New Bushey or Bushey New Town is a name only faintly remembered. The name now used is Oxhey, which was taken when the church of St. Matthew was dedicated in 1880.
Some years ago,when I came to live near Bushey and Oxhey Station, I noticed that the older people in the neighbourhood often spoke of ” Going up to Old Bushey”, indicating that they were going up the hill to Bushey Village. Upon my inquiring about this, they would tell me that where we were now living was, of course, New Bushey, or Bushey New Town, as it was called in their young days.
I discovered, also, that the name Oxhey meant little to them. That, they explained, was where the Old Chapel stood, a mile or more away, across the fields, close beside the Big House ( Oxhey Place), where the Squire used to live. Furthermore, they remembered walking across the fields on Sundays, to attend divine service in the little old chapel. It was actually the family chapel, but as there was no other place of worship within easy reach of the people living in the area, they were permitted to worship there with the family and the servants of the house.
More often than not, however, they would walk up the hill to the old church at Bushey, for that was their own parish church, and their parents and grandparents had been laid to rest in the churchyard there.
At the beginning of the 19th century the village of Bushey stood serene and aloof on its gentle hill, its clustering cottages set on either side of the high road leading from London to the market town of Watford. In those far-off days an inhabitant of Bushey, standing at the porch of the church, might have been able to see the great tower of St. Mary’s, Watford, across the meadows for there were few buildings between the two churches. Each stood on a hill, and in the valley below the River Colne wended its peaceful way.
But the pastoral scene was soon to be marred, for in the year of Queen Victoria’s accession, 1837, the London & Birmingham Railway Company opened a line from Euston to Boxmore, and built a station on the north side of Watford. One wonders what the inhabitants of Bushey thoughts of the event?
No doubt there was some opposition to the desecration of the green countryside, as soon from the heights of Bushey; but still more changes were to come. In 1841 another railway station was built, where the line crossed near the lower part of Watford High Street, and this was named Bushey Station.
According to a report in a newspaper at that time, this new station was intended ” for the convenience of the inhabitants of Bushey and the surrounding neighbourhood”. The advent of the railway here, as in so many other places, led to the building of houses, and people who were living and working in London were induced to take up residence close to Bushey Station, and thus be enabled to enjoy a country life in the healthful air of Hertfordshire, and at the same time be able to travel daily to their business in London. Thus the work of raising “New Bushey” was begun.
Within the next twenty years many villas, cottages and “family residences” were built within a short distance of Bushey Station, and by 1860 several streets had taken shape – notably Capel Road and Villiers Road, name commemorating the great Essex family at Cassiobury Park.