Short accounts by Tring residents of
aspects of their lives and of past events,
collected and preserved by local historian Jill Fowler.
THE WAR AND TRING, by John Bowman
MEMORIES OF A 6 - 7 YEAR OLD EVACUEE,
by Marlene McAndrew, née Tallman
WILLIAM BETHELL —
BLACKSMITH of LONG MARSTON, NEAR TRING, November 2007
A SHORT HISTORY OF
DUNDALE, by Shelley Savage
MEDICINE, by Dave Hammond
ROMAN ROADS OF TRING, by John Savage
THE ROSE & CROWN INN,
TRING, by Wendy Austin
HISTORY OF THE MEMORIAL
GARDEN, by Time Amsden
TRING’S RAILWAY SERVICE IN 1895, by John Savage
POLISH CAMP AT MARSWORTH — 1948-1958, by Sandra Costello
ANOTHER 100th ANNIVERSARY (NOT WW1), by John Savage
THE TRING GAS LIGHT & COKE COMPANY,
by Ian Petticrew
TRING ATTRACT S WEALTHY RESIDENTS, by Wendy Austin
OTHER ALBERT HALL, by Wendy Austin
THE TRING AND AYLESBURY
TRAMWAY that might have been, by Ian Petticrew
The War and Tring
by John Bowman, March 2005
“Make very field give a
Bucks Herald, 5th April 1940.
Tring is a small market town nestling on the scarp face of the
Chiltern Hills facing North to the Vale of Aylesbury. During
WWII it was a self-contained community of some five thousand people.
There were many shops, which covered most of the needs of everyone.
The local industries mainly catered for agriculture. Much of
the land surrounding Tring and the Vale was owned by the Rothschild
banking family. Their estates were extremely well run, and
were modern in their outlook. There was little unemployment
and the Rothschild family assisted the local council to provide
decent housing. In the late nineteen-thirties, after the death
of Lord [Walter] Rothschild, the estate around Tring was sold off to
the tenant farmers and others. This made little difference to
the way of life in the area.
When the Second World War started in September 1939, nothing changed
much from normal life for a few months; it was a gradual process.
The local Territorial Army of the Second Battalion of the
Hertfordshire Regiment was mobilised. As time went on, men
volunteered or were called to join the Armed Services. This
caused some shortage of labour in local industries which were
changing to war orientated operations.
As most of the men were now serving elsewhere, women were working on
the buses as conductors at the London Transport Bus Garage in
Western Road. The Silk Mill in Brook Street became an
engineering works with its own foundry. Parts for aircraft
engines, airframes, tanks and many other items were manufactured and
finished for assembly elsewhere. The Post Office, which was a
Government Department, started to employ women as counter clerks and
sorters. The delivery of letters and parcels was still left to
men. In agriculture, all land which was unproductive was
requisitioned by the Government and used on a national basis for the
production of crops which were suited to the soil locally.
The Ministry of Agriculture formed its own army. This was
called “The Women’s Land Army”. Women were trained as tractor
drivers, operators of machinery used in farming, and in all aspects
of animal husbandry. Most were billeted in large houses such
as rectories though some were housed in army huts built for the
purpose. As you can appreciate, this was a very efficient use
of labour, as seasonal tasks, such as the harvest and haymaking
could be tackled on a collective basis.
Many other large organisations moved from London to the Tring area.
The Rothschild Bank moved into the Mansion. The Exchange
Telegraph Company occupied the Mill buildings at Hastoe Farm.
This was an important communications organisation, which served
commercial needs worldwide. At Newground, on the way to
Berkhamsted, you will see some large warehouse buildings beside the
Grand Union Canal in Beggars Lane. These were built to store
emergency stocks of food for distribution. These stores were
called “Buffer Depots” and were built for the Ministry of Food at
strategic places all over the country.
The way people shopped was very different from the way we do today.
It was common to shop once a week, and when Ration Books were
issued, one registered with a particular grocer. In those
days, sugar, tea, butter, lard, bacon, cooked meats and lots of
other products were not pre-packed as they are today but were cut,
weighed and packed to order. When one walked into a grocers
shop, the aroma of coffee mixed with that of dried fruits, butter,
cheese and spices, was absolutely delicious and pleasurable.
The grocer - in our case - visited our home at West Leith on
Tuesdays. He took our order and told mother of any special
offers he had to hand. He returned on Thursdays with our
order. On the following Tuesday, if mother was not satisfied
with, say, the bacon, too fat, or whatever, he was told in no
uncertain terms. Everything was put right on Thursday.
When the war started, there were nine butcher’s shops trading in
Tring with the butchers attending the local cattle market to
purchase their meat on the hoof. At least five butchers
processed their own meat. As mentioned, when war started a
Government Department was formed called “The Ministry of Food”.
The production, control, and distribution of meat were taken from
the butchers and they received their supplies from central depots.
The local slaughterhouse belonging to the Tring Co-operative Society
was chosen and licensed for the Tring area. The manager and
buyer was Mr Gilbert Rance who lived in King Street. The local
markets continued to operate but were also controlled by the
Ministry of Food. The same Ministry also promoted the
production of vegetables at home. Help and advice was given to
householders and societies to obtain good seed and to rotate crops
for maximum effect.
If your garden was big enough, you were encouraged to keep a pig or
chickens for eggs or meat. These animals were fed a mixture of
kitchen waste and meal, unlike today. An egg cost as much as a
two pound loaf of bread. However, my mother kept chickens so
we faired very well.
There were many bakers’ shops in Tring who baked daily. Many
bakers called on houses in the surrounding area daily. I can
remember four different bakers calling at our house, all on
different days. So you can see our lives were well organised.
As our armed forces grew in size, accommodation became a problem and
small units began to move into the surrounding area, one of the
first units to arrive was No. 1 Tractor Battery, Royal Artillery,
who occupied the Stables at Pendley Manor. Nissen huts were
built in the wooded area alongside Station Road. The stables -
where the Court Theatre is now - became the workshop area.
This unit was part of Anti-aircraft Command. They serviced and
repaired the anti-aircraft guns which surrounded London.
A Royal Navy Depot was established in buildings at the rear of 51
High Street, now Metcalfe’s. This land based ‘ship’ was named
H.M.S. Aeolus, Aeolus being the Roman mythological ‘God of the
Winds’. The purpose of this depot was the supply of kites and
balloons to the Royal Navy, for meteorological and shipboard
In the stable block at the Mansion a variety of army units were
housed. A field company of the Royal Engineers was one of the
first. I worked at a garage at the end of Western Road called
Wright & Wright (engineers and coach builders) so I saw most of the
soldiers’ vehicles. They came and asked me to inflate their
tyres with our airline. At the beginning of the war a variety
of vehicles such as motor coaches, London taxi cabs, were modified
into pick-up trucks. These vehicles were requisitioned from
civilian use due to the shortage of army vehicles.
Early in the war a large airfield was built on flat farmland the
perimeter bordering Long Marston, Cheddington and Marsworth.
Although the main camp buildings were at Lower End Marsworth the
airfield was named Cheddington. This was because the nearest
railway station was Cheddington. The Royal Air force operated
from the airfield. When the U.S. entered the war in 1941 the
U.S. Army Air Force also operated from there.
Aerial photograph of
RAF Cheddington looking north, 3rd March 1944.
The bomb dump is at the top, the control tower and technical site
are at the bottom.
When war started the Home Office organised Civil Defence so that the
population of Great Britain could help themselves in the expected
aerial bombardment. The Auxiliary Fire Service was formed to
supplement local Fire Brigades who in their own turn became the
National Fire Service. The Red Cross and Saint John’s
Ambulance Brigade staffed first aid posts and emergency hospitals.
In Tring we had a military hospital at Drayton Manor and a maternity
hospital at Home Farm in Park Road.
The town was split into sections. Each section had an air-raid
warden. He was responsible for making sure that no house
showed any light during the “Black-out”. If a bomb dropped in
his section he would evaluate the situation and call forward rescue
or fire support if needed. The rescue section was housed at
Honours Yard in Akeman Street, this being a builder’s yard.
The section comprised men working there. In 1940 volunteers
were required to form a civilian/military formation called the Home
Guard. The volunteers were lightly armed and knew their own
area so would have been invaluable if the Germans had invaded us.
Youth organisations, Boy Scouts, Girl Guides supported the civil
Army Cadets attended training with the army and Home Guard and sat
examinations for certificates which, when they joined the army,
entitled them to trained soldier’s pay. The same applied to
Air Cadets and Naval Cadets.
During the early part of the war, London and the larger cities were
subjected to very heavy bombing. Heavy damage to buildings and
communications occurred and volunteers were brought in from other
areas to assist. Our own Civil Defence organisations relieved
the exhausted firemen and rescue teams in London; some even went as
far as Portsmouth to help out. When the heavy raids on London
occurred we could see the red glow away to the East with the flashes
of anti-aircraft guns firing at the enemy aircraft.
Quite a lot of bombs fell in the Tring area. Fortunately not
much damage was done. There was some damage to a house on the
corner of Albert Street and Langdon Street. The third of a
stick of four exploded in front of our house in Duckmore Lane.
It dropped behind four haystacks but shrapnel made some holes in our
roof and some window glass was broken. In Long Marston, a bomb
destroyed the school and a public house. There were no
children in school at the time, but one person [Ed. - a teacher] was
Air-raid shelters were built along Tring Road and Station Road in
Long Marston because of the close proximity to the airfield.
The schools in Tring and surrounding villages accepted evacuated
children who were billeted with families around. This caused
overcrowding in the classrooms so some classes from the junior and
senior schools in the High Street moved over the road to the High
Street Free Church opposite. The Akeman Street Baptist Chapel
also housed classes. The infant school in King Street used the
Temperance Hall in Christchurch‘ Road. So you see, even the
children were involved in the War effort.
