Watford tube station

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This article is about the London Underground station in Cassiobury, Watford. For the tube station proposed in 1927 that was never built, see Watford Central tube station. For other stations in Watford, see Watford station.
Watford London Underground
Watford Tube Station.JPG
Watford is located in Hertfordshire
Location of Watford in Hertfordshire
Location Watford
Local authority Watford
Managed by London Underground
Number of platforms 2
Fare zone 7
London Underground annual entry and exit
2007 Increase 1.642 million[1]
2008 Decrease 1.620 million[1]
2009 Decrease 1.504 million[1]
2010 Decrease 1.480 million[1]
2011 Increase 1.570 million[1]
2012 Increase 1.600 million[1]
2013 Increase 1.660 million[1]
Key dates
1925 Opened
14 November 1966 Goods yard closed[2]
Other information
Lists of stations
London Transport portalCoordinates: 51°39′27″N 0°25′03″W / 51.6575°N 0.4175°W / 51.6575; -0.4175

Watford is the terminus of the Watford branch of London Underground's Metropolitan line in the north-western part of the network in Zone 7, previously Zone A. The station opened in 1925. It is scheduled to close to passengers in 2018.[3]

Location and description[edit]

A platform at Watford tube station
Map of railways around Watford showing the Met station in relation to other stations

The station is on Cassiobury Park Avenue at the junction with Metropolitan Station Approach, in the Cassiobury area, close to two of the entrances to Cassiobury Park. It is approximately 1 mile (1.6 km) from the town centre, which is more immediately served by Watford High Street and Watford Junction stations. It is known locally as "Watford Met" to distinguish it from the other Watford stations.

The station building was designed by the Metropolitan Railway's architect Charles Walter Clark in an Arts and Crafts vernacular style. It is in red brick with a clay-tiled hipped roof, tall brick chimney stacks, and timber sash and casement windows. The main entrance is covered by a polygonal metal canopy supported by twin Doric columns, and the interior, mostly unaltered from the original, is decorated with period tiling and hardwood panelling.[4]

On 2010 data it is the 25th most lightly-used station on the London Underground.[5]


Map of "Metro-Land" showing the planned Watford extension (Metropolitan Railway, 1924)

In the early 20th century, the Metropolitan Railway (MR) penetrated Hertfordshire and Buckinghamshire with its suburban railway, enticing Londoners with its "Metro-Land" advertising campaign promoting the new railway as an opportunity to live in a rural location with easy transport to central London.[6] The MR was also intent on providing a connection from Watford and planned a branch line from Moor Park via Croxley. The MR purchased a swathe of land from Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge along the planned route and Parliamentary approval for the branch was granted in 1912. The project was hampered by disagreements with the Watford Borough Council and by the outbreak of World War I in 1914, and construction of the 2.5-mile (4.0 km) branch did not begin until 1923. The MR experienced difficulties running the line across the River Gade and the Grand Junction Canal, and this pushed costs up to £300,000.[7]

Watford Met station opened on 4 November 1925, with MR electric trains to Baker Street and LNER steam trains to Marylebone for the first few months.[8][9] The Watford Observer commented on the opening that the new station was "likely to have a much greater effect on the town than is at present realised. Just as trade follows the flag, so population follows the railway". Posters published by the MR in 1925 promoting the new route "by Metro to Watford" depicted Watford High Street on market day, belying the remote location of the station.[10]

The station suffered from its distance from the town centre. For many years, the MR operated a bus service from the High Street in an effort to gain more passengers,[11] but contrary to the Watford Observer's predictions patronage remained low. MR passenger numbers compared unfavourably with services into central London offered by the LMS and the UERL Bakerloo line from Watford Junction and Watford High Street,[7] and after the General Strike of 1926 the LNER pulled out of the venture with the MR.[7]

Watford tube station was not originally planned to be the terminus of the Watford branch. The MR had intended to drive the railway across Watford to terminate at Watford Central, and to facilitate this project purchased a property at 44 Watford High Street in 1927 with the intention of converting it into a station. Their ambition to drive a tunnel under Cassiobury Park, recently purchased by the borough council from the Earl of Essex, was opposed by local politicians. The scheme fell through and today Watford Met station remains the terminus of the line, approximately 1 mile (1.6 km) from the town centre.[7]

When Travelcard zones were introduced in 1984 by London Regional Transport, the station was in Zone B; in 2004 it moved to Zone A, in 2008 to Zone 7.


Main article: Croxley Rail Link
Croxley rail link map

The ambition to extend the Metropolitan line into Watford town centre was revived around 1994 by London Regional Transport (LRT) when proposals were put forward to run the line to Watford Junction. The projected route is shown on an adapted version of the Tube map for internal planning purposes printed in that year.[12] The Croxley Rail Link involves connecting the Metropolitan line to the disused Watford and Rickmansworth Railway line and reinstating the Croxley Green branch to Watford High Street.[13] The line, opened in 1912, had been closed by British Rail in 1996 due to low passenger numbers.[14] Although it ran very close to the Metropolitan line (at its closest point about 200 metres away), the two lines were never linked. The Croxley Rail Link includes a short viaduct linking the two lines.

