Holliday Street & 60 High Street
60 High Street, Berkhamsted
This unremarkable single-storey shop unit on the corner of Berkhamsted High Street and Holliday Street is easily overlooked, but it presence in the Berkhamsted townscape bears witness to our local history of entrepreneurship and adapting to new technology. Historically, this address was 64 High Street, but the street was renumbered in the 1950s.
George James Holliday (1853-1937) was a wheelwright by trade. For three generations, the Holliday family coachbuilding firm had been serving the horse-drawn carriages passing through Berkhamsted on the busy Akeman Street route into London.
In the 1890s, a growing craze for bicycles presented a new business opportunity for entrepreneurs. In Ireland, Scotsman John Boyd Dunlop introduced the first practical pneumatic tyre, and the Raleigh Bicycle Company was founded in Nottingham in 1888. The Birmingham Small Arms Company Limited (BSA) branched out from making firearms into bicycle manufacture.
In Berkhamsted, George James Holliday seized the opportunity to apply his skills in coachbuilding to the bicycle market, adapting to accommodate the technological advances of the day. By 1911 he was now a “Coach Builder and Cycle Agent”. George’s sons all followed the family trade at that time as well. Photographs of the Holliday Bros shop dating from the early 20th century show a thriving business not only selling bicycles but also catering for the emerging motorised transport market. Advertisements in the windows promote Mohican Cycles and BSA Bicycles as well as Castrol Oil and Redline Motor Spirit.
The location of the cycle shop also tells us of the importance of the family name, as it is on the corner of Holliday Street. When George James Holliday was born in 1853 Holliday Street was a mere dirt track. George’s son Thomas Campian was the first member of the family to live on this street, and Kelly’s Trade Directory of 1914 lists his wife as running a dressmaking business at 10 Holliday Street. At some point, the street officially took the Holliday family name.
George James died in the house in which he was born and raised at 64 High Street. In the 1990s, this shop was still operating as a motorcycle dealership. Today it is home to a kitchen fitter business.