River Ver. St. Albans

River Ver
The Ver flows south eastwards

Post to the south Sopwell
Post to the west St. Albans

Alma Road
Play School Nursery. This is in the buildings of Alma Road School. There is a plaque on the wall “St Albans School Board. Public Elementary School”. The Alma Road girls and infants school was built in 1882, and enlarged 1890. The school closed in the early 1960s and was later used as an administration centre for the county youth service.
Telford Court. This tower block dates from the 1960’s and built on what was then site of a timber yard. It had previously been the site of the Alpha film studio
14 Alpha Cinematograph Works and Alpha Trading Co. This was set up in 1908 by Arthur Melbourne- Cooper one of the key figures in the early history of cinema, early animation, film and newsreel in Britain. He had set up a cinema in London Road and then this premises where the grounds of more than two acres and various ancillary buildings were used for his film making. There is a plaque about him at Telford Court.  
Eversheds Print works. Eversheds, which had been bombed out of their site at Bow, took over Dangerfield’s works. They built an extension to the factory from the wreckage of their Bow site and later built a larger modern factory. They left in the late 1990s.

Bedford Road
These houses date from the 1860’s, and have been noted for their bricks. Some of these are Luton Greys which is a red brick coming from brickfields in south Bedfordshire. There are also local orange and red bricks, made in the 1880’s at works on Bernard’s Heath

Cornwall Road
Watercress Wildlife Association. The site was one of several small commercial watercress beds locally on the fast flowing chalk streams. Watercress was picked at dawn and taken on trolleys to the station to be in London restaurant tables for lunch. It closed in 1972. The Association took it over via the local council and it was opened by David Bellamy in 1992.

Cottonmill Lane
Sopwell Nunnery. The roofless ruins of a very large 16th mansion, built among the remains of a previous Nunnery. This is all that remains of the Tudor mansion built around 1560 by Sir Richard Lee, a soldier and engineer, who was given the land by Henry VIII in 1540. He built on top of a medieval nunnery, which dated back to 1140. It had been founded by the then abbot of St. Albans, Geoffrey de Gorham apparently on the site of a hermitage, for nuns attached to the abbey. His new mansion followed the monastic plan, using the church for the hall and the cloisters became the courtyard. He died in 1575.  The fabric of the house was used by Grimstons of Gorhambury to use in their own house. The ruins are covered in ivy and various other foundations and parts of buildings, much overgrown, lie around. A large building to the west was modernised then demolished, but mediaeval foundations are standing.
Secret tunnel said to run from here to St Alban's Abbey. It was probably just a drain.
Sopwell Mill Farm. Now private housing. this was Sopwell Mill which is probably one of the three St Albans mills referred to in the Domesday Book. There was a mill here at the time of the Peasants’ Revolt. It was still grinding corn until the Second World War, and had been a paper mill in the 16th and 17th centuries.

Grimston Road
Victoria Square. This is the site of St Albans Gaol which closed in 1924. Prison buildings were demolished and the suite became a council depot. The prison was built in 1867. It was built to comply with the Separate System, where prisoners are confined to their cells and isolated from one another. Here prisoners were confined to their cells apart from chapel, exercise and the treadmill. The gaol also implemented a 'Silent System' where prisoners were not allowed to talk to anyone except the gaolers. The gaol also had housing for the governor and officers plus an infirmary, kitchens and stores. There were 85 cells for men and 14 for women. Each cell had a hammock and some books as well as a toilet. The treadmill provided the gaol with water but was banned in1902. There were four executions at the gaol.
Prison Governor’s residence and gatehouse – this is now St Albans register office.
Drinking fountain. In 1874, in place of the town pump, a fountain was erected. It was designed by George Gilbert-Scott and is attractive in both design and material. It was donated by Mrs Worley, of Sopwell House. By the 1920s traffic made the location unsuitable, it was rescued from demolition by Alfred Barnes who took it to his garden and it later became a feature in a restaurant. The parts were eventually reunited and it is now on a reproduction plinth and steps and restored as a feature
Corporation Depot, this originally replaced site of St.Albans Gaol

Grosvenor Road
17-35 these were 19th houses now replaced by offices
25 The Ziggurat. This was formerly Schweppes offices, a multi storey block built in the 1960s and re-clad in the 1990s with reflective glass.  The site was originally owned by L. Rose & Co. Limited which dated from 1865 as a lime juice importer. They made Rose’s Lime Juice – the world's first concentrated food drink – and later Lime Marmalade. Because of bombing in the Second World War the company moved to St Albans at a site adjacent to the A6 and the railway. They also bottled Dubonnet wine here, which arrived from France in railway tankers. In 1957 they became part of Schweppes and in 1969 Cadbury-Schweppes. They then became Premier Foods   
45 red brick office building, on a site once used by the Priory Press.
Edwin Lee, Wholesale and Export Boot and Shoe Manufacturers. The firm opened here before the 1890s and remained on site until 1953.  Employees lost in the Great War are commemorated in a memorial plaque retained on the replacement building.
Rose Brush Factory.
GR pillar box
Lamp column – pre- Second World War style

Inkerman Road
Dangerfields Print Works. Frederick Dangerfield built his factory in Inkerman Road, St Albans, in 1896. It was then the most modern lithographic plant in England and one of the first factories which used the northern lights system of glazed north-facing sloped skylights. Dangerfields printed many of the famous large colour posters for London Transport. Dangerfield’s was bought by Eversheds in 1940. Dangerfields' buildings stood on Eversheds site pending redevelopment
The Old Hat Factory. The building dates from the 1820s, and thus predates the Battle of Inkerman.  It was later used as Council offices and known as Kyngston House and is now converted to housing.