The Regal in Western Road,
10th December 1943
Sunday’s programme includes Ronald Regan
February 1942 was a time of sadness and dismay to many families in
Tring. It was announced that Singapore/Malaya and Hong Kong
had fallen to the Japanese Forces. Many of local soldiers were
serving in an East Anglian Division, which went into captivity at
Singapore. The Japanese Army moved the prisoners to Siam (now
Thailand) where they were put to work building a railway through the
jungles towards Burma. They laboured under dreadful
conditions, with little food and medical care available. They
were brutally treated by their guards and many died from sickness,
malnutrition and brutality. Although the majority of soldiers
involved were British, Australian, American and Dutch soldiers were
also imprisoned and suffered much the same. Six men from Tring
died between 1942 and 1945. Many more survived and returned
after the war, most never really recovered from the privations
received in the camps.
It is said that during March 1942 extra allocation of rations were
made available in Tring as a bolster to moral. During the war
years, thirty-four men gave their lives for our freedom. Their
names can be seen on the upper facets of our war memorial and also
in the ‘Book of Remembrance’ displayed in the Parish Church.
I cannot comment on the celebrations when the war came to an end.
I was serving in the Royal Engineers in Belgium; we were repairing
Belgian Railway engines in Mechelin, a city between Antwerp and
In conclusion we must not forget that it was not all work and
effort. Entertainment was well catered for. There were
two cinemas in Tring, “The Regal” in Western Road and the “Gaiety”
in Akeman Street. Programmes were changed twice weekly with a
special programme on Sunday. The children were not forgotten,
they had a special Saturday morning session. There was usually
a dance held in the Victoria Hall each Saturday, or one could travel
to Aylesbury or Berkhamsted to dance. The forces stationed
hereabouts could go to the Y.M.C.A. in Tabernacle Yard, Akeman
Street, where they could get refreshment and write home. They
could even get their socks darned by the volunteer ladies who tended
to mother them.
I hope this has gone some way in painting a picture of life in Tring
during World War II.
MEMORIES OF A 6 - 7 YEAR OLD EVACUEE
by Marlene McAndrew, née Tallman, Novem,ber 2006.
I remember finding myself in a largish room in a vicarage in
Northchurch where a lot of women and children were sitting on
settees, chairs and chaise-longue types of furniture amid a certain
amount of quiet confusion. Eventually my mother and I, and
several others, were sent to a large house in a hamlet called St.
Margaret’s. The house had been a youth hostel so the bedrooms
were dormitories and the kitchen was equipped for large-scale
catering. School was reached via a long lane, frequently
blocked by herds of cattle which our town-bred mothers found quite
intimidating. The school consisted of one room and all I can
remember doing was making patterns with zeros and crosses on squared
paper. Gradually all the women left St. Margaret’s finding the
isolation depressing and rather frightening, especially as the house
was the last in the row and there was an army base nearby. My
mother feared she would be left there alone with me so she too asked
to be transferred. The letter informing my father of the move
was delayed and he came down one cold and wet weekend, only to find
the house locked and empty. As he had nowhere to stay and no
means of getting back to London that night he had to break in.
As a temporary measure we were next billeted in Tring with a family
called Birch; their daughter Marion was about my age and prevented
me from picking dandelions, alerting me to the fact that they were
likely to make you wet the bed. We were subsequently
transferred to Miswell Cottage, Miswell Lane, whose occupants were
Mrs. Mary Kemp and her husband Bert, who was in the Home Guard, her
father “Gramps” and their son Roy, roughly my age. Mrs. Kemp
was a warm-hearted and cheerful woman who seemed to enjoy having
another young woman’s company. Her husband was in the Home
Guard; he was more reserved, possibly shy. He used to go out
early in the morning and bring back mushrooms for us to have with
the most delicious pink, curly bacon. It was the first time
our family had ever eaten either bacon or mushrooms. Roy had
red-gold hair and freckles and a large, wonderful farmyard set with
which we often used to play. One day ‘gramps’ died, and my
mother was asked if she would like to see him laid out; she didn’t
really but couldn’t refuse.
Most of the London children seemed to be allocated to a school in a
kind of sports pavilion, but I was allocated to Gravelly School in
King Street, which was a very happy time for me. The head
teacher, Miss Hollywood, was a pretty Irish woman, who seemed to
love children and to fill the school with her warmth. She was
accompanied everywhere by a younger curate who obviously adored her.
The school comprised three rooms and I was in Miss Dyker’s class;
the other teacher was called Miss Dell and I think she came from
We lived in a flat in London and I had never had a garden. I
remember going out early in the morning and standing on the slightly
raised area nearer the house in a state which I can only describe as
ecstatic. The grass, the trees, the birds, thrilled me in a
way I can recall to this day, and I used to sing “The sun is
shining clear and bright, come out into the morning light....”.
I don’t know where I learnt that song but it seemed appropriate.
There was a pear tree in the garden with one huge William pear.
Miss Lizzie promised it to me if I was a good girl. I watched
it grow with eagerness longing for the day when it would be mine.
Alas! Before it had been picked some wasps had eaten a large
piece out of it. As a compensation, maybe, we often came back
to the house to find a saucer of sugared raspberries waiting for us
on the kitchen table.
My father was living alone among all the bombs and destruction,
working on the prototype Mosquito plane. Cabinet makers were a
“reserved occupation” and were allotted this special duty because of
their skill in very fine woodwork. The weekends which my
father spent with us must have been a welcome break from the blitz
and the make-do meals. However, although the Finchers liked my
father, they eventually informed us that they were unaccustomed to
having a man in the house and they would prefer him not to come down
anymore. So we went back to the blitz.
The de Havilland
DH-98 Mosquito, the “wooden wonder”.
Wood workers (right) planing the top boom on a Mosquito before
On Friday nights when my father came to Tring we used to wait for
him opposite the Rose and Crown, where there was a bench. One
day the coach arrived and we saw him in a window seat, fast asleep.
We waved and yelled, but couldn’t rouse him, so the bus took him on
to Aylesbury. On a Sunday morning he would often take me for a
walk towards Berkhamsted, and we would pick up conkers and look at
the watercress beds, all novelties for a London child, or we would
visit the museum. Occasionally we would go to a pub with a
garden where my parents would have a shandy and me a lemonade.
This was another thing we never did in London. Life for our
mothers must have been very boring. Away from their own homes,
with nothing to occupy them, no husbands, no friends or families to
visit, only one cinema, what could they do with their time in a
The one place we could all go to was the Victoria Hall, where two
rooms were allocated as a kind of social centre for the Londoners.
One room was used as a canteen and the other as a lounge, where we
gossiped, held concerts, played cards and occasionally had someone
to give us a talk. I especially remember a member of the
Rothschild family, a lady whose French accent was so impenetrable
that nobody could understand what she was saying. In the
evenings our two rooms were the only areas in the building
illuminated and l found the dark passages and the stairs leading up
to other black regions, very creepy.
Sometimes in good weather we went to a recreation ground in Miswell
Lane, where there were swings and two horses, which the bolder
children rode. There was also the weekly cattle market which
provided some entertainment, especially one day when a bull got out
and everyone scattered. There was children’s Saturday morning
cinema at the Regal. I went once but hated it; it was like
Bedlam. For our weekly bath we went into Berkhamsted or
Aylesbury on the bus. Berkhamsted seemed to us a dreary place,
very poor-looking and drab. We preferred Aylesbury, which felt
like a real town, with a bit of bustle. There was a time when
we went to Aylesbury every week, to visit my father in hospital.
He came down one weekend with his hand tied up. He had injured
it at work and some splinters had got in and it had become
“poisoned”. The pain was so bad that he ended up in the Royal
Bucks Hospital where he spent several weeks. He was told that
if he had left it any longer he would probably have lost his arm from
septicaemia. He was probably run down and needed the rest
anyway. Children were not allowed into adult wards in those
days so while my mother visited dad I used to sit on the grass
outside where I made friends with another little girl who taught me
how to make daisy chains. My father was an easy-going,
friendly man, who always got on with people. However, in the
hospital his fellow patients on both sides were Buck’s countrymen
and they found each others’ accents mutually incomprehensible.
At one stage my parents considered storing our furniture to save on
rent and avoid possible destruction by bombs, so my mother answered
an advertisement for a store-room in Tring. We went to a grand
house, through kitchens full of uniformed maids and briefly saw an
old woman, apparently the house-owner. The store-room turned
out to be a damp, dirty outhouse. My mother was furious and
deeply hurt that anyone should suggest our beautiful furniture could
be stored in such conditions and at such a price! It seemed apparent
to her that this woman did not expect working-class people to have
decent homes and possessions. The whole idea was dropped.
My memories of Tring are happy ones. For the adults, far from
home, worried about the future, lonely, it must have been a less
pleasant time. Some of the younger women used to go to dances
at Halton Camp and a certain amount of flirtation and affairs went
on. They were condemned then, but war turns all normality on
its head. Some married couples were separated for years;
people need company, laughter, affection. With retrospect and
as an adult, I feel sympathy for them all, including the Tring
householders who shared their homes with strangers.
I would like to add that most accounts of evacuees give the
impression that we were impoverished, ignorant little waifs who
encountered comfort and culture for the first time when we were
evacuated. In my experience this was not the case. We had the
benefit of LCC schools, which offered us a much better, progressive
education than we found in the village schools. The families
who were evacuated with us to Tring were from the skilled
working-class who had modest but nice homes and who were often
shocked at the conditions in which some country people lived.
We were sometimes offered digs, which were more primitive than
anything we had ever seen in London. I imagine some of them
were farm labourers in tied cottages and with very low wages.
Some of the husbands were worried that our mothers would give their
wives “ideas” about a better life-style!
WILLIAM BETHELL — BLACKSMITH of LONG MARSTON, NEAR
Bucks herald, April 1909
At the end of the nineteenth century, William Bethell moved from
Aston Clinton to Long Marston and set up a blacksmith’s shop
opposite the present Village Hall. This is still called Ford
Cottage [should be Old Forge Cottage]. His wife made sweets to
supplement their income.
The business thrived as, of course, the blacksmith in a rural
community was then of prime importance, so they moved to larger
premises on the village crossroads. There they had stables, a
hay loft, a blacksmith’s shop with two hearths and a cycle shop.
When the motor car came on the scene, William adapted to the times,
and petrol was delivered from Aylesbury once a week. This was
sold in two-gallon cans, and was delivered by horse and cart from
the Shell depot at Norfolk Terrace.
In those days bicycles could only be purchased in flat packs - what’s
new! Stove enamelling facilities were also set up in the cycle
shop, and the equivalent of a taxi service was begun, using a
horse-drawn governess cart.
Joe and Bill, his two sons, later worked in the business. A
regular customer was the Veterinary Surgeon to the London, Midland &
Scottish Railway. In those days most railway stations
delivered goods to their final destination by horse and cart.
Horses were also used to shunt railway trucks. When the
animals were injured, they were taken to Cheddington Station, and
the Vet would bring them back to health on his land at nearby
A railway company
Most of these horses were large Shires. On their way from
Cheddington to Puttenham, their first stop was at the blacksmith’s
shop to have their heavy shoes removed. (I have one of these, which
measures 7% inches in diameter, on our garden gate.) A bar was
welded across the front of the shoe to grip the sleepers, and rubber
pads were fixed to the back to stop the horses slipping on the
cobbles. On one occasion, the horses were taken to a nearby field,
and Joe was sent by pony and cart with his tools to remove the
shoes. When he jumped down to undo the gate, the Shire horses plus
pony and cart immediately galloped out down Potash Lane. Joe was
concerned how he was going to explain this to his farther, but a few
minutes later the horses returned to the field of their own accord,
and stood quietly until Joe could remove their shoes. Jack Winfield,
who lived in Cheddington Lane, told me, getting up at 6am one
morning he heard an enormous clattering of hooves coming up the
Lane. He looked out of the window and saw just one man leading
eleven gentle giant Shire horses back to Cheddington Station.
ln the mid-1920’s, William Bethell realised that the motor car was
in its infancy, and would be ‘the thing’ in years to come, so petrol
pumps were installed (BP and Shell), and a car was bought for taxi
work. This was a Hotchkiss (made in France), and in due course, it
was replaced by a Morris Isis, said to have belonged to the
Rothschild family at Tring.
At the beginning of World War II in 1940 Cheddington Airfield was
built, the firm of Wimpey being the main contractor. They came to
Bethell’s garage for most of their petrol, and often used up nearly
all the garages supply in one day, and this at a time when petrol
was rationed and supplied through coupons. Joe’s wife, Maud, used to
cycle from the garage to Marston Gate Railway station, put her bike
in the guards van, and catch the single-track train to Aylesbury.
There, she gave the coupons in at the petrol depot, and only then
would they come out to re-fill the tanks.
As farmers acquired tractors, traditional blacksmith [farrier’s]
work declined, but this was largely oflset by the increase in
pony-riding. Bill continued in the blacksmith shop, whilst brother
Joe drove the taxi, sold petrol, charged batteries, and repaired
bicycles and punctures. Bill retired around 1970, because then there
was less business, as customers wanted a travelling blacksmith to go
The business ticked over, with Joe living on the premises. When he
finally retired he lived with his daughter, and the premises were
sold to Market Garage, Tring. The various buildings were demolished
and a modem Ford franchise garage built (totally out of keeping with
the village scene). Unfortunately, this coincided with a renewal of
petrol rationing in the mid-1970s. The garage was then divided
between a re-finishing/spray/vehicle body repair area, and a
showroom selling up-market motorcycles, all trading under the name
Morphy Motors. They held the agency for Triumph, Gilera and another,
but this was not a success, and the buildings were demolished and
replaced by houses.
I have an interesting recollection of the Great Train Robbery of
1963 because police arrived to search all premises within a 15-rnile
radius of Bridego Bridge. When they examined the hay loft (beneath
which two cars were stored), they called the Army Bomb Disposal
Squad to remove incendiary devices left by the Home Guard during
World War II. These were so crude that boxes of matches were found
beside them. The thinking behind this was that the Home Guard would
somehow stop enemy tanks advancing down Cheddington Lane. (Yes,
Dad’s Army was exactly as you’ve seen it on television.)
I’m asked from time to time where the Go-Kart track was in Long
Marston. It was on the Cheddington side of the Cricket Club (about
one field back) and remained until July 1960. This was made by
linking the concrete areas where bombs had been stored for use by
aircraft flying from the World War II Cheddington Airfield. (This is
now an Industrial Estate on the opposite side of the road.) How do I
know all this? Because Joe Bethell had two daughters - Mary and
Jose, and I’ve been lucky enough to have been married to Jose for 45
A SHORT HISTORY OF DUNDALE
by Shelley Savage, November 2009
The part of Tring known as Dundale is on the northern edge of the
town, bounded by Dundale Road and the B488, the Icknield Way.
John Oliver, a map-maker, drew one of the earliest maps of
Hertfordshire and that c.1695 shows the hamlet of Tring, very
simply, with a church and three roads. North of the village is
the word “DUNSDELL”. A map of 1725 by John Warburton shows
In their book “The Landscape of Place Names”, Margaret Gelling and
Ann Cole write: “DUN is a hill or upland expanse, or, an
uninhabited hill adjacent to a settlement. DAEL means ‘pit’ or
‘hollow’ and its related word DELL is found referring to very small
‘valleys’, and for natural or artificial hollows.”
Miswell Farm, about 2 kilometres to the east, was once a moated
property with a spring that fed the ‘moat’, now a substantial lake.
This and ‘Dundell’ are on the spring line. Both were exploited
in 19th Century by a man who was important in our local history,
William Kay, who, in 1824, built a silk mill in Brook Street.
Although the town was already supplied with water this enterprise
needed a great deal more. To augment his supplies he drew water from
the lake at Miswell and had a tunnel dug from below its surface
leading to the hollow at Dundale. The work was carried out
manually by men with pickaxes. One may assume that he made a
substantial bund to dam the water at Dundale. Then another
deep tunnel was dug from the Dundale lake through to the silk mill.
The two lakes, at Miswell and Dundale, were called ‘balancing
ponds’, so that the water in both should be maintained at the same
level, and this is what happens today. Since the developments
at Dundale in 2001, British Waterways has the responsibility for
maintaining the water supply because it feeds the summit of the
Grand Union Canal along its connection with the Wendover Arm.
Dundale Lake today
The Rothschilds and Dundale Wood
William Kay’s Estate in Tring was extensive, covering about 3000
acres. Among its properties was Tring Park, which was let to
the Rothschild family in the 1830s and sold to Nathan Rothschild in
1872. The latter became closely involved with the life of the
town and when the Silk Mill closed in 1898, he purchased it from
Kay,the lake at Dundale being part of the property.
The site was soon developed as a ‘pleasure garden’. Dundale
Lodge, completed in 1891 (now demolished), was on the northern
edge of the land. It was designed by Tring architect William
Huckvale in the traditional local Rothschild style. This house
was designed to allow entertainment for boating and fishing parties
on the lake, and a little later a boathouse was built on its edge.
The site was planted with trees along the border of the property and
around the lake, many of which remain in place. An orchard of
mixed fruit trees was established, as well as lawns and shrubbery.
The lake was stocked with brown trout, and there were game birds.
Subsequently an avenue was built to connect the pleasure garden with
the Tring Park Mansion.
Some details of the pleasure garden are furnished in the
auctioneer’s prospectus when it was put up for sale in 1938.
The “picturesque property known as Dundale” comprised a
Chalet Style House of brick, half-timbered and rough cast with tiled
roof, the accommodation being: a large Garden Room with a cloakroom,
a WC and a separate entrance, plus a Sitting Room, a Living Room , a
Scullery, fuel barns, washhouse and WC and a Veranda along the whole
length of the Garden Front. The Grounds included “Lawns,
Shrubberies Ornamental Water, Valuable Orchard and extensive kitchen
Gardens and the area of the whole is about 11.259 acres.”
The schedule for Dundale Cottage and Land was £1,500.00. The
slightly curious, separated ‘large Garden Room’ may be explained by
the local rumours of important figures (perhaps from the London
aristocracy and royalty who frequented Tring Park at that time)
using it for clandestine meetings, where they were provisioned from
Tring Park house.
It has been noted that Nathaniel Rothschild (Natty) assembled a fine
worldwide collection of conifers at Tring, some planted at Dundale.
The Second World War
The Home Guard was active in Tring in the early years of the war.
Noting that the Icknield Way was a major route, a number of young
men constructed large, circular concrete road blocks with iron pipes
through the centre. These were positioned within the wood,
adjacent to their defence post, behind the chestnut paling boundary.
The plan was that if the enemy approached in light tanks, the Home
Guard would roll the blocks along the ground into the middle of the
road, and attack the enemy.
In about 1950 the land was bought by Joseph Eggleton, a local man
who loved nature and the song of birds. He called it his
wildlife garden. He left the area as it was for his own
private enjoyment, and that is how an area that had been carefully
managed with tree plantings, ornamental shrubs and a garden, left
unmanaged for decades, became a secondary wood.
The 21st Century
The site was identified and adopted as a Wildlife Site in Dacorum’s
Local Plan, a local designation which triggers protection policies,
and a Tree Preservation Order covers the whole site.
In 2001, it was bought by a development company which carried out an
ecological survey, and plans were put forward for development of a
relatively small section of the land, with the remainder being given
to the local authority as a wildlife site. This was accepted,
with restoration of the lake and some basic management of the wood,
plus an endowment for its continued care. The eastern section
is fenced off from the public.
