In northwest London lies a tube station that sits almost entirely inside a private housing estate. The tube station, Moor Park on the Metropolitan line sits between a private golf course on one side and a large private housing estate on the other.
Baring a tiny gap, the entire tube station is surrounded by private owners, and you can just about, use a footpath to get to the station from the southwest side that runs along the side of the golf course without entering the private estate.
The Moor Park estate owes its name to the nearby Moor Park country house, which was designed around 1720 and is now owned by the Moor Park Golf Club. The private housing estate though started to be developed by Lord Leverhulme, who owned the land around here in the 1920s and 1930s, with the roads laid out and plots for large houses sold off individually to homeowners.
The firm carrying out the development went into voluntary liquidation in 1957 and the current owners, a newly formed management company, Moor Park (1958) Ltd was set up to continue the development and look after the estate.
To this day, they still own the roads and the few pavements in the estate and manage the area. The management company is also responsible for enforcing certain restrictive covenants. A ban on subdividing the housing plots means that there are just over 500 houses in the estate, and while each house is privately owned, planning permissions for redevelopment have to be approved both by the local company as well as the local council.
Unusually, the homeowners are also expected to look after the pavement/verge in front of their homes and can do so to their own preferences, which means a pavement can switch between gravel, bricks and rough stone in short order as you walk along it.
The estate has an air of exclusivity, and a mix of houses from 1930s modernist to faux-Tudor and I saw one very modern looking house on a short walk through a couple of roads to and from the tube station.
Apart from the small row of shops, there’s no commercial activity in the estate at all. An attempt by Tesco to put up some small signs inside the car park for a click-and-collect facility next to the tube station in 2014 was refused following a huge number of complaints from the local residents. It seems that even a few signs inside a car park was too much for them.
There are permissive rights to use the private roads to get to the shops and the tube station, but there’s no legal right of way along them.
However, there are two roads that run through the estate that are public, and they give road access to the tube station, and that’s along Astons Road and Main Avenue. So if you were to visit the estate by any other route, there are large signs saying that it’s a private road, but the entrance to Astons Road simply notes that this is Moor Park and please drive carefully.
Someone who regularly drives down the road though is a small unmarked minibus. Not far from the station is the Northwood Headquarters, the home to the UK’s primary military command, which is also unsurprisingly a very private estate, and if you were to have permission to visit, you can catch their private shuttle bus that runs between Moor Park station and the military base.
For everyone else, stick to the footpath, or the only public road in the estate.
The tube station itself, Moor Park, was opened in May 1910 as a small halt called Sandy Lodge, for the next-door golf course, and was renamed Moor Park & Sandy Lodge Station in October 1923, and dropped the Sandy Lodge in September 1950, becoming simple Moor Park station. The small halt was built with a couple of wooden platforms and a small footbridge but was replaced with the current station in 1961 when it gained four platforms, and two entrances linked by a new underpass.
Apparently, the old station was so shabby by the time it was replaced that the platforms needed to be emptied of passengers if a fast steam train raced past the station as the platform would shake alarmingly.
If four platforms seems a lot, it’s a station that was shared with British Rail, although they stopped calling there in 1993, and today if national rail trains were to call there, it would be Chiltern Railways offering the service.
The two extra platforms are still in use though, as fast trains Metropolitan line trains between Rickmansworth and Harrow-on-the-Hill call there in the peak hours. It’s odd that it would get a special peak hours service, as it’s the 31st quietest station on the TfL network so would hardly seem to merit such special attention.
That’s the potted history of a tube station few visit, and fewer can because it’s inside a private estate.
Yes, Canary Wharf is also a private estate.
Yes, I call them tube stations because that’s what most people call them.