Hemel Hempstead /ˈhɛməl ˈhɛmpstɪd/ is a new town in
Hertfordshire, England. Located 24 miles (39 km) northwest of
London, it is part of the
Greater London Urban Area. The population
according to the 2001 Census was 81,143, and at the 2011 census was
94,932. Developed after the
Second World War
Second World War as a new town, it has
existed as a settlement since the 8th century and was granted its town
charter by King Henry VIII in 1539. It is part of the district (and
borough since 1984) of
Dacorum and the
Hemel Hempstead constituency.
1.1 Origin of the name
1.2 Early history
1.3 18th to mid-20th century
1.4 New town
4 Developments since the new town
5 Commerce, industry and agriculture
5.2 Present day
9 Political representation
10 Twinned towns
11 Notable features
11.1 Public art
12 Notable events
13 Notable people
14 Film, television and entertainment
14.1 Film and television production
14.2 The Pavilion
15 Art and photograph gallery
17 Further reading
19 External links
Origin of the name
The settlement was called by the name Henamsted or Hean-Hempsted in
Anglo-Saxon times and in William the Conqueror's time by the name of
Hemel-Amstede. The name is referred to in the
Domesday Book as
"Hamelamestede", but in later centuries it became Hamelhamsted,
and, possibly, Hemlamstede. In Old English, "-stead" or "-stede"
simply meant a place, such as the site of a building or pasture, as in
clearing in the woods, and this suffix is used in the names of other
English places such as Hamstead and Berkhamsted.
It is theoretically possible for a previous name to have become
corrupted to something very similar to Hempsted, & that "Hemel"
originated as a way of specifying
Hemel Hempstead as opposed to nearby
Berkhamsted. Hemel is similar to the German "Himmel", which means
'heaven' or 'sky', so it could be that
Hemel Hempstead was in a less
forested area open to the sky, while
Berkhamsted (which could mean
'birch') was in a forest of birch trees.
Another opinion is that Hemel probably came from "Haemele" which was
the name of the district in the 8th century and is most likely either
the name of the land owner, or could mean "broken country".
The town is now known to residents as "Hemel" and is often
colloquialized to "'emel", however before the
Second World War
Second World War locals
called it "Hempstead". Emigrants from
Hemel Hempstead migrated to the
area which is now Hempstead, New York, including the surrounding areas
such as Roosevelt, in the late 17th century.
The Norman church of St Mary's (1140)
The first recorded mention of the town is the grant of land at Hamaele
by Offa, King of Essex, to the Saxon
Bishop of London
Bishop of London in AD 705. Hemel
Hempstead on its present site is mentioned in the
Domesday Book of
1086 as a vill, Hamelhamstede, with about 100 inhabitants. The parish
church of St Mary's was built in 1140, and is recognised as one of the
finest Norman parish churches in the county. The
church features an unusual 200-foot-tall (61 m) spire, added in
the 12th century, one of Europe's tallest.
After the Norman conquest, Robert, Count of Mortain, the elder
half-brother of William the Conqueror, was granted lands associated
Berkhamsted Castle which included Hemel Hempstead. The estates
passed through several hands over the next few centuries including
Thomas Becket in 1162.
Hemel Hempstead was in the Domesday hundred of
Danais (Daneys, i.e. Danish) which by 1200 had been combined with the
Tring to form the hundred of Dacorum, which maintained
its court into the 19th century. In 1290 King John's grandson, the
Earl of Cornwall, gave the manor to the religious order of the
Bonhommes when he endowed the monastery at Ashridge. The town remained
part of the monastery's estates until the Reformation and break-up of
Ashridge in 1539. In that same year, the town was granted a royal
charter by Henry VIII to become a bailiwick with the right to hold a
Thursday market and a fair on Corpus Christi Day. The first bailiff of
Hemel Hempstead was William Stephyns (29 December 1539). Henry VIII
Anne Boleyn are reputed to have stayed in the town at this
Unusually fine medieval wall paintings from the period between 1470
and 1500 were discovered in some cottages in Piccotts End, very close
Hemel Hempstead in 1953. This same building had been converted into
the first cottage hospital providing free medical services by Sir
Astley Cooper in 1827.
In 1581, a group of local people acquired lands – now referred to as
Boxmoor – from the
Earl of Leicester
Earl of Leicester to prevent their enclosure.
These were transferred to trustees in 1594. These have been used for
public grazing and they are administered by the Box Moor Trust.
Roman villa farming settlements have been found at Boxmoor
Gadebridge which span the entire period of Roman Britain. A well
preserved Roman burial mound is located in Highfield.
18th to mid-20th century
Hemel Hempstead Old Town
Gadebridge House (demolished 1963)
In the 18th and 19th centuries,
Hemel Hempstead was an agricultural
market town. Wealthy landowners built a few large country houses in
the locality, including The Bury, built in 1790, and
erected by the noted surgeon and anatomist Sir
Astley Cooper in
Industrial Revolution gained momentum, commercial travel
between the Midlands and London increased greatly.
Hemel Hempstead was
located on a direct route between these areas of industry and
commerce, initially when the
Sparrows Herne Turnpike Road
Sparrows Herne Turnpike Road opened in
In 1793 construction began on the Grand Junction Canal, a major
project to provide a freight waterway between the Midlands and the
Port of London. In 1798, the canal from the Thames reached Two Waters,
just south of Hemel Hempstead, and opened fully in 1805.
Nickey Line railway (closed 1949)
Hemel's position on the commercial transport network was established
further in 1837 when the route of the new London and Birmingham
Railway reached the town. The line's construction had been delayed for
several years by vigorous lobbying by a number of powerful local
landowners, including Sir
Astley Cooper of
Gadebridge House, who were
all keen to protect their estates from invasion by the "iron horse".
Their campaign was successful and the main line was routed along the
River Bulbourne instead of the River Gade, skirting around the edge of
Hemel Hempstead. As a result, the railway station serving Hemel
Hempstead was built one mile outside the town centre at Boxmoor;
Hemel Hempstead railway station
Hemel Hempstead railway station (today's Hemel Hempstead
railway station) opened in 1837. The railways continued to expand
and in 1877 a new route opened connecting
Boxmoor to the Midland
Railway at Harpenden. The
Hemel Hempstead branch railway
— affectionately known as the
Nickey Line — crossed the town
centre on a long, curved viaduct, eventually serving three local
stations in the town at Heath Park Halt, Hemel Hempsted (Midland) and
Despite the incursion of various forms of transport, Hemel remained
principally an agricultural market town throughout the 19th century.
