This time a further story appears to have verified elements, but recently new information has thrown the known story out of kilter; it is therefore important for the right account to be recorded.
The existing record concerns a building put up in a small area of cleared land at the western end of Butterwick Wood. Today we know this land for Homebase and Alban Point. None of the factories and warehouses in 1939 were present and, other than the clearing, the rest was Butterwick Wood. As part of wartime preparations the government relocated many of the central London food distribution facilities. The foods
|London Central Meats in Fleetville after a rename to Baxters.|
COURTESY JACKIE ALDRIDGE
|The meat store building shortly before demolition, the photograph being taken|
from the end of the railway siding.
COURTESY THE BRIAN ANDERSON COLLECTION
It is not surprising that details of wartime operations were difficult to come by, but when post-war economic activity normalised the Butterwick Meat Store lay empty before being occupied by the British Banana Company for ripening stock in preparation for distribution to local wholesalers and shops. The building, or an adjacent one, was also home to a grocery warehouse and distribution centre by the 1970s. The 1939 building was demolished for the layout of part of the modern industrial and business estate at Alban Point. Several local young men have recalled their employment at the banana store and the experience of loading and unloading from the adjacent railway siding – which is also how the meat had earlier arrived.
The new information which has come to light and not referred to previously is the possibility of the meat store being partly a cover story. A correspondent states that he visited the "well camouflaged" building and his more detailed account is recorded on the Your Turn page of the St Albans' Own East End website.
The key surprise in his account was the meat store's purpose and function for US Army frozen supplies, the operation there being American owned and administered. Of course, the building may well have been a dual use space. However, this is the first occasion we are informed of the site having a US military function; slightly odd to our minds today given Hertfordshire wasn't known for its US 8th Army and/or US Air Force presence, except for Bovingdon and Nuthampstead, unless anyone knows differently.
Which is where you come in, readers. Any confirmed and verified information would be welcome.