Stanmore Branch line The Stanmore Rattler

Stanmore Branch Line


With a population of only 1,400 and three stations within easy reach there was little demand for a branch line to Stanmore. London hotel owner Fredrick Gordon acquired the Bentley Priory estate in 1882 with the intention of converting it into a country retreat and resort for his London hotel guests. To bring customers to his new 'resort', Gordon resurrected an earlier failed proposal to bring a railway to Stanmore by proposing his own Harrow and Stanmore Railway Bill; his line was authorised in 1886.

After failing to raise sufficient capital, Gordon proposed a second Bill in 1887 for a shorter 2 1/8 mile route from a junction with the London & North Western Railway at Harrow & Wealdstone to a terminus at Stanmore. By a further Act in 1891 the LNWR agreed to work the short branch with the Harrow & Stanmore Railway building and maintaining a single track line with a passenger and goods station at Stanmore and interchange sidings at Harrow. The act also allowed for an intermediate station if requested by the LNWR. After one year the LNWR agreed to take over maintenance and repair of the line.

The H & SR was sold to the LNWR under 'The LNWR (Additional Powers) Act of 1st July 1899 before the line was completed with the first train running on 18.12.1890. The first timetable shows ten down and nine up trains Mondays to Fridays with one extra train on Saturdays. There were no Sunday trains as part of the initial deal secured by Fredrick Gordon.

In 1912 Harrow & Wealdstone Station was rebuilt as part of the LNWR widening and suburban electrification scheme. The branches from Watford to Croxley Green and Rickmansworth were both electrified but because of the position of the junction the Stanmore branch was not included which, in the long run, led to the demise of the line after the Metropolitan Railway (now the Jubilee line) opened their line to Stanmore on 10th December 1932 once urban development reached the area.

The branch survived WW2 with only a short disruption to the service when a bomb left a crater near the track. In 1946 there was a fuel shortage and the Sunday service which had initially been very popular was temporarily suspended. When it was reinstated most passengers had found alternative means of transport and never returned to the railway so the Sunday service was permanently withdrawn from 27 July 1947. Although Belmont remained busy and was now the principal station on the line few passengers used the terminus at Stanmore and in 1952 the average daily usage was only 700 so it came as no surprise when BR announced closure of the branch which was making an annual loss of 4000. There was a robust campaign by residents of Belmont to keep their section of the line open; this was successful and from 15th September 1952 the passenger service was cut back to Belmont. Stanmore remained open being served by a daily freight train.

Track lifting beyond the retained siding took place in January 1966 and the remaining siding was lifted at the end of 1968.

Despite a campaign in 1967 to renovate Stanmore Station as an arts centre and railway museum the station site was sold to a local property developer in 1969 while Harrow Council bought the remainder of the track bed much of it has now been developed although the central section of the branch is now a public footpath between Christchurch Road through Belmont to Wolverton Road.




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