Tring is a small market town and civil parish in Dacorum District Hertfordshire, England. Situated in a gap passing through the Chiltern Hills30 miles (48 km) north-west of London and linked to London by the old Roman road of Akeman Street, by the modern A41, by the Grand Union Canal and by rail lines to Euston Station, Tring is now largely a commuter town in the London commuter belt.
Tring is positioned in west Hertfordshire, adjacent to the Buckinghamshire border, at a low point in the Chiltern Hills known as the ‘Tring Gap’. This has been used as a crossing point since ancient times, being at the junction of the Icknield Way and under the Romans Akeman Street, the major Roman road linking London to Cirencester. It is transected east and west by the ancient earthwork called Grim’s Dyke. It is located at the summit level of the Grand Union Canal and both the canal and railway pass through in deep cuttings. Tring railway cutting is 4 km (2.5 mi) long and an average of 12 m (39 ft) deep and is celebrated in a series of coloured lithographs by John Cooke Bourne showing its construction in the 1830s.
The four Tring Reservoirs – Wilstone, Tringford, Startops End, and Marsworth – were built to supply water for the canal. These have been a national nature reserve since 1955, and identified as a Site of Special Scientific Interest since 1987. Nearby, within the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty that almost surrounds the town, is the Ashridge Estate, part of the National Trust and home to Ashridge Business School.
Tring railway station is about two miles (3 km) from the town. The town’s bypass from 1973 until 1987 was the former A41(M) motorway now down graded to be part of the A41 trunk road.
There is evidence of Prehistoric settlement with Iron Age barrows, and defensive embankments adjacent to the Ridgeway Path and also later with Saxon burials. The town straddles the Roman road called Akeman Street, which runs through it as the High Street.
The Manor of Treunga is described in the Domesday survey of 1086. It was assigned to Count Eustace II of Boulogne by William the Conqueror. The town was granted a charter by Richard II in 1385 In 1682 the mansion of Tring Park designed by Sir Christopher Wren was built for the owner Colonel Guy, Gentleman of the Privy Chamber to Charles II. A later tenant was Lawrence Washington, great-grandfather of George Washington, first President of the USA.
The town’s prosperity was greatly improved at the start of the 19th century by the construction nearby of the Grand Junction Canal and soon after in 1835 by the building of the London and Birmingham Railway. Industries which benefitted included flour milling, brewing, silk weaving, lace-making and straw plaiting.
In the late 19th century the estate became the home of the Rothschild family, whose influence on the town was considerable. Nathan Mayer Rothschild’s son Lionel Walter Rothschild (2nd Lord Rothschild, 1868–1937) built a private zoological museum in Tring. This housed perhaps the largest collection of stuffed animals worldwide. As The Walter Rothschild Zoological Museum, it has been part of the Natural History Museum since 1937. In April 2007 the museum changed its name to the Natural History Museum at Tring in order to make people more aware of the museum’s link to London’s Natural History Museum. The 2nd Lord Rothschild also released the edible dormouse into Tring Park. He used to ride around the town in a zebra-drawn carriage and the town’s symbol has been the head of a zebra ever since.
In 1836 Thomas Butcher, a wholesale seed and corn merchant and his son also Thomas, established a private bank ‘Thomas Butcher & Son’ in Tring High Street. The business was subsequently run by Thomas’ grandsons, Frederick and George and was also known locally as Tring Old Bank. By 1900 it had branches in Aylesbury, Chesham and Berkhamsted. From this time it became the subject of successive bank consolidations which concluded in the formation of the last to be represented in the town, the National Westminster Bank.
The former livestock market in Tring, redeveloped in 2005, was believed to be the last remaining example of its type in the UK. It is now the home of weekly Friday Market and fortnightly Saturday farmers Market. Some of the former livestock pens have been retained. The old livestock market office is now the home of the Tring Local History Museum, which opened in September 2010.
View over Tring, looking north
In 2008 Tring became a Transition Town with the support of Tring Town Council.
Tring Sports Centre is in the grounds of Tring School.
Tring is the former home town of Premiership referee and 2003 FA Cup Final referee Graham Barber, now retired in Spain. It is also home to the retired FA and World Cup referee Graham Poll.
Tring is home to two football clubs, Tring Athletic and Tring Corinthians, both of which play in the Spartan South Midlands Football League, and to a youth football club, Tring Tornadoes, which field sides for boys and girls up to 16. It is also home to a rugby club, Tring Rugby Union Football Club, which won promotion to London Division One in 2008, Tring Hockey Club, with six mens and three ladies sides, and Tring Park Cricket Club, in the Home Counties Premier Cricket League.
There is a Tesco on London Road, a Co-op on Silk Mill Way and a Marks & Spencer food store in Dolphin Square that opened on 9 October 2007.
Tring brewery has been operating in Tring since 1992.
Heygates Mill is a flour mill. Originally it was a windmill, and the company was run by William Mead. The windmill was demolished in 1910 to make way for a wheat storage silo. In those days, Mead lived on site, in a house next to the yard, and owned half the area taken by the mill of today. The remaining space was occupied by boat-builders, Bushell Brothers, who built narrowboats for the canal.
The Heygate family took over Mead’s business in 1945, and today mills 100,000 tons of wheat a year, resulting in 76,000 tons of flour. This is mainly bakers’ flour, but there is also a commitment to wholemeal digestive for biscuits, bulk outlets, and a large output of 1.5 kg bags from the pre-packed flour plant.
As in the days of Tring windmill, only two men operate the system – but in those days they milled half a ton per hour, and now, with a computerised installation, more than 12 tons an hour are produced.
Heygate’s Tring mill has 80 employees, and 16 trucks delivering throughout the south of England.
Pendley Manor a hotel, conference and arts centre is situated about a mile south of the town, near the railway station.
Tring School is a state secondary school with approximately 1,500 pupils (ages 11–18). It is located on Mortimer Hill on the east side of the town. It is now designated a Specialist Humanities College with History, Geography and English as its lead subjects.
Tring Park School for the Performing Arts (formerly known as the Arts Educational School, Tring Park) is an independent specialist performing arts and academic school. It is located in Tring Mansion, Tring Park, and has 300 students.
Tring has four state junior schools, Bishop Wood CE Junior School, Dundale Primary and Nursery School, Goldfield Infants and Nursery School and Grove Road Primary School.
Tring has a Youth Club – The Tring Youth Project – for those between 11 and 18 at the Temperance Hall in Christchurch Road.
Tring also has a Theatre Youth Group, Court Youth Theatre which is connected to the Court Theatre, Pendley Manor. This has three sections to it: juniors, intermediates and seniors.