In the last decades of that century development of houses and villas
for London commuters began. Hemel steadily expanded, but only became a
borough on 13 July 1898.
Second World War
Second World War ninety high explosive bombs were dropped
on the town by the Luftwaffe. The most notorious incident was on 10
May 1942 when a stick of bombs demolished houses at
Nash Mills killing
eight people. The nearby Dickinson factories which were used to
produce munitions, were the target.
After the Second World War, in 1946, the government designated Hemel
Hempstead as the site of one of its proposed new towns designed to
house the population displaced by the London Blitz, since slums and
bombsites were being cleared in London. On 4 February 1947, the
Government purchased 5,910 acres (23.9 km2) of land and began
work on the "New Town". The first new residents moved in during April
1949, and the town continued its planned expansion through to the end
of the 1980s. Hemel grew to its present population of 80,000, with new
developments enveloping the original town on all sides. The original
part of Hemel is still known as the "Old Town".
Marlowes shopping centre and pedestrianised high street
Hemel Hempstead was announced as candidate No 3 for a New Town in July
1946, in accordance with the government's "policy for the
decentralisation of persons and industry from London". Initially there
was much resistance and hostility to the plan from locals, especially
when it was revealed that any development would be carried out not by
the local council but by a newly appointed government body, the Hemel
Hempstead Development Corporation (later amalgamated with similar
bodies to form the Commission for New Towns). However, following a
public inquiry the following year, the town got the go-ahead. Hemel
officially became a New Town on 4 February 1947.
The initial plans for the New Town were drawn up by architect Geoffrey
Jellicoe. His view of Hemel Hempstead, he said, was "not a city in a
garden, but a city in a park." However, the plans were not well
received by most locals. Revised, and less radical plans were drawn
up, and the first developments proceeded despite local protests in
July 1948. The first area to be developed was Adeyfield. At this time
the plans for a revolutionary double roundabout at Moor End were first
put forward, but in fact it was not until 1973 that the roundabout was
opened as it was originally designed. (It was quickly christened 'The
Magic Roundabout' by locals, echoing the name of the children's TV
show.) The first houses erected as part of the New Town plan were in
Longlands, Adeyfield, and went up in the spring of 1949. The first new
residents moved in early 1950.
At this time, work started on building new factories and industrial
areas, to avoid the town becoming a dormitory town. The first factory
was erected in 1950 in Maylands Avenue. As building progressed with
continuing local opposition, the town was becoming increasingly
popular with those moving in from areas of north London. By the end of
1951, there was a waiting list of about 10,000 wishing to move to
Hemel. The neighbourhoods of Bennett's End,
Chaulden and Warner's End
were started. The Queen paid a visit shortly after her accession in
1952, and laid a foundation stone for a new church in
one of her first public engagements as Queen. The shopping square she
visited is named Queen's Square, and the nearby area has street names
commemorating the then-recent conquest of Everest, such as Hilary and
Tenzing Road. This conquest is also celebrated in the name of a pub in
Warners End – the 'Top of the World'.
Riverside, extension to the Marlowes shopping precinct opened 2005
The redevelopment of the town centre was started in 1952, with a new
centre based on Marlowe's south of the old town. This was alongside a
green area called the Water Gardens, designed by Jellicoe, formed by
ponding back the River Gade. The old centre of the High Street was to
remain largely undeveloped, though the market square closed and was
replaced by a much larger one in the new centre. The former private
Gadebridge was opened up as a public park. New schools and
roads were built to serve the expanding new neighbourhoods. New
housing technology such as prefabrication started to be used from the
mid-'50s, and house building rates increased dramatically. Highfield
was the next neighbourhood to be constructed. The
M1 motorway opened
to the east in 1959, and a new road connecting it to the town was
By 1962, the redevelopment of the new town as originally envisaged was
largely complete, though further expansion plans were then put
forward. The nearby
United States Air Force
United States Air Force base of Bovingdon, which
had served as the town's de facto airport, reverted to RAF use at this
time, continuing as an active military airfield until 1971. A campus
of West Herts College, the library, new police station and the
Pavilion (theatre and music venue) were all built during the 1960s.
The town seemed to attract its fair share of celebrity openings, with
shops and businesses opened by Frankie Vaughan, Benny Hill,
Terry-Thomas, and the new cinema was opened by Hollywood star Lauren
Bacall. The last of the originally-planned neighbourhoods, Grovehill,
began construction in 1967. However, further neighbourhoods of
Woodhall Farm and
Fields End were later built as part of the extended
Like other first generation new towns, Hemel is divided into
residential neighbourhoods, each with their own "village centre" with
shops, pubs and services. Each neighbourhood is designed around a few
major feeder roads with many smaller cul-de-sacs and crescents,
intended to minimise traffic and noise nuisance. In keeping with the
optimism of the early post-war years, much of the town features
modernist architecture with many unusual and experimental designs for
housing. Not all of these have stood the test of time. A significant
issue was how to choose names for all the new roads. Many areas of the
new town used themes e.g. fields, birds, rivers, poets, explorers,
In 1974, the government abolished the
Hemel Hempstead and
the town was incorporated into
Dacorum District, along with
Berkhamsted. The first chairman of that council was chairman John
Johnson (1913–1977). In the 1980s,
Dacorum District Council
successfully lobbied to be recognised as the successor for the Royal
Charter establishing the
Hemel Hempstead and thus regained
the Mayor and its Aldermen and became
At the 2001 census,
Hemel Hempstead was the most populated urban area
in Hertfordshire, narrowly more populated than its traditionally
"larger" rival, Watford.
Aerial view of Hemel Hempstead
Hemel Hempstead grew up in a shallow chalkland valley at the
confluence of the rivers Gade and Bulbourne, 27 miles (43 km)
northwest of central London. The New Town expansion took place up the
valley sides and on to the plateau above the original Old Town.
To the north and west lie mixed farm and woodland with scattered
villages, part of the Chiltern Hills. To the west lies Berkhamsted.
