Newspapers On-line The British Library, working with a commercial company, has a long-term project to digitise its vast newspaper archive, so it is online, and, most important, is fully searchable: see www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk. Searching for a subject is free, but you have to pay to see the full article. At first, the site focused on national newspapers, but now more and more local papers are being added (e.g. the Hertford Mercury from the nineteenth century).
Repairs to St Michael’s Church (in 1865)
From Herts Guardian, Agricultural Journal and General Advertiser of 18 July 1865
“An effort is being made to repair St Michael’s Church, St Albans in which the remains of Bacon lie interred. This church is one of the most interesting edifices in all England: a place of pilgrimage for thousands of people. Many should be proud to help in keeping it in decent repair. We are glad to find that about £1700 has already been subscribed for the purpose; a sum of £300 more will suffice, and the sacred shrine which holds all that was mortal of Francis Bacon will be made strong for several centuries to come.”
New Railway in St Albans (in 1858)
From the Hertford Mercury of 8 May 1858
Opening of the St Alban’s and Watford Branch Railway
“Wednesday last was a day of public rejoicing at St Alban’s, to celebrate an event of considerable importance to the town – the opening of the St Alban’s and Watford Branch Railway. Every other town in the county has long enjoyed the advantage and convenience of railway communication, while the ancient town of St Alban’s has been passed by and allowed to remain in an isolated state, as though it were a secluded village. At length, the iron road has been brought within the precincts of the town, and St Alban’s now enjoys the benefit of that great stimulus to commercial enterprise – the railway.”
(This was the first railway in St Albans as the Midland Railway main line and station did not come until 1868)
Murder in Fishpool Street - from the Nottingham Evening Post, 6 June 1900
Martin Brennan was charged before the St Albans Bench yesterday with killing and slaying George Smith in Fishpool Street of that town on Monday night. It was stated in evidence that the prisoner and deceased were standing on the edge of a pavement which is some 3 feet above the level of the road when the prisoner struck Smith twice on the head, causing him to fall into the road. Smith was picked up in an insensible condition and taken to his home close by where he expired early yesterday morning. It was stated that not a single word passed between the two men but when arrested Brennan who is lame said “I never hit him, I thought he was going to kick my leg and I shouted“.
(Research shows that George Smith was 57 when he was killed. While it is a common name, it looks as if he was the George Smith, a blacksmith, who was living with his family in Temperance Street when the 1891 census was taken. In the 1901 census, his widow was living at 124 Fishpool Street).
SPEEDING IN VERULAM ROAD
The Society’s Committee has supported introduction of the 20 mph limit in St Michaels, but driving too fast in the area is not new! The article below comes from the Hertford Mercury of 5th August 1853:
Furious driving: fatal accident to a horse
William Pestell of St Michael's was charged with furious driving on Verulam Road, St Albans. George Vialls said he was driving a fly on Saturday, July 30 at a steady pace on the left of the road, and was in the act of turning the corner by the Angel Inn, when the defendant came round the corner with a horse and cart at the rate of 8 to 10 miles an hour, and was on his wrong side. His off shaft ran into the witness's horse's chest about 18 inches. The horse died on the spot. The defendant admitted that he was on the wrong side of the road and seemed anxious to make reparation if it was in his power. He was fined 15 shillings, and 8 shillings costs, and allowed 14 days to pay the money
The Angel was the pub attached to the Kingsbury Brewery, and was on the corner of Verulam Road and Branch Road.