Friday, 11 July 2008


These two pictures are of a pub called The Henry VIII demolished in the 1950's. It is where Bank Court is now. At one time there were 24 drinking houses (pubs) in the Old town of Hemel Hempstead. It is difficult to find out exactly where all the pubs were located, especially as the town has been around for around five centuries. Some inns and drinking houses disappeared altogether and others became private houses or other businesses.

The Boot, photographed in the 1880s was at the beginning of the High Street from the Marlowes end, at what is now No.9. As it did not have stables it was a lodging house with a bar, the pub was bought by Benskins brewery and was closed in 1939.

At 19 the High street is the Rose and crown which was a butchers in 1523 is one of only 4 now remaining. Another pub is The Cock (Number 24 the High street) which was an imposing building standing 3 storeys high and with a celler and was closed in 1857 when a Joseph Cranstone bought it to extend his buisness of ironmongery, he also owned number 25 which was the original iron mongers.

The Swan was at No 29 was a larger building in 1756 it was owned by a man called Thomas Sellar and it had 5 bedrooms and stables which could hold 31 horses it was finally closed in 1963.

The King’s Arms which, is the second of the remaining inns, is an early 17th century. Previously, in 1750, the inn was renamed the Prince’s Arms, and towards the end of the 18th century it merged with a another inn called the Black Lion, with John Mallatrot as landlord. Later the two inns separated with the King’s Arms reverting to its original name.

The Old Bell, the third of the remaining pubs, was the largest and most prestigious inn of the High Street it had room for nine beds and stabling for 54 horses. Dating from 1603, the original inn still exists but is hidden by a later 18th century extension which was built to level up the building line of the street.

The shop at No.63, like the Old Bell, has an early 18th century front to a 16th century timber-framed building and this was the site of the Angel Inn. Also in this area was The Boat, run by Martha Durrant in around 1838, and a very early inn, The Legge, just two of the inns that have long since disappeared.The shops at Nos. 75 and 77, were originally built at street level in the mid -16th century. Forming one building it does not conform to any known building plan and it is possible that until 1781, it was a small inn - The Mermaid. The building was altered over the centuries with two wings added around 1600. One with minor extensions in 1800, was the site of an inn, the Lord Nelson. The Hawe family, who owned the shop in the 20th century found the sign of the Lord Nelson in their cellar.

The shop at No.81, was once The Sun inn, which was built sometime in the 17th century was an inn of quite a considerable size. There was room for five beds, and extensive out buildings that were used for stabling 30 horses. In addition there was room for five wagon drivers to sleep above the stables. The Sun survived into the 20th century, finally closing in 1960.

UP the High Street, at the corner of Cherry Bounce in this picture on the right, once stood the Oak, which was renamed the Royal Oak to commemorate the restoration of Charles II to the throne in 1660. In 1664 part of it was used as a house of correction with a Mr Christopher Mitchell appointed as master. By the end of the seventeenth century, however, the building was used as an ordinary jail. Later in the mid nineteenth century after the jail was closed, In 1851 a Mrs Isabella Harrington ran this old jail as a public house, but in reality it was a common lodging house. The beer house eventually gained a full license but this run down pub was finally closed in the early 1970s, and the site was then converted into three houses

Further on was the Brewers Arms which remained a common lodging house well into the 1960s.

The Old Kings Head, another beer house, was at No.66, was still operating in 1882. Next door but one to the Old King’s Head, at what is now Townend House, stood the Red Lion, which had accommodation for four beds and stabling for 16 horses. But the inn was little more than a common lodging house. By the end of the nineteenth century, the brewers, Chesham and Brackley, closed the pub in order to transfer the license to the Midland Hotel, Midland Hill, Hemel Hempstead. The property was then sold to East the drapers.

The Lamb pictured here on the left was at No 48 dates back to the sixteenth century.

Then past the Old Town Hall is the White Hart pictured on the right, the last of the four remaining pubs. Unlike the Old Bell, the inn does not have a false front, but is one of the seventeenth century inns which stood facing the original street. First registered as a tavern, by the mid nineteenth century, the White Hart had flourished to become a busy inn.

Beyond the White Hart, the Dolphin stood on the site of the now closed National Westminster Bank. It was a small ale house which disappeared at the end of the eighteenth century.

At the bottom of the High Street, on a site now occupied by The Pine Shop at Nos. 24-26, stood the Half Moon Inn which was established in the early eighteenth century. There were two bars, a kitchen and ‘four sleeping rooms’. In 1901, the brewers, Wellers of Amersham, bought the Half Moon as a freehold public house together with the shop next door, No.26 High Street.The property was later sold to William Frederick Williams, a greengrocer, the Half Moon having been closed on December 31, 1912.

The Shoulder of Mutton, once known as the Castle, which was situated at the lower end of the town. This could have been in Queensway, which was once part of the High Street. In 1791 a property was sold called the George Inn .There was a pub in 1690 called The Ship which was formerly known as The Hollybush which was at number 11 the High street. No.49 was once the site of the Three Compasses. The Coach and Horses was once situated at No.86.This beer house, patronised by tramps and labourers kept going until 1912.

