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) is a town and borough in Hertfordshire, England, situated 17 miles (27 km) northwest of central London and inside the circumference of the M25 motorway.
Connections with the Grand Junction Canal (from 1798) and the London and Birmingham Railway (from 1837) allowed the town to grow more rapidly, with paper-making mills, such as John Dickinson and Co.The settlement's location helped it to grow, since as well as trade along this north-south through route it possessed good communications into the vale of St Albans to the east and into the Chiltern Hills along the valley of the River Chess to the west.The town grew modestly, assisted by travellers passing through to Berkhamsted Castle and the royal palace at Kings Langley.The Sparrows Herne turnpike was established in 1762 to improve the route across the Chilterns, with the road maintained from charges levied at toll houses along the way.The location of a toll house can be seen at the bottom of Chalk Hill on the Watford side of Bushey Arches close to the Wickes hardware store; set in an old flint stone wall is a Sparrows Herne Trust plaque.The land-owning interests permitted the canal to follow closely by the river Gade, but the prospect of smoke-emitting steam trains drove them to ensure the railway gave a wide berth to the Cassiobury and Grove estates.
Consequently, although the road and canal follow the easier valley route, the railway company was forced to build an expensive tunnel under Leavesden to the north of the town.
at Croxley, influencing the development of printing in the town which continues today.
Two brewers, Benskins and Sedgwicks, amalgamated and flourished in the town until their closure in the late 20th century.
It is not mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086, when this area was part of St Albans' Abbey's manor of cashio.
In the 12th century the Abbey was granted a charter allowing it to hold a market here and the building of St Mary's Church began.
The borough, which had 90,301 inhabitants at the time of the 2011 census, is separated from Greater London to the south by the parish of Watford Rural in the Three Rivers District.