High Street Property Details

The Post Office is one of three shops in this block of dwellings built in the early 1960s. Heather and Rob Gordon (i) believe it was built around 1960/61. The present building is owned by Jarvis of Harpenden but prior to the shops and flats being built, a pub - The Red Lion - and two cottages stood on the site.

The Red Lion was a Hatfield Brewery tied house, owned by the Searanke family (who also owned and ran the Kingsbury Brewery in St Albans). The Searanke family started the Hatfield Brewery in 1589: it was later taken over by Joseph Bigg, a brewer from Stanstead Abbotts, who went bankrupt in 1819. It then changed hands several times before being sold to Alfred Prior in 1837. The Prior & Reid breweries merged in 1881.

During 1837 the local Justice of the Peace said that “stolen goods were disposed of by passing carts and wagons to London", hinting at organised crime at the Red Lion.  An early article in the Herts Advertiser said    

" under the operation of policeman Knight our village prodigalities have been to a great degree suppressed and if a strict watch is kept on all public houses it will effectively avert the open crime and immorality which was formerly notorious and revolting to the peaceable and well conducted inhabitants."

In 1855 George Knight was the village policeman living at Jessamine Cottage. Amelia Nash of the Red Lion was fined £3 12s 6d for refusing to admit Knight to check that there were no customers in the house at 10.30pm. She had already been convicted of selling beer during prohibited hours.

In 1911 The Red Lion beer house was being run by Elijah (aged 61) and Laura (aged 51)  Collins. Elijah Collins died in 1920 aged 70.

Gilbert Smith remembers there being two cottages by the Red Lion public house and a Mrs Laura Collins lived there with her son, Billy, plus her daughters Laura, May and Jessie. (ii) 

In 1920 The Red Lion was sold at auction along with several other public houses, among them ‘The Tin Pot’ at Gustard Wood. Listed as a tied estate the Red Lion was serving only 60 barrels of beer per year, while others were selling 299 barrels per year. The Red Lion had a beer only license which therefore did not include wines and spirits. 

Kelly's directory of 1927/8 (iii) lists Mrs Laura Collins as still running the Red Lion. Fred Collins (no relation to Elijah and Laura) bought the beer house and when he died in 1936, it was mentioned in his will.

The cottages at the front of the Red Lion were demolished in the 1920s, and then the Red Lion in the 1930s. Amy Coburn (iv) believes that just before demolition, the Red Lion had been converted into flats, and she remembers visiting no.4 .

However, Rita Cobb (v) told me her parents, Bert and Doris Cobb, lived in the Red Lion in 1937 although the building was condemned at that time. It was said that the Red Lion was haunted. They heard a noise downstairs one night and Bert went down to investigate; the dog was very spooked and would not enter. When Bert returned to his wife she said to him " you weren't gone long, I felt you sit on the edge of the bed !"

During the Second World War, there were two domed huts on this site: one housed the ATS and the other, soldiers. A Mrs Chivers moved into one of them when she became homeless after the war. When she moved out it became a Youth Centre.  

Barbara DeMornay-Davies (vi) and John Roe (vii) are two of the many people we have talked to and discovered that they went to the Youth Club here at one time or another. Barbara (vi) recalls "we'd jive to old records, play table tennis, billiards, etc" .Rita Cobb (v) remembers too attending the Youth Club in around 1955. She said "they played Bill Haley a lot. It became a thriving youth club and people would come from Codicote to attend.”

Kelly's 1966 directory has no.5 Station Road listed as Hatfield Dry Cleaning. In February 1973 the village Post Office moved to these larger premises at 5 Station Road. The new building provided the Post Office with larger facilities to cope with the growing needs of the village. Local mail was sorted on the premises for deliveries in Wheathampstead and surrounding areas including Gustard Wood, Blackmore End, Lea Valley, Nomansland Common and Waterend. Up to nine postmen were employed including a van delivery driver. The mail continued to be sorted on the premises until 1993 when mail sorting and deliveries were centralised at St Albans sorting office. Probably the best known of the village postmen was Ken Mayles, whose delivery round covered Gustard Wood. He was very kind hearted and would often help the elderly people with shopping, making up fires and generally keeping an eye on them. He had strong connections with Wheathampstead Football Club and played golf regularly at Mid Herts Golf Club. His nickname was Whippet, a name he acquired during his football playing days.

Rob Gordon and his wife Heather (i) ran the post office on this site from 1973 until their retirement in October 2000. The Post Office was then taken over by Alpesh Patel.  It has recently (end of 2013) been taken over by Amit and Mira Kathrotiya.  

April 2020 update

Since this research was completed in 2013, members of the History Society have researched the pubs and beerhouses of Wheathampstead from 1830 to 1914. For a history of The Red lion, click here.                     

Researcher:  Susan Mary Brind (nee Sparshott)


(i)  conversation with Heather & Rob Gordon, 2013

(ii)  Gilbert Smith's letter to Ruth Jeavons, dated April 1976

(iii) Kelly’s Directory 1927/28, 1966,

(iv) Amy Coburn memoires

(v)  Rita Cobb

(vi) Barbara DeMornay-Davies' memories as recounted to Ruth

Jeavons, 2013

(vii) conversation with John Roe


Property Images

past & present images for this property

Additional images, documents, audio and video files: