More things which have gone but are not forgotten in St Albans

Owner Dave Bhalla in Gomms shortly before it closed.

Owner Dave Bhalla in Gomms shortly before it closed. - Credit: Danny Loo

Little did we think when stirring up memories of forgotten St Albans that we would trigger so much feel-good nostalgia at such a miserable time. 

But as we continue through the drudge of lockdown our loyal readers have been casting their minds back to happier days. 

Here are some more examples of gone, but not forgotten, aspects of local life...

1. Cinta Garden 

Possibly the only Chinese restaurant with a dancefloor and karaoke. Great to work off the sweet and sour chicken ball calories at two in the morning. Excitement mounted when there was talk of the building becoming a lap dancing club after Cinta's closed. 

Cinta Garden shortly after it closed.

Cinta Garden shortly after it closed. - Credit: Krishan Bhungar


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2. Radio Days

American diner down where Mad Squirrel is by the Cathedral. Perfect for grabbing a burger and a milkshake if you were feeling too upmarket for McDonald's.

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3. Snoopers Paradise

Four fashion-filled floors of more than 4,000 outfits including glitter platform boots, Abba costumes, Cilla Black wigs and rhinestone cowboy jackets. Celebrity customers included footballer turned actor Vinnie Jones, eighties pop star Paul Young and EastEnders Barbara Windsor and Pam St Clement. You could pay for that diamond-encrusted Elvis jumpsuit in instalments if you really needed one.

4. Confetti

The sweetshop of dreams in Christopher Place. Smelt divine. Remember those silver metallic balls perfectly sized for choking?

5. Gomms

For over 130 years, from 1880 to 1914, St Albans' only independent hardware shop could be found on Camp Road. Unlike the big chains, you could pop in and buy just two screws or a couple of nails. Fork handles anyone?


Dearman Gomms shortly before its closure.

Dearman Gomms shortly before its closure. - Credit: Danny Loo

6. Sally Lunns tea shop in St Michael's village

Tea and buns at Sally Lunns? In the tradition of the Bath institution, a tea shop of that name could also be found in St Michael's Street, and was so popular it was a struggle to get in. Apparently Sally Lunn buns are a bit like lardy cakes, whatever they might be. Today's visitors to the village will have to content themselves with waffles...

Sally Lunn tea rooms, March 1976 in St Michael's village

Sally Lunn tea rooms, March 1976 in St Michael's village - Credit: Archant

7. Rough 'n' Tumble 

The soft play centre in the middle of the InShops with a slightly stale cigarette smoke smell wafting through from the café. Before you could go to an industrial estate you didn't even know existed in Harpenden, this was what all the mums and dads relied on. 

8. Harringtons

A bakery downstairs and a gift shop upstairs located behind the Clock Tower. Every member of Saturday staff was under 14. There were queues out of the door for sandwiches and Chelsea buns. To get upstairs, you had to negotiate the world's most narrow staircase. It had pottery houses, teapots and those frogs that were popular back in the day. You know, the ones that held up little signs and lay on lily pads sunbathing with their legs behind their heads? They never looked very comfortable.

Keep sending us your "gone but not forgotten" memories to hertsad@archant.co.uk

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