St Albans’ own East End

St Albans East End

St Albans East End - Credit: Archant

March 2012 saw the publication of a very different local history from most then on our bookshelves. Those generally contain of studies of the Romans, the Abbey, the medieval period, portrait descriptions of the great and the good, and descriptions of the growing town reaching outwards – at least as far as the Midland Railway.

St Albans East End

St Albans East End - Credit: Archant

Study any map of St Albans and you will discover that the city has expanded most in an easterly direction. So author Mike Neighbour focused on the suburbs eastwards beyond the Midland Railway and told their story. The districts of Fleetville, Camp and Marshalswick, plus the rural hamlets of St Peter’s parish as far as the historic boundary with (Bishops) Hatfield. The title of the project is St Albans’ Own East End. This was a description of the, then, untidy sprawl of Camp and Fleetville, used in 1913 by Ernest J Townson, town councillor and manager of the former printing works at Fleetville, where Morrison’s supermarket now stands.

Tackling such a monumental writing task required that the subject was divided into two volumes Readers of volume one, subtitled Outsiders in recognition of the district’s exclusion from the city until 1913, were able to follow a comprehensive history from the earliest times through its agriculture and settlements, manors and farms. There followed a series of chapters depicting stories of everyday life, the inward migration of families, their places of work, worship and occasionally entertainment. The arrangement is chronological from 1880 to 1930. Many of the sources for these chapters were researched from the pages of the Herts Advertiser.

One year on, and St Albans’ Own East End Volume Two, Insiders, has been published. There are further themed chapters and the chronology extends from 1931 to 1960, a period within the memory of many of our readers. In addition, there is a special appendix in which an attempt has been made to identify the name origins of all of the lanes, roads, avenues and streets in the eastern districts. That section alone should delight inquisitive readers.

The author has selected a collection of short articles by residents or former residents, in which they recall, sometimes humorously, their growing up or their work on this side of the city. And across both volumes there are short descriptions of one hundred objects which are representative of the times, events and, above all, people who have lived there.

In the latest volume Mike Neighbour has included around five hundred modern and heritage photographs and other images, including several rescued from historic issues of the Herts Advertiser.

Readers of the Herts Advertiser can purchase copies of either book, signed by the author. Phone 01992 468259, email or visit

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Each book costs £29.50 and will be delivered personally by the author.