Harpenden in 1905, by Arthur Mee

Photo:St Albans Road, Harpenden - no fences on the common

St Albans Road, Harpenden - no fences on the common

LHS collection

Photo:Lads and lassies on the common, near The Institute, Southdown Road

Lads and lassies on the common, near The Institute, Southdown Road

LHS collection

"A little piece of the countryside that has grown into a town"

Contributed by Eric Brandreth

Harpenden in 1905, as described by Arthur Mee founder of “The Children’s Encyclopaedia” :

Harpenden lies off the Great Road that leads to the North, in a little town which seems to have grown up naturally, instead of being made.  For Harpenden, where we were this afternoon of which I write, is a little piece of the countryside that has grown into a town without losing its countryness.

No little builders have been allowed to put up little rows of red-brick houses as much alike as ninepins.  No busybody has been allowed to fill up the pond in the middle of the High Street.  No timber-merchant has been allowed to buy the lovely trees that grow right in the middle of the road to London.

No selfish man has been allowed to put up railings round the common, which is worth going a hundred miles to see when the heather is blazing red.  And the streets are up and down, and wide and narrow, and crooked and straight, and the station is round the corner; and whether you walk about its streets or look down on it from a train on the Midland Railway, Harpenden is an unspoiled town, worthy to be the birthplace of a book. Here in the summer five years ago, this book [ The Children’s Encyclopaedia] was born.

From “ The New Children’s Encyclopaedia” Volume 1.  Published 1910

This page was added by David Hinton on 20/07/2010.

If you're already a registered user of this site, please login using the form on the left-hand side of this page.