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

Last updated on May 28th 2020.

April 6th. New blog post: "Bigger and More Proud". Below.
April 18th. New blog post: "Wretched Road Charges". Below.
April 26th. New blog post: "Middle of the Road". Below.
May 5th. New blog post: "Not Easy to Smile". Below.
May 11th. Updated information on Samuel Ryder Academy page.
May 18th. New blog post: Useful Retail Trade. Below.
May 20th. Updated information on Samuel Ryder Academy page.
May 20th. New images added to Oakwood School page.
May 25th, Improved responsive pages for all devices.
May 27th. New blog post: "Laurel". Below.

The Thrifty Cars site
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"Oh, you mean Currell's!"

Well, there have been plenty of comings and goings on this plot.


Dedicated to motor vehicles

In this section of Hatfield Road, between Arthur Road and Beaumont Avenue, the plots now occupied by Thrifty Cars were the last to be developed, and was in the ownership of Mr A E Johnson, a land agent of Grosvenor Road. It would have been one of the last sections of Beaumonts Farm along this road to disappear.

The house – it is between the bungalow and the petrol pump in the picture below which was taken in the mid 1930s – was built for Sydney Currell in the early 1920s.

Mr Currell also acquired land behind his house and from there he began a motor repair business, focusing on larger trade vehicles. Fortunately, there was sufficient space on both sides of his detached house for an access drive, although that did not stop the business purchasing the bungalow itself during the post-war period. Between Currell's plot and the pair of shops to its left was a separate access to a builders' yard behind those shops. Into the space between the builders' access and that for Currell's was squeezed a fuel filling area so that vehicles could take on fuel from the roadside. A pump is shown on the left in the photo below.

Mr Currell expanded into a successful house removal business in the 1930s, and the repair business prided itself on being able to attend vehicles by the roadside.

In the post-war world of transport of all kinds the state took control. From 1948 the Currell site was acquired by the British Transport Commission and became a depot for British Road Services (BRS). Currell's was one of the many small sites which an increasingly efficient BRS divested, being acquired by Valiant Coaches in the mid 1950s. Valiant remained for a few years before selling on to Smith's of Maddiston Haulage, which was closer to its BRS specialisation.

The council was concerned about the number of lorry movements and their size in an increasingly busy part of the district and so by 1970 and the increasing requirements of motoring services the site was converted into a filling station and the last vestige of the Currell business, Sydney's detached house, was demolished. It was also the period when the Cooperative Society opened a filling station opposite.

As filling stations became larger and with prominent sites in more accessible locations the emphasis in Hatfield Road changed again, to vehicle sales, and so on a road which at one time traded as many as six petrol and diesel filling stations between Beaumont Avenue and The Crown, the road lost its last one by the mid 1980s.

Milcars and then the current Thrifty business bring the story up to date.


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VE Day Commemoration
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… and Liberation Day on the 9th for all of our friends in the Channel Islands.

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Just one more ...
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Another school arrived in the city in September 1939. Welcome New End Elementary.

Operation Pied Piper

Much is said and written about evacuated schools during WW2, but not all schools were the same. The schools which St Albans received fall into two distinct groups. The larger group was part of Operation Pied Piper. These children and their teachers arrived from 1st September 1939, and this massive movement of people naturally attracted much publicity.

The second group was formed of schools from the south coast in 1940, some of them on the move for the second time, having been part of Pied Piper a year earlier when the south coast had been considered a safe receiving zone. St Albans received schools from both groups.

Partly because of their location all of the Pied Piper schools that ended up in St Albans were Camden-based; St Pancras being their nearest mainline rail terminus, and St Albans Midland (City) Station being along that line.

But there is one Camden school which, until recently, had not been previously recognised or mentioned – and, who knows, there might be one or two others – New End School, Streatley Place, a little north of Hampstead Underground Station (Northern Line). This former elementary school was, and still is, tucked away in a tight collection of residential roads east of Heath Street, Hampstead.

Today New End is a primary school, but the children who arrived at St Albans were seniors and were attached to Beaumont, together with Haverstock School, Camden. This means that New End was then an elementary school.

So we then need to ask the question, which school (and in which town, if not St Albans) were the New End primary children attached?

Well, that question about New End at St Albans remains unanswered for now. The school had not previously been mentioned, and of course, today there will be so few people alive with any personal connection with this relocation, we would now rely on the children and grandchildren of the evacuees whose stories of the time may have been passed on – and of course remembered.

That does not mean, however, that the story of New End in St Albans should remain forgotten. We are pleased you spent a few years in our company.

The school remains in its rather fine late Victorian/ early Edwardian buildings on its original site.

