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Notes for a talk on

Brick Pits and other Old Holes on Bernards Heath

by Chris Reynolds

Presented at the St Albans & District Local History Autumn Conference

on 22nd October at the Verulamium Museum

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The Hole in Fontmell Close, September 2015

This picture, and the events of September 2015 in Fontmell Close, make it clear why people are asking "What is under the ground on Bernards Heath, St Albans." I will be looking at why people dug holes in the area and what happened to them.

The Biographical note I provided to the Conference Organisers

After taking early retirement from Brunel University Chris Reynolds developed an interest in family and local history and now runs the Genealogy in Hertfordshire web site His great grandfather, Jacob Reynolds, was a tenant of Heath Farm and as a result Chris has carried out extensive research on Bernards Heath, including publishing the booklet A Short History of Bernards Heath. He has also written a book about Hemel Hempstead during the First World War, The London Gunners come to Town.

Further Family Background information:

I was born in St Albans shortly before the war, while my father was poultry farming at Sandridge on part of Hammonds Farm - and family connections with the farm  go back to around 1800, if not earlier. However I was brought up in the West Country and returned to Hertfordshire in 1962. My great grandfather Jacob Reynolds took over Heath Farm (from Hammonds) in 1871 and in addition to being a major milk supplier in St Albans became involved with brick making, as some of the brick pits were on his former fields. A member of the family was living in either Heath Farm (until it was demolished) or in a home built on the Home meadow into the 21st century. My grandfather, Harry Reynolds, built Calverton (the house at the start of Harpenden Road, looking down St Peters Street) and was a vet who worked with horses. For a time he also was a job master, which included running the St Albans waste collection service, and his men were tipping the rubbish into disused brick pits on Heath Farm in the early 20th century. For a time Beryl Grove (Jacob's grand-daughter) lived in a flat in Heath Farm and did some preliminary research on the farm prior to its demolition. I talked to her about working together to write a history of Heath Farm. After her death I collected a lot of information about the Farm and the surrounding area, including identifying many of the brickmakers. Some of the findings have been posted on this web site.

Additional Information relating to Bernards Heath & Brickmaking

Bernards Heath

A Short History of Bernards Heath

The Brickmakers of St Albans

Brick Pits & other old holes

How Bricks were made by hand.

Poaching and Petty Thieving in St Albans

The Road through Harpenden

October 2016   Page Created