Heathfield Works

Industrial site by Harpenden Common

By Rosemary Ross

Photo:Pen drawing of Heathfield works, before it was destroyed by fire in 1916

Pen drawing of Heathfield works, before it was destroyed by fire in 1916

LHS archives, BF 16.1

Harpenden Fire Station stands on the site of an industrial site on the west side of Leyton Road, behind the Silver Cup, known as Heathfield Works. An early C19 engraving shows the building when it was the residence of Thomas Reynolds. From 1805 to 1856 it was let to James Wyatt, a barrister.

A number of enterprises have been associated with Heathfield Works:

  • Field's Hat Factory was here from the 1870s until it moved to Grove Road (Southdown) in 1883, and then to Kingcroft Road in 1927.

Photo:Abbott's factory, c.1960

Abbott's factory, c.1960

LHS Archives, Jim Jarvis collection (donated 2013)

  • Abbott, Anderson & Abbott Ltd, manufacturers of oilskins since 1867 who moved here in 1883.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

(see also http://www.gracesguide.co.uk/Anderson,_Abbott_and_Anderson for some further information.)  A disastrous fire destroyed the factory full of very flammable material on 21 February 1916. They moved to temporary accommodation in Southdown, until the premises were rebuilt, and continued there until 1964, when the firm was acquired by Edward MacBean and Co. of Glasgow and all production work was transferred to Scotland.

  • The Cooper Printing Equipment Co. Ltd., Heathfield Works, Leyton Road, who produced flexographic printing presses, sheet-fed flexo and ancillary equipment, stereo manufacturing equipment and special purpose printing machines.
  • Harpenden Garden Centre occupied the site after the demolition of the Abbott & Anderson factory in the 1990s, until the fire-station was built. The Garden Centre moved to Amenbury Lane, until the Village Surgery was built on that site in c.2004, after moving from 15 Leyton Road.

Harpenden Fire Station moved from its premises alongside Park Hall in 1994. Coopers Mews, a gated housing development, was built in 2003.

Photo:Harpenden Fire Station

Harpenden Fire Station

LHS archives

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There was a refreshment hut on the green next to the Silver Cup

Photo: Illustrative image for the 'Heathfield Works' page

LHS Archives photo 7603

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Some Abbott advertisements

Photo:The Abbott brand

The Abbott brand

LHS archives, BF 16.1 b

Photo:Label for use of oilskin

Label for use of oilskin

LHS archives, BF 16.1 c

This page was added by Rosemary Ross on 05/03/2013.
Comments about this page

My first job on leaving school in 1956 was as "shipping clerk" with Abbotts, as it was known.  The owner then was Mr Nelson Alfred Samler-Brown from Battlefield Road St. Albans.  Another director was Mr Basil Abbott from Churchfield.  In addition to oilskins they made varnished electrical insulating tape in black and yellow.  During the summer this was seen on every allotment in Harpenden to frighten birds away.  I was there until they closed.

By Roger Clark
On 05/05/2015

My great grandfather and his brother (Fred and Jack Abbott) were the original owners of the firm and my grandfather William Nelson Abbott was a part owner  - they also had another factory at 39 High Town Road, Luton but I have absolutely no idea what happened to that except we lived in a flat next to the factory before moving to Churchfield, Harpenden in 1956/7.  My father Basil Abbott was a director.

By Lesley Bush
On 13/10/2015

Geoff Carter, now living in Spain, has been sending us memories of the cottages his grandparents owned, close to the railway bridge on Wheathampstead (then Southdown, now Walkers) Road - nos. 92-99, since demolished to make way for Walkers Court. Phil Read at 96, next door to the Carters, worked at Abbotts, and brought home offcuts of oilskins which Mrs Carter used to fire the copper in her outhouse for the weekly wash. Geoff comments that "the copper was also used to make dandelion wine which was quite potent."

By Rosemary Ross
On 06/09/2016

I worked at "Abbots" for 7 or 8 years and knew Basil very well. His main passion was his whippets and he had Ganex waterproof coats made for them in the Harold Wilson style complete with tartan linings.

I also knew Phil Read not just because of being at "Abbotts" together but my grandparents lived next door but one at 93-94 Southdown Road. I used to go to the Carters in Crabtree Lane to take their rent.

Another Southdown Road resident at Providence Place was Bill Yeadon, who also worked at "Abbotts", part time.  He was disabled and travelled in a chair with two levers to power it.  When he got to the top of Bull Road he did not have the strength left to get over the then A6.

The man from the coffee stall used to go over and give him a push.

By Roger Clark
On 01/11/2016

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