Current woodland management means that trees which are culled, or
die, are lefl in situ to decay and provide a rich habitat.
Among the wildlife were signs of muntjac deer, and an abundance of
grey squirrels. It may be possible that the Edible Dormouse
(the common name for the Glis Glis) was responsible for
damage to the swamp cypresses. A number of badger setts were
noted, and bats were known to use the site for foraging. The
ivy clinging abundantly to the trees provides an especially good
micro-climate for bats. Twenty-seven species of birds were
recorded during the breeding bird surveys, with over 50 species
recorded at the site over a period. A good number of common
frog, common toad and smooth newt were found.
Considerable work has been carried out on the site during and since
the development. There is a path around the lake and public
access to the area is from Nathaniel Walk and the Icknield Way.
The lake still has large fish in it, sometimes visible. The
trees especially worth noting are the fine Swamp Cypresses alongside
the lake, and the tall Black Pines which can be seen from Tring Park
VICTORIAN HERBAL MEDICINE
a talk by Dave Hammond reported by Ann Reid, May 2011.
Mr Hammond is a qualified medicinal
herbalist. He had a business for some years but when that
finished he didn’t want to retire. To become a herbalist he
had to study at university for four years and then do 500 hours of
clinical practice. He holds clinics in local towns and teaches
herbal medicine. The first picture we saw was taken in the
garden of the Jeffrey Museum in London. It has four herb
gardens covering four centuries-16th to 19th.
The Victorian age was one of great change. At the start of
Queen Victoria’s reign 80% of the people lived in villages and men
worked on the land. At the end of the 19th centaury 80% of the
people lived in cities. Life expectancy in the cities was 22
years mainly because two thirds of children died before the age of
five. Alcohol and opium, both of which were easily available,
contributed to ill health. Sherlock Holmes was described as
using opium and Charles Dickens said opium gave him “Six
delicious hours of oblivion”.
Operations were very basic and the mortality rate was high.
The surgeons had no knowledge of germs, they only washed their hands
after performing an operation. The breakthrough came when
Louis Pasteur discovered bacteria in milk and Joseph Lister
experimented with anti-sceptics. Neither were accepted for
many years so people were still dying unnecessarily. Later
Marie Curie discovered radium which led to radiotherapy and William
Rontgen’s work on the cathode ray tube led to X-rays now widely used
Hammond went on to tell us more about herbal medicine used in the
19th and early 20th centuries. We saw photographs of some of
the common herbs. One, instantly recognisable was the
Foxglove, producing digitalis for heart problems. This is not
now widely used, Lily of the Valley being used instead as its easier
to define the correct dose. Other herbs included coltsfoot and
liquorice, described as anti-inflammatories and used for calming
coughs. Mint and chamomile also featured in herbal medicine,
as did dandelion, plantains and nettles; both stinging and white.
We saw a slide of a Victorian Home Herbal Medicine Book. Most
families had one and recipes included how to make soothing drops
from Valerian and the use of Hawthorn flowers and berries in the
treatment of minor heart ailments. The recipes were still used
well into the 20th century but things changed with the dawn of the
NHS when medicines were free and easily available. At this
time herbalists were treated with some scepticism but now they are
more accepted and there are about 1,000 registered in the country.
They all have to have the same rigorous training as Mr Hammond had
and are now recognised as medical professionals. They work in
conjunction with doctors.
Our speaker then explained how ointments and creams were made using
natural ingredients. He described a potion using marigold
petals mixed with olive oil and beeswax to treat eczema and insect
stings. Using a cafetiere the mixture could be compressed with
the plunger and left for a month or so until ready to use.
Rosemary can also be used in this way and is good for rheumatism.
He then demonstrated the technique with an electric hotplate on
which he heated olive-oil and beeswax into a paste. While it
was still hot he poured some cold water onto the mixture. It
crackled and bubbled and then, to our surprise and slight amusement,
the fire alarm went off in the hall. Luckily the talk was
almost at an end for no-one knew how to turn off the very
sophisticated alarm. We thanked Mr Hammond for a very
interesting and well informed talk but we left the hall with a very
noisy alarm still ringing in our ears. It was later turned off
by the caretaker!
THE ROMAN ROADS OF TRING
by John Savage, July 2011
(Read this article with an O.S. Map by your side)
Everybody with an interest in the history of Tring will be aware of
its location on the ancient routes of Akeman Street and Icknield
Way, the former generally known as Roman and the latter of earlier
origins. A recent discovery of a splendid book, “Roman Roads
in the South East Midlands” which details research undertaken in the
late 1950s by a group of academics calling themselves The
Viatores throws much more light on the subject. The
following is taken from that publication, which is available in the
Buckinghamshire County Record Office.
Akeman Street originated as a Belgic route and was adopted as an
early road in the Roman system, linking Verulamium with Alchester
and Cirencester. Akeman Street is a generic name for a Roman
road meaning “the road to Bath” and comes from the Saxon
Akeman Street actually diverges from the Watling Street near
Edgware, with a link from Verulamium joining it at Nash Mills, from
whence the route of the Roman road follows the course of the Gade
and Bulbourne valleys to Bourne End, but not on the course of the
present road until just west of Bourne End church. From here
the routes coincide, through Berkhamsted and Northchurch as far as
the junction with Hamberlins Lane at Dudswell. Here the modern
road meanders through Cow Roast, but the Roman road took a direct
line, including part of Bottom House Lane, rejoining the modern road
just to the northwest of New Ground, at a triangle of waste ground.
Examination of the current Ordnance Survey Explorer Map easily
identifies the route, and The Viatores found aggers
(embankments) and flint metalling on this section which should still
be traceable. From here, the modern and Roman roads again
coincide, with a marked turn of direction at the Pendley lodge,
where the Ridgeway Path crosses. At London Road Lodge in Tring
the Roman road continues straight across Tring Park to pick up the
line of Park Street and Park Road. A grassy agger, 45 ft wide
and 1 ft high can be seen on the section through the park and a
trial hole dug here in 1960 revealed that the metalling consisted of
flint and gravel, bound with lime mortar. This section ceased
to be a public road in 1711 when through traffic was diverted via
London Road and the High Street. Ironically, Tring’s present
Akeman Street is not on the line of the Roman road, being at right
angles to it. The middle section of the modern Park Road
meanders slightly to the north, but the Roman road followed a
straight line; The Viatores found evidence of the Roman road
on the original course here and it would be interesting to see
whether that evidence is still discernable. Re-joining the
modem main road at the Park Road/Western Road junction, the route
then makes a 23.5 degrees turn to the northwest at Tring Cemetery
setting a straight course all the way to Fleet Marston, to the west
Map showing the course of the
Akeman Street through Tring (source “Roman Roads in the South East
The junction with the Romanised Icknield Way is
at the Western Road/Park Road junction
Lesser known is the Romanised Icknield Way which, in the Tring area
at least, does not coincide at all with the modern route. From
the west it coincided with Akeman Street from Aston Clinton to Tring
and branched from that route at the Western Road/Park Road junction,
coinciding with Western Road as far as its junction with Miswell
Lane. From here it is thought that the Roman road took a
straight line to the north of the present Western Road/High Street,
picking up the line of Mortimer Hill, which at the time of The
Viatores’ survey was a 9 ft wide holloway. A footpath
marked the line across to Grove Road, now all lost to modern
development, although interestingly a short length of the public
footpath remains linking Sulgrave Crescent with Grove Road, a Roman
survivor! East of Grove Road the line is marked by a hedgerow
to the north of Marshcroft Lane, gradually diverging from it.
Here was found occasional signs of the agger and some indications of
Icknield Way crossing Grove Road (source “Roman Roads in the South
The road shown in yellow is Marshcroft
Passing near Folly Farm (where a Roman cemetery was found when the
railway was built) the line is then lost through the old cement
quarry until it picks up the line of the public footpath running
along the eastern edge of the quarry to join the present route of
the Ridgeway Path until it meets the Aldbury-Ivinghoe Road.
Here the modern Ridgeway does a dog-leg before heading on to Incombe
Hole, but the Roman road continued straight ahead, as indeed did the
footpath until diverted further north. The modern and original
routes converge onto a fine terraceway around Incombe Hole. At
the top of the hill the Roman Road does a ninety degree right turn
and heads off through the former RAF station at Edlesborough and
thence along the line of a lost footpath via Willow Farm and
Vallence End Farm to pick up a track along the foot of Dunstable
Space does not permit the inclusion of all the details of the
evidence used to support these findings. Although some will
have been lost to subsequent development, much should remain to be
seen for those who wish to investigate, using the original
publication (which includes beautifully prepared strip maps of the
routes) as a guide.
Footnote: although the research of The Viatores was evidence
based, with conjectured lines filling the gaps between hard evidence
on or under the ground, some of their findings have subsequently
been challenged. In the case of the two routes relating to
Tring the line of Akeman Street seems pretty certain, particularly
on the Nash Mills to Fleet Marston section, with just the route
through the centre of Aylesbury perhaps less so. The Romanised
Icknield Way could be more open to challenge and it would be
interesting if anybody would like to expound further on this.
Ed - see also Roads and those in Tring
The Rose & Crown Inn, Tring
by Wendy Austin, January 2012
Although the Rose & Crown was sniffily described in 1953 by Nikolaus
Pevsner, the famous architectural historian, as “architecturally
deplorable” it is now considered a much-loved landmark of the
town of Tring, and we await with apprehension to hear of the plans
for its possible redevelopment. What we see now is an
Edwardian creation designed by Lord Rothschild’s architect, William
Huckvale, but this has not always been so.
The first mention of the Rose & Crown, which was owned by the Manor
of Tring, is said to be in 1620 when it was in the hands of Thomas
Robinson, but it is probably older than that. The original
building was largely Tudor in origin and the overall design followed
the general pattern of a complex of buildings ranging round a
sizable yard. Later on, in the early 18th century, a new
frontage was erected and old photographs show three stories, a tiled
roof, five dormer windows and an archway entrance to the yard at the
rear, the whole standing flush to the pavement with its adjacent
The Rose & Crown Inn
(immediate right) in the late Victorian era.
