When the Great Northern Railway opened in the 1850s, Hatfield station was one of the original stops. The arrival of rail impacted Hatfield’s fortunes greatly as the town’s infrastructure was largely built around the station, and it rapidly went from a village in Hertfordshire to a thriving 20th-century town. Despite its size, Hatfield stands out. It has produced two prime ministers, William Lamb and Robert Arthur Talbot Gascoyne-Cecil, and its military and aviation history is also unrivalled. Tests of the first tank were carried out in Hatfield Park, a ten-minute walk from the station.
Also in the park is Hatfield House, Queen Elizabeth I’s childhood home and later the home of 1800’s MP Lord Salisbury. The latter even had his own waiting room at the station to accommodate the many VIPs that would visit him on parliamentary business. The waiting room still stands today providing much needed shelter for this largely open-air station.