A. C. Meek's Livery and Hunting Stables | Rectory Lane Cemetery, Berkhamsted

Rectory Lane Cemetery, Berkhamsted

A. C. Meek's Livery and Hunting Stables

A. C. Meek's Livery and Hunting Stables
43 Lower Kings Road, Berkhamsted

The brick building that stands on Lower King’s Road opposite the entrance to Waitrose car park catches the eye with a distinctive circular opening in the front gable.

These premises were originally A. C. Meek’s Livery and Hunting Stables, a sort of “equestrian car park” where horses would kept for the owner and fed and cared for at a fixed charge. The circular opening was possibly the hatch to a hayloft.

From the 1897 Ordnance Survey map, it can be seen that the original C-shaped building stood on three sides of a yard that was open on the Lower Kings Road side. This yard has since been filled in by building extensions and shopfronts.

In more recent years this building has been home to businesses such as the Berkley wine bar and art gallery, Saltmarsh (later Blakes) DIY shop and the Keech Hospice Care charity shop.

Evidence survives today of its original purpose. On the north side of the building overlooking the River Bulbourne, an advertisement painted on the Brickwork is still visible from the road.

As the use of the building has changed over the years, alterations have been made, and windows have been knocked through, removing some of the lettering, but we can still make out the wording:

TEL …………….. …No 48.

So we can see that as well as stabling horses, the business also offered horse-drawn carriages for hire (Broughams, Landaus, Victorias are types of covered carriage).

It is not known exactly when the building was erected, although Lower Kings Road was first laid out in 1885. The proprietor, Arthur Cecil Meek, appears in Kelly’s Directory for 1899 as a jobmaster – a livery-stable keeper who also “jobs out” horses and carriages. Telephones reached Berkhamsted in the 1890s, and so the inclusion of a telephone number suggests the sign was painted about 1900.

Meek’s business did very well for a time and he employed a sizeable staff of coachmen and groomsmen. Unfortunately for Meek, advances in 20th-century technology brought about great change with the advent of the motor car. Demand for horse-drawn transport reduced drastically, and Meek’s business failed to adapt and closed sometime after 1915. Meek emigrated to Australia, and died in Sydney in 1945.

Meek’s wife and family are buried in Rectory Lane Cemetery, and Arthur Cecil is also commemorated there.


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