St Albans 1914 -1918
In 1914 St Albans was a small but growing market town of around 24,000 inhabitants. In economic terms its location 20 miles north of London was important with hundreds of people commuting every day for work. Others found employment in new industries attracted to the city in the previous 20 years or so. Nonetheless, the staple trade was still straw hat manufacturing employing around 1,000 workers in ten factories most of which were close to the Midland (now the City) railway station. Recreational life was changing with access to the new cinema in Chequer Street and a growth in membership in sports clubs. The quality of housing was improving particularly in areas of the town, such as Fleetville, recently brought within the boundaries for the first time in 1913.
From the start of the war in August 1914, St Albans faced significant upheaval. Not only did many local men volunteer to serve in the army but perhaps as many as 8,000 soldiers came to live in the town for home defence and training purposes. They were billeted on the houses of the general public. This was just one problem the locals faced. Over the next four years, they also had to secure recruits for military service, enable businesses to survive, maintain food supplies and then finally welcome the demobilized veteran and commemorate over 600 St Albans men who died serving their country.
You can find more reading about the St Albans Home Front, by clicking here