Fleetville, Camp, Hill End, Marshalswick, Oaklands, Smallford, Cell Barnes, Cunningham, Ellenbrook

Last updated on January 23rd 2019.

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St Albans' Own East End second editions: preparations finally begin

January 1st is as good a day as any to make preparations for a new project. And January 1st 2019 is the day on which work on the second editions of both the volumes of St Albans’ Own East End begins in earnest.

So many people made inquiries as soon as they realised the first volumes were out of print, and have had to content themselves with a “sometime” answer, as there was no prospect of an early start on bringing new editions to publication.

Of course there is still no date, but at least the layouts are being planned. The format will be somewhat smaller – not the A4 of the first editions – and some editing will be undertaken. The sole purpose of that is to provide space for new content, although the endpoint will still be 1960.

You will discover occasional Welcome Page updates during the course of 2019; most of this year will be required to complete the task.

We can finally look forward to an “in print” future, which is excellent New Year news for the east end of St Albans. Happy New Year.

Recent updates

Sear & Carter

The former house, shop and nursery next to St Paul's Church was begun by Frank Sear in 1899. He was later joined by Thomas W Carter and his wife, Ada. Although Thomas was initially successful in deferring conscription, he was eventually called up for service in the closing months of World War One; a few days before the Armistice an injury necessitated amputation of his right leg. The business was taken over by their children following the parents' deaths in 1935.

Ninefields Nursery

The Ninefields Nursery of Sear & Carter since 1899 was replaced in 1960 by St Paul's Place. The business then moved to Smallford.

In Victorian times the district was full of small nurseries, supplying the requirements, initially, of residents of St Albans having gardens and at least a modest additional income to spend on them. Sometimes the nursery proprietor dealt, not with the property owner, but his gardener.

Thomas Carter was listed as a nurseryman. He lived in Lyme Regis, Dorset, though he was a Devon man, born in 1852. He married Ellen Mears from Poyle, but he clearly had no intention to staying close to his roots, for, by 1911 the couple were living in Boston, Lincolnshire.

There were four children, Alice and Mary, Thomas William and Charles. Thomas Wiliam married Ada Grace in 1909, where he was engaged as a nursery foreman.

Meanwhile, the youngest child, Charles Mears Carter, followed a rather different occupation, for the 1911 census informs us that he was an engineer in Northampton. It is, of course, quite probable that his chosen branch was agricultural engineering, but, in any case he developed an interest in motor vehicles.

His brother, Thomas W, had told him of opportunities in a young district on the east side of St Albans. So, around 1930 Charles Mears Carter and his wife, Frances Daisy, came to Fleetville and lived in the house which today is sandwiched by City Glass on the one side (on the corner with Harlesden Road) and Aerial Installations. In Charles Mears Day they were both grocer’s shops.

Opposite was a plot of land in front of the school, which was about to be sold off. Charles purchased it and built a car repair business under the name C M Carter, and which also dispensed petrol. After WW2 the business was sold to Alfred Hobbs – the same family who also developed the business of Tractor Shafts (later renamed Smallford Planters) at Smallford. The Carter/Hobbs garage site is now Kwik Fit.

There is another family associated with our Carters. John Sear, a gardener, and his wife brought up their four children at Lemsford, nar Hatfield. Second child, Frank, was born in 1866, and like his father worked for several of the property owners in that district, learning his trade, no doubt in the company of his father.

Frank sought to become independent, and with his wife, Elizabeth, moved to St Albans in 1899, acquiring a detached house in Hatfield Road. The left side was their living accommodation and they developed the right side as a shop, selling seeds and bulbs, together with gardening accessories, for other newcomers who wished to tend their own gardens. More importantly, there was a triangular plot behind, which was difficult to allocate for housing. Frank and Elizabeth, therefore, purchased this and used it as a nursery, naming it after the collection of earlier fields nearby, called Ninefields. Since his little nursery here was rather small, other small plots were also acquired in order to grow on plants and shrubs.

