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The Nickey Line

The diagrams and information  below are taken from a leaflet jointly published and available from Harpenden Town Council, St Albans City and District Council, Redbourn Parish Council, Dacorum Borough Council and Countryside Management Service. 

Harpenden Section

Nickey line map - Harpenden to past Redbourn

Notes (See numbered points on the diagram):

1. Harpenden is still considered by many as a large village which grew in size after the arrival of the railways. Harpenden at the turn of the century became increasingly attractive to London commuters but still retains much of its countryside feel with 250 acres of commons and greens. A steep cutting joined the original branch line to the mainline railway to London. Cyclists may prefer to join the Nickey Line from Moreton End Lane where accesss can be gained avoiding steps.

 2 The platform and a former signal can still be seen at the site of the Roundwood Halt on the edge of Harpenden. When the railway first opened, this area was entirely agricultural, but in the early 1900ís houses were built, creating sufficient demand for the halt to be constructed and opened in 1927.

 3. The Nickey Line runs through land used by IACR Rothamsted for agricultural crop research. In the grassland areas alongside the Line here look out for salad burnet, marjoram, wild basil, oxeye daisy, agrimony and field scabious in late spring and early summer. Listen here for the songs of skylarks and yellowhammers. Part of the estate includes Knott Wood which can be seen from the path. Notice the hazel and hornbeam coppice in the woods and on either side of the Line. Regular cutting or coppicing of the hazel increases habitat diversity, adding to the wildlife interest of the Nickey Line.

4.  Redbournís name is believed to derive from Ďreedy steamí. The village is steeped in history with its first settlers arriving after fleeing Caesarís invasion of St AIbans around 5OAD. Today Redbourn is an attractive village with a large common. One of the Nickey Lineís main stations was at Redbourn, along with a goods yard and sidings. The former station site is now being developed into a pocket park by Redbourn Parish Council.

 5. The Ver Valley walk joins the Nickey Line for a short distance at Redbourn. The Line crosses the River Ver itself via a brick bridge after crossing a steel plate girder bridge over Redbourn High Street. The latter bridge was recently repainted with joint funding from local councils and businesses.

6. This more rural stretch of the line was home to Beaumontís halt, half a mile outside Redbourn. The M1 motorway (opened in 1959) passes over the line near to the former halt, from where the path runs through open countryside to the edge of Hemel Hempstead, at Cherry Tree Lane.

Hemel Hempstead Section

Nickey Line map from Hemel Hempstead towards Redbourn

Notes (See numbered points on the diagram):

7. A short distance from Cherry Tree Lane lies the site of the former Hemelite works, the last company to use the railway. The Line then continues through the Eastman Way industrial area where the path is interrupted for a short distance. Follow the Nickey Line signs through the industrial area to where the path once again resumes.

 8. Yew Tree Wood is one of a number of woods in Hemel Hempstead managed by Dacorum Borough Council. Named after the yew trees which line the edge of the path, the wood is an important wildlife habitat island in an otherwise built up area.

 9. The railway once continued through Hemel Hempstead to Boxmoor across a viaduct over the Marlowes. With the closure of this part of the line in the 1950ís the viaduct was demolished in 1960. The footpath and cycleway now continues from the bridge over Queensway, through Keenís Field and finishes beside the Midland Hotel.

 

 

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