Last updated on February 9th 2020.
December 5th. New entry about Percy Rollings added to Your Turn page.
December 11th. New entry about the Green Ring on the Welcome page.
December 14th. Extended and updated blog index on the Welcome page.
January 16th. New information panels at the top of the Welcome page.
February 1st. New topic about steel houses added to Your Turn page.
February 8th. New page titled Fleetville Community Centre.
You'll remember the Nicholson building in Sutton Road: three more new names for Fleetville.
Since 1901 people have known the large building in Sutton Road as Nicholson's, the former factory which made ranges of coats. Well, following a successful life turning out high quality products the building hosted a range of small businesses until a third life beckoned, and we have just become used to calling this corner Beaumont Gardens, the name taken from the official name given by Alfred Nicholson, Beaumont Works. He himself owned many plots in Beaumont and Salisbury avenues.
The building fronting Sutton Road has now been given a new name: Hansell House, in recognition of the St Albans' architect Henry Hansell who lived at 19 Granville Road and was given the contract of designing the new factory in 1900.
The two newly built blocks of flats behind and fronting onto Hedley Road, also have their own names: the first is Nicholson House, after the manufacturer from Manchester who came to launch the second works in the then new Fleetville. Further along the road is Marconi House. Many established residents may recall Marconi Instruments' factory sites in Longacres and at the rear of the former Ballito site. But there was also a small manufacturing and testing unit for Marconi close to the bend in Hedley Road.
It is great to have these local connections being applied to new commercial developments, and we should appreciate that thought by the developers, Taylor Wimpey.
It's next door to Montague Close and behind Burgess Funeral Directors.
The site behind Burgess Funeral Directors in Fleetville was first of all a small timber yard. However, during World War Two an established London firm of specialised manufacturers brought their brass dart production operation to St Albans after it had been bombed out of the capital. It was owned and managed by Stanley Messer. A factory in Shropshire created the feather flights using imported turkey feathers.
Kwiz made a variety of flight colours and shapes, and even made a special blue and yellow flight for St Albans. The entrance to the site was between the Funeral Directors and a pair of shops and the firm employed around 70 in the production and marketing. Kwiz was well-known internationally and were specified for some of the largest and most important competitions.
The company closed in 1980 when tungsten darts were made by competitors, selling them direct to clubs and public houses.
While much attention has been given recently to what would replace The Emporium next door, whose building work is clearly visible at the front of its site, news of the development next door (number 223a Hatfield Road), was mainly brought to our attention by a notice on the boundary gate.
This will be Napier Court, a mix of one, two and three bedroomed flats, in an L-shaped block on three floors. Although the flats are on two floors throughout, an additional floor is added to one section.
While there had been some controversy about parking provision at Montague Close, it seems that all fourteen flats at Napier Court will have dedicated spaces, partly recessed.
So, taken together with the new flats at Beaumont Gardens, that will be three new residential sites, all of which are on constrained sites in the busiest part of Fleetville.
Evacuation of children to St Albans had begun in 1939, but they were still arriving in 1940. Who were they?
Much publicity has been given to the 1939 Pied Piper evacuee programme and we have seen plenty of newsreel film footage from London mainline railway stations, of trains crowded with labelled children, their tearful parents kept behind police barriers. A large number of these children had been de-trained at St Albans and were settled into their new temporary homes.
Much less has been said of the arrivals of 1940 and they deserved their place in the story. The 1939 dispersal had included the south-coast towns, it being assumed they were sufficiently distant from the capital to avoid bombing. By 1940 it was realised with some trepidation that those children sent to towns such as Worthing, Brighton, Eastbourne and Hastings, were vulnerable to bombing as much as in London.
Having settled in to one billet those children had now to move again. And this time they were joined by children and schools from those and other towns. Suddenly, trains were provided once more and Hertfordshire was one of the receiving counties; St Albans one of the receiving towns.
On one July Sunday in 1940, the Herts Advertiser reported, over a thousand children and their carers arriving at St Albans Station. On arrival each child received a glass of milk, chocolate and biscuits. School groups – including whole schools – were accommodated in various schools in the city, This resulted in the typical half-time sessions until arrangements settled in. Among the schools affected were Beaumont, Central and Fleetville.
Most of the evacuated schools had returned to their home towns by the end of 1942.
Courtesy HERTS ADVERTISER.
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.
Friday 6th March at 7pm
There's so much going on in our Royal Road building. Call in when passing to discover so many activities.
Or discover more about our new building.
Get out in the open air and walk yourself around Clarence Park or Highfield Park, along your local roads and lanes. Or join the Laid to Rest story walks at Hatfield Road Cemetery.
Dates coming up.
BART'S IN HERTS
A tale of how a London teaching hospital arrived in St Albans own Hill End.
Sarah Graham and Sue Gaylard
Fleetville Community Centre at 7.30pm
Wednesday 26th February
All welcome; non-members £4
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.
As the 20th century dawned the council purchased a small field next to Beastney's Farm, where hospital houses were later built. There may have been some confusion about the legal ownership of the field, but it seemed to be the intention of the authority to designate it as public open space. But there is one decision which is not fully understood…
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 …
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
Just over a decade after St Albans came under the full control of Hertfordshire Constabulary (transferred in 1948), a Herts Advertiser photographer provided an example of an officer at work along the roadside.
St Albans City Football Club were fortunate in 1949 to receive a coveted building license to create a clubroom at its Clarence Park ground. The Club was also fortunate in having sufficient volunteers to carry out the work; they may have been men who were otherwise out of work, until the building permits were relinquished as materials became more available.
Former house builder, Charles Hart of Camp Road, later became a collector of entertainment organs – his collection is now St Albans Organ Theatre next to Camp School. Charles is seen surveying his scene on the right of this picture.
He was also fascinated by children's entertainments and built up a touring children's fairground in the summer months, not only at Verulamium, but in a range of towns in the county and further afield. PHOTOS COURTESY THE GOODWIN COLLECTION.
Charles toured widely in the UK and in Europe, always on the look-out for new equipment which he could buy, and that included cinema organs which he rescued just in time before demolition gangs moved in, even if it meant sleeping in an empty building overnight!
© 2020 St Albans' Own East End Mike Neighbour