The Grand Central Railway
(Now called The Chiltern Line)
The Grand Central Line was a very late entrant in the London railway race. Euston had opened in 1837 and Paddington a year later; King's Cross in 1854 and St Pancras in 1868. The Manchester, Sheffield and Lincolnshire Railway, as it was first called, did not arrive until the end of the century. On 10 November, 1894. The first turf was cut by the Countess of Wharncliffe, wife of the chairman of directors.
The line was designed to bring coal from the Nottingham coal fields to London, and perhaps backwoods squires to Lord's. There was vehement opposition locally. Nobody else wanted it. It would run down Lisson Grove, devastating the artistic centre of St John's wood; wipe out a large department store in Lisson Grove; destroy a prosperous shopping centre and cut off Church Street from the amenities of Regent' s Park. The railway was hailed as a disaster on all counts, but Wharncliffe pressed on.
Among the fiercest opponents of the new line was the Middlesex County Cricket Club. In 1791 Mr Lord had opened his first cricket ground just north of the New Road. (This is shown on Bowles map, page 25). Later the ground was moved to a second site in Lisson Grove to make for the new Dorset Square. In 1811, the Regent's Canal was planned to run high above this second site and Lord had to be compensated to the tune of £400 to move his ground once again, with all the disruption of picking up the precious turf and relaying it elsewhere. Then, for nearly a hundred years the cricket ground enjoyed peace in St. John's Wood. The M.C.C. celebrated its centenary in 1884 by purchasing the adjoining Nursery Land to extend the outfield. All cricketers were delighted.