This exhibition shows photographs of North Hertfordshire towns and villages dating from the 1850s to the 1950s. Some views look almost the same today, but others show buildings and landscapes that have changed beyond recognition.

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Harvest time in Lilley, about 1900

Threshing at Lilley using a traction engine and mechanical threshing machine. The thresher was made by Ransomes of Ipswich, a company which made ‘thrashing’ machines from 1841 until 1974.

Ashwell Post Office, about 1896

Ashwell High Street, with the Post Office at Christy’s Store. The view dates from about 1896 when Abram Christy was ‘Grocer and Postmaster’. He and his father, John Hart Christy, were listed as agents for the Royal Farmers’ Agricultural and Commercial Insurance Company.

Royston Market in 1916 or 1919

Royston formerly had two market places: one along High Street/King Street and Kneesworth Street, a second between Fish Hill and Market Hill. The market was held mainly in the second by the nineteenth century. The produce on sale looks like food for livestock: hay and mangelwurzels (beets). During the Middle Ages, the Augustinian Priory controlled fairs and markets in the growing community. It was responsible for creating a second market place at Fish Hill and Market Hill, perhaps in 1224. It lay entirely within the parish of Barkway, as did the Priory: this was a way of keeping profits for the church. This formerly open space at the south end of the second market place is now the site of a Tesco Express.

Maypole Grocery Co, Market Place between 1920 and 1923

The Maypole Grocery Co Ltd took over part of the former Post Office and Beaver’s Grocery on the north side of Market Place when it moved out in 1904. The company put in a new frontage with an elaborate gilded signboard and hanging lamps that has not survived. Maypole Stores promoted sales of their own margarine, shown by the advertisements in the windows. The company was started by Otto Munstead when he set up his margarine factory in Southall in 1894 and expanded into retail. The spread accounted for 85% of the company’s sales by 1918. Although bought out by Jungen, the owner of Home & Colonial, in 1924, the margarine brand survived into the 1960s. The shop assistants are (left to right) Archie Barber, S William White, George Stallabrass and Ernest Wright. The shop is now part of Toni & Guy’s hairdressing.

Hitchin Post Office, 2 Market Place, 1891

The postmaster John Beaver (1830-1911), seated at the centre of the group, and staff of Hitchin Post Office, when it was in Market Place. He was Postmaster for forty years, from 1859 to 1899, also running a grocery business in the shop. Some of the postmen seen standing in the second row delivered to the villages, including Holwell, Offley, St Ippollitts and Shillington. Robert H Holloway (1873-1943) reclines on the rug in the front. John Edmund Tully (1870-1926), seated at the left, was the overseer of the Post Office after it moved to Brand Street in 1904. He discovered a window broken by suffragette Jane Short on 27 June 1912 and called the police to arrest her. Mr Gadd, the postmaster, asked that she be sent home rather than imprisoned. Fanny Williams (born 1872) sits to his right.

Celebrations in Market Place, Hitchin, 1887

The crowds are celebrating Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee on 20 June 1887. After years of unpopularity owing to her self-isolation after the death of Prince Albert, the Golden Jubilee helped to restore the Queen to public favour.

William B Moss’s grocers, 13 High Street, Hitchin, late 1890s

William Moss, from Stevenage, was apprenticed to the Hitchin draper James Ross in 1861. He set up his own drapery and grocery business about 1870, and moved to larger premises at 13 High Street in 1878. He lived with his family and servants in a flat over the shop until 1899. The business grew quickly and by 1878, he had a second shop, in Nightingale Road and another in Fenny Stratford by 1899. The business heaquarters remained at High Street and by 1908 had new branches in Bancroft, Baldock and Letchworth. It became the Limited Company W B Moss and Sons in 1908, by which time another branch was open in Kimpton. One opened in Shefford opened in 1914, and by the mid-1920s, there were also shops in Ampthill, Royston and Buntingford. In 1937, a Welwyn branch was also open. Two of W B Moss’s sons married Yorkshire women and set up branches of the family business in Otley, Ripon and Knaresborough. The company closed in the 1960s, having been bought out by Kearley and Tonge under the International Stores brand.

