Last updated on May 14th, 2021.
April 3rd. Updated image details on Oakwood School page.
April 7th. Updated image details on Oakwood School page.
April 7th. New page added for Skyswood School.
April 10th. Updated image details on Oakwood School page.
April 18th. New blog post: "Wanted To Be On His Own" Below.
April 29th. New blog post: "The Other Hotel". Below.
May 3rd. Newsletter: "Missing Turnpike Marker found." Below.
May 4th. New blog post: "Educational Future." Below.
May 7th. Updated image details for Francis Bacon School page.
May 10th. New blog post: "More Turnpike Evidence". Below.
May 14th. Updated image details for Oakwood School page.
On the corner of Coopers Green Lane and what used to be called Manor Road.
If you travel along Coopers Green Lane intending to turn along the road towards Hatfield Business Park you will discover the street plate names it Hatfield Avenue, although many of us recall it as Manor Road. Manor Road still exists, of course. As you turn off the Hatfield Garden Village roundabout you use Manor Road to reach the shops, but since the business park grew the road doesn't lead anywhere; the major length of it has been relabelled Hatfield Avenue.
The map extract above shows its junction with Coopers Green Lane (from centre left to centre top). On the corner is a house; in fact two separate properties. Look at the roofline where there are eight chimney pots. That's rather a lot for such a modest footprint.
Under the front eaves there is also a crest forming part of the external wall, and undoubtedly is linked to the ownership of Astwick Manor just along the road.
The cottages appear on all maps reaching back at least to the 1870s, and on only one map are they labelled – Astwick Manor Cottages, Today, the porches on each side have disappeared; so too has the rear outhouse. In fact, the doors, and the windows on both floors are blocked up.
On my bike rides from Beaumonts to Stanborough nearly 70 years ago I recall these cottages, and even then they appeared to be forgotten, neglected, empty; and nothing appears to have changed.
I wonder about the story of the Astwick Manor Cottages and must discover more.
Map courtesy National Library of Scotland; photos courtesy Google Streetview.
Welcome to the latest news
from our own East End
Evidence of "missing" turnpike marker found
To make up for the fact that we missed April's newsletter altogether – sorry about that – this month the Editor will focus on a single topic, even though the location is not strictly in the East End.
If you have visited this page of St Albans' Own East End, you will know that the mile markers along the Reading and Hatfield Turnpike remain in situ between Ellenbrook and St Stephen's Hill, but still exist by the roadside from Tippendell Lane southwards, which has remained a puzzle, with some speculation that in 1939 roadmen dug a hole beside the heavy objects and tipped them in, re-covered and then forgot about them. Removal of road signs was, of course, a wartime measure to confuse possible enemy incursions.
This week, while investigating plans for the closure by the County Council of St Stephen's parish school room, just as nearby Burston estate (Chiswell Green) was being opened up for development, the Editor pondered over where the early children moving to the new homes went to school.
The County Council certainly opened a new school, but much further away from the church, at Mount Pleasant, Bricket Wood in fact. Expecting children to walk long distances was normal in the 1930s, but the authority had not taken into account that in the meantime the St Albans Bypass had been opened and children from Chiswell Green needed to cross that bypass somewhere in the vicinity of The Noke or Lye Lane.
Enter the Herts Advertiser's photographer who recorded the council's solution. Four times a day a crossing patrol with a large board stopped the bypass traffic to allow up to one hundred children to be escorted. Fortunately the road was only a single carriageway in 1939.
Perhaps the story so far, though interesting, is incidental. But the bypass made use of the route of the Watford Road, formally part of the Reading & Hatfield turnpike. In the first photo below; look carefully at the fence line behind the second and third cyclist from the right. As the red circle on the map points out, this is the Lye Lane turnpike mile marker 3 miles from St Albans and 5 miles from Watford. Still standing proud, although today it would be under the later second carriageway.
But it was definitely in place in June 1939, and the children are returning home just south of Lye Lane either at lunch time or the end of the day. The crossing patrol was Mr H J Cornwall.
The second photo is the approximate location where the children crossed. Today there is a bus stop lay-by here, just south of Lye Lane. Although land for a new school in West Avenue,Chiswell Green, had been secured in 1936, Killigrew School was not opened until after WW2.
