Memories of St Albans over the years

Specially concerning shopping

By Jean Brown

St Albans is still a lovely place to dwell in, however the shops available today offer fewer opportunites to browse. Remembering the super department store Greens, Oakleys, and the excellent service one got from Home and Colonial Stores,and shops such as Donald Black.

Freemans pharmacy offered lemonade crystals in a paper cone which we bought hurriedly on our way to morning Assembly at School.

However the Cathedral, with its touch of eternity makes up for any loss of past delights.

This page was added by Jean Brown on 08/02/2011.
Comments about this page

To which may be added Maddox (greengrocers). many shoeshops, MacFisheries, Butler's, with its timber-framed shop (demolished to erect the early Tesco's in brutalist 60s concrete) & Sainsbury's, with its tiled walls (hidden behind the fittings of the present company's premises). During the 50s, in Sainsbury's, one had butter for instance, made up with butter-pats before wrapping and bacon sliced to requirements. Because each counter sold a separate item, payment was made using the overhead 'railway' to a cash-desk in the pulpit at the end of the shop. Regarding Oakley's, it was what was known as an Italian Warehouse. During and after the War (II) it sold exotic items like foreign cheeses, Italian salamis, dried fruit and a lot of otherwise unobtainable products taken for granted in the supermarkets nowadays .... but they don't have the marvellous smell of an Italian warehouse, which was a characteristic of others around the country. Earlier on, of course, Woolworths.. nothing over 6d. One could go on but can only regret the loss of a traditional high street.

By Gerard McSweeney
On 10/02/2011

Can anybody remember what Caters was called before it was Argos?

By Sarah Brown
On 14/08/2011

I think Caters was Presto and before that it was the Green Shield Stamp shop.

By Kevin Matthew
On 19/09/2011

Does anyone remember the shop that sold hay and pet food [all we bought there] in George Street [right side going down] please. I still remember the smell of Oakleys, the sugar on string and the wonderful sugar Easter eggs with pictures inside. Now you can only get similar eggs from America - I've looked [sigh]. What about Liptons too and Deverells, the toy shop in French Row. And Blundells department store in Market place, It included the old timber framed building too. The Wetheralls part of Blundells used it. I'm sure everyone remembers Heath and Heathers, with their large warehouse too. I think my mother bought my pram in Faith Heaths, Market Place, and I bought my son's one there too. Near there was a lovely bookshop that sold bags of beads that I loved buying.

By Sandra
On 20/10/2011

Yes Sandra I remember buying a bale of hay for our chickens from that shop but can't remember what it was called. There was a similar shop halfway down French Row that you could walk straight through from Chequer Street. Your mention of that tiny little shop Deverells in French Row reminded me of my model making days, also of the shop at the top of Hatfield Road close to the Blacksmiths Arms and my favourite, Green and Winters down an alley way off Market Place.

By Ron Cave
On 03/11/2011

HI Igrew up on Hatfield Road in the 1970s and the 1980s and my father worked for Warwicks Fish Shop in the town centre. But then he went and bought the local fish shop which was Fleetville Fisheries and ran that for a few years. I had a brill childhood in those shops and can remember the takeway on the corner,second-hand shop next door and Londis. Also the brill breakfasts in the local cafe. Have not been back for years but the place will always be there in me.

By Debbie
On 28/09/2012

Can anyone remember a toy shop in Hatfield Road on the right-hand side going towards the Crown from Fleetville. It would have been almost approximately Albion Road. I can recall going in there sometimes after I had finished my ballet lesson at St. Paul's Church hall on a Saturday morning. They had a wonderful range of (pretend) miniature food products such as you would find in a grocery shop. I can remember buying a little tiny packet of twenty Players cigarettes, each one being probably no more than half an inch long, complete with a 'glowing' red tip. Does anyone remember this shop?

By Joan Johnson (nee Allen)
On 03/10/2012

I left Hertfordshire in 1971 to move to Cornwall, where I still live today but still have many happy memories of growing up in St Albans. I was born in Oster Hills Hospital and lived in the same house for twenty years until I got married in 1966. Our family home was in Camp View Road, a terraced property of three up and three down. When I was about twelve years old we had a bathroom built on to the ground floor, a feature which I was very proud of. I attended Camp School and Sandfield Girls' School, followed by two years' full time at the St Albans College of Further Education, where I trained to become a secretary. My Saturdays then were taken up with working in British Home Stores in order to earn some spending money. For the day's work I was paid £1, plus a free lunch in the staff canteen. My first job was at Ballito Hosiery Mills in Hatfield Road. I enjoyed being there but the money wasn't good and I left after three years and went to the National Mutual Life Assurance Society, where I remained until my move to Cornwall in 1971. Life for me in St Albans was good throughout my childhood and teenage years and I have been fortunate in being able to go back there for visits almost every year since moving. Joan Johnson (nee Allen)

By Joan Johnson
On 12/10/2012

Thanks for your memories Joan. They've triggered a few more of my own. The cake shop almost up at the Crown roundabout where there was always a Saturday morning queue. Ben Pelly's where they sold crockery and some hardware. The Handy Stores near Harlsden Road, run by two (I thought) elderly ladies! Then Lavers wood yard. I can see now the stocky man with the hard leather pad sewn onto the right shoulder of his jacket as a protection from the wood he carried.