Bringing electricity to Hitchin, 1906

The first electrical cables were laid in Market Place in 1906. Although the Electric Lighting Orders Confirmation (No.7) Act had been passed in 1902, it was a few years before cables were laid and a power station built. The first supplies were generated and sold by the Urban District Council, merging with others to form the Eastern Electricity Board in 1948. The Electrical Supply Corporation Ltd., of London, built the town’s power station on Whinbush Road. The building survived for many years after it was incorporated into Ransom’s laboratories but was demolished in 2005 as part of the redevelopment of the area for housing. The view today is much the same, with the mosaic panel advertising Freeman Hardy & Willis still dominating the corner of Bucklersbury, although the gutter-lever signs have been removed. The parent company collapsed in 1996 and there is now no other trace of the business in the town.

The Picturedrome, Ickleford Road, Hitchin, 1911

William Blake set up his photography business in Bedford in 1871 and was joined by his sons Bill and Ernie. Their mother encouraged the two boys to develop ‘living pictures’, which we would now call films. The brothers opened their first cinema, called the Picturedrome, in May 1909. They filmed many events of national importance, including the funeral of King Edward VII in 1910. They also filmed the celebrations in Hitchin for the coronation of George V on 22 June 1911 about the time they opened the Hitchin branch of their cinema. They showed the film the following week, which explains the decoration of the building. They enlarged the cinema in 1913, and between 7 July and 4 October, showed films in Hitchin Town Hall. The Blake brothers remained based in Bedford until Bill died in 1932. After that Ernie, who worked for Kodak from 1911 and became chairman of the company in 1946. He died in 1961.

Investigating a burnt-out building, Royston, 1909

The aftermath of a fire, possibly at the Phillips Brewery on Baldock Street on 5 August 1909. The fire began in the malt mill on the top floor of the building, and spread throughout, destroying it. However, it was rebuilt, reopening in February 1910. The company continued to operate for a further forty years until it was bought out by J W Green of Luton in 1949. The local fire brigade at the time was based in Fish Hill and run by volunteers. When a fire was discovered, a maroon would summon the firemen to the station to collect the engine, which was drawn by cab horses. The fire was a local sensation and the main news item for several weeks as Phillips was the town’s main brewery. A bell dated 1765 was found in the ruins, the significance of which is not known. A local newspaper sold postcards showing the devastation inside the building, such was the level of interest.

The west end of Hollow Lane, Hitchin, about 1905

The people seen in this photograph were among Hitchin’s poorest, living in the courtyards off the lower end of Hollow Lane, then known as St Andrews Street. The group is dressed for some sort of celebration, including a boy sitting in the front who seems to be in fancy dress. This end of Hollow Lane was widened after the buildings on the street and the slum courtyards behind were demolished. The pub sign is for The Robin Hood Inn. First recorded in 1721, it was bought by Wells & Co of Bedford in 1843. The licensee at the time of this photograph was probably Emma Arnold. It closed in 1922 and was demolished in 1925, as part of the slum clearance around Queen Street. Garrison Court was built on the left (north) side of the street in 1930 and Balliol Chambers, closer to the front, about 1970. The BT Exchange building, built in 1955 with a 1970s extension, now occupies the right side of the west end of Hollow Lane.

Doodlebug casing, Pirton, 1944

Schoolboys Ken Burton (left) and Sam Burton (right) went in search of a doodlebug that fell in Dane Field to the west of the village, on Knocking Knoll, one Friday evening. It was the first of two to fall in the village, the other damaging a house in Bury End on the night of 23/24 September. Several conventional bombs were dropped on Tingley Wood and Burge End. These were probably a result of bomber crews shedding their loads before returning home after raids on the Midlands: they faced punishment if they still had bombs on board. More correctly known as a Fieseler F1 103 or V1 flying bomb, doodlebugs were launched against Britain after the Allied invasion of Normandy in June 1944. They flew unguided until running out of fuel at which point they fell, detonating on impact. The intention was to bomb lunder, but without pilots or authomated guidance, many missed their target. The Nazis switched to the V2 rocket, a more sophisticated missile, in late September. Frank Howard, a photographer from The Pictorial also went in search of wreckage. He took this picture of the boys showing off the large piece of the doodlebug’s exhaust casing they found on Saturday morning.

