|Hatfield Road looking east from Sutton Road. Mrs Walker's cottage|
and the extension beyond for the County Laundry. c1922.
Courtesy ANDY LAWRENCE
In 1910 Mrs Rosa Walker moved into the little house with a bay window, and promptly opened her own washing business. At that time there were few houses east of the Rats' Castle (which itself was not opened until 1927), and Fleetville, indeed St Albans, finished at Ashley Road; beyond was countryside.
|The laundry has become The Emporium.|
It wasn't an expensive building: basic walls and iron roof trusses, with large wooden window doors alongside the road. Apart from the enlargement of the window spaces at the front and adaptation for retail use, that is how the building remained throughout its life.
In 1953 the fascia panel which ran the full length of the building, was decorated with coloured lights to celebrate the Queen's coronation and in the early sixties the company changed its name to Hatfield Laundry. The traditional laundry style was modernised to become a dry cleaning operation. As this required less space the eastern section was let to Charles Gentle. His builders' merchant trade specialised, first in plumbing supplies and then in decorative tiles, being renamed Tile Depot.
|Demolition behind the frontage.|
Courtesy VIC FOSTER
The owners have attempted on several occasions to redevelop the site, and now demolition is finally taking place. The laundry site is one which many might have considered ripe for development forty years ago. Most of us will find ourselves surprised once the site is cleared; surprised to discover how extensive the premises were.