Last updated June 25th, 2022.
A collaboration between Marconi Wireless and EKCO of Southend led to the formation of St Albans-based Marconi Instruments. This is its early story.
Wild flower section at the lower end of Hatfield Road Cemetery. Sit here awhile and you relax with the sound of bees.
Click photo to enlarge
Fleetville Community Centre, Highfield Park Trust and Trestle Theatre Company are among east end groups who now have a fundraising local lottery page. We all have an opportunity to donate and hopefully win prizes.
New this Spring St Albans District Council has launched the St Albans District Community Lottery.
Already about twenty-five community groups are participating with their own page on
We choose our good cause.
Fleetville Community Centre
Highfield Park Trust
Trestle Theatre Company
among more than twenty others
Sign up and decide how many £1 tickets you wish to play each week. Click Play to discover all live causes. The full details are are provided on the website.
You decide how much you would like to help raise towards the community group's target. And there is always the possibility of winning a prize.
In 1939 horse ploughing pasture land in the East End to convert fields to grow more of our own food instead of importing it.
Click photo to enlarge.
Photos and histories about our East End schools, and plenty of former pupils identified. You may be among them, but if not you may be able to help identify yourself, a friend or relative.
There are twenty-three pages of topics about the East End for you to explore, from districts to shopping streets, a turnpike and former hospitals.
We gathered one hundred assorted objects which together tell the story of ST ALBANS' OWN EAST END. They are all here in this group of pages, together with their individual accounts.
Many books have been written about St Albans – including of course ST ALBANS' OWN EAST END. Not all are currently in print, however, but may be available at the library. Here you can also look out for new titles.
Please help us to identify places, fill in information or add images. This section, for example seeks further information about a plaque once inside the former W O Peake building in Hatfield Road.
The planning application lodged last February has now been approved. The new building will be constructed on the site of the present 1942 building.
The moment has almost arrived, when Fleetville will finally be in a position to remove the "temporary" 1942 building and instead show off a bright, modern and proud new community centre.
Recently added to the Council website Planning Pages is the full range of documents outlining the works for the new Fleetville Community Centre. It seems that the Recreation Ground will become very busy from this July – so that as much noisy dirty activity as possible will be undertaken during the school holiday.
At one time total closedown of the activity line-up had been anticipated until the new building opened. But now a portable building consisting of two rooms, entrance and toilets is to be brought in to a fenced off area behind the present building. It will sit next to the workers' compound. Pedestrian access to the portable building will be via Hatfield Road, near Beech Tree Cafe.
As expected today, a number of sustainable features are included in the new building, including a green roof, air source heat pump, rainwater harvesting and of course the highest standards of structural insulation.
It is anticipated the new building will be complete by late August 2023.
Above top is the architect's drawing of the front (Royal Road) elevation nestling in a pocket of trees. Above is the spaces plan for the building, A larger version with description of the spaces appears on the Rec and Nursery page.
On the map below, the whole of the green sector on the right will be a busy work space for the construction. To the left of it, occupying recreation ground space, will be the contractors' compound, and the red block will be the temporary portable building permitting limited activities to continue during the coming year.
A new temporary pedestrian access leads to Hatfield Road.
Much anticipated by some will be the demolition phase and the opening up of the underground World War Two bomb shelters (tunnels), which several residents still remember.
See how the districts developed from the late nineteenth century to provide collections of roads we know today. The maps are complete down to 1960, though recent roads are not included.
Is it a Section 106 Agreement, or perhaps a Community Infrastructure Levy. What's the difference and what do the terms mean?
Our June Newsletter is the third in a series focussing on the terminology behind new developments in our district, in fact, any district. Although housing is the first element which comes to mind, roads, businesses with office blocks, factories and warehouses, railway lines and shopping hubs, all extend the range of land uses demanding open space on which to grow. And although it may seem to us these creations simply appear from nowhere there are meticulous and extremely detailed processes behind the scenes.
It is the proposed housing estates that prompt the most fierce debate in the community, and the word infrastructure enters most conversations at some point. By infrastructure we generally mean the commonly required adjuncts to our daily lives. Leading this list are the footpaths, cycleways and roads, and their capacity to absorb increasing amounts of traffic, related parking facilities and junction control.
Not far behind are local schools, medical services and hospital adequacy, local shops, post offices, community centres and public open space. We should not forget the contributions made towards the emergency services and social care either.
We will read of two terms by which new infrastructure may be secured during the course of the planning process: Section 106 Agreements, and Community Infrastructure Levies (CIL). Which of these two processes Local Planning Authorities use mainly depends on whether or not they have approved and updated local plans in place. If they have CIL is the norm. St Albans is still struggling to replace its outdated local plan and you will therefore come across references to Section 106 funding instead. There is one essential distinction between the two as you have probably already observed – the terms agreement and levy.
Both types begin in a similar way; developer and authority discuss the implications of a development on the existing local area. It might be an estate of family homes which would be likely to add pressure on nearby school places; or an out of town shopping hub which is expected to attract levels of car traffic which exceed the capacity of existing feeder roads and their junctions. Negotiations take place, the result of which, the developer's commitment to contribute towards or pay for in entirety, becomes a condition of planning approval.
Multi-scheme developments, for example in an expansion area, demand an approach where infrastructure contributions may be shared between several developers. Of course the requirement in these cases is often greater, so sharing is not a question of reducing the commitment for each developer, but making the commitments equitable.
