Remembering the lost railway line between Hatfield and St Albans
- Credit: Archant
Did you know that Hatfield and St Albans used to be connected by a railway line? The tracks are long gone but footage of the branch still exists.
Opened on September 1, 1865, the line eight trains in each direction as part of their weekday services. The journey between the towns took 15 minutes, with the route taking in a number of stops, including Lemsford Road Halt and Smallford.
The opening of the Midland Main Line through St Albans in 1868 quickly led to financial problems and it was absorbed into the Great Northern Railway.
By the 1930s, further train lines and bus transport saw a decline in customer numbers, with passenger services coming to an end in September 1939 – although goods trains continued to support the needs of the de Havilland Aircraft Company.
Passenger trains returned post-war, only to be scrapped again in 1951, while goods trains, mainly carrying coal for the St Albans gasworks, continued until the line was permanently closed in 1968.
After tracklifting in 1969, the councils of Welwyn Hatfield and St Albans purchased the track bed for conversion into a footpath and cycle track, with the footpath now known as Alban Way opening on April 17, 1988.
Footage of the Hatfield and St Albans Railway, taken just before it closed in 1968 by Ron Kingdon, shows a large part of the line, including the Hatfield Station, the Ellenbrook Lane level crossing, Smallford station, Fiddlebridge Sidings and Lemsford Road bridge and halt.