10 Chequer Street,

St Albans,

First World War


Some time ago I purchased this postcard on ebay because it had showed a soldier on a horse, at an unknown location, taken by a St Albans photographer, L. L. Christmas, and I was buying cheap pictures of First World War troops is the area.

Many of the shops in the old centre of St Albans had long narrow courtyards behind them but I was not expecting to be able to identify which one this was.

  Soldier on horse, back of 10 Chequer Street, St Albans, First World War.

However it was a real photograph, which means you can sometimes get more detail by a high resolution scan and there appeared to be part of a sign visible in the passageway. The top line was not clear, then "...NOLDS" followed by ".. C.V.S."

I had not expected the sign to be something I could identify immediately but my grandfather, Harry Finch ReyNOLDS was a veterinary surgeon (M.R.C.V.S.) who had offices at 10 Chequer Street, St Albans.

A look at the 1897 Ordnance Survey map of St Albans allowed the yard to be identified. The even numbered shops were on the East side of Chequer Street, starting from the South end, and between the fifth and sixth shop is an archway leading to a courtyard which clearly fits the picture.

In addition it is well situated for the military use as, at least in the first year of the war, the Division H.Q. were in the Peahen Hotel, which is the building in the south west corner of the map.


The Google Satellite view shows that the yard is still there, although the buildings have changed.

The horse and rider in the First World War picture was standing in front of the building whose roof forms a distinctive cross and the photographer was where the dot (a pedestrian) can be seen.


Switching to Street View one finds that not only is the archway still there but it is possible to look along the passage into the yard, although no detail is visible.

A check on modern street numbers puts the Cheltenham and Gloucester Building Society as No. 8, with Timpson at No 10.


The family connection (dates from Kelly's directory for Hertfordshire) is that Harry Finch Reynolds moved into 10 Chequer Street by 1908 as a Veterinary Surgeon and was still listed there in 1917, by which time he was away involved in the First World War working with horses (see Purchasing Remounts for the British Army). By 1912 it had opened as the town centre shop for Heath Farm Dairies Co Ltd and following a change of ownership in 1931 became Hertfordshire Farm Dairies. It was still at 10 Chequer St in 1947, but was later taken over by Express Dairies, and the property changed to other uses.



There is one outstanding problem to solve with this picture.

Who is the soldier?

Can you help?

Anyone an expert on interpreting the badges?

October 2013   Page Created