On 14 December 2011 the project was given approval by the Department for Transport at an expected cost of £115.9m and with a completion date of January 2016.[15] On 24 July 2013 the Secretary of State for Transport issued a Transport and Works Act Order granting the necessary planning permissions, access rights and land transfers.

As a result of the Croxley Rail Link project, Watford Met station will close to passengers but may remain operational as a siding.[16][17] The plan to close the station has been the subject of some local opposition, and campaigners have argued for the station to remain open with a reduced shuttle service operating on the branch.[18] In 2012 the transport watchdog London TravelWatch compiled a report on the closure plans which concluded that inconvenience to passengers would be alleviated by the new stations being opened in the area, and that a small number of existing passengers would experience an increase in journey times of more than 15 minutes. It recommended that a shuttle train service should be trialled, and that in the event of closure a bus service should be provided from Cassiobury to one of the new stations to mitigate any inconvenience.[19]


As of December 2011 the typical off-peak service is four trains per hour to Baker Street off-peak, with a limited service to Aldgate[20] at peak times.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g "Multi-year station entry-and-exit figures" (XLS). London Underground station passenger usage data. Transport for London. 2014. Retrieved 27 July 2014. 
  2. ^ Hardy, Brian, ed. (March 2011). "How it used to be - freight on The Underground 50 years ago". Underground News (London Underground Railway Society) (591): 175–183. ISSN 0306-8617. 
  3. ^ "Croxley Rail Link update". 17 December 2014. 
  4. ^ "Watford Station, Watford". British Listed Buildings. Archived from the original on 25 January 2014. 
  5. ^ "The proposed closure and discontinuance of services to and from Watford station". London Travel Watch. 28 August 2012. p. 7. Archived from the original on 25 January 2014. 
  6. ^ "Metro-Land". British Empire Exhibition booklet. South Bank Publishing. 1924. Archived from the original on 28 June 2008. 
  7. ^ a b c d Wolmar, Christian (2009). The Subterranean Railway How the London Underground Was Built and How it Changed the City Forever. London: Atlantic Books Ltd. ISBN 9781848872530. 
  8. ^ Green, Oliver (1990). The London underground : an illustrated history (3. impr ed.). London: Allan. p. 43. ISBN 0711017204. 
  9. ^ Rose, Douglas (1999). The London underground : a diagrammatic history (7th ed. ed.). London: [The author]. ISBN 1854142194. 
  10. ^ Unknown Artist (1925). "By 'Metro' to Watford". London Transport Museum poster collection. London Transport Museum. Archived from the original on 9 August 2013. 
  11. ^ Unknown photographer (1927). "Inventory no: 1999/28830 - Photograph of Metropolitan Railway single deck coach outside Watford MR station". London Transport Museum photographic collection. London Transport Museum. Archived from the original on 9 August 2013. 
  12. ^ Garland, Ken (5 December 1994). Mr Beck's Underground Map. Harrow Weald: Capital Transport Publishing. p. 63. ISBN 1-85414-168-6. OCLC 32915967. 
  13. ^ "Scheme Development Report" (PDF). Steer Davies Gleave. September 2011. Archived from the original on 7 August 2013. 
  14. ^ "Watford to Croxley Green". West Watford History Group. Archived from the original on 7 August 2013. 
  15. ^ "Local Authority Majors - Development Pool Schemes - Scheme Decisions" (PDF) (25). DfT. December 2011. Archived from the original on 25 April 2012. 
  16. ^ "Survey works to start along Croxley Rail Link route". Croxley Rail Link. 29 July 2013. Archived from the original on 2 September 2013. 
  17. ^ Wright, Mike (24 July 2013). "Watford Met Station to close to passengers when new Croxley Rail Link opens". Watford Observer. Archived from the original on 11 August 2013. 
  18. ^ Wright, Mike (21 August 2013). "Watford Met Station campaigners: 'There is no reason for it to close'". Watford Observer. Archived from the original on 1 September 2013. 
  19. ^ Stops, Vincent (25 September 2012). "Transport Services Committee Secretariat memorandum: Watford station closure proposal". London TravelWatch. Archived from the original on 5 October 2013. 
  20. ^ "Watford Tube Guide" (PDF). TfL. Archived from the original on 12 January 2012. 
Preceding station   Underground no-text.svg London Underground   Following station
Terminus Metropolitan line
towards Baker Street or Aldgate
Watford Central   Metropolitan Railway
Watford extension
(Never completed)