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Offline bazza

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Before the A1
« on: January 19, 2006, 07:02:46 pm »
Hi wise people of this parish. I've been trying to find photos of the area before the A1 was built, or of it being built. I don't know why but I find this stuff interesting. I think I've managed to get in my head the old route of the great north road, but some photos would be great. I've looked on the SABRE website, but only a couple of maps are of any use.
Any photos can be posted on here, or I'll be happy to scan and return any originals.
Thanks folks.
Bazza
 

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Re: Before the A1
« Reply #1 on: January 19, 2006, 07:12:00 pm »
Hi Bazza,

I suppose you could start with the old coaching road from South Mimms to North Mymms.



My wife was reading Bleak House by Charles Dickens recently and that could have been the road mentioned early on in the book when they travelled from London via Barnet to Bleak House (which I always imagined was up north, but apparently was near St Albans).

If you want to walk part of it you can try Walk One in this site's selection of 12 local walks.



At the point in the south-west corner of the map, where the path turns south-east, you can keep going and follow the coaching road to South Mimms. I guess that might have been a very early version of the A1.

David
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Offline bazza

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Re: Before the A1
« Reply #2 on: January 19, 2006, 07:59:06 pm »
I know it well David, I cycle it quite often as it's a bridleway and a very pleasant quiet route. Your suggestion makes a lot of sense as a main route, however, I was walking around the top of Swanland Road, over the footbridge over the A1 and upto the church the other day, which was when I started thinking about this all. To get between South Mimms and North Mymms, Swanland Road, although a bit longer would have been a better route as it's fairly flat. The bridleway has two steep hills in it.
I then looked at the old bit of Tollgate Road, from the war memorial down to the cricket club. I wonder if  as the name suggests you had to pay a toll that people would use other routes to avoid it.
Then, well I can go on for ages but I wondered where Tollgate Road went at it's south-east end as it now ends at the houses next to the A1 at Home Farm. Might it have been built over by the A1? Standing on the footbridge opposite the cafe on Swanland road, the route of Tollgate Road points roughly towards Warrengate Road at Water End.
I suspect Swanland Road, and possibly Warrengate Road were part of the route from South Mymms to Hatfield, but were they ever the A1? I believe all roads were numbered in 1922 but I don't know when the Barnet By-pass (the A1M) was built. In other words, which came first, the bypass or the numbers?
 

Offline Alfred the Great

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Re: Before the A1
« Reply #3 on: January 19, 2006, 09:49:48 pm »
Have you tried www.old-maps.co.uk? You need broadband and it's a bit choppy but still a good tool. Just tap in Brookmans Park in the search field and hey presto.
Confucius he say "a dog is for life not just for Christmas Dinner"
 

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Re: Before the A1
« Reply #4 on: January 19, 2006, 10:17:24 pm »
This isn't a great scan, I am afraid, but it is from the book North Mymms Pictures From The Past, which is reproduced on this site - for some reason I missed this one out, but a forum user has reminded me that it might be of interest to those following this thread.

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Offline bazza

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Re: Before the A1
« Reply #5 on: January 20, 2006, 12:31:19 am »
Well well! As Alfred suggested, I looked at old-maps and from 1877 a map appeared.  It is a little difficult to read, but no sign of Swanland Road at all. Tollgate Road does indeed go into Warrengate Road. This then appears to follow it's current path south until it reaches just south of Hawkshead Lane where it today rejoins Swanland Road. The road then continues south using what we know today as Swanland Road until it becomes what today is Warrengate Lane, then it ends at Cecil Road and Mutton Lane. A number of named roads lead off it along the way, which are now unnamed footpaths.
The scan of the Old Maypole gives some clues too. If it is geographically correct, then Swanland Road was the Barnet By-pass! All the other roads on the map appear correct, but it shows the by-pass going north from the junction with Dixons Hill Road, which is now just trees, but beyond this is Dixons Hill Close which does head in the same direction. On the SABRE website, http://www.sabre-roads.org.uk/roadlists/r10/notes.php?number=A555, is a brief mention of the A555 Barnet By-pass later being renamed A1. On David's scan it says it was renamed in 1954, I assume at the same time as the old A1 Great North Road was renamed A1000.
I have a Daily Mail map from 1929 which shows the Barnet By-pass as the A5092, although all I can find on this number is a road in Cumbria. The by-pass ran as far north as the A414 in Hatfield.
Rosie Simmonds memoirs of 1953 on this site mention the by-pass crossing Dixons Hill Road, which backs up David's scan of the Old Maypole.
So, my assumption now is that Swanland Road, whether it was caled that or not, was built sometime  between 1877 and 1953 (not narrowing it down much is it?) and was the Barnet By-pass until the building of the A1(M).
The search continues......
 

