Sopwell history book published!

The book is called "Sopwell: a history and collection of memories" and was published on 21st May 2012.

Sandy Norman, the author, tells the story:-

Sopwell history book coverAfter nearly three years of research into Sopwell’s history, including collecting memories from local residents, the Sopwell book is finished.

Well over twenty residents came forward to be interviewed and share their memories making this a true community project. Many of the oral contributions are very entertaining and it has been a labour of love writing them up.

I cannot say it is the definitive history of Sopwell, as I am sure many more memories will surface when the book is read and digested, but at least it is a start. We have plans to continue the project indefinitely via the website.

Many of the images included in the book come from private collections. I have even discovered a photo of the mysterious Fenny, after whom the boardwalk by the river is named!

The book starts with Sopwell’s medieval beginnings and ends in the 20th century and covers the industries in the area, the early roads and pre-war estates, the war years and the post-war estates. The final chapter covers what people did for fun: recreational activities. It is amazing what children got up to fifty or sixty years ago!

We had to publish the book ourselves. We had it printed professionally. The SRA has no income so we have had to rely on some small grants to start us off and it is hoped that we can pay the rest in a reasonably short time when the book starts selling. Considering the amount of information collected in the book, we think the retail price of only £15 is reasonable. We have been fortunate in attracting some sponsorship from local companies and organisations.

The book was successfully launched on 21st May 2012 at the beautiful Sopwell House Hotel. Sopwell House kindly sponsored the launch. This was a very apt place for the launch as not only is it in the heart of Sopwell, it is one of our historic buildings (it was formerly New Barnes House) and it is of course featured in the book.

The launch event was opened by local Councillor Eileen Harris, then also Mayor of St Albans. I said a few words and thanked everyone who contributed to the book as well as those companies and organisations who sponsored us: Herts County Council, the Ver Valley Society, Pearce Recycling, Verulam Golf ClubBlacks of Sopwell and Sopwell House.

Sandy Norman with memory contributors

The book is on sale directly from us, and at Waterstones bookshop, the Hatfield Road museum and the Tourist Information Centre. However, we only get a percentage of the retail price from these outlets, whereas we keep all of it if you buy direct from us. So, hopefully, most of you will buy direct from us.

Any profits made are ploughed back into the SRA bank account to be used to continue the project and for use in the community. No-one on the SRA committee, including the author and editor, earns a single penny from it! 
Sopwell History book

You can also buy the book on-line, for delivery anywhere in the UK. 

Or if you need the book delivered outside the UK, then please contact us with the full postal address where it needs to be sent to, so we can determine the correct postage and packing, and advise you how to proceed.

For any other enquiries, feel free to contact us via the website or send an email to


UPDATE -- Today, Weds 26th June 2013, Sandy Norman presented the final cheque for the printing of the book to Nick Grant of DiVERSE Print & Design, our printers, who kindly allowed us to pay by instalments. We are now clear of debt again!

Paying final cheque to Nick Grant