The Road Through Harpenden

by Chris Reynolds


Many people would have walked along the road between St Albans and Harpenden, particularly on Market Days, as Edwin Grey describes in Cottage Life in a Hertfordshire Village. In addition tramps would have passed along the road on their way for an overnight bed in the workhouse. In 1905 the road was traversed by a group of unemployed men travelling to London to petition the King.

The Unemployed





If you had been in Harpenden at about 3 p.m. on Thursday, 1st June, 1905, you may have heard a party of men matching from Luton towards St Albans singing:-

Come, friends, the world wants mending,
Let none sit down and rest,
But seek to work like horses,
And nobly do your best;
Do what you can for fellow-man,
With honest heart and true,
Much may be done by everyone —
There’s work for all to do.

The army of unemployed boot and shoe operatives, lead by the Rev. F. L. Donaldson, and Mr. Sherriff, were marching to London to protest at the high levels of unemployment in the shoe trade in Leicester. On arrival in St Albans they went to the Drill Hall, in Hatfield Road, where they were refreshed and made straw beds for the night, before continuing with their march on the Friday morning.

Note based on report in the Herts Advertiser, 10th June 1905

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