River Bulbourne flows along the south-western edge of the town
through Boxmoor. To the south lies
Watford and the beginnings of the
Greater London conurbation. To the east lies St Albans, a historic
cathedral and market town and now like Hemel Hempstead, part of the
London commuter belt. Possibly the best view of
Hemel Hempstead in its
physical setting is from the top of Roughdown Common, a chalk hill to
the south of the town, at TL 049 055.
Post-war 1950s housing typical of
Hemel Hempstead New Town. Kiln
Ground, Bennetts End.
The grand design for
Hemel Hempstead newtown saw each new district
centred around a parade or square of shops called a neighbourhood
centre. Other districts existed before the newtown as suburbs,
villages and industrial centres and were incorporated into the town.
Adeyfield – Located on a hill to the east of the Old Town, this was
the first of the New Town districts to be started. The first four
families of Hemel Hempstead's new town moved into their homes in
Adeyfield on Wednesday, 8 February 1950.
Apsley – a 19th-century mill town a mile south of Old Hemel which
grew up around the paper making industry – notably the John
Dickinson Stationery mills. Now a suburb of Hemel with many warehouse
outlets set in retail parks, a large office facility for Hertfordshire
County Council and a large
Bennetts End – Located on the rising ground to the south east and
another original district of the new town. Construction began in 1951
and by autumn 1952, 300 houses were occupied.
Boxmoor – A mostly
Victorian era developed district to the southwest
which grew up because of its proximity to the London Midland and
Scottish Railway station and trains to London.
Chaulden – an early new town district, west of the town, commenced
in 1953 with its own neighbourhood shopping centre.
Corner Hall – an estate adjacent to the Plough
thought to be part of Apsley. Bounded by Lawn Lane and
St Albans Hill.
Cupid Green – an industrial area estate north east of the town and
home to its recycling centre.
Felden is a partly rural area south west of Hemel Hempstead
that has many wealthy detached houses. It is home to the national
headquarters of the Boys' Brigade.
Gadebridge – A later 1960s development located north west of the old
town around the Rossgate shopping parade.
Grovehill is a housing estate towards the northern edge
of Hemel Hempstead. It was developed as part of the second wave of
development of the New Town commencing in 1967 and completed in stages
by the early 1980s. Within the estate there are such features as
'Henry Wells Square' containing local shops, an off licence and a pub.
The estate also contains '
Grovehill Community Centre', the local
Grovehill Playing Fields', home to many football pitches, a baseball
ground and changing facilities.
Grovehill also incorporates various
churches, a doctor's surgery and a dental surgery as well as several
schools including the
Astley Cooper School.
Highfield – a district of the original new town located north of the
Leverstock Green – A village 2½ miles east of the old town which
pre-existed the new town and which has now been subsumed into it,
although retaining its original village centre. It was once a popular
place for actors and artists to live.
Nash Mills – a historic name for a district beside the River Gade
downstream and southeast of the town which had water mills present
since at least the 11th century. It is now a mix of industrial use and
housing from the 19th century through to small modern developments.
Warner's End – an original new town residential district on chalk
upland to the west of
Hemel Hempstead where work commenced in 1953.
Woodhall Farm – A housing estate on the north eastern edge of town
Woodhall Farm was built in the mid to late 1970s on
the former Brock's Fireworks site with a mix of private and housing
association stock. Built by Fairview Estates it has property ranging
from four-bedroom detached houses down to one bedroom low-rise flats.
The area has a shopping centre with a Sainsbury's, newsagents,
takeaway and off-licence. It also has two infant schools and middle
schools and a doctor's surgery serving the local area.
Developments since the new town
Apsley Lock Marina on the Grand Union Canal, Hemel Hempstead
Jarman Park, the central location for leisure in the town, was
previously agricultural land, which later becomes fields named after
former town councilor and mayor, Henry Jarman, who oversaw the
development of the New Town. The developments were built on land
originally donated to the town for recreational purposes.[citation
needed] Replacement open space was created to the east of the town,
near Leverstock Green, Longdean Park and Nash Mills.
The first phase of recreational facilities, which opened in 1978, was
the Loco Motion Skate Park. Subsequently, it became a dry ski slope
with a small nursery (Jack & Jill's) next to it. Both areas were
removed to make way for the Snow Centre which opened in 2009. A Tesco
superstore was built in 1994 along with a petrol station, which was
later expanded into a
Tesco Extra complete with a new Harris + Hoole
coffee shop on the first floor. It was the first to be built with
natural light let in. The Jarman Square complex
opened on 25 August 1995 (formerly named Leisure World and managed by
The Rank Organisation,) currently managed by the
Tesco Pension Fund.
The current 17 screen
Cineworld is its flagship attraction, with a
Starbucks as part of it. In addition to the cinema inside Jarman
Square there is an ice rink (Planet Ice, originally Silver Blades)
several restaurants including Prezzo, Nando's, Bella Italia, Chiquito,
Frankie & Benny's, Subway and Hungry Horse, and a gym operated by
The Gym Group.
When it was opened as Leisure World, the cinema originally had 8
screens and was operated by Odeon Cinemas, and later managed by Empire
Cinemas until August 2016. The complex also included the upstairs
Toddlerworld play area, the Aquasplash water park, Hotshots, which was
a 30 lane ten pin bowling facility with a bar, Jarman Park
which was an upstairs bowls facility with 7 rinks, a Burger King, a
Pizza Hut, a large arcade in the middle of the building, snooker and
pool tables, a discothèque called Visage, later named Lava, a
nightclub named Ethos, later named Ignite and a themed bar named
Jumpin Jaks, later named JJ's, as well as the aforementioned ice rink.
It was built at a cost of £22 million and even had its own
mascots, Larry the aquatic creature and Pierre the ice skating polar
bear. Toddlerworld closed in 2004 for unknown reasons. The
nightclub, discothèque, themed bar and Hotshots all closed in 2011
due to their parent company
Luminar Leisure going into administration.
Aquasplash closed in early 2014 to make way for new developments. The
Pizza Hut then left at the end of the same year.