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Re: Before the A1
« Reply #6 on: January 20, 2006, 06:18:34 am »
I have scanned the image again and worked a bit on the resolution. It is now bit clearer (see previous post with image included). However, if you want more details, click here to go through to a full screen version.

I received an email last night containing the following information.

Quote
The answer to Bazza's question is that the Barnet By-pass was built in the 1930s and numbered the A555 at that time. In order to encourage traffic to use the By-pass rather than the Great North Road through Barnet and Potters Bar, it was re-numbered the A1 in 1954, when the Great North Road was simultaneously re-designated the A1000.
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Offline bazza

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Re: Before the A1
« Reply #7 on: January 20, 2006, 11:50:57 am »
Morning David. Thanks for the better image. And thanks to the person who emailed you too. A few more thoughts on the matter though.
I have this map from 1929 showing the Barnet By-pass. It is shown as completed rather than planned or in construction so it seems to have been built earlier than the '30s. Possibly it had the obscure number A5092, then perhaps in the '30s it was renumbered the A555 and again renumbered A1 in '54???
I had a walk aroung the area at the top of Swanland Road, Dixons Hill Road and Dixons Hill Close this morning, trying to work out the old route.
The area around the junction is built up from the surrounding ground, presumably so it could line up with the bridge over the current A1M. But, where did the road go from the top of Swanland Road before the motorway was built? I thought perhaps it went straight on through the woods into part of Dixons Hill Close, where the kennels now are. But, this would mean a very steep drop so unlikely. I looked at the road surface in DH Close and curiously it has two rows of cats eyes despite having old street lighting. Could perhaps the road have been at a lower level at the top of Swanland Road until the motorway was built? Also, looking at the route it takes might DH Close have originally been DH Road? This would explain why the angle of Dh Road seems  to have moved slightly where it meets Tollgate Road at the war memorial. Also, the house numbers in DH Close on the south side start in the 20s, running from west to east. Could the lower numbered houses have been demolished to make way for the motorway?
I seem to have got quite obsessed by this ???
 

Offline Mary_Morgan

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Re: Before the A1
« Reply #8 on: January 20, 2006, 01:12:54 pm »
Bazza

What is now Dixons Hill Close was Dixons Hill Road.  The top sloping bit of Swanland Road and the part of Dixons Hill Road that it joins did not exist.   At the bottom of Dixons Hill Road there was a junction where you went across to the Church, or turned right or left to get onto the Barnet by Pass.   For some years before the A1M was built it did have traffic lights, but I can recall it not having them and it was pretty dangerous to get across.    From about the bottom of the slope on Swanland Road is part of the road that was the old Barnet By Pass.   If you exit the AIM at the university in Hatfield and take the road that goes down by the side of the Comet, that too is part of the old Barnet By Pass.  There are other bits of it running alongside the A1M in various places, but I would have to drive around to pick them all out. 

You mention the cats eyes in DH Close.   My grandmother told me in the 50s that Hertfordshire CC had been so impressed with the idea of cats eyes that they had installed a lot of them and there were more cats eye per mile in Hertfordshire than in any other county.  Do not know if it was true or not, but I believed her.

Dellsome Lane use to carry on down to the Barnet By Pass as well, and there was a junction  where you get across to one of the lanes going into Colney Heath, but I am trouble with the memory on that one.

