St Peter's in the Borough

A lecture given by Kate Morris on 26 November 2010

Kate Morris

St Peters in the Borough - a long view on its natural, built and cultural environment

Photo:Church Green

Church Green

Kate Morris

Based on a talk first given by Kate Morris on October 2010 to the Friends of St Peters Church, St Albans who have been formed to connect the church with the wider community around St Peters and to undertake projects, the first of which is the restoration and development of the churchyard.

The talk drew on research by the Society's Property History Group and tracks the development of St Peter's Street and its hinterland, showing how the focus has changed and how we have arrived at the present day traffic configuration.

Through restoring two of the few surviving residential properties in St Peters Street, I was encouraged to research the architectural and social history of the surrounding area which neatly formed what was the historic parish of St Peters in the Borough.

With a much more sparse population than today's, there were, in the past, fewer, much larger parishes. St Peters stretched from the town to Hatfield with its northern boundary with Sandridge running along Sandpit Lane. To the south it included Colney Heath and London Colney and to the west included the backsides of St Peters Street properties and Catherine Lane, with St Peter's Grange, still reflected in the name of Grange Street, lying just behind present day Chime Square.

Parishes were charged with most aspects of local administration but, in the case of St Peter's, responsibilities were shared in the urban area, which formed part of the Borough of St Albans.

St Peter's was divided between the parish in the Borough and the parish in the Liberty - that part of Hertfordshire under the influence of the Abbey in medieval times but outside the town. The Borough was created formally, by Royal Charter, following the dissolution of the monastery in 1539, although the town boundaries were already understood by that time. The Borough was divided into four wards, of which St Peter's ward coincided with the parish within the Borough. The Borough's northern boundary ran broadly with that of St Peters, but, from Stonecross, ran back along Bowgate (the top end of St Peters Street) taking in only the properties bordering the street and the church itself, and continued down what we now know as Upper Marlborough Road and down towards the river Ver.

So we can identify a tightly knit urban area - St Peter's Street and its backsides with just a small number of side lanes as our target for research. St Peters Street commences at the corner of Dagnall Lane, the corner with W H Smith, and opposite, in Lamb Alley, can be seen the marker on a beam above head height which indicates the boundary with Abbey parish - necessary evidence when, with the provision of welfare resting with the parishes, the return of paupers to their parish of settlement was common.

By the late nineteenth century the parish was rather more built up and the first OS map, drawn 1878 but not published till a little later shows great detail - so much so that it comes in several sheets, making it difficult to show the parish conveniently.

The urban parish coincides with that area which was laid out, probably by a Norman abbot, following the establishment of St Peter's church by a Saxon predecessor, as a market, much as developers might do today, with more or less uniformly sized plots around the market with frontages of either a perch (16ft) or sometimes 26ft, for occupation by artisans and others, outside the monastery precincts, and with a large open area in the middle terminating in the north, with the church on the east side. It included farms - part of Towns End, St Peter's Grange, Hall Place, and indeed the farm of the manor of Newland Squillers, with its house on the site of the present day Marlborough Buildings in Hatfield Road. Whether the farmland was regarded as part of the town prior to the Dissolution I rather doubt, since the boundary was tightly drawn. A ditch cuts through what is Chime Square today and it would be logical for that to have been the Borough Gate, or Town's End. The Abbey parish, by contrast, was always very small, a compact but densely populated area hard up against the abbey itself on the natural trade and military route from London to the northwest, which probably grew more organically. That route led from St Stephen's in the south, to St Michael's in the north and it was flanked around the monastery by inns to accommodate the many travellers.  Whilst St Peters Street today is seen as a through route, an alternative to the M1 in times of traffic chaos, it was, in fact, historically, not so. St Albans has been described as a thoroughfare town, but most through travellers would have stopped over and their route would not have included what is today St Peters Street. The continuing success of our market today evidences this.

Archaeologists speculate on the possibility of this flat ridge above Verulamium having been used as a circus, but whether that was the case or not, the area lent itself to occupation and community activity and gave access to the agricultural hinterland, with lanes leading across open land to Luton, Sandridge and Wheathampstead, and to Hatfield. It formed an extension to the market, particularly for livestock, and gradually a salubrious location for town houses for gentlemen, and subsequently, as retail shops came into their own in the nineteenth century, a commercial town centre, and now the location of the prime market pitches. Coaches and wagons probably did not litter St Peters Street, though horses and other livestock did. Until well into the nineteenth century, access to the area from the principal through route, or Watling Street, was through the Market Place or French Row, which must have been very congested. What we know as Chequer Street was also congested, and, for a time, virtually blocked by the Red House. In the 1830s, there was an attempt to provide better access to the recently-built Town Hall and Court Room in St Peter's Street by cutting Spencer Street to link it with the new bypass (Verulam Road).

