Last updated on July 27th 2020.
July 13th. New information on Streets page.
July 15th. New blog post: "Mr Skelton's Investment". Below.
July 16th. New newsletter below.
July 16th. Updated names on Marshalswick/Sandringham School page.
July 20th. New local football team photo on Groups Gallery.
July 24th. New blog post: "From Bakery to Dairy". Below.
July 27th. New details on Walks Programme page.
"Oh, you mean Currell's!"
Well, there have been plenty of comings and goings on this plot.
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.
Welcome to the latest news
from our own East End
It may surprise many of the East End's residents that until the late 1950s there were just two schools to serve the district, Camp and Fleetville, and for much of that time they were elementary establishments, accommodating all children up to school leaving age. Fleetville had classes of over 50 in the 1950s and also used external classrooms. Finally, the Fleetville Extension School, was built. Don't recognise the name? Well, today it is called Oakwood JMI. More classes from its early years now appear on the website, including a complete set of four for us to follow a single class through the junior phase.
This site has also revealed information about the Pied Piper schools who evacuated to St Albans in 1939. Recently a map hidden amongst a sheaf of documents in a folder at Hertfordshire Archives & Local Studies, revealed a minor pencilled addition. Along the original girls' entrance to Beaumont Schools in Oakwood Drive a planning map prepared in 1940, shortly after the opening of the schools, marked an area of ground thus: "at present gardens here cultivated by evacuated schools" (red circle in the image below). We can imagine these children and their teachers having something to call their own while they were living with us in St Albans. We wonder what the growing conditions were like! The blue circles on the same image mark the location of the former air raid trenches for the children to shelter in.
Tucked away at the end of Grimston Road near the former prison is Shirley Road, which had once been the site of the City Council's nursery plot; and was also the location of a Civic Restaurant – the re-brand name for British Restaurants in St Albans during and after World War 2. Until recently it did not appear in the list of street name descriptions; in the first edition of St Albans' Own East End simply stating "unexplained". We are grateful to Robert for alerting us to James Shirley (1596 - 1666), a poet and dramatist, who was also Master of St Albans School. The road was named by the City Council, which celebrated Mr Shirley's role both for the school and in the wider context.
July rolls on and we wonder how many of us are preparing to raid the local hedgerows for blackberries, an age-old seasonal activity to supplement our larders (for those who have them) and fridges. I know of several hedge lines no longer in place where we used to source the nutritious fruit. Blackberry and apple pie anyone?
Another school arrived in the city in September 1939. Welcome New End Elementary.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
© 2020 St Albans' Own East End Mike Neighbour