By Ron Cave
On 22/11/2012

Before Presto supermarket the building was occupied by a printing company called Gibbs & Banforth my dad worked there in the 1960's

By John Reeves
On 27/11/2012

My father -in law ALFRED POWELL worked for SEEBY"S TAXI"S 1947-1952 when he died,the family have no photos of him ,as he was a taxi driver we wondered if any one has him on a wedding photo,it would be wonderfull if we could find one.

On 23/12/2012

Re the earlier queries about a corn shop. If you mean the one near St Peter's Church not far from the hospital, it was 'The Marsh Corn Stores' and the manager was a Mr Mead who lived in Folly Lane. What about Pamphillon's furniture shop?

By Stewart West
On 31/12/2012

Stuart, I remeber that furniture shop - I bought a small carpet there for Eight Pounds and wheeled it home rolled up and tied to my bicycle! Didn't it become Tescos?

By Ron Cave
On 08/04/2013

Does anyone at all have any memories further back In or around the 1920's My grandmother had a small tea room in Dagnall St over the door was her name G Harrop ?

By Sheila Poole
On 01/08/2013

Does anybody remember buttlers the butchers and tesco carpets where i worked does anybody remember tucks garage in fleetville where i also worked

By Ken bunney
On 20/08/2013

Referring to two comments. The first Tescos was built on the site of Butlers (butchers), a 17th (or earlier) timber-framed building regrettably demolished in the 60s (?). Butler's still operate at the rear of the premises. I am confused about a reference to Marsh Corn Stores "nr St Peter's church not far from the hospital"

By G.McSweeney
On 31/01/2014

Yes I remember Butlers my dad work for them for years he also ran the shop at the quadrant in Marshalswick .His name was Ron Bolton . 

By Julia Davies
On 17/05/2014

How about The Pilgrim's Rest at the Top  of Holywell Hill? I remember the Pamphillons, they had a house with a turret in Harpenden. Or The Lucky Black Cat Cafe. And the Old Post Office, which was Ryder's Seed Hall, all in Holywell Hill

By Trudi litaunieks
On 07/11/2016

does anyone remember where the old Sainsbury referred to above was?

By Isabel
On 11/11/2016

I remember the old style Sainsbury's in St Peter's Street - near to where Boots is now (or was last time I was there).  It was one where you had to queue for separate counters rather than self-service.  This was in the late 60s and I think it changed soon after that.  


By Amber Swift
On 11/12/2016

I remember the original Sainsbury's it used to have a butter counter where they used to use wooden paddles to turn it into blocks. It was very near the first Tesco

My family had the building company in Culver Road which started in 1900

By Paul Dumpleton
On 05/01/2017

Does anyone remember a restaurant called Bugler's (not sure of spelling). It was in Market Place on the left-hand side going towards St Peters Street. I seem to remember it was a two or three storey building. The waitresses all wore black dresses with white pinnifores and caps and afternoon tea was served in bone china cups and the cakes were served on cake stands. My auntie took my mother and me there on Friday afternoons for a treat. It all seemed very grand to a seven year old girl.


Editors comment: We have ascertained from Kelly’s directories that Buglers occupied 25 Market Place from before 1914 to at least 1946. They were described in the directories as confectioners, and were not recorded in the 1958 directory.

By Jennifer Bull nee Shrewsbury
On 11/02/2017

Lived in Marshalswick in the early sixties went to Wheatfields School but we moved in 67. Remember youngsters toy shop at the top of the town and couldn't pass without going in with my parents, also remember the smell of fresh roast coffee from a shop near Simmons the bakers who I think are still in business. Visited the town recently and wonder if any of my old school friends still live in the town particularly Michael Doig and Patricia Dunn...zssoon be retired now! Ihoward Goode..happy days!

By howard goode
On 25/10/2017

Referring back to Julia Davies' comment on 17/5/2014. My Dad also worked at Butler's Butchers on The Quadrant. I remember Ron Bolton.I was in Julia's class at Wheatfields school. Am I right in thinking she had a sister called Sheila? She may not see this as her comment was almost 4 years ago. Anyway "Hi" from Steve Bradstreet.

By steve bradstreet
On 21/01/2018

I think that this is a wonderful page with great recollections of what was once a vibrant city with many employment opportunities and low crime rate which sadly is not the case today.