A large area of ground behind the hotel accommodated a bowling green
as well as providing a venue for fairs and circuses. An inn of
this type was considered a prestigious building and the central
focus of the town. During the next two centuries both members
of the Vestry and Excise Office made consistent use of the
facilities on offer, and an entry in the Vestry Minutes of 17
January 1711 records “William Gore Esq. [owner of Tring Park]
proposes that this Vestry be adjourned to the Rose & Crown to
consider and order all other parish affairs that shall be thought
needed”. In the 17th century the establishment was owned
by a well-known Tring family named Axtell who started to issue their
own trade tokens. [These tokens came into use because ‘the man
in the street’ had a problem - there was no official small change
for use in the market place, and innkeepers in particular were at a
disadvantage and many began to issue their own coins.] Those
from the Rose & Crown were stamped with “William Axtell. His Half
Penny” and the obverse side “1668 of Tring” and the sign
of the crowned Rose. Beer and porter were brewed on the
premises from the 17th century to about 1865, when the beer coolers
were removed to 15 Akeman Street. On William Axtell’s death an
inventory of his possessions disclose that he was a comparatively
wealthy man, the inn fully furnished on three floors; fully stocked
cellars and brewhouses; a woodhouse; a chaise barn and harness room;
and outbuildings for horses and cattle.
The 18th century saw the Golden Age of coaching and, Tring being on
a busy route to London, meant the fortunes of the Rose & Crown
increased accordingly. The Despatch, Sovereign,
and King William from Aylesbury, Leamington, and
Kidderminster called daily, and the inn’s own coach The Good
Intent ran to London three times a week. Such was the
increase in traffic that two other inns close by, the Plough and the
Bell, provided extra stabling. The advent of the railways must have
affected trade but, ever enterprising, the landlord in 1852 opened
‘the booking office of the London & North Western Railway’, and a
horse-drawn omnibus [see pictured below] carried passengers the
one-and-a-half miles to and from Tring Station.
The new Rose & Crown Inn
by Tring architect William Huckvale.
The horse bus in the foreground ran a service to and from Tring
Station, 1½ miles distant.
In the Victorian age more prosperity came to Tring, and in 1904 the
townsfolk made an approach to Lord Rothschild, the Lord of the
Manor, with the suggestion that he should enhance the town with a
first-class hotel which they considered would benefit all. He
readily agreed, his action being reminiscent of the medieval habit
by which a landed lord erected additional accommodation to house the
influx of travellers whom by custom were his guests; the new hotel
had the added benefit of providing bedrooms for his personal
overflow of guests from Tring Park. When building work was
complete the finished hotel, with an imposing mock-Tudor facade well
set back from the road, was promptly handed over to the
Hertfordshire Public House Trust, an organisation promoted by the
Home Secretary, Lord Grey, to provide hotels with added sporting
facilities. And so the hotel has remained until the present
day when the need for such hotels in the centre of country towns has
almost disappeared, motorists preferring out-of-town travel lodges
with parking facilities and standard accommodation. At the
moment, we can only ‘Watch This Space’.
THE LATEST PLANS . . . . are indeed to abandon the hotel and convert
the building into apartments with, perhaps, retail outlets and
restaurants on the ground floor (Gazette 23 Nov 2011)
HISTORY OF THE MEMORIAL GARDEN
by Time Amsden, January 2012.
The history of Tring is closely bound up
with that of the manorial estate of Tring Park, the origins of which
pre-date the Norman invasion of 1066. Much of the land around
the centre of the town belonged to it and some indeed still does.
For the last three centuries it has centred on the Mansion.
Well into the 19th century the hamlet of Lower Dunsley could be
found at the eastern end of the town, on the edge of Tring Park and
close to the Mansion. Its only street was effectively a
southerly continuation of Brook Street. In 1872 the Tring Park
Estate was bought by the Rothschild family. Nathaniel, first
Lord Rothschild, did not wish to have a village in such proximity
and in 1885 he had most of it demolished and its residents rehoused.
Liddington’s Manor Brewery and adjacent houses at the foot of the
High Street remained until 1896 when they too were demolished and a
wall was built to enclose the land. Further up the slope stood
the Green Man Inn, which lasted until the death of the landlord,
John Woodman, in 1903. It was then demolished and the wall was
continued so that the whole area was taken into the Mansion grounds
to create a water garden. A lake was formed as a lily pond and
trees including the huge Wellingtonia were planted.
The third Lord Rothschild put much of the Estate up for sale in 1938
although the Mansion and the park were retained. During the
Second World War the Mansion was used as offices of the family
banking business and subsequently became a school. The water
garden evidently became derelict during these years.
After the war, many people in Tring
including Councillor Robert Grace were keen to create something
permanent to act as a memorial to those who had lost their lives and
a thanksgiving for those who had survived the conflict. In 1947 a
questionnaire showed that a Garden of Remembrance was the most
popular suggestion and a committee was formed to raise funds.
It was agreed that the Mansion’s water garden was the ideal place
for such a purpose and by 1950 the land had been transferred into
the ownership of Tring Urban District Council. The ground was
cleared, the lake bed resurfaced and simple planting carried out.
An opening was made in the wall at the point where it met the 1711
wall across the Mansion vista. Gates were made by Bushell
Brothers’ boatyard at New Mill and the archway reading “Memorial
Garden” was made by Hampshire and Oakley of Chapel Street.
The Garden was unveiled in June 1953 to coincide with the Queen’s
coronation and dedicated by the vicar of Tring, the Reverend Lowdell.
In 1973 Tring Urban District was merged into the newly formed
Dacorum District and most of its properties, including the Memorial
Garden, were transferred to the new council. Simultaneously, Tring
Town Council was formed with specific responsibilities such as
allotments and other matters unique to the parish.
By the mid-1980s the Garden again presented a forlorn appearance.
People were reluctant to go there because the planting had become
dense and gloomy. A scheme for the improvement of Tring High
Street, drawn up by Derek Rogers Associates and promoted by Tring
Town Council in 1987, recommended that trees should be thinned and
the entrance reconsidered. Dacorum Borough Council agreed to
undertake this work and many trees, especially yews, were removed.
A length of wall was taken down, a new planting bed was created
alongside the High Street and the gateway repositioned, with new
gates made to replicate the old ones. The work was carried out
in 1989-90 with the restored Memorial Garden unveiled by the Mayor
of Dacorum in June 1990.
The same report observed that the self-seeded trees behind the
adjoining vista wall were overgrown and detracted from the setting
of the Mansion. The Arts Educational School removed the trees,
bringing the house back into view. The fourth Lord Rothschild
presented Tring Town Council with a strip of land in front of the
wall and this was then paved and bollarded, greatly enhancing the
appearance of this part of the town.
In 2001 the lake had to be drained and the fish evacuated when it
was found necessary to repair a crack in the concrete base. Members
of the Tring branch of the Royal British Legion attended a reopening
ceremony, and presented plaques listing the names of those men from
the town killed in World War II. These are mounted on the brick
gate-pillars at the entrance to the garden. Further work was carried
out to the lake in 2011, giving it a more natural appearance and
installing a fountain.
with acknowledgments to Wendy Austin and Mike Bass
Dacorum Borough Council is hoping to achieve Green Flag status for
the Gardens, which will be officially ‘re-opened’ sometime in March.
The overall plan is to create more flower beds, enhance the area
with new trees, and remove some of the overgrown bushes and trees.
The Green Flag Award® scheme is the benchmark national standard for
parks and green spaces in the UK. It was first launched in
1996 to recognise and reward the best green spaces in the country.
TRING’S RAILWAY SERVICE IN 1895
by John Savage, March 2012.
Today Tring station enjoys a more frequent train service (4 per hour
off-peak, and even 2 per hour for most of Sundays) than at any time
during its 174 year history, so it is interesting to compare this
with the service provided by the London & North Western Railway in
1895, as seen in Bradshaw’s Guide.
There were then 12 trains a day to Euston on weekdays (with 14 from
Euston of which one required a change at Watford) and 5 (3 from
Euston) on Sundays. Additionally there was a late night
facility from London on Tuesdays when the midnight train to Glasgow
stopped at Tring, to set down only, on informing the guard at
Willesden. Fascinatingly, this train made a different request
stop each night; Leighton (as the station was then called, being
renamed Leighton Buzzard on 1 July 1911) on Mondays, Tring on
Tuesdays, Boxmoor on Wednesdays, Berkhamsted on Thursdays, Bletchley
on Fridays and Kings Langley and Wolverton on Saturdays.
Another interesting addition to the service was the 5.00pm Euston to
Wolverhampton train, scheduled to run non-stop from Watford Junction
to Leighton, but which would stop at Tring to set down First Class
passengers only on notification to the guard at Willesden!
Business travel was quite well provided for with trains to London at
7.36am, 8.43am, 8.57am and 9.30am with a similar provision in the
evening. At other times the frequency was sparse with gaps of
over two hours between trains. Considering the relatively few
trains, rather bizarrely two of the trains to London ran within 5
minutes of each other (at 6.58pm and 7.03pm).
Compared to today where trains generally take 35 or 42 minutes (with
the fastest at 30 minutes) between Tring and Euston, the times in
1895 were considerably slower. Most trains took about an hour
and a quarter, with the slowest all-stations taking almost one and a
half hours. However, some of the trains at business times were
quicker, making the journey in just under an hour.
