Maple Cross
The Maple Cross pub remains a defining landmark although now converted into dwellings.
Maple Cross is located in Hertfordshire
Maple Cross
Maple Cross
Location within Hertfordshire
Population2,426 (2011. approx)
OS grid referenceTQ034929
Shire county
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Postcode districtWD3 9
Dialling code01923
AmbulanceEast of England
UK Parliament
List of places
51°37′28″N 0°30′34″W / 51.624515°N 0.509422°W / 51.624515; -0.509422

Maple Cross is a village in Hertfordshire, England, which up until the Second World War consisted of an inn, a blacksmith's shop and a few cottages. Today there are around 800 postwar council houses. Some of these have been sold into private ownership. The area is close by junction 17 of the M25 motorway, which makes up the western boundary of the village. It lies on the western fringe of Rickmansworth, about 8 kilometres (5.0 mi) west of Watford and 6 miles north of Uxbridge.

Origin of the name

Maple Cross is thought to be a contraction of Maypole Cross and the village was once a place where maypole dancing took place. The nearby village of Mill End is on record as having complained to the lord of the manor about the noise of the dancing in 1588.[1]


The village stands on the western edge of the River Colne flood plain with the river a third of a mile to the east. It sits on the A412 Denham Way which itself follows the Old Uxbridge Road along the dry land above the floodplain on the river's west bank. To the west the land rises gently towards the dip slope of the Chiltern Hills, although there are some local steep inclines where dry valleys in the chalk make deep incisions. Two routes to the west join the Uxbridge Road at this point, one to the village of Chalfont St Peter, the other to Chalfont St Giles. They made it a convenient place to stop and rest and possible gather for May festivals.

Until the Second World War it was little more than a hamlet with some cottages for agricultural workers and two businesses providing services to travellers on the road, an inn, and a farriers.[2]

After WW2 it was intentionally developed as a dormitory for workers in the nearby towns and at the new sewage treatment plant by the river.

The village has no churches, historically it lacked the population to support one and its residents were part of the parish of St Thomas's West Hyde a mile to the south. There are two historic buildings, The Cross Inn which dates back to the seventeenth century and a barn just to east of the Maple Cross road junction of a similar age.[3]

The ancient route known as Old Shire Lane runs in a north south direction at the summit of the rising high ground half a mile to the west. It is at least of Saxon age as it designated the boundary between the kingdoms of Wessex and Mercia. Today it forms the boundary between the counties of Hertfordshire and Buckinghamshire. Parts of it take the form of a hollow way from centuries of use embedding the path into the earth.[4]

The Cross Inn public house

The public house called The Cross stands on Denham Way, the main road from Rickmansworth to Uxbridge and is a listed building with parts dating back to at least the 1700s. In 2010 the pub was sold by its brewery to property developers who intended to demolish it and build new homes on its site and car park. Strong local opposition prevented demolition and the original historic building still stands, converted into dwellings with a small close on the rest of the pub's site.[5][6]


The area was agricultural right up to the Second World War and arable and livestock farming continue today on the surrounding land. The area east of The Cross and close to the river was used for gravel extraction facilitated by the Grand Union canal which made transport of bulk material relatively easy. The river also gave rise to several mills from the 16th century onwards.

A line of clear water springs at the edge of the Colne flood plain provided an excellent site for the cultivation of watercress which requires ponds fed by fresh flowing water. William Bradbery, the watercress pioneer moved his business here in 1820. One road in Maple Cross was named Bradbery, by the Three Rivers District Council in the 1960s to commemorate him

Today some multi-national businesses have offices in Maple Cross in a designated industrial and business area east of the village, attracted by its easy access to the motorway network. The UK headquarters of construction company Skanska is based here. The corporate functions of the combined Cadbury and Trebor Bassett confectionery business moved to the area in 2000.[7] Other businesses with offices include Nissan and Renault.


Maple Cross has one school, Maple Cross JMI, located on the main thoroughfare, Denham Way. Secondary education is generally provided for in Rickmansworth, Watford or Harefield (London).

A new secondary school , The Reach Free School, is opening just outside the village in 2018.


Maple Cross is bounded by the M25 motorway and a spur from junction 17, designated as Maple Cross, runs to the village and the Denham Way. The areas main thoroughfare, Denham Way, was built in the 1950s as an improvement to The Old Uxbridge Road, and forms part of the A412.

The area is served by the Green Line bus route 724 which runs from Heathrow Airport to Harlow, Essex, via Watford and the local Arriva Shires & Essex 520 which begins in Maple Cross and runs to Watford. Bus route R21 runs from Mount Vernon Hospital via Harefield and Rickmansworth. It normally terminates at Maple Cross, but extends its journey to Uxbridge twice per day via Denham.

