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Welwyn Garden City

Welwyn's Railways

A History of the Great Northern Line from 1850 to 1986

Authors: Revd. Tom W. Gladwin, Peter W. Neville, Douglas E. White.

Published: 1986 by Castlemead Publications, Ware

Format: Hardback 8¾" by 10¾" with 120 pages



From the dust-jacket flaps

This book is a history of the Great Northern, from its inception in 1850 to the present day. The history is depicted in microcosm, using the five-mile stretch of double track between Welwyn Garden City and Woolmer Green. This unique bottle-neck on the East Coast Main Line has been coped with by clever management of train movements, signalling, more powerful locomotives which reduced the number of freight journeys and with increased speeds.

This section of the GN is a living museum of the best in Victorian design and engineering skills exemplified in Digswell Viaduct and Welwyn North's 'italianate' station.

The authors describe in detail the history of the railway in this attractive and largely unspoiled part of Hertfordshire but cover also the overall development of the line from its early construction, through to its heyday in the late 19th and early 20th centuries and its rationalisation and modernisation in recent times. They describe the creation of branch lines, of goods and coal yards, cattle and sheep pens, movements of parcels, coal, minerals and grain, all commonplace up to the 1940s. Then the transformations made at the coming of age of the motor car and road transport into the ever-faster and more distant commuter services and the high-speed long distance passenger services. All these developments and their effects on a local station and services are fully described.

Other chapters provide detailed accounts of Motive Power, Coaching Stock, Accidents, Fares and Tickets as well as Populations and Passengers. The whole supported by a variety of tables with examples of timetables through the years in the appendices.

120 pages containing 8 colour plates, 71 photographs, 8 line diagrams and drawings and 2 maps. A construction plan of Digswell Viaduct dated 1864 is included in the form of a throwout.

The Authors

The Revd. Tom W. Gladwin

A systems analyst by profession, he was ordained priest in 1982. Better known as a naturalist being co-author of The Birds of Hertfordshire, he is a familiar figure on Welwyn North station where, since boyhood, he has kept a historical record of railway operations for the last 40 years. He is a member of both the Railway Correspondence and Travel Society (RCTS) and The Railway Club.

Peter W. Neville MA

Peter Neville has inherited a lifelong interest in public transport from his father. In 1978 Peter and his wife Denise, who shares his interests, moved to Digswell, since when they have commuted daily from Welwyn North station. Peter's special interests are in the timetabling of services, line usage, and coaching stock design.

Douglas E. White FRICS

Doug's interest in railways started in infancy. His meticulously maintained records extend back to 1921. An early member of the RCTS, founded in 1928, he was Honorary Editor of the national journal Railway Observer from 1933 to 1958. His major work was as joint editor of the Locomotives of the GWR published in 13 parts between 1951 and 1984.

Book jacket design and painting 'Digswell Viaduct' by Ronald Maddox VPRI PSIAD FSAI





List of Colour Plates
List of Illustrations
List of Tables
List of Abbreviations
1   Introduction
2   A Short History of Railways Around Welwyn
  The Great Northern Railway
Welwyn junction station
Welwyn Garden City
Welwyn Garden City station
The branch lines
Amalgamation and nationalisation
3   Welwyn North
4   Viaducts, Bridges and Tunnels
5   Signals and Signalling
  Digswell signal box
Welwyn North signal box
Woolmer Green signal box
Power signalling
6   Express Trains
  Yorkshire and Scottish expresses
Pullman services
7   Passenger Services at Welwyn North
  Monday to Friday services
Weekend services
8   Principal Peak Period Passenger Services
  The up services
The down services
9   Goods and Mineral
10   Motive Power
11   Coaching Stock
12   Accidents
13   Fares and Tickets
Luggage labels
14   Population and Passengers
15   The Cowper Arms
16   Today and Tomorrow
A   Chronological History of the Great Northern Line in Hertfordshire
B1   Great Northern Timetable August 1852
B2   Extract of Great Northern Timetable 1887
B3   Extract of Great Northern Timetable 1921
B4   Timetable of Up Services from Hitchin to Kings Cross - October 1943
B5   BR Kings Cross Suburban Timetable, London to Hertford and Hitchin, Evening Peak Period 1967
B6   Great Northern Electrics Outer Suburban Timetable, Royston to Kings Cross, Monday to Fridays 1978
B7   Morning Peak Period, Huntingdon and Royston to Stevenage and London 1985
C   Welwyn North's Record Trains
Principal Sources and References



List of Illustrations

Part of the official map London and North Eastern Railway and Connecting Railways published in 1930

Map published in 1898 showing the GNR through Welwyn

Diagram showing the gradient profile of the GNR from Kings Cross to Hitchin

Welwyn station looking south, c.1860-70

Welwyn station looking north at the turn of the century

Welwyn Garden City station in 1920 showing the platforms for the Luton and Hertford branches

The original station at Welwyn Garden City on the Luton branch in 1921

The original Welwyn Garden City station prior to closure in 1926

The new Welwyn Garden City station officially opened on 5 October 1926

Welwyn Garden City station showing the up and the Hertford branch platforms

The goods shed at Welwyn Garden City, demolished in May 1986

Diagram of Welwyn station in 1907, based on an official GNR drawing

Welwyn station c.1900 showing the mid-morning departure for Peterborough

GNR Class C1 'Atlantic' No 250 hauling an up stopping morning train from Peterborough c.1913

View from the footbridge at Welwyn station, looking south, 13 May 1908

View from the north end of Welwyn station showing the cattle dock and sidings in use

A pre-1928 morning stopping train to Peterborough at Welwyn station hauled by LNER Class A1 'Pacific' No 4474 Victor Wild