The trains serving Tring went to and from quite a diverse set of
places. On weekdays the trains to London originated from
Bletchley (x4) and one each from Liverpool, Stafford, Nuneaton,
Rugby, Northampton, Leighton, Cheddington and Tring. From
London the Tring trains went to Bletchley (x7), Tring (x2),
Cheddington (from Watford), Leighton, Northampton (x2) and
Wolverhampton. On Sundays the trains to London originated from
Bletchley (x2), Wolverhampton (x2) and Birmingham. From London
the meagre three trains went to Rugby (x2) and Leighton. I
should mention that this information is as best I can deduce because
in those days generally the timetable confusingly did not
differentiate between through and connecting services.
We will now look at the stations between Tring and Euston in 1895
and how they have changed since:
BERKHAMSTED (no change)
BOXMOOR (variously and erratically later Boxmoor & Hemel Hempstead,
Boxmoor for Hemel Hempstead, Hemel Hempstead & Boxmoor and
Hempstead; settling on Hemel Hempstead 1963/4)
KINGS LANGLEY (the intermediate Apsley was a late addition, opened
by the LMS on 26 September 1938)
WATFORD JUNCTION (no change)
BUSHEY (renamed Bushey & Oxhey 1 Dec. 1912 and back to Bushey 6 May
PINNER (renamed Pinner & Hatch End on 1 February 1897, Hatch End for
Pinner on 1 February 1920 and Hatch End on 11 June 1956. Now
only served by Euston- Watford local trains). The remains of
the old main line platform are still visible from the train.
HARROW (renamed Harrow & Wealdstone 1 May 1897)
SUDBURY & WEMBLEY (renamed Wembley for Sudbury 1 November 1910 and
Wembley Central 5 July 1948)
WILLESDEN JUNCTION (main line platforms closed 3 December 1962)
QUEENS PARK (no change)
KILBURN & MAIDA VALE (Closed 1 January 1917, reopened on same site
as Kilburn High Road 1 August 1923. Now only served by Euston-
Watford local trains)
LOUDOUN ROAD (Closed 1 January 1917). Later South Hampstead opened
at same location; remains of old station on main line still visible
from the train.
CHALK FARM (Closed 10 May 1915).
All of the then intermediate stations were served by some trains
to/from Tring, indeed some stopped at all of them! Willesden
Junction was then an important interchange with the radial North
London Line to Broad Street (for the City), Kensington, Clapham
Junction and through trains to the District Railway; almost all
trains, including long distance expresses, called there.
Fares in 1895 were: Tring-Euston (single) 5 shillings First Class
and 3s 4d Second Class. Third Class (known as “Parliamentary”
or “Gov” in the timetable because regulated by statute to 1d per
mile) was 2s 7½d,
exactly based on the 31½
miles (rounded down to the nearest half mile) distance. In the
reverse of today, in the early days of railways far more First Class
tickets were issued than any others, with Third Class trailing very
much behind. No doubt the poor and working classes neither had
the need nor means to travel.
In this time before bus services the railway would also have been
the means of travel from Tring to Aylesbury, by changing at
Cheddington (originally Aylesbury Junction) onto the branch line
(the world’s first branch line, incidentally) from there.
Indeed in earlier days there is evidence of through trains from
Tring to Aylesbury. The intermediate station on the branch
line at Marston Gate (on the Long Marston-Wingrave road) was usually
shown as a “signal” stop, i.e. by informing the guard if you wished
to get off or signalling the train to stop if you wished to board.
Finally, a lovely snippet from the timetable. The “Irish Boat
Express”, 9.30am Euston to Holyhead which ran non-stop from Watford
Junction to Northampton, conveyed a slip-coach, when required, for
Leighton during the Hunting Season. (A slip-coach was a
carriage attached to the end of a train, cast loose as the train
approached the due station, and brought to a halt by a guard with a
hand brake). To cater for such hunting parties to return from
Leighton the afternoon “Birmingham Express” would “stop by
signal at Leighton to take up Hunting Parties during the Season.”
THE POLISH CAMP AT MARSWORTH — 1948-1958
by Sandra Costello, July2013.
Polish servicemen and World War II
The heroic part played by Polish airmen, soldiers and sailors on the
side of the Allies during World War II is well known. However
from the early days of the War, Western Poland was occupied by
Germany and Eastern Poland by Russia. When peace returned to
Europe in 1945 all Poland was behind the Iron Curtain.
With the war over, most Polish servicemen did not want to return to
what they regarded as occupied Poland. One of the options
offered to them was assistance to start a new life with their
families in Britain. Many took advantage of this and as a
result some 30,000 Polish people came to live in Britain, where some
40 hostels were made available to house them in camps left empty by
the running down of British forces. Life was very difficult
for them: many had been forced for years to live in communal
conditions, and among them were many children who had never
experienced normal life. Those who came to Britain had to try
to assume again the responsibilities of independent people, but in a
strange land and with a different language.
The Polish Hostel at Marsworth
Some 900 Polish people, including whole families, came to Marsworth
in 1948, and were first accommodated in huts on the perimeter of
Cheddington Airfield at the end of Church Farm Lane. After
about five years the camp was relocated to a bigger and better site
once used by the RAF, then by the US Air Force, off Long Marston
Road. Food was cooked in central kitchens and eaten in
communal dining halls for the first two or three years, until
cooking stoves could be installed in the accommodation occupied by
each family. The huts did not have running water, and internal
partitions were few.
Affect on Marsworth
To begin with the village of Marsworth, with a population of only
316, objected to this huge inﬂux. However according to a
report in the Bucks Advertiser of 1949, “Already the
people of Marsworth village have accepted them as ordinary families”
and the Polish people “now live happily in Marsworth”.
With the number of Poles exceeding the population of Marsworth by
nearly three times, the small local school did not have room for the
extra children. A school was therefore set up at the hostel
where virtually everyone, irrespective of age, attended classes to
learn English. One of the huts was converted to a chapel and
many community activities were carried on, including football,
volleyball, a youth club, women’s circle, and a Polish
The people of Marsworth were able to mix with the Polish community
by attending the dances, cinema and other entertainments held at the
hostel. This was a great help as the Poles were keen to learn
how British people lived.
The end of the camp
In the 1950s those at the hostel were eager for homes of their own
and a more normal life as part of the British community. In
their preparations for moving out of the hostel they learned a lot
from local people who helped them to gain confidence and make
contacts. Those who were able to work found jobs and this was
made easier when some employers provided transport in a variety of
vehicles from and to the Hostel. Contacts at work speeded up
the learning of English as well as improving knowledge of life
outside the Hostel.
The numbers living at the camp reduced steadily as families found
work and homes elsewhere, with the largest numbers leaving in the
first couple of years. In 1957 the Marsworth school roll
included the names of 25 Polish children, indicating that the school
at the hostel had closed. By the late 1950s numbers had
dwindled sufficiently for the few remaining to be accommodated
elsewhere, and the camp to be closed. The field that housed it
has since been returned to agriculture and all that remains is some
concrete. The only real legacy of the Polish presence in
Marsworth is some 15 graves in the churchyard of All Saints Church.
Those buried in the churchyard were mostly drowned — they swam in
the reservoirs, which were not allowed, but they could not read the
warning notices. Whenever there was a Polish funeral, all the
Poles from the camp turned out and the procession would stretch all
the way from the Camp to the Church.
For the Polish people, Marsworth was a pleasant village where they
were able to find security and become independent persons again, and
that gave assistance when it was needed after the horrors of war.
In September 2008, Stanislaw Jakubas, now an Assistant Professor at
Krakow Academy of Fine Arts, paid a return visit to Marsworth.
He was born in 1948 at Bedford Hospital; his parents were then
living at the first of the two Polish camps — ‘Site Twelve’,
situated opposite Church Farm House. He recollected the
various ‘barracks’, but his memory was sketchy as he was very young.
He also remembered attending kindergarten at a building in Church
Farm Lane opposite the airfield (now long since returned to
pasture). He especially remembered playing with another young
boy, Ross Miller of Church Farm.
After about five years the Polish people were relocated to a bigger
and better camp situated near Bluebells, on a field bordered by a
concrete road leading towards Wilstone. He recollected the
layout of this camp, with its coal store at the entrance, the
various barrack buildings, the laundry and chapel. He attended
Marsworth School, and also remembered a large building then situated
opposite Lower End garage where concerts, etc. had been held on a
In 1956 Stanislaw went with his family to live in Canada. He
didn’t want to lose touch with his friend Ross, so he sent him a
letter in a bottle which he threw overboard. The bottle was
picked up 10 months later on the Irish coast. Apparently this
story made the BBC News and was reported widely in the local press.
‘Site 12’ was down a long lane close to the airfield and near a
yellowish brick farmhouse with several barns. The main site
was close to a canal. If you go to HP23 4NF on Google Earth
you should be able to see the latter site from the air. There
is nothing there now as all the buildings have been cleared for
ANOTHER 100th ANNIVERSARY (not WW1)
by John Savage
1st March marked the 100th anniversary of Tring’s first motor bus
service on which date in 1914 the London & North Western Railway
took over the station route.
The station bus service, the earliest in Tring, started when the
station opened in 1837. It was to be over 80 years before any
other buses served the town. The horse buses were operated by
local people and by 1899 we know that the service was terminating in
the back streets at the “King’s Arms” probably where the
horses were kept. Change came in 1903 when the Tring Omnibus
Company was formed to take over the service; all the directors and
shareholders were local people. A new omnibus was purchased
for £99.15s and £300 compensation paid to the previous operator, C &
J M Buckle. Lord Rothschild soon joined the board, suggesting
that his financial support was already necessary. By 1906 the
company was in financial difficulties, and in 1907 resolved to go
into voluntary liquidation.
An unlikely rescuer came in the form of the Home Counties Public
Trust House (a forerunner of Trust House and Trust House Forte) who
owned “The Rose & Crown” and who took over the service,
terminating at the “Britannia” PH. In 1911 they
proposed extending the service to the Cemetery Gates in Aylesbury
Road, but it is not clear whether this actually happened; certainly
in 1913 it was curtailed at the “Rose & Crown” from the “Britannia”.
