St Albans' Own East End

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Cemetery; former Co-operative Dairy, Burleigh Road; pond at Smallford; Fleetville Post Office in the 1930s, Farm Road; Bowls Club at Clarence Park

The title, St Albans' Own East End, was a throw-away quote from a St Albans councillor in the early years of the Fleetville and Camp developments, referring to the extensive industry and fast-expanding housing estates eating up the fields.  This was in contrast to the far more limited, non-industrial and more gradual growth of the north, west and south.  With the passing of time the author has considered this quote to be a more endearing tag for the eastern districts than the original speaker might have meant in his original remark.  It therefore seemed entirely appropriate to commemorate the vibrant success of the eastern districts in the title of the book.

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While most areas around St Albans were in the hands of Lord Verulam, the east side had a more varied tenure.  Verulam certainly owned land to the south of Hatfield Road.  Earl Spencer owned land to the north of it.  The old manor of Beaumonts belonged to Thomas Kinder, one of the city's brewers.  He also gained control of land along both sides of Hatfield Road after the death of an independent owner of St Peter's Farm.  Oaklands estate was also independently owned; and further out land belonged to the Gape family. Lastly three smallish fields had been donated to the trustees of St Albans School by Lord Verulam.

Two events, fifteen years apart, kick-started the growth of the Fleetville and Camp as we have come to know it:  the death of Thomas Kinder in 1881, and the need of St Albans School to improve and expand its premises in 1896.

The two districts of Camp and Fleetville were, and still are, divided by a railway line, and though the line is no longer open, its embankments and cuttings are, and can be enjoyed by walkers and cyclists along Alban Way.  Camp grew as a largely residential neighbourhood with a few shops lining Camp Road; while busy Fleetville created a "mile of shops" alongside the busy Hatfield Road.  Between was a surprising range of factories and workshops.

Amazingly, until 1959 just two elementary (later primary) schools existed to serve the whole of Camp, Hill End, Fleetville, Wick, Beaumonts, Oaklands, and the formative Nash Marshalswick estate.

In St Albans' Own East End you will catch the local gossip, the hopes, successes and failures, and the highlights of the residents and entrepreneurs who lived here from the late 19th century to the 1960s, through the columns of the Herts Advertiser and other documentary sources.


Unique mix of land ownership

Albanian Mike Neighbour spent nearly half of his life in the city, having been born here and brought up on the Beaumonts estate before the days of made up roads and street lighting.  He was educated at Fleetville, Beaumont and Marshalswick schools and was a member of Trinity church.

Now retired, Mike's career was spent teaching in many of the county's schools, both secondary and primary. 

Having a close and detailed attachment to the eastern districts, he began to explore the history which pre-dated his parents' recollections.  The idea for this book developed some nine years ago and the result, are the two works now published.

About the author

St Albans' Own East End