Property Secrets: St Albans Green councillor Simon Grover
Herts Ad Property team
- Credit: Archant
Born and bred in St Albans, Cllr Simon Grover lives in the city centre with his wife and daughter. The former Francis Bacon head boy shares his property secrets...
Where are you from originally?
St Albans. I was born in St Albans hospital and went to school at Abbey primary and Francis Bacon, now Samuel Ryder. My parents are still here.
What was Francis Bacon like? Was its bad rep deserved?
I had a great time at Francis Bacon and got decent exam results. The sixth form was particularly fun. I was head boy, which might suggest the quality of students wasn’t that great, but I couldn’t possibly comment! Shortly after I left it was threatened with closure, then went independent for a bit, then changed its name. From what I’ve heard, it’s now doing well again.
When did you buy your first property?
1992. It was a one-bed basement flat on the edge of Islington. It was surprisingly light, with a little patio garden. The neighbours upstairs could be a bit noisy though. They once went away for Christmas and left their music on for the whole time. It was Radio 1. We ended up tripping their fuse box to turn it off.
How long did you live there?
About seven years.
Why did you decide to move?
We wanted more space, and no neighbours over our head. So we moved to a top floor maisonette in Stamford Hill.
Where do you live now?
In a terraced house in the middle of St Albans. It was great to come back to St Albans, with cleaner air, friendlier neighbours and actually a quicker commute into London. We could afford a house instead of a flat, and we already knew lots of people who lived here.
How did you find it after being in London for so long?
It was odd at first that some of the features I grew up with in St Albans had changed or gone. For example, the Odeon cinema was a favourite haunt. Of course, that’s now been reborn as the wonderful Odyssey.
How long have you lived in your current house?
18 years. When we were looking to move out of London it was the obvious location. Luckily in those days we could just about afford somewhere nice here.
What do you like most about the area?
We're in a great location, near the city centre and the station, but in a quiet street. I can walk to the station to get to work, and I can also walk to the council offices in five minutes.
We have a great community in our street, with parties at Christmas and in the summer.
Have you changed much about your house since you’ve lived there?
Yes, quite a lot. New bathroom, kitchen and built in wardrobes. We added a downstairs bathroom, have put in new floors and taken out two chimney breasts. We’ve done a lot in the small garden too. The downstairs bathroom was a big job, considering the tiny space. Originally there was just a lean-to, so it was starting from scratch, really. The plumbing was a challenge and it took ages.
Is there anything you’d still like to change about your property?
Only small things. It’s great as it is.
Which are your favourite pubs and restaurants in St Albans?
My two favourite restaurants are Lussmans, for superb and sustainable food, and Cosa Nostra for a fantastic welcome and brilliant atmosphere. I’m very fond of the Goat, an amazing pub where I spent some of my early adulthood.
What do you do when you're not being a councillor?
I'm a communications consultant with a specialist company called Quietroom. It focuses on the power of carefully chosen words to help people make better decisions about their future – we work in tricky, highly regulated areas like pensions, health and insurance. I originally started as an actor, and still do a little bit of that from time to time. Lots of people think being a councillor is a full-time job, but it’s not. Most people, like me, squeeze it in to their spare time.
If you could live anywhere, where would it be?
We’re very happy in St Albans and can’t ever imagine moving.