Copyright Hatfield Local History Society.  March 2016

Hatfield Local History Society


Latest Publications

Our society’s new publication tells the early story of the de Havilland Aircraft Company through the eyes of some of those who were there at the time. The story starts in the early 1930’s when the Company first moved to Hatfield and continues through World War II and into the 1950s.

The book has been assembled from a variety of sources including Don Lawrence’s “Early Days of de Havilland at Hatfield”; a boy’s first flight over Hatfield in 1939; eyewitness accounts of the 1940 bombing; chapters on the infamous spy Agent Zigzag; women working at de Havilland and farming on the airfield.  The book also recalls famous personalities such as Amy Johnson and Ralph Richardson.  Much more is included with photographs and advertisements sourced mainly from the archives of BAE Systems and Aviation Ancestry.

Also aircraft built at Hatfield and key events for this period have been listed along with a comprehensive index.

Book size A5, 94pp. Edited by Phil Marris

ISBN 978-0-9928416-5-2 Price £5.00+pp.

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Review from the U3A date as shown  price £7.50 +pp


An impressive set of booklets was published in the 1960s by the

Hatfield Branch of the Workers’ Educational Association under the overall title Hatfield and its people. These slim volumes, comprising 12 parts, describe different aspects of the history of Hatfield.

The painstaking research by their authors makes them an essential reference for anyone studying Hatfield history. As originally issued, their usefulness was hampered by the lack of other than rudimentary indexes.

A re-issue of the series by the Hatfield Local History Society was

made in 2014, clearing a few minor errors and, more importantly,

adding an index to each volume and issuing a cumulative index for the whole series. An index adds immeasurably to the usefulness of a document, more so when several documents are involved. Consider, for example, the role of barley in the history of Hatfield. Vol. 3 relates it to brewing, and Vol. 11 brings in the families involved. Vol. 9 relates barley to farming practice. The place of barley in the diet is considered in Vol. 12 while Vol. 5 describes the transport of barley. Without indexes, putting together a coherent picture becomes very time-consuming.

We owe the existence of these indexes to Hazel Bell. She

single-handedly combed through each of the volumes in this series to compile each individual index, and then combined all into a cumulative index. Judgment was required at each step as to how detailed to make the index. An index by its nature is impersonal, and one cannot stamp ones personality on it. Nevertheless, we owe a great debt of gratitude to Hazel for completing these indexes to the great benefit of Hatfield.

Jack Kampmeier 2015

Compiled by Hazel K. Bell. Hatfield Local History Society, 2015.  70 pages.         ISBN 9780992841645.  Price £4.00 + PP


The 13 Hatfield & its People booklets first published in 1960 have been re-printed.  These booklets are a must for anyone researching into the history of Hatfield. Priced at £4.00 each or £40.00 the set +pp


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This popular book chronicles much about about popular music in Hatfield from the start of WW2 to 1990.  There are many anecdotes and hitherto unpublished photos to enjoy.

Price £5.00+pp


Hatfield and its people: Cumulative Index to Parts 1-12

This book (3rd Edition), tells how the Second World War affected ordinary families, what actually happened when evacuees arrived in local homes and how they rallied to ‘Dig for Victory’, ‘Salute the Soldier’ or ‘Hit the Nail in Hitler’s Coffin’. It demonstrates just how much salvage one small town could produce, and makes the connection between Hatfield, Churchill, Stalingrad and HMS Tweed. It gives a fascinating insight into how the war changed life at Hatfield House and the significance of developments at the de Havilland Aircraft Co., which made this particular small town a target for German bombers. Here is the Home Front 1939-45 in microcosm, full of the energy, determination, humour and courage of British men and women in wartime.

  Click to view chapter           Price £6.00                       




The book examines that roughly triangular piece of land surrounded on three sides by the Great North Road, Mount Pleasant Lane and Hertford Road.  The area is steeped in history, having been used for arable and pasture purposes for hundreds of years.  The name ‘Ryde’ (formerly ‘Ride’) is thought to be no older than the Nineteenth Century.  In earlier times, it was Blackland and, after that, Black Land Field and Bull Stock Green.  By 1825, it had become Red Lion Farm under the tenancy of the Red Lion Hotel in the Great North Road.

In the first half of the 20th Century, the land was converted into small holdings for use by local people with the appropriate farming experience.

Then, in 1957, there began the biggest change of all when Lord Salisbury’s trustees sold the freehold of 72 acres to the Hatfield Development Corporation who wanted to create The Ryde housing estate as part of the overall expansion of Hatfield as one of the post-war New Towns.

