Spotlight on History

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News release: 01 February 2018

Spotlight on History talks at the Verulamium Museum in St Albans will cover a range of fascinating subjects including - the First World War and the creation of the M1.

Verulamium Museum
Four evening lectures will take place during February and give people an insight into various aspects of the City’s past.  

One of the talks will highlight the opening later this year of the City’s new £7.75 million Museum and Art Gallery.

Another will draw on St Albans Museums’ oral history collection from the 20th Century so that the audience can hear real voices from the past.

The talks will be given by external speakers as well as staff from the Museums team, part of St Albans City and District Council. The schedule is:

Many a fight over a barrel of horse manure! Wednesday 7 February.
The audience will be taken on a journey through 20th Century St Albans using extracts from the oral history collection.  They will hear the experiences of those who once lived and worked in the City. Among the surprises is an account of how money could be made by scraping horse manure off St Peter’s Street.  A local boy called Bernard also tells how he was told to cover his bicycle light with mud during World War One in case it was spotted by a German Zeppelin on a bombing mission.

The changing use of the Town Hall. Wednesday 14 February.
From its construction in 1831, St Albans Town Hall was designed as a civic building for public benefit.  Magistrates presided over trials, the Mayor and Councillors governed the District, while dances and lectures took place in the Assembly Room. This year, it will open as a new £7.75 million Museum and Art Gallery. Find out more about the Town Hall’s history and see the latest behind-the-scenes photos of the building work

Mobilisation,1914. Wednesday 21 February.
On the day war was declared in August 1914, the British arrested every suspected German spy in Britain. This talk will explain how the British discovered the Kaiser’s spy ring, how the British Army and Royal Navy went to war and  the important role played by the police and the Post Office.

The M1 – how it was built. Wednesday 28 February.
In the 1950s, a plan was developed to create the M1 motorway, linking London to Yorkshire. Using wartime airfield construction techniques and battling tough winter conditions, the southern stretch of the M1 near St Albans was built in 18 months, opening in 1959. The talk also marks the 200th anniversary of the Institution of Civil Engineers.

Councillor Annie Brewster, Portfolio Holder for Sport and Culture, said: “These will be four illuminating talks which will bring to life important features of the City’s past.

“They range from a lecture on the impact the outbreak of world war had on the District in 1914 to the building of Britain’s first full-length motorway on the borders of the City.

“We are just months away from the opening of our new Museum and Art Gallery at the Town Hall, so I am sure many people will be interested in hearing about the history of this landmark building.

“As well as that, they will be able to see photos of the development work in progress.

“I advise anyone who wants to come along to book their tickets early because I am sure demand will be high.”

The talks will take place from 7.30pm to 8.30pm with tickets costing £5.00 per talk or £15.00 for all four.

They can be purchased by phoning 01727 751 810 or in person at Verulamium Museum, St Michael’s Street. Advanced booking is recommended to avoid disappointment.

Picturefrom the Museum collection: the Town Hall as it looked in the Edwardian era.
Councillors contact: 
Cllr Annie Brewster, Portfolio Holder for Sport and Culture for St Albans City and District Council. Email:; Tel: 01438 832255 
Contact for the media: 
John McJannet, Principal Communications Officer, St Albans City & District Council, Tel: 01727 296130, E-mail: