later  North Watford


During the second half of the 19th century Watford grew by leaps and bounds, and development to the north along the St Albans Road was first referred to as Watford New Town, and then Callowland. The book Street and Place Names in Watford records that Callowland was purchased by the Earl of Essex in 1881 from the Master and Fellows of Merton College, Oxford, and was opened up for housing development in the 1890s. There appears to have been some opposition to the name and in 1916 the area was renamed North Watford. The railway station on the St Albans branch line was renamed in 1927.

This page briefly looks at what happened to Callowland Farm, and ends with some early postcards of St Albans Road, North Watford

The large scale Ordnance map (See Old Maps) of 1883 shows Callowland Farm surrounded by fields, as it was in 1800, although there are building developments along St Albans Road not far to the south. The 1881 census  shows that the farmer was Adam Johnston (36) with his wife Jemima (35) and children Jessie (7), Robert John (4) and Jane Ann (2). The farm had 160 acres and employed 5 men and 3 boys. He is listed in the 1890 Kelly's Directory as farmer at Callow land and Bushey Hall Farm.


In the 1891 census the farmer at Callowland Farm was Joseph Bird and in the 1895 Kelly's Directory he is listed as a farmer at "Callowland, Newtown".


In January 1895 the Watford Observer (Nunn, The Book of Watford, 1st Edition) reported "New Streets - The Board have during the past year approved plans for making and sewering 7 new streets:- Garfield-street, 173 yards long; Shakespear-street, 190 yards long; Parker-street, 158; Milton-street, 208; Cecil-street, 208; Judge-street, 193; Ridge-street, 188. Total 1318 yards. The whole of the above streets are in the Callow Land district, and some are now in the course of construction."

Development was obviously encroaching on the farm and Joseph Bird is not listed in the 1899 directory. Callowland school was erected in 1895 and the 1902 Kelly's Directory shows a "Dr Tibbles Vi Cocoa Limited, Callowland".


Callow Land in 1902
from Watford Observer Supplement
June 25, 1999]

The  above post card was produced in "The Clarendon Series," is numbered A 05090, and may have been published about 1903. The group, three carrying fishing rods and one a landing net, is clearly not the normal farmer group one might expect - and wonder if one of the group is Dr. Tibbles. One end of a flat roof can be seen, one end fixed below the date of 1794 on the old farm building, suggesting modification of the area for industrial use.

See also North Watford History Group Web Site for more information including the site's later history.


Luton News 26th August, 1897

Dr Tibble's Vi-Cocoa Factory burning down,

Feburary 7, 1903

1908 Kelly's Directory reports that "St George's temporary church, Callowland, is also a chapel of ease to St Andrews." There was a Baptist Chapel in Leavesden Road (Callowland) under the Rev. Thomas Miller Johnson. The two schools at Callowland had an average attendances of 460 boys, 239 girls and 240 infants. A firm called Bolsselier's Chocolates were chocolate manufacturers at Victoria Works, Callowland, and the Watford Manufacturing Co. Ltd. are listed as coca and chocolate manufacturers. There was also a firm called Freeman & Hildyard:


Freeman & Hildyard, table specialities; jellies, baking & blancmange powder manufacturers (Watford Manufacturing Co. Limited, proprietors), Victoria works, Callowland. TA "Teascupfil, Watford;" TN 102 Watford.

The Book of Watford, 2nd Edition, contains several paragraphs on the early history of the Callowland developments.

The history of Callowland Farm is available on History Pieces [direct link].

See also Callowland Schools

St Albans Road, North Watford

St Albans Road,

Valentine card No 60951
Photo taken 1908
posted 1909

The shops disappearing into the distance were occupied (1908 Kelly's Directory) by :

47 & 49 Gilbert, Alice M (Mrs)  milliner
51 Bushey Laundry Limited  
53 Hewitt, Ellen Amy (Mrs) baker
55 Tucker, R & sons cycle & motor engineers
57 Dench, J & A dyers & cleaners
 57a Mendham, Francis Geo. beer retailer
This was known as "The Jolly Gardener"
59 & 61 Chamberlain, Frank stationer
65 Ainsworth, Ellen Alice (Mrs) ladies outfitter
67 Harris, Thomas Edward dairyman
69 Hotson, Trafalgar boot maker
71 Mooney, Emma M (Mrs) confectioner
73 Baker, Charles tobacconist
75 Childs, Clement hair dresser
77 Myddleton, Albert William news agent
79 Drew, Robert White Lion Public House
81 Walter, Frederick boot maker
83 Lucas & Co cycle makers
85 Curtis, Ebenezer Jn. perambulator maker

St Albans Road, Watford St Albans,

Card published by the London View Co and posted in 1907. The picture also appears on a multi-view card posted in 1906.

The shop on the corner has meat joints hanging in the window and carries the sign Family Butcher with the name Fisher. It must be that of Francis Fisher 101 St Albans Road, in the 1908 Kelly's Directory. Next comes Valentine & Leonard, clothiers, 101a St Albans Road, with their sign at roof level. The building with the creeper on the front is that of the doctor, Rudyard Henry Ashton LRCP London, MRCS Eng, LSA, surgeon, 103 St Albans Road. Beyond are the following shops.

107 Buss, Richard draper
109 Garment & Sons grocers
111 Ridgeway, Edwin boot maker
113 Buck, Philip confectioner & refreshment contractor
117 Kettle, Wm Burling florist & seedman
119 Smith, W H & Son  stationers & booksellers
121 Ensom, David D tobacconist
121b Porter, Harry Percival grocer
123 Owles, Archibald Charles draper
125 Wigg, Edward ironmonger
129 Fleming, Ernest hair dresser
watford-st-albans-road-03 St Albans Road,

No publisher details, card printed in Bavaria with back suggesting circa 1903

I have not yet identified the large creeper-covered house in the picture

The Isle of Wight Rifles marching out of town along St Albans Road on their way to fight at Gallopoli, July 1914

Picture by Harry R Cull, whose shop. 169 St Albans Road, can be seen on the other side of the road. 

  Isle of Wight Regiment marching along St Albans Road, Watford, 1915

See also North Watford History Group Web Site


Page created August 2007
Updated with additional external links, October 2009

Picture of IOW Rifles added  October 2011

Vi-Cocoa "advert" added November 2014