The Website of Tia Maria Jim

A lot of things have changed in St Albans but a lot of things are still the same.

I was brought up in Fleetville in Linden Crescent, off Ashley Road, which in turn is off Hatfield Road.

In those days Ashley Road ended at the railway bridge and then became a pot-holed track leading to Hill End Hospital.  The house numbers started and ended in Ashley Road having continued round Oakdene Way, Willow Crescent and Linden Crescent.  Between Linden Crescent and the railway was a field, basically a rubbish dump for garden waste and other unwanted stuff.  We used to play there for hours, waiting for the occasional train and picking the wild strawberries that grew on the railway embankment.  We played with grasshoppers and the stripey caterpillars of cinnabar moths, listened to cuckoos and heard the squeals of pigs being slaughtered nearby.  Across the railway was a brick works where some Italian POWs worked.

Our local shops in Fleetville included Blackstaffe's from whom my mother bought paraffin, vegetables came from Spendwise, various groceries from Bennington's, papers and stamps from Rankin Smith's.  My hair was cut in Fleetville Saloons, opposite Ballito's.  I've forgotten the name of our butchers and our chemists [possibly Finch's and Bowman's respectively].  Funnily, I can still recall the smell of these different shops.

The first neon sign I ever saw lit up was that of West & Sellick, shortly after VE Day.  In view of what was to be a major interest in my life it's a strange coincidence that the building with the neon sign has become the headquarters of CAMRA [Campaign for Real Ale]

I have long had an interest in buses, and chatting to someone of similar age we discussed bus adverts of yesteryear.  The one that made maximum impact on me as a child was that of Picture Post.

 

Many of our St Albans buses of that period had such front adverts with realistic 'eyes' and I recall that FJJ685 and FJJ696 had these.  FJJ691 had no front posters at all and I would not travel on this particular bus because it was 'blind'!

Sadly St Albans bus garage closed in 1989 and has since been demolished.