Manor House, Rectory Farm, Pirton, about 1927

Edith Alice Davis (née Neule, 1873-1966) and Ernest Robert Davis (1858-1947) sitting outside Rectory Farm. They had three daughters: Helen (1905-1988), Vera Frances (1907-1996) and Edith (1908-1965) while they lived there. In the 1890s, Ernest was lsited as a farmer and land owner; he was also a Councillor for Hitchin Rural District, Chair of Pirton Parish Council and a highway surveyor. The family later moved to Pirton Grange, another house on a moated site, which is just across the county boundary in Shillington. The manor house sits inside a medieval moat, probably dating from the thirteenth century, when the Manor of Pirton Rectory was separated from the Manor of Pirton. The core of the present house is ealy seventeeth-century, with eighteenth-century alterations. When Ernest’s father Daniel bought the property in 1870 for £17,500, he began further alterations, which were finished in 1873. Panelling originally at Hammonds Farm at Burge End was installed in 1931.

Steam threshing in Charlton, 1942

The photograph shows how traditional technology – steam engines and horse-drawn carts – was still used in the middle of the twentieth century, even after the introduction of the combine harvester in 1928. The first such harvester was used in Redbourn, but there were still fewer than 100 in use in the UK by 1939. The traction engine and threshing machine are almost identical to those in the photograph of Lilley on page 33, some forty years earlier. It was labout-intensive, even though threshing machines took much of the hard work out of the process. Young workers had to keep the engine filled with water; the engine driver remained with it to ensure that pressure was kept up; others had to load the wheat or balrey into the thresher; others had to drive away the cart with the grain; the remaining chaff would need to be piled into bales and stacks.

Charlton Mill, perhaps in the 1870s

The view is little different from that painted by Samuel Lucas in 1870.

The Sowerby Arms Hotel, Lilley, between 1880 and 1910

Lilley lies away from the main Hitchin to Luton road but, like so many rural communities, once had several pubs, mostly catering to local farm workers. The pub is first recorded with this name in 1866, having earlier been called The Sugar Loaf. The main part was built in 1735 and later extended to the south. Although it may seem curious that Lilley should have a pub calling itself ‘Hotel’, the village once had a popular racecourse. Races were held on Lilley Hoo from at least 1693. Although the last official meet was in 1798, after which it moved to Brocket Hall, there was an attempt to revive it in 1862, which failed because the owner of The Hoo did not give his permission. The pub may have hoped to cater for an influx of racegoing visitors. It was renamed The Lilley Arms during the First World War and is still open. It is now the only pub in the village, which once had three.

Barley High Street on Pretoria Day, 5 June 1900

Pretoria Day celebrated the British capture of the Boer capital during the Second Boer War. Taken outside the King William pub, the name of its landlord, Nathan Chapman, can be seen on the board over the window on the left. In the distance, the famous sign of The Fox and Hounds is visible; it is now across Church End following the move of the pub to the junction to the south end of High Street.

A Nicholls, High Class Fruiterer and Florist, Hitchin, about 1900

Albert Nicholls (1862-1921) and his wife Elizabeth (1862-1940) stand outside their fruiterer’s and florist’s shop at 22 High Street, Hitchin. Elizabeth was a member of the Gatward family. The boys inside the shop are probably two of their seven children. It was a family business, with other shops in Queen Street, Sun Street, Churchyard and Bucklersbury, some run by other family members. Albert was running the High Street, Churchyard and Bucklersbury branches. It was usual for towns at this time to have many shops run by the same family selling much the same range of goods. The eighteenth-century building is now home to Boots Opticians. It has a completely new frontage with the door in the centre.

The Shambles, Hitchin, 1854

This is the earliest photograph in the collection. The buildings to the left of the image stood in Market Place but were pulled down in 1854 as the owners of the Corn Exchange, built in the previous year, felt that they detracted from the splendour of their new building. The name Shambles comes from the Old English word sċamul, ‘bench’, itself of Latin origin, scamellum. It was a name commonly given to the part of a medieval town where butchers’s businesses were located as they traditionally displayed meat on benches outside a slaughterhouse. The Shambles feature prominently in Samuel Lucas Senior’s well-known painting of Hitchin Market Place, dating from 1841. By the time of this photograph, both the Corn Exchange and the buidling to its left had replaced the historic buildings seen in the painting.

Hexton, September 1938

Men of the village digging an air-raid shelter for the pupils of Hexton School. Although this was a year before the start of the Second World War, many people at the time believed that war against the Nazi regime was inevitable and began making preparations to protect civilians from the conflict. The vicar of St Faith’s Church, Herbert Richings, stands at the back of the group. The school’s headmaster, Horace Runble, is sitting on the edge of the trench to the left. He assembled all the men of the village as well as those of Pegsdon to dig the trench. It was zig-zag in plan, but work was abandoned after they had dug about 40 metres. The government announced that it was not necessary after the agreement reached between Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain and Adolf Hitler at the end of September. It was not backfilled stratight away and can be seen as an occasional crop mark in the meadow north of the school.