Mary
 

Offline bazza

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Re: Before the A1
« Reply #9 on: January 20, 2006, 03:35:01 pm »
HI Mary,
Thanks for getting involved. That all makes more sense. Do you think the old ByPass was built over by the A1M from Dixons Hill northwards? I'm just having a problem seeing exactly where it used to go. Im now guessing by what youve said that from about where the cafe is on Swanland Road, the old bypass snaked west a bit before being built over by the new A1M, and that the sloping bit at the top of Swanland Road was added later to join Dixons Hill Road (the new one) so traffic could go over the A1M. Does that sound about right or am I getting it all wrong? It kind of makes sense as the road levels are the same, and it explains why their is no sign of the old bypass if it was built over.
I've been up Dellsome Lane, past where it now becomes a dead end and it is still paved, although much grown over. It now leads you into a field upto the edge of the A1M. On the other side, in Colney Heath there is still a bit of road called Dellsome Lane.
The road you mentioned by the University is called Roehyde Way, my father in law recalled to me this was the old A1, but can't remember the route south of this. Again as there is little evidence of a path or overgrown road between Roehyde Way and Swanland Road, I suspect the old bypass was built over by the new here.
As a bit of an aside, the attached photo is of a bit of Dixons Hill Close. In it you can see the double cats eyes (these are across rather than along the road), but what is the metal strip running across the road? Could it be an early speed hump?
 :o
 

Offline sharks

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Re: Before the A1
« Reply #10 on: January 20, 2006, 04:14:22 pm »
The bits I recollect from my childhood are:

The road out of Welham Green did go to a set of traffic lights where Dixons Hill Close goes now and went straight ahead to the church and on to Colney Heath.  there was a cafe on the corner if memory serves me correctly but not 100% sure.

The road to the left of that junction would have gone along the old A1 where the Maypole / Woodman turning is and would have connected to the exit off the M25 roundabout that goes to Barnet.

The road to the right of that junction did in part follow the road between the Galleria and the A414 / A1 roundabout, supported by the fact that there are a couple of houses just set back from the roundabout.  Not sure where it went on it's way through Hatfield but will ask my Dad who may recollect.

Sorry if this is repeating some of what Mary has already said.
 

Offline bazza

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Re: Before the A1
« Reply #11 on: January 20, 2006, 07:11:50 pm »
Thanks Sharks! I read on here something about a cafe on Dixons Hill so that tallys up.
It's all forming a good idea of the layout now.
Cheers ;)
Does anyone else recall the area? Or even have some photos?
Bazza
 

Offline Abbot

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Re: Before the A1
« Reply #12 on: January 20, 2006, 07:24:28 pm »
The bumps are pneumatic tube detectors to inform the traffic lights that a car is approaching. It is now all done by inductive loops in the road. You can read a bit about it at the Department of Transport.

http://www.dft.gov.uk/stellent/groups/dft_roads/documents/pdf/dft_roads_pdf_504748.pdf

 

Offline bazza

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Re: Before the A1
« Reply #13 on: January 20, 2006, 11:42:14 pm »
Thanks Abbot, you really do learn something new everyday! Mary and Sharks both mentioned the traffic lights, and there is still evidence of them today.
I was thinking about the double set of cats eyes, and it kind of makes sense if at the traffic lights there was a filter lane to go south. The bottom end of DH Close is wider than the rest. Hmmmm.... ???

 

Offline Mallow

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Re: Before the A1
« Reply #14 on: January 22, 2006, 01:27:50 pm »
Just in case anyone is interested the cafe was called Pete's Cafe.

I have some maps confirming all of the above memories.  If you want to have a look at them PM me.  Unfortunately they are not very good quality as they are photo copies that were made in the seventies, and they are too big to scan.

Regards.
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Offline bazza

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Re: Before the A1
« Reply #15 on: January 22, 2006, 03:40:39 pm »
Thanks Mallow, I've Pm'd you.  ;D
 

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Re: Before the A1
« Reply #16 on: January 22, 2006, 10:44:33 pm »
Re. the question of what part of Swanland Road was originally the A1, and where does the new (raised) construction start to take it up to the new level of the re-aligned Dixons Hill Road. This can easily be determined as the original line of the highway (Swanland Road) utilised natural granite kerbstones, which can still be seen. The reconstructed part, (early 70’s?), uses more modern pre-cast concrete kerbs.

