Butcherley Green

Butcherley Green was an area of courts, yards and alleys in the centre of the Hertford.

During the 19th and early 20th centuries it was the most densely populated part of the town. It was also delapidated, disease-ridden and had a fearsome reputation.

The Green, as it was known by many, is today the site of the Bircherley Green shopping centre and bus station. At the turn of the century however, it was a rag-tag collection of tenements and slums. Green Street and Bircherley Street ran from Back Street (now Railway Street) down towards the river, whilst River Street ran parallel to The Lea. Between lay City Street and Middle Green.

Run down dwellings and public houses were home to the poorest residents of the town. Open sewers discharged into the river, there was no running water and drunkenness and violence were commonplace.

Many of the buildings were constructed during the early 19th century by landlords keen to boost their political prospects or those of their chosen candidates. Landlords purchased or leased land and built as many tenements as possible, thereby increasing the number of householders eligable to vote.

The houses were either built of brick or lath and plaster and covered with weatherboarding. There were no side or rear windows and no back doors in many buildings. Water was drawn from shared wells or pumps.

There were a number of pubs on The Green, including The City Arms, The Bricklayers Arms and Butchers Arms. At the north corner of The Green was the Tallow House, where candles were made. Close by was The Ragged School, which opened in 1859 and provided education for poorer children. It later became a Salvation Army hall and was only recently demolished to make way for flats.

In the 1920s, the slums and tenements of The Green were demolished to make way for the bus station and the residents rehoused in new council housing. In 1983 the bus station was redeveloped and the Bircherley Green shopping centre built with a smaller bus station attached.