This book covers all of these topics in meticulous detail. It also examines the three surrounding roads to determine which properties existed in the 1800s and which came later.  The book relies on original sources preserved at the County Record Office (HALS) in Hertford.  It also includes personal recollections of many original Ryde residents and others who were kind enough to provide their own personal memories of some of the events described.

Price £7.00 + pp

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Hatfield Local History Society’s latest publication “Changing Times” is based on a series of interesting articles written by Brian Lawrence, a well known Hatfield historian, for the “Hertfordshire Countryside” magazine over a period of 25 years from 1983 – 2007.

This well illustrated book reflects some of the diverse aspects of Hatfield’s past that have come to the author's attention and interested him over many years. Hatfield has experienced major fires, Royal visits and other noteworthy events. Major employers of labour have been attracted to the town over many years. Residents have been fortunate to have a famous stately home and its surrounding park in their midst but it must be admitted that some of the local development that has taken place during the second half of the twentieth century has dismally failed to match their hopes and expectations. The author hopes that this book will increase the reader’s understanding of Hatfield’s heritage as an enduring place of historical interest.


Subjects covered are: - Journey to school (1942), Hatfield Ablaze 1904 & 1908, Royal Visits 1846 & 1909, The Story of Hatfield Brewery, Memories of Hatfield Park, The Rail Crash of 1946, The Collapse of the Wrestlers Bridge (1966), Post War Prefabs, Hatfield’s Box Factory, Butchers Bow Out, Looking Back–The Town that Went West, and the final chapter, Looking Forward, considers what the future might hold for Hatfield.

ISBN 978-0-9928416-7-6

Price £6.00  


Book Review

Rock Around The Block: Half a century of popular music associated with Hatfield by Jon Brindle: Hatfield Local History Society, £6.00 + p&p.

Listening to, playing and performing music has been a big part of my life since the late 1950s so it was with great pleasure that I accepted the task of reviewing this book.

John Brindle`s book covers the history of popular music associated with Hatfield from the 1940s to the 1990s.

The book starts in the war years  considering  the dance bands and local bandleaders that were performing at venues such as the de Havilland works canteen (now Hatfield police station), The Cherry Tree pub (now Waitrose) and many others.
In the 1950s Radio Luxembourg was discovered and started being used by all music fans. In spite of the very poor reception, it brought us a whole range of musical styles – pop, rock, blues and jazz.

A jazz club was started within the Cranbourne Rooms at The Red Lion public house in Hatfield (which continued for over 28 years).

Breaks Manor Youth Club also opened in the 1950s and with the growing popularity of the new invention television, shows like 65 Special in 1957 followed by Skiffle Club, brought popular music to the masses.

Breaks Manor became a popular venue for many well-known 1960s bands such as Brian Pool and the Tremeloes and Johnny Kidd and the pirates.

The book also reminds us of the wonderful Dansette portable record player that we took to parties and on which we played our 78 and latterly 45 rpm records.

In 1960 local boy Donovan Leach (then 14 years old) started his career in music and in 1965 wrote and recorded Catch the Wind which became a big hit for him.

Another local Hatfield boy, Colin Blunstone, started a band in St Albans called The Zombies (they thought up the name at The Blacksmiths Arms Pub in St Albans) who also played at Breaks Manor.

Where indeed my band The Beaucrees will be performing for our U3A summer dance on 9 June this year.

Jon Brindle also tells us about another band on the scene called The Juniors which was not very well known but one of their members did become very well-known: he was Hatfield boy Mick Taylor who went on to join The Rolling Stones, replacing Brian Jones (who had recently died).  His first gig with them was in 1969 in Hyde Park and he played on many of their hits. He remained with them for six years and still makes guest appearances with them to this day.

As we moved into the 70s the local live music scene gave way to disco, and in the mid-1970s progressive music took hold; however, this did not last very long and was, in my opinion, a niche market.

In 1974 another local boy Paul Briggs answered an advert in
The Melody Maker and joined a band called Guys and Dolls.  They had a hit which got to number 2 in the charts.

Shortly after this Punk arrived and then we move into the 80s and 90s and further development by local bands with names unfamiliar to me.

The local music scene in 2018 is still very vibrant with some extremely talented people.

In all this is a very interesting and detailed book and for those of you who are particularly interested in local history of popular music it is a fascinating read and I would recommend it.

Tony Tutton