In 2012 plans were submitted by the then landlords Capital &
Regional to redevelop the site. It proposed a collection of family
friendly cafes & restaurants, with Aquasplash closing down, with a
brand new play area, gym and bowling alley with the ice rink and
cinema. The Leisure World complex would be demolished as soon as the
new unnamed project is completed. This was expected to begin
construction in summer 2012 and be completed in early spring 2013.
However, no developments took place for a couple of years. The ice
rink was also proposed to close, a move seen as controversial by many
locals. But after a lengthy campaign from activists, the ice rink was
saved. Finally, in July 2014, demolition of the old nightclubs and the
Aquasplash began, to be replaced by a new plan from new landlords
featuring new restaurants and a gym, which opened between December
2014 and June 2015. The cinema continued to operate while the ice rink
went under refurbishment. The cinema then revealed it was planning to
expand from 8 screens to 17, with the old bowling alley, arcade,
snooker & pool, bowls,
Burger King and play area were becoming a
new set of cinemas, while 6 of the original screens would become new
restaurants. The remaining originals were converted into 3 screens,
with Screens 8 becoming one of the cinema's own brand IMPACT screens,
Screen 7 being used for the foyer and toilets, and Screen 6 becoming
one large 281
IMAX auditorium. There is also a conference room and a
children's party room added to the complex as well, with new staff
toilets, offices and a staff room. The
IMAX opening on 17 December
2015 and the IMPACT Blue opening on 26 February 2016, while the others
opened in late October the same year. As well as the new screens,
A new Prezzo restaurant opened in July where the former
Pizza Hut was
located. On August 12, the cinema transferred ownership from
Empire to Cineworld. Under them, the entrance was refurbished with
Baskin Robbins kiosk in March 2017, with a
Starbucks opened also
opened as part of the cinema in May 2016. At the same time, the new
'Superscreen' Screen 2 was opened.' Most recently, the Coast To
Coast restaurant that opened there in 2015 has shut down.
There is also an athletics track used by the local sports group
Sportspace that opened in 1996, with a small children's play park next
to it which was refurbished mid 2015. It is also used by local schools
for sports days. The most recent facilities, which opened in July 2011
and was built on a small unused park, is an extreme sports centre
called XC, which contains a skate park, caving, climbing walls, high
ropes, a café and counselling rooms for young people. It is co-run by
Youth Connexions and Sportspace, and was built on land for a small
park. In the centre of Jarman Park, there is also a McDonald's
restaurant that has been open since 1995 and was refurbished in 2012.
John Dickinson Stationery
John Dickinson Stationery mills site, straddling the canal
at Apsley, was redeveloped with two retail parks, a Sainsbury's
supermarket, 3 low rise office blocks, housing, a mooring basin and a
hotel. A further office block was also built. Some buildings have been
retained for their historic interest and to provide a home for the
An indoor shopping mall was developed adjacent to the south end of the
Marlowe's retail area in 1990, and in 2005 the Riverside development
designed by Bernard Engle Architects was opened, effectively extending
the main shopping precinct towards the Plough Roundabout. The new
centre includes several outlets for national retailers including
Waterstones and more. These two developments
have moved the "centre of gravity" of the retail centre away from the
north end of Marlowe's has become an area for secondary outlets.
Further extensive redevelopment of the northern end of Marlowes was
also given the green light in 2007 and has now been completed.
In late 2014, the "Hemel Evolution " project by the council began,
with £30 million devoted to improving the town centre's appearance.
To begin, the Old Town was refurbished with new paving, signage, and
landscaping. The old council buildings and library have closed
down, replaced with a new development named "The Forum", where Dacorum
Borough Council, the new library,
Hertfordshire Police's Safer
Neighbourhood Team, the
Hertfordshire Registration and Citizenship
Dacorum Community Trust, Mediation Dacorum, Relate and the
Citizen's Advice Bureau are all located, having opened in early 2017.
200 new homes will surround the new development. This will be enhanced
by a riverside walk/cycle way, with the now disused Market Square
becoming more leisure facilities.
The Jellicoe Water Gardens are also set to be resorted to their former
glory, clearing up the overgrown trees, introducing a new play area, a
growing area for picnics and gardening to replace the old play area, a
community centre for volunteers, learning organisations and schools,
as well as the Friends of the Jellicoe Water Gardens and a new terrace
for the flower garden. The Hospital area has new and improved
access, while the area around the Plough roundabout received new
modern walkways, as well as new lighting, seating and flowers.
The pedestrianised high street was also redeveloped, with a new play
area and new play equipment around the street, such as coloured balls,
slides, a tightrope and trampolines. A large electronic screen has
been installed, and the water play fountain was to be converted into
one with water jets, with the old sculpture placed on top of a new
pillar detailing the work of Geoffrey Jellicoe. Bank Court became a
piazza environment for market stalls and the food court received
options and improved seating. More lighting will be installed as
well. This should all hopefully be completed by the end of 2015.
Isle of Man-based residential developer Dandara have redeveloped the
Kodak headquarters into an exclusive block of flats, with a new
bridge to go with it.
Since the 2005
Buncefield fire the former Maylands Avenue factory
estate, badly affected by the fire, has been rebranded as Maylands
Business Park and a 40-tonne sculpture by Jose Zavala called Phoenix
Gateway placed on the first roundabout off the M1 to symbolise its
The now disused mill site at
Nash Mills has been redeveloped to build
housing and community facilities, it retains some historic buildings
and uses various watercourses as amenities.
Commerce, industry and agriculture
Kodak's former European HQ closed in 2006 (now an apartment block)
Historically, the area was agricultural and was noted for its rich
cereal production. The agricultural journalist
William Cobbett noted
Hemel Hempstead in 1822 that "..the land along here is very fine: a
red tenacious flinty loam upon a bed of chalk at a yard or two
beneath, which, in my opinion, is the very best corn land that we have
in England." By the 18th century the grain market in Hemel was one
of the largest in the country. In 1797 there were 11 watermills
working in the vicinity of the town.
The chalk on which Hemel is largely built has had commercial value and
has been mined and exploited to improve farmland and for building from
the 18th century. In the Highbarns area, now residential, there was a
collapse in 2007 of a section of old chalk workings and geological
studies have been undertaken to show the extent of these workings.
