Hidden Hertford

As we walk around the town there are some things that escape our notice - things that are hidden in plain sight.

This article looks at some of the less obvious features and objects to be found above our heads and beneath our feet that can easily be overlooked.

Street Lighting

In 1825 there were at least 40 gas lamps in the town's streets plus a watchman. The lamps were powered by a gas works in Mead Lane that produced coal gas.

The gas lamp shown above can be found in Ware Road on the boundary wall of Christ's Hospital (Bluecoats) close to the junction with Mill Road.

Before the advent of street lighting people could hire link-boys to carry a flaming torch or link to illuminate the way. At the end of a journey these torches could be extinguished in snuffers installed in the street. Such a pair of snuffers can be found on the side of the Old Verger's House in St.Andrew Street.

Young's Brewery

Young's Brewery stood in South Street behind what is now The Jungle Bar public house.

The Brewery operated from 1754 until 1897. It was later demolished and the land incorporated in to Christ's Hospital.

The cellar openings in South Street are all that remain of the brewery.

The owner lived in Red House, which was built around the same time as the brewery.

County Gaol

The County Gaol in Ware Road was built during the latter half of the 18th century, replacing an earlier gaol in Fore Street on the site now occupied by The Corn Exchange. The gaol closed in 1879 and was demolished in 1888. However, some remains can be found if you know where to look.

Manufactory House in Bell Lane was built around 1827 and is a cast iron framed structure.

The building was the workshop of James Nunn, a locksmith, ironmonger, whitesmith and bell-hanger who traded from 18 Fore Street, now the premises of Giambrone's.

The sign that hung outside the premises is now in Bull Plain, on the side of Hertford Museum.

On the first floor of the workshop was a loading door - now replaced by a window. However, the iron bracket that was used as a hoist is still in position and can be just just to the right.

The shop sold a wide variety of items including iron hurdles, wire netting, glass, cutlery, lamps and tools to general ironmongery, until 1901.

Boundary Posts

This 1882 boundary post in Ware road marks the extent of the Hertford Municipal Borough.

This would have been open land at the time, the built town extending no further that Currie Road (now Street).

Smoke Outlet

This metal plate can be found in the pavement outside 44a St.Andrew Street, currently occupied by St.Andrew's Pharmacy.

The building was a private residence in 1911.

Fore Street

In the days of the horse drawn carriage, shop awnings were supported by poles inserted in to kerb stones. This can be seen in the photo above in the shops to the left of the street.

The holes used for these supports can still be found in the kerbstones outside the original buildings.

GPO Cabinet

This cast iron telecoms cabinet in Castle Street was made when the UK telephone system was run by the General Post Office (GPO).

The GPO was abolished in 1969, although some cabinets would have been installed for a period after this date until stocks ran out.

The Victorian Internet

The electric telegraph was a Victorian hub-to-hub text message system.

Messages were transmitted between telegraph offices, with final distribution on paper done by hand.

The Electric Telegraph Company was founded in 1846 and nationalised in 1870 when it became part of The General Post Office (GPO).

The system went into decline as telephones became more widespread in the early 20th century.

This manhole can be found in Mill Road opposite the East Station.

Kerbstone H

A number of kerbstones around the town feature an imprinted letter H.

This is believed to indicate a nearby fire hydrant.

This example can be found in Bull Plain.

Former Pubs

Beer cellar doors are a good indication that a building was previously a pub. The doors provided direct access to the cellar from street level. Beer barrels would be unloaded from lorries and sent down from street level directly in to the cellar.

The example above is in Russell Street, outside the former Greyhound pub (not to be confused with the pub of the same name in Bengeo Street).

17 Old Cross was once The Ship Inn and the cellar doors can still be seen in front of the building. The pub was established in 1890 and closed in 1974.

The Cranbourne Arms

The property in the middle of this photo was once The Cranbourne Arms public house, which traded from around 1850 to 1954.

The building was leased to the Wickham Brewery and eventually taken over by Wells & Winch in 1938.

A panel with faded lettering can be seen on the wall to the right of the front door.

The sign reads "... Cross. Wholesale and retail tobacco, cigars and pipes"

This may be a reference to the tobacconist shop run by C.Law at 5 Old Cross (now Perrins).

72 Fore Street

The Big Four banks all occupied premises in Fore Street, with Lloyds Bank at No.72 before moving to Bircherley Green and more recently Market Place.

Barclays Bank occupied the premises next door that is now The Practitioner.

Another Boundary Marker

This boundary marker is for the parish of All Saints and can be found in the wall of 24 Castle Street, occupied by Longmores Solicitors.

The 18th century building is the former gatehouse and lodge for the castle.

St.Andrew's Church

The church in St.Andrew Street was rebuilt in 1870, replacing an smaller 15th century church that was in poor repair.

The tower was added 5 years later, built by Earl Cowper of Panshanger and Mr.Robert Smith of Goldings.

Whilst most of the old church has been lost, the new building retains the old 15th century doorway.

Some memorials and slabs from the previous church can also be found in the nave and transepts.

Hertford Priory

The 11th century priory occupied the land to the east of the town and was suppressed in 1583.

Carved stones believed to have formed part of the priory or its church can be found in the churchyard of St.Joseph's Church in St.John's Street.

War Department Marker

This cornerstone can be found in London Road in the north-east corner of the fire station site.

The fire station occupies land that was previously the Herts Militia barracks.

The Queen's Head

These two terracotta circular reliefs of the heads of Queen Victoria and Elizabeth I can be found above 61 Fore Street

The premises were formerly The Queen's Head public house and now occupied by Dirties.

The mid-19th century building also features four tall ornamental Tudor style cream terracotta chimney pots.

You can find out more about Hertford Priory and the gaol by visiting our history section.

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This article was first published on 24th October 2020.