Sear was joined by Thomas William Carter. It would be interesting to know how these two men met. Thomas would have been very much the junior partner, being 20 years younger. Nevertheless, the sign above the door was changed to Sear and Carter. Together, the two men expanded the firm, and created a contracts department; instead of householders employing their own gardeners, or individuals touting their skills among the rural houses, Sear and Carter advertised contracts. They also negotiated contracts with the city council, and were contracted to maintain Hatfield Road Cemetery, opposite the shop.

Following Sear’s retirement Ada and Thomas Carter continued to run the thriving business until their deaths in 1935. The business was taken on by the children, Evelyn, Marjorie, Grace and Roger.

St Albans District Council compulsorily purchased the premises in 1960 to enable the building of St Paul’s Place. However, the business moved to nursery land at Smallford, and in 1968 was sold to Notcutts Garden Centres.


Top: House and shop conversion in the 1920s; above family Sunbeam car in 1925, family aboard. Photos courtesy Mark Carter.

William Grace came next

William Grace was not really a sweet shop man. His first love was aircraft, and moved to Stanmore, close to the de Havilland Aircraft Company's works at Stag Lane, Hendon. He was still there when the firm moved to Hatfield. As a production manager throughout World War Two and sustained injuries during bombing of the factory, Bill decided to retire with his wife Clarice, to a much quieter line of work. This is where the sweet shop comes into the story – Grace's.


In 1946 Mrs Blakeley, pictured with her father, closed the Bycullah Terrace sweet shop (today's Alban Locksmith's). It was taken over by William (Bill) Grace, before becoming a branch of Sketchley's.


The following text appears courtesy of Ian Grace, the younger son of William (Bill) Grace who owned and ran the sweet shop in Bycullah Terrace, Fleetville.

Bill Grace was born in Tottenham in 1903, around ten months before the Wright brothers flew. Just seven years later Alliot Verdon Roe flew his AVROE triplane over Tottenham Marshes.

His father returned injured from the First War, but was never able to work again, so Bill had to leave school at 13 to support his mother and three siblings with various jobs, including milk rounds and at tram depots.

In 1920 Bill became an early apprentice at new de Havilland Aircraft Company, Stag Lane, Hendon. Early orders were slow, but when its first aircraft, the Moth, became available that all changed. Bill worked on the Gipsy engines.

Suburban housing quickly surrounded the site in the late 20s, curtailed expansion and increased the risk of flying out of the Stag Lane site. With order books booming for several types of aircraft, the company purchased the flying club at Hatfield Harpsfield, and moved most departments in 1934 and 1935. Bill moved to Hatfield with the company.

As is known the company developed the wooden fighter DH98 Mosquito. Bill applied for admission to the RAF but was turned down because of the critical nature of his work as Superintendent of Stores – all components and materials passed through his hands.

Early in the war Bill was admitted to hospital at Edgware with a ruptured appendix; one of his carers was Nurse Clarice Usher. Clarice and Bill married in 1942!

Back to October 3rd 1940 when a bomb raid killed a number of employees and destroyed the entire production components for the first fifty Mosquitos. Bill was injured as he was send flying by blast from a bomb on that day. He sustained lung damage.

Until they married Bill remained at Stanmore, although he sometimes used a room at the Stone House hotel in Hatfield, opposite the works. Then they moved to a bungalow in Radlett. When DH’s laid off large numbers of employees they moved to Hatfield Road, Fleetville in 1946. Although he never learned to fly Bill and Clarice joined Elstree Flying Club as social members.


Top: Bill and Clarice Grace. Above: Bill Grace (in striped suited on the left) at a de Havilland production meeting. Photos courtesy Ian Grace.

It happened here

In January 1936 the body from a murder, which had been committed in Soho, London, finished at this spot in Cell Barnes Lane. The story of what took place was told at a presentation at the St Albans & District Local History Network Conference in October 2018. Newspapers around the world reported the story.