Queen Street, Hitchin, 1930

People assemble for a charabanc trip to Ashridge Park on 22 July 1930 outside the Congregational Chapel on Queen Street. The man at the far left, Reverend Frederick Brockis, was the minister there from 1927 to 1948. His son Raymond, in a school cap, and his wife stand next to him in the front row. The garden of Ashridge Park, near Little Gaddesden, was designed by Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown between 1759 and 1768. The house dates from 1808 and Humphry Repton produced new designs for the grounds in 1813. The park remains a popular National Trust visitor attraction. Queen Street Congregational Chapel no longer exists and the site became the offices for Sodexho in the 1970s. The office building was demolished in 2002 and the site is now occupied by retirement apartments. The buildings of the British School, now home to a museum of education, are visible in the background.

Great Offley windmill, about 1900

The windmill was actually in The Flints on Luton Road, half way between Great Offley and Lilley. It was built from red brick in 1855, last used as a windmill in 1895 and reduced to two storeys in 1926. The tower mill replaced an earlier wooden mill, first shown on a map of 1658. The Offley Bypass now runs behind the mill.

Butts Close, Hitchin, 18 May 1943

A large military parade taking place on the largest open space in the centre of Hitchin. We do not know what event is taking place. This was the day when the British public learnt about the Dambusters raid on the Ruhr valley in Germany.

The static water tank in Market Place, Hitchin, between 1939 and 1945

Tanks such as this were installed as emergency water supplies, their locations indicated by painted yellow letters EWS and an arrow. A few faded examples of the signs survive around Hitchin. Maison Gerard, in the background, was owned by Gérard Ceunis, best remembered as a local artist.

Whitehorse Street, Baldock, 1880s

The condition of the road, a mixture of horse dung and mud, shows how messy streets could become when horse-drawn transport was common. The photograph seems to have been taken in winter, with the trees bare of leaves. Although this is where the town’s horse fairs were held, they took place at the edge of the highway, so this photography probably does not show the aftermath of one of them. Two churches are visible in the photograph. The tower and spire of the medieval parish church of St Mary is in the centre. On the right, two of the pinnacles on front of the Methodist Church, built in 1853, can be seen above the shop roof.

Land Girls at Hexton, 1941

Land Army women working on woodland in the countryside outside Hexton. They were involved in stripping the bark from trees that were felled for pit props. The Women’s Land Army was not disbanded at the end of the Second World War as there were delays in returning men from Europe. The operation was finally closed in November 1950.

Russell’s Tannery workers, Bancroft, Hitchin, 1890s

Leather-making is a complex process that involves soaking hides to remove traces of blood before curing them in lime pits and washing again. The fat can then be scraped off and tanning started. This was done by soaking the hides in tanks of water containing tannins, the solution each bath becoming increasingly strong. After six weeks, the tanned hides were ready to dry naturally. A final scraping stage by a currier removed any residue from the tannins and, after it was ‘stuffed’ with fat, the leather was ready. Some of the workers in this photograph are very young. As the school leaving age was raised from 10 to 12 in 1898 and 14 in 1900, this picture either must date from before then or show that the tannery employed children who ought to have been at school. The dirtiness of their clothes reflects the squalid working conditions, with white staining from the lime pits. Some of the older men did the skilled work and were photographed with their tools.

GNR Locomotive No 70, 1887 or 1897

This view of a locomotive of class 0-4-2, in use 1879-1900, shows it being decked out for a royal event, either Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee in 1887 or her Diamond in 1897. The train offered a free trip, although we do not know the destination.

Hitchin Cattle Market, 1894

The livestock market was held in Bancroft until 1903, but part of it moved to a site between the back of The Cock Hotel and Paynes Park in the 1880s. The area is now used as a car park, although some of the fittings can still be seen along the northern boundary (the left side of this picture).

Market Place, Hitchin, 1902

A Daimler outside the Corn Exchange, perhaps on its way to take part in the procession celebrating the coronation of King Edward VII in August.

Delivery lorries, Hitchin, 1920s

Garratt and Cannon Ltd. was a sweet and jam manufacturer, based at 92 Bancroft and with a shop, The Smoker’s Stores, in Churchyard. This view shows the company’s fleet of lorries.

