Hertford: 40 years on

...then and now photographs of Hertford

By Bryan Little

I am a relative newcomer to Hertford …1971; not born & breed in these parts. I am an out-comer/in-comer from Edmonton on the outskirts of Greater London. These photographs were taken circa November 1973. I had acquired a new camera and I wanted to try out its capabilities.
…and there’s more further down


Bus Station

Bus Station; c 1973

Bus Station; c 1973

This is how I remember the Hertford bus station at the time; a large, rambling open space with nary a bus in sight. The bus stops in the centre consisted of circular poles with a flat roof; no sides. They offered no protection from driving rain. As I remember, the buildings around the outside were a higility-pigility collection of old brick-built structures. The wasteland in the foreground was close to the entrance of the arcade which joined Bull Plain to the bus station.

Bircherely Green; c 2011

Bircherely Green; c 2011


Fore Street

Fore Street; c 1973

Fore Street; c 1973

Fore Street; c 2011

Fore Street; c 2011

Fore Street has not changed very much in the intervening years, since most of the frontages are listed buildings. The photograph was taken in front of the offices of Breeze & Wyles, solicitors. The Dimsdale Arms, on the left-hand side, used to be a public house. The Shire Hall overshadowed life in the centre of Hertford and the Corn Exchange was a dominating feature of Fore Street. Gaveds (on the right-hand side) was an electrical outlet store and Cousins & Sons was a furniture shop in those days. This part of Fore Street was (and still is) a one-way street. Finding a parking place was never a problem in those days. Look at the style of the cars; very different to those that park there now.


Railway Street

Railway Street; c 1973

Railway Street; c 1973

Railway Street; c 2011

Railway Street; c 2011

 

 

 

 

 

 

This photograph was taken from the wall of the Christ’s Hospital School looking down Railway Street. Notice that this was a one-way street at the time, as indicated by the arrows on the road. The Quaker Meeting Hall was on the left-hand side. In the distance in the centre is the crossroads which was controlled by a set of traffic lights. On the corners were a gardening, DIY & pet shop, an off- licence called The Punch Bowl and Pearce’s the bakers. Cars were allowed through the road from Parliament Square. In fact, there was a small place for parking cars outside Graveson’s, the only department store in town. Coming back on the right-hand side, there the car is parked in front of a set of scaffolding railings. This delimits the gap between two buildings, which was used for market stalls on Saturday as well as part of the bus station. Talking of markets, there was a covered market along Market Street, to the rear of the Corn Exchange. Closer on the right-hand side was a set of shops, one painted blue. This was one of the town’s fish & chip shop. Warren Place is the closest building on the right-hand side.


The Ford @ Hertford

Hert-ford; c 1973

Hert-ford; c 1973

Hert-ford; c 2011

Hert-ford; c 2011


1973: The end of the River Lea Navigation Canal is reminiscent of the “…dirty old river…” which was the subject of the 1967 Kinks hit, “Waterloo Sunset”. This is the place that was the original crossing point of the River Lea and where Hertford got its name.  A burgh (fortified places) was founded by Edward the Elder to the north of the River Lea crossing at “Heorutforda” (Ford of the Harts) to defend against Danish advances. The place is also shows the backyard of the McMullens local brewery. The wooden pallets are stacked by the side of the river. The river itself is clogged up with various plants, leaves and weeds.

2011: The scene is now dominated by a huge willow tree alongside where the barges turn and moor up. The river is free of weeds and is home to a solitary swan. The pallets have disappeared from the back of the McMullen’s brewery to be replaced by a solo AK lorry.


The Folly

The Folly; c 1973

The Folly; c 1973

The Folly; c 2011

The Folly; c 2011


1973: Time seems to have passed The Folly by; nothing much has changed, other than the colour of the lamp-post.  ‘The Barge’ public house has a brick exterior with 3 windows. To the right-hand side is the back of the bus station. This side of the river shows what it was like before the precinct on Bircherely Green was built. I suppose the paling fence is to stop people falling in.

2011: The main change is that ‘The Barge’ public house has acquired a new side entrance and lost one window. Technology has invaded this backwater with the installation of satellite dishes. The paling fence has been replaced by stone slabs.  In the distance, Jewson’s yard has been replaced with a housing development.


Nicholas Lane; Hertford

Nicholas Lane; c 1973

Nicholas Lane; c 1973

Nicholas Lane; c 2011

Nicholas Lane; c 2011


1973: The malting house near Old Cross was once a derelict building. Nicholas Lane was overgrown with weeds. In distance, at the end of the building is the River Lee. Over the river is Dolphin Yard.

2011: What a transformation! Although the outside façade remains the same the inside has been turn into luxury flats with new window frames. The brickwork has been cleaned up and the wall has been repointed. The balcony has been provided with railings to meet Health & Safety regulations. In the distance is the new library complex in Dolphin Yard. Nicholas Lane itself has been tarmaced and new bollards have been installed to prevent cars rolling into the river.


This page was added on 22/02/2011.

Comments about this page

  • My father was born at 11 The Folly along with his siblings and I remember the area very well as although my Gran had moved, she always went for a drink at the Old Barge every Saturday. Happy days.

    By Tony Johnson (11/06/2016)
  • Have read with interest about Hertford. All my family came from Hertford, and Ware, My grandparents name was Hammond, MY Fathers name was Cook, people might remember my father he was Major reginald Cook killed in action ww11 I went to St Josephs Convent, and my first job was at the County Hall. then  lived in Pearsons Avenue, just along the road from the County Hall. Hoping that someone will see this and can remember and get in touch, I am trying to trace all family members.

    By wendie burden (29/03/2015)
  • I seem to remember a cafe in the far corner of the car park, near the 350 Bishop’s Stortford bus stand. Also I see mention of Dyes Coaches but I seem to remember a coach co. called Streets with, I think, maroon coaches. Anybody remember them?

    By gordon bubb (16/02/2012)
  • Wonderful memories. My mum and dad used to work/own the taxi company in the old bus station

    By Vanessa Clay (27/01/2012)
  • Thanks for entering my comments.

    I was born in Bayford in 1942 in a cottage named Elm View, the cottage now called Lambsfield in Ashendean Rd. Well thats me.

    The bus station is just as I remember. Although only six when we moved away to Hatfield, I remember old Hertford vividly. We used to come in by bus 308 on Saturdays. We would walk through the car park into the open market then cross Railway St. into the covered market which I remember smelt of veg at one end & fish at the other. As we came out on the side we would cross to a greengrocer called Coppings then move onwards to Bull Plain, where I would browse the window of Webb’s toy shop, then on again to good old Woolworths. On the way back through we would either go through the arcade or back wence we came, dropping in at the welcome cafe for a snack, I suppose if mum felt flush, not very often in those days.

    My dad was a gardener at Nicholsons the round house at Bayford. Another small detail, my brother nine years up on me went to the Cowper School.

    By gordon bubb (21/12/2011)
  • Hertford has changed dramaticly over the past 50 years and rarely for the better l fear. Architecturally, it is still fascinating and has a wealth of history, but sadly this is not promoted well enough. The History walks run by the museum are well worth doing, as the volunteer guides really know their stuff.

    By Di Smith (28/11/2011)
  • I have searched all over web using different descriptions but can find no pictures of the old covered market or the open market that used to adjoin the car park at the bus station, but I was very pleased to see your picture and a couple of others depicting the old Leyland Cubs that used to run to Bengeo. By the way, I was born at Bayford.

    By gordon bubb (10/11/2011)

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