Tuesday 30 April 2013

Not Bored at Watford [2]

From the fbb domestic coal measures, excavated during the clearing downsizing process; a birthday card sent by No. 1 son, probably for the chubby one's 56th birthday.
Three things to note: (a) No 1 son is a senior manager at Oxford University, (b) a variant spelling of Britain's most northerly mainland settlement, and (c) a somewhat "laisser-faire" approach to calligraphy.  Blog readers may draw their own conclusions about the quality of late 20th century education.

But he is a good boy!
Back to Watford ...

The town developed from an Anglo-Saxon settlement between a ford of the River Colne and the crossroads of two ancient tracks. St Albans Abbey claimed rights to the manor of Cashio, which included Watford. The parish church of St Mary the Virgin ...
tower added 15th century

... was built in 1230 on the same site as an earlier Saxon church, along with stalls for a weekly market. The town grew modestly; assisted by travellers passing through to Berkhamsted Castle and the royal palace at Kings Langley, with the main developments being the 17th century houses of Cassiobury and The Grove. The coming of the Grand Junction Canal and the London and Birmingham Railway in allowed the town to grow.

 But at Watford Junction Station ...

... something was needed!
By today's standards of passenger convenience and ambiance, the entrance to Watford Junction station was hardly attractive. Imagine a surge of arriving commuters piling out of the doorways and dicing with death as they avoided taxis and the dreaded cyclists; battling along a narrow pavement to catch their bus or peering with tired post-workplace eyes as they try to find their beloved, "en-voiture" ready to "kiss and ride".

So something had to be done.

But first let us look at the pre-improvement layout, travelling roughly south along Station Road.

First on our left we see the tunnel, bored under the tracks to give access to the station car park ...
... then the aforementioned clutter ...
... and, finally the bus station. It is tastefully hidden (?) behind a few judiciously placed trees on Woodford Road.
Not inspiring, cramped, but practical considering the shortage of space.

So what has happened?
A much improved pedestrian circulation area, clean and open, making an attractive and easy-to-use entrance to the busy booking hall. It looks splendid.
If the architect's sketches are to be believed there is now a pleasant piazza with paved markings, guiding the passenger to the pedestrian crossing; broad and uncluttered access to the adjoining bus station with taxis close by, waiting in a little nibble off the access road to the car park. Cycle parking and pick-up/set-down areas for cars have mysteriously disappeared completely.

But it looks pretty.

No 3 son sends a panoramic picture of the new-look area for comparison. The picture is long and thin and you will need to click on this compressed image to see all.
Not quite as "pretty" as the plans would suggest. But much better in practice, surely?

So why are some people unhappy?

  Next Rail Blog : Wednesday 1st May 


  1. Surely you mean Laissez-Faire ? Otherwise, Blog readers may draw their own conclusions about the quality of early/mid 20th century education !

  2. Indeed! 1955 to 1959 Northampton Grammar School French. Mind you, "laissez" is imperative, an order; whilst "laisser" is a verb, descriptive rather than proscriptive. Maybe not so much the quality of the education thenbut the frailty of the current memory banks!