Hertford Inner Relief Road; Section C
Castle Street, Queen's Road and All Saints' Church
By Bryan Little
The third section of the Hertford Relief Road starts at the confluence of West Street, Castle Street and Pegs Lane. The bypass obliterated end of West Street, continued along the back of the buildings in Castle Street and affected some of the properties at the bottom of Pegs Lane; it dissected Wesley Avenue, which was the entrance into Richard Hale School. The bottom of Queens Road was restructured by the introduction of the relief road. At this point was the construction of the first of two roundabouts and the creation of a new highway called Hale Road, which joined Queen’s Road with Pegs Lane and continued west towards Pegs Lane. Finally, the unkindest cut of all in this part of the bypass was the intersection of consecrated ground that formed part of the churchyard of All Saint’s Church.
The following information has been gleaned from the archives at County Hall, Hertford. In general, the buildings are dealt with from west east and with odd numbers appearing before their equivalent even numbers. The information about the properties lists the number in the road/street, the owner followed by the tenant (if appropriate), the size of the area of land and finally the items numbers in the compulsory purchase order schedule.
The meeting of Castle Street, West Street and Pegs Lane has always held a particular fascination for me. Until I got my hands of the collection of photographs by Peter Ruffles, I could only dream of what the area was like. My thanks go out to Peter Ruffles for allowing me to use his set of photographs to illustrate my article. From the two (2) photographs below, I can form a mental picture of what the area was like before the intrusion of the bypass. The reason why I have included both pictures is that together they say everything there is to know about the locale.
The two photographs provide a panoramic view of the junction, although not to the same scale.
The left-hand photograph shows The White Horse public house with the Gladstone Arms on the corner of Pegs Lane. Hidden behind the pub in Pegs Lane is Chaseside Motors Ltd (you can just see the forecourt). In the distance is no.55 & 57 Castle Street. On the extreme right is the front of A1 Dairies.
The right-hand photograph shows no.57 & 59 Castle Street, with no.61 round the back. You can just see the entrance to West Street. On the extreme right is the site of The Black Swan public house hidden behind the premises of P.T. Stanbridge, bicycle dealer.
Originally Pegs Lane joined County Hall with Hertford town centre. It joined Castle Street and West Street at a busy ‘square’. Chaseside Motor Company Ltd was located on the corner, the footpath known as Water Lane emerged after crossing the River Lea in front of Hertford Castle, Nicholls Brewery was located just inside West Street …and The Black Swan was sited. Has anybody any information about The Black Swan? Was it owned by W.H. Nicholls? What sort of ale did it sell? When was it built & demolished? After the introduction of the bypass, Castle Street was truncated and became a cul-de-sac. It provided vehicle access to Hertford Castle and its grounds.
Castle Street: Odd numbers
The first property in the odd-numbered section of Castle Street is:
61 Castle Street; Hertford Borough Council; 122 sq.m; Item 66
The property purchase by the Ministry of Transport consisted of 122 m2 which was leased by F.C.R. Swallow from the owners; Hertford Borough Council. It is list in the local business directories (eg: Kelly’s) as ‘general store’, which was the forerunner of the modern day ‘corner shop’. Although it sold the things that the locals requested, it was not above having a reputation for selling a mean range of ‘sweeties’.
59 Castle Street; H.A. Fentiman 7 Sons; 78 sq.m; Item 67
This was one of the premises of a local undertaker, which had a reputation for arranging funerals and cremations at moderate prices.
57 Castle Street; Mrs C.M. Cannon; 48 sq.m; Item 68
These premises were listed as a residential property.
55 Castle Street; A.E. Graves & Son; 22 sq.m; Item 69
According to local business directories, a car hire business was operated from these premises.
47 Castle Street; Chaseside Motor Co Ltd; 335 sq.m; Item 70
This garage was the main dealership in Hertford for the Ford Motor Company. It consisted of a show room to sell cars, a workshop to repair and maintain the cars and a forecourt to sell fuel; both petrol and diesel.
45 Castle Street; McMullens & Sons Ltd; 172 sq.m; Item 71
The left-hand photograph shows a side-on view of the Gladstone Arms, while the right-hand photograph shows the full extent of the public house on the corner of Castle Street and Pegs Lane.
The “Gladstone Arms” public house owned by the local brewery (McMullens & Sons Ltd) was one of the casualties of the bypass. Unfortunately, standing as it did in the path of progress; it was right in the middle of the carriageway of the new road. Not only did they take a slice of the land owned by the public house itself, they required some land that formed part of the car park (281 sq.m; Item 77) adjacent to the access-way at the rear of the public house that was to the north-east of Pegs Lane. Also, they bought some of the out-buildings and small parcel of land that belonged to No.37 Castle Street (10 sq.m; Item 73). To match this the Ministry of Transport purchased (203 sq.m; Item 76) from the Hertford Borough Council to complete the job.
The left-hand photograph shows the remains of the Gladstone Arms during its demolition with a partially constructed Sovereign House on the extreme right. The right-hand photograph shows the replacement public house (John O’Gaunt) on the corner of Hale Road and Pegs Lane, with a completed Sovereign House behind.
The council did try to make amends by building another public house further up Pegs Lane at the junction of Hale Road. It was named the John O’Gaunt after John of Gaunt. He was the third son of Edward III and born in Ghent, Holland. He was conferred Hertford Castle by the King in 1360. However, the public house never recovered the trade it lost and was eventually turned into an eatery and night club; known as Elbert Wurlings.
37-41 Castle Street; A. Horton; 37 sq.m; Item 72
Three (3) properties were subsumed into one business when the relief road was built. Most of the existing back gardens lay in the path of the bypass.
~ Castle Street; Thornton Investment Company; 89 sq.m; Item 75
33-35 Castle Street; W.H. Nicholls; 351 sq.m; Item 79
This was a public house known as “The White Horse”. The original owners were Nicholls Brewery of West Street, Hertford (see Section B). The public house still stands there to this day, but has changed ownership and is operated as a Fuller’s Free House. As well as a full range of Fuller’s beers it stocks of guest beers from the small independent brewers. The tiny beer-house has doubled in size from one bar to two. Not only did they take a large slice of the land owned by the public house, they also took part of the yard (11 sq.m; Item 74) and some of the out-buildings (6 sq.m; Item 78) on land which lay to the south-east side of Castle Street.
29 Castle Street; Thornton Investment Company; 374 sq.m; Item 80
The occupier was D.J. Twigden.
25 Castle Street; Thornton Investment Company; 1,438 + 120 sq.m; Item 84/84A
These parcels of land situated to the south of Castle Street former part of No.25 Castle Street and were owned by the Thornton Investment Company.
23 Castle Street ; F.J. Cull; 4,860 sq.m; Item 85
No.23 Castle Street is listed in some publications as “The Walnuts”. The owner and occupier was a F.J. Cull themselves.
21 Castle Street; D.W. Lee, R.F.G. Lee, B.C. Lee; 161 sq.m; 51
The last property on the odd side of Castle Street was No.21 which was a multiple occupancy building. The primary occupier was The British Oak Insurance Company but also it was leased to G.T. Johnson and Mrs M.L. Scarborough-Taylor. Today, it is still an estate agent.
Castle Street: Even numbers
The buildings on the even-numbered side of Castle Street remained remarkable unscathed by the building of the Hertford Relief Road. These included the milk-yard of A1 Dairies, an old red-bricked police station, Longmore’s solicitors and the ’Ice House’ associated with Hertford Castle. The’ Ice House’ was a type of early refrigerator, which used ice cut from the rivers to store food for long periods of time.
The two (2) parcels of land itemised in the compulsory purchase order schedule were:
40 Castle Street; A.E. Halls; 50 sq.m; Item 65
This was the shop run by P.T. Stanbridge originally was listed as a motor cycle dealer but later became known for selling bicycles and accessories. It remained in business after the Hertford Relief Road was opened. The lack of ‘foot-fall’ passing the shop meant that the trade was limited, so eventually it closed.
42 Castle Street; The Trustees of the Salisbury Trust; 805 sq.m; Item 64B
This item included both the house and gardens known as No.42 Castle Street. In one publication it is listed as Castle Bowling Club, with the name T.W. Stackwood against the entry. It also provided access to the Hertford Castle and its grounds.
A small easterly section of Castle Street still remains to this day. It joins one of the roundabouts on the relief road with the junction at Parliament Square.
William Peg had built the first cottages here around 1800 with the County Hall offices being built at the top of the hill around 1935. Hertford District Girl Guide hut was moved from its original location behind the allotment gardens in Pegs Lane to further along West Street. After the introduction of the bypass, the lower portion of road became a cul-de-sac.
This 4-storey modern glass development was constructed on land that used to be occupied by the allotment gardens in Pegs Lane. It was built to house the government agencies that were ‘orphaned’ all over Hertford in the building of the relief road. These included H.M. Inspector of Taxes for the Inland Revenue, Family Practitioner’s Committee, Magistrates’ Court Administration Services, Job Centre and Social Services.
In 1881 Queen’s Road was shown as Bayleyhall Road. I assume its renaming was something to do with Queen Victoria. Queen’s Road used to veer to the left at the bottom of the hill where it joined Castle Street via a T-junction. The road to the left was the B158 towards Hatfield whilst the other way led to Hertford town centre via Parliament Square. The portion of road that struck out to the right near the bottom of the road provided vehicular access to All Saints’ Church. It seems that the bottom of Queen’s Road was a magnet for the medical profession. Not only were there the practices of Dr Hotson and Dr Jory; on the other side if the road was the surgery of Dr Fowler on the easterly corner of Queen’s Road and Castle Street.
The photograph shows the lower section of Queen’s Road prior to the construction of Hale Road with Bayley Hall at the bottom of the hill. I believe the houses at no.12& 14 were sacrificed in the building of the short section of Hale Road.
Queen’s Road: Odd numbers
The ‘kink’ to the left at the bottom of Queen’s Road was cut in half by the relief road. Luckily in the course of the construction of the bypass no houses on the odd-numbered side of Queen’s Road were hurt. No.1 Queen’s Road had been used as the police station for Hertford during WII but subsequently it had been used as council office for the probation service, child welfare and youth employment office.
Queen’s Road: Even numbers
There were a number of properties listed in the compulsory purchase order (CPO) schedule at the bottom of Queens Road. These lay in the path of the Hertford Relief Road and therefore had to be demolished ‘for the sake of progress’.
2 Queen’s Road; Dr J. Hotson; 1056 sq.m; Item 87
The photograph shows Dr Hotson’s surgery on the corner of Castle Street and the lower section of Queen’s Road (hence the road sign). The demolition board is already erected indicating the eventual fate of the building. In the distance can be seen the crane used in the construction of Sovereign House.
This property was the surgery of Dr Hotson, one of the local general practitioners (GP) in the area. It was located south-east of the junction of Castle Street and Queen’s Road. It was right in centre of the roundabout which joined the bypass to the town centre of Hertford. Dr Hotson relocated his surgery to 34 Queens’ Road in a converted residential property; later he retired and moved up the hill to Morgan’s Road.
4 Queens’ Road; L. Purkiss-Ginn; 3940 sq.m; Item 88
This very large portion of land comprised the house and part of the garden that was known locally as ‘Nut Walk’. It occupied the site listed as No. 4 Queen’s Road lying as it did to the south of Queen’s Road. It belonged to a family with the grand double-barrelled surname of Purkiss-Ginn.
