Last updated on March 2nd, 2021.
January 3rd. New item on Your Turn page.
January 11th. New blog post: "How Safe Was Hatfield Road?" Below.
January 12th. New item on Your Turn page.
January 24th. New blog post: "St John's and Lane End".
January 31st. New blog post: "Behind the Cinema". Below.
February 2nd. February newsletter. Below.
February 7th. New blog post: "Park View". Below.
February 26th. New blog post: "Cycling and Walking …"
March 1st. Updated image details on Oakwood School page
March 2nd. New blog post: "A Look on the South Side". Below.
March 2nd. Updated image details on Beaumont School page.
On the corner of Coopers Green Lane and what used to be called Manor Road.
If you travel along Coopers Green Lane intending to turn along the road towards Hatfield Business Park you will discover the street plate names it Hatfield Avenue, although many of us recall it as Manor Road. Manor Road still exists, of course. As you turn off the Hatfield Garden Village roundabout you use Manor Road to reach the shops, but since the business park grew the road doesn't lead anywhere; the major length of it has been relabelled Hatfield Avenue.
The map extract above shows its junction with Coopers Green Lane (from centre left to centre top). On the corner is a house; in fact two separate properties. Look at the roofline where there are eight chimney pots. That's rather a lot for such a modest footprint.
Under the front eaves there is also a crest forming part of the external wall, and undoubtedly is linked to the ownership of Astwick Manor just along the road.
The cottages appear on all maps reaching back at least to the 1870s, and on only one map are they labelled – Astwick Manor Cottages, Today, the porches on each side have disappeared; so too has the rear outhouse. In fact, the doors, and the windows on both floors are blocked up.
On my bike rides from Beaumonts to Stanborough nearly 70 years ago I recall these cottages, and even then they appeared to be forgotten, neglected, empty; and nothing appears to have changed.
I wonder about the story of the Astwick Manor Cottages and must discover more.
Map courtesy National Library of Scotland; photos courtesy Google Streetview.
Welcome to the latest news
from our own East End
AFTER 120 YEARS …
All kinds of people were attracted to the enterprising location called Fleetville. Not least many builders and suppliers to that trade. A triangular plot abutting the branch railway at the far end of Cape Road was Bennett's who were builders and brick makers. They had other sites in the district too.
After Bennett's came Pratt's, UBM and then Jewson. And after World War Two there was a vehicle depot for the soft drink firm Kia Ora, which was managed by Currell's in Hatfield Road (long story!)
The triangle is up for sale and almost certainly its future will be residential, thus further cementing the district as a place where people live rather than where they live and work. Shortly we will be learning yet another new name.
Recently our readers have become interested in wells. Notably those no longer in use and have either been filled in or capped. Someone is going to need to acquaint themselves with the technology of well-sinking, and the archaeology of well discovery! The location we have chosen is a former well at Beaumonts Farm. So, if anyone can help …
Another location we are in danger of losing sight of lies at the north end of Beaumont Avenue. Before the development of St John's Court, there were three large houses: Avenue House, Lane End and Bramhall. Yet very little has been remembered about them. We are searching for photographs, and gradually a small number of interested people are trawling their memories for recollections. The period of interest is between 1900 and 1960. We'll keep you posted if you are in a position to keep us informed.
Another road of current interest is Granville – the tree-lined avenue near the station where residents could hear the cinema sound tracks when the Gaumont was across the road. Today half of the original villas no longer exist, either replaced by yet another part of W O Peake, or in more recent decades replaced by blocks of flats. It would be useful to re-discover the line of former houses on the station side of Granville Road at the Hatfield Road end. If anyone can help …
Twenty pages of topics about the East End for you to explore.
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.
These are scouts training in the wilds of Tyttenhanger Green, probably in the grounds of Highfield Hall. In full costume they are rehearsing for a show presented annually in the thirties at the football ground, Clarence Park. Initially titled Searchlight Tattoo, in later years it included fireworks displays presented by Brock's Crystal Palace Fireworks. Wouldn't you just love to have been present?
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.
At the end of September the County Council announced is would not give consent for Brett Associations to dig for sand and gravel at Ellenbrook Fields, already reserved as a future countryside park. The authority gave several reasons, including unwarranted disturbance to nearby residents, large numbers of lorry movements, disturbance of underground water flows and risks associated with a known chemical called a bromate plume. This refusal was a huge relief for residents living in Smallford, Ellenbrook and Nast Hyde. But there is no certainty yet about the future.
Peter has a copy of this photograph of a very casual-looking group, and he suspects this was a cricket team raised from the residents of Tyttenhanger Green, or perhaps from staff working at Hill End Hospital. Cell Barnes Hospital is discounted as the date of the picture is c1930, a few years before the opening of Cell Barnes Colony. One man has tentatively been identified as Henry Eames (front row centre).
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.
Now number 155 Camp Road the above house was once a general store and post office, first opened by Thomas Gear in the first decade of the 20th century. Mr G Trottman then took over. Are there any photographs of number 155 as a shop?
The residents' association for the formative Marshalswick estate around The Ridgeway west, purchased a number of flowering almond trees for planting in the roadside verges during the Festival of Britain year, 1951. Apparently 112 were acquired. Was there a significance to this number, or was it simply the number that could be accommodated or afforded along the roads which were planted?
Mr Belcher, a teacher of Fleetville School, took a group of children to Port Eynon, on the Gower, in June 1955. If you were in that group, please well us all about your trip. We know that the return journey was delayed by a rail strike, and it seems likely there was much confusion in the attempt to keep the school and the parents informed.
© 2021 St Albans' Own East End Mike Neighbour