The Bird in Hand pub, Gosmore, 1898

A pub with this name was established as a beer house by John Creasy by 1871, one of three in the village. The other two were The Bull and The Red Cow. It sold only beer from barrels or stout in bottles. The pub still exists, although in a new building dating from the late 1920s, as does The Bull. The name of the landlord, William Shaw (1850-1927), is visible over the door. The older of two women carrying jugs of beer is perhaps his wife, Elizabeth.

The Luton-Hitchin-Letchworth bus, 1917

The bus, Road Motors Ltd. number 6, was photographed at Road Cars’ Langley St Depot, Luton. It used a chassis made by Palladium Autocars of Kensington with a Harrington B26R body. Its engine was converted to run on town gas. The chassis had previously been used as a Gloucester haulier.

Fred Morgan, Charlton, 1944

Fred Reynolds Morgan was a saddler and harness-maker, seen here using his leather-working tools. He was born in Hitchin in 1878 and died in St Pancras in 1973, aged 94.

Russell & Featherstone’s Yard, Bancroft, Hitchin, about 1880

G W Russell and Henry Featherstone bought Whiting’s tannery in Bancroft in 1866, dissolving their partnership in 1886. After this, the company continued simply as Russell’s. Tanning was an important industry in many historic towns. The street name Bucklersbury probably commemorate medieval leather-workers in this part of the town. It was smelly, as the hides had to be soaked in unpleasant liquids, often including urine or oak bark, and was kept always on the edges of towns. It depended on the hides of cattle brought in for slaughter, so they are often found close to abattoirs. It also needed a water supply, and the Hiz was diverted to flow closer to the works. Sainsbury’s now occupies the site. Before construction began, archaeologists located tanning pits dating from the sixteenth century.

Titmore Green, about 1898

Straw plaiters at the door of their cottage. Next door was a beer-house, whose landlord’s name, Frederick Balls, can be seen on the sign above the door, although he died in the 1880s. The cottages were demolished about 1910 and a new pub, The Hermit of Redcoats, was built.

Straw plaiting in Pirton, about 1910

Sarah Thrussell (1842-1934) plaiting straw in her home at Cromwell Terrace. At this time, there were still between 20 and 30 plaiters in the village, although the industry was in decline and did not survive the outbreak of war in 1914.

Postal delivery in Hexton between 1939 and 1945

Katherine Francis, seen here, was the postal delivery woman in Hexton during the Second World War. The village Post Office opened in 1922 and was run by Harry Oliver and his wife. They had a telephone installed, at a cost of £40.

The staff of Lucas Brewery, Bridge Street, Hitchin, early 1920s

The Lucas family established a brewery in Hitchin in 1709, becoming a limited company in 1896. Its premises stood between the bridge of Bridge Street and the junction with Sun Street, with a malthouse as well as the brewhouse. Unusually for brewers, the Lucas family were Quakers, who lived on the site. The brewery also made lemonade and mineral water. North Hertfordshire was famous for the quality of its malted barley by the late Middle Ages. Although much of the malt was sold to London brewers from the sixteenth century on, local breweries also throve. Most communities had at least one brewery; many had several. The company survived the death of Samuel Lucas Jr in 1919 by only four years, closing in 1923. The early to mid-twentieth century was a time when family-run local breweries were either bought up by national companies or were unable to compete. The buildings became increasingly dilapidated and were pulled down in 1963.

Traditional crafts at Breachwood Green, 1890s

Men of the Wilson family of Breachwood Green were wheelwrights, operating from premises on Lower Road. The picture shows father Samuel (1825-1910) and son William (1865-1957).

Milk delivery, Pirton, 1923

Tom Lake was a dairyman in Pirton. Before bottling plants were widespread, milk was often delivered in churns and the milkman would use a ladle to fill housewives’ milk jugs.

Hitchin Station, July 1881

Staff and customers on the platform at Hitchin Railway Station pose for the camera. On the right is the bookstall, with its assistant, John Sydney Pink (1856-1934) from Cambridge, standing beside it. The boy in the cap on the right may be another employee. Jack Webb (1850-1906), a cab driver and the licensee of The Cooper’s Arms, stands on the stairs to the footbridge, behind. The footbridge was known as the Hitchin Alps owing to the steepness of its stairs; it was removed in 1910. The bearded man in uniform in the background towards the centre is Inspector Henry Charles Fisher (1831-1909). The porter, second from left, is Edward (Teddy) Hayward (1852-1913), who lodged nearby in Midland Cottages.

