Dating watford

History[ edit ] There is evidence of some limited prehistoric occupation around the Watford area, with a few Celtic and Roman finds, though there is no evidence of a settlement until much later. The name Watford may have arisen from the Old English for "waet" full of water the area was marshy , or "wath" hunting , and ford.

The town grew modestly, assisted by travellers passing through to Berkhamsted Castle and the royal palace at Kings Langley. A big house was built at Cassiobury in the 16th century. This was partly rebuilt in the 17th century and another substantial house was built nearby at The Grove. The houses were expanded and developed throughout the following centuries. The toll road followed approximately that of the original A41 road.

The location of a toll house can be seen at the bottom of Chalk Hill on the Watford side of Bushey Arches close to the Wickes hardware store; set in an old flint stone wall is a Sparrows Herne Trust plaque. The Industrial Revolution brought the Grand Junction Canal now Grand Union Canal from and the London and Birmingham Railway from , both located here for the same reasons the road had followed centuries before, seeking an easy gradient over the Chiltern Hills.

The land-owning interests permitted the canal to follow closely by the river Gade, but the prospect of smoke-emitting steam trains drove them to ensure the railway gave a wide berth to the Cassiobury and Grove estates. Consequently, although the road and canal follow the easier valley route, the railway company was forced to build an expensive tunnel under Leavesden to the north of the town. The old station house still stands today; it is a Grade-II-listed building and is now occupied by a second-hand car dealership.

The Grand Union Canal, allowed coal to be brought into the district and paved the way for industrial development. The Watford Gas and Coke Company was formed in and gas works built. The canal allowed paper-making mills to be sited at Croxley. The John Dickinson and Co. There had been brewing in Watford from the 17th century and, by the 19th century, two industrial scale brewers Benskins and Sedgwicks were located in the town.

During this time, Watford had a population of around 6, [11] The railways also continued to expand from Watford during this period; the Watford and Rickmansworth Railway opened in as a short branch line via Watford High Street to Rickmansworth Church Street , and another branch was added to Croxley Green in The original plan was to extend the Rickmansworth line south connecting Watford to Uxbridge ; this scheme failed and both the Rickmansworth and Croxley branches eventually closed.

Local landowners sold land for the development of the town and it was bought up by commercial interests. Various factories and other works sprung up in Watford, mostly breweries and prints, but also engineering works, a steam laundry, a cold storage company and a cocoa processing plant.

The town expanded rapidly, most of the new inhabitants moving in from London. New roads were laid out in Callowland North Watford and in West Watford, on what had been until then farmland. However, a lot of people still lived in the older cramped and unsanitary houses in the yards and alley-ways opening off the High Street.

The Council had a programme of slum clearance and was building council houses when the outbreak of war in brought this to a halt. This work resumed after the war and in the s the Harebreaks estate was developed. Watford was the biggest printing centre in the world and many advances in printing were made in Watford. During World War II the prints were taken over by the government who used them to print propaganda. After the war, the printing industry began going into decline.

Union activity was common in Watford and advances in technology meant much of the industry became obsolete. Odhams Press closed down in and The Sun moved out of Watford during the s after market reforms allowed it to do so. The de Havilland factory at Leavesden was responsible for the manufacture of the Mosquito fighter bomber and the Halifax bomber and later became Leavesden Aerodrome, to the north of Watford.

No longer operational, it was converted into Leavesden Film Studios , now famously the home of the Harry Potter films. Governance[ edit ] Watford was created as an urban district under the Local Government Act , and became a municipal borough by grant of a charter in The borough had 90, inhabitants at the time of the census. The Watford subdivision of the Greater London Urban Area , which includes much of the neighbouring districts, had a total population of , in the census.

Watford is one of only 18 authorities in England and Wales headed by a directly elected mayor. Dorothy Thornhill was the first directly-elected mayor of Watford , elected in May and re-elected in May and May Following the election the political make-up of the council is: Liberal Democrat 24 seats including the elected mayor , Labour 8 seats, Green 3 seats, Conservatives 1 seat, Independent 1 seat.

The first was Mainz , Germany, in , and the most recent is Pesaro , Italy, in ; the others are Nanterre , [31] Novgorod , and Wilmington, Delaware. Prior to the establishment of this constituency in the area was part of the three seat constituency of Hertfordshire. Hertfordshire County Council designates Watford and Stevenage to be its major sub-regional centres, heading its list of preferred sites for retail development. The primary shopping area is the Harlequin Shopping Centre , a large purpose-built indoor mall with over shops, restaurants and cafes built during the s, opened officially in June The owners of the shopping centre, Capital Shopping Centres, rebranded all their shopping centres, resulting in The Harlequin changing name to intu Watford Shopping Centre from May The site is now a residential area.

Daffodils in Cassiobury Park There are 43 public parks, gardens, recreation grounds and allotments in Watford. Of these, eight have been awarded a Green Flag, in recognition of their quality. The house was demolished in and the Cassiobury Gates in , for road widening. In July , the park won a Green Flag Award , which recognises the best green spaces in the country. The Grand Union Canal passes through the park.

Cheslyn House and Gardens[ edit ] Awarded Green Flag status since , Cheslyn has been open to the public since as a formal gardens and house. Henry and Daisy Colbeck originally owned the house and gardens. Mr Colbeck was a renowned local architect, and designed Cheslyn House; he and his wife created the original gardens.

The Colbecks travelled extensively, and this is reflected in the range of unusual and exotic plants in the gardens. Since the space has been open to the public it has been further developed, with new features added such as the pond, rock garden, large herbaceous borders and aviary. Woodside Park[ edit ] Awarded Green Flag status since , Woodside Playing Fields cover approximately 59 acres of playing fields, sports facilities and woodland.

The site comprises a range of sports facilities including an eight lane synthetic track and stadium, an indoor bowls green, a community centre, cricket squares, football pitches and Woodside Leisure Centre. Heritage[ edit ] There are 92 nationally listed buildings in Watford. It also contains the Essex Chapel, which served at the burial place of the nobility of the Cassiobury Estate, including the Earls of Essex.

The chapel contains a number of large, ornate marble tombs and memorials dating from the 16th century and later, and was described by Pevsner as "the chief glory of Watford Church". Built in by John Francis Bentley , the architect responsible for Westminster Cathedral in London , it is noted as a particularity fine example of Gothic Revival architecture. The ornate interior contains stained glass by the designer Nathaniel Westlake.


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