The generosity of Sir John Blundell Maple MP, in giving the park to the people of St Albans, was a recognition of the need for open spaces for recreational purposes; facilities which were previously in short supply. This park, thought to have been intended as Maple Park, was on the very edge of Fleetville, and so, in a sense, it was Fleetville's park. In the late Victorian period there was, what amounted to a crusade to bring fresh water to people in public open spaces, and parks were usually connected to the water supply network, and a tap provided. The donor's wife, Lady Emily Maple, presented the drinking fountain to the city at the time of the park's opening.
Copies of the Herts Advertiser of the time are limited in the coverage of Camp and Fleetville, except for those subjects which would have been of concern to the property owners, but not necessarily to their tenants. The number of issues of the Fleetville Free Press was limited, possibly as few as two. It is thought it was printed by Ernest Townson, general manager of Smith's Printing Agency, and edited by one of the traders, Mr J H Waller. Mr Townson was a prominent public figure and was elected to the City Council, representing East Ward (Camp and Fleetville).
Gone were the early days when tennis was played on the same grass as football matches – when, no doubt, the season was shorter. They were the years when a ticket man was on duty at each open park gate, and no-one could use the park's other facilities at match times. Then, as matches attracted larger attendances, turnstiles with wooden huts attached arrived at the football end and solved the issue of the ticket man, making other park users happier. A redundant turnstile can still be found among the hedging between the two sections of the park.
The Guernsey breed was the specialist herd at Cunningham Hill Farm. The milk produced is rich in colour and taste, having a high butterfat contnet. The farm joined with others to market their dairy products and was an early adapter of milk in sealed glass bottles, as well as non-glass containers. This was perceived as being safer than milk poured from delivery carts into jugs brought out by householders.
This little wallet of tear-off matches was one of many marketing devices employed by traders in the 1920s and 30s. The card wallet may have been given away free of charge with the leather wallet available as a promotional item with any profit going to the trader. There was always the ongoing free advertising as well! The firm of H Tuck & Son was a few doors from the Rats' Castle pub. It is now replaced by a block of flats (opposite T K Food and Wine).
Courtesy Janet Staley-Haines
This particular flag was brought to St Albans by Walter and Gertrude Neighbour, and flown outside their Hatfield Road house, both in 1936 (Coronation of Edward V!!!) and 1937 (Coronation of George VI). It flew again on a pea cane attached to the front window of 57 Woodland Drive in 1945 (VE Day) and again in 1953 (Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II). The flag was not used again until May 1995, in an exhibition to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the end of WW2.
The woodland and open space known as The Wick was, in 1926, a vulnerable piece of land, having been intended for intensive house-building. Saved from development by Mr A C Peake in 1929, and subsequently presented by him to the City, this open space is now a nature reserve, in addition to a recreation ground. These unusual markers welcome visitors to The Wick at both Sandpit Lane and Marshals Drive entrances. The Wick is also of archaeological interest.
The Rats' Castle PH arrived after a lengthy and acrimonious campaign of three decades. The sign is unusual in that it had a short life, though how short is not currently recalled. Following an upgrade to the pub, on the corner of Sutton and Hatfield roads, its name was changed to The Castle, and this sign appeared. The new title did not please a number of regular customers, or many local residents. After a public interest campaign the old name was restored.
Courtesy HCC St Albans Library.
Plainly titled Clarence Park Bench, it is located in the ornamental section of the park. Sculptured from a fallen tree by Mark van Vastenhoven, the sculpture was unveiled by the Mayor, Keith Stammers, in 2002. It is a rare example of public sculpture of any type anywhere in the city, and thought to be unique in the East End of St Albans.
On the sale of a large area of Beaumonts Farm in 1899, Owen's opened a brickworks to serve local house-building needs, in anticipation of extensive demand. The frogs (the depressions at the top of each brick) are stamped OSTA – Owen's St Albans. The Wheathampstead company, which also had a brickworks at Welwyn, celebrated its thirtieth birthday in 1929. Many of the early Camp and Fleetville houses were built using the red Owen bricks. The industrial estate in Ashley Road occupies the site today.
Courtesy St Albans Museums.
