#139: Elstree & Borehamwood 23/05/2022

Elstree & Borehamwood Station

The station was built by the Midland Railway in 1868 as part of the railway line’s extension between Bedford to London. The station was initially named Elstree, followed by several changes with Elstree & Borehamwood until 1988, when the joint name stayed.

The station sits just north of two tunnels, appropriately named Elstree Tunnels, although I have also found references to Deacon’s Hill tunnels, so-called as they run under Deacon’s Hill. Built in 1867, the west tunnel carries the fast, non-stopping East Midlands line trains. The east tunnel was built in 1890, and Thameslink’s stopping commuter service now uses it.

Thameslink, along with other railway companies, has a distinct corporate colour scheme. I’m not sure if it’s pink, but it’s unmissable, and that’s the idea. For the colour aficionados, it’s hexadecimal ff5aa4. This image gives a flavour of the colour, as the bridge support pillars show in between the yellow bollards.

Before leaving the station, I wanted to pass comment on an image with a modern historical reference. It’s surprising how quickly we ignore/forget messages that influence our behaviour.

The message ‘keep 2m apart’ is fading, but I noticed rings that are spaced apart. I didn’t measure the distance between them, but I wonder if these were used to guide passengers on where to stand.

Elstree Film Studios

Borehamwood is the home to the world-famous Elstree Studios, and the area is awash with film references and displays remembering those actors who adorned their stages. This mural in vintage black and white outside the station is just one in the immediate vicinity reminding you of the area’s rich film history.

Whilst dominating the town’s northeastern quadrant, the film studios are not overbearing. Yes, you can see the signs for Elstree Studios and Universal Services from the roadside, but much of the area is shrouded in high fencing and bushes, preventing you from squinting inside. That’s understandable, of course, to prevent any ‘spoiler alerts’ during the filming process, but I did feel more than a little underwhelmed by what I saw.

I persevered with my stroll around the studio’s perimeters and followed the side road that skirts Tesco’s car park. The route takes me past the spectator entrance for shows such as Strictly Come Dancing and onwards to the back of the studios, where there was much work going on building two new sound stages. They are almost complete, and they’ll provide up to 18,000 sq feet of filming space each. Of course, I couldn’t get near them as security was tight, but they look impressive from the outside.

Sorry BBC, I didn’t get to your studios, but I’m not sure I would have seen much, given the access restrictions around your location.


The village of Elstree and the town of Borehamwood are historically linked through ecclesiastical and civil parish boundary changes over the years. However, the town of Borehamwood is the focus of my visit today.

The town’s population grew significantly after WWII as many Londoners were displaced and housed in council properties. However, the town remains a residential location with predominantly traditional properties and only a few mid-rise buildings. 

Shenley Road is the main high street. It’s just shy of being one kilometre long from the station at the western end to the football ground and Elstree Studios at the eastern end. 

The high street has the usual chains of retail outlets alongside a range of local independent shops. And sadly, several closed shops have become a familiar sight along today’s high streets.

There’s a large retail park and car park with a predictable array of larger retail outlets along the north side. But alas, the town hasn’t woken up to one retail outlet that no longer exists.

And almost opposite on the south side of the high street is the town centre’s only visible religious building, the red-bricked All Saints Church built in an attractive Jacobean style. Behind the church is its cemetery, which the Town Council now maintains. There’s a sign by the entrance gate promoting the area’s diverse wildlife and habitat for almost 500 colonies of yellow ants.

The cemetery is a little overgrown, although the gravestones are nevertheless visible. However, the cemetery would benefit from a cleanup similar to one carried out by the Cubs in 2010 to return it to a more presentable state.

Reading some of the dates on the gravestones, it seems the cemetery’s inhabitants had passed away many years ago, which might explain the lack of floral tributes. However, this grave of Elizabeth M McDermont was one of only two graves on the cemetery grounds that had plastic flowers on it as if in some way trying to brighten up this peaceful and secluded spot.

Meadow Park

It’s not just a park and play area, but Meadow Park is also the home to Borehamwood Football Club, Arsenal Women’s Football Club and Arsenal’s Under 23 Academy

I tried getting a sneak peek inside the ground, but the best I could get was a view through the visitor’s gate. The football pitch was undergoing treatment, and it looked like it was being re-laid ready for the coming season.

For the record, Borehamwood FC plays in the National League, the fifth tier of English Football, and they have had some success over the years. Most notably during the 2021/22 FA Cup competition when they got to the fifth round for the first time. To get there, they beat AFC Wimbledon and AFC Bournemouth en route to losing to Everton. 

There’s much work being carried out in the park area to upgrade the children’s play areas by introducing new features and safety measures. And on a wall near the Meadow Road entrance, I found myself drawn to this mural.

I can’t find anything about the mural, dated August 1997, but its content suggests it’s a celebration of the football club winning their League’s Cup competition in the preceding season. Any info would be appreciated.

Walking away from the mural, I stopped and said hello to a delightful lady walking her daughter’s dog – Tilly. We must have stopped for about 20 minutes or more, chatting about life in general. She also touched on the impact WWII, and Ukraine’s invasion had on her Jewish family. But despite, or maybe in spite of all her history, she had a very positive outlook on life.

As we parted, she suggested a walk through The Spinney would be an interesting and colourful distraction as the fields are full of buttercups at this time of year. Unfortunately, I didn’t quite make it to The Spinney, but I did see many fields full of buttercups as I headed south, climbing up Allum Lane.

Picture of the Day – Who lives here?

Somebody has set up ‘home’ along Shenley Road between The Works and an empty shop that was once Caffe Nero.

Sadly, such sights have become almost commonplace that passers-by give little visible attention to such scenes, although this lady does appear to offer a sideways glance.  

I confess I am always torn when I see such sights, as my experience has taught me that personal intervention results in a mixed response. But the reality is that I don’t feel empowered to be able to make a direct and positive impact with those I stop and talk to. 

That makes me uncomfortable, and that’s why I’ve chosen this picture as my day’s memory so that I can pose the question – 

What do you do?

  • Location: Outside The Works, 101 Shenley Road, Borehamwood
  • Date/Time: Monday 23rd May 2022, 10:40 am
  • Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture -f/7.1; Shutter Speed – 1/500; Focal Length – 147mm; Film Speed – ISO400

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