Coals to the Hospital
L A Frost recalls the importance of Hill End railway station
By C D
‘Many people will remember Hill End Railway Station which was situated quite near to the hospital, consisting of a single track line operating between St Albans and Hatfield, by which lots of goods were brought to the Hospital until the Station closed some time after the war. In the early days, coal was used for the boilerhouse and for the many fireplaces in the residential quarters and was brought by trucks to Hill End station, which were then shunted by a steam railway engine into the hospital siding along its own track ……
‘….the trucks were emptied every time by men using shovels into the bunkers which were on one side of the main corridor………the coal was lowered from the bunkers, conveyed under the corridor and then hoisted up again above ground to be moved to the boilerhouse by a special conveyor mechanism. A rather labour intensive system!
‘House coal was received by the same shunting of trucks, stored and then delivered to all the offices, residences, etc by hand trucks for the countless open fires…..Later an electric battery trolley was bought for this job…
‘Incidentally, whilst the railway trucks were being shunted across the hospital roads from the station, the Engineer or his assistant were always there watching the whole process to prevent any accidents to pedestrians and…make sure that the empty trucks were shunted back to the station quickly so as to avoid any demurrage charges.’
Extracts from L A Frost’s memories of working at Hill End Hospital in the 1930s and 40s (document from St Albans Museums 1995)