Lower Hill End Lane
Lower Hill End Lane

The lower part of Cell Barnes Lane is very different today, pictured. In 1936 you could drive a car along it and reach London Road.

Carlton football teams
Is this 'Bish' with the team?

Several images of Carlton FC juniors have surfaced recently. Here is one of its senior squad in 1945/6

Three neighbours working for Marconi Instruments

In 1958 Marconi Instruments, formerly at Longacres, continued its search for houses for employees transferring to St Albans from other locations. Three adjacent homes in St Vincent Drive, London Road estate became homes for Pat, Philip and Kurt. But the three families didn't just move; they moved into houses designed by Philip.

London Road estate neighbours
District maps

The maps which first appeared in the two volumes of St Albans' Own East End can now be found on this site.

Stained glass skill

The following photo appeared in a 1960 issue of the Herts Advertiser, and shows Len and Charles Hooker busy in their Albion Road workshop.

Len and Charles Hooker
Destined for Coventry

At the time one of only four firms able to undertake the task of fitting stained glass windows into the new Coventry Cathedral.

Courtesy Herts Advertiser.

Second editions under way

Did you miss the opportunity to grab a copy of either or both copies 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.

Welcome news

Preparations have begun on second editions, including new content. Keep an eye on this panel for updates.

Your turn again

The Quadrant is just one of hundreds of themes on which residents will have comments to make: shopping experiences today or recollections of visiting the shops in the past. The centre is sixty years old – so were you there at the beginning; were you a former trader; what is, or was, your favourite shop? Or perhaps you even recall the farm which preceded it. Over to you.

Quadrant shopping

The Quadrant is as popular as ever; the number of shops increased over the years, and stores have now crossed over The Ridgeway.

The Tuck's back garden
Tucks garden

Florence sent this picture to her sister Louisa in 1917. There is something familiar about the background; it is certainly a factory, but which one.

We are left to work out the nature of the group surrounding Florence (centre).

Jamboree Scouts

Scouts from all over the District of St Albans. They love to meet up every so often. Some times joining from other parts of the UK; at others they can shake hands with Scouts from all over the world. Click here for a larger image.

Mid Herts League
Benevolent Cup

We might not know the colour of the stripes, but we do know that this team from 1924/25 is sitting outside the former Adult Schools in Stanhope Road (now de Novo flats). More information soon.

The Tuck's back garden

Charles Tuck and his wife arrived in Fleetville in its very earliest years. He opened a motor vehicle and cycle workshop at the eastern end of what would become a short row of shops close to the Rats' Castle PH. When new the house and workshop stood on its own. The Tuck family were well known in the district and were members of the Methodist Church in Hatfield Road. This photograph was taken for one of Charles' daughters, Florence, (seated centre in the hat) by Riccardo photographers, then at the corner of London Road and Alma Road. The setting is the Tuck family's back garden. The building was part of the Co-operative Society Bakery. We can only speculate about the group of young ladies with Florence – skipping ropes and maracas!

Incidentally, there is a connection with the small image on the right of the three on the Welcome page. The man with the towel over his right shoulder was Charles Tuck, Florence's father.

Forthcoming events

FCC painting

Fleetville Community Centre

A wide selection of activities and events takes place at the Community Centre in Royal Road. The events include a number intended to help raise funds for the future new building project.

We are sure you will enjoy the amazing array of activities.

sharing a story at the cemetery

Talks and walks

A number of walks around the East End are arranged each year through Fleetville Diaries, the local history group, including a series of four story walks around Hatfield Road cemetery.

In addition a range of talks is available to local groups and organisations.

Watercress Wildlife Association

Fleetville Diaries


An illustrated talk
by Cath Gladding

Wednesday 30th January
at 7.30pm
Fleetville Community Centre
Members free; guests £4

All welcome.

St Albans' Own East End Blog

Streaming through Fleetville

23rd January 2019
watercress loose

Just imagine: a flow of water making its way along Hatfield Road towards Sutton Road. Sixty years ago it didn't need imagining. The drains were poorly connected and surface water had limited escape routes within the pipe network. The result was extensive flooding following prolonged and heavy rain.

