Welwyn North railway station
|Local authority||Borough of Welwyn Hatfield|
|Managed by||Great Northern|
|Number of platforms||2|
|Live arrivals/departures, station information and onward connections|
from National Rail Enquiries
|Annual rail passenger usage*|
|1850||Station opened by GNR as "Welwyn Station"|
|1926||Station renamed "Welwyn North"|
|National Rail – UK railway stations|
|* Annual estimated passenger usage based on sales of tickets in stated financial year(s) which end or originate at Welwyn North from Office of Rail and Road statistics. Methodology may vary year on year.|
|UK Railways portal|
Although the station is north of Welwyn Garden City, the village of Welwyn is about 1 mile (1.6 km) west in the modern district of Digswell, which in 1865 was known as High Welwyn and is shown on maps of that period. It is still called High Welwyn as Digswell Parish was dissolved in 1926 when it became absorbed into Welwyn Garden City. Just to the south the line passes over the Welwyn Viaduct, and to the north through two tunnels. This section (between Digswell Junction to the south of the viaduct and Woolmer Green) is a significant bottleneck where four lines are reduced to two.
Construction of the station and viaduct began in 1850 and was opened in 1865 as part of the Great Northern Railway. It was called Welwyn Station until 1926, when it was renamed following the opening of Welwyn Garden City. It was built by contractor Thomas Brassey out of locally produced red brick from the Welwyn Brick Fields at Ayot Green.
The viaduct is built on floating foundations as the bed of the Mimram Valley was not stable enough for normal ones. These floats consisted of timber beams filled with burned chalk onto which the towers were built. The tunnels were hand-dug by the thousands of manual workers, mainly Irish, for whom a new tented village was built centred on the Cowper Arms, itself built to stop the workers descending on the taverns in Welwyn. The viaduct lay midway between Welwyn Junction (the sign still remains), which was the point at which the main line was crossed by the Hertford to Luton line, and High Welwyn, where the station now resides.
The Welwyn Tunnel rail crash occurred in the tunnels to the north of the station in 1866.
In its heyday the station served local agriculture as well as passenger traffic. There was a goods yard and goods shed on the west side and sidings to the north and south. These included an impressive set of coal drops and, from 1884, a private siding for the adjacent beehive works (E. H. Taylor Ltd. from 1900). The complex included three railway worker's cottages on the west (down) side and two on the east (up). Much of the land to build the station was purchased from local landowner George Augustus 6th Earl Cowper, who built the Railway Inn (later renamed the Cowper Arms Hotel) on land adjoining to the west. This is contemporary with the station and built in the same red brick, reputedly by the same navvies (who went on to frequent it).
Today the goods yard has made way for a car park but the main station building, the worker's cottages and the Cowper Arms remain.
The station is a rare survival of architecture from the early days of the GNR and this is now recognised with listed building status. The main station building, the remaining portion of the footbridge, the tunnel portal to the north and Welwyn Viaduct to the south are all Grade 2 listed.
Welwyn North station is served by a half-hourly service southbound to London King's Cross and northbound to Peterborough or Cambridge Mondays to Saturdays, respectively. There is an hourly service in each direction on Sundays, although there are no services direct to Peterborough, only Cambridge.
Below are the routes that Welwyn North is, or has been on since it was built.
|Preceding station||National Rail||Following station|
East Coast Main Line
Welwyn's Railways: A History of the Great Northern Line, 1850-1986, Tom W. Gladwin, Peter W. Neville, Douglas E. White, The Book Castle (November 1986)
History of Welwyn by Gordon Longmead