The Nicky line: Hemel Hempstead - Harpenden
Industry started the Hemel Hempstead-Harpenden railway, and industry keeps it going, but during the hundred years that have passed since the town band blew and Civic guests indulged their dignities at 1877's grand opening. The Nicky Line has waxed and waned dramatically.
Talk of rail links between Boxmoor and Luton first drifted across hallowed common land in 1863. but the Boxmoor Trust, landowners, and above all the rival rail moguls served to make this an extended dream. It was local men of means who laid the first foundations for better access to Luton's hat factories for Hemel's strawplait trade. John Barrow putup an initial £6,600 alone. Men like Balderson and Sherriff pushed through legislation, only to see delay and railway rivalry increase costs. ultimately beyond their means. It took 14 years to get the line into operation, by which time it was beyond local purses.
The Midland took over; by 1877 expenditure had exceeded £140,000. These were not the only tall figures; steep gradients and cruel curves singled out The Nicky Line as somewhat out of the ordinary. So was some of the rolling stock the geriatric Pullman, and the ambiguous ro-railer with its petrol engine and its choice of wheels.
In 1914, 1st class tickets were withdrawn; in 1947 the passenger service was suspended, never to he resumed. Then, in 1959, Hemelite Ltd. lent it a new lease of life, taking over completely in 1968, and today the line carries more freight than ever before. In 1977 a plaque was unveiled in Hemel Hempstead to celebrate the line's Centenary. This book is a similar celebration, setting down the facts concisely, with a light touch and abundant illustration, for student, railway huff and local resident alike.
Hardback with dust jacket, 120 pages, black & white photographs, maps
Condition: Very Good
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Updated: 1 June 2020