The Oerlikon Electric Trains

18 stations from Watford to Euston

In 1907 the London and North Western Railway (LNWR) gained parliamentary approval to undertake a massive remodeling of their suburban services.

The scheme involved the provision of two extra tracks running parallel with their existing Euston to Watford Junction main line to separate suburban services from express and home counties local trains.

Also a new branch from Watford Junction to Croxley Green was to be constructed, branching off from the existing Watford to Rickmansworth line.

In addition new suburban stations were to be built and a link between the LNWR and the Bakerloo line of the London Underground Electric Railway group was to be installed at Queens Park.

Carpenders Park Station the gateway to the new build estate South Oxhey started off as a halt. In theory it was a request stop for the golf course near the station. Originally the station was situated further to the north and was a wooden platform on either side of the new electrified Direct Current system parallel to the busy main line service.

The signaling system of the DC lines was unique. It had red amber and green lights but it had a calling on light. If a train was held at a red signal for over two minutes a small yellow light like an eye came on. This allowed the train to carefully move on to the next signal and do the same again as long as it was an automatic signal.

This system was a take on an American idea, but was the only system on earth to use it, as it was extremely dangerous. It meant there could be as many trains in one section as space would allow.

This system ran until the early 1990’s then changed to the national recognised system.

In order for through working to LNWR metals by Bakerloo trains and to improve the efficiency of new LNWR suburban services the whole network was to be electrified.

Work began on this massive project in 1909, the same year that the LNWR took over the management of the North London Railway, that is the local line for Carpenders Park and South Oxhey, as a result of this the NLR route from Broad Street station to Richmond was added to the electrification proposal.

Which when completed would be the largest, and most expensive, integrated electric suburban railway of it’s time. All lines were to electrified at 630v D.C. and fed from a railway built power station at Stonebridge Park.

Current was supplied to the trains by an outer conductor rail and negative return was made by a return 4th rail between the track gauge.

Carpenders Park Station was part of a plan called new stations for old and in the late 1950’s early 1960’s plans were drawn up to build Carpenders Park as a central platform. The other station in this scheme was Gospel Oak.

When the new Carpenders Park Station was opened it was a station of the future. To reach a platform a passenger had to make their way down Station Approach. They could the either walk down the stairs of go the longer way round to a ramp that took them to the same place.

Next it was into the underpass, and from the South Oxhey side once in the underpass it was a right turn up the long ramp taking them first to the ticket offices. In the ticket office suit the building got wider to accommodate the many fare paying passengers. Which in fact turned out to be one of the quietest parts of the station. Next it was into a part of the station that took passengers to the barriers. In that part of the station was a blue and white milk machine that dispensed half a pint of milk or orange for the price of sixpence.

Next to that were some chocolate machines where again for the price of sixpence you could buy a bar of chocolate. These were solid cast iron machines and you a passenger had to be extremely strong to pull the chocolate lever out once they had put in a sixpenny bit.

It sometimes dispensed Poppets iron hard toffees in a red box. The last machine in this area was the cigarette machine, which was built like a bank. The two most popular brands were Number Six and Embassy. Both gave tokens so the regular user could save for years and get a free gift.

After this was the barrier entrance. A man call Ivan used to stand with his clippers and punch tickets. Probably the least used piece of equipment on the station.

Once on the station was the paper shop, which opened at peak times. Over the years the Bakeloo trains ran on the same tracks to Watford Junction.

The downside to this was if you left the station by the prescribed route it would be a very long walk to Woodhall Lane and roads north of that. So to cut down on walking time some passengers used to cross the live rails and climb over a fence onto Woodhall Lane. Sadly quite a few people slipped onto the live rail and were electrocuted.

At the start of the mass evacuation from London the train type running at that time was an electric Oerlikon.

And it was this make of train that pulled into a station 15 miles outside Central London with a cargo of displaced people from London blitzed slums and overcrowding. The people moving from London piled out of the train doors.

As far as most were concerned they had moved to the New World, but in reality they were an hour from their old homes. But to them it was like the ‘Ten Pound Fare’ the cost for people emigrating to Australia a few years later.

As the train pulled away from the platform, they could see grass and trees. They could also see their past disappear with the departing train. A group of, adult, people left on their own with new lives in more ways than one.

This page was added on 13/03/2012.

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  • A very interesting & informative page, a picture of an Oerlikon train can be seen in train topics, on a page subscribed by Barry Austin 4/12/2010. May I add that a further 7 stations existed if you travelled to Broad Street, as I did in 1949. I enjoyed reading this Gallery.

    By Arthur Hall (31/03/2012)