A rather similar puzzlement comes over people when they feel there is a simple answer to the question, where exactly is Fleetville. It is a question I am often asked. Of course, most inquirers do know where it is – on the east side of St Albans – but like all of us we cannot be sure where its boundaries lie.
As with most smaller towns St Albans has never placed the names of its suburbs along its main roads, although Watford at one time did. Suburbs such as North Watford, Garston and Oxhey were announced as you approached them. A few towns provide additional information on their street plates, usually on a coloured band, so that everyone knows exactly whether you are in one suburb or another. Other authorities use the first part of a postcode, but these only loosely define where you are.
The next issue is whether you can draw a reasonably accurate boundary around Fleetville. St Albans City & District Council voting wards of Clarence and Ashley together include Fleetville, but they also spread further, so those sources are probably not helpful. Few residents north of Brampton Road will tell you they live in Fleetville. But they probably don't live in Marshalswick either.
Possibly more Camp residents ally themselves with Fleetville, but there is a permanent difference of opinion about where Fleetville ends and Camp begins, or perhaps Camp is a part of what could be called wider Fleetville. How far must one walk west along Hatfield Road to leave Fleetville and enter – well where? – Crown perhaps. In the easterly direction, does Fleetville merge into Oaklands, or is there something in between? Beaumonts maybe.
Only in recent years have local direction signs appeared pointing the direction to places such as Fleetville and Quadrant.
Naming where we live is very personal, and there are countless examples of people refusing to add a name to their address for a reason which is valid for them, but maybe not for others. A sizeable body of residents living in Twickenham still insist they live in Middlesex, though their borough, Richmond, replaced the ancient county name nearly half a century ago.
Fleetville Community Centre informs us that their area of benefit – the area they officially serve – is between Clarence Road and Colney Heath Lane, and from Sandpit Lane to Camp Road. So that is another Fleetville.
Perhaps our blog readers can let us know whether or not they live in Fleetville.