Of course, before we all set up our homes in Fleetville and Camp it didn't matter, but there were always locations where homes flooded or pooling water in gardens or the roadway caused water seepage inside …

Read more
Location of post subjects on the blog

December 2018
Wings over Hatfield (de Havilland 1958)

November 2018
Former Typo (St Albans Typographical Society
Move Over (new SAOEE site)
First pictorial record (Armistice)

October 2018
Moths (DH Moth models)
They recognised me (boys outside Hill End)
Behind the main road (Winches)

September 2018
Platoon … as you were (Home Guard from Hatfield)
Platoon … halt (Home Guard from Hatfield

August 2018
Was it that long ago? (review of 1968)
Fifty (review of 1968)
Meet me at the drill hall (signing up soldiers)

July 2018
Fire, fire! Pour on water (Fire at Hill End Farm 1878)
Welcome to our new pad (Opening of Highfield Visitor Centre)
It’s in the archive (keeping the stories from Hatfield Road Cemetery)

June 2018
Sweet sound (restoring a Salvation Army brass instrument)
Recollections all round (four recollections from readers)
The doorstep pint (milk deliveries)

May 2018
It’s showtime (Herts County Show)
The price of coal (using the Coal Office)
We have a plan (educating Fleetville and Camp)
Fielding for free (picnic at the Barley Mow)

April 2018
Educating the newcomers (Educating Fleetville and Camp 1)
Spies in Glenlyn Avenue (post-WW1 friendship visits from Germany)

March 2018
Pothole alley (road maintenance)
Just dropping in (spies over our East End)
Decidedly dodgy (repairs from bomb damage)

February 2018
On your bike (arriving at London Road estate)
Sweets and planes (William Grace)

January 2018
Playground closed (informal play spaces)
Travelling east (Hatfield Road east)
Year’s worth of delight (Hannah Sessions calendar)

December 2017
Enjoy it? It made Mondays (people who inspired us)
A Little Bit Further (extending the city limits)

November 2017
Learning a Little More (Symondshyde New Village)
An anniversary for Glenferrie (centenary)
Happy birthday (109th for Fleetville School)

October 2017
Give Me Some Space (improving Fleetville’s roads)
Sorry, we don’t do sliced (Morley’s bakery)

September 2017
Stop Go (traffic lights)
Farming Outpost (Marshalswick Farm)

August 2017
One Day We’ll Do Something About It (traffic through Fleetville)
Memory Triggered (growing up in Fleetville)
What do we know about the Mos? (DH Mosquito)

July 2017
Flag waving (Green Flag Award)
All Mixed Up (Sutton Road)

June 2017
Nine Nine Nine (police boxes)
Chalet Shops (by the railway station)
Portsmouth Ahoy (careers visit by Beaumont School)
Some People Like Barley Sugars (walking out in the East End)

May 2017
The Lanes That Move (lane at Hill End which is no longer there)
You’ll Never Guess What, Mum (postcard photo outside Hill End gates)

April 2017
Sixty Is a Memory (recollections from 1957)
Sutton Lakes (the problem of drainage)
East(er) End Roundup
Engineering In the Round (ELECO)

March 2017
Converting Industrial Measures (industrial estates)
Patching Up the Past (Duisburg exchange)
No Time For a Round (Nast Hyde development)
View From the Boundary (Clarence Park cricket pavilion)

February 2017
Junction By Design? (Crown junction)
Updating and Refreshing (Ellenbrook)

January 2017
Oh For a Bypass (St Albans bypass)
Road With a View (Camp View Road)
A Circle Road (the ring road)
Speak or Text? (phones)

Speaking of the growing Fleetville in 1912: "… the haphazard, disorganised and part-completed houses, workshops and factories down in St Albans' own east end".
Ernest Townson (from the Herts Advertiser 1912)