So, one more turnpike mile marker has been re-discovered: sort of!
Twenty pages of topics about the East End for you to explore.
You may have learned that the very first factory in Fleetville was the one which gave the district its name – the Fleet Print Works.
After that closed in the middle of World War One it had a new use as a periscope and telescope factory before becoming home to one of the nation's most well-known manufacturers of ladies' stockings: Ballito Hosiery Mill. It opened for this use in 1925, although the mills which made the product began in Tennessee, USA. Ballito was taken over by Courtaulds in 1965 and the building sold to Marconi Instruments Ltd.
Ballito employed hundreds, mainly women, and often on shift work. The company had a thriving social life, with a dance hall, sports hall, and a sports ground at Smallford. Lunchtime music programmes were even broadcast from there.
Ballito was one of Fleetville's major employers and many of the district's families would have had at least one member working at the Mill.
Fleetville Diaries would like to contact anyone who has any recollections of Ballito, if they were an employee, or attended social functions – and because of the time since the works closed, if your parents, uncles/aunts or even grandparents were employees.
We have a small number of engaging photographs taken at Ballito, a few taken in the first year or two of operation, others post-war, and one or two as the building was being demolished.
For the benefit of the younger people in our community, the Ballito Mill was on the site occupied by Morrison's today.
Please email through this site if you have something to offer the project.
This is the section east of the Midland Railway, but there is more: 6.5 km in total.
At the light controlled crossing join the cycle path on the south side of Sandpit Lane parallel with the road.
At the lower end of St Saviour's View join Lemsford Road until the public path on the left after Eastbury Court.
Use the public path to cross the railway bridge to reach Jennings Road.
At the bottom of the first section of Jennings Road cross over Clarence Road to the longer section, passing Verulam School on the right.
At the junction with Woodstock Road North turn right over the brick table, travelling south.
Keep Brampton Road on your right and follow Woodstock Road South. Until reaching Hatfield Road the road width is narrow and parking is an issue.
At Hatfield Road use the light-controlled crossing to the Morrison's side. Cycle on the mixed use path in front of the store towards Sutton Road.
At the junction with Sutton Road use the road, passing Castle Road on your left.
Turn right off the road at the junction with Alban Way. Alban Way is a continuous cycle path as far as Griffiths Way, with a connection to the City Railway Station.
Plans to redevelop an ageing St Albans community centre into an outstanding eco-friendly facility have been given the go-ahead.
Fleetville Community Centre, in Royal Road, was built in the 1940s as a "temporary" structure.
Although well-maintained by the charitable trust that runs it, it is in poor structural condition, and is also expensive and inefficient to heat.
St Albans City & District Council, which owns the site, has been in talks with the trust and centre users about its redevelopment. It will now initiate a discussion with the Charity Commission about the development proposals to obtain their approval.
The Council's Cabinet – its decision-making body – agreed to move the project on to the next stage [yesterday]. This will involve drawing up concept designs and costs. The aim is to create a much-enhanced centre that can better meet the needs of local people and community activities. The new building will be larger, more energy-efficient and sustainable. Among the proposed features are a main hall, three or more meeting rooms, a children's suite, cafe, kitchen, toilets and an outdoor space.
Climate-control assets would include solar panels, heat pumps, water harvesting devices, electric vehicle charging points and green walls or roof.
To finance the project the Council will look to use income gained from development projects elsewhere in the District.
Councillor Robert Donald, Portfolio Holder for Commercial Development and Wellbeing, said:
"Fleetville Community Centre was originally built as a day nursery for women in the area who were working in nearby munitions factories in the Second World War. It has served residents very well since then, catering for a huge number of different groups and activities. However, it is not only clear that a new modern building is needed, but that it must be considerably larger to cope with increasing demand and diverse population in the area for the services on offer.
We are determined to deliver a first-class and inclusive community centre that will meet the needs of local people of all ages, cultures and interests; a centre that will also be equipped with the best and most up-to-date climate change sustainability features such as solar panels and rainwater harvesting.
The project will require an enabling development to provide finance towards the overall construction and we will now be looking at the best options for that. We will continue to consult with residents, user groups and the Fleetville Community Centre Trust which runs the facility as we regenerate the site to ensure the new facility meets the needs of the whole community. We will particularly have to hold talks now with the Charity Commission as soon as possible to seek their agreement to our proposed redevelopment project and means of funding this."
