Monday, 22 April 2013

Wednesday's the day

After some anxious waiting, news has been received that copies of Volume 2 will delivered here on Wednesday 24th April.

As there is no launch event this year, the arrangements for distribution will be as follows:

The Subscribers' Edition purchasers will have the opportunity of collecting their books at the Fleetville Diaries meeting at Fleetville Community Centre from 7pm this Wednesday, 24th April.  If you do not normally attend an FD meeting, you will be very welcome to join us on that occasion.

The remainder of St Albans deliveries will be made personally on Thursday.  If you are not in when I call, a further attempt will be made on Friday.

Books to addresses beyond St Albans, including abroad, will be dispatched by courier – rather than Royal Mail, as its prices have just increased – on Friday.

If you have asked to be contacted when the book is published I will do so on Monday 29th, with the expectation that books will be sent out that day or Tuesday.

I will handle new phoned or email inquiries as the opportunity arises between the above, with books sent out as soon as possible.  But please avoid phoning on Sunday 28th April.

To simplify matters initially, I will assume that all books leaving here will be author-signed on the title page.  

It all sounds very exciting, doesn't it!

Please feel free to call if you have not received your book by Saturday 4th May; that will provide some extra time, just in case delivery from the printer is not on the day stated.

Sunday, 14 April 2013

Thank you, St Paul's

St Paul's Church hit on a first class idea when it threw open its doors to welcome the world on the completion of its magnificent set of new and renovated areas.  So great was the enthusiasm, the church decided to repeat the event, and now has a Community Day, as it is styled, each year.

Share Your Photos, before visitors
Home From Home, before visitors
At this year's event Fleetville Diaries and St Albans' Own East End were represented and we had the opportunity of chatting with a considerable number of people.  Our 2013 exhibitions, Home From Home, and Share Your Photos were warmly received and lots of people obtained their first glimpse of Volume 2 of the book, as the ring-binder proof copy was available for inspection.

We shared the church building with a number of fantastic musicians and entertainment acts.  May we take this opportunity of thanking the many people whose hard work resulted in such a successful day.

A question:
Do you have a photo of this
building when it was a shop?
Among the several corner shops in the district which are no longer open for business is one on the corner of Cambridge and Royston roads.  Number 64 has undergone alterations recently, but in 1960 it was a wholesale tobacconist run by Mr A T Smith, according to the Kelly's Directory of that year.  There is a possibility of a temporary building on the site, or nearby, from as early as 1910, and the earliest reference to the current semi-detached structure is c1932.  In our continuing search for photos of the district's corner shops (even if they weren't all actually on corners), does anyone know the whereabouts of any pictures of the corner shop which was 64 Cambridge Road?

Another question:
At the northern end of Charmouth Road the homes which became known locally as the Marconi houses, were constructed further back from the road than their neighbours further south.  They stand behind a rectangular depression in the impressing grass frontage; a large sunken lawn.  Given the cost constraints after WW2, it is unlikely that it was a deliberate design feature, which also left the homes with shortened rear gardens.

The firm of W G Bennett, brick makers, occupied at least some of the land between the railway and what would later be Charmouth Road, from c1907 and through to the 1920s.  Could it be a remnant of its working of the land?  Might it have been something left from an earlier period, part of the grounds of Marshalls wick House?  Or is there another explanation?  If you know the answer to this conundrum, please email and let us know.

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Coloured glass in Fleetville

A newspaper article from September 1960 arrived last week.   It is shown on the Welcome page of the website.  It details an important contract received by E Hooker, the company which specialised in glass, especially coloured glass windows.  The building is now occupied by Britannia Music Shop, on the corner of Hatfield Road and Albion Road.

Here is a transcript of the article:
"In September a family firm at St Albans will start on the momentous task of fitting stained-glass windows in the nearly-completed frames at Coventry Cathedral.  Nearly every day for about 18 months, four of the firm's skilled craftsmen will make a 150-mile round trip by car to Coventry and back.  They are four of Britain's top stained-glass craftsmen.

"The Hooker brothers, Len and Charles, have been in the stained glass business since they were young men.  Their father started the firm in Albion Road, St Albans, towards the end of the [19th] century, and they have fifty years of his experience behind them.  Fitting the windows is highly skilled, and they are proud to have been given the job.  The windows have not been made by the Hookers.  They have been so busy making stained-glass windows for South Africa and Australia that they will only be able to fit them.

William Willoughby, foreman glazier (left) with Charles Hooker.
"Len Hooker is 53, his brother, Charles, 50.  Len's son, Brian, aged 24, has just come into the business.  Said Brian: 'I am the third generation of the Hooker family to go into the business.  I love it.  Up to a year ago I was a laboratory worker, testing rubber and studying for a qualification in the rubber research industry.  Dad asked me to join him, and I did.  Now I'm the firm's youngest apprentice.  I shall be learning the craft all my life, but at the end of five years I shall be fairly skilled.  It is very satisfying work.'

"His father and uncle have seen their work go to many places.  They made windows for Arkansas Cathedral, which were being fitted by American craftsmen, in Little Rock, at the time of the race riots.  The window they made for the Cathedral had 11,000 pieces of glass and measured 16 feet by 10 feet.  A church on the Mool River, East Africa, also has windows made in St Albans.  Explained Mr Hooker: 'It is a very skilled craft.  A designer first plans what the picture on the window shall be, and then draws it.  In the old days this was done in full size, but now small-scale drawings can be enlarged photographically.'