In 1914 the HCPHT gave notice that they were discontinuing the
service as they too had been unable to make it pay. Tring
Urban District Council requested that the London & North Western
Railway take on the service, which they duly did. The new
motor bus service terminated at the Cemetery Gates and provided a “frequent”
service between 8.00am and 9.30pm. With the grouping of the
railways in 1923 the service passed to the London Midland & Scottish
Railway which, in 1928, extended some journeys (on Fridays and
Saturdays) to Aldbury. By 1929 the service had again been
curtailed at the “Britannia”. Books of 24 or 50 tickets
could be bought from the station at a discount, and there were also
monthly season tickets.
With the imminent creation of the London Passenger Transport Board
the LMS sold out its local bus services to London General Country
Services in April 1933. LGCS changed the terminus to
Beaconsfield Road and gave it the route number 317. In July
1933 it thus passed to the LPTB (London Transport) who soon
renumbered it (by January 1934) to the familiar 387. Later in
1934 they gave the Tring Station to Aldbury section (still Fridays
and Saturdays only) a separate number, 387A, although this silliness
ceased in 1935 with all the service again becoming 387.
The more recent history is another story; other than to say that,
apart from an interregnum from 1985 to 2002 when the route was
numbered 27, it has stayed as the 387 to this day.
THE TRING GAS LIGHT & COKE COMPANY
by Ian Petticrew, July 2016.
The development of gas lighting in the 19th century had a dramatic
impact on people’s domestic and working lives. Gas provided a
far more efficient and economic form of lighting than the candles
and oil lamps that preceded it.
In 1812, the London and Westminster Gas Light & Coke Company became
the first public gas manufacturing utility and it proceeded to
spread gas lighting through London’s poorly lit streets, an
innovation that soon became popular elsewhere. The first town
in our area to acquire a gasworks was Aylesbury. In 1834 the
Aylesbury Gas Company began operations on a site located at Hale
Leys. Gas became available at Hemel Hempstead in 1835 when a
gasworks was opened in Bury Road. In 1849, the Great
Berkhamsted Gas Light & Coke Co. was set up to provide street
lighting; and then . . . .
TO THE INHABITANTS OF TRING.
A public meeting will be held on Thursday evening next, March 14th
1850, at the Commercial Hall at 7 o’clock to take into consideration
the report of Mr. Atkins on the practicability of introducing Gas
into the Town.
The advertised meeting was well attended and ended with the
unanimous decision being taken “That in the opinion of this
meeting it is desirable that gas should be introduced into the Town
of Tring”. A committee was formed comprising William
Brown, Frederick Butcher, H. S. Rowbotham, Henry Faithfull and
Alexander Parkes to “ascertain the practicability of establishing
a Gas Company in this Town.” It was decided that the
prospective company would require capital of £2,000, to be raised in
£10 shares, and that each director would need to hold at least five
shares to qualify.
At this stage a site for the Gasworks had yet to be found, so the
directors took Atkins on a conducted tour of the Town during which a
former gravel pit on Brook Street was identified as a suitable
location. The gravel pit was the property of David Evans,
owner of the Silk Mill, who agreed to sell part of it to the Company
Construction went ahead and gas was first released into the mains in
September 1850 . . .
On Wednesday last, the town of Tring was all in a bustle, in
consequence of that being the night which was fixed upon by Mr. T.
Atkins, of Oxford, the contractor, to light the gas for the first
time. Great preparations were made to celebrate the event, and
an immense concourse of people was present. The men who had
been employed at the works were sumptuously regaled with a supper,
at the Green Man Inn.
In gasworks of the time coal provided the raw material.
Wagonloads were delivered by rail to Tring Station and carted to the
gasworks by local hauliers. Gas was then extracted by baking
the coal in enclosed ovens called ‘retorts’ in which the coal was
starved of oxygen to prevent it burning. This process produced
a crude gas that contained unwanted substances, such as sulphur,
that had to be removed by purification before the gas could be
released into the mains. Other by-products were useful and
could be sold, including coke and coal tar - when motor vehicles
arrived and measures had to be taken to seal road surfaces to
prevent dust and mud being thrown up by this new faster-moving
traffic, coal tar mixed with granite chippings became a popular
For over a century coal gas was manufactured at the Brook Street
gasworks on the site now being developed as a block of luxury flats
(old gasworks sites are generally heavily contaminated -
decontamination of the Tring site cost £400,000 before building
could begin). Many local businessmen served as the Company’s
directors until, in 1930, the Company was sold to outside interests.
In 1948 the Tring Gas Company (as it had become) was nationalised
and incorporated into the Southern Gas Board. Then, in April 1957
the following notice appeared in The Bucks Herald . . . .
Tring gas now comes from Oxford. For 105 years the 5,000 people
of Tring have had a gasworks, but Southern Gas now pipe from Oxford.
By then coal gas had a limited life. In 1967 the first natural
gas arrived from the North Sea and over the next 10 years British
Gas carried out a massive programme to convert gas appliances to
burn this new type of fuel. Tring converted to natural gas in
January 1969. For some years a large gasholder marked the site
of the Tring gasworks, but now all that remains is the former
gasworks manager’s house (by local architect William Huckvale).
COMES TO TRING.
TRING ATTRACT S WEALTHY RESIDENTS,
by Wendy Austin, September 2016.
Originally most men of influence in the City of London lived near
their workplace, but as they grew wealthier, they started to
consider more congenial surroundings for their families. The
age of commuting was born, mainly with a north-westerly trend, as
the lack of river bridges delayed development southwards. In
spite of the discomforts of coach travel at that time, these men of
substance began to buy country estates when a deer park was a highly
desirable status symbol. In 1702, Henry Guy’s property, the
Tring Park estate, became available and was purchased by Sir William
Both figuratively and literally Sir William was very much a bigwig
in the City, for in 1692 he had been knighted at The Guildhall by
William III. In the same year that saw the arrival in Tring of
Sir William and his lady, he achieved the supreme appointment of
Lord Mayor of London and, to mark this event, the traditional
splendid procession and pageant had progressed through the streets
of the City. The gilded coach was proceeded by elaborate
horse-drawn ﬂoats carrying figures from mythology depicting finance
and enterprise. Among his business concerns Sir William
numbered a place on the committee of the East India Company, and was
a founder member of the Bank of England, his only setback being a
failed attempt to be elected as Tory candidate for the City of
Daniel Defoe, passing through Tring on his travels, reported “at
Tring is a most delicious house, built å la moderne ” which
referred to the mansion purchased by Sir William. It had been
erected in the 1680s to a plain but pleasing design, said to be that
of Sir Christopher Wren. Surrounded by a small deer park, it
had gardens described as “of unusual form and beauty”.
Sir William’s healthy income soon allowed him to buy another 300
acres to add to his estate. He and Lady Gore, together with
their eight surviving children, presumably settled in happily and
started to enjoy the wide vistas of parkland, with a backdrop of the
beautiful beech woods along the Chiltern escarpment.
As we all know, even when one finds the ideal property, there is
always a snag — at the Tring Park mansion the problem was traffic.
The main road through the town at that time followed a route to the
south of the house, passing in front of the windows of the chief
reception rooms. The elegant walnut furniture and Delft china
probably rattled as coaches and wagons rumbled by and, an even worse
horror, the general populace could catch a glimpse of the family
dining. This state of affairs was swiftly rectified when Sir
William’s son inherited the estate, and petitioned to move and sink
the level of the road to the other side of the house. As this
then became the route of Tring High Street, today’s traffic
congestion in the town can be blamed firmly on William Gore junior.
He had not waited too long to gain his inheritance, for by 1707 both
parents were dead. Ever a dutiful son, he erected in Tring
Church an enormous memorial. Their life-sized marble effigies
are attired in the height of early-18th century finery, Sir William
wearing an immense and elaborate periwig. Accompanied by a
graceful gesture of his hand, he is discoursing to his wife, who
stares stonily ahead into space. Having now heard her
husband’s stories for almost 300 years, she is probably entitled to
look a triﬂe bored (below).
The Gore memorial,
Tring Parish Church
In due course, Tring was also chosen for his retirement home by an
eminent banker. In 1931 Sir Gordon Nairne did not expect to
own anything so grand as a mansion in a park, for his origins were
modest, and his success in life had been built upon his own ability,
application, and integrity. He was a son of Scotland, born in
Castle Douglas and, after working in Glasgow, he entered the Bank of
England in 1880, and served there for fifty years until his
retirement. His talent for financial management was recognised
at the comparatively early age of 41 when he was appointed Chief
Cashier. Perhaps Gordon then allowed his grave features a
twitch of a smile of pride on the first occasion that he saw bank
notes bearing his own signature. The novelty must have worn
off, for he held the post for sixteen years, and part of this time
covered the critical period of the Great War. This was
especially difficult for banking as the Treasury issued currency
notes through the Bank of England in almost unlimited amounts, with
inevitable inflationary effects. The Bank was in safe hands
however, and Gordon Nairne received his deserved reward. In
1917 he was created a baronet, and the following year appointed to
the newly-created post of Comptroller. A Directorship followed
in 1925, Sir Gordon being the first member of staff to achieve this
position. His wise guidance was appreciated elsewhere too, as
he was honoured by other countries, including France, Belgium and
When he left the Bank in 1931 he and Lady Nairne sought a pleasant
home in the country. Their choice fell on The Furlong, a large
house of unremarkable design in Park Road, built in the late
Victorian period by a wealthy vicar of Tring. The couple
entered into the life of the town, dutifully undertaking the worthy
sort of community activities that were expected from people in their
position. Sir Gordon remained a busy man, serving as a
Governor of the BBC, and as one of His Majesty’s Lieutenants for the
City of London; he also found time for his favourite pastime of
horse-riding. After a happy retirement he died in 1945 aged
84, and was buried in his family’s grave at Putney Vale cemetery.
