High Street and village/town centre
The centre of Harpenden is characterised by the greens which run along the High Street from Station Road to Sun Lane. These greens were part of the 'Waste' of the Rothamsted Manor estate, and were not formally handed over to the Harpenden Urban District Council by the then Lord of the Manor, Sir Charles Lawes, until 1900, on the undertaking that they would be preserved for the community. Old photos show the Cock Pond, before it was drained in 1929 and the drainage stream along Lower High Street was culverted. Small foot-bridges linked 'Lower' High Street to the main High Street, which was tree-lined on both sides.
Until the end of the nineteenth century most of the cottages along the High Street were timber-framed and many have given way to the parades of shops which appeared from the 1890s. Dramatic photos record the destruction of Polly Nott's cottage to make way for shops at the corner of Vaughan Road around in the 1890s. In 1936 Bowers Parade masked Bowers House, a most distinguished building overlooking the pond, and replaced a picturesque thatched cottage. In the 1960s Lines' smithy and forge was replaced by Anvil House (shops and flats).
But some old buildings have survived - The Old Cock pub, 68-72 High Street (The Old Red Lion), The Pollards (41 High Street, currently a restaurant), The Cross Keys and numbers 65 - 73 High Street, at the corner with Sun Lane.
We hope to tell the story of some of the many shops that have come and gone, and what we know of the buildings they replaced, by searching our extensive collection of photos, which is regularly being updated as the face of the High Street changes. We hope you will be willing to help in this project.