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Ballito Project
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You might be able to help us. A major 2020 project charting the story of a company which closed 55 years ago. Do you remember Ballito?

Ballito Hosiery Mill

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.

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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.

SAOEE Blog
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Laurel

When Clarence Road didn't exist and Laurel grew behind the farmhouse on the hill.

Find the Green Ring
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This is the section east of the Midland Railway, but there is more: 6.5 km in total.

The eastern Green Ring

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At the light controlled crossing join the cycle path on the south side of Sandpit Lane parallel with the road.

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At the lower end of St Saviour's View join Lemsford Road until the public path on the left after Eastbury Court.

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Use the public path to cross the railway bridge to reach Jennings Road.

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At the bottom of the first section of Jennings Road cross over Clarence Road to the longer section, passing Verulam School on the right.

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At the junction with Woodstock Road North turn right over the brick table, travelling south.

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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.

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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.

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At the junction with Sutton Road use the road, passing Castle Road on your left.

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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.

Montague Close

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.

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Montague Close

With new homes going up on the site the driveway receives a name for the first time: Montague Close. The mystery remains: the reason for using this name. We'll attempt to find out for our readers.

Forgotten houses

Many firms, among them Marconi Instruments Ltd, sought homes for their potential employees from the mid-1940s. Even if land was available, to build a house you needed to apply for a licence, and these were in short supply. The photo below was supplied courtesy of Marconi Instruments Heritage Collection and shows prefabs, which were factory-built and brought to the site in sections.

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Hill End Lane Prefabs

The group of prefabs were located at the former railway siding at the station in Hill End Lane (Station Road). Eventually replaced by park homes, the site is now a range of flats. This picture was taken in 1953.

Fleetville roads

There is now an almost complete series of early 20th century photos of the roads which connect with Hatfield Road between Bycullah Terrace and The Crown. The most recent to be discovered is …

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Blandford Road

Thought to have been taken in 1907 before the age of the motor car, we can just see St Paul's premises which must have been still in the hands of the builders. Opposite is Thompson & Co, milliner, long before the Co-op arrived!

Flying over

Most of us see the world from ground level and from roads and lanes. What we mainly notice are houses and front gardens. Behind are our more private spaces, but occasionally there is something else we might not have expected. Today we discover what it might be courtesy of Google Earth.

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A triangular plot

Three roads form a triangular pattern, and in the middle had always been a smaller triangle of unused space – until recently. There is now a large house with its own swimming pool. Gosh, who's have thought it?

A meeting of Sanders – and Moons

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.

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Sander & Moon Tribute Day

The result of Fleetville Diaries' project to renovate the family plot of the Sander/Moon families, was seen by eighty invited guests to Hatfield Road Cemetery and members of the Moon and Sander families.

Bastin's front and back yard

This terrace of four homes in Castle Road was built in 1906 on a site extending through to Hatfield Road by builder William J Bastin. At the other end he built two houses facing onto the main road; they were only converted into shops – a baker on the left and shoe repairer on the right – in the mid 1930s. Bastin's builder's yard nestled in the centre of the plot; today it is Chapman's Auto Services.

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Castle Road terrace

After over a century this quad is largely unaltered: curved window arches, absence of porches, sash windows on both floors and patterned tile front paths, and original chimney stacks.

Ground floor living

Walk or drive along the section of Hatfield Road, eastwards from Ashley Road, and before reaching Butterwick industry you would count fourteen bungalows on the south side. You would be right in thinking there were once a few more, most erected in the 1920s. There are even two new ones on the corner of Colney Heath Lane. However, there might shortly be one fewer of these very convenient homes if a current proposal succeeds to replace one bungalow with a 2.5 storey block of 8 flats. Originally named The Wardens it was one of a group of ten built on part of Hill End Farm in 1926; only the house next door was older (1923).

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Bungalows

You might not realise it but there are still a few bungalows along Hatfield Road, though not as many as there used to be.

Second editions under way

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.

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Welcome news

Preparations are well under way on second editions, including new content. Keep an eye on this panel for updates.

Fleetville streetscapes

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.

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Part of Woodstock Road south

Five pairs of homes on the west side (with two pairs hidden next to the school). The last two cream pairs were not added until the 1920s.

Local architect recognised

In September a book is being published about one of St Albans' former architects, Percival Cherry Blow. The range of his work was wide: banks, public houses, shops, a cinema and many homes, oh, and the former Sainsbury's in St Peter's Street.

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A very local Blow building

Benskins chose Percival Blow to design its new public house for Fleetville, The Rats' Castle. Its licence was granted in 1927.

We went to the Odeon Cinema
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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.

We went to the Chequers Cinema
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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.

We went to the Gaumont Cinema
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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.