Changing Face of Hemel Hempstead Number 6

Gone but Not Forgotten

By Wendy Godfrey

The site of the old Co-Operative Society

Regarding buildings that have vanished forever from Hemel Hempstead, here are three that I remember with a certain amount of affection.

St. Mary’s Hall

The first one is St. Mary’s Hall (the old one). This was situated in George Street just below the school. It was built of red brick with a stone plaque set in the wall near the entrance. The plaque was dedicated to the Misses Anne and Helen Varney. Inside was a very large hall with a huge stage. Leading off from the main hall were a number of smaller rooms and a kitchen. The caretaker had his own premises at the rear of the hall. I remember St Mary’s hall for several reasons. My mother belonged to the Mothers Union and, several times throughout the year, they held jumble sales or sales of work and I had a thoroughly good time helping. Also, this was where we attended Sunday School except for the first Sunday of the month when we attended St. Mary’s Church for morning service. I also remember the concerts that were held here and put on by local people. On one occasion a couple of the Sunday School children were invited to play a small non-speaking role in “Daddy Long-legs”. My friend and I were delighted to have been chosen. When I married, this is where we held our wedding reception and after my children were born I would take them to be weighed and checked at the baby clinic, which was housed in one of the smaller rooms.

Co-Operative Society

The second building I miss is the Co-Operative Society, not Quality house, but the old Co-op opposite Midland Road. This consisted of several individual shops in a long row. There was the grocer;s, butcher’s and shoe-shop. I think there may also have been a small furniture shop, although I am not certain. To one side there was stabling for the horses that pulled the carts for the bakery and milk rounds.My mother shopped for her groceries at the Co-Op. On $imentering, there was a wonderful aroma of coffee and other foodstuffs. I would watch the assistants weighing sugar and dried fruits, etc, then tipping them into thick blue paper bags. Then over to the other counter to watch the cheese being cut with a wire and the bacon slicer cutting the chosen bacon to the required thickness i of rasher.

Luxor Cinema

The third building that I recall was the Luxor cinema, approximately situated where Woolworths is today. Here I would spend many happy hours at Saturday Chums Club, and when I was older seeing the latest films. Two full length films, cartoon and news all for one entrance fee. The Hemel Operatic and Dramatic Society used to perform here as well. I remember The Pirates of Penzance, and very good entertainment it was too! The Luxor had a large balcony upstairs which the other cinema, The Princess, did not have. As my title says, gone but not forgotten

This page was added on 18/07/2011.

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