Trevor Parsons, Chair of Fleetville Community Centre Trust said: "We are delighted to partner the Council to replace the existing building which has done sterling service and is held in great affection by the community over nearly eighty years."
The little drive to the left of the new development taking place opposite Sutton Road is probably the oldest driveway in Fleetville and originally led to a farrier's workshop which was part of the former farm. It has never been given a name as it was on private land. From the 1920s until the 1970s laundry vans could regularly be seen entering and leaving Hatfield Road – the premises was a steam laundry, and later a dry-clean establishment.
These are scouts training in the wilds of Tyttenhanger Green, probably in the grounds of Highfield Hall. In full costume they are rehearsing for a show presented annually in the thirties at the football ground, Clarence Park. Initially titled Searchlight Tattoo, in later years it included fireworks displays presented by Brock's Crystal Palace Fireworks. Wouldn't you just love to have been present?
Here is Fleetville's football team in 1976/77, taken at the district's 6 a-side tournament played at Nicholas Breakspear field. It was forwarded by John Bishop as a colour image, but to improve the contrast we've changed it to monochrome. See Fleetville School page.
There have been many community football teams in our East End, including teams based on the streets of Fleetville, some going back to the district's very beginnings. Here is a newly discovered photograph from the early 1950s; two more from the same source have been transferred to Sopwell Memories as they are Cottonmill teams from the 1940s. A larger version of the photo below is on the Groups Gallery page.
Fleetville Diaries, the local history people, hosted a magnificent celebration of two related families: descendants of Frederick Sander, the "Orchid King", and descendants of Henry Moon whose exquisite paintings of the orchids Sander bred were published in four massive tomes.
At the end of September the County Council announced is would not give consent for Brett Associations to dig for sand and gravel at Ellenbrook Fields, already reserved as a future countryside park. The authority gave several reasons, including unwarranted disturbance to nearby residents, large numbers of lorry movements, disturbance of underground water flows and risks associated with a known chemical called a bromate plume. This refusal was a huge relief for residents living in Smallford, Ellenbrook and Nast Hyde. But there is no certainty yet about the future.
Peter has a copy of this photograph of a very casual-looking group, and he suspects this was a cricket team raised from the residents of Tyttenhanger Green, or perhaps from staff working at Hill End Hospital. Cell Barnes Hospital is discounted as the date of the picture is c1930, a few years before the opening of Cell Barnes Colony. One man has tentatively been identified as Henry Eames (front row centre).
When laid out Princes Road was short, connecting Tess Road (now Woodstock Road south) and Woodstock Road (now Woodstock Road north). Offered to the City Council by Earl Spencer for use as a cemetery but turned down, it was developed into thirty-two homes in c1901.
Did you miss the opportunity to grab a copy of either or both volumes of the first editions of St Albans' Own East End? Perhaps you borrowed a copy from a library, or hoped a friend or relative might offer you a copy as a birthday or Christmas gift? Or maybe you've made much of your patience and are sitting it out in hope.
The fourth full cinema on this site, and the third building, currently the only remaining full-time film theatre in the city. Visit the Odyssey to witness today's comfort.
First opened on the site of a former brewery operation in Chequer Street, the Chequers was the only cinema in the centre of St Albans.
The only cinema east of the Midland Railway and therefore in the East End, the Gaumont (formerly called the Grand Palace) was in the otherwise residential Stanhope Road.
Now number 155 Camp Road the above house was once a general store and post office, first opened by Thomas Gear in the first decade of the 20th century. Mr G Trottman then took over. Are there any photographs of number 155 as a shop?
The residents' association for the formative Marshalswick estate around The Ridgeway west, purchased a number of flowering almond trees for planting in the roadside verges during the Festival of Britain year, 1951. Apparently 112 were acquired. Was there a significance to this number, or was it simply the number that could be accommodated or afforded along the roads which were planted?
Mr Belcher, a teacher of Fleetville School, took a group of children to Port Eynon, on the Gower, in June 1955. If you were in that group, please well us all about your trip. We know that the return journey was delayed by a rail strike, and it seems likely there was much confusion in the attempt to keep the school and the parents informed.
© 2021 St Albans' Own East End Mike Neighbour