Harpenden station first opened in 1868. It's a small, quaint building that originally had just two tracks, but since 1905 it has boasted four open-air platforms, serving southeast London, Bedfordshire and the south coast. The arrival of the rail line brought about a sudden growth of population, and the one-time farming settlement expanded rapidly - although its rural roots remain in the form of Rothamsted Research, one of the oldest agricultural research institutions in the world.
Fittingly, Harpenden was made a Fairtrade town in 2008, and the monthly Farmer's Market is a splendid way to spend a Sunday. Many of the town's buildings are listed and the town centre, brimming with shops, restaurants, cinemas and theatres, is classified as a conservation area. The famous comedian Eric Morecombe lived in Harpenden for several years, and the main room at Harpenden Public Halls, just around the corner from the station, is named after him.