Lattimore Road
7 Lattimore Hall.
21 Plymouth Brethren Church. This timber clad building was burnt down in the 1990’s and replaced by a red brick building later converted to flats. 

London Road
This is now the main route into the city centre from the east from the London Colney and the M25. It was previously part of the A6 on the road cut by Thomas Telford in 1794. It goes to the city centre on a straight course apart from a slight kink where it crosses the medieval borough boundary at Marlborough Road.
65 Office block on the site of the Crystal Palace Pub, demolished in the 1980s
134 Farmer's Boy.  Cottage-style pub, which became the site of the Verulam Micro Brewery, which moved here from Harpenden in 1996. All the beers are brewed on site, using a traditional malting method.
152 garage which was built as a Catholic church, and includes church windows
154 shop with green fa├žade tiling.
164, a red brick double fronted building dating from 1911 and built by local architect Mence and Finn as a workshop and shop.
Flight of steps linking London Road to Lower Paxton Road, which predate the cinema.
Cinema. This is the site of the Alpha Picture Palace which opened in 1908, converted from a 1903 social institute hall. It was the idea of Arthur Melbourne- Cooper born locally in 1874. While still a teenager he became involved with moving photography and set up the Alpha Cinematograph Company. The cinema had several innovations including a fire proof projection box and deals with Cadburys for chocolate sales and publicity stunts. In 1913 he lost control of the company and the cinema went through several ownership changes and became the Poly Cinema and then the Regent Cinema. In 1927 it burnt down. Martin-Hatfield Architect Surveyor built a larger cinema for Capitol in Art Deco style on a wider site with functional elevations with minimal openings.  Internal decoration was by Robert Cromie. Because of the sloping land it was entered at balcony level the stalls being downstairs.  It has a Compton 2Manual/6Ranks theatre organ, a cafe and three dressing rooms. It was enlarged in 1934 and became part of Oscar Deutsch’s chain of Odeon Theatres Ltd., who re-named it in 1945. In 1973 it was tripled and a fourth screen added in 1988. It closed in 1995.  In 2009, it was bought by James Hannaway, and is to be restored and called ‘Odyssey’.
172 Great Northern Pub. The Great Northern is a 19th pub in red brick and half timbered.  The Great Northern Railway had opened to St Albans in 1865 and the station is along the road to the east.
174 - 176 19th houses by George Smith. They have flint walls with red brick dressings ‘a neo-Norman monstrosity’.
178 19th building. Possibly by George Smith.
Tollgate – this was at the junction of London Road and Old London Road. St Albans tollgate charges were abolished in 1871, and it was removed around 1890.
222 Vickers House. A long narrow building which was originally owned by Vickers Ltd. and which housed an early 20th experimental station with a large flotation tank. When Vickers decided to build their own testing tank in 1911, they said it should be within 2 hours’ travel of their London head office. The Vickers tank survived changes to the site when its fourteen commercial units, each had underground storage areas within the former tank. The tank was 20 feet wide and hundreds of feet long. An In 1915 they also built the first private wind tunnel here but moved it later to Weybridge. From December 1918 the test tank was used in developing fuselage profiles for amphibious aircraft, such as the Vickers Type 54 Viking.

Millers Rise
An estate of houses and flats which replaced the Research Association of British Flour Millers, Cereals Research Station founded in 1924, closed in the late 1980s.

Old London Road
Old London Road was once the main route into the city from the south east but it was replaced by London Road which was cut in 1794 as part of a major coaching route. There was a toll gate at the junction with London Road. On its south side is a bank which is believed to date from the 16th when the old London Road was diverted away from Sopwell. 
Old Priory Park.  Housing in what was St Peter’s School.  The foundation stone remains on the building. St. Peter's Infant School was in a large room at the west end and the older children in the rest of the building which opened in 1851. In 1893 it became a girls' school only but were recombined in 1931 as St. Peter's Primary School - still in the two original large rooms. Priory Park School had been built alongside for the older boys, while older girls went elsewhere. After the Second World War it became a County Primary and in 1953 took over the Priory Park buildings. The school moved away to a site in Cottonmill Lane in 1975 and the buildings were converted to housing, originally intended for law students.
Priory Park School. Built at the eastern end of St. Peters School in 1901 for boys over 7 years old. They moved to Marlborough School in 1953 and the buildings were then used by St. Peters
Mission Hall. Timber clad building now out of use. For a while this was used as a woodworking workshop. Was this a mission room connected to St.Peter's church and used before St. John’s was built??
St Johns Church.  1929-1955. This was a mission church of St.Peter’s and dated from the late 19th. It closed in the 1950s. A memorial hall stood behind it.
Old London Road Pre School. This nursery school is held in local scout premises including the Jim Green memorial hall – to whom the gate in Old London Road is also dedicated. George Dymoke Green was born in St Albans in 1903 and was editor of The Scouter and Scoutmaster of the 4th St Albans Scout Group. He died at the age of 27.
Priory Court. Designed in 1959 by local architect Keith Roberts on a three legged plan,
Kingdom Hall. Jehovah’s Witnesses