Friday, 20 June 2008


St Paul's Hospital originally opened in 1836 as the workhouse for the Hemel Hempstead Union, which consisted of the parishes of Bovingdon, Flaunden, Great Gaddesden, Hemel Hempstead and Kings Langley . The workhouse had an infirmary with 224 beds to house patients who were aged, infirm or chronically ill. The workhouse and infirmary were situated in Allendale Road in Hemel Hempstead. From April 1930 under the Local Government Act 1929, responsibility for the workhouses, including workhouse infirmaries, passed from the Boards of Guardians to the County Council's Dacorum Guardians Committee, which was responsible for the area of the former Hemel Hempstead Union plus part of the former Berkhamsted Union. The workhouse became known as Hempstead House. In May 1936 the Berkhamsted workhouse closed and Hempstead House became responsible for the poor, including the sick poor, of the entire Dacorum Guardians Committee area. During the Second World War it was occupied by the evacuated section of Great Ormond Street Children's Hospital in London. In February 1942 there were 106 evacuated children there.
The building became part of St Paul's Hospital after the war, then part of Hemel General, but was demolished several years ago and the site is now housing.

Thursday, 19 June 2008


This viaduct is around about where the Magic roundabout is now, If you look through the arch you can see Apsley.

A train crosses the Marlowes viaduct The Nicky Line Railway, as it is known now opened in July 1877 and ran from the centre of Hemel Hempstead through Redbourn to Harpenden . The main railway line we all know today which runs through Boxmoor and on to Berkhamsted, Tring and the Midlands, or to Euston in the opposite direction, had opened in 1837, but the station (in the same place as it is today) was called Boxmoor and was a long way from the town of Hemel Hempstead when there were no cars or buses.So the local people wanted a better trains service and that's how the Nicky line came about.It was hoped to link it up to the other line at Boxmoor Station, but that was owned by another company and they would not agree.

The line from Hemel Hempstead began at Heath Park where there was a little station called Heath Park Halt.The line then crossed Marlowes on a viaduct (bridge) round the back of what is now the Marlowes Shopping Centre to Hemel Hempstead Midland Station.

A goods train at Hemel Midland station. Circa 1949

The Midland Station in Hemel Hempstead - you can see the Midland Hotel in the background That was opposite the Midland Hotel (pub) which still stands today in Midland Hill.The hotel was built to serve the railway in 1899.The line then ran across to what we know today as Highfield, but in those days was all farmland.In the Highfield area was a little station called Godwins Halt. This was named after a local man who owned land in the area.The line then ran through what we know as Cupid Green where there were brickworks and on to Redbourn.The railway continued to be used by both passengers and goods services right through until 1947.In 1947, the passenger service stopped, but goods traffic continued continued for many years. The station finally closed in 1963.

I do not know if this has anything to do with Midland station but if you stand facing the midland pub and look to the right across the side road you will see a small grassed area with a wall running along, well under that grassed area are a number of very large underground tunnels there is a main tunnel with small ones running off. The reason I know this is because as a kid some friends and me used to crawl through a small whole on the other side of the wall, which is all, overgrown now and use these tunnels as a sort of camp.

This picture shows The bridge across station road (close to Heath Park Halt.) The picture was taken shortly before the line closed.

The line in the town centre area disappeared as the new town was built in the 1950s and in 1959 the viaduct across Marlowes was knocked down.For a time in the 1960s the line between Cupid Green and Harpenden was used by the Hemellite company which made building materials at Cupid Green.Eventually the whole line closed, but it is not forgotten.It has now been turned into a special walk and many of the old bridges remain - the one across Queensway is probably the best known.Why is it called the Nicky Line?A number of reasons have been put forward, but no-one has ever really been able to say their answer is right.The trains that ran on the line were known around Hemel Hempstead as Puffing Annie!This was because they produced a lot of smoke as they climbed the hill from the town centre to Highfield and Cupid Green.

Wednesday, 18 June 2008


This was Hemel's first cinema called the Princess which was
situated roughly where the Civic Centre is today it was built
before the first world war. There was no electricity supply in
the town, so they had to generate their own. They had a
detached building at the rear where there were two engines
to generate the power. the cinema was demolished in 1962.

The second cinema was called the Luxor and was built next to where woolworths is now, It closed in 1959 and was demolished in 1960.

The Odeon not sure when it was built but it shut down and was made into a JD Wetherspoon pub which opened in july of 1998.

And now the present day Cinema in Hemel. The Empire in
jarman Park Leasure world with 13 screens. Rumours are
that the whole of leasure world is to be demolished if that
is true where wil the next cinema be.


This picture is of the first bus ever used in Hemel and it was used in the early 1890's

The Marlowes has undergone a few changes as you can see from these photo's.

The first picture from 1906 is of a Very early bus with public baths/waterworks on the left. The roof of the Baptist Church can be seen on the right.

This picture is from 1966 the bridge spanning the main shopping street it was an ideal way when Marlowes was open to traffic for pedestrians to cross from one side to the other under cover, it lead on the right hand side to the popular Wimpy Bar, but it never really caught on and was demolished as Marlowes was pedestrianised and the Marlowes Centre built.

An now present day marlowes all pedestrianised with the market stalls running down the middle and an indoor shopping mall with a number of cafe's and bars.

Tuesday, 17 June 2008


Hemel Hempstead is a town in Hertfordshire, England, It was developed after WorldWarII as a new town, it originaly was a settlement in the 8th century and is mentioned in the Doomsday book. It is part of the district of Dacorum .

The Borough of Dacorum is situated in Hertfordshire, England.
The main towns are Hemel Hempstead, Berkhamsted, Tring and Kings Langley. A large part of the Borough is rural with many picturesque villages.
The population is around 137,000.
The name "Dacorum" comes from mediaeval times. Dacorum came from one of the County's ancient land divisions, known as "hundred".

Hemel Hempstead was originaly a settlement which went by the name Henamsted or Hean-Hempsted, i.e. High Hempstead, in Anglo-Saxon times by the name of

Hemel-Amstede.The name is referred to in the Domesday Book as "Hamelamesede" . People today say simply "Hemel".