BALDERSON, Boxmoor Wharf, Hemel Hempstead, 19th/20th Century



Hemel Hempstead

Chris Balderston (hdwurzel @t of Basingstoke, Hants, writes I am the UK Vice President of the Balderston/son/stone family association, with many member in the world. A friend of mine was on holiday in Devon this week and phoned me to say he had seen a large stone jar with Balderson and Son Boxmoor Wharf on it, which he purchased for me for £17 a bargain!! I do not know of any part of the family coming from this area. We come from  Lancashire/Yorkshire/Lincoln/Norfolk so who were this part of the family. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

As I am sure you will realise, I don't have time to run this site and provide open ended help for people researching a surname. For instance you can easily check up on online records such as the 1881 census, for yourself. However I can say something about the Balderson involvement with Boxmoor Wharf, and your stone jar.

Balderson's, Boxmoor Wharf
from Boxmoor in Camera 

The Grand Junction Canal (now Grand Union Canal) was built between London and Birmingham and opened in 1800. In Hertfordshire it ran up the valleys of the Gade and the Bulbourne. At Two Waters, Hemel Hempstead, these rivers met, and the canal wharf built near this point was Boxmoor Wharf. The Book of Boxmoor, in describing the canal where it crosses Boxmoor, says:

The earliest record of a local boat was No 2217 registered to Messrs Howard and Son, Boxmoor, on 26th June 1818. (A George Howard was associated with Boxmoor Wharf in the mid 1800s.) The best known of the lessees in the 19th century was Mr. Balderson, who took over the lease in 1856. Henry Balderson was a notable figure in the town; he was a dealer in coal, coke, stone, corn, and timber. He was probably better known nationally as an importer of wines and spirits, especially for his port and Olde Stone Jar Whiskey. The former came in from Oporto in great barrels, brought down from London by canal and then bottled at the Wharf. The boats were called Mildred and Ellen. His son, Robert Henry, joined the firm in 1890. There is no further record of the name after 1926/7, when it is believed that the business went into liquidation.

In 1947 Mr. L Rose of St Albans expanded his interest in refining lime juice and lime oil by moving to Boxmoor Wharf. ' Rose's Lime Juice' was one of the final companies to use the canal commercially in the area. The 'barrel run' took about 12 hours from Brentford to Boxmoor and Tom Murrell with his son Jason were the last regular boatmen. ... The site is now leased to B & Q by the Boxmoor Trust.

I remember the end of the canal trade to the Wharf. I moved to a house a few hundred yards from Boxmoor Wharf in November 1962. On Christmas eve a couple of working barges moored for Christmas, and the canal started to freeze over. It was an exceptionally cold winter and the barges were locked in the ice for a month or more. The trade may have continued for a short time afterwards - but the great frost was clearly the final straw.

The Bell, at Two Waters
from Hemel Hempstead in Camera

Finally I note that the 1851 Post Office Directory includes Robert Balderson, Bell Inn, Two Waters, Hemel Hempstead. (Not to be confused with the Bell Inn, High Street, Hemel Hempstead.)

February, 2008


The large white-roofed building and it car park are on the site of Boxmoor Wharf

Bill Balderson (wmbaldy @t, of  Manassas, VA, U.S.A., requested additional information, including the location of Corner Hall and Lawn Lane and an update of recently available information is appropriate.

Boxmoor Wharf is part of the land owned by the Box Moor Trust and in 2004 the book Royalty to Commoners: Four Hundred Years of the Box Moor Trust was published, based to a significant extent to the Box Moor Trust archives. As a result the book includes a detailed account of the Wharf from the construction of the Canal over Box Moor Trust land in 1797 to current use as a B & Q Store, with details of the various occupiers during in intervening two centuries. There are pictures, maps, and even the copy of a 19th century poster advertising the Wharf to let. The book also includes many references (and a portrait) to Henry Balderson, who was a trustee of the Trust from 1871 until his death in 1908.

October 2018

Roy Wood (Vice Chairman & Honorary Secretary - Hemel Hempstead Local History & Museum Society) provided the following extract from his 'Inns and Public Houses of Hemel Hempstead' project:

'While in this area we stop to look at the Needlecraft shop on Cotterells which was originally a Port Shop where people could meet and sample the imports of Balderson’s Wine and Spirits Merchants. The building was purchased by Mabel Millicent Balderson in 1891 when its address was actually 1 The Villas!

The name Balderson also has an interesting story attached to it. The Company was started by one Mr Osbaldeston who was butler and manservant to Sir Astley Paston Cooper, Surgeon and doctor to both George IV (The Madness of) and Queen Victoria. The story is that Sir Astley could not be bothered to use his butler’s actual name, and told him to change it to Balderson which he duly did. He was later rewarded for his loyalty when Cooper gave him a farm in Warners End, and founded his wine importing business, using the canal to bring the shipments up to Balderson’s Wharf as we know it today'.

So, as you can see his name was actually Osbaldeston - NOT a member of the Balderson family as such.

September 2003   Original question and answer
February 2008   Post from Bill Balderston
October 2018   Post from Roy Woo