A book celebrating the historical significance of the signal box at Chorleywood train station has been released.
The team at the Chorleywood Signal Box (CSB) first hoped to convert the inside of the century-old structure into a community museum of educational interest for children and adults alike.
However, costs levied on the plans by Transport for London (TfL), at an estimated minimum of £5,000, prohibited the project from proceeding.
The CSB said: “The change of mind by TfL on our use of the building’s ground floor, originally the signal interlocking room, for extending museum displays to include a model of Chorleywood station in the 1950s, prevented this most attractive feature from proceeding.
“Also, the lack of involvement by younger people, and with the local schools that were approached giving little support, the committee felt that there was insufficient longevity in the project, bearing in mind the average age of the project team members.”
As a result, the CSB turned their attention to honouring the signal box by producing a 62-page book, Rails to Chorleywood…and Beyond.
Archivist Hugh Howes spent a year putting the book together, utilising historic material from the London Transport Museum and his own collection of books on the town planning aspects.
Hugh said: “The signal box at Chorleywood is a rare survivor. It has been cared for, is locally ‘listed’ and an admired asset of the station. However, it has served no practical purpose for many years.
“Several unrelated organisations, Chorleywood Parish Council, the Chorleywood Residents Association, Three Rivers District Council, local history groups and model railway clubs, appreciated its potential as a local educational museum. It is regrettable that it has not been possible to realise this dream at the present time.
“However, Rails to Chorleywood…and Beyond has provided an opportunity to explain how the Chilterns, a significant challenge to the railway engineers, gave rise to ‘Metroland’ and some of the most desirable places to live. The estates owe much to the garden city movement which is Hertfordshire’s unique contribution to planned development.”
Rails to Chorleywood…and Beyond takes a deep dive into the storied history of the signal box, which dates as far back as 1889, and the Metropolitan Railway, and how it affected Chorleywood’s growth. It also contains first-hand accounts, detailing their experience and past with the railway.
It also doesn’t shy away from the near disasters that occurred, including the buckled track in 1979 which caused the derailment of three coaches, though thankfully no one was harmed. It also details the tunnel collapse at Gerrards Cross in 2005, when the Chiltern Railways route to Birmingham was completely blocked for weeks.
The book is available at for purchase at the Three Rivers Museum, Amersham Museum, the London Transport Museum in Covent Garden and Chorleywood Bookshop.