Former villain returns home to film St Albans documentary

HORACE Martin was pretty well known when he lived in St Albans - particularly to the local police!

But after years in the USA during which he cleaned up his act and set up his own business with a sideline in acting and filming, he is back in the city making a documentary in tribute to his late parents.

He is interviewing people he and they used to know when they ran the Bat and Ball and later The Bell pubs in St Albans for a documentary which he hopes will be not just a labour of love but could also be shown at a film festival or on a TV channel.

Horace, now 58, lived with parents Joan and Harry Martin in St Albans between 1970 and 1985. He said: “Everyone loved my parents and when my mum passed away, I saw all these people at the funeral and decided they would be obituaries one day and I would come back and film them.”

He admitted that his days in St Albans were not covered in glory - “I was a naughty boy. I went to prison and my younger brother was quite a lad. I was not fated to do anything positive so what has happened since is quite amazing.”

He went on: “I have a camera now but I feel quite like a fraud. I keep thinking that someone is going to walk up to me and say ‘gotcha’.”

Horace reached his lowest ebb in 1985 at the age of 32 by which time he had been in the former Hill End Hospital and ended up homeless. “It got me to the point where I thought I have to stop this,” he said.

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Despite not finishing mainstream education, he went to drama school and decided to return to the States where he had been in the early seventies as a boxer.

It proved to be the best move he could have made - he set up a bricklaying business in Los Angeles and found some work acting and filming.

He then landed a role in a movie a couple of years ago realising a childhood ambition to be an actor.

Horace has returned to St Albans four to five times since moving to the US but the idea of the documentary really hit him at his mum’s funeral.

He planned to carry out interviews in the city for a couple of weeks but has already been here for nearly a month.

Thanks to diligent research he has tracked down a number of people he wanted to interview - including a fellow inmate at a detection centre to whom he gave his much coveted fish and chips on his last day and who remembered him for that.

But his main aim is clear. “The focus is on how great my parents were and how they kept their dignity and self-respect with these two boys who were a nightmare.”

Horace, who is staying with his brother Eugene in Hayes while he is back in the UK, has already interviewed around five people and would like to speak to another eight, making some 20 hours of filming. He will then edit and do the voice-over for the documentary when he gets home.

He is still looking for people who remember him and his parents and is quite prepared to accept that some of them might not have good memories of him but he would still like to film them. “Verbally they can say whatever they like,” he promised.

Horace can be contacted at or on 07952 102787.