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.
Meek’s Livery and Hunting Stables
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.
Evidence survives today of the building’s 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 – click and drag the slider to reveal the lettering:
A.C. MEEK LOOSEBOXES
LIVERY & HUNTING STABLES
BROUGHAMS LANDAUS VICTORIAS WAGGONETTES
STATION CABS BRAKES & OMNIBUSES
TEL …………….. …No 48.
PASSENGE …………………. LLECTED OR ……..OMPTLY
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.
Saltmarsh’s hardware shop
Sometime in the early 20th century the livery stable was converted into a retail building and shop fronts were built, filling in the old ‘C’-shaped stable yard. These shop units have had numerous tenants over the years.
After the closure of Meek’s stables, local carpenter Frank Saltmarsh (1867–1940) moved his carpentry and joinery business from Prince Edward Street to the shop at 35 Lower King’s Road. It seems likely that initially the shop was a carpentry workshop, but later, the business was adapted to a hardware shop, where Mr Saltmarsh traded in decorating supplies and ironmongery. Frank, a devoted churchman, served for over 30 years as a bellringer at St Peter’s Church. He and his wife Mary (1865–1953) had two children, Florence, born on 6th March 1891 and Frank, born in 1894.
On the outbreak of WWI in 1914, Frank Saltmarsh junior enlisted in the Royal Fusiliers. He was killed in action at Gallipoli in 1915, aged 21. His name was inscribed on the Helles Memorial at Canakkale in Turkey and on the Berkhamsted war memorial.
When Frank senior died in 1940, he was buried in Rectory Lane cemetery, close to his own parents. The inscription on the grave also commemorated the sacrifice of their son Frank. Mary died in 1953 and was also buried here.
Saltmarsh’s shop was in business for many years, and a hardware shop continued to trade on the premises well into the 21st century as Blake’s Hardware. Around 2012, Blake’s closed and the unit is now occupied by Keech Hospice charity shop. Until recently, other shopfront at 39-43 was occupied by the Berkley Wine Bar and Art Gallery (now vacant).
Discover the memorials in Rectory Lane Cemetery with historical links to A. C. Meek’s Livery and Hunting Stables
2 burials are found — click on a burial below to find out more: