In 1881 one occupation was suddenly absent: one of the last turnpikes to be closed was the Reading and Hatfield Trust at the end of 1880, responsibility for maintenance now being vested in the Highways Board. So, the Simpkins family were out of toll collecting work. However, two branches of the family were both still living at Horseshoes, working as agricultural labourers, along with a number of other men.
There was a wider variety of railway occupations, including a porter, Stoker, engine cleaner and coal dealer, the latter presumably operating from the station yard.
Only seventy-year-old Mary Ann Pugh at Sleapshyde and two women at Horseshoes were occupied in the straw hat trade, much of the work having transferred to factory premises in St Albans.
Philip Pugh, son of the above-named Mary Ann Pugh, was still publican at the Three Horseshoes public house; and John McNair continued his wheelwright’s business from the property, presumed to be the Four Horseshoes. There were no mentions of blacksmiths in 1871, but now the same family are listed once more; not William, who had probably died, but his son, Joseph Shepherd, and now Joseph’s 20-year-old son, John. Although living at Wilkins Green, it is possible that John was working the forge at the Horseshoes. John’s brother was an unwaged groom. Rather than being employed at, for example Oaklands Mansion or Great Nast Hyde, the term “unwaged” might indicate casual work from tips at the Horseshoes forge. The omission from 1871 is likely to have been an oversight.
Among the farmers, Henry Kidman was at Great Nast Hyde, when that was a separate farm from that of William Smith at Little Nast Hyde Farm on the other side of Wilkins Green Lane. It is not clear whether there was anyone resident at Wilkins Green Farm, but John and Eliza Patience were working Popefield Farm, supplying beef cattle for his new shop at Albion Road, St Albans, called Aberdeen House.
The image below is the homestead of Butterwick Farm. The building and its remaining outhouses and barns were demolished after the Second World War as part of the operations of St Albans Sand and Gravel Company to dig aggregate for post-war building work. The site of the house can still be determined from the hollow and the willow trees between the branch railway and the bypass.
Image courtesy of the Brian Anderson Collection.