History of Park Street

The landscape of Park Street was formed by the last Ice Age. The leading edge of the ice stopped in a ragged line extending as far as Edgware and its retreat left the gravel deposits, the excavation of which has provided employment for residents since Roman times. The land was a dense forest set in a swampy terrain. Early residents lived in clearings near high points or next to rivers. They created trackways, one of which ran from Prae Wood to the River Ver. The line of this track is still evident from Burston Manor through How Wood via Burston Drive and Hyde Lane.

When the Romans built Watling Street they discovered an established Belgic settlement set on a high point above the Ver. This they later developed into a villa that had a grain store, rooms heated by a hypocaust, a bath house and a wharf at the river. They traded by way of the river with the important local town of Verulamium (now St Albans). The villa survived for almost 300 years and was excavated during and immediately after WWII. No trace remains on site but two burials in stone coffins were found and are now on display in Verulamium Museum.

When the Romans left the Saxons, then the Danes and finally the Normans controlled the area that included what by then had become the Hamlet of Parkye. During that time Burston Farm had thrived and was the largest local farm.

The Abbots of the St Albans Monastery owned much of the local land. It was the abbots who took over the mill at Park Street and local people provided much of the labour and services for the farms.

The following years saw many changes of ownership of land but the staple activity remained farming, well into modern times. It was the Victorians who accelerated change in Park Street because they introduced the railway and improved roads. This gave the ordinary citizens the ability to travel cheaply and quickly thus extending their scope for work or trade. The railway enabled a Park Street resident to expand and exploit his business growing watercress. Ownership of estates attracted successful businessmen as residents and the villages of Park Street, Frogmore and Colney Street began to coalesce into one ribbon development.

Burston Farm was sold in 1923 and the land split up for housing and smallholdings. Park Street expanded rapidly, attracting people from the aircraft, railway and printing industries. Over time the smallholdings began to be re-sold and split to provide more dwellings. In 1930 aircraft manufacturer Handley Page moved to Colney Street, expanded into Frogmore and eventually into Park Street.

After WWII improvements in transport and living standards increased the ownership of cars and supermarkets began to appear. This was the death knell of many of the farms and almost all of the smallholdings. With the closure of the aircraft industry, reduction of printing and the electrification of the railways residents changed to a wider range of employment and Park Street became a dormitory village.

By Tony Stevens, Park Street & Frogmore Society

  1. Robert Sharp

    Many of my direct desendants were born in Frogmore,Park Street & Colney Street.
    I have so far traced back to William Sharp b. 1801 ,Thomas Sharp b.1832 & my Grandfather B1886,all born in the civil parish of St.Stephens and ecclesiastical parish of Frogmore.The 1901 census gives my grandfathers birth place as ‘Redcow, which I am presuming is the Redcow pub mentioned in the Wikipedia details of Park Street.
    Any further details, references or clues to further information would be greatly appreciated.
    Thank you,

    Robert Sharp

  2. Thanks for your site. My name is James Sharp my gggrandfather was James Sharp1791 b St Stephens. My ggrandfather was James Sharp 1826 b St Stephens. Both married local girls. I guess that Robert’s William Sharp b1801 Stands a good chance of being my James b1891 brother!
    I would appreciate email contact with Robert Sharp.
    Thank you again Jim Sharp

  3. My GG Grandfather was Amos Hopkins who lived and worked in Park Street. I believe he had a milk / grocers shop in Branch Road, Park Street in 1901. Are there any photos in local books of Park Street?
    If anyone can give me any other details I would be very grateful.
    Many thanks
    S Andrews

  4. My 6xgrt grandfather was Ralph Bayl(e)y who mentions in his will, a copyhold property in Park Street. He also owned a house in St. Albans. Ralph among other things was a Malster. He had four daughters, Elizabeth who married a Robert Smith, Sarah married William Smith , Ann married John Malkin and Mary who married my 5 x grt grandfather John Fallover.
    If anyone knows whereabouts or anything about the above family, I would be very grateful.
    Thank you Maxine Maughan

  5. My Great Great Great Grandfather was George Beament. He was the Miller and living at the mill with his family from 1841 to his death in 1873

  6. John Hopkins

    Amos Hopkins was my great great grandfather William’s brother – he is buried in Watford’s Vicarage Road cemetery – one of his grandsons – Frank Hopkins was killed in WW1 and is commemorated on the St Alban’s war memorial – can provide more info on the Hopkins family if required

  7. Hi John
    Thanks for the information. If you have more details on the History of the family and it’s association with Park Street we would love to hear it.
    Perhaps we could maybe use it as a basis for an article in the next edition of Park Street News.
    If you would like to send it over, please forward to info@psra.org.uk and we can forward on to the editors of the News.

    Thanks
    Graham

  8. Hi, i am looking for any photos of Branch Road, in the early 1900’s, when some of the properties were shops, can anyone help please, Many thanks

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: