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A Brief History of Colney Heath

In Roman times travellers to Verulamium - today known as St Albans - used a track across the heath. For the next 1500 years or so the heath was a lonely and desolate place.

It was not until 1777 that a map showed a few building on the north bank of the river Colne in Banke Street - today known as High Street.

Slowly the village grew until in the early 1800s there were around 450 inhabitants. The first school was opened in 1814 located at what is known today as Scholars Court. Soon after a house was built for the schoolmaster. This house still exists next to the Village Hall. Since then the school has moved several times along the High Street until moving to its current spot in 1969.

Throughout the early 19th century Colney Heath remained a wild and lawless place partly because the river Colne was the boundary between the Metropolitan and County police forces. This enabled wrongdoers to escape across the river whenever the police arrived. There are records of cockfights and prize fights on the common and it is said that every tenth house was a pub!

Partly to reduce this lawlessness our church, St Marks, was built, during 1844/1845 at a cost of £1,500. Its outside stone staircase was modelled on the Norman one at King's College Canterbury. The parsonage to the southwest of the church was built in 1847 and remained in use for well over 100 years.

In 1865 a single-track branch line from Hatfield to St. Albans Abbey railway station was built and in 1879 a station serving Colney Heath was opened in Smallford Lane. Passenger services ended in 1951 and the line was closed in 1968. The line of the railway is now a walkway and cycle route with the remains of the station platform still visible.

The Colney Heath Parish Council was established in 1947 as an independent unit of local government. In 1961 ownership of the heath was vested in the Parish Council. 1n 1975 the Colney Heath Chronicle was first published by the Council. It continues to be published four times a year and delivered to each of the 2,250 homes in the parish.

Much of the above material was gleaned from "The Book of Colney Heath St Albans" by the late Bryan Lilley who lived in Colney Heath for 26 years.

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