Before the Hatfield Tunnel

Marian and Dave Hurle

1a. The Stonehouse pub
Dave Hurle
1b. The Stonehouse pub - front door
Dave Hurle
2a. Bungalow on the Barnet By-Pass (home of the Luck family)
Dave Hurle
2b. Garage on the Barnet By-Pass
Dave Hurle
3. "Prudence" bungalow
Dave Hurle
4a. Shops alongside the Barnet By-Pass
Dave Hurle
4b. Shops alongside the Barnet By-Pass
Dave Hurle
4c. Shops alongside the Barnet By-Pass
Dave Hurle
5. Graffiti on the flats at Central Parade
Dave Hurle
6. Altham Court
Dave Hurle
Location of houses and shops that made way for the Hatfield Tunnel
Brian Lawrence
Looking south towards the Comet Hotel
Brian Lawrence
Looking east down St Albans Road, with the Stonehouse just out of shot on the left
Brian Lawrence

In the early 1980s, Dave and I walked around that part of Hatfield which would soon be demolished for the building of the Hatfield Tunnel, taking photos as we went. Here they are on the right, along with what we can remember about them.

Photos 1a and 1b

These show the old Stonehouse pub and hotel and its front door. The building was demolished for the tunnel works to begin. My father (David Cox) and his family lived in a bungalow just across the road from this. This was on the Barnet By-Pass, the main road north from London.

Photos 2a and 2b

Two buildings along the Barnet By-pass.

Photo 3

View from the back of the bungalow (named “Prudence”) before it was demolished. The bungalow was called “Prudence” by my grandfather who worked for the Prudential Insurance company; their office was above one of the shops in Central Parade. My father David Cox lived there during his childhood with his parents Frank & Violet Cox and his three sisters, Avril, Sylvia & Jackie. The family garage is on the right of the picture. This had an inspection pit which my grandfather dug out by hand. At the back of the garage was an Anderson shelter which is obscured by foliage. The family spent many nights in this during the war! You can see the Stonehouse pub in the background of the picture.

Photos 4a, 4b, and 4c

Shops known as Central Parade, alongside the Barnet By-pass, before they were demolished. You can see me walking away from the camera in the third one. My father remembers the shops as being a café, a jeweller’s, a Post Office, a small general store and Tasho’s, the hairdressers, which had a room at the back where Mr Green cut mens’ hair.

Photo 5

Graffiti on the flats by the shops on Central Parade.

Photo 6

Altham Court, which was a block of flats, taken shortly before it was demolished. Altham Court (and Rodney Court + two others) were built for Hawker Siddeley staff. My father had a friend called Pat Glen who lived in the flats. He visited his flat in circa 1938 and described it as very nice with dark wood panelling.


Some additional comments from Brian Lawrence

Brian is a local historian, born in Hatfield before WW2 and author of “Hatfield at War” (recently republished by Hatfield Local History Society). On seeing Dave Hurle’s photos, Brian commented as follows:

Before the building of the tunnel, that stretch of the road between the Stonehouse and the Comet Hotel (now part of Comet Way) was known as St Albans Rd. Along the eastern stretch of the road there were a number of bungalows, some of which were opposite the present Beale’s Hotel and other large properties that stood on the western side of the road.

These bungalows stretched from just west of what was the New Fiddle pub almost to the Comet Hotel and there may have been some houses among them. They were probably built between the two World Wars. Photo 2a was almost certainly one of those bungalows at a time when they were “blighted” due to the plans for the tunnel.

The attached map (see below) shows in red where the bungalows stood. There was Anson’s Garage along that stretch of road and other motor dealers/garages were also in that part from different dates. I do vaguely recall the name Atkinson. Your garage photo (see Photo 2b) was probably one of those “down-market” dealers and they may have traded from a former bungalow(?).

My own two photos (see below the map) were taken in 1983, the first looking south towards the Comet and the second looking east down St Albans Road, with the Stonehouse just out of shot on the left. I hope this all helps to orientate the other photos on this page.

May I also explain that, from the Stonehouse heading north, the road became known as the Barnet By-Pass, and along that stretch of road there were three parades of shops. The first, opposite the Stonehouse on the western side of the road, was Harpsfield Broadway which still exists. On the eastern side of the road between the Stonehouse and the Birchwood roundabout were two other parades of shops, the first being Central Parade and the northern one called North Parade.