In-town developments may include infills or conversions on a small scale. Contributions in these cases may be used to jump start a community project, enhance recreational facilities, install a dedicated cycle route nearby, or pay for nearby pedestrian safety measures.
Of course, some of the smaller infill schemes can be criticised for the apparent meanness of the developer contribution, but everything in proportion, and these urban upgrades can be unsustainable if the levy is too expensive. On the other hand substantial developments may have complex infrastructure requirements which are not completely or even substantially covered by the 106 or CIL. On-site service roads are, of necessity the first most of us will see and are laid before any building work progresses.
On the other hand local works or services paid for by 106/CIL may not be completed until long after the scene is complete. Families moving into new homes on an expanded side of a town need to register with GPs and hospital services straight away, and it is not easy to discover the connection between contributions towards health service provision and the arrival of a local medical practice or NHS dentist, which may be added in the district but is still remote from the development which triggered the need. These are complex processes involving many disparate parties; communications between providers and local authorities which may not be well coordinated.
It may be easy to criticise councils for negotiating inadequate levies, but those bodies, organisations and services, which may or should be of benefit on behalf of existing and new residents, also need to be aware of increased costs resulting from an expanded population. It is naturally easier to quantify costs for large development schemes than for conversions of former office blocks into new apartments.
In the 1890s and early 1900s when St Peter's Farm was sold and house builders moved in to the place we call Fleetville, no finished roads or pavements were included, no green space included, no shops or schools considered, nor the land for them, and no medical services brought in; just houses. All house owners paid for paved and finished streets over the long term. A benefactor, Charles Woollam, donated the recreation ground, thus denying the opportunity for yet more homes. Gradually, more main road homes were converted into shops, and there were similar conversions for a doctor and dentist.
We probably understand why suburbs grew in this fashion a century or more ago, but we have higher expectations for our surroundings and communities today, and the systems have developed by which we all pay fairly for the services and physical infrastructure we might expect to take advantage of.
We must ensure these systems and processes actually work for all of us.
It used to be called Horseshoes, after the public house, but is now better known as Smallford, a name borrowed from a mile away.
The GREEN RING is a walking and cycling route which encircles the city, with many sections off-road. Here is the section east of the Midland Railway, but there are more than 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.
There was a time when street parties celebrated a major royal event – or, of course, the end of a war. Both Beaumont Avenue and Woodland Drive have organised occasional parties for the sheer enjoyment of meeting each other; families taking the opportunity to meet each other or getting to know each other better. That's a great reason, and for an afternoon, returns the public space into a different kind of "play street".
History has recorded, through the recollections of living in Fleetville during the Second World War, the existence of tunnel shelters under the Community Centre and below the grass sward of the recreation ground.
Only one memory referred to brick street shelters in the road space of Royal Road, and that was not specific.
The publication of a series of RAF aerial photos in a flyover during 1946, now shows what appears to be a line of six such shelters on the left side of the roadway outside what used to be the wartime nursery and today is the community centre.
A larger version of the photograph appears on the Wartime East End page.
In the heart of Fleetville nearly opposite the Rats' Castle the building complex which used to be a laundry, then a tile shop, and more recently the Emporium, has now become residential accommodation. But would you recognise it as such and does it fit into the Fleetville landscape?
Cape Road and Burleigh Road lead to the former branch railway (now Alban Way). When the early houses gave out the space beyond was utilised by W G Bennett, builders. During and after the Second World War the site was occupied by Kia-Ora Motors before becoming Pratts building suppliers, and then PSR building materials.
Now, proposals for 37 new houses and flats by developer Cresswick have been given planning approval. There has been some concern that the number of units is very tight for the footprint, and there is also a very limited amount of space for car parking.
You might have thought certain districts to be sufficiently distant from the east end of St Albans. But the Borough of Hertsmere has just published its proposed District Plan. In addition to the borough's existing towns and villages, it is proposing what it terms "a new settlement" right on the doorstep of Colney Heath and London Colney. Plans for homes, schools and community buildings in a phased approach between now and 2050. Let's hope the existing infrastructure can cope!
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.
Final approvals have now been given to the Campfield Road site which once housed the city's first electricity works (1908), of which the locally listed frontage remains. The proposals, which had progressed through several iterations, include adaptations to the frontage building, and new blocks of 1, 2 and 3 bedroom flats on the former generating plant ground to the rear.
The site has Sphere Industry on the east side and is surrounded by the former Herts Advertiser HQ (now Phoenix House), Apex House, Centurian Court and Baker's Close.
Courtesy David Gaylard.
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).
In front of St Peter's Farm and cottage a sweep of green and a pond faced the curve of Hatfield Road at the junction with Camp Lane and the turnpike side road toll house. The sale of this green space for housing, prompted W J Elliott of Chequer Street to create an attractive row of modest homes facing the young recreation ground at Clarence Park.
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.
Coaches everywhere take parties, groups and individuals to a variety of venues and destinations; even to and from employment, school and college. Even the most basic of daily school journeys use vehicles with a plush spec normally reserved for travel overseas.
Plush sixty years ago would have meant a vehicle such as this. Do you recall travelling in such a vehicle?
Highfield Park Trust has now celebrated its 25th anniversary, taking on the role of managing the former parkland of Hill End and Cell Barnes hospitals in 1996. Tim Abbott, Chair of HPT, stated, " In one sense 25 years is a long time, but in another it really isn't. We have done well but we must keep developing in order to reach our full potential."
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 tell 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.
© 2022 St Albans' Own East End Mike Neighbour