High Street Property Details

No.29 WI Shop

No.29 is a Grade II Listed, two- storey building dating to the mid 18th century with an earlier timber-frame core.  The front section is rough cast and the rear side is chequered red brick.  It has a twin-pitched tile roof and two first floor sash windows(i)  For many years there was a flat-roofed, single-storey extension to the front of the shop as shown in old photographs but this has been demolished.  The photographs also show two trees outside the shop on the pavement.

In 1911(ii) Charles Latchford and his family were living and working at the shop at No.29 when it was owned by local butcher, George Simons.  Charles was a hairdresser on the village High Street from as early as 1891, as shown in the census of that year (ii).  He was a local man from The Folly, Wheathampstead.  By 1911 Charles was 46 years old and had been married to Laura for three years.  His son Charles Percival was 20 years old and assistant hairdresser to his father, while his younger son Thomas aged 17 was a law clerk.  Their mother, Clara, had died in 1893, the same year that Thomas was born.  Clara and Laura were sisters.  Throughout the 1920s Charles Percival also ran a cycle agency from here(iii).

Gilbert Smith(iv) remembered this building in the early 1900s as a barber's shop and Gladys Mitchell (nee Cobb) remembered it as such (v) in the 1920s

Kelly's Directory has entries for Latchford's Hairdressers in the High Street regularly through to 1937/8(iii).  By this time it is Charles Percival Latchford who is carrying on the business as by 1930 his father is no longer on the Wheathampstead Electoral Register(vi).  Charles senior died in 1937 aged 72 in Brighton where he and Laura were then living. (vii)

In 1952 Mr Robert Rayns ran a hardware store here, then in 1956 it was a domestic stores run by Mrs H. Gilbert. The telephone directory for 1960 shows Mr W.Gilbert, Hardware at No.29.(viii) : Valor stoves were sold as well as the paraffin to fuel them.

In 1963 it was still a hardware shop but now run by Mrs B. V. Blackford, who was there until about 1987.  The Electoral Registers record Barbara, Harold and Hugh Blackford living here between 1963-1987(vi). The shop had a wooden floor with a step up to the counter at the back.  Her sons Alan and Hughie both helped out in the shop.

By the year 2000 it was an empty shop.

Some time after 2000 it became a bookshop and 'Tashes and Tails' were there in 2005.  There was uproar when it was discovered that ladies' sexy underwear was being sold.

In 2007 it was a shop selling radiators (a 'Walney' radiator showroom: they subsequently moved to Holywell Hill St Albans where they are currently trading).

In 2010 the Hertfordshire Federation  of Womens Institutes (WI)  bought the building. The ground floor consists of the shop at the front and a seated area for meetings at the back. Behind this is a kitchen, then the main office. Beyond that and up a few stairs, is another office and a committee room. This room is used for WI County Federation and executive meetings. Tht two flats upstairs are leased out.

As well as being the headquarters of the Herts WI, arts and craft courses have also been held here.


Researchers:  various



·      English Heritage

·      Census, 1891 & 1911

·      Kelly's Directory, 1937/38

·      Gilbert Smith's letter to Ruth Jeavons, 1976

·      Gladys Mitchell's sketch map 1920s

·      Electoral registers, 1930s – 1980s

·      Ancestry.co.uk

·      Local Telephone Directory, 1960

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