Orient Close
Housing developed on the station site in the 1990s with a conventional suburban layout
The Old Station House. This is the old St. Albans London Road Station which opened in 1865 on the Hatfield & St. Albans Railway. This was a sub company of the Great Northern Railway for which it was initially the terminus station. It was originally called ‘St. Albans’ but in 1950 it was renamed ‘St. Alban’s London Road’. In 1951 it was closed. It is an 'H' plan building, in red brick and flint. It is believed to be the oldest surviving Great Northern station south of York. After closure it was let as housing and in the 1990s converted to offices. An adjoining section of platform was kept.
Alban Way.  A section of the former Great Northern Railway line runs past here as a path/cycle route
The station was roughly on the site of Key Field where the Duke of York and his army camped in 1455 before the first battle of the Wars of the Roses

Oswald Road
The road consists of modest terraced houses, some of which were probably built for railway workers
St. Alban’s Synagogue. The first known recorded Jewish families in St. Albans were here is in the 1900s and they got together in private homes. In 1933 that it became formalised. The community became affiliated to the United Synagogue in 1948 and built the present building in 1951. It has some special stained glass windows by the Hebrew scholar, David Hillman. However numbers began to dwindle and from 1960 there was no minister.

Ridgmont Road
Originally called Station Road. The original main line station stood opposite, at the top end of Ridgmont Road but is now a car park.
21 Church of Latter Day Saints.
29 County Constitutional Club
31 19th station master’s house
33a Monkey Puzzle Day Nursery
St Albans South signal box. The signal box was built in 1892 replacing an earlier box on the site. It was prefabricated in Derby as were all Midland Railway Company signal boxes, and believed to have been extended to house more levers that were never installed. The construction is in with no foundations - concrete bases were not used until the 20th. It contains a 1906 Midland Railway tumbler interlocking lever frame. It has now been restored with a small museum and signalling demonstration.
St. Albans Iron Works.  This dated from the mid-19th and appears to have specialised in hydraulic equipment and was run by F.W.Turner. There are a number of patents held for various devices, by a Frederick William Turner, who may, or may not, be this man.
Anthony Gibbs House. The former Heath and Heather warehouse building – originally the Vyse straw hat factory. This was replaced by an office building of similar size and appearance. On the wall is a Great War memorial plaque for the employees of the Vyse factory killed in the war.

Riverside Road
Verulamium Angling Club. The club dates from 1934

Sadlier Road
Alban Way. A section of the former Great Northern Railway runs from south of the road on an embankment north eastwards.

Shirley Road
Alban Way. The section of the former Great Northern Railway runs from the south west to south of the road in a deep cutting.

Vanda Crescent
St.Alban and Stephen Roman Catholic Infant and Nursery School. The school was built in 1934 on the site of an orchard. It then took children under 14. It was expanded in 1958 and from 1974 it was solely an infant school. In 1975 a nursery and extended in 2006.

Verulamium Golf Course.
The Club was formed in 1905 and played in ground of Sopwell House, owned by the Earl of Verulam. This was a nine-hole course with a small clubhouse erected on the site of today’s 17th tee.  It was laid out again and opened in 1912 when Samuel Ryder was Captain.

Watsons Walk
24-30 factory built in 1928 for H Punford & Co., who embroidered badges. This is now housing.

Cinema Treasures. Web site
Disused Stations. Web site
Hertfordshire Churches
Hertfordshire County Council. Web site
London Transport Museum. Web site
National Archives. Web site
Pevsner and Cherry. Hertfordshire
Rose’s Marmalade, Wikipedia. Web site
St. Albans City Council. Web site
St. Albans Museum. Web site.
St. Albans Synagogue. Web site
St.Alban and Stephen Roman Catholic Infant and Nursery School. Web site
St.Peters School. Web site
Watercress Wildlife Association. Web site
Whitelaw. Hidden Hertfordshire


Anonymous said…
Is there a link between Roses Brush factory and 'L Rose' both being in Grosvenor Road? Is the site of the Brush Factory still there? I'd be very interested to know. Thanks.
carol hardy said…
St Julians Wood is owned by St Stephen Parish Council not St Albans District Council. It forms part of the old St Julians Farm which was purchased by the Parish Council in the 1970's and subsequently developed into Greenwood Park for residents and visitors to enjoy.

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