A stone on the wall of the block of cottages, 8-11 Southdown Road bearing the initials of himself and his wife Charlotte (H&CH, 1870), is the only identification sign to commemorate the generosity to Harpenden of Mr Henry Tylston Hodgson.
Mr Hodgson, who was Vice Chairman of the Midland Railway Company, bought ‘Welcombe‘, now the Harpenden House Hotel, soon after the Railway came through the centre of Harpenden in I868, and here his eight sons and one daughter grew up. He was Harpenden’s first elected member of Hertfordshire County Council.
At one time Mr Hodgson owned most of the land between Station Road and Crabtree Lane and on part of it he built The Institute, now The Friends Meeting House, with a Hall for meetings and other gatherings and a Public Reading Room. And also, where 56-50 Southdown Road now stand, a Rifle Club, which later became the first local Scout Headquarters until it was replaced by the present building in about 1950.
Mr.Hodgson also built for the Parish St.John’s Hall, now the Harpenden Trust Centre, and, when the Salvation Army moved from their building in Heath Road, Mr.Hodgson bought it and it was used by the Welcombe and Rover Football Club until Heath Road was redeveloped in the 1960s.
In 1908 he had built, to the plans of his architect son, Victor, the large house, known as Rosemary, now 28 Milton Road, thinking that his wife might live there after his death, but this was not to be as Mrs Hodgson died in 1910. Instead he made the house available for the care of wounded soldiers during the First World War. Mr.Hodgson, who for some years was a Churchwarden, left to the parish the lands which now form St.Nicholas School Playground and the Church Garden.
* This article was first published in Harpenden People by Cornelia Clutterbuck (LHS archives BF 9/7), which was the basis of an exhibition she organised on 7 March 1987 about the people associated with roads or buildings named after them.