In the 19th century, Hemel was a noted brickmaking, paper
manufacturing and straw-plaiting centre. In later 19th and early 20th
centuries, Hemel was also a noted watercress growing area, supplying
1/16 of the country's national demand – following development of the
New Town, the watercress growing moved to nearby
Tring. The cress beds were redeveloped as the modern-day Water
Joseph Cranstone's engineering company was founded in 1798, and was
responsible for much of the early street lighting in the town as well
as it first gasworks. It became the
Hemel Hempstead Engineering
Company and stayed in business until the Second World War. In 1867
Cranstone's son built a steam powered coach which he drove to London,
but which was destroyed in a crash on the return journey. A local
Boxmoor pub commemorates the event.
In 1803 the first automatic papermaking machinery was developed in
Hemel by the Fourdrinier brothers at Frogmore. Paper making expanded
in the vicinity in the early 19th century and grew into the huge John
Dickinson mills in the 20th.
A traditional employer in the area was also Brock's, manufacturer of
fireworks. The factory was a significant employer since well before
the Second World War, and remained in production until the mid-1970s.
The present-day neighbourhood of
Woodhall Farm was subsequently built
on the site.
From 1967 to 1983, it was home to one of the most remarkable newspaper
experiments of recent times, when the Thomson Organisation launched
Hemel Hempstead Evening Post-Echo. This comprised two evening
papers – the Evening Echo and the Evening Post – and was based at
a modern headquarters in Mark Road which had previously been used as a
hot water bottle factory. The dual operation was conceived by Lord
Thomson of Fleet to take on the Northcliffe and Beaverbrook domination
of the London evening paper market and tap into what he saw as a major
source of consumer advertising.
The papers were remarkable not only for technological innovation but
also journalistic excellence. Both the Evening Echo and Evening Post
won design awards during the late 1960s and early 1970s, but it was
the Evening Echo that took the major writing honours, with John
Marquis being voted Provincial Journalist of the Year in 1974 and
Melanie Phillips being named Young Journalist of the Year in 1975.
Many outstanding journalists worked on both papers during their
heyday, with several going on to be editors and leading Fleet Street
figures. Unfortunately, the operation fell victim to the freesheet
revolution of the 1980s, the titles closing in 1983 with the loss of
Significant historic local firms include:
Addressograph, address labels and labelling systems
Apple Computer's UK operations were originally based in Hemel, though
they moved to much larger premises in
Uxbridge during the late 1980s.
Brocks Fireworks, firework manufacturer
Crosfield Electronics – digital imaging systems, now part of FFEI
Hemel Hempstead Evening Post-Echo, then part of Thomson Regional
Newspapers and one of the few nightly regional newspapers
John Dickinson and Sons, paper manufacturing
Lucas Aerospace – moved (as TRW Aeronautical Systems) to
Dacorum & St Albans)
Phoenix Gateway sculpture at the entrance to Maylands Business Park
commemorates the Buncefield fire.
Hemel Hempstead has a mixture of heavy and light engineering companies
and has attracted a significant number of information technology and
telecommunications sector companies helped by its proximity to London
and the UK motorway network. However, (and again in common with many
new towns) it has a much narrower business base than established
Watford and St Albans.
Significant firms with a local presence include:
ACT (formerly Apricot Computers)
Amazon.com has a distribution warehouse on the Maylands Business Park
next door to the Buncefield oil storage depot.
Aquascutum, clothing manufacturer
AXIA web based clothing retailer
ASOS.com, Customer Care department of UK's largest online fashion
BP Oil, petroleum
BSI Product Services
British Telecom, telecommunications
British Standards Institution) materials testing
Britvic, producer of soft drinks.
Epson, consumer electronics
Aon Hewitt, human resources (personnel) out-sourcing and benefits
administration consulting arm of Aon
Kent Brushes (G B Kent & Sons Ltd), established in 1777 & has
been manufacturing brushes in Apsley for most of that time.
Kodak, photography – (formerly in central Hemel, now located on 3Com
NEXT, clothing (distribution centre)
Northgate Information Solutions, specialist software for human
Sopra Steria computers, IT servicesd
Thermo Fisher Scientific
Thermo Fisher Scientific Chromatography and Mass Spectrometry business
Xerox Office Supplies, document supplies, paper development
UTC Aerospace Systems, Aerospace equipment
Hemel Hempstead railway station
Hemel Hempstead railway station is on the West Coast Main Line, on the
western edge of the town.
In 1798 the construction of the
Grand Junction Canal
Grand Junction Canal reached Hemel
Hempstead. Now part of the Grand Union Canal, it is a popular route
for narrowboat pleasure craft and is maintained by the Canal &
Hemel Hempstead railway station
Hemel Hempstead railway station is located a mile south of the town
centre in Boxmoor. It is on the
West Coast Main Line
West Coast Main Line and there are
frequent services between London Euston and the Midlands operated by
London Northwestern Railway, with additional direct services to South
Croydon via the
West London Line
West London Line operated by Southern.
A railway station previously existed in the town centre, known as the
Midland railway station, on the former
Nickey Line to Harpenden. This
station closed to passenger services in 1947 (along with the line) and
it was demolished in 1969.
Hemel Hempstead bus station is situated in Waterhouse Street. In
Dacorum Council announced that the bus station will be demolished
and replaced with a new bus interchange next to the Marlowes Shopping
Centre on Bridge Street. The project is due to be completed by
In the 1990s the A41 dual carriageway was built to the south and west
of the town across the upland chalk plateau.
Hemel Hempstead is also
linked to the
M1 motorway to the east and the M25 is a few miles to
A414 road begins in
Hemel Hempstead and forms a largely dual
carriageway route east west through the county of
Maldon in Essex.
The A41, the West Coast railway line and the canal all follow the
course of the
River Bulbourne river valley.
Playing bowls at
2015 Women's Tour stage 5 enters Hemel Hempstead
A wide range of sports and physical activities are catered for within
the town and its immediate locality. Most sports facilities in the
town, and the wider borough, are provided through Sportspace (the
operating name of
Dacorum Sports Trust). They have operated several
facilities including a sports centre, swimming pools, golf complex and
running track previously run by
Borough Council and others
sited at schools, since April 2004.
Dacorum Sports Trust is a
non-profit company limited by guarantee and a registered charity
managed by a Board of Trustees. Surpluses (profits) are reinvested
into sports facilities.