Photo:St Peter's from Batchwood

St Peter's from Batchwood

Kate Morris

Despite the purchase of the Abbey church by the Borough following the Dissolution, St Peter's probably remained the church of the town and the townspeople. It stands proudly at the top of the town and provides a vista in all direction. It can be seen from afar. Many prominent citizens chose to be buried there, and indeed burial facilities at the Abbey were limited.

Photo:St Peter's Green with wellhouse, 1840~1850

St Peter's Green with wellhouse, 1840~1850

St Peters Street was described in the nineteenth century as one of the most beautiful avenues in the country and protected and enhanced as such in various ways. From the late 17th century until towards the end of the nineteenth, there were five or more ponds along the street - Upper and Lower Cock Ponds (outside the Cricketers and in front of the War Memorial), White Horse, Hither, and others. These were serviced by an ingenious delivery of water pumped from the Ver through lead and wooden channels along the line of Marlborough Road up to Cock Lane (Hatfield Road) and into these 'cisterns'.  Marlborough Road follows the line of Tonman Ditch, the old defence which formed the Eastern Borough boundary and the line of the ditch was a convenient route for these channels, avoiding disruption to the main roads. The ponds met the needs of residents and the livestock brought to market. Maintenance was the responsibility of adjoining residents and businesses.

Photo:St Peter's Green with pump, 1880s

St Peter's Green with pump, 1880s

Two public wells were also located on the street, one just to the south of the church, which was mostly the responsibility of the parish, and another outside what is now the old Town Hall. They were in use until the water company provided stand pipes for local residents in the late 19th century. There are references over the centuries to the well house on Church Green, and later, until the 1880s there was a rather fancy pump, though still no trees or other planting other than in the churchyard itself.

Photo:St Peter's St in the 1880s

St Peter's St in the 1880s

In September 1881, a leading article in the Herts Advertiser called for enhancements to the city centre, including trees with their health giving properties, to encourage new residents and visitors, St Albans having been slow to grow. A prosperous new resident, Henry Jenkyn Gotto, had offered to donate an avenue of trees for St Peter's Street if the Corporation would plant and maintain them. This proposal resulted in much debate about burdens on the ratepayers and several years passed. But, following the article, agreement was reached on the proposal, with members of the Council's Tree Committee finally settling on a plan for an avenue of limes, which would amongst other things provide nectar for the bees. By this time however, members of the Committee had individually to sponsor them.

The story is evocative of the lengthy, but finally successful saga of their replacement just over a decade ago. So there is great affection for St Peters Street, even if enhancements can take time and a great deal of effort. And there is great resistance to threat - when telephony first came to the town, there was outrage at the possibility of poles and wires marring the vista on St Peters Street, and the telephone company was obliged to bury its wires.

Photo:Benjamin Hare's map of 1634

Benjamin Hare's map of 1634

Our earliest map can provide some detail of the history of our target area. Benjamin Hare's map of 1634 is the first detailed map of the town known. It is thought the buildings shown are notional but they give a good idea of where there was habitation. In the 17th century it would certainly all have been rather more rustic and relaxed than now, though active and prosperous. Though a wide and open street, the plots on St Peters Street were, in the main of limited width. There could, in many cases, have been access from the rear, but in few cases would also there have been side access from the front, as we see with old inn buildings, for instance down Holywell Hill. This would have been an issue for some trades and we know that it led to trade activity in the open area. A 17th century court book shows no fewer than four  carpenters in St Peters presented for creating sawpits on the King's Highway and storing wood in front of their premises. Dung was a valuable agricultural commodity and this was often stored in the street nine such heaps were noted in St Peter's Street in one record. Some people felt the need to provide shelter for themselves or the goods they offered and built lean-tos in front of their houses, whilst others erected railings to provide a private area as a forecourt. While there would have been no paving, there were demarcated wastes, such as we still see today on Sandridge Road. We know that trees were grown along some frontages, which were there either as a personal amenity or subsequently traded as timber. So although there would have been a bustling and maybe rather dirty atmosphere, there were also amenities, and the ambience of the principal open area would have been more that of community activity than of a thoroughfare.

