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The Grapes

Located in Boxmoor, hidden away from view lies The Grapes.  It was famous in the sixties for having no concept whatsoever of the under age drinking laws.  There was no other reason to visit it other than the fact that you would be served from the  age of 13 upwards.  No need to put on that deep voice "Give us a pint mate!"  I used to get a drink there regularly whilst attending Chaulden Youth Club when I was about 15.  Then disaster hit.  My girlfriend started work at BP and the daughter of the Landlord also worked there.  On my next visit to the Grapes the daughter announced that Gill was underage and would not be served!  We were 17'ish and had been regulars.  never mind - grotty pub then and still is.

 

 

 
The Alford Arms

Good Drinking Places in Hemel

There aren't any!  There weren't any when we were young and it has not improved at all. When we were at school and too young to drink our standards were low.  If we could get served all was OK.  A pint of IPA in The Plough costs 1/10d (8p).  Pubs were not a place to pick up girls, nice girls never went into a pub unaccompanied remember!  As for eating, well... the concept of eating in a pub was confined to a pasty, pie or sausage roll preferably with brown sauce when you needed something in your stomach to soak up the drink.  In my view Hemel remains a drinking and eating desert.  The "nice" pubs are in the environs.  The Alford Arms (pictured), The Bridgewater Arms, The Green Dragon, The Brickmakers Arms, The Crown and Sceptre are a few examples. 

Some of the old drinking haunts have disappeared or radically changed over the years.  The Plough at Leverstock Green is now a steak house.  The Rising Sun in the Old Town is now someone's house.


So what's this about no decent pubs in Hemel???
John Calvert comments

I seem to remember many, particularly along the standard pub crawl... pint per pub, starting at the Salmon in Apsley and finishing somewhere up the old High Street, depending on your capacity, usually the White Hart, although I think I once did the whole thing, to the last one ( on the right The Rose?) of course couldn't read anything by then.

I worked for a while at The Crabtree at Adeyfield, run by an old couple, the Foresters, she, Maude, was a real soak, lived on Brandy and milk, day and night, had some real laughs in there! Also used to drink up your way at The Valiant Trooper in Aldbury, the 3 Bells in Tring and others, although in my "youth" mostly "up West" where we thought the action and "dolly birds" were! Great times!

These days I "live" on imported Ruddles County in cans, so think yourself lucky, local stuff is like frozen Eurofizz, awful!

John lives in Melbourne AUS


 

 
The White Hart

It's still there in the Old High Street suffering another refurbishment.  It was not particularly under age friendly in our time.  The landlords, the Vaisey's, were County Councilors and pillars of the local society and had a teenage daughter, Gwyneth.  Some of you may remember Gwyneth.

In about 1665/66 it was cool to drink in the Old Town.  The 'fashionable pub' would rotate between The Bell, The Kings Arms and The White Hart.  They were the regular meeting places on a Friday and Saturday night for the Party Going Set.  "Where's the party then? Can I have a lift?  I recall one night when 11 of us crammed into Eddie Manning's Mini Countryman (his Mum's car) to go to a party somewhere in Felden.

Thursday nights at this time were Folk Nights in the Hart.  The back room would be filled with guys with their guitars.  Bob Dylan was all the rage.  A couple of good guitarists, Mick Sofflly and Donovan, a mate of his, were regulars there.  Apart from the music the event also attracted  the girls.  Not exactly 'groupies' but attractive, educated middle class lasses.  I used to go and take a guitar with me even though I could only play a couple of chords.  It was great for your credibility. Mick used to run the foam rubber stand on the market.  He lived, in sin, in Cupid Green somewhere.  I recall a couple of his parties.  The first was at his house where he had filled the bath with home brewed beer.  One walked through the bathroom dunking a glass in the bath for a drink.  Those guests that brought some booze with them just emptied it into the half full bath.  Can you imagine what it tasted like towards the end of the evening?  The second party I recall was held in Mick's warehouse under what used to be the Bowling Alley.  He stored all his foam rubber sheets there.  There was no other party that night and so we all took our booze back to Mick's warehouse, turned on some music and partied.  I have been told, by others, that the experience of sex on top of a 2 metre pile of foam rubber has to be experienced to be believed!

 

Do you all remember how there used to be licensing hours?  Some pubs opened at 5:30 and closed at 10:30 whilst other opened at 6 and closed at 11.  Many a last minute dash took place from Kings Langley to the Hart to get in an extra half hours drinking.  As youngsters we did not spend enough to warrant the courtesy of 'extended afters' at the Hart that I learned to enjoy a few years later when I became part of the local 'professional set'.  (Boring accountants, solicitors, bankers and businessmen)

Still it is worth remembering that in the sixties we were paying about 8p (1/10d) for a pint of bitter and lager hadn't been introduced yet.

Ron

 

 
     
 
 


06 November, 2004         Ron Moss