North of Edgware

Edgware Station, London Underground Northern Line (2002)

Edgware Station, London Underground Northern Line (2002)

Staring at the London Underground map as the train rattles through the tunnels can become a hypnotic experience.

I find myself identifying which of the stations are named after pubs that were once horse-tram termini – Angel, Elephant & Castle, Manor House, Royal Oak and Swiss Cottage.

I’m also intrigued by the odd little branches, such as the Northern Line extension to Mill Hill East.  This, it turns out, used to be a LNER branch-line through to Edgware, and was about to be converted into a Northern Line service when the Second World War broke out.  The only section that was within reach of completion became part of the Northern Line in 1941;  the rest was eventually lifted in 1965.

Between the wars Edgware had two stations, the branch line and the Underground:  the site of the LNER station and goods yard is now the modern shopping mall.

When you leave the Northern Line train at the terminus at Edgware, you may notice that the platform and track disappear under the road, where the buffer stops are sited.

This is because the line was to be extended beyond the 1924 Edgware station, as part of the London Transport 1935-40 New Works Programme, to Bushey Heath with additional stations at Brockley Hill and Elstree South.

At the outbreak of war, some of the formation, including viaducts and tunnels, was in place and the largely completed depot at Aldenham was adapted as an aircraft factory.

Post-war designation of the area around Bushey Heath as Green Belt meant that there would never be enough housing to justify an Underground extension, and work was not resumed.

The isolated Aldenham depot became a bus maintenance works, which appears in the opening sequence of the 1963 Cliff Richard movie, Summer Holiday, produced by Associated British Pictures down the road at Elstree.

The bus works closed in 1986 and has now completely disappeared.  The railway route beyond Edgware is largely built on and there is little to see, but some of the defunct line south of Edgware towards Mill Hill is now accessible as a nature reserve [see].

Tony Beard’s book, By Tube beyond Edgware (Capital Transport 2002), a superb exercise in writing about a railway that never was, tells and illustrates the full story.

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