Photo:Pemberton Almshouses

Pemberton Almshouses

Kate Morris

In 1627 Roger Pemberton had died and left land and money for the erection of almshouses. Their location is shown on Hare's map and they are still there today opposite the church.

The parish was to administer them and did so until they were taken into the Council's care immediately after the Second World War. The rather prominent Pemberton family - Roger was High Sheriff for the County, and his grandson Robert, a Mayor of the Borough - were associated with St Peter's and were buried here. St Albans was, then, in the main, a town of Dissenting opinion, for the Commonwealth and supporting Cromwell, and the Pembertons followed that line. Robert was granted a licence to hold religious meetings at his house in St Albans in 1672. This was probably close to the corner of present day Victoria Street.

In 1637 Robert Haile, about to sail abroad, made a will and referred to his inn The Saracen's Head at Bowgate. McSweeney's recent research places this inn also opposite the church, though no visible sign remains. Churchwardens' accounts show that in 1660 a James Aggleton was paid 10d for work to the churchyard wall over against the Saracen's Head. In fact, McSweeney has proved that, at that time, there were two inns, the Saracens Head and the Black Bull, and a handful of cottages on the site of Ivy House and its grounds. They occupied the whole site between the almshouses and the vicarage, where today we have a parade of shops and residential close as well as Ivy House itself. From the Hearth Tax return of 1663 we know that there were four houses in St Peters Ward with more than 10 hearths. Dr Thomas Arris' house in Bowgate with a frontage of 120 ft had 11 hearths. This was Hall Place. The other three were probably the manor house of Newland Squillers, the vicarage and one other. Within the ward 58 houses were assessed. In comparison in Middle Ward, a smaller area, there were 90 but only 2 with more than 10 hearths, which shows how densely populated the Abbey parish was, compared with St Peters then. Gerard McSweeney comments on the inns we have mentioned:
'Together with the Cock nearby, all were smaller than the large Holywell Hill ones so I think they probably catered, not for the long-distance travellers but included those bringing their goods and cattle to market from the north and east.'
Localism applied to St Peters then. It was prosperous, salubrious and focussed on the market.

So we have the open space of what is now St Peters Street, truncated by the churchyard wall, surrounded by some rather large houses, interspersed with smaller dwellings, cottages, inns etc, with Bowgate leading north, boasting a handful of larger properties and farmland. But, at least from around the 17th century, we see the Borough and the parish boundaries as pointing rather awkwardly outwards from a natural line to reach what we understand to have been a Stone Cross marking the extremity of the community and where the gallows are said to have been. Beyond, lay Heath Farm, the heath and Sandridge parish.

Photo:View South from the north end of St Peter's St.

View South from the north end of St Peter's St.

J H Buckingham – late 19th cent.

The boundary of the Borough, would perhaps logically have been just beyond the church, maybe to include Grange Farm, maybe, or not, to have included Towns End farm, but certainly culminating before the fork where the highway divides to lead to the west to Luton and to the east to Sandridge or Hatfield and Colney Heath. But, though Hare's map does not show dwellings there, we know that a further cluster of plots did exist beyond that logical boundary owing homage to the Lord of the manor of Newland Squillers, certainly by the second half of the 17th century. Hare includes the area within the borough, in that fork, and beyond. That cluster of plots became known as Snatchup. .There is much speculation on the name of this small enclave, but I have concluded that it is a local Hertfordshire term for what is more often known as an encroachment. Being highway land, it is not difficult to imagine dwellings emerging at this entrance and exit to the Borough, just as the market infill gives us French Row and Market Place at the other end of town. This may only have happened since the Dissolution when new secular landlords were happy to see new dwellings, and charge rents and surrender fees for plots which fell in the manorial territory but were, strictly speaking, on highway land. Once established, they were gradually incorporated within the parish and borough. So, by 1753, Phillip Shepherd was paying land tax in St Peter's Ward for his house at Snatchup End, and the steward of the manor of Newland Squillers was recording transactions at his Court Baron in respect of cottages along the highway, all recorded in the 19th century censuses as at Snatchup Alley. A similar 17th and 18th century Snatchup end at Kings Langley, also now built over and changed, seems to endorse my theory. That this would have been a natural gathering point, where the services of a blacksmith, joiner, gardener etc and later a beerhouse or two, is clear and is illustrated by a painting by J H Buckingham.

