Area Guide: The Batford area of Harpenden
PUBLISHED: 09:37 21 September 2018 | UPDATED: 10:04 21 September 2018
An idyllic nature reserve and a sprawling estate make Batford a place of contrasts - which is no bad thing, as we discovered.
Once very much a village in its own right, Batford has been absorbed into the wider Harpenden area while retaining its own identity.
This attractive spot on the River Lea is home to Batford Springs Nature Reserve, a peaceful haven with children’s play area, picnic tables and benches with a view – an ideal spot to while away an hour or two.
Marginally more affordable than its famously affluent neighbour, Batford offers a mix or architecture, from post-war council houses to Victorian terraces and more modern apartment blocks. Another benefit of being away from the heart of Harpenden is that free parking is easy to come by here.
Batford was home to a Prisoner of War camp during World War Two, housing Italian prisoners from 1943 until late 1944, then Germans. When vacated, the camp’s prefab huts were used to house local people who were waiting for housing.
The area expanded rapidly in the post-war years, with council houses shooting up in Pickford Hill, followed by Noke Shot and Roundfield Avenue from 1946. Tallents Crescent was built in 1959 on the site of the former POW camp; the prefabs were demolished and new council houses were built in their place.
Local pre-schoolers are lucky to have the very popular Batford Nursery School – rated ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted – on their doorstep. Its track record of good performance make it the perfect choice for local families looking for safe and trusted childcare.
Sauncey Wood Primary School originally opened as Batford Primary School in 1950. When Ofsted popped in for a short inspection in June this year inspectors praised the leadership team for successfully preserving the school’s “caring, supportive ethos and community spirit” and maintaining its ‘good’ ranking.
The ‘outstanding’ Sir John Lawes is currently the closest secondary school to Batford, but the new Katherine Warington School, which is set to open next September on Lower Luton Road, will shift the catchment for many residents.
There are regular bus services passing through Batford with destinations like Welwyn Garden City, Luton, Wheathampstead, Harpenden and Stevenage, which all provide a day trip for locals at the weekend or an easy weekday commute to work and school.
Churches in the area include Crabtree Church, All Saints Church, on the cusp of Harpenden, and Batford Methodist Church, built in 1905, which exhibits the distinctive, ‘modern’ architecture of the era.
Batford has a Tesco Express, a petrol station, a Co-op supermarket, a hairdressers and fish and chip and Indian takeaways.
It’s also home to a handful of pubs. The historic Gibraltar Castle on Lower Luton Road dates back to at least 1799 and boasts original features including oak beams, bread ovens and an open fire. It serves food and welcomes families.
The Malta, also on Lower Luton Road, is renowned for its hearty breakfasts, which patrons have been raving about on Trip Advisor.