#157: Amersham 31/01/2023

Amersham Station

The station opened in 1892 as part of the Metropolitan Railway’s extension to Aylesbury, with journeys into Marylebone starting in 1899 provided by the Great Central Railway. The station’s name changed once in 1922 to Amersham and Chesham Bois but reverted to Amersham in 1937. There’s a brief history of Amersham Station’s opening, written by Amersham Museum, here.

I’ve arrived courtesy of Chiltern Railways today and travelled as far as I can using my Freedom Pass. However, the half-hourly off-peak service from Marylebone ventures on to Aylesbury on the route once operated by The Metropolitan Line (Met). The Met line now terminates at Amersham, and this was the feature of my earlier visit in November 2018. The Met also operates every half hour, so collectively there are four trains an hour into London. The photo below shows the Met train waiting in the sidings north of the platforms as the Chilterns train departs.

Step-free access between the three platforms was provided in 2021, but the imagery of the original footbridge, with its cast iron railings, still evokes the steam days of the past. You can imagine standing on the footbridge in the days before the canopy and side screens and feeling the steam and smoke wash over you as the trains pass underneath. 

The rail network opened a new signal box as part of the line’s electrification on the far side of the station. It’s not a patch on what the original would have looked like. Today’s version is metal encased, almost container-like, and houses the controls for the line from Amersham to Chalfont and Chesham. Metroland has a fascinating article about the station’s history.

Amersham on the Hill

During my first visit, I concentrated my exploration on Old Amersham, about a mile down the hill from the station. It’s OK walking down, but prepare yourself for a steady climb on the return journey. But today, I stayed around the town, now popularised as Amersham on the Hill. The article in the title heading, by Alison Bailey for Bucks Free Press, reproduced on the Amersham Museum website, gives one view of the town. Here’s mine.

A brief Metropolitan history – Let’s stay with the train theme a little longer. If you head up Hill Avenue from the station and look back, you can see how the station’s step-free access bridge dominates the skyline.

But don’t let that deter your visit. As you reach the top of the hill at the junction with Chesham and Sycamore Roads, you’ll see a magnificent half-size miniature replica of Metropolitan No.1 train. This train was, in real life, the steam locomotive that hauled the last passenger steam service on the London Underground in 1961. It’s now preserved at the nearby Buckinghamshire Railway Centre, and I’m grateful to IanVisits, who wrote about the model when it first appeared in 2021, for bringing this to my attention.

If you’re planning a visit to Amersham, for whatever reason, take a slight detour and enjoy the simple pleasure of admiring this excellent model.

The four images in the carousel below show the model from a different angle:

  • the Metropolitan railway emblem
  • a close-up of the buffers between the engine and carriage
  • looking at the train through the closed level-crossing gates, and
  • the train in all its glory with a first and third-class carriage in tow.

During my research for this blog, I was surprised at the number of helpful and informative websites promoting Amersham’s attractions. The Visit Amersham site does that well, and by including a link to the sites I have mentioned, I hope it will encourage you to look beyond my words.


I don’t, as a matter of course, take photos of shop fronts unless there’s an interesting story behind it or its presentation attracts my attention in some way. So as Amersham on the Hill is a town centre, a few caught my eye. Here are four of them.

Bellybusters, Station Road: If you fancy a quick breakfast snack on the way to the station, this sandwich shop is the place to go. It was early afternoon and trade was light, and the owner was preparing to shut up for the day. But he was kind enough to entertain a brief chat about how difficult trade has been in recent years. He also shares the challenges he faces in getting his bread rolls ordered right at the start of the day. It’s a delicate balance of anticipating demand to ensure he has no surplus at the day’s end. Anyway, the sight of the shop made me smile.

British Red Cross, 1 Grimsdell Corner, Sycamore Road: Charity shops have become increasingly prominent along today’s high streets. And who remembers the scenes during lockdown when charity shops had to plead with people not to leave donations on their doorsteps? It seems that such requests are still unheeded in Amersham as the shop was closed ‘due to staff shortages’.

