WW1 Memorials Walk report

SRA's annual local history walk took place on Sunday, 7th September at 2pm, starting from the Watercress Wildlife Reserve in Riverside Road.

With 2014 marking 100 years since the start of the First World War, this year's walk was to commemorate the centenary and to see some of the street memorials erected to remember those who lost their lives in the war.

The former Watercress beds in Riverside Road - now the Watercress Nature Reserve - was a fitting location to start the walk since this was also one of three points in St Albans where the soldiers assembled to march into St Albans and then go off to fight in the war.

Councillor Eileen Harris, our walk leader, first gave us an introduction. Did you know that there are 40 war memorials throughout St Albans and that the main memorial, the St Albans War Memorial on St Peters Green in St Peters Street carries the names of the 643 men from St Albans who died in WW1. 

From the Watercress beds we went to Grosvenor Road. In the photograph below you can see Councillor Eileen Harris talking about the memorial plaque placed in the wall of the Ziggurat building in Grosvenor Road, on the site of Edwin Lee’s boot factory and listing the names of 13 employees who were killed during the war.

War Memorial in Grosvenor Road
Around the corner, in Ridgmont Rd, we went to see the Vyse, Sons & Co. Ltd straw hat factory’s memorial, and from there we walked in the direction of St Albans Cathredral, paying a visit to the wall plaques in the streets around the cathedral: Pageant Road, Albert Street, Holywell Hill and Sopwell Lane.

In the shadow of the cathedral, we looked at the Verdun Tree, a horse chestnut tree in the Waxhouse Gate garden, seeded from a tree that survived the Battle of Verdun, and, inside the cathredral, we saw the War Memorial Chapel.

The finale to the walk was to see the magnificent stained glass War Memorial Window above the Great West entrance of the cathedral, dedicated to all those in the diocese who lost their lives in the Great War. The window shows the flags and arms of the allied countries and their patron saints.

Thank you, Eileen, for a most interesting walk.

Further information

  • The "Roll Of Honour" website has details for most of the names listed on the various war memorials and pointers to other relevant websites.
  • SAHAAS (the St Albans and Hertfordshire Architectural and Archeological Society, also known as "Arc & Arc") have recently published a "St Albans War Memorials Walk" leaflet (PDF 1.1MB) allowing everybody to do the walk in their own time.