My only other contribution concerns Photo No 6, (Altham Court). This was one of four blocks of flats that stood on the eastern side of the By-Pass opposite the de Havilland offices. Running south to north they were, in order, Haddon Court, Cumberland Court, Rodney Court and Altham Court. They were built in the 1930s when art deco was the height of fashion and they probably were then quite an eye-catching, fashionable sight. After WW2, they lost their sparkle, steadily deteriorated and, by the time they were demolished, had become very run down. I have often wonder how they acquired their names. They seem random and with no obvious local connection. Perhaps someone could add a comment (below) to explain the mystery.

This page was added on 16/01/2017.

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  • All very fascinating- I clearly remember regularly visiting the Pet Shop- called ‘Cass’s Pet Stores’ for troical fish stuff. But yes they also used to sell fishing gear and bait. Waters garage was a big local business also doing petrol on both sides of A1. Finally I can remember the Lemsford Cafe (“The Lemmie”) was further out- I thought along the Stanborough Road?

    By Bill R (25/01/2024)
  • From 1977 to 1979 I lived in a room above the Aero café on North Parade. There was a second hand car dealer on the north side. To the south there was a newsagent, an electrical shop, a Chinese restaurant and a Fiat car showroom. There may have been a hairdresser but I can’t remember. Hawker Siddley were still active across the road.

    By Jim McLay (12/08/2022)
  • I’d love to see a photo of the old roundabout sign northern end of Hatfield on the old A1. It said “The North” that was all, (apart from left and right turns)
    I had mixed feeling about that sign as it meant I was headed home to Newcastle. But also that’s all we were, the North.
    Thanks, Jim (now Sydney, Australia)

    By Jim Stafford (24/09/2021)
  • My family and I lived in the very first bungalow on the end right next to the roundabout by the comet hotel, we were moved to birchwood so demolition could start for the plat plaza which had far more promise than the galleria. We had the scrap yard right next door to us which I was a regular visitor thru the fence haha sown very fond memories and such a shame it was all demolished for the terrible galleria

    By Angela Constanti (13/05/2021)
  • I used to live in Altham Court between 1970 and early 1980s. At the back of the four courts they all had substantial balcony fire escapes with metal stair cases, which meant that every flat had a back door from the kitchen onto the balcony, which many residents enjoyed sitting out on in warm summer evenings, like during the heatwave in 1976. It was quite a lively and pleasant place. In 1977 for the Queen’s Silver Jubilee, there was a sort of street party on the grass in front of Altham court. There was still a sense of community before the courts all fell into disrepair, when it filled up with squatters who burned out several flats.

    Someone mentioned a tackle shop, but I remember it as a small pet shop. To the north of the courts, there was also a cafe for lorry drivers, newsagent, hairdressers, Chinese restaurant and a car show room.

    South of the courts, the jewelers was owned by Jim Tribble, a master watchmaker, who also owned the antique furniture and clock shop next door. As a teenager, I enjoyed browsing the surplus shop “Easty’s”, which was a bit like a jumble sale with every inch of tables and the floor packed with old electronic and army equipment. He had so much unusual stuff that it was fascinating sometimes just trying to guess what things were!

    There was also Water’s the petrol station, which back then was on both sides of what was then the A1.

    By Mick (13/05/2021)
  • @Des Knox
    I remember the watchmaker, my dad knew him. I wanted a gold signet ring for my 21st and he showed me a few, one I really liked. He said I could take it home and show my parents, if we liked it, we could pay the bill later. Now, he didn’t know me, I just said whose son I was. Needless to say he got my business and a permenant place in my memories.
    ps I don’t recall his name.

    By Dave Gloistein (12/09/2020)
  • There was the Aero cafe, up past the Courts near the news agent. Perhaps even a Drome cafe, though I might have just imagined it. I thought the Lemsford cafe was further out-of-town. At the other end, between the two parts of Herons Court there was a little grocer, a watchmaker, a restaurant and an electrical shop. Maybe there was a junk shop there in later years.

    By Des Knox (26/07/2020)
  • There was a fishing tackle shop, on the east side, I used to get my maggots from in the late 70s. Think he was a white bearded man..Anyone remember the name of it..And wasn’t there a cafe called the lemsford cafe also..I Remember delivering local papers to the courts buildings when I was about 13, they always looked a bit sinister towards the latter years..

    By Dave Gibson (26/07/2020)
  • Used to do standbyes at Hatfield fire station when I was in the fire brigade and remember some of the places in the photos you have taken ,history that can never be captured again, excellent article.

    By tony (03/09/2018)
  • Can anyone remember the surplus electronics shop that was here in the row of shops in the early 1980’s?
    My father and I would spend hours looking at all the fascinating ex-mod equipment.
    If anyone can remember the name of this business I would be most grateful?

    By Patrick Scott (22/07/2018)