The Grand Junction Canal, later to be renamed as a part of the Grand Union Canal was built in 1798 alongside the River Colne and remains in use today.[8]

The planned High Speed 2 London to Birmingham high speed rail link will pass half a mile to the south of the village on an embankment.[9]

Sewage treatment plant

Maple Cross is the location of the Thames Water Maple Lodge Sewage Treatment Works which was opened in 1950. The giant plant, with its sister site at Blackbirds Farm in Aldenham serve the whole of West Hertfordshire; an area with a population of 557,000 people.[10]

The plant was used in 1952 to test diffused aeration technology and a diffused-air activated sludge purification system has been in continuous use since. The cleaned effluent from this process is discharged into the nearby Grand Union Canal.

Sludge settled from the incoming sewage is treated by retention in enclosed heated anaerobic digestion tanks, a by-product of this process being methane gas which is used for on-site electrical power generation. The main product, digested sludge, is "caked" in industrial centrifuges before disposal to land as fertiliser. Sludge from the plant was burnt to generate "green" electricity for the Millennium Dome.[11]

The sewage plant became famous when it was used as a storage facility for the toxic waste perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) after it was used to extinguish the fire at the Buncefield Oil Terminal.

Nature Reserve

There is a 40-acre nature reserve on Thames Water owned land formerly used for gravel extraction, adjacent to the sewage treatment plant. It includes lakes and wetlands that provide a habitat for wildfowl and nine Bird hides. The reserve is leased to the Maple Lodge Conservation Society that was founded in 1983. Access is normally restricted to members of the society with an open weekend in May.[12]

Sport and leisure

The Maple Cross Recreation Ground situated on Denham Way is operated by Three Rivers Local Authority and has open air sports facilities of two full sized football pitches, one junior sized football pitch, two tennis courts and a cricket pitch available for public use via its booking line. There is also car parking and a sports pavilion with changing rooms.[13]

The village now has no public house, but there are two social clubs, The Maple Cross Club on Longcroft Road[14] and the Chiltern Sports and Social Club[15] on Maple Lodge Close.

Cultural references

British heavy metal band, Girlschool, released an album entitled Nightmare at Maple Cross in 1986.

The village achieved notoriety in 2021 with the news that a flock of South American rhea birds had been sighted on the estate, with police issuing warnings to the public.[16][17]


  1. ^ "Towns and Villages Around Watford | Maple Cross". Countryside books. Retrieved 20 May 2017. Written by members of the Hertfordshire Federation of Women's Institutes. The Hertfordshire Village Book, and published by Countryside Books.
  2. ^ Hertfordshire County Council. "Maple Cross Slopes, South Hertfordshire Landscape Character Assessment" (PDF). pp. 13–16. Retrieved 21 May 2017.
  3. ^ Stuff, Good. "Barn to West of Maple Lodge Adjoining Maple Close, Three Rivers, Hertfordshire". Retrieved 22 May 2017.
  4. ^ Colne Valley Park. "Old Shire Lane Circular Walk" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 10 September 2016. Retrieved 26 May 2017.
  5. ^ "Maple Cross to lose its pub". Watford Observer. Retrieved 21 May 2017.
  6. ^ "Maple Cross, West Hyde, Rickmansworth, Hertfordshire". Retrieved 21 May 2017.
  7. ^ Consuming firms costs Cadbury pounds 110m Birmingham Post 30 November 2000
  8. ^ Priestley, Joseph (1831). Historical account of the navigable rivers, canals, and railways, of Great Britain. . Longman, Rees, Orme, Brown & Green. pp. 297–312.
  9. ^ "High Speed Two (HS2) Limited - GOV.UK". Retrieved 25 May 2017.
  10. ^ Thames Water. "Maple Lodge Sewage Treatment Works, Education Pack – Information for teachers" (PDF).
  11. ^ "A case of long-term treatment". Retrieved 21 May 2017.
  12. ^ Maple Lodge Nature Reserve. Retrieved 13 May 2014
  13. ^ "Maple Cross Playing Fields - Denham Way Near Rickmansworth Maple Cross Hertfordshire WD3 9SL : sports facility book online". Retrieved 31 May 2017.
  14. ^ "Property Address: Maple Cross Club Longcroft Road Maple Cross Rickmansworth Hertfordshire WD3 9TJ". Retrieved 3 June 2017.
  15. ^ "Chiltern Sports & Social Club (Maple Lodge Close, Maple Cross, Rickmansworth) | The List". Retrieved 3 June 2017.
  16. ^ "Rhea birds running wild on Hertfordshire housing estate". BBC News. 26 March 2021. Retrieved 27 March 2021.
  17. ^ "Dog-walkers warned as 20 giant South American rheas rampage around Herts housing estate". Sky News. Retrieved 27 March 2021.