Power Flush Watford

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Watford is a large town and borough in Hertfordshire, England, on the River Colne, 15 miles northwest of Central London.

Initially a small market town, the Grand Junction Canal encouraged the development of paper mills, printing presses, and breweries. While industry has declined in Watford, the town’s proximity to London and transportation links have enticed several companies to locate their headquarters there. Cassiobury Park is a public park that was once the Earls of Essex’s manor estate.

The town grew up next to the River Colne on land owned by St Albans Abbey. A charter allowing a market was granted in the 12th century, and construction on St Mary’s Church began. The town grew in part as a result of visitors to Berkhamsted Castle and the royal palace at Kings Langley. In the 16th century, a mansion was built in Cassiobury. This was partially rebuilt in the 17th century, and at The Grove, another country house was built.

Watford’s rapid growth was aided by the Grand Junction Canal in 1798 and the London and Birmingham Railway in 1837, with paper-making mills such as John Dickinson at Croxley influencing the development of printing in the town. Two breweries, Benskins and Sedgwicks, merged and thrived in town until their closure in the late twentieth century. Watford has been designated as a major sub-regional center by Hertfordshire County Council. Watford is home to several corporate headquarters. Watford has also hosted international conferences and sporting events, including the 2006 World Golf Championship, the 2013 Bilderberg Conference, and the 2019 NATO summit, all of which were held at The Grove. 

Watford was designated as an urban district under the Local Government Act of 1894 and a municipal borough by charter in 1922. Three Rivers District separates the borough, which had 90,301 residents at the time of the 2011 census, from Greater London to the south. The Mayor of Watford is the head of the local authority, and he is one of only 18 directly elected mayors in England and Wales.

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    There is some evidence of limited prehistoric occupation in the Watford area, with a few Celtic and Roman finds, but no evidence of a settlement until much later.

    Watford is located where an ancient trackway from the southeast to the northwest could cross the River Colne. Watford’s High Street follows a portion of this route. The town was built on the first dry ground above the marshy banks of the Colne River. The name Watford may derive from the Old English words “waet” (full of water – the area was marshy), “wath” (hunting), and “ford.” From a grant by King Offa in AD 793, St Albans Abbey claimed rights to the manor of Casio (then called “Albanestou”), which included Watford.

    The name Watford appears for the first time in an Anglo-Saxon charter from 1007, where “Watforda” is listed as one of the places defining the boundary of “Oxanhaege.” It is not mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086, when this area was part of the manor of Cashio of St Albans Abbey. The Abbey was granted a charter in the 12th century, allowing it to hold a market here, and construction on St Mary’s Church began. The settlement’s location aided its growth because, in addition to trade along this north-south through route, it had good communications into the St Albans valley to the east and into the Chiltern Hills along the valley of the River Chess to the west. The town grew slowly, aided by visitors passing through on their way to Berkhamsted Castle and the royal palace at Kings Langley. In the 16th century, a large house was built at Cassiobury. This was partially rebuilt in the 17th century, and another substantial house, The Grove, was built nearby. Throughout the centuries that followed, the houses were expanded and developed. Cassiobury became the Earls of Essex’s family seat, and The Grove became the Earls of Clarendon’s. 

    Sparrows Herne Turnpike Road was built across the Chilterns in 1762. The toll road roughly followed the original A41 road route. A toll house can be seen at the bottom of Chalk Hill on the Watford side of Bushey Arches; a Sparrows Herne Trust plaque is set in an old flint stone wall.

    Daniel Defoe described Watford as a “genteel market town, very long, with but one street” in 1778.

    Revolutionary Warfare
    For many centuries, Watford was primarily an agricultural community with some cottage industry. The Grand Junction Canal (now Grand Union Canal) was built in 1798, and the London and Birmingham Railway was built in 1837, both for the same reasons that the road had followed centuries before, seeking an easy gradient over the Chiltern Hills. The landowners agreed to the canal following closely by the river Gade, but the prospect of smoke-emitting steam trains compelled them to ensure the railway gave the Cassiobury and Grove estates a wide berth. As a result, despite the fact that the road and canal take the more direct valley route, the railway company was forced to construct an expensive tunnel beneath Leavesden to the north of the town. 

    Watford’s first railway station, a small, single-story red-brick structure on the west side of St Albans Road, opened in 1837. It was demolished in 1858 to make way for a new, larger station at Watford Junction, about 200 metres (220 yards) to the south-east. The old station house still stands today; it is a Grade-II-listed building that is now in the middle of a high-density housing development and was a used car dealership for many years. The railway station at Watford Junction is located to the north-east of the town center.

    During the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, these developments provided the town with excellent communications and fueled its industrial growth. The Grand Union Canal brought coal into the district, paving the way for industrial development. In 1834, the Watford Gas and Coke Company was formed, and gas works were constructed. Croxley was able to host paper mills thanks to the canal. The Croxley brand of fine quality paper was manufactured at the John Dickinson and Co. mill next to the canal. Brewing had been practiced in Watford since the 17th century, and by the 19th century, the town was home to two large-scale breweries, Benskins and Sedgwicks. In 1871, the parish church of St Mary’s was extensively restored. During this time, the town grew slightly. In 1851, King Street, a new street off the High Street, opened, followed by Queens Road and Clarendon Road in the early 1860s. Watford had a population of around 6,500 at the time. During this time, Watford’s railways continued to grow; the Watford and Rickmansworth Railway opened in 1862 as a short branch line from Watford High Street to Rickmansworth (Church Street), and another branch was added to Croxley Green in 1912. The original plan was to extend the Rickmansworth line south from Watford to Uxbridge; however, this scheme failed, and both the Rickmansworth and Croxley branches were closed. 

    Watford’s population had risen to 17,063 by 1891, making it extremely congested. Local landowners sold land for town development, which was purchased by commercial interests. Watford saw the establishment of a number of factories and other businesses, primarily breweries and printing houses, but also engineering firms, a steam laundry, a cold storage company, and a cocoa processing plant. The town grew quickly, with the majority of the new residents coming from London.



    Watford grew up on the banks of the River Colne in southern Hertfordshire, England, about 16 miles (26 kilometers) northwest of central London. 61.9 percent are white British, 2.3 percent are Irish, 0.1 percent are Gypsy or Irish traveller, 7.7 percent are other white, 17.9 percent are Asian/Asian British, and 5.8 percent are black or black British. 

    At the time of the 2011 census, the borough had a population of 90,301 people.

    The urbanised parish of Watford Rural in the Three Rivers District separates the borough from Greater London to the south. In the 2001 census, the Watford subdivision of the Greater London Urban Area, which includes much of the surrounding districts, had a total population of 120,960.

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