St Albans’ lost railways brought back to life

A GRANT has been awarded to a project celebrating the heritage of the county’s former railway branch lines.

The �48,700 donation to the Lost Rails project from The Heritage Lottery Fund will enable local people to share memories and learn about the history of branch lines that operated across Herts, including those from Harpenden to Hemel Hempstead, St Albans to Hatfield and Wheathampstead to Welwyn Garden City.

Significant parts of the local routes are now used for walking and cycling, better known as the Nickey Line, Ayot Greenway and the Alban Way respectively.

Local charity Groundwork Hertfordshire and the St Albans Museums Service are working together to lead the project, to which Herts County Council and Herts Highways have contributed financially.

An event in April at the St Albans South Signal Box marked the formal start of the project and gave volunteers, enthusiasts and representative to share their memories while exploring the restored signal box and gardens.

Chris Green, museums and heritage officer from St Albans Museums Service, said: “We are delighted that the Heritage Lottery Fund and other funders have allowed this project to take place – there is great interest in it from many quarters and many age groups.”

Peter Christmas, from Groundwork Hertfordshire, said: “As a charity involved in a wide range of environmental improvement projects, we know that enabling people to learn about their local heritage can also help to increase their sense of belonging and pride for the area.

Most Read

“Groundwork has helped to develop and improve many of the cycling and walking routes along the former railway branch lines, so it is good to be involved in a project that places them in historical context.”

Robyn Llewellyn, head of region for the Heritage Lottery Fund in the East of England, said: “The railway played an important part in developing Hertfordshire’s varied character.

“This exciting project will celebrate this valuable heritage by bringing its stories to life, enabling community members to get involved and share their past. We are keen to fund projects that make local history accessible and encourage communities to identify, look after and enjoy their heritage, and Lost Rails will do exactly that.”

The Lost Rails exhibition will be held at the Museum of St Albans on Hatfield Road from October and an online archive will provide a lasting reminder of the project.