Area Guide: The vibrant Fleetville area of St Albans
- Credit: Archant
Follow Hatfield Road east out of the city centre and you’ll reach this bustling, buzzing part of St Albans which has its own unique feel.
Dominated by young families, many of whom moved out of London for the outstanding schools and proximity to the station, it’s a lively neighbourhood with lots to do.
The demographic is more diverse than elsewhere in town, with a couple of mosques sitting alongside the Methodist and C of E churches.
The grocery shopping options are similarly varied, with the Asian Food Store and Al Barka Mini Market offering foods that aren’t available elsewhere in St Albans.
Fleetville also has a big, recently revamped Morrisons supermarket and a smaller but well-stocked Tesco Express, and there are many independent shops, including a post office, many barbers and hairdressers, a florist and an optician.
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This stretch of Hatfield Road is also popular with bargain hunters – there are charity shops galore, from Oxfam through to less well-known causes, such as the Kashmir Deaf Children’s Trust.
Clarence Park and Fleetville recreation ground provide kids’ playgrounds and green space aplenty while Hatfield Road Cemetery is peaceful place to sit, bereaved or not.
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The Salisbury Tennis Club on Salisbury Avenue is described by locals as a hidden gem with a top class playing surface.
St Albans’ main City station isn’t far away, but those living on or east of Ashley Road may prefer to cycle in as walking to the station could still take up to half an hour.
The station provides direct routes to and from London on the Brighton to Bedford line. It takes around 20 minutes to reach central London on a fast service, and trains run every few minutes at peak times.
The M25, the M1 and A1(M) are very close by, meaning easy driving north and south. There are also frequent bus services along Hatfield Road and the nearby Alban Way is popular with cyclists.
Food and drink
Fleetville residents are spoiled for food and drink options, with countless cafés, eateries and takeaways to choose form.
The Fleetville Larder - a cheesemongers and deli/cafe with a menu of tasty food and alcohol to have in or take away - is a recent addition to the area that has been warmly welcomed by locals.
Nonno’s pizzeria has also been a huge hit since its launch last year, while the likes of Oasis mediterranean restaurant and Chilli Raj continue to do well.
Where pubs are concerned, The Rats Castle is popular among locals who appreciate its strong games tradition - darts and backgammon are still played - and its refuasl to be gentrified.
The Crown appeals to a wider mix of clientele, with its Sunday roasts, craft beers and weekend breakfasts.
Fleetville is made up of a mix of housing, mostly terraced and semi-detached family homes with gardens, many of which are Victorian or Edwardian. Parking can sometimes be tricky.
Homes currently on the market in Fleetville include a four-bed semi on Sandfield Road for £1m and a smaller, three-bed semi on Woodstock Road South for £650,000.
Fleetville Infant and Nursery School and Fleetville Junior School were both rated ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted at their last inspections. The large, three-form entry schools are located off opposite sides of Hatfield Road, within a short walk of one another.
Many of the Junior School’s pupils progress to the ever-popular – and also ‘outstanding’ - Beaumont School, though its catchment is now so tight that anyone living more than a kilometre away would consider themselves lucky to get a place.
Verulam School is a boys’ secondary specialising in maths, science and technology. A small number of girls attend in the sixth form, as part of the BeauSandVer consortium with Beaumont and Sandringham schools. When Ofsted visited last month, the school was downgraded from ‘good’ to ‘inadequate’.
Fleetville Community Centre in Royal Road hosts a number of clubs and activities. Plans are afooot for it to be pulled down and replaced with a new, modern building.
Street parties have been a regular occurance in the area over the years and many locals have been involved with the Fleetville Festival, which has happened annually for the last 11 years.
Fleetville Diaries is a local history society that organises regular talks about and tours of the area. Visit https://fleetvillediaries.org for more information.