall and it was eventually leased in 1862 to William F. Sedgwick. The brewery continued to expand by in 1923 it was sold to Benskin's and subsequently demolished.
Wellspring Church Centre. Watford community church. The church was established in 1951 as the Emmanuel Pentecostal Church which was demolished for the Harlequin Centre, and they then went to a chapel building in Sotheron Road. Until 2010 they met in Watford Girls Grammar School but then opened this centre. During its construction a Wellspring Centre for Watford Community Church, a 15-metre deep well was found likely to have been the brewery's source of water. 
Watford Springs Swimming Pool.  This was built as part of the legal agreement on the Harlequin Centre on the demolished brewery site. Construction started in 1988 and completed in 1990. During the first weeks pieces of glass from the roof were found in the pool, and it was shut for six months while the roof structures were repaired. It reopened in 1991 with subsidies from the council to keep the plant equipment going and closed in 2000. It was demolished in 2004.  The company which built it had gone into liquidation.
239 A maltings of 1836 survived as a garage on this site, now part of the Tesco complex.
253  Brookland. House and brick outbuildings around a courtyard. Original buildings were designed by William Grace as a private residence house for a Mr Newberry in 1911. The site was bought by George Ausden in 1925 for his metal recycling business. That firm are still based there,
251 Angel Inn. This is now the site of the Co-op Funeral Service and chapel.
292 Frogmore House. An 18th house with 1716 on the rainwater head. Derelict but converted to flats.
Frogmore Cottages. This terrace of four brick cottages stands at right angles to the road. They were designed by Sydney Dawe and built in 1931 for the Watford and St Albans Gas Company to house their workers.
302-304 Terrace of brick houses which are shown on the 1842 Tithe Map, and they are probably early 19th. “BRIDGE COTTAGE” is painted on one of them.
Toll house – the site was at the bottom of Chalk Hill on the Watford side of Bushey Arches. A plaque has been mounted on a plinth which was part of an old flint stone wall and is a relic of the Sparrows Herne Turnpike Trust.
Bushey Arches. The road goes under a five arch brick and stone viaduct built by the London and Birmingham railway. The arch is angled to allow the toll road to pass underneath without a deviation It is extended westward by a 20th viaduct.
Pillbox.  This single storey rectangular structure of brick is below the central span of Bushey Arches. It was built during the early stages of World War II, as part of the Outer London Stop Line. There are four gun apertures in the front and two in the rear and there is a metal door at the back
Gazelda Industrial Estate, named for the Gazelda Works which made leather clothing and other items before the Second World War.  The works was north of the omnibus depot and behind other buildings
Watford Mill. The mill of Watford belonged to the abbey of St. Albans, and in the middle ages the one which people were obliged to use. There was a mill pond and a fishery.  It stood on the west side of the High Street at the point at which the mill stream or cut passed under it and opposite Local Board Road and slightly south of it. Behind it another cut ran between the Colne and the cut. A malt house stood alongside it
Watford Bridge. This was Townesend Bridge, or the Great Bridge of Watford and thought to have originally been built by St. Albans Abbey
Watford Fire Station. The fire station includes a purpose built fire station museum.
Watford Gas Works. Watford Gas and Coke Company was founded in 1834 with a works in the High Street near the Colne. In 1930 it amalgamated with the St Alban's Gas Company to form the Watford and St Alban's Gas Company. On nationalisation it became part of the Watford Division of the Eastern Gas Board. A  Gasholder remained and is a late example of column-guided gasholder, built in the 1930s.
Wheatsheaf Pub The Wheatsheaf Public House was built in 1931 to replace an earlier pub which had stood here for over 200 years, to allow the road to be widened. This 1930s pub was, in turn, demolished in 1995 to make way for a retail park. The first performances of Henry Irving were in room behind the pub.

Neal Street
Houses backed on to the brewery rail cutting
Watford Field Infant School. The Watford School Board was established in 1883. The first new schools built by the board were the Watford Fields Schools and the infants’ school moved to its present site in 1981.

Pinner Road
Liberty boundary 1882
Coal post. This stood at the junction with Capel Road. Since moved.
Pillbox. Single storey concrete hexagon part of a Second World War defence stop line,  It was built in the early stages of the Second World War. It is a ‘Type 27’ with various gun apertures, a covered entrance on one side and a gun pit on the roof.
Bushey and Pinner Railway Yard. The coal depot lay south of the station from 1882 with many sidings to the east
37 Shop with flats above and a stone statue of Queen Victoria on a stone plinth over the corner door. The words ‘Queens Terrace’ are on the hood.
56 Belvedere house. Two storey building of rendered brick
85-88 Table Hall. This old church hall is now a day nursery. It was designed by the Reginald St Aubyn Roumieu in an Arts and Crafts style. It was the church hall for St Matthew’s Church and was occupied by charitable organisations from 1963

Railway Line
Coal post. This was at the North West corner of Bushey arches. It has since been moved
Electricity sub-station – the lower brick courses survive in the vee of the lines, a new sub-station having been built inside the yard

River Colne
A canal/cut ran south through the area passing under Lower High Street at Watford Mill cutting off a section of the Colne.  Another cut ran from this north of the mill to the Colne. Neither of these are now extant. There were boat houses on both sections in the 1880s.
Iron foundry. This was sited on the Peninsula formed between the Colne and its cut
Bridge - a cycle and foot bridge was put to cross in over the river in Oxhey Park in 2010

St Matthews Close
Church of St Matthew . Built 1880 by W. H. Syme as a red brick Gothic church with a north-west tower and spire.

Waterfields Way
Colne Valley Retail Park

Watford Field Road
28-29 houses. Originally part of a terrace set back from the High Street and extant in 1842 and possibly earl 18th
34-36 Almshouses designed by Sedgwick, Son & Wall and built in 1884. They were funded by Mary Bailey Smith in memory of her parents and sister.
Watford Fields. Open space and recreation area with some sports use
Field Road Junior School. Single storey building of stock brick. The original building was by Ayres & Ardron. It was built for the Watford School Board and opened in 1891 as a mixed elementary school. It is now a mixed junior school, with an associated infant school in Neal Street.

Wiggenhall Road
Wiggenhall sports ground
Wiggenhall House. The house was roughly on the site of the current depot. This was purchased by Watford Council with the rest of the estate and was let out by them at first to individuals and then to community groups. It was later used as a clinic and demolished in 1955.
Depot – in the grounds are some of the original Wiggenhall  mansion outbuildings -old pig sties housing lorries; rings for tying up horses on the external wall of what were stables, and a weather vane on top of what are now offices. It is now a Council depot.
Watford Irish Centre. The Irish Association in Watford was formed in 1969 and in 1991 acquired this premises,
Fisher Industrial Estate
Wiggenhall Bridge
Hertfordshire Ice and Cold Storage. Dates from before 1908

Sources

Benskin’s Brewery. Wikipedia Web site
Brewery History Society. Web site
British Listed Buildings. Web site
Cinema Theatre Association Newsletter
Clive’s Lines. Web site
Disused Stations. Web site
Day. London Underground,
Geolocation. Web site
Glazier. London Transport Garages
Hertfordshire Churches
Kingsfield School. Web site
London Railway Record
National Archives. Web site
Pump House Museum. Web site
St. Mary’s Church, Watford. Web site
Watford Community Church. Web site
Watford Council. Web site
Watford Irish Club. Web site

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