Ivy Stores, 43 Plantation Road: When I took this shot, I was avoiding the 71 Red Rose bus to Chesham, weaving between the cars parked outside the shop. The quirkiness of this shop made me stop to look at it, as it no doubt serves its locality well and is typical of many ‘corner shops’ around the country, with windows full of advertised products and services. But, sadly, the caged windows are a telling sign.

A Little Street Kitchen, Sycamore Road: Just by Sycamore Corner, this is a relatively new addition to the area, and as its website states, it’s ‘an Amersham cafe serving Asian inspired all-day food and speciality coffee’. On a wintry day, no one sits outside on their colourful pavement table and chairs, but the cafe is very busy inside. But as I’m about to move on. One customer comes out so that her dog can get some water.

And whilst I was at Sycamore Corner, I enjoyed the Town Council’s wonderful Platinum Jubilee Pollinator Bed. It’s a small garden promoting the benefits of flowers to attract pollinators, and it shares some staggering statistics. One is that over the last 50 years, the UK bee, moth and butterfly population has halved due to the loss of wildflower meadows. There’s also a collection of sculpted bees flying through the garden.

I have been sowing wildflower seeds annually to help with my vegetable crops. They are easy to grow and bring abundant colours to the garden. Simple pleasures.

The Street Market arrives every Tuesday in Amersham, and I was lucky to catch it today as the weather was kind and people were mingling around. I saw that they are all local traders with stalls ranging from fruit and veg, local honey and other artisan products.

Because of my more recent association with all things books, I’m drawn to the bookstall run by volunteers from the Michael Sobell Hospice Charity. First, I watched from afar and spotted an elderly couple browsing through the many tables covered in books. But having observed them for a little while, I’m not sure they bought any.

I spoke with David, who explained that over the last six years, they had raised over £100,000 for the hospice. So many congratulations to you. David explained that the bookstall visits the Amersham and Chesham markets, although attendance at Chesham has dropped. 

As I was about to leave, I commented on the bright colours of another volunteer’s winter coat. David introduced me to Jane, who was busy sorting out the books, and she didn’t take much persuading to pose for me, and I’m glad she did.

As an aside, I mentioned that I had spent time admiring the Memorial Garden in Old Amersham during my earlier visit. David explained that Gary Grant, the owner of the toy store chain The Entertainer, is its benefactor. In fact, the first Entertainer store opened in Amersham, and the chain has its distribution warehouses nearby too.

Picture of the Day – Books, Books and more Books

I’ve already written about the Market, and in particular, about the books stall run by the Michael Sobell Hospice Charity volunteers. So it’s no surprise my picture of the day comes from the photos I took at the bookstall. It’s taken me over 60 years to appreciate the enjoyment you get from reading a well-written book. Maybe because I’m also a published author, but I think more because of the new author friends I have made recently whose works and words I now admire.

We are all individuals with stories to tell, and that’s what we have done. So imagine the untold stories waiting to be read through the collection before me. The hand to the right is that of Jane, one of the volunteers, as she re-arranges the books into author surname order.

There are several books in this collection I’m familiar with, but I was saddened to hear from David, another volunteer, who explained that some charity shops had closed down owing to the high rents. Combined with admin and handling costs, they sold their books for a minimum of £2.99. Maybe not the bargain some people are looking for.

So, please support your local bookstore to encourage new writers to write, as it is a challenging market to compete against the publishing and distribution giants. 

  • Location: Michael Sobell Hospice Charity bookstall, Amersham Market
  • Date/Time: Tuesday 31st January 2023, 12.11 PM
  • Settings: Camera – Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture -f/5; Shutter Speed – 1/200; Focal Length –  33mm; Film Speed – ISO100

Social Media
Please follow me on my social media channels: Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter if you like what you see.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.