Roger
 

Offline chicken legs

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Re: Before the A1
« Reply #17 on: January 22, 2006, 10:53:54 pm »
I think Peter's cafe was further north, past the Glendee Kennels.  The cafe on the corner of Dixons Hill Road and the A1 was famous for being used as the location for the filming of "Budgie", a series starring Adam Faith in, I think, the seventies.  I used to take my children there for a glass of orange juice on the last day of the school holidays, a real treat in the days when we couldn't afford to eat out.   :)
 

Offline bazza

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Re: Before the A1
« Reply #18 on: January 22, 2006, 11:35:17 pm »
Thanks Roger, I'll go and have a look.
I've been searching around on the interweb and it seems the current A1(M) was opened in 1979, between jct 1 and 2, South Mimms and Roestock.
From there it was single carriageway again and took the route of Roehyde Way, past the Uni, then along Comet Way up to Stanbourough where it joined up with the current A1(M)  opened in 1973 from jct 4 to 6, Stanborough to Welwyn.
The section from 2 to 4, Roestock to Stanborough was opened, including the Hatfield tunnel in 1986. (Amazing to think of all the north-south traffic going from two lanes of motorway into single carriageway through Hatfield for 15 years).
I have bought a map from the 1960's which should arrive in the next few days (good old ebay). If it's any good I'll post a scan from it on here.
So, now to find out when the Swanland Road bit was built.
I believe it might have been between 1925 and 1927 as this is when other sections of the Barnet Bypass were opened. It's on a map I have from 1929 as completed by then so is roughly correct at least.
This, original Barnet Bypass was first numbered the A5092. I can't find exactly when it was renumbered to the A555. This was finally changed to the A1 in 1954.
Thanks Chicken legs, I looked up Budgie, and it was broadcast in 1970-71. We must all have been terrible cooks back then if we needed so many cafes in such a small place ;D
I've still had no luck in finding any photos of the area around the road from pre A1(M) times.
 

Offline Abbot

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Re: Before the A1
« Reply #19 on: January 23, 2006, 12:12:57 am »
Wasn't there a party in the Hatfield Tunnel before it opened. I am sure Bazza would be interested in those photos.
 

Offline bazza

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Re: Before the A1
« Reply #20 on: January 23, 2006, 01:10:35 am »
I'd love to! Typical Hatfield, wait 15 years to clear the congeston but better just hang on until we've had our party! ;D
 

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Re: Before the A1
« Reply #21 on: January 23, 2006, 09:19:45 am »
<<We must all have been terrible cooks back then if we needed so many cafes in such a small place>>

I don't think it was so much a reflection on our culinary skills, as a direct link with the proximity of major North/South trunking routes in this area, and the sustenance needs of the transport community. Certainly the "Budgie" cafe was a well known stop for the overnight trunkers, as was the "Rookery" on the A1000. I didn't know about a cafe in D.Hill Rd. but I expect  that would have served the same clientele.

It amazes me that some of these places still keep going after they have been by-passed by the motorway age. You can still get a good value meal in them, complete with a pint mug of tea. Try that in a Little Chef!


Roger
 

Offline bazza

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Re: Before the A1
« Reply #22 on: January 23, 2006, 10:37:34 am »
I try to avoid Little Thiefs as much as possible. I sampled the culinary delights of the cafe on Swanland Road the other day. It gets 3 michelin stars in my book. You're right though Roger, where do they get their trade from ???
Curious weirdos like me can't be that common?!?!?
 

Offline Beppy

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Re: Before the A1
« Reply #23 on: January 23, 2006, 10:49:42 am »
As a child, in the late 1950s, I remember the Dixons Hill Road junction was just a cross roads.  It could be very dodgy at times crossing what was becoming a very busy road (what we called the Barnet Bypass).  From the Colney Heath direction there was a steep incline at the crossroads.  I remember by mother saying that coming home to BP one afternoon from St Albans, she was waiting at the crossroads behind a van.  Suddenly the van doors opened and a large piece of machinery fell out of the van.  Fortunately she was able to reverse quickly before it crunched into the car.

The arrival of the traffic lights much later was a slight improvement but, due to the volume and speed of traffic on the A1, it was still hazardous as cars didn't always notice the traffic lights in time (although the lights were also suspended over the road on the A1).  The arrival of the bridge was great although the local landscape was changed so much by the road widening, etc.

The cafe was on the corner of the crossroads in Dixon Hill Road.  It had the word CAFE in large letters on its roof.  I seem to remember it had a verandah (maybe glass covered) around the outside so you could sit and watch the cars go by.  The cafe further on towards Hatfield was the transport cafe.  There were more cafes around then as people tended to stop for tea when out and about.  Going out for an evening meal was a very rare event!

