In 1891 the many straw plaiters and hat makers had gone – not a single one left; women instead became dressmakers, housekeepers and farm servants instead. The latter were probably employed in the dairy parlours on farms which had turned from mixed to dairy farms.  Although this specialism gave fewer opportunities for seasonal peaks in male labouring jobs, and fewer permanent farm jobs overall, a total of fifteen agricultural labouring jobs were listed in and around Horseshoes in 1891.  Frederick Hulks, Henry Sheppard, Frederick Reynolds and George Edwards were gardeners, possibly a mixture of contract and casual work, which may also have involved work on rented smallholdings, such as those at Ellenbrook, sized to produce a full-year’s worth of crops for a family.  Nine general labourers were counted, which suggests mixed work, probably on a casual basis.  This group may well have walked to St Albans or Hatfield each day to undertake jobs in workshops and factories.

Since the opening of the railway in the 1860s there had been no increase in the number of railway related jobs in the parish; it is likely that people required to run the branch railway were based in either Hatfield or St Albans, but the father-and-son pair of railway labourers living in one of the Hatfield Road properties may have been porters at Smallford Station.

Mary Ann Pugh had taken over as publican at the Three Horseshoes, and her daughter was working there as a barmaid. Across the road the beer house was identified as the Four Horseshoes for the first time (previously The Ship), although it may have had this name for many years.  Although John McNair was no longer in the parish plying his wheelwright skills, the Hulks family are there instead. James was an agricultural labourer, while his wife Maria, had no occupation listed, and so may have taken responsibility for managing the beer house.

Instead of the wheelwright, Alfred Sheppard, living with his family in one of the Hatfield Road properties, recorded himself as a carpenter, which may also have included some wheelwright work.

John Muir had moved into Nast Hyde House – Great Nast Hyde – and  managed the farm on the north side of the lane.  William Service was farmer at Wilkins Green Farm.  John Patience was at Popefield Farm and two of his sons, Harry and Thomas, were butchers and probably engaged at the shop and abattoir at Albion Road, an area we now know of as The Crown.

Almost all of the children between 5 and 12 were described as scholars, but Alfred Sheppard’s 7-year-old son is not.  We can’t read too much into that, however; it might have been a transcription omission.  On the other hand, while most 12-year-olds were still at school, Harry Aldridge and James Baker, also 12, are already employed as farm labourers.  Although previously, children were considered essential to the success of rural economies and might add significantly to the families’ employable hours, the imposition of a full-time education system during the past twenty years does not appear to have greatly altered the economic balance of the hamlets.  The number of individuals and family groups was slightly higher than previously.

The image below is the Wilkins Green forge, often-mentioned in these census occupations posts.  The forge in Hatfield Road was next to the Three Horseshoes and this building is now part of the restaurant.   There was a further blacksmith working near Ellenbrook Lane, at a group of small buildings swept away in the 1930s to make way for the Selwyn estate.

The image is in the Smallford Group’s collection.

The Old Forge, Wilkins Green

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