Christmas lights return to historic St Albans street

An image from company, The Christmas Decorators, showing how the proposed lights will look in George

An image from company, The Christmas Decorators, showing how the proposed lights will look in George Street, St Albans - Credit: The Christmas Decorators

Independent retailers have proved they are no lightweights when it comes to celebrating Christmas in style, with plans to dazzle visitors with a new street display.

Christmas promises to be better - and brighter - than ever in one of St Albans’ most historic streets after the introduction of double-decker buses ended a long-running tradition of lights being strung between shops down George Street for the festive season.

Jane Hartley, owner of Maison Hartley, has successfully spearheaded efforts to have Christmas lights reinstalled from early next month.

She said that up until about six years ago, “the lights used to go across the road, and they looked really pretty because they went downhill”.

Unfortunately, when St Albans School started transporting pupils by double-decker buses down the historic road, the lights were no longer able to be strung across it, because of safety fears.

Jane said: “Everyone was upset and it has been difficult to have them put up again, because those who have made the attempt have been batted back.”

Luckily, a well-attended meeting in July this year kick-started efforts to see the return of George Street’s Christmas lights.

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Christopher Place’s manager Catherine Morris helped with details of lighting contacts, who conducted a survey of the street to see if installation of the decorations was feasible.

Jane said: “They had a meeting with the council, and they were told that as it is not deemed a trunk road, we don’t need to seek planning permission for temporary Christmas lighting.

“However, we did need permission from individual landlords to move the hooks to hold the lights higher up – to 16 feet.

“Of 28 businesses, almost all have paid a contribution towards the festoon lights, which will zigzag across George Street to avoid listed buildings.”

Jane went on: “It’s incredible, because we have finally done it. People down this road are mostly independents and this will help attract visitors to George Street. The lights will benefit everyone. I’m really thrilled.”

Richard Marrett, the city centre manager, hailed it as an “amazing achievement in such a short space of time”.