Wednesday, 29 May 2013

River Ver - Radlett Aerodrome

River Ver
The Ver flows south east and south west

Post to the east Napsbury
Post to the north Hedges Farm
Post to the west How Wood 
Post to the south Colney Street

Frogmore
A straggling village, extending for some distance along Watling Street. In the early 1800’s, the Manor of Park was split into two, the Park Valley Estate and the Parkbury Lodge Estate.
Frogmore House. This was built on part of what was the Park Valley Estate and incorporated part of the Park Valley farmhouse. The main part of the house was built in 1725, but it was re-fronted in the 19th by the architect Francis Wigg, for himself.  It is painted brick and 1725 is shown on the rain water head plus a lion mask.
Grounds – these were laid out by Frogmore House owner, Sidney Brunton, who built an ornamental canal, diverting part of the river so that it flowed near to the house. He built a hatchery and bred trout for re-stocking the river. On the other side of the river he had an 18-hole golf course laid out. Wooden bridges crossed the canal and river to the golf-links and there was also a brick and timber golf-house. This area has since been used for gravel extraction by Lafarge and the gardens largely lost.
Garden Cottage. 18th house in red brick.
Holy Trinity.  The area was part of St Stephen's parish but as the settlement here grew it was felt another church was needed and Holy Trinity was built in 1841-2 as a chapel of ease.  The architects were Scott and Moffatt- . George Gilbert Scott became the most successful church architect of his day.  The style is neo-Norman, which enjoyed popularity between about 1835 and 1845. The outside is little altered but the interior was changed in the late 1960s.
Lych gate. This is timber framed on a flint and brick plinth and is dated 1891. It was built in memory of Mr and Mrs Harry Oliver, by their children
14-18 almshouses built in 1842
22-26 almshouses built and endowed by the Wigg family when they sold Frogmore House in 1890
Frogmore Parish Centre
36 Vicarage
Frogmore Home Park - Mobile home park behind Brinsmead
Park Industrial Estate – on the site of Handley Page works
Curo Park – housing on the site of Handley Page works
Former Aerodrome and aircraft factory. Radlett Aerodrome dates from 1930 when Handley Page set up a grass aerodrome from civil aircraft.  They also moved manufacturing here from Cricklewood. Opened as a grass aerodrome for Handley Page civil aircraft.  It was extended in 1939 and used for th4 production of HP Hampden and HP Halifax bombers. Post-war it was used for the production of Hasting and Hermes airliners and many other aircraft. The Society of British Aircraft Constructors held air shows here in 1947 and 1948. The Victor bomber prototype was built here. The runways were extended in 1952 to allow flight testing. Planes were manufactured at Cricklewood then taken for assembly at Radlett. The company used ‘split-assembly’ which meant that aircraft could be built simultaneously at different places quickly. This was pioneered during the Second World War with the Harrow followed by the twin engined Hampden and the Halifax bomber. At the peak of production, in 1944, between 38 and 42 Halifaxes were turned out every month here. After the war the Jetstream was developed and mainly manufactured here. Handley Page remained independent but the Company went bankrupt in 1969 and the airfield closed in 1970. It is now gravel workings, much owned by Lafrage and warehousing.  It is under consideration as the site of a major rail goods interchange.
Main car park north
Canteens
Experimental hangar.
The Flight Test Hangar was built at the northern end of the site in 1941. At had a full set of 100ft span trusses with another 100ft span covering. At the south end was an office block. It was extended to its full length - about double - later and a firewatcher’s post was built on the  central roof truss. The hangar survived closure of the factory but curtailed in size and minus the firewatcher’s post. The main sliding doors remained and the structrure was clad with modern materials although the main door frames plus wheels were the originals. The office block remained infilled with bricks.
A Ministry of Aircraft Production (MAP) type B1 hangar was constructed to the south of the Test Flight Hangar in 1945. After the war this housed the Test Section plus a drawing office. the steel frame and the maindoor frames survived.
Design and drawing offices
Test house
Water tank and test rigs
Education and training centre main production hall and administrative block
Jetstream building and main assembly building
Transport garages
Components shop
ATC tower
Approach radar scanner
Main runway – This runs north east/north west and its line can still be seen
Runway – This runs north west/south east and its line can still be seen
VHF radio building

Hyde Lane
Roman Villa was found during gravel digging in 1943. Further discoveries of buildings were made as the gravel digging extended east of the villa in the 1950s. A bath-house, other structures, and a twin-burial site were found.
River Ver– near the villa site gravel digging threw up a timber construction along what could be the old course of the River which suggests some form of wharf here

Sources
Business Cavalcade
Clunn. Face of the Home Counties
Control Towers. Web site
Flight archive. Web site
Handley Page. Wikipedia Web site
Hertfordshire Churches
National Heritage. Web site
Osborne. Defending London
Pevsner and Cherry. Hertfordshire
River Ver. Web site
St.Albans City Council. Web site
Wessex Archaeology. Web site
Whitelaw. Hidden Hertfordshire

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