Hemel Hempstead Town
Hemel Hempstead Town football club dates back to 1885 and now play in
the Conference South. Nicknamed The Tudors, they play at Vauxhall Road
Adeyfield area of the town; this was the site of the former
sports club for the employees of Brocks Fireworks. There are, of
course, many amateur sides throughout the town.
In rugby league, Hemel Stags, founded in 1981, were admitted to the
Championship 1 in the 2013 season and now operate as a
semi-professional club. In addition, rugby league is played at every
senior school in the town.
Camelot Rugby Club is a rugby union club founded in 1919 and play in
London 2 North West, a seventh tier league in the English rugby union
league system. The club's home ground is at
Hemel Storm are a basketball team that compete in the second tier
English Basketball League
English Basketball League Division 1. They play their home games at
Sportspace and are sponsored by nationwide firm Vanarama.
Hemel Hempstead Town
Hemel Hempstead Town
Cricket Club, founded in 1850, has a pitch and
practice facilities at Heath Park, near the town centre. The Boxmoor
Cricket Club, founded in 1857, have a ground nearby on Blackbirds
Moor. At Leverstock Green, there is the eponymously named Leverstock
A large multiple roomed indoor laser tag arena called Quasar has been
located in the Marlowes since 1994.
Hemel Hempstead has an indoor snow centre, a real snow indoor sports
venue which, opened in April 2009, and offers a range of indoor snow
based sports and activities.
Dacorum Athletic Club is based at Jarman Park.
Hemel Hempstead Bowls
Club has its greens at
Gadebridge Park also has an outdoor skatepark that was designed and
supplied by local extreme sports fanatics "Hemel Skates" after earning
₤65,000 through fundraising.
Leverstock Green Tennis Club provides courts and coaching for members
and other courts are available in public parks. There are private
indoor facilities at Hemel Indoor Tennis Centre at Abbot's Hill
School, Nash Mills.
The local authority (
Borough Council) provides the
infrastructure for several of the sports mentioned above. In addition,
there is a sports centre at
Boxmoor and shared public facilities at a
number of secondary schools, provided via Sportspace. These provide
multi-purpose courts (badminton, basketball, etc.), gymnasia and
swimming pools. There are also private, 'members only' gymnasia.
There are two 18-hole golf courses just outside the south western edge
of the town. One is in the grounds of Shendish Manor and the other,
Little Hay is off Box Lane, on
Box Moor Trust
Box Moor Trust land. There was also a
9-hole course (Boxmoor) also located on Box Lane. This closed in July
2011, and is now overgrown, mainly used for people walking their dogs.
Wildcards Roller Hockey Club was established in 1996 and is a
non-profit making organisation run by volunteers to enable people to
Inline Hockey in Hertfordshire.
Jarman Park had a ten pin bowling alley, ice skating, and a swimming
pool with slides until they closed at the end of 2013. The only 2
facilities left in Jarman Park are the XC an extreme sport centre with
indoor skate boarding, rock climbing, bowls and potholing facilities.
Close to Jarman Park is the Snow Centre, the UK's largest indoor ski
Hemel Hempstead has several swimming clubs the most notable of which
Hemel Hempstead Swimming Club, the town also has FIFOLITS Swimming
club and also boasts a swimming squad
Borough Swimming Squad
which brings together the best swimmers in the borough.
Competitive cycling events such as the
Tour of Britain
Tour of Britain and The Women's
Tour often include Hemel as a stage.
Hemel Hempstead School
There are six state maintained secondary schools in the town:
Adeyfield School – Business and Enterprise College
Astley Cooper School – A Specialist College for the Visual Arts.
Cavendish School – A Specialist Sports College
Hemel Hempstead School – A Specialist Performing Arts, Maths &
John F Kennedy Catholic School – A Specialist Technology and Modern
Foreign Languages College (Roman Catholic)
Longdean School – A Maths and Computing Academy
There are also independent (fee-paying) schools in, or adjacent, to
Abbot's Hill School – a day and boarding school for girls
Lockers Park School – a day and boarding school for boys aged 5–13
Westbrook Hay School
Westbrook Hay School – a co-educational school for children aged
In addition there is a
West Herts College
West Herts College Campus based in the town
In 2006, the local education authority has judged that there are too
many primary school places in the town and has published proposals to
reduce them. The options involved school amalgamations and
closures. A list of schools taking children of primary age is at
primary schools in Dacorum.
Hemel Hempstead returns its own MP at Westminster as the Hemel
Hempstead parliamentary constituency.
In the 20 General Elections since the New Town was created, a
Conservative MP has been returned 17 times and a Labour MP 3 times.
The current MP is Mike Penning.
Hemel Hempstead, as part of the
Borough of Dacorum, is twinned with:
The "Magic Roundabout" in Hemel Hempstead
The Bury, proposed as a
Hemel is famous for its "Magic Roundabout" (officially called the
"Plough Roundabout" from a former adjacent public house), an
interchange at the end of the town centre (Moor End), where traffic
from six routes meet. Traffic is able to circulate in both directions
around what appears to be a main central roundabout (which it used to
be), with the normal rules applying at each of the six
mini-roundabouts encircling this central reservation. It was the first
such circulation system in Britain.
Hemel claims to have the first purpose built multi-storey car park in
Britain. Built in 1960 into the side of a hill in the Marlowes
shopping district, it features a giant humorous mosaic map of the area
by the artist Rowland Emett.
The new town centre is laid out alongside landscaped gardens and water
features formed from the
River Gade known as the Watergardens designed
by G. A. Jellicoe. The Watergardens is home to many ducks, which have
been known to cause major delays on the surrounding roads. The main
shopping street, Marlowes, was pedestrianised in the early 1990s.
Hemel also was home of one of the first community based television
stations West Herts TV which later became Channel 10.
For many years the lower end of Marlowes featured a distinctive office
building built as a bridge-like structure straddling the main road.
This building was erected on the site of an earlier railway viaduct
carrying the Hemel to
Harpenden railway, known as the Nickey Line.
