#153: Hadley Wood 06/12/2022

Hadley Wood Station

The Great Northern Railway opened the station in 1885 with one tunnel and two tracks. But it took another 74 years to build and open the second tunnel providing four tracks accommodating faster non-stopping trains. Platform 1 is on the station’s east side for London-bound trains, and platform 4 is on the west side to Potters Bar and onwards.

It’s a bright, sunny day. I need to wrap up warm, and the low-lying sun casts great shadows. Off-peak Great Northern services stop here every 30 minutes, but the station services are limited if you get caught on an unpleasant day. There are simple shelters, but the toilet was out of order.

The station also has a faded mural, an homagé to First Capital Connect, the previous train operating company that provided rail services to Hadley Wood up to 2014.

The road bridge that straddles the railway lines had to be extended as part of the 1950s works to open new tunnels, and these are the supporting arches directly underneath. The middle island for platforms 2 & 3 is closed to the public as they are for emergency use only if the fast lines are needed for stopping services.

The station sits midway along the Crescent, with a small parade of shops on one side and access to the Primary School on the other. A step-free ramp has been constructed to access platform 4, making travelling out of London more convenient. However, for those travelling south, passengers requiring step-free access have to travel north via Potters Bar and change trains. Whilst this is not at any additional cost, provided the passenger doesn’t leave the station, I am sure it adds significant travelling time and makes planning a little more challenging.

Hadley Wood

Geographically, Hadley Wood sits at the northern end of London within the London Borough of Enfield. However, it is closer to Barnet, in the London Borough of Barnet and Potters Bar in Hertfordshire, than the borough’s Enfield epicentre. And an eight minute walk from the station will lead you to the boundary with Hertfordshire, where commuters have found a quiet spot to park their cars for easy access to the station.

I’ve driven through Hadley Wood a few times, and my impression of it remains unchanged now that I’ve walked around. I’ll declare it as London’s poshest suburb with predominantly large detached properties in their own private and gated grounds. It’s so posh that they have their own security service patrolling the area in cars liveried to look like police cars. It was somewhat misleading to this casual observer until I read their cars decorated with ‘Bobbies on the beat’. Their presence made me feel slightly intimidated and reluctant to take photographs as I walked around.

The station is close to the M25, only a five minute drive from junction 24, which would explain why the Crescent is jam-packed with cars during the day. I suspect it’s a bit of a nightmare for the Crescent’s residents.

The area has a strong community association. Look at the Hadley Wood Association’s website, which contains helpful and historical information. There’s a great section on the history of Hadley Wood and its creation through the vision of a local farmer, Charles Jack. The association has posted copies of old photographs in and around the station to complement the archive.

In 2018, the association, in partnership with Network Rail, The Tree Council and the Hadley Wood Rail User Group (HWRUG), started a project to improve the vegetation habitats around the north tunnel cuttings. I have to applaud the achievements, as four years on, the footpath to the west of the cutting that leads through to Waggon Road provides some stunning views. No more so than this secluded view of the station from directly above the tunnels.

I search for a footpath that leads from Parkgate Avenue and Parkgate Crescent to New Barnet but try as I might, there are no signposts to guide me. They may, however, have been hidden by the number of builder’s vans parked around the area, as the scale of large property modernisation projects is phenomenal. But the paths are there, so maybe next time I’ll go prepared.

Unperturbed, I head back along Camlet Way until I reach St Paul’s of Hadley Wood. It’s a picturesque proprietary chapel on an acre of land nestled in the corner of Crescent East. It was originally known as the Church Room and built from concrete in 1911 by Albert Kingwell, who was the agent for the Jack Estate. At the time of my visit, the church is ready for Christmas with its nativity scene in view.

I return to the station, thankful for another interesting day. The day started with little expectation, and ended up surrounded by the beauty of the countryside.

England’s Green and Pleasant land

What a beautiful idyllic scene. The clear sky and low-lying sun provide this picture-perfect setting of grazing horses encased in long shadows.

I’ve opened my lens to its widest setting to get as much of the countryside in this shot as I believe the countryside can speak for itself, and it’s not surprising that the resident’s association objects to Enfield Council’s proposals to build new houses here.

  • Location: Hadley Wood looking west towards Kitt’s End from Crescent West
  • Date/Time: Tuesday 6th December 2022, 1:51 PM
  • Settings: Camera – Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture -f/6.3; Shutter Speed – 1/250; Focal Length – 18mm; Film Speed – ISO100

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