In the 1920s and 30s public transport was provided by many small independent companies, often concentrating on those roads with greatest passenger potential. But even small communities were catered for. Arthur Blowers operated a service to Fleetville, as illustrated in this photo; but he also served Camp, Colney Heath and Tyttenhanger. Mr Blowers used the Marlborough Road premises of Albanian Coaches to store his buses.
Courtesy J F Higham
This camera model became popular in the 1930s among young photographer families. It was the first domestic and non-specialist camera which could be called pocket-sized due to its folding design. Rolls of film, 62 mm wide were manufactured, long enough to accommodate 8 shots. No wonder old photos are hard to come by! This particular camera was used to record most of the childhood antics of the author. The occasional picture taken with the camera turns up on this website.
It is debatable whether the doorway, as with other parts of buildings, should be considered an object in the context of this collection. However, the art deco style entrance was a striking feature of the Hatfield Road streetscape. Regrettably not in good condition when photographed. Ballito Hosiery Mills (now replaced by a Morrison's supermarket) adopted an art deco style to many aspects of its business, as did so many destinctive companies in the 1930s. This included posters, advertisements and the neon lettering on the building's fascia.
Courtesy Paul Eland
The St Albans Co-operative Society served a sizeable rural area as well as Hemel Hempstead, Hatfield and Welwyn Garden City. The Society's dairy and bakery were both in Fleetville. The dairy, faced in white brick, occupied a site in Burleigh Road, now occupied by homes. The sign, in green art deco style letters, also sported a clock, set into the second letter 'O'. Given that the road was in a quiet cul-de-sac, it is not known whether the clock played a key time-keeping role for employees, or whether it was simply a decorative addition to the name sign.
Diaries were just one of the ways in which traders spread their names among the purchasing public. P H Stone & Sons ran two shops at the time, 1933, but number 157 is the address most people will remember, for its newspapers, toys and cigarettes. 167 was mainly a confectionery shop. Stone's retained its marketing connections with Gem until at least the end of the 1960s. Many diaries would have been sold, but no doubt some would have been given away to regular customers.
Courtesy Diana Devereux
Benskins erected a hotel in modernist style near the junction of the Barnet Bypass (Comet Way) and the St Albans Bypass. From the start, the hotel was called The Comet, named after the de Havilland DH88 Comet, which was a long distance racer and mail carrier; it would later also give its name to a post WW2 jet passenger aircraft. The racer motif celebrated the London to Australia, world speed-breaking, 1934 event. The original model included an intertwined shooting star depiction, but this was left out of the 1970 replacement.
The image was kindly supplied by a former pupil of the small private school in Elm Drive. Its pupils wore uniforms of grey and orange. The school's owner was Miss E M Kell, who penned this verse for Mary Rome in her final year: "Do you hear what the birds say? / The sparrow, the dove / The blue tit and the thrush say / I love and I love." Autograph books , sometimes leather-bound and padded, were a popular form of memory collection, and you could usually decipher the name, quite unlike many of today's squiggles.
Courtesy Mary Rome
In the 83 years of the firm's existence the company made around 34,000 instruments, maninly for its bands both in the UK and abroad. It had moved to St Albans from more cramped quarters in London's East End. Many of the instruments were returned to the Campfield Road premises, some on several occasions, for repairs. Each was stamped, when first made, with a unique reference number and the name of the firm. This one has the inscription: "The Reliance 22047. Manufactured by the Salvationist Publishing and Supplies Ltd, Judd Street, Kings Cross, London. Factory at St Albans."
Mr S Evelyn Thomas lived in Homewood Road and was responsible for the publication of a number of Civil Defence books before and during WW2. The imprint for this book
shows that he published it from his home, although it was distributed by a company in Preston. This copy may be the only survivor of the title. Mr Thomas also published a number of cartoon titles, in order to raise the morale of individuals and organisations, both during the course of the war and afterwards.
Courtesy RAF Museum Archive.
Sirens were part of the nationwide war infrastructure, warning of impending bombing raids, where the siren was switched alternately on and off to produce a distinctive wailing sound. 'Raiders Passed' or 'All Clear' was a continuous pitch. The flanges on each side of the device were set to slighty different angles so as to produce a more discordant note which would penetrate other noise being produced at the time. The master siren was atop the old Town Hall. When that sounded relays to other district sirens cut in so that the warnings were clearly heard in the neighbourhoods.
Courtesy Midlands Heritage.
© 2021 St Albans' Own East End Mike Neighbour