Apologies if this isn't relevant to Bazza's initial question, but couldn't resist a spot of nostaligia!
 :mblah05:
 

Offline bazza

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Re: Before the A1
« Reply #24 on: January 23, 2006, 01:26:20 pm »
Thanks for your memories Beppy! It all adds meat to the bones. Welcome to the forum. ;D
 

Offline Mary_Morgan

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Re: Before the A1
« Reply #25 on: January 23, 2006, 07:35:15 pm »
Bazza

This entertaining thread is definately stretching the old grey cells!!!  The old A1 northwards from Dixons Hill Rd I would think is under the southbound carriageway of the A1M, as far as it goes uphill, which isn't far.  Are there Poplar trees alongside it - the old Barnet by-Pass had Poplars. 

At a guess the road that runs parallel to the A1M on its east side between the Hatfield southern link road and the uni could be part of the old road.  Similarly the road from the Tesco roundabout running parallel to the east of the A1M south to the next roundabout looks as though it could have been  part of the old A1 - the verges look familiar in size.     Further north, the road that runs parallel on the west of the A1M from Stanborough Lakes  to the Valley Road roundabout in WGC is the old A1.   There used to be a transport cafe here as well.    If you go further north, a lot of the old road is obvious through Old Welwyn, Knebworth, Stevenage etc.

Another one to remember is that the current A1000 used to meet up with the A1, and the Hertford Road,  at Jack Oldings Roundabout (about where the Tesco roundabout is now), but the way through was lost when the electrification of the railway necessitated the demolishing of the bridge by the Wrestlers Pub in Hatfield because it was too low to get the power cables under.

Above the tunnel in Hatfield is hard to visualise as it was because there has been so much new building.   Wonder whether British Aerospace ( Hawker Siddeley, De Havillands) has an archive anywhere.    Certainly, going north if you come off the Comet roundabout, the parade on the left, Harspfield Broadway, has been there for years, as has Waters. 

The cafe at the bottom of Dixons Hill Road was Akerman's Cafe.  I think now if you go down DH Close the last house on the right is a very nice double fronted bungalow - that was the cafe. 

Nice to be reminded of Pete's Cafe further north - I had totally forgotten that one.

From 3000 miles away this perhaps is the ramblings of an old lady, but it is of one who has been rathered captured by the subject, so when I come home later in the year I will have a drive round to have a look at it all again. 

Unfortunately, I do not think I have any photographs.

Beppy is right, Dixons Hill and the A1 was a bad bad junction.  I did, in fact, know someone who was killed on it through no fault of his own.    That flyover is the best thing that ever happened, despite the fact that it may not be as attractive as it used to be in that area.

Mary
 

Offline bazza

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Re: Before the A1
« Reply #26 on: January 23, 2006, 08:11:06 pm »
Thanks for your info Mary ;D
It's odd how quickly one can forget what was around us when it's gone. I've only lived up here 6 years so I don't know much of the area, but with everyone's help I'm learning. I did use the A1(M) once, by mistake just after it opened in 1986. I'd just bought a brand new Vespa scooter, with gleaming 'L' plates. I really didn't have a clue where I was, just that I wanted to get from Croydon where I lived to my brothers house in Milton Keynes. It was freezing cold, I hadn't yet realized that I really ought to wear glasses and I had no idea how to ride a bike. Still, I got there in one piece and managed to avoid capture.
Keep the memories coming folks. ;D
 

rognjac

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Re: Before the A1
« Reply #27 on: January 23, 2006, 08:20:32 pm »
Further to the comments re. the "Budgie" cafe. I believe the cafe that was actually used for the filming was the one (still there) in Swanland Road, at Water End. I seem to remember it was actually renamed "Budgie Cafe", and had signs to that effect until comparatively recent times.

Roger
 

Offline Abbot

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Re: Before the A1
« Reply #28 on: January 23, 2006, 08:59:08 pm »
Found the following site with information about the Hatfield Tunnel, a couple of nice pictures of the construction.

http://www.iht.org/motorway/hatfield.htm
 

Offline bazza

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Re: Before the A1
« Reply #29 on: January 23, 2006, 11:14:00 pm »
Thanks folks! ;D
 

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