St Albans' Own East End

Green East End

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Ernest Townson’s originally negative approach to, what was then, just Camp and Fleetville, left us the impression of messy, muddy, untidy urban-scapes, for which no-one appeared to be responsible.

Other early commentators also restricted their views to the houses, workshops and factories, together with the dark streets between them, and the frequent odour of accumulating sewage.  There were references to allotments and to parks, but as functional additions to the built-up sprawl rather than as enhancements to our spirit. 

Almost no reference is made to the role of the domestic back garden, but one resident spoke out in favour of street trees as an amenity to be enjoyed.  It was left to a resident of Beaumont Avenue to paint a vivid picture of lanes and hedgerows ‘out on the edge’ together with barbed criticism of mindless boys who came to steal birds’ eggs,  tear down branches and set light to hay ricks.  The farms beyond the houses were in another world, but a few writers and artists recorded their observations with a passion they denied the smaller patches of green within the built suburbs.

In this collection of fifty photographs taken from a range of locations included in the book St Albans’ Own East End Volume 1: Outsiders, no domestic back garden is represented.  Instead, are landscapes, natural features, lanes and other green wonders within what has come to be known as the public realm.

A trellis of ivy

A branch network of ivy wraps a tree in Nightingale Lane, providing unusual texture to the trunk.

Tree sculpture at Popefield

This tree has emerged above the roadside growth at Popefield, and presents its branchwork against the sky

Draining south

The young river Colne passes a City of London coal marker outside of Colney Heath.

A view from the House

Well, almost.  But as North Drive emerges from the group of buildings around Oaklands House, this is the view north towards Ardens Marsh.

Outfield screening

Clarence Park has a fine cricket field, the boundary partly shaded by an impressive stand of mature trees.

A softer Morrison's

This improvement has brought a touch of green to a corner of Fleetville for the first time in nearly a century.

Oil seed rape at Oaklands

A walk along North Drive revealed this crop.  The bright yellow is muted by an overcast sky.

The Midland Railway

A continuous green margin guards the line northwards from the Sandridge Road bridge.

Tree stump, Ellenbrook

The life history of a field tree after its felling along a 1930s residential road between Smallford and The Comet.

Mature gardens

A different view of Great Nast Hyde gardens through the private gates in Wilkins Green Lane.

From Springfield to Dellfield

The open space at Cunningham provides a peep down to the bowl which is the Dellfield residential area, built in the 1930s.

Avenue of mature trees

A restful park-like vista separates Hatfield Road from the service road in front of the residences at Ellenbrook.

Tree grove at St Vincent Drive

Post-WW2 housing developments peioneered the concept of small areas of open space for the enjoyment of its residents.

Clarence Park bandstand

The current bandstand is the second to command this spot within the recreational zone of the 1894 open space.

Roe deer

We arely see them, but evidence of their presence is familiar.  These are not the large familiar animal, but diminutive forms.


Remnant of Sky's Wood

Once an extensive range of woodland, much was gradually taken in hand by Marshalswick Farm.  Today there is just a small reminder left.

Grey partridge

Not so common now, this bird was once frequently seen throughout the East End of St Albans.


Dogwood brightens

In the winter months the piercing bronzed colours of dogwood sine out of dull and misty mornings at Sandringham Close.

Beaumont School garden

First created in 1938 as a working vegetable garden, the space has now been transformed into a relaxing park of permanent planting.

Farthing Hall

Rich street-side planting softens the outline of Farthing Hall, one of the first residences on the old estate on the site of Marshalls Wick House.

Jersey Lane

The formerly-known Tramp Dick's Lane led to Jersey Farm.  Today the lane-side also grows street lights!

Queen's Court

A green forecourt and backdrop to the award-winning architecture of the three apartment blocks in Hatfield Road, Fleetville

Guernseys graze

Guernsey cows once grazed the fields of Cunningham Hill Farm.  A reminder of two herds (the other, Jerseys at former Jersey Farm) no longer with us.

Green frame

Road name plates are just another item of street furniture, unless, of course, they are framed in green foliage, as on the way in to Dellfield.

Apple trees

Here is a scene from hundreds of local gardens.  Representing them is the apple orchard at Highfield.

Broken fence, Ardens Marsh

This failure may have been critical around a pasture, but here the crop will not escape; the broken rail draws attention to itself.


Making hay in the 1930s on a farm to the east of St Albans.  The Herts Advertiser did not specify which farm.

Hedgerow colour

Hedges are green in summer, except where they erupt in a dazzle of red, white, purple or pink.  A hedge at Sleapshyde.

Autumn in the park

There is probably nothing more photographically pleasing as an autumn landscape of trees.  Clarence Park does not disappoint.

A green prison

The buildings were once stark and austere.  The new mixed development on the site is more softly clothed, as viewed from the station junction.

Winter reveals the old dairy

The view from Ashley Road when the dairy, now replaced by housing, was in Burleigh Road.

Hammonds Lane

The road between Sandridge and Coopers Green enclosed by the shelter of Symonds Hyde Wood.  Winter opens up the woodland floor.

Commemorative garden, Highfield

A small garden, incorporated in the Highfield development, to remember the residents of Hill End Hospital, opened in 1899

Gate and path, Wilkins Green

Occasional vistas open up along Alban Way, and here is an inviting track across the fields to Wilkins Green.

Tree sculpture, Sandpit Lane

Sandpit Lane is still heavily tree-lined.  Near the top of the hill near Homewood Road a manicured tree stands against the

Wild flower planting

A small corner of Hatfield Road Cemetery in early summer displays a succession of wild flowers for restful contemplation.

Welcome shade, Beech Tree Cafe

The open space of playful Fleetville 'rec' cpntrasts with the shade behind the cafe, a welcome honeypot in high summer.

Hixberry Lane at Tyttenhanger

The southern end of the quiet lane between Hill End Lane and the village is muddily uninviting on this wet winter day.

Former Butterwick Farm

The space around the former homestead is now an overgrown wilderness of post-gravel working plants – we may call them weeds!

Highfield sports ground

Places which were once out of bounds are now welcoming places for us to use, as with this former Hill End sports ground.

Formality at the cemetery

Lush planting overlooking the lodge at the entrance to Hatfield Road cemetery, in contrast to the wild flower meadow at the far end.

Hedgeline by Coopers Green Lane

Early summer produces strong green growth in hedges as well as crops.  A tempting footpath trail beckons, but is it public ?

Parkland trees near Dexter

A block of apartments at Dexter Close largely hidden by the cluster of trees at the top of Cunningham's large open space at Springfield.

Contented grazing

A small herd of cattle graze the meadow next to South Drive at Oaklands.

Hill End Halt

The much shaded path along the former branch railway at the hospital station.  Now this route is Alban Way.

An eye on the park

In the leaning trunk of a tree at Clarence Park, an 'eye' keeps watch along the path near the drinking fountain.

Traditional cemetery standards

Planted during the early days of Hatfield Road cemetery in the 1880s, these magnificent standards grow between the earlier gravestones.

Youthful cemetery

The sculptural stones stand stark within the young low growth at London Road cemetery.  Below is a pit of Roman age, recently excavated.

Little Cell Barnes barn

The barn. together with its farm, has survived modern development.  Plants form a natural skirt around the venerable building.

Deep autumn

The rich bronze colours of autumn penetrate dull browns along lower Nightingale Lane, contrasting with the metallic silver of the barrier gate.


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St Albans' Own East End