A Look Back at When The Rocket Man Opened a Rail Station.
The Croxley Rail Link is an approved plan to re-route part of a London Underground line in Watford, Hertfordshire, outside London.
With all the current interest in the link, the Watford Observer‘s David Crozier thought it would be a good idea to reflect on the last time a new rail station opened in the area – the Watford Stadium station, which was opened by Elton, Watford FC‘s chairman, in December 1982.
Just the previous week, the lifelong supporter of the club had performed a sell-out concert in front of about 1,500 fans at Watford Town Hall to raise funds for Hornets striker Ross Jenkins, in his testimonial year.
The gig, in which Elton brought the full touring crew and equipment with him (though not the whole sound system) was, he said like a bonus for him.
As for the rail station, it was only open on match days – to solve crowd control problems.
According to the Observer back then:
“The club’s flamboyant rock star chairman Elton John broke off from his mammoth concert tour to ride into the new ‘station’ on the first train with a host of dignatories and open what has been dubbed Hooligan Halt.
“The historic opening did not go without a hitch. The train rolled into the Watford Stadium halt five minutes late after being held up by television cameramen.
“After the train broke the symbolic yellow, black and red tape, which was tied across the track, Elton said: ‘The halt should go a long way to ending Watford’s hooligan problem. It is a marvellous day for the club.’
“He was presented with a memorial plaque by Lord Aberdare, the chairman of the Football Trust, which contributed £50,000 towards the cost of the development.
“Lord Aberdare said: ‘The Football Trust commends the initiative of Watford Football Club in tackling the problem of hooliganism in this imaginative way.
“The borough council laid out £80,000 for the halt while the football club spent £50,000 and the balance of £200,000 cost was paid by British Rail.
“The Mayor of Watford, Councillor Ted Amey, and the town’s MP, Tristan Garel-Jones, were also at the opening ceremony.
“Less than three hours after the official opening, hordes of Manchester United fans passed through the station to provide what must have been the biggest test of the season.
“The success of the halt was confirmed when police announced there were only six arrests during the afternoon and they came after an incident inside the ground.”
The game that day, incidentally, ended in defeat for the Hornets, beaten 1-0 in front of a crowd of more than 25,000. And the station was officially closed in 2003 along with the Watford West and Croxley Green stations, but seemed to have stopped running to passengers some time in the 1990s.