Every picture has a story to tell and the picture of one of Watford’s first police stations the Watford Observer drew our attention to is a classic example.

It was no secret the area where the old police station was, in St Albans Road (the A412), had remained blighted for years after the station’s closure. The Department of Transport couldn’t make their minds up whether to go ahead with the proposed Maple Cross to Hunton Bridge orbital extension or to demolish properties on either side of the St Albans Road railway bridge to allow for the A412 to be widened.

The scheme had been waiting for the go-ahead since 1950. Opinion was the extension would ease the congestion on the A412 bottlenecks the department had identified in Watford, Croxley and Rickmansworth. For years the locality had suffered from tinkering and piece-meal road developments, a series of afterthoughts, reacting to problems rather than anticipating them with bolder, well-constructed strategies like a new extension being given the go-ahead.

Unfortunately, the extension was not given the go-ahead. Instead, the department threw the locality a “red herring” and shelled out £250,000 on the widening of the bridge on St Albans Road. Had the Orbital extension gone ahead in 1961 then the locality wouldn’t have had to put up with another 25 years of misery of a congested A412 until the Maple Cross to Hunton Bridge section of the M25 opened in 1985.

As an afterthought, I am not entirely sure the road that ran down the side of the old police station in St Albans Road was called Penn Road, and had the fame of being the shortest road in Watford at that time? Perhaps someone could add some clarity.

Ernie MacKenzie

Gammons Lane, Watford