Later, The Furlong became an annexe of a convent school, and was
then demolished in the 1980s to be rebuilt as retirement apartments.
For the time being, Tring’s ‘moneymen’ have departed. It
remains to be seen whether the twenty-first century will see yet
another eminent man of finance wishing to spend his annual bonus on
an expensive property and put down roots in our town.
THE OTHER ALBERT HALL
by Wendy Austin, July 2018.
Forget the dominating and magnificent edifice on the south side of
Kensington Gore in London, as many and varied were the structures
erected to the memory of Albert, the Prince Consort. Some
people may not know that one such existed in Tring; unsurprisingly,
it can be found in Albert Street.
Its origins are obscure, but by the 1880s local newspaper accounts
show the hall served a useful purpose as a venue for various events
and meetings. For example, the Mothers’ Union gathered in the
hall; the Church Lads’ Brigade used it for band practice; William
Brown, the land agent and auctioneer, held sales there; technical
classes were run by Dr Spurway, who lectured on sanitation, nursing,
and first-aid, all of which were described as “useful to the
wives and daughters of working men”.
It also served as a useful space in which to hold bazaars and
rummage sales. At that time, the latter were obviously a
novelty, as one account shows it was necessary to explain to readers
exactly what a ‘rummage sale’ was. The account reads:
“ .... .. on Saturday 25th ult, the Albert Hall presented a
remarkable scene. At the invitation of the Vicar, the
parishioners had ‘rummaged out’ the contents of their attics,
storerooms, closets and dark corners and had collected what had been
cast aside as worn-out and useless, to be sent to the Hall, to be
sold for the benefit of the fund from which the little expenses of
the Parish Charities are defrayed. On the previous day, the
donkey cart of Cogger, the sexton, perambulated the town going from
house to house collecting the things that had been turned out for
the sale . . . . . . . .”
The Albert Hall also became the central point for the serving of
what were known as ‘Penny Dinners’. Organised by Tring
District Visiting, a national C. of E. charity organisation,
cardboard tickets (later metal discs) were distributed to the more
deserving children of the town by their school teachers, these
tokens to be exchanged for a nourishing meal. The food and
money was donated by well-off citizens of the town, the subscription
list being headed, of course, by Lord Rothschild. According to
the late Ron Kitchener, the meals were plain but sustaining, e.g.
pea soup, Irish stew and rice or jam pudding, he goes on to quote
that in the first year of the scheme, 1,307 tokens were issued.
By the end of the century many other general gathering places had
sprung up in Tring, and possibly the hall became under-used, as the
premises were then shared with Henry Stevens, a town councillor who
owned a shoe shop at No.15 High Street. He set up a small
factory in the Albert Hall which he called ‘The Shoe Mart’ and
advertised his wares for sale in The Tring Gazette; examples
of his boots and shoes were also exhibited with great pride at Tring
Agricultural Show and other such events. This operation was
closed down and sold in 1899.
The former Salvation
Army hall in Albert Street, February 2014
A year later the premises became a meeting place for members of
Tring Salvation Army who, up until then, had worshipped in what was
described as “a draughty uncomfortable little carpenter’s shop”;
the Albert Hall then became known as The Barracks. What
happened over the next 20 years is unclear, as an advertisement of
1924 states that the premises were owned by Messrs. Rodwell & Sons
who offered it for auction citing that it was ‘a good site for a
small factory or similar’, but even so it failed to attract a
purchaser. But a little later the premises were acquired by
the Salvation Army, and approval for erection of a new building, at
an estimated cost of £1,550, on the site of the Albert Hall was
granted in July 1926, with demolition a few months later. The
following year The War Cry was able to report on the opening
ceremony of the new Citadel:
“ .... .. for some years the comrades of Tring have laboured
under the disadvantage of having no permanent building in which to
hold their meetings. This came to an end last Saturday when,
amid scenes of enthusiasm mingled with praise and gratitude to God,
they entered their new Citadel .........”
There was good reason for ‘enthusiasm’ as the Tring branch of the
Salvation Army had waited 38 years before attaining its own meeting
place. Major modernisation of the premises were carried out in
2001, but the history of the Salvation Army in the town came to an
end in 2014 when the building then became an arts and education
centre. It now serves as Tring’s Yoga Studio.
THE TRING AND AYLESBURY TRAMWAY
that might have been,
by Ian Petticrew, September 2018.
The street tramway arrived in Britain in 1860 when American
entrepreneur George Train opened a short line at Birkenhead.
It was not long before most of Britain’s cities and towns of any
size had trams.
Motive power was at first provided by horses, but in an age of steam
attempts were soon made to use it to replace animals. The
small steam ‘tram engines’ that resulted were expensive to run and
maintain, so when more compact and efficient electric traction
became feasible in the 1890s it quickly replaced steam.
However, one steam tramway survived longer than others. The 2½-mile
Wolverton and Stony Stratford Tramway opened in 1887 to bring
workers from outlying districts into the London & North Western
Railway’s large carriage works at Wolverton. It ran until 1926
earning the dual distinctions of having the largest trailer cars in
Britain (seating 100 passengers) and being our last steam-worked
The Wolverton steam
In 1887, reports appeared in the local press of a plan to build a
tramway linking Tring Station, via the town, with Aylesbury —
whether the system was to be steam or horse powered is not
mentioned, but taking account of the length of the line and its
gradients, steam seems likely. At the same time a grander
scheme was announced for a steam tramway linking Hemel Hempstead,
Boxmoor, Chesham, Berkhamstead and Northchurch. Descriptions
of the route and its gradients held in the Hertfordshire Archives
show that detailed surveying was carried out before the scheme was
announced. The line was to commence opposite the goods
entrance to Tring Station, cross the Grand Junction Canal over the
existing bridge and proceed up Station Road (gradient 1:65) to Tring
Lodge, after which it would descend (1:20) to Brook Street.
The line would climb steeply at Frogmore Street (1:18) followed by a
gradual ascent to the summit of Tring Hill (1:48) before descending
(l :20) to the Vale of Aylesbury, after which the route to the
Aylesbury terminus was comparatively level (1:100).
Press reports do not mention the extent to which the scheme was
supported by the townsfolk, but there were some objectors:
THE TRAMWAY SCHEME. — A Tring correspondent writes: We understand
that Lord Rothschild, Mr. Williams, and other owners of property in
the narrow part of the High-street have objected on public grounds
to the laying of the Tramway there. Even with the present traffic
the street is narrow and insufficient, and accidents, especially on
market days, are not infrequent. The promoters will, it is thought,
abandon the scheme, without incurring the expense which opposition
at a later stage of the order would entail upon them.
Bucks Herald, 17th
When the Tring Local Board met to discuss the scheme, their main
concern was that part of the High Street was too narrow to meet
LOCAL BOARD.— The Clerk read several sections of the Tramways’
Act, 1870, which referred to the position of the Board with regard
to the persons interested in that portion of the High-street which
was too narrow to allow the required width on each side of the
rails.— Mr. Elliman thought they should not forget that the tramways
would give facilities for getting about, and that they were
generally advantageous to a town. It might be the wish of the
townspeople to have the tramway.— After some discussion, the Clerk
was directed to issue a circular, drawing the attention of the
inhabitants to section 9 of the Act of 1870, which provides for the
case in which the street is too narrow to admit a width of “9 feet 6
inches between the outside of the footpath on either side of the
roadway and the nearest rail of the tramway.”
Bucks Herald, 3rd December
The Tring and Aylesbury Tramway scheme was finally laid to rest when
its promoters met Lord Rothschild, whose main objection to the
tramway was that it would not be a financial success. How this
would affect anyone other than the scheme’s promoters and
shareholders is unclear, for they would probably have been required
to arrange a bond to cover the cost of road clearance should the
scheme fail. The following newspaper report also refers to
other objections, which presumably included the narrowness of the
High Street, while local folklore has it that his Lordship objected
to trams passing his residence:
THE PROPOSED TRAMWAYS SCHEME.— It is stated that Mr. Wilkinson,
the promoter of these schemes, accompanied by the solicitor and the
engineer, had an interview with Lord Rothschild, Messrs. Leopold and
Alfred de Rothschild being also present, at New Court, St. Swithin’s-lane,
on , Wednesday, as to the proposed line from Tring to Aylesbury, and
that his Lordship having intimated that the line would not receive
his support because, among other objections to the scheme, he
considered it was a line which would not be a financial success, it
was decided to abandon the project. But as his Lordship at the
same time intimated that he felt certain that the line from Chesham
to Hempstead would be supplying a long-felt want to the district,
and also prove a certain commercial success, it has been decided to
press forward the project with the upmost vigour.
Bucks Herald, 24th
What is surprising is that the tramway promoters appear not to have
foreseen such predictable obstacles before incurring surveying,
planning and legal expenses. To modern eyes it might also seem
extraordinary that his Lordship’s word should carry such weight in
the matter, but this was an age in which the peerage was
considerably more influential than today, as is evidenced by the
London & Birmingham Railway’s application to Parliament in 1832,
which was thrown out — at great cost to the Company — by Lord
Brownlow of Ashridge and a coterie of peers who had no more
justification than they happened not to like railways.
As for the Hemel steam tramway scheme, it too sank without trace.
Newspaper reports suggest that although it met with public approval,
there were also influential objectors among who was Sir Astley
Paston-Cooper, a landowner in the Hemel area (whose ancestor’s
objections had helped cause the route of London & Birmingham Railway
to be changed). Cooper, it appears, “thought the tramway
horrid. People in London liked to come into the country to
enjoy the peace and quiet there, but would they come if a beastly
tramway were introduced?” The Hemel scheme did obtain its
Act of Parliament, but despite overcoming that legal obstacle to its
construction it was abandoned, probably owing to lack of finance.