Travels on the Tube explores London’s further-flung areas which, although some distance from the centre, are still easily accessible via the tube network. If you’re happy to spend just a little more time travelling, there’s plenty to discover around the capital’s periphery.
This edition features an intriguing American link, craft beer, a Titanic connection, Indiana Jones and more.
Welcome to Rickmansworth.
Situated approximately 17 miles from central London, Rickmansworth-or ‘Ricky’ as it’s affectionately known by locals- is a delightful small town in Hertfordshire.
Thanks to its tube and rail links it is well connected to the capital: from Baker Street, the Metropolitan line will get you there in just over 30 minutes, whilst the Chiltern line from Marylebone is even quicker at just over 20.
Despite its proximity to London, parts of Rickmansworth have a sleepy, pastoral feel. Church Street for example gives the illusion of being in the depths of the English countryside.
There’s lots of history and plenty to see in Rickmansworth. Here are some highlights.
Station Forecourt, WD3 1QY
This station opened on the Metropolitan line in 1887. For many years, steam engines (including underground services which chugged beneath the streets of London) used to operate from here- you can still see the old water tower used for filling their tanks at the end of the southbound platform.
Despite being part of London’s tube network, Rickmansworth station can feel quite rural outside the rush hour. The flower displays, which are lovingly tended by staff, are especially charming.
Rickmansworth station has a small cafe which is open 6am-2.30pm every weekday.
From Ricky to Pennsylvania
High Street, WD3 1RL
Born near the Tower of London in 1644, William Penn was a Quaker who was persecuted for openly preaching his faith. As the founder of Pennsylvania, he is also Rickmansworth’s most famous historic resident.
In 1681 Penn was fortunate enough to inherit a huge swathe of land in America. This had been handed over by King Charles II who’d been indebted to William’s father. Using this opportunity, Penn travelled to the New World where he established Philadelphia and Pennsylvania.
As governor, he promoted religious freedom and liberty for all, including the insistence that the Native Americans were equals and should be treated as such.
From 1671 until his move to America, William Penn lived in Rickmansworth and you can see the site of his house (where he no doubt spent much time ruminating over establishing a settlement in the Colonies) today. The present building- known as Basing House- dates from the 1740s, although it’s believed part of Penn’s original abode may be incorporated within the structure.
The house bears a commemorative plaque along with an original stone from Penn’s American residence- Pennsbury Manor– which was situated close to the Delaware River.
Basing House now contains the Three Rivers Museum which is run by volunteers and has displays and artefacts relevant to the local area. Entry is free (although donations are welcome).
Rather appropriately, there is a pub nearby named The Pennsylvanian in honour of Rickmansworth’s American link.
Ricky Trivia: The Titanic Connection
Just outside central Rickmansworth is a district called Moneyhill. This area was once the location of a grand estate called Moneyhill House. One of the most noted people to live there was Northern-Ireland born Thomas Andrews, a naval architect who was in charge of designing the RMS Titanic.
Sadly Moneyhill was Thomas’ last address- he went down with the Titanic on that fateful night in April 1912.
Rickmansworth Rose Garden
Off Northway, WD3 1RL
This beautiful rose garden is located opposite the council office.
Tucked away towards the back is a rather bombastic statue of a lion crushing an eagle beneath its paw.
This sculpture was created in the early 1920s as an elaborate centrepiece for Rickmansworth’s WWI memorial. As the years passed however, locals began to feel that the statue was a tad too jingoistic and so it was quietly moved to this spot in 1978.
The other part of the memorial can be seen within the grounds of St Mary the Virgin Church (see below).
High Street, WD3 1EH
Watersmeet is a small but popular venue which opened in 1975. Here, you can see a variety of plays, musical tributes, films and more.
Ricky Trivia: The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
Rickmansworth is name-checked in the opening chapter of Douglas Adams’ classic sci-fi comedy novel, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy which was first published in 1978.
The lines in question refer to a “girl sitting on her own in a small cafe in Rickmansworth” who suddenly conjures up a simple solution for achieving world peace… before she can tell anyone though, Earth is destroyed by alien bulldozers “and the idea was lost forever.”
7-9 Church Street, WD3 1BX
Located within a most Dickensian building, Cinnamon Square is an award winning bakery where you can take classes in all things dough and pastry related.
This Rickmansworth stalwart is especially well known for its signature creation: the Cinnamon Square Bun; a sweet fermented treat rolled in cinnamon and topped with a secret cream cheese recipe.
St Mary the Virgin Church
Church Street, WD3 1JB
According to records, Rickmansworth’s first church was established back in 1270. This structure stood until the early 19th century by which point it had become so dilapidated it had to be pulled down. It was replaced with a new church in 1825, although this one had a much shorter lifespan- just 62 years.
The present building dates from the late 1880s.
In the churchyard stands Rickmansworth’s war memorial, dedicated to those who perished in WWI and WWII. The lion and eagle sculpture now located in the Rose Garden (see above) once topped the cenotaph.
124 High Street, WD3 1AD
This superb bottle shop and taproom is a newcomer to Rickmansworth and is well worth a visit. As well as 9 draught beers, Wishful Drinking offers a selection of some 50 different alcoholic beverages which can be browsed at leisure and purchased to drink in or takeaway.
Best of all, you can take away draught beer in a reusable ‘growler’ jug! The staff are exceptionally friendly, helpful and highly knowledgable of the products they serve.
If you’re feeling hungry after indulging in Wishful Drinking, the excellent Rasal Indian restaurant is situated just across the road.
Ricky Trivia: Dr. Jones
The rather grand Royal Masonic School on Chorleywood Road appears as an American college in 1981’s Raiders of the Lost Ark.
In the scene, Indiana Jones (played of course by Harrison Ford) is briefed on the Nazi’s suspected hunt for the lost ‘ark of the covenant’ which is said to hold Moses’ stone tablets bearing the ten commandments. It’s imperative that Indy beats them to it, for it’s believed that “an army which carries the ark before it is invincible”…
Many others films and TV shows have been filmed in and around Rickmansworth including Dr Who, Withnail and I, Four Weddings & a Funeral, The Adventures of Black Beauty and 28 Weeks Later.
Batchworth Canal Centre
99 Church Street, WD3 1JD
Rickmansworth is blessed with numerous waterways; namely the River Colne and the River Chess which feed into the Grand Union Canal at Batchworth Lock.
At this pleasant, peaceful spot you’ll find a small cafe and Batchworth Lock Canal Centre where you can book a short and very reasonably priced boat trip (£4 for adults, £2 for children and £10 for a family ticket as of 2019).
Frogmoor Lane, WD3 1NB
Rickmansworth Aquadrome is formed around two manmade lakes. These were created in the early 20th century when gravel was excavated from here for use in the construction of the original Wembley Stadium.
The Aquadrome offers wooded walks, plenty of nature spotting (including herons, kingfishers and all manner of butterflies) and a large children’s play area. There is also a cafe.
Off Skidmore Way, WD3 1SZ
Beginning close to St Mary’s Church, Ebury Way is a route for pedestrians and cyclists which follows the path of a the now long-lost Watford and Rickmansworth Railway.
This leafy, 3.5 mile long route can be followed all the way to Watford.
Getting to Rickmansworth
Rickmansworth is accessible both via the Metropolitan line and Chiltern Railways (who run regular services from Marylebone).
If using the Metropolitan line, be sure to check your train’s final destination: for Rickmansworth, you’ll need to catch a service to either Amersham or Chesham.