When the new town was constructed, this part of the railway was no
longer in use and the viaduct demolished. The
Nickey Line is now used
for walking. The office building, occupied by BP, was designed to
create a similar skyline and effect as the viaduct. In the early 1980s
it was discovered that the building was subsiding dangerously and it
was vacated and demolished. Adjacent to BP buildings was a unique
double-helix public car park. The lower end of Marlowes was
redeveloped into the Riverside shopping complex, which opened on 27
October 2005. Retailers taking residence at the Riverside complex,
Debenhams and H&M (previously HMV).
A few yards away, overlooking the 'Magic Roundabout', is Hemel's
tallest building; the 20-storey
Kodak building, consisting of 18
office floors, 2 plantroom floors, and a basement. It also had an anex
building 2 stories high, containing a restaurant, cinema, and a gym.
Built as the
Kodak company's UK HQ the tower was vacated in 2005. It
was then temporarily reoccupied in 2006 after the Buncefield explosion
destroyed Kodak's other Hemel offices. It has since been converted
The Heathrow Airport holding area known as the
Bovingdon stack lies
just west of the town. On a clear day, at peak times, several circling
aircraft can be visible in the sky.
The national headquarters of the
Boys' Brigade is located at Felden
Lodge, near Hemel.
Dacorum Heritage Trust, a local history advocacy group, has
proposals to convert the 18th-century house at The Bury into a museum
and art gallery, to display a collection of archaeological and
historical artefacts from the surrounding area. The project is
currently awaiting necessary funding and planning permission to
Main article: List of public art in Hemel Hempstead
Rock & Rollers (Hubert Yencess, 1962)
The new town centre contains many sculptures by notable artists from
the 1950s including a 1955 stone mural by sculptor Alfred Gerrard
entitled Stages in the Development of Man. There is also the Rock
& Rollers sculpture created by the French artist Hubert Yencess,
which originally stood outside Bank Court but has been moved to the
water gardens, and a fountain called Water Play.
A concrete and glass rainbow sculpture, Residents' Rainbow by
Californian artist Colin Lambert, was installed on in the Marlowes in
1993. Nearby is a 3D map of 1940s Hemel.
In 2008 an abstract stone sculpture by Timothy Shutter, entitled A
Point for Reflection, was unveiled outside the Riverside Shopping
A series of 33 ft high blue steel arches called the Phoenix
Gateway has been installed on the roundabout closest to the Hemel
Hempstead junction of the M1 motorway. The aim is to regenerate the
town after the
Buncefield fire with a striking piece of commercial
art. It is funded by the
East of England
East of England Development Agency.
In December 2005 a series of explosions and fires at Buncefield oil
depot was regarded as the largest in peace-time Europe.
Buncefield fire in December 2005
Notable people associated with the town in order of birth date:
Nicholas Breakspear (c. 1100–1159), the only English Pope (Adrian IV
1154–1159) was born in nearby Bedmond, a village between Hemel and
Richard Field (1561–1616) a theologian associated with the founding
of the Anglican Church, was born in Hemel Hempstead.
Sir Francis Bacon (1561–1626) was
Lord of the Manor
Lord of the Manor of Gorhambury
Hemel Hempstead from 1601.
Robert Snooks (c. 1761–1802) England's last highwayman to be
executed and buried at the scene of his crime lies here.
Astley Cooper (1768–1841) English surgeon and anatomist. Lived
Gadebridge House, the grounds of which are now a public park.
John Dickinson (1782–1869 inventor and founder of the paper mills at
Apsley, Nash Mills, and Croxley Green, to become John Dickinson plc,
built and lived at Abbots Wood, Nash Mills.
Sir Arthur Evans, (1851–1941) archaeologist, was born at the "Red
House", Nash Mills.
William John Locke
William John Locke ( 1863 – 1930) , novelist, dramatist and
playwright, best known for his short stories lived at Corner Hall in
Lyn Harding (1867–1952) actor and film star lived at a house called
Logandene in Tile Kiln Lane, Leverstock Green, Hemel Hempstead.
Prince Maurice of Battenberg
Prince Maurice of Battenberg (1891–1914), grandson of Queen Victoria
was a pupil at Lockers Park School.
Loben Edward Harold Maund
Loben Edward Harold Maund (1892–1957) was a rear admiral of the
Royal Navy and captain of HMS Ark Royal at the time of her sinking in
Louis Mountbatten, 1st Earl Mountbatten of Burma
Louis Mountbatten, 1st Earl Mountbatten of Burma (1900–1979),
admiral, statesman and an uncle of the Duke of Edinburgh, was a pupil
at Lockers Park School. He also had the combined Corner Hall boys' and
girls' school was named Mountbatten after him and visited the school
for the opening. The school was located on what is now the Jarman Park
Guy Burgess, (1911–1963), Russian spy, was a pupil at Lockers Park
Ashley George Old, (1913–2001), the artist spent many months in
Hemel Hempstead in 1959 recording the changes as the New Town evolved.
Salem Hanna Khamis (1919–2005) was a Palestinian economic
statistician for the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation
who helped formalise the Geary-Khamis method of computing purchasing
power parity of currencies. In later life lived in
Hemel Hempstead and
Roger Moore, (1927–2017) actor, famous for his roles as The Saint
and James Bond, lived in Tile Kiln Close, Leverstock Green, Hemel
Hempstead in the 1960s.
John Lynch (born 1931), according to the Guinness Book of records, the
man with the most body piercings in the world, has lived in Apsley
Christopher Trace (1933–1992) first presenter of
BBC TV's Blue Peter
children's show lived for a time in Blacksmiths Row, Leverstock Green.
James Purves (born 1937), cricketer
Bill Morris, Baron Morris of Handsworth
Bill Morris, Baron Morris of Handsworth (born 1938), former leader of
the TGWU, lived in
Hemel Hempstead and still lives within the Borough
Michael Bradshaw (1933–2001) Anglo/Canadian actor grew up in Boxmoor
from 1938 until the mid-1950s
Malcolm Phipps (born 1942) Author, poet and world-renowned 8th Dan
International Karate Instructor lives in Hemel Hempstead.
Paul Boateng, (born 1951) Britain's first black Cabinet minister and
Ambassador to South Africa, attended
Apsley Grammar School
Apsley Grammar School (now part
of Longdean School). He first stood for Parliament in Hemel
Dave Vanian (born 1956)(real name David Lett), the lead singer of the
Damned, was born and lived in Chaulden.
