221 High St, Berkhamsted
Callard House is a large modern building on Berkhamsted high Street consisting of retail units and flats. Perhaps it is not the town’s most architecturally inspiring edifice, but its name belies an interesting history.
It was named after the brother and sister Theresa and Joseph Callard who lived in premises on the corner of Cowper Road at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries. Joseph opened a baker’s and corn merchant’s shop here in 1893
“Joe Callard, for much of his life a chorister at St Peter’s, kept the shop at Cowper Road corner. I don’t know when his business closed down, but in 1929 he still advertised himself as a corn merchant and family miller, with “all kinds of dog biscuit and bird seeds kept in stock”. His windows attracted much attention, especially after business hours, when one often saw rats and mice helping themselves to the corn and biscuits. Rats were also seen running around the outbuildings in Cowper Road.”
Berkhamsted Review, 1970
Theresa and Joseph are both buried in Rectory Lane Cemetery at plot 720.
Callard House was built sometime in the 1990s and replaced a row of older buildings. As well as Callard’s rat-infested grain shop, there was also a long-established family firm of coachbuilders: “E. Pethybridge, carriage builder, Berkhamsted; established 1832, carriages of every description built and repaired”. Before the advent of the railways, Berkhamsted lay on a major route into London for horse-drawn carriages. Businesses such as coaching inns thrived on this passing market, and this part of the High Street was a centre of another important coaching-related industry: coachbuilding.
Business was clearly booming; by 1871 Master Coachbuilder John Pethybridge was employing eight men. His eldest son Edward learned his father’s trade and, after his father died in 1887, he took over the family business. He had only been running the family business for 10 years before he died in 1891.
John, Edward and several other members of the Pethybridge family were buried in Rectory Lane Cemetery. Many others moved away to other parts of the country, and by the time of the 1901 census the Pethybridge name had completely disappeared from Berkhamsted and west Hertfordshire.
All evidence of Pethybridge coachworks has now been completely swept away by modern development and only their headstones remain as memorials to a once-thriving Berkhamsted business. Had their coachbuilding business continued much longer, it may not have survived competition from the motor car. Perhaps, like their competitors, the Hollidays, they may have adapted to embrace a new technology.
Discover the memorials in Rectory Lane Cemetery with historical links to Callard House
3 burials are found — click on a burial below to find out more: