Genealogy in Hertfordshire

Hemel Hempstead in 1955



Hemel Hempstead

Hemel Hempstead Official Guide, 1955  

Hemel Hempstead

Official Guide





Forward Hemel Hempstead - The Modern Town

The Town in History

The Parish Church

The Moor

Round and About Hemel Hempstead

General Information

A Review off Industry

Street Plan of Hemel Hempstead


The Borough of



GEOGRAPHICALLY Hemel Hempstead has a lovely situation. It lies in the valleys of the Rivers Gade and Bulbourne on the ridges of the Chiltern Hills, 25 miles from the west end of London. The town has a strong sense of civic pride in its central administration. Years ago Hemel Hempstead was, and indeed to some extent still is, geographically divided into three distinct parts. To the north is the old town of Hemel Hempstead with its narrow, attractive old shopping centre in the High Street. It is hoped, and indeed expected, that this shopping centre will be preserved as a contrast to the large, new shopping centre rapidly rising south of the old High Street. Hard upon the High Street lies the Norman Parish Church. This is the part of Hemel Hempstead most steeped in history. To the west lies Boxmoor. This district is residential and developed with the railway. Easy rail access from Boxmoor to London is a great convenience for the many who live there and travel daily to London to work. To the south lies Apsley, which owes its development mainly to the great paper mills of John Dickinson's, whose commercial transactions spread over the globe, and provide employment for thousands of the town's inhabitants. These three parts are being more closely linked by the new neighbourhoods of Adeyfield, Leverstock Green, Bennetts End, Chaulden, Gadebridge and Highfield. The town possesses two extensive and picturesque open spaces. The first is known as the Moor, from which Boxmoor derives its name and which provides a convenient lung of about 300 acres. The second is Gadebridge Park, which the Borough Council bought in 1954. Adeyfield, half a mile up the hill from the parish church, was quite recently mainly agricultural and was served only by the bus to and from Harpenden. Now it is a thriving community of ten thousand people, with their own shopping centre and church, the foundation stone of which was laid by Her Majesty the Queen in 1952. At Bennetts End, which lies between Adeyfield and Apsley, a large residential neighbourhood has been created in recent years and similar development is taking place at Chaulden, Warners End, Gadebridge and Highfield.

The borough is bounded by a number of small hamlets. Half a mile to the north of the abrupt end of the High Street shopping centre is Piccotts End, which is set in a completely rural scene. This unusual transformation from town to country is to be retained in the plan of the new borough; to the west of Boxmoor lies the pleasant village of Bourne End; and to the east is the picturesque hamlet of Leverstock Green, the character of which it is hoped to preserve in its further development.

From no point in Hemel Hempstead today is one more than five or six minutes from rural England at its very best. The sylvan surroundings of typical Chiltern country and a belt of rich pasture land are on the very doorstep of the borough. From its source three miles away in Gaddesden, the Gade meanders through undulating fields and wooded parkland, and,

almost at right angles, from the direction of Berkhamsted flows the swifter Bulbourne. The rivers meet at the southern edge of the moor, known as Two Waters, and passing this point is Grand Union Canal. Here at Two Waters the London Transport Executive, who provide transport in the borough, have built a large Regional Transport Depot serving a wide area.

The Borough of Hemel Hempstead is one of the eight new towns around London, established since the war as part of the plan for decentralisation. The development in Hemel Hempstead has now reached an interesting stage. During 1954 an average of ten new residents moved into Hemel Hempstead every day. Eleven thousand new inhabitants have been housed and the 1954-55 constructional programme of the Hemel Hempstead Development Corporation, under whose direction the work is proceeding, maintains an annual rate of 1,200 new dwellings and, in 1954, provided for 300,000 sq. ft. of factory space. The road pattern of the town is being reorganised. A wide arterial road now known as St. Albans Road connects the town centre with Adeyfield, Bennetts End and the road to St. Albans. Another road, Warner's End Road, connecting the western neighbourhoods with the town centre, is now complete. The Borough Council, co-operating in highway development, are improving the Plough junction, the busy entrance to the new town centre, providing a large traffic roundabout and dual carriageways, thus making a worthy approach. Work will also go forward in providing a direct approach from the new industrial area through Adeyfield into the town centre by the widening of Fernville Lane. The main attraction to the visitor to Hemel Hempstead in search of something new is undoubtedly the building of the town's shopping centre in Marlowes, which will be the most modern of any town in the United Kingdom. Practically the whole of the west side of Marlowes is under reconstruction. At the north end a new town square is complete; this gives access to the new 'bus terminal, while the almost continuous run of shop frontage along Marlowes will be inter­ spersed from time to time by pedestrian ways. There will be a Close specially designed to accommodate the banks and other professional offices. The construction of Waterhouse Street alongside which run the Water Gardens and the river, has revealed a view which has not been seen by the public for hundreds of years.

By the end of 1955 a further sixty-five new shops in Marlowes will be open and 10,000 sq. ft. of office space on the upper floors of these buildings occupied at the same time. Further big additions to the trading capacity of the town will be apparent by the spring of 1956. At that time Woolworths, Boots and Sainsburys are due to finish their buildings, while Burtons, Dolcis and Timothy Whites will all be occupying new premises designed by some of the foremost architects of the day. New offices for the National Provincial Bank and Westminster Bank are being planned and by the summer of 1956 the 135,000 store for the Hemel Hempstead and Berkhamsted Co-operative Society is due to be completed.


Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II with the Mayor and Bailiff of Hemel Hempstead during her visit to the Borough in July 1952


A copy of this Guide, which turned up in France, was kindly provide by Daniel Harris.

The following books relate to the development of the New Town

Hemel Hempstead - New Town From Old

Dacorum within Living Memory

 Hemel Hempstead: The story of New Town development

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