By Eric Budworth
On 26/01/2018

Just found this page and how much fun is this. I lived on Marshalswick Lane from 1962 until 1979. My dad had a dental surgery at number 66. I used to shop at The Quadrant and was thinking of all the old stores. Thrale's Bakery, Wright's Grocers, Hartsock's fishmongers,Norbury's Fruit and Veg, Victoria Wine, Blindell's Shoes, Josephine's Sweets and Newsagent, Chemist...?, Marshalswick Furniture, The Wool Shop, Kingstons Bucher, another Baker, Pearks, Bishops, Butler's Butcher, Gerrards Greengrocer, Alicia Women's Clothes, Eastman Cleaners, Andrews Menswear, Eastern Electricity. Something De Paris Women's Hairdresser, Drummonds Toyshop, Allen Hardware, Barclay's Bank......any other memories??

By Sally Dickinson
On 28/01/2018

Does anyone recall a grocery shop in Veralum Road, in the late 1950's, run by George and Betty Hewitt ? Betty was my father's sister, originally from Hertford. I myself regularly called in the seventies, to G Gentle in Fleetville. A plumbing trade counter.


By Malcolm Turner
On 13/02/2018

I can add a little to the last request. The shop was I think, selling groceries. The building still exists, I believe, opposite the sweep into Is it, Dagnell Street. Same side as Pizza Express, going away from George Street end of Veralum Road. Could have been 1960's rather than fifties. Mr. Hewitt passed away about yr. 2000. Family lived in Gurney Court Road. Although I am from Hertford, I have always visited S/A, went to college there for several years, and worked there as a contractor.


By Malcolm Turner
On 28/02/2018

I lived in Hatfield Road, St Albans near Ettiennes sweet shop. My brother went to Fleetville infants and I went to Beaumont Girls School just up from Balito stocking factory. My Saturday job was at Liptons near St Christopher Place and my first full time job was at Greens Department Store just like 'are you bring served'? I remember Tesco and Sainsburys and the ABC restaurant where you could get high tea like Welsh Rarebit and a cup of tea very cheap. Fond memories!

By Ruth Fowler (nee Saull)
On 14/05/2018

In reply to Ruth Fowler: I remember you from Sandfield School, Ruth. We were in the same class and my name then was Joan Allen.  I have just read your comments about working in Green's Department Store and thought you might be interested in possibly joining St.Albans Past and Present Memories group on Facebook.  We are currently discussing peoples memories of Green's.  If you like nostalgia, then take a look.

By Joan Johnson
On 15/05/2018

I used to shop in the original Sainsbury's in St Peter's Street during the late 1960s, when I was first married.  You could buy a whole rotisserie cooked chicken for 7s.6d, which equates to 37 pence in today's money.

By Joan Johnson
On 15/05/2018

Hi Joan I get confused with the name of the girls school. Were we changed to Beaumont when they opened Sandfield boy school to girls? My brother went to the mixed school and we had the same art teacher. Not sure about Facebook, will think about it!  

By Ruth Fowler
On 16/05/2018

I started work at 15 as a pre apprentice toolmaker for British Indicators under the rail bridge at Fleetville. Lived in Cottonmill Lane.  We used to call into to the cafe on the Hatfield Road opposite the Ballito stocking factory on a Friday for fish and chips. I had a crush on the owners daughter who served us. Also saw Duke de Monde and the Barron Knights on Saturday nights at Ballito's. Peter Head

By Peter Head
On 26/05/2018

As a further addition to the enquiry about the small shop in Veralum Road .run by the Hewett family, George Hewett ran a bonetted Jowett Bradford utility van. c1948, green I think, with side windows.

By Malcolm Turner
On 27/05/2018

It struck me that people might recall the Hewitt children. These would be my cousins, and in their sixties now. Their names were Nicholas and Sally Hewitt. 


By Malcolm Turner
On 02/07/2018

Hi, can anybody recall a sweet shop/tobacconist located at 185 St Albans Rd. It was called Hall’s as far as I know and was owned by my Nan and grandad in the 1950’s. I have been searching for a long time for information about it and would love to find a photo of what it looked like in the day. Thank you in advance to anybody that can help.

By Nichola Hall
On 17/08/2018

Can anyone tell me the name of the greengrocers/Petshop that was in Catherine Street back in late 60's/early 70's?

Editors note: Having checked with my wife, it was called Pinnock's.

By Carmela Vokpe
On 24/08/2018

Pinnocks was my grandads business. Happy times helping out in the shop and on the market stall ??

By Sharon Forder
On 21/09/2018

Hi, I wondered if anyone could tell me about "The Black Cat Tea Rooms" which my mother and grandmother ran during the second world war from 1942 until 44/45. 

Trudi Litaunieks mentioned it in 2016 asking if anyone remembers it. 

I would love to hear from anyone who remembers it or to see any photos, as today the property looks awful. The address is 26 Holywell Hill St Albans.

Thank you.

By Judith Smith
On 05/11/2018

can anyone tell me what the place was before Nandos many thanks xx

By Dee
On 27/11/2018

Goodies bakers and cake shop Hatfield road just over road from Crown. Brilliant  cakes, I was allowed to choose one for the weekend. Ususlly a coffee jap 1950's.

Dixon's in George Street for seeds, pet foods, everything gardening, 

By Diana Davies
On 04/12/2018

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