6 Queens’ Road; Dr H. Jory; 398 sq.m; Item 89
There is some contradictory evidence as to what this property was used for. In the 1965 Kelly’s Directory this was listed as a residential property housing; owned by Gregson-Williams, R. However in Compulsory Purchase Order schedule 1962 it was listed as another medical property belonging to the physician Dr. H. Jory.
10 Queens’ Road; L. W.C. Carpenter; 820 sq.m; Item 90
12-14 Queens’ Road; If these properties every existed, I assume they stood on the plots that were sacrificed to make way for the construction ofHale Road, which was created in order to connect Queens’ Road with the new roundabout on the bypass and provide vehicular access to Hertford town centre.
16 Queens Road; A. Smith; 26 sq.m; Item 91
Item 91 on the Compulsory Purchase Order schedule was a small section of the garden to round off the carriageway from Queen’s Road into Hale Road. The premises was a multiple-occupancy property owned by A. Smith but inhabited by Mr. & Mrs. Murphy; Mr. & Mrs. Miller; Mrs Judd and Miss Dyball.
8 Church Street; P.L. Neal; 532 sq.m; Item 93
This parcel of land lay adjacent to the carriageway which formed part of the relief road. It joined the small section at the lower-numbered end Queens’ Road cut adrift by the bypass with the pedestrian underpass at All Saints’ Church. The land formed part of ‘The Old Vicarage’ on the even-numbered side of Church Street right at the very end leading to All Saints’ Church, which backed on to Bayley Hall.
Bayley Hall is considered by some to be the best example of a Georgian house in Hertford. It is unclear exactly when the original house was built (around circa 1700), who owned it or who lived in it but it was referred to as the manor house. Above is the clearest photograph/drawing of Bayley Hall I could find which dated back to circa around the turn of the century. In 1900 it was purchased by William Cowper for the use of Hertford Grammar School. It became the Headmasters House and boarding home for many of the schools pupils. The Board of Education retained its right to sell the property and used it as local government offices; including Clerk to the Justice, Petty Sessions of Juvenile Court, County Planning Office, District County Court, Borough Civil Defence to name but a few. Some of the leafy forecourt surrounding Bailey Hall was lost when the bypass was built.
The hazy photograph of Bayley Hall is the best example of the building I can find.
All Saints’ Churchyard
The Incumbent (at the time of the compulsory purchase order schedule) of All Saints’ Church, Rev. C. Perowne; 1950 sq.m; Item 94
The photograph shows a misty tower of All Saints’ Church in the distance, while the tree-line section of the churchyard indicates what was surrendered to the building of the relief road. In the foreground are the wrought-iron gates which provided pedestrian access to the church from the town centre.
This is a section of land laying to the north-west of All Saints’ Church and formed part of the churchyard. It formed part of Ordinance Survey Item No. 246, Herts Sheet XXIX 15; 1923 Edition. All Saints’ Church is constructed in red Runcorn sandstone with an architectural style classified as Gothic Revival (Perpendicular). It is a Grade II listed building built in the late 19th Century on the site of a medieval place of worship, which dates back to the time of the Domesday Survey. There was a major fire in 1891 which gutted the church. It was rebuilt in the form of a cross with a tower at the westerly end. The spire was added at a later date.
The footway entrance to All Saints’ Church was through the gates at the bottom of Church Street, which remains shut most of the year. It is used once a year for the Remembrance Day service at memorial in Parliament Square. The vehicular access to All Saints’ Church was severed by the relief road and obliterated a car park used by members of the congregation
The relief road sliced through part of All Saints’ churchyard cut the link between church and Hertford and took part of the churchyard. The remains of those buried there had to be re-interred in another part of the churchyard. The house to the left was occupied by H.A. Fentiman; as well as providing the services of an undertaker they afforded sextons for the church.
|Smallest||35 Castle Street, (6 sq.m) from W.H. Nicholls Brewery|
|Largest||23 Castle Street, (4860 sq.m) owned by F.J. Cull|
|Total parcels of land||28|
|Total area||18,295 sq.m|