Fore Street as it was in the past and how it is today

'Then and now' photos of Hertford's main street

By Fiona MacDonald

This engraving of Fore Street was published in 1823 by Sherwood & Co. The building on the far right is the Cross Keys Inn and next to it is the gaol which was later replaced by the two Corn Exchanges. You can see there is no clock on the Shire Hall at this time - it was added in 1824. Originally all animals brought to market were sold in this street. In 1851 a new market place was opened behind the Ram Inn.
Hertfordshire Archives and Local Studies/Mr Elsden
This photograph, taken from a similar angle in 1926, shows the new Corn Exchange which opened in 1859, complete with the statue of Ceres (godess of harvest) on top and urns either side.
Hertfordshire Archives and Local Studies
And this is how it looks today (2010). In 1940 two bombs were dropped on Longmore School and the blast caused one of the urns on the Corn Exchange to fall. The other urn and the figure of Ceres were removed for safety reasons. They were taken to the garden of Hertford Museum - if you know where they are now, please leave a comment below.
Fiona MacDonald
This is the old Corn Exchange, built in the early 1840s on the site previously occupied by the gaol or 'lock-up'. Prior to this trading in corn was done at the back of the Shire Hall. Part of the Cross Keys Inn can be seen on the right.
Hertfordshire Archives and Local Studies/Mr Elsden
The new Corn Exchange is pictured here after the creation of Market Street, the entrance to which can be seen on the far side. The building on the right is Wilson's wine shop.
Hertfordshire Archives and Local Studies/Mr Elsden
The Corn Exchange from the same angle in 2010. The shop next door is still a wine merchant.
Fiona MacDonald
The Cross Keys Inn, whose cellars were partly under the Corn Exchange, was demolished and replaced by the building that housed Wilson's and a grocer's shop. The Cross Keys sign was initially preserved on top of the building but urgent repair work on the upper part in the 1950s resulted in its disappearance. Wilson's was replaced by the wine merchants Peter Dominic then Thresher, and the grocer's shop became the local branch of the National Provincial Bank, later the Leeds Building Society office.
Hertfordshire Archives and Local Studies
The building now houses Threshers wine merchant (recently closed) and Marshall's Cycles.
Fiona MacDonald
This shows two shops, Beard's men's outfitters and one owned by Mr Savage, cooper and basket-maker, on the other (west) side of the Corn Exchange that were demolished to make way for Market Street in about 1890.
Hertfordshire Archives and Local Studies/Mr Elsden
Market Street still goes down beside the Corn Exchange. There was a covered market behind the Corn Exchange since it was created around 1890 until 1979.
Fiona MacDonald
The Thistledoo luncheon and tea rooms were on the corner of Market Street and Fore Street (31 Fore Street). This photograph was taken in 1926 when Louisa Munday and James Roberts (brother and sister) ran it. Richardson & Schaeffer were the previous owners. It was demolished in the mid-1930s so that the Fore Street end of Market Street could be widened to make way for a bus stop. The bus office opened next door from 1932 until the war years.
Hertfordshire Archives and Local Studies
No sign of the Thistledoo tea rooms now
Fiona MacDonald
The corner of Market Place, looking towards Parliament Square in 1911.
Hertfordshire Archives and Local Studies
Very little has changed since that time. The building with all the pargetting is now the Santander Bank
Fiona MacDonald
Watercolour of the Bell Inn by Luppino, scenery painter at Covent Garden Opera House, at the end of the 18th century (drawn from Market Place).
Hertfordshire Archives and Local Studies
The Bell has been called the Salisbury Arms Hotel since 1800
Fiona MacDonald
We are now looking down Fore Street from Parliament Square (facing east)
Hertfordshire Archives and Local Studies
The buildings haven't changed much since the Victorian times
Fiona MacDonald
This is the other side of Fore Street viewed from Parliament Square. The building on the right (O. E. Bruton) is part of the block which was pulled down to make space for the war memorial. (We do not know the reason for the decorations.)
Hertfordshire Archives and Local Studies/Mr Elsden
The west end of Fore Street as it is today (2010); the war memorial is to the right (not shown).
Fiona MacDonald
These buildings stood on the site which was bequeathed, with the yard behind, to Hertford's Poor Estate, a local charity. It was decided by the charity to build a post office on the site and lease it to the government as a way of gaining income on their property. The high building on the right is the Dimsdale Hotel and next to it is the Talbot Arms, later rebuilt and now The Decorated Room. The shop of Mr Savage, cooper and basketmaker, was demolished to make way for the new Post Office. On the left of this picture is the entrance to Paradise Court. Such courts existed off all the main streets of the town.
Hertfordshire Archives and Local Studies/Mr Elsden
How it looks in 2010.
Fiona MacDonald
This was the Post Office until the new one was built in 1890. The building was then taken over by the Prudential Assurance Co. The corner of the National Westminster (previously Westminster) Bank can be seen on the left.
Hertfordshire Archives and Local Studies/Mr Elsden
A hairdresser's salon now occupies the site of the old Post Office.
Fiona MacDonald
This photograph, taken in 1928, shows Wren's Baker's cart and the Bengeo bus outside the original Post Office building (to the east of the new post office) it had by then been taken over by the Prudential Assurance Co.
Hertfordshire Archives and Local Studies, Ref: Neg.81/AC/2A
These buildings have been altered quite a bit over the years and are now occupied by a hairdresser's and hotel
Fiona MacDonald
Left to right: the Post Office, a charity shop and the Dimsdale Arms, 1979.
Hertfordshire Archives and Local Studies/J. Simons
The buildings remain very much the same, but the former Dimsdale Arms has now become Pizza Express
Fiona MacDonald
An etching of Fore Street in the mid 1800s
Hertfordshire Archives and Local Studies
A similar view in the 1920s or early 30s? (The Thisledoo cafe can be seen on the far right of the picture)
Hertfordshire Archives and Local Studies
Harding's shop, 1928
Hertfordshire Archives and Local Studies
The building remains much the same in 2010 and now houses Jenner's Newsagent and Stowaway Travel
Fiona MacDonald
Looking west from the east end of Fore Street
Hertfordshire Archives and Local Studies
The same view in 2010
Fiona MacDonald
The old Brewery House in 1928
Hertfordshire Archives and Local Studies
The building is almost identical in 2010
Fiona MacDonald
Former alley showing the Fore Street end of the footpath which led to Back Street, now Railway Street, between Young's Brewery (left) and Christ's Hospital School (right).
Hertfordshire Archives and Local Studies/Mr Elsden
The old alley has now been blocked off by a wall
Fiona MacDonald
The impressive entrance to Christ's Hospital School at the far eastern end of Fore Street.
Hertfordshire Archives and Local Studies
The entrance to the former Christ's Hospital School, now mostly offices, has changed little.
Fiona MacDonald

Fore Street was shown on early maps as ‘Highe Stret’ and is the town’s main thoroughfare, wider than any of the other old streets.

Images from the archives shown alongside photographs taken in 2010 show how it has evolved over time. Some things remain the same while others have changed beyond recognition.

Click on the thumbnails below to see full details in the captions and browse through the gallery.

This page was added on 18/03/2011.

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