A teetotal cycling club, about 1890

The Blue Cross Temperance Brigade No 2 Team, part of an organisation founded on 19 January 1874. The team was established early in the Brigde’s history, existing by 1876. Arthur Latchmore (1844-1909), wearing the light coloured trousers, was the brother of the photographer, Thomas Benwell Latchmore (1832-1908). Arthur taught Bible classes, some of whose members founded the Blue Cross Brigade. As well as a cycling team, the Blue Cross Temperance movement also had football, cricket, athletics and gymnastics teams in Hitchin. The football team, established in the 1890s, remained active until the 1923-24 season. The gymnasium that now forms the core of North Hertfordshire Museum was built for the Blue Cross and its committees met in the Workmen’s Hall, also part of the museum. The Blue Cross Brigade finally wound up in 1929, by which time more than two thousand young men had been members.

F R (Fred) Carling (1870-1935), 1905

The Carling family owned the printers of the Hertfordshire Express, which was bought by his father William. Their office was in the Carling Building. On his death in 1892, the business passed to his three sons, Fred, Walter and William. Fred was secretary of the Hitchin Town Hall Company from 1895, a position previously held by his father.

Hermitage Road, Hitchin, 1930

Hermitage Road was the first new road in Hitchin to change the layout of the medieval town. It was built on land given by Frederic Seebohm from his garden, taking its name from his house on Bancroft, and shortened the route to the railway station. For some years, the road was lined with box trees and had few buildings on it. The timber-framed buildings on the right (south) side were not ancient but dated from the early twentieth century. They were demolished in the 1960s and 1970s. The buildings on the left were built between 1927 and 1929. The house on top of Windmill Hill was criticised as an eyesore that spoiled the view along the street when built in the 1920s. It is said to be the first home in Hitchin to have an electric cooker installed. That at the opposite end, built for Safeway, was similarly criticised in the 1970s; the late medieval Waters Building was demolished in 1967 to make way for it.

Station Road, Letchworth Garden City, about 1910

After First Garden City Ltd. bought the estates of Letchworth, Norton and Willian, it was quick to begin work on the town. It held a competition to come up with a layout, which Barry Parker and Raymond Unwin won. Station Road was the first shopping street to be started, with Leys Avenue following in 1907. This view looks down the hill from Station Place towards the junction with Norton Way and Birds Hill. It was taken close to where the Premier Inn now stands. The cottages on the left were built between 1905 and 1907. The telegraph pole carried telephone cables along the street. Once common sights, especially alongside main roads and railways, they have all but disappeared from our townscape. The number of bars on that closest to the camera shows that it carried a lot of lines, perhaps because the town’s original Post Office and Telephone Exchange was in this street.

Barley Supply Stores, about 1910

The shop, on High Street, is a timber-framed cottage, extended forwards to incorporate a shop probably in the 1850s or 60s. Its proprietor Albert E Hagger was a member of a long-established North Hertfordshire family, with branches across the district, Essex and Cambridgeshire.

An unusual house, Hitchin, 1930

A view of the house at the junction of Walsworth Road and Whinbush Road, with its rounded south wing. Its thatched roof was later replaced with wooden shingles. The candidates for an Urban District Council election in 1930 are named on the poster.

Wilbury Hill in Letchworth Garden City, 1906

Known to generations of Letchworth children as the ‘Roman Camp’, this disused gravel pit was cut into a hillfort a thousand years earlier than Roman times. It is now overgrown with bushes.

Many of the Hitchin photographs were taken by local photographer Thomas Benwell Latchmore (1832 -1908) and his son Thomas William Latchmore (1882 -1946). The Latchmores were a Quaker family, with a grocery business in High Street. Thomas Benwell Latchmore’s first studio in the 1860s was on Bancroft, but in 1870 he purchased the business of an earlier photographer, George Avery, in Old Town Hall Yard, opposite this museum. He later moved to more spacious premises at 11 Brand Street, where he had a studio on the roof. This museum is fortunate to have over two thousand Latchmore photographs of Victorian and Edwardian Hitchin.

Other local photographers represented in our collections include H. G. Moulden, A. E. Lupton and W. J. Wilshere (all Hitchin), and A. Clutterbuck in Letchworth Garden City

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