ICKENHAM REVERTS TO STEAM
But not permanently, unfortunately! This amazing sight, on 9th December, was to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the re-siting of Uxbridge Station. Thus, for the first time since 1992, a steam train ran along the Metropolitan line from Harrow-on-the-Hill to Uxbridge carrying excited passengers. The journey, passing through Ickenham, was repeated five times during the day. It will almost certainly be the last opportunity to experience steam on this line.
The first time this journey took place was on 30th June 1904 when Ickenham villagers turned out in numbers to wave flags as the steam train passed beneath the Austins Lane and Glebe Avenue bridges. By March 1905 the line had been electrified and ran between Uxbridge and Baker Street. Ickenham Parish Council decided to ask for a train to stop in their village and a very rudimentary Ickenham Halt was opened in September that year. The Parish Council then voted for shelters to be provided but so muddy was Glebe Avenue in those days that the booking hut staff were obliged to look after passengers’ Wellington boots before the road had been properly surfaced!
The coming of the railway sparked off changes to the village. Day-trippers from London realised the potential of visiting such an unspoilt rural place and the community responded by opening a teahouse in Orchard Cottage (on the site of our present library) and selling bunches of flowers from their cottages for as much as sixpence a bunch! Some of the visitors realised that this was a delightful area in which to settle but significant development was not to occur until the 1,400 acre Swakeleys estate was auctioned off in lots in 1922.
If you were one of the lucky ones on board that day, ICN would love to hear your story.