Just like anywhere else

We received hundreds of evacuees, and adults engaged in wartime employment. Preparation had been made to keep us safe with shelters, and to warn us with sirens; to keep us alert with wardens. With an expanded fire service and rooftop look-outs, there were land girls and timber jills, not to mention the Home Guard. After it was all over we celebrated with street parties.

Air raid siren

Each was linked to the master siren on the Town Hall roof. On "Raiders Approaching" the siren wailed; once the warning was over – "raiders passed" – the siren sounded a steady note. They remained in place until the 1960s, being used for the fire service, and tests for possible future conflicts.

Street shelters
Street shelter

The function of a street shelter was to provide some measure of protection for people who were out in the streets, usually walking to and from works or shops. They had a blast shock entrance and a separate emergency exit hatch.

  • Hatfield Road/Beechwood Avenue
  • Sandpit Lane/Homewood Road
  • Hatfield Road/Colney Heath Lane
  • Camp Road/Campfield Road
  • Clarence Park and The Crown
  • Camp Road/top of Camp Hill
  • Marshals Drive/The Wick
  • Sandpit Lane/Lemsford Road
  • Royal Road, six in line structures on roadway
  • Royal Road, at each end of former nursery – extant
  • Cambridge Road/Ashley Road
  • Tell us if you know of other locations.
Home Guard training huts
Beaumonts Home Guard

Each Home Guard unit had its own reporting base and training hut. Nearby ground was used for trench digging and exercises. The above photo shows the Beaumonts unit at its hut in Central Drive.

  • Oaklands/Beaumont unit at Central DRive
  • Camp unit at Cunningham Field
  • Hill End unit opposite Highfield Hall
  • Sandpit Lane unit at Lemsford Road junction
  • Tell us if you know of other locations
Street parties
Street party Elm Drive St Albans

It was such a relief when Victory in Europe (VE) Day arrived. Residents in many streets held street parties – often repeated a few years later for the Coronation in 1953.

  • Burnham Road (VE + Coronation)
  • Castle Road (VE)
  • Sandfield Road (1946 Welcome Home)
  • Hazelwood Drive (Coronation)
  • Woodland Drive (VE + Coronation)
  • Wynchlands Crescent (Coronation)
  • Cavendish Road (VE + Coronation
  • Rose Walk/Marshwk Ln (Coronation)
  • Arthur Road (Coronation)
  • Longacres (VE)
  • Elm Drive (VJ + Coronation)
  • Beechwood Avenue (Coronation)
  • Glenferrie Road (Coronation)
  • Kingshill Crescent (VJ + Coronation)
  • Linden Crescent (Coronation)
  • Guildford Road (Coronation)
  • Tell us if you know of other locations.
Static water tanks
emergency static water tank in Aston,  Birmingham

A major risk is the dislocation of the piped water supply during a bombing raid. The fire service was responsible for placing and keeping filled a number of tanks. Some were rectangular, as shown in the above photo, while others were circular.

  • Fleetville Recreation Ground
  • Hatfield Road/Beechwood Avenue
  • Jennings Road/Gainsborough Avenue
  • Cambridge Road/College Road
  • Wickway
  • Hill End Hospital
  • Oakwood Drive/Elm Drive
  • Tell us if you know of other locations.
Underground shelters
Underground shelters, not St Albans

A few of the shelters, sometimes referred to as tunnels, began as open trenches in 1938, and were subsequently covered over. Equipped with bench seating and sometimes bunks they were fitted with electric lights and a telephone. St Albans was not heavily bombed; consequently the shelters were not often used.

  • Ballito (now Morrison's) for employees
  • Fleetville Rec for public and primary school
  • Camp School – under the playground
  • Beaumont School – under garden and field
  • Girls Grammar School, Hatfield Road
  • Campfield Road/Camp Road
  • Clarence Park, near drinking fountain
  • Windermere Avenue, allotments
  • Hill End Hospital
  • Nicholson's, Hedley Road
  • de Havilland Works
  • Boys' County School, NE corner, Jennings Rd.
  • Tell us if you know of other locations
Warden posts
warden's post

The air raid precautions (ARP) warden coordinated volunteers in his/her area. Simple buildings were erected for the purpose, some of which were improved over time with heating. All had a light and telephone, and some were protected with sandbags.

  • Beaumont School, near cycle racks
  • Windermere Avenue allotments
  • Marshals Drive/The Wick
  • Fleetville Rec, adjacent to pubic toilets..
  • Clarence Park – with decontamination unit
  • Tell us if you know of other locations

Everything changed

From 1939 almost everything changed; the way people travelled; what and how much they ate; the timing of their routines; how much they paid and were paid; new emergency laws and rules governed what we could do. People took on new and extra roles. Most schools went part-time for a while, because they were sharing accommodation with incoming children and teachers.

Other than a few memories and memorabilia, little remains of those few years between 1939 and … well, it didn't all change back to normal in 1945. The utility and restricted lives improved only slowly. Even the camouflage applied to a few buildings, such as Beaumont Works, is hardly visible now. Discarded road blocks can still be found; nissen huts continued to find uses; and at least one wartime nursery in the district is still being used as a community centre.

An RAF arial photograph has surfaced and shows that a line of six street shelters was constructed – probably in 1939-1940 – on the western lane of the Royal Road roadspace. They were still there in October 1946 when the photograph was taken.

The rectangular structure next to Hatfield Road on the recreation ground was an emergency water tank installed by the National Fire Service. By 1946 the water had been emptied from the tank, but the tank itself was still in situ.

To the right of the tank can be seen a very small building which, we are assured, was an ARP hut (ARP stands for Air Raid Precautions) used by volunteer wardens responsible for people's safety.

  • Evacuees arrive Watford Junction Station
    Evacuees from a London school arrive at Watford Junction.
  • WW2 Pig Club poster
    Pig Clubs gave residents a share in additional meat.
  • Gas mask practice at a nursery class
    Gas masks were given to all to protect against possible gas attacks.
  • Nissen hut
    Nissen huts were simple to erect and widely used.
  • Discarded temporary road blocks
    Concrete blocks were placed in roadways in case of enemy tank advance.
  • ARP Practical Guide cover
    Advice books, this one written by a St Albans resident.
  • Ration book cover
    Everyone had their ration books – not restricted to foods.
  • Salvage collection, London Colney
    Salvage collections – today called recycling.
  • Street shelters in Royal Road
    Street shelters in Royal Road
Handing in ration book form
A direct hit caused the destruction of a house "somewhere in the Home Counties"; actually numbers 80, 82, 84 and 86 Beaumont Avenue. In total four occupants were killed with two survivors from the direct hit on number 82.
The Herts Advertiser November 22nd 1940.