The former shunting horse stable at Welwyn North station

Welwyn North station in 1963 prior to alterations

The first passenger-carrying electric train to call at Welwyn North station, 'The Silver Jubilee Special'

Welwyn North station as partially modernised in the 1960s

Newly constructed Welwyn viaduct, 10 August 1850

Welwyn (or Digswell) viaduct approach embankment under construction in 1850

Welwyn viaduct in 1908 showing the salt markings on the brickwork

The viaduct as seen from the Hertford Road, looking west in 1915

The pre-war down 'Flying Scotsman' crossing the viaduct behind LNER Class A3 'Pacific' No 2746 Fairway

The tunnels at Welwyn viewed from the up platform of Welwyn North station

Lineside indicator for Digswell Junction at the south end of Welwyn viaduct, February 1986

Digswell Junction signal box: 1901 track layout

Signal lamp from Digswell Junction up home signal

Welwyn North signal box: 1931 track layout

Welwyn North signal box, 1967

Signalman Horace Ball at work in Welwyn North signal box during 1943

Signalman Henry Bygrave

The upper quadrant up inner distant signals between the tunnels, July 1963

Down starting signals at Welwyn North station (Welwyn North 22) 1971

Woolmer Green signal box: 1903 track layout

A GNR 2-2-2 on an up express train between the Welwyn tunnels in the post 1903 era

A pre-1903 View of a GNR 4-2-2 on a London bound train at the south end of the viaduct

LNER Class A1 'Pacific' No 2547 Doncaster with the up 'Flying Scotsman'

The up 'Silver Jubilee' streamlined express from Newcastle to Kings Cross

LNER Class A4 streamlined 'Pacific' No 4492 Dominion of New Zealand on a Leeds to Kings Cross express between the tunnels in 1938

LNER Class B1 4-6-0 No 61394 on an up semi-fast train between the tunnels in 1953

BR Class A1 'Pacific' No 60122 Curlew hauling an up express between the tunnels in 1958

Up passenger train emerging from Welwyn North Tunnel hauled by BR Type 4 (Class 40) 2000 hp diesel-electric locomotive No D201 in June 1958

BR 'Deltic' diesel-electric locomotive No D9020 Nimbus hauling the down centenary 'Flying Scotsman' on 18 June 1962

Suburban route diagrams for 1936 and 1986

The up 0801 electric multiple unit (EMU) No 312/723 leaving Welwyn North station

BR Cl. 9F 2-10-0 No 92188 on a train of empty coal wagons emerging from Welwyn South Tunnel

LNER Class V2 2-6-2 No 60911 on the down Scotch goods between the tunnels in 1953

Tom the Welwyn North shunting horse with his driver Charles Halls, 1938

BR Cl. 31 diesel-electric locomotive No 31171 on a down train of nine grain wagons

GNR Stirling 8 feet 'Single' 4-2-2 No 1 on the down RCTS special train

LNER Class L1 2-6-4T No 67746 on an up 'Cambridge Buffet Express'

King George V's funeral train hauled by LNER 'Sandringham' Class 4-6-0 No 2847 Helmingham Hall

LMS Cl. 4 2-6-4T No 42374 leaving Welwyn North station

LMS Cl. 5 4-6-0 No 44911 on the 8.10 am Kings Cross to Cambridge train

GWR 'Castle' class 4-6-0 No 7029 Clun Castle approaching Welwyn North station

BR Cl. 37 diesel-electric locomotive No D6748 hauling a Cleethorpes to Kings Cross express

Class 317/2 electric multiple units (EMUS) Nos 354 and 349 passing Welwyn North station

A typical GNR outer suburban train passing Greenwood signal box near Hadley Wood station

Early Gresley articulated-twin, non-corridor coaches forming a Cambridge to Kings Cross train

The 1.56pm Kings Cross to Cambridge train including a Gresley LNER luggage van, two BR Mark 1 coaches and a Thompson LNER luggage van in its formation

BR Cl. 21 diesel-electric locomotive No D6100, built by the North British Locomotive Company

BR Cl. 26 diesel-electric locomotive No D5330, supplied by Sulzer, on the 7.35am train from Baldock to Kings Cross

BR Cl. 23 'Baby Deltic' diesel-electric locomotive No D5909 on a down stopping train at Welwyn North station

Three BR Cl. 105 twin diesel multiple unit (DMUS) sets on an up Cambridge to Kings Cross train

BR Cl. 31 diesel-electric locomotives built by Brush Traction

BR Craven-built diesel multiple unit train between the Welwyn tunnels

The scene in Welwyn North (Harmer Green) Tunnel following the accident on 9 June 1866

Smashed coaches following the accident at Welwyn Garden City on 15 June 1935

LNER Class K3 2-6-0 No 4009 immediately following the accident at Welwyn Garden City on 15 June 1935

The scene at Ayot station following the derailment of LNER Class C12 4-4-2T No 1550 on 8 May 1926

An Edmondson ticket dating machine

The Edmondson card railway ticket issuing rack

An unmodified GNR ticket office

A GNR luggage label

The Cowper Arms Hotel, Digswell 1915

The Cowper Arms Hotel in the 1920s

The Cowper Arms, Digswell 1986

Throwout plan Welwyn (Digswell) viaduct construction plans reprinted from Record of Modern Engineering published in 1864 inside back cover

Bookjacket ‘The Flying Scotsman' heading north over Digswell Viaduct in the 1930s. The viewpoint is from the drive of Tewin Water House. An especially commissioned painting by Ronald Maddox VPRI, FSIAD, FSAI.



The original station at Welwyn Garden City on the Luton branch in 1921