Anthony Matthews’ article, accompanied by William Coles’ postcard of Lower High Street c1900, prompted me to add my tuppence worth.

The postcard from Watford Museum archives reveals the extent of the devastation wrought since William Coles captured his moments of life in Watford of a bygone age. Once there were interesting, varied and historic buildings housing numerous small and worthy businesses lining both sides of Lower High Street.

But fast forward seven or so decades, to the time when planners and developers decided otherwise and deemed it wise and practical to tear the town’s heritage, core businesses and its soul apart.

Read more: Two buildings survive from this century-old picture of Watford

The photo I took in 1977, at the top of the page, which almost duplicates William Coles’ camera position, shows the Three Tuns on the left, hoardings around Benskins Brewery buildings and the gasometer in the distance. The Three Tuns public house was soon to be demolished.

Two years later, on May 7, 1979, I took another photo, below, which shows hoardings around the historic buildings facing Benskins Brewery that had been the premises of H.A. Swann (Watford) Ltd., leather dealers, and Stapleton’s Tyre Depot.

Watford Observer:

In her comments on Anthony’s article, Christine Orchard, Watford Museum’s volunteer archivist, mentions Capell’s furniture business, just visible on the right-hand side of William Coles’ postcard, jutting out in the middle right-hand distance.

W.H. Capell sold second-hand furniture and also undertook upholstery. The business was located at both 212 and 214 Lower High Street; the two sole remaining buildings in the postcard. I remember upholsterers at 212 Lower High Street but the business was then run by David Hosker & Son. Hoskers had been there for decades, at least as early as 1949.

Watford Observer:

My last photo, above, also taken on May 7, 1979, is a close-up of the Hosker’s building, which at that time, was under offer by estate agent Weller Hill & Hubble. Note that the painted Hosker sign was still visible on the side of the building. No. 214 Lower High Street had long been occupied by another business.

Lesley Dunlop

By email