Attic find lights up St Albans' history

Elevation of buildings in Victoria Street designed by Percival Blow. This is from the existing SAHAAS Library collection but not in the recent acquisition.

A chance find in a local attic of 300 architects’ plans shines new light on the development of housing, shops and factories in St Albans between the 1870s and the 1940s.  Their acquisition by the St Albans and Hertfordshire Architectural and Archaeological Society (SAHAAS) means that they will be preserved and made available to local historians, researchers and of course the relevant property owners.

Sandy Walkington, President of SAHAAS, explains that such documents are rarely made available to the public to study. “St Albans District Council may have copies of these plans on microfilm but their busy Planning Department is not set up to readily accommodate researchers. Once catalogued, this collection will be available to Society members and public alike to access at our Library at Sandridge Gate.  I was particularly intrigued to see how late stables continued to be seen as desirable facilities.”

Becky and Chris Shepherd, who discovered the papers in their attic, are delighted that they have found a suitable home where members of the public can use them. Becky said, “That was really important for us. We want people to see these plans – some of them are beautiful objects in their own right. We have enjoyed working with members of the Society to learn what these documents tell us about the city we so much enjoy living in.”

Founded in 1845, SAHAAS is celebrating its 175th anniversary this year. Sandy said, “Acquiring and preserving documents to ensure that they will be available in another 175 years is one of our key objectives. This acquisition is further evidence of the important role the Society has played and continues to play in helping all of us understand the history of this wonderful city.”

The catalogue listing the 300 or so plans should be posted on the Society’s website ( in the next few months.

For more information please contact our Library team via