But times were changing somewhat. The Hatfield Road, then Cock Lane, was upgraded to provide a passable route via St Albans and Watford to Reading and the Bath Road around 1700 and this was later turnpiked. It allowed those from east of here to travel to spas of their choice in the West without the onerous journey into and out of London. St Peters was now on another national route, if only as an early London bypass for the elite. Two hundred years later it, and Catherine Lane, would be widened to provide a direct through route, east to west, and lead to the expectations that car drivers have of our roads today.

Photo:Ivy House on Bowgate

Ivy House on Bowgate

Kate Morris

The early 18th century was a prosperous time, with much new building, and now in brick. In 1719 Ivy House appeared.

Photo:Bowgate with the White House

Bowgate with the White House

Kate Morris

The inns and cottages, serving the rustics and the market, were demolished and a fine town house in substantial grounds was erected in their place. Reputed to have been built by Edward Strong, master mason, who had worked with Christopher Wren on St Paul's Cathedral, it was probably to have been used only for business and entertaining and smacks of an 'elite second home'. The grounds stretched up to the almshouses and back to what became Church Street. He actually lived at what is now Sopwell House Hotel, also then in St Peter's Parish, though not in the borough. In 1732 the Duchess of Marlborough acquired the manor of Newland Squillers, though she continued to reside at Holywell House down by the river. She instantly pulled down the manor house, opening premises there for veterans of her husband's wars in 1736 - our Marlborough Buildings, still an independent charity.

The backsides of houses on the east side of St Peter's Street were longer as one travelled south. Grange Farm, not to be confused with St Peters Grange, occupied the land behind the street and north of Shropshire Lane (now Victoria Street). In the mid 18th century, John Osborne, sometime Mayor, built a substantial brick residence in big grounds associated with this farm. It stands today as offices in front of the Civic Centre, which itself, with the Alban Arena, Magistrates' Court and Water End Barn fills what were the gardens of the house. Dalton's Folly, or Bleak House, on Folly Lane was built from 1706. Many other older houses were re-fronted in brick around this time as fashion absorbed the new styles and building regulations. The stretch of St Peters Street south of the old vicarage well illustrates this point, as does No 1 St Peters Street, sometimes known as The Mansion, with its little balcony overlooking the market. There are timber-framed structures behind the facades, often evident by the steepness of the roofs.

But not all building was for grand purposes. There were two breweries in and around St Peters Street in the 19th century and a whole host of beerhouses, many of which will have brewed their own beer. In 1764 a workhouse was built for the parish, where Rumball Sedgwick Estate Agents are today. John Horner Rumball came to the town in the early nineteenth century.  He too saw his opportunity for development. A surveyor, he worked alongside Godman, who redrew Hare's map, working on tithe and estate maps. His personal opportunities lay around St Peter's. He lived at what is now Anastasia's restaurant and was also able to purchase the workhouse opposite, when, with the advent of the Union in the 1830s, the building was no longer required and refurbished it for offices. He also bought the immediately neighbouring cottages, which are of a slightly earlier build.

So, as we come to the 19th century, St Peter's was becoming rather grand, though St Albans was still a small town with, say, 3000-4000 inhabitants, and relatively self-sufficient. The Borough had aspirations to becoming the County town, and, to this end, won for itself the new Court House, which would also supersede the old 16th century town hall or compter, (now W H Smith). Classical architecture came to St Albans. George Smith was engaged to build the new Town Hall, and went on to build the White House, opposite the church, to replace an old building, which had been run by two gentle ladies as a girls' school. What is now the barber's shop and the cosmetic dentist next door, was a boys' school. The White House became yet another gentleman's residence. Amongst others who lived there would be William Page, editor of the Victoria County Histories. The vicarage must have been crenellated around the same time.

Photo:Michaelmas Fair, St Peter's St

Michaelmas Fair, St Peter's St

J H Buckingham – 1850s

That it was still, nevertheless, a fairly rustic agricultural town, can be seen in further paintings by Buckingham of the Michaelmas Fair in St Peters Street, and also St Peter's church. These markets, fairs and festivals have survived though the post-agricultural era.

Photo:Michaelmas Fair, St Peter's St

Michaelmas Fair, St Peter's St

J H Buckingham – 1852

Buckingham strangely shows no trees at all in St Peters Street, though there are footpaths to the side. The wastes are perhaps illustrated where the man is lounging on the outer side of the drain, which must have fed the ponds. That, in itself, illustrates how wet the open space must have been and the need for sponsorship to provide tree coverage.