Ian Lygo (born c. 1958), a civil servant, made 75 successful
appearances on the UK game show 100% in late 1998.
Dougie Brimson (born 1959) the author and screenwriter was born and
lives in Hemel Hempstead.
Chris Pig (born 1965) is an internationally respected master
printmaker, lived in
Hemel Hempstead and attended Longdean School.
Claire Skinner (born 1965) actress was born (1965) and brought up in
Steven Wilson, (born 1967) musician, singer, songwriter and record
producer who lived here from age 6 after his family moved from London.
Porcupine Tree was also formed in
Hemel Hempstead around the
year 1987. "No-Man's Land", Wilson’s home studio in which he has
recorded most of the body of his work, is located here.
Caroline, Lady Dalmeny was born and brought up in Hemel Hempstead.
Luke Donald, (born 1977) was born in Hemel Hempstead. He is a golfer
who plays mainly on the US based PGA Tour.
Anthony Davidson, (born 1979)
Formula One driver was born here.
Tommy W. Smith, (born 1980) was born in Hemel Hempstead. He is a
footballer who plays for Brentford in the Football League
Chris Eagles, (born 1985) footballer for Blackpool in the Football
League Championship is from Hemel Hempstead.
Luke Illingworth, (born 1987) Musician in the band
FVK is from Hemel
Jordan Parkes,(born 1989), an English footballer, playing for Hemel
Hempstead Town, is from Leverstock Green.
Max Whitlock, (born 13 January 1993) member of Britain's gymnastics
team at the
2012 Summer Olympics
2012 Summer Olympics in London and double gold
medalist at the
2016 Summer Olympics
2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
Cauley Woodrow, (born 2 December 1994), an English football player
playing for Fulham.
Sheyi Ojo, (born 19 June 1997), an English footballer playing for
Harry Winks, (born 2 February 1996), an English footballer playing for
Talulah Riley (born 6 September 1985), actress and ex-wife of SpaceX
founder Elon Musk.
Film, television and entertainment
Film and television production
Quatermass 2 used Hemel Hempstead, which was at the time under
development, for the fictional new town of Winerton Flats.
Pie in the Sky (a
BBC police drama) was filmed in Hemel. At one point,
the site for the restaurant was a florist but is now a shop selling
Dolls Houses. A nearby restaurant changed its name to Pie in the Sky
for a short time while the series was popular. The current shopfront
and surrounding properties were also featured in the Midsomer Murders
episode "The Sword of Guillaume".
Birthday Girl (a 2001 film starring
Nicole Kidman and Ben Chaplin)
Hemel Hempstead prominently during scenes showing the main
character going to and from his place of work (a fictional bank
somewhere in Bank Court). However scenes shown in the parking garage
and the side streets show St Albans.
A film version of the TV series
Till Death Us Do Part
Till Death Us Do Part was filmed in
part around the town.
The Old Town appeared for a few seconds in the Oasis soft drink
'Fruity drinks and lunchtime dreams' TV commercial first aired in 2010
– the moving sandwich shop rolls down High Street.
David Walliams' Christmas programme
Mr Stink was also filmed in Hemel,
with much of
Gadebridge Park being used.
Softly Softly an offshoot from Z Cars used Shendish
House as the
headquarters. Softly Softly started in 1966
The Pavilion was an iconic 1960s structure sited on the Marlowes just
in front of the library. It was an entertainments venue that
hosted emerging and internationally famous acts between the 1960s and
Jazz artists included Kenny Ball and his Jazzmen, Count Basie, Oscar
Peterson and Buddy Rich.
Rock and Pop acts included David Bowie, Eric Clapton, U2, Wishbone
Ash, Talking Heads, Ian Dury, Genesis, Quintessence and Status Quo.
The venue closed and the building demolished in 2002. According to
local media reports
Borough Council decided it was 'becoming
increasingly unsuitable to meet the leisure needs of the local
community'. A 'memorial service' was held on the tenth anniversary of
its closure in 2012.
Art and photograph gallery
The woods at Cupid's Green, painted by
Ashley George Old
Ashley George Old in 1959
The Old Bell pub in Hemel old town has parts built in 1615 but is on
the site of even older inns. Contains some unusual French wallpaper
dating back to 1821, which has been cleaned by the Victoria &
Apsley Lock Marina, Hemel Hempstead, built in 2003.
The Church of St Mary's (1871) stands above the modern Sainsbury's
supermarket in Apsley.
Northeast side of the Magic Roundabout, Hemel Hempstead. The
"roundabout" is a series of 6 mini roundabouts spaced around a larger
closely looped circulation system.
Hemel Hempstead Old Town.
A Southern train at Hemel Hempstead
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Textbooks from Wikibooks
Travel guide from Wikivoyage
Learning resources from Wikiversity
Borough Council Local authority pages on Hemel Hempstead.
Pictures of Hemel in 1974
Hemel Hempstead community website.
Photos of Hemel and surrounding area Indexed by OS grid square at
Hemel Hempstead (Pictures and History) on A Guide to Old Hertfordshire
A Brief History of
Hemel Hempstead A Blog on Hemel Hempstead's local
1961 documentary film about
Hemel Hempstead by Pathé News
The Snow Centre, Hemel Hempstead's indoor snow centre.
Ceremonial county of Hertfordshire
Boroughs or districts
Borough of Broxbourne
Borough of Dacorum
District of East Hertfordshire
Borough of Hertsmere
District of North Hertfordshire
City and District of St Albans
Borough of Stevenage
District of Three Rivers
Borough of Watford
Welwyn Garden City
See also: List of civil parishes in Hertfordshire
Hertfordshire County Council
European Parliament constituency
Settlements by population
Grade I listed buildings
Grade II* listed buildings
King George V Playing Fields
Civil parishes of Hertfordshire
Nettleden with Potten End
Brent Pelham and Meesden
Buckland and Chipping
Eastwick and Gilston
Stanstead St Margarets
Elstree and Borehamwood
Caldecote and Newnham
Clothall and Luffenhall
Rushden and Wallington
St Paul's Walden
Letchworth Garden City
Ayot St Lawrence
Ayot St Peter
Northaw and Cuffley
Welwyn Garden City
List of places in Hertfordshire