Sunday, 30 December 2012


Two items of news were announced recently, although only one was directly connected with St Albans' East End.  On the site of part of Hedges Farm the decision to authorise construction of the proposed rail freight depot arrived from the Government.  As with most controversial decisions, individuals will, inevitably, stress those aspects of the project which support their own point of view.  It might be loss of farmland, increase in noise or traffic; or it might be more job opportunities or a chance to improve the bypass, especially at the two roundabouts.  I'm not taking sides on this one!

The second item also affects farmland, and this time it is very much in our own yard.  The simmering  proposal, now made more urgent by the loss of government funding for upgrading Oaklands College at what it calls its Smallford site (but is actually at Oaklands), the college intends a large number of homes and a link road at the former Oaklands Agricultural College.  There is also an intention – at least in outline – to develop an unspecified area along Coopers Green Lane and at Little Nast Hyde Farm.  In total several hundred homes would be built.

Once again I do not intend to take sides.  But I do remember there being a paragraph in Sir Patrick Abercrombie's Greater London Plan set out during WW2, where he firmly rejected the idea of further development between St Albans and Hatfield which would risk the two towns coalescing.  And that was before Hatfield New Town arrived and before St Albans council allocated industrial and retail sites to Butterwick Wood (there is not much left of the Wood these days, either!).  On the other hand, let's remind ourselves of other farms which subsequently grew houses instead.  If we live in one of those "new" homes, or in one formerly on extensive nurseries which had helped to feed the local population, or Londoners, how to we form our argument to deny others the right to a home?  The answer might lie in where those new residences could or should be constructed.  Does anyone have ideas about where, in the East End of St Albans, or around Hatfield, new homes might be constructed for the young families of tomorrow?

Until seventy years ago fields here grazed cows and produced cereals.

Saturday, 8 December 2012

Percy Hall

Many wonderful stories about the East End of St Albans are emerging as news of Volume 1 spreads, or through contacts with Fleetville Diaries.  A ninety-one year old who spent his early years in Clarence Road.  The grandson of the manager of Patience, Butcher, at the Crown – Aberdeen House as it was called then, on the corner of Albion Road and Hatfield Road.  The family of Mr Hobbs, owner of the Hatfield Road garage which is now Kwik-Fit, whose home had been in Colney Heath Lane.  Then there is a former teacher who has remained in the house her parents purchased on the Beaumonts estate in 1937.  And the family of the first landlord of the pub with a unique name: the Bunch of Cherries, which began life as a pair of builders' huts.

Fleetville Saloons 195 Hatfield Road
Finally, this week the family of hairdresser Percy Hall has been sharing details of the various properties in Hatfield Road, and in Cambridge Road, in which his business prospered.  The one most of us whose memory extends back that far is 195 (now the New World shop).  But others had been next to the Liberal Club and next to former Ben Pelly opposite the Cemetery.  However, it was discovered that for a short time the very first shop was at Bycullah Terrace, where currently Londis trades.  It was great to discover the second photograph (below), where Smith's, bakers (later Spurriers and ABC) is on the left and the premises which is still a house in this picture, where Kendall's traded.

Fleetville Saloons, 211 Hatfield Road, c1935
There are four new schools photos on the website this week, all from the former Marshalswick Boys' School where music teacher Neil Hamilton developed and maintained a number of choirs, bands and other groups.  Also in the Group Pictures section is the Marconi football squad of 1960, when they were County League Champions.