Cuffley Railway Station
BACKGROUND OF THE RAILWAY TO CUFFLEY
Present day Cuffley owes much to the opening of the railway in 1910. At that time Cuffley ‘consisted of little more than a village green surrounded by eight farms’ with a largely farming population plus a mixture of woods, hedgerows and fields very rich in wildlife. The Parish records of 1908 read ‘the people are agricultural; crops of wheat, beans and roots are raised, and a large supply of milk is sent up to London daily’
The Railway Company tried to increase passenger receipts through weekend traffic which was much more remunerative and attempted to attract passengers by means of a poster depicting a shepherd in a smock under the invitation ‘Come to Cuffley’.
Cuffley and the Railway – 1910 onwards
This very old photograph is believed to show the very first train to travel over the then newly constructed railway bridge over Station Road Cuffley. The Enfield-Cuffley Section of the line was opened on the 4th of April 1910, thereby starting Cuffley’s transition from farming community to commuter village. Steam locomotives ran on the line until 1960, when they were replaced by diesel power, and in turn replaced by electric power in 1976
At 8.07 am on Monday 4th April 1910, the first train reached Cuffley from Gordon Hill. The 4-4-2 tank engine No 1508 ran around its train of 4-wheel carriages and returned to London at 8.17 am. Thus the Great Northern Railway extension from Grange Park to Cuffley opened with quiet efficiency. This was the first part of a project to turn the Enfield Branch (opened in 1871) into a loop line to relieve pressure on the double track main line through Potters Bar and Welwyn – a project that was not completed until 1924, due to shortages on manpower, money and materials during the First World War.
The Great Northern Railway branch to Enfield from Wood Green (since renamed Alexandra Palace) was authorised by Act of Parliament in 1865 as part of a line to Hertford but the powers for a line beyond Enfield were abandoned in 1869 about the time that construction of the four miles to Enfield commenced.
Between 1871 and 1910 the line, nowadays known as ‘The Hertford Loop’, terminated at Windmill Hill in Enfield, a short distance from the station we now know as Enfield Chase.
When the line was extended to Cuffley, new stations were also opened at Grange Park, Enfield Chase, Gordon Hill and Crews Hill. Whilst there was little demand for services to and from Cuffley in the years following the opening, the station was certainly put on the map with huge crowds travelling from London to see the remains of the German Airship SL11, shot down in the early hours of 3rd September 1916 by Royal Flying Corps Pilot William Leefe Robinson who was awarded the Victoria Cross.
In August 1912 Robert McAlpine & Sons were awarded the contract and construction work started to create a single line some fifteen miles from Cuffley via Hertford North to Langley Junction, with connection to the main line south of Stevenage. This section included the 2,684 yards long Ponsbourne Tunnel just south of Bayford. McAlpines erected cottages in Tolmers Road for site executives and set up a brickworks near the present Tolmers Scouts Camp to manufacture bricks for lining Ponsbourne Tunnel, some thirty million bricks were needed.
However the advent of World War One meant the work ceased abruptly but was resumed in 1917 and the line was opened for goods traffic on 4th March 1918. In December 1920 double tracking of the line was achieved and passenger services opened on 2nd June 1924 with stations at Bayford, Hertford North, Stapleford and Watton-at-Stone.
Key dates in the history of the railway
Since the line through Cuffley was opened train services have been run by:
- Great Northern Railway
- London & North Eastern Railway (LNER) in 1923
- British Railways (Eastern Region) 1st January 1948
- Network South East from 10th January 1986
- West Anglia Great Northern (WAGN) from 5th January 1997
- First Capital Connect from 1st April 2006
- Great Northern (part of Govia Thameslink Railway) from 14th December 2014
Key dates 1852 – 1899
- 1852 (14th October) Kings Cross Station opens, with only four stations (Hornsey, Colney Heath & Southgate, Barnet and Potters Bar) on the 17 ¾ mile stretch to Hatfield
- 1859 Wood Green Station opened
- 1865 Act of Parliament authorised Great Northern Railway (GNR) branch from Wood Green (now Alexandra Palace) to Enfield
- 1871 GNR opened a branch line to Enfield from Wood Green
- 1898 Act of Parliament for extension of Enfield branch via Cuffley and Hertford to Stevenage
Key dates 1900 – 1950
- 1906 Contracts let to H M Nowell for the first 4 ¾ miles from Enfield to Cuffley
- 1910 (4th April) Passenger services to Cuffley commence with trains from Kings Cross and Broad Street
- 1910 (May) Cuffley station re-named Cuffley & Goff’s Oak
- 1912 ‘Temporary brickworks’ built alongside (what is now) Tolmers Activity Centre to make bricks to line the new Ponsbourne Tunnel.
- 1916 (September) Vast crowds travel from London and suburbs to witness the remains of German Airship SL11 brought down on Cuffley, alongside East Ridgeway. In just 48 hours 10,000 people came by special trains that bore the words ‘Cuffley’ on the buffers. Two ‘expert’ ticket collectors were sent from Kings Cross station to help the perplexed staff at this tiny Hertfordshire station.
- 1918 (4th March). Regular freight workings cover the whole 14 ¾ miles from Cuffley to Langley Junction (south of Stevenage)
- 1920 (6th February) Passenger trains, on diversion from the main line, diverted along ‘The Hertford Loop’
- 1924 (2nd June) Passenger services start operating from Kings Cross through Cuffley to Hertford and Stevenage.
Key dates 1950 – present day
- 1959 Steam locomotives, usually LNER type N2, start to be phased out to be gradually replaced by diesel locomotives and diesel multiple units (DMU’s)
- 1962 (1st October) Freight yards closed at Crews Hill, Cuffley and Bayford.
- 1963 (December) Steam workings concluded.
- 1966 (April) Locomotive Flying Scotsman berthed on short spur line alongside Cuffley Station during filming of advert for Castrol Lubricants
- 1971 (18th March) Station re-named Cuffley, (from Cuffley & Goff’s Oak)
- 1975 Overhead lines and gantries built in readiness for new electric services
- 1976 (8th November) Electric trains (class 313 three car units) start running through Cuffley on The Hertford Loop into London, Moorgate using the connection between Finsbury Park and Moorgate from the former London Transport Underground tracks.
- 2000 (17th October) Hatfield; and
- 2002 (10th May) Potters Bar; due to fatal rail crashes, the ‘Hertford Loop’ was used as a diversion route for inter-city express trains. Local trains were severely reduced for several days and with bus replacements.
- 2010 (April). Northaw & Cuffley Parish Council support the ‘Making Tracks’ exhibition celebrating the 100th anniversary of the first train into Cuffley. The exhibition, under the auspices of the Enfield Museum Service, and the ‘Enfield Railway Historians’ (Dave Cockle, Roger Elkin, John Rowe, and Peter Dace) held in Cuffley Library 6-21 April and then at Forty Hall in Enfield. A commemoration plaque from the Parish Council is installed at Cuffley Station, above the ticket office window. Class 313 unit named ‘Captain William Leefe Robinson VC’ in the bay platform at Gordon Hill Station.
- 2016 (November) Annual season ticket to Moorgate £1,876 or £2,920 covering London zones 1-6 (1986 £633 to Moorgate; 1987 £776 all London zones)
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