Photo:St Peter's Church from the east

St Peter's Church from the east

J H Buckingham – 1856

He also provides us with a view of the church from what is now Clifton Street or Hillside Road showing the rustic nature of the surrounding area.

Aspirations in St Peter's in these affluent times were such that, with demand for more and more and grander and grander pews, ultimately, in 1803, the tower of the Saxon church fell down. A major restoration was undertaken, but less than a century later, more work was required. Lord Grimthorpe funded further work and introduced the present Victorian Gothic structure. At that time aspirations were still high and the tower was supporting no fewer than 12 bells, a fact echoed in the name of the little beerhouse across the road, next door to Mr Rumball and his successors (part of the block which is now the carpet shop). It was called The Twelve Bells.

These development aspirations in the St Peters end of town were driven by the advent of the Midland Railway in the 1860s, when St Peter's began to support the town's economy. Straw hat factories and other industries prospered. There were several in St Peter's Street, and many more, both in the town centre and along Victoria Street. Both local businessmen and new residents who could now commute to London for business built grand houses all over the area from St Peter's Street to the East, where the railways came into the area. Not all were initially in the Borough, although they were in St Peter's. Wall Close on the south side of Hatfield Road was the earliest development with Manor Road, Hillside Road, Lemsford Road, Hatfield Road itself following, all laid out with many splendid architectural examples. On St Peter's Street itself, Thorne House lay where the Post Office now is and Aboyne Lodge was just a little further south of Adelaide Street, with gardens on the backside, which the owner opened to the public for a small fee, and Donnington House, now Mallinson House.

Photo:Donnington House

Donnington House

Kate Morris

Demand for development continued with a feeling in the town that it should grow. The railway came later than to some towns and there was a feeling of a need  to catch up. Lord Spencer, still Lord of the Manors of Newland Squillers and Sandridge was persuaded to give up agricultural land for residential development. Gas came to the town, and the water company, which had taken over the whole of the Snatchup area for its boreholes, tanks and engine houses, that being the highest point in the town and providing good opportunities for reaching the aquifer, was servicing the new residential demand for quality services. The ponds in the town were gradually filled in and wells no longer required. In 1898 the area we now know as the War Memorial Gardens was laid out with shrubs and enclosed with railings.

Photo:St Peter's Green, 1900

St Peter's Green, 1900

There are many illustrations which show the Green before Lower Cock pond was filled in in the late 19th century, and a handful of years later, the widening of both Hatfield Road and Catherine Street took place. A number of dwellings and shops were lost at the time of that widening and then, in 1921 there was the erection of the War Memorial. In 1930 the current owners of the beerhouse and blacksmith's forge, by then on the corner, pulled down the buildings and built our local The Blacksmith's Arms. The church pulled down the remaining one of the three cottages of the 16th century Cox Charity close to the church and built the Church House we see today. The owner of the rest of the row built sculleries and adjacent toilet facilities with running water to replace the standpipes and latrines at the bottom of the gardens. The 1950s and 60s brought bathrooms to houses on the Green and saw the destruction of corner properties on the opposite side of the road with the loss of the Painters Arms on the south corner and the bakery on the north side, and the little Twelve Bells beerhouse had also been replaced by then. Instead we acquired vast shop units with offices above and of little character on each side, demonstrating to those approaching from the East that St Albans, and St Peters was now firmly a part of post-war Britain.

Photo:Hall Place before its demolition just after 1904

Hall Place before its demolition just after 1904

The late Victorian and Edwardian eras had brought ever more residential development and we have the fine houses, many designed by local architect Percival Blow, on the site of Hall Place and its grounds and the house at Towns End.

One, Thorne House, was a replacement for the one further down the street, where the Post Office then appeared, with its characteristic architecture. The banks built grand halls - Westminster, Lloyds and the Midland and churches for several denominations were built. The Baptist church at Dagnall Lane, Marlborough Road Methodist church and the Salvation Army citadel were in the town centre research area. Trinity Congregational church was on Victoria Street, close to the Midland Railway station and the Roman Catholic church of St Alban and St Stephen was on Beaconsfield Road. A Carnegie library was provided in Victoria Street along with public baths and an Art School. There had been school provision of all kinds, with a British school in Spencer Street and a national school on land given by Lord Spencer on Hatfield Road. Both of these were overtaken by the building of a Board School on the Hatfield Road site in the 1880s, and then there was the opening of the Garden Fields School in what is now the Jubilee Centre on Catherine Street. The High School for Girls relocated early in the 20th century in Townsend Avenue alongside the Edwardian residential developments.

