Thursday, 19 June 2008


This viaduct is around about where the Magic roundabout is now, If you look through the arch you can see Apsley.

A train crosses the Marlowes viaduct The Nicky Line Railway, as it is known now opened in July 1877 and ran from the centre of Hemel Hempstead through Redbourn to Harpenden . The main railway line we all know today which runs through Boxmoor and on to Berkhamsted, Tring and the Midlands, or to Euston in the opposite direction, had opened in 1837, but the station (in the same place as it is today) was called Boxmoor and was a long way from the town of Hemel Hempstead when there were no cars or buses.So the local people wanted a better trains service and that's how the Nicky line came about.It was hoped to link it up to the other line at Boxmoor Station, but that was owned by another company and they would not agree.

The line from Hemel Hempstead began at Heath Park where there was a little station called Heath Park Halt.The line then crossed Marlowes on a viaduct (bridge) round the back of what is now the Marlowes Shopping Centre to Hemel Hempstead Midland Station.

A goods train at Hemel Midland station. Circa 1949

The Midland Station in Hemel Hempstead - you can see the Midland Hotel in the background That was opposite the Midland Hotel (pub) which still stands today in Midland Hill.The hotel was built to serve the railway in 1899.The line then ran across to what we know today as Highfield, but in those days was all farmland.In the Highfield area was a little station called Godwins Halt. This was named after a local man who owned land in the area.The line then ran through what we know as Cupid Green where there were brickworks and on to Redbourn.The railway continued to be used by both passengers and goods services right through until 1947.In 1947, the passenger service stopped, but goods traffic continued continued for many years. The station finally closed in 1963.

I do not know if this has anything to do with Midland station but if you stand facing the midland pub and look to the right across the side road you will see a small grassed area with a wall running along, well under that grassed area are a number of very large underground tunnels there is a main tunnel with small ones running off. The reason I know this is because as a kid some friends and me used to crawl through a small whole on the other side of the wall, which is all, overgrown now and use these tunnels as a sort of camp.

This picture shows The bridge across station road (close to Heath Park Halt.) The picture was taken shortly before the line closed.

The line in the town centre area disappeared as the new town was built in the 1950s and in 1959 the viaduct across Marlowes was knocked down.For a time in the 1960s the line between Cupid Green and Harpenden was used by the Hemellite company which made building materials at Cupid Green.Eventually the whole line closed, but it is not forgotten.It has now been turned into a special walk and many of the old bridges remain - the one across Queensway is probably the best known.Why is it called the Nicky Line?A number of reasons have been put forward, but no-one has ever really been able to say their answer is right.The trains that ran on the line were known around Hemel Hempstead as Puffing Annie!This was because they produced a lot of smoke as they climbed the hill from the town centre to Highfield and Cupid Green.


Chris London said...

I visited these tunnels you spoke of today.Sadly the entrance has been sealed up !!
It would appear they are part of the old rail bridge,the north parapet of the Midland Road bridge infact.This is also the only remaining part of the bridge.
Will share the pics when i can get inside !!!

Anonymous said...

Hi would you be able to let me know where the photo of Heath Park Halt is from?