Bulldozing memories of St Albans pub

Garden at the Three Hammers

Garden at the Three Hammers - Credit: Archant

Column Inches: Musings on local life by Caroline Thain

I have happy memories of The Three Hammers pub especially introducing my baby son to my mum in the beer garden. It was very close to where we lived and a perfect setting.

I used to pop there with friends, often enjoying a great value meal or cheeky chips at a picnic table.

I had a car and the use of both legs and if the well-stocked petrol station didn’t have whatever I needed, I could usually find it in the newsagents.

If not there was, and still is, a vast choice of groceries in Sainsbury’s up the road. You can walk to it from Chiswell Green in about 20 minutes and most people there have a car.

I recall writing about this proposal when the planning was in earlier stages and speaking to an affable chap who was a leader in the development.

I began the conversation feeling bristled they could even be thinking of bulldozing my beloved beer garden, but as we chatted he seemed charming.

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The landscape would be improved. There would be enough parking. People would get a convenience store with competitive prices and the pub would be better off.

He played the ‘dangerous’ card: cars exit the car park currently on to the mini roundabout and busy Watford Road. By moving the exit and making the car park better, it would be safer for the community.

Chiswell Green is beautiful. Most people there have ample cash flow. They’re busy working and juggling family lives or they’re retired and enjoying their days leisurely. Everyone can access groceries and extras like booze or clothing from the current local shops, online or via a short walk or drive away at a number of supermarkets - including Sainsbury’s in Everard Close.

I don’t understand - like many neighbours and patrons of this lovely old historic pub - why anyone thinks Chiswell Green needs to lose that garden and put in its place a smaller store than the one nearby.

Not to mention obvious damage that will be done to the independent traders. Perhaps the wonderful Chinese takeaway will be OK but I can’t imagine the new shop will have no impact on the other businesses.

While you inevitably get staunch stoic stubborn loyalists who will not give custom to the new Sainsbury’s, and possibly not the old one up the road, you will get those who do.

They could have gone the extra distance in car or on foot but big chains like Sainsbury’s offer fresh tempting products at affordable prices and are a pull for consumers seeking solutions in their everyday lives. They didn’t need it but they will use it and that’s what developers count on.

If the entire Chiswell Green resisted, boycotting the new store, there are all the passers by driving from their work commutes north and south of Watford Road.

It will snare many shoppers who will bring in a fast buck for Sainsbury’s and sadly nobody will remember life without it before long.

It won’t feel the same driving past seeing an ugly orange supermarket logo and car park. It’s all about money. For the pub who sold the land. For the developers getting a mint. For the supermarket giant who saw an opportunity to steamroller happy memories and leave a soulless Sainsbury’s in their wake.