Hemel Hempstead’s buses of years gone by – all aboard for a trip down memory lane

The news that the existing bus station in the former market square in Hemel Hempstead is to be replaced as part of the town’s regeneration led me to discover more about the story of the station bus.

The first motor bus serving Boxmoor Station and the High Street, then the centre of the town, was started more than 100 years ago and there were 21 services a day.

Buses line up for Dickinson workers

Buses line up for Dickinson workers

Before that date, a horse bus service had operated from the Posting House at 2 Marlowes – it cost sixpence to the station and there were 15 daily journeys.

The London and North Western Railway (LNWR) owned the bus and the company did not approve of the idea of a line joining Bury Mill End to Boxmoor, as proposed by Mr Grover, nor a line from Boxmoor to Harpenden, to join the LNWR with the Midland Railway.

However, the latter line was built and became known as ‘Puffing Annie’ locally or the ‘Nicky/Nickey’ line in Harpenden.

When this railway, running from Heath Park Halt to Chiltern Green, eventually ceased its passenger services in 1947, a replacement bus was used instead.

Buses were vital to the large workforce at John Dickinson’s Mills at Apsley, Nash and Home Park. Many employees lived nearby, but buses from Berkhamsted and Watford were well patronised.

Geoffrey Jellicoe wanted a new railway station and a linked bus station at Two Waters, requiring the demolition of the LMS station in Boxmoor, in his Master Plan for the New Town in 1947. It would have linked the old Midland line trains from Heath Park to Harpenden. We got the bus station – but nothing else happened! The new bus depot was completed in 1953 for the London Transport Executive at Two Waters – Joan Hands