Much of the development described reflects national and local needs and trends retrospectively; indeed St Albans has generally been slow to develop for itself. It is not a thrusting community. The worthies have done what they needed to, and the place has always proved a pleasant and attractive place in which to live and be. In St Peters, the parish has often taken the lead and has carried the responsibilities, being a principal property owner. And many charities have left further property management issues for the churchwardens. It is still so, though some responsibilities have passed to the secular authorities - mostly the District Council today. The county responsibility for highways since the late 19th century has brought changes beyond the local perspective, which account for the changed focus from parish centre to town centre periphery.

St Albans today

St Albans today is a highly regarded and pleasant place in which to live, and its commercial activities are, in the main, successful. It now stands at the top of the league in terms of increase in house prices. The average house price is nearly £350,000. It is an affluent community with negligible unemployment. Residents are in the main in the higher socioeconomic groups, with a very high number of graduates among the working population. Many work in St Peter's in what has changed from prestige residential to high grade office accommodation. The city has many attractions and heritage assets to be envied - enjoyed by residents and visitors alike. And the retail sector is on record as surviving the recent recession better than most. There are fewer empty shops than sometime ago and footfall in the retail areas, especially at the top end of St Peters Street, is actually on the increase, though that may not apply to Catherine Street.

Though there is much to be thankful for, especially in St Peter's, there are pockets of deprivation in some parts of the City. We have a long list of those hoping for social housing in the District - longer than elsewhere perhaps just because of the high prices our housing market achieves. Key workers, as indeed the children of most existing residents can scarcely afford independent accommodation here at all. Those who work here mostly live outside and have to travel in to work, whilst 50% of our workforce leaves town for their place of work. This is a historic pattern, though the infrastructure and mode of transport has changed. And though we have few empty shops they are, sadly, at present, mostly congregated around St Peters.

Some of this is an inevitable result of our location and the prevailing economic climate, but if we understand our circumstances and patterns, and what has led to them, we can perhaps formulate aspirations and see opportunities. Today's residents must grasp those opportunities and guide development in an informed way.

The District Council is today's Planning Authority, and the new Government in 2010 has made clear that it looks to local planning authorities to determine their own future. Regional Spatial Strategies with housing targets are to be abolished. Much has changed since publication of the most recent District Plan dated 1994. A new Local Development Framework based on local aspirations is being prepared. Evidence for its formulation will be drawn amongst things from the District Vision which was a major piece of consultation last year. In that vision are stated many opportunities for regeneration in St Peters, together with aspirations in the community for a cultural hub and renewal of the museum offer. St Peters is part of the St Albans Conservation Area for which recently a Character Statement has been drafted. There is much scope there for options for hotels, department stores and maybe flats. There are also aspirations emerging in the community for a cultural hub and renewal of the way our museum offer is presented.

Photo:Roundabout at Hatfield Rd, Catherine St and St Peter's St

Roundabout at Hatfield Rd, Catherine St and St Peter's St

Kate Morris

St Peter's is the town's church. The parish and the former Ward have been key drivers in the town's development in the past. But there is, somehow, now, a distance between the church and its immediate environs and the commercial town centre. The church is no longer even in the present day St Peters Ward - the area East of St Peters Street and North of Hatfield Road falls in suburban Clarence Ward. From the old Town Hall, the War Memorial and its garden seem to indicate the top of the town and the more recent roundabout at the junction with Catherine Street and Hatfield Road signals the end of St Peters Street.

Photo:A runner avoids the railings on Hatfield Rd

A runner avoids the railings on Hatfield Rd

Kate Morris

What was once a bypass taking coaches to Bath is now a major traffic route, relegating pedestrians and the local community in a cavalier manner. Iron railings pen them in and a roundabout stands dominant as a rather unsuccessful attempt to guide high volumes of heavy traffic. It causes all the emergency services to engage their sirens as they approach it so that traffic and people alike scatter. The message is negative and the image of St Peters Street when approaching from Hatfield or the station is far removed from the open community space of the thousand years of its development up to now.

Photo:Postwar architecture on the corner of Catherine St

Postwar architecture on the corner of Catherine St

Kate Morris

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