The History of Broadwater

At our January meeting, our speaker, Roy Falder, kept us entertained with so many interesting facts and amusing anecdotes about his family who have lived in Broadwater since the 1700’s. Broadwater was a hamlet, part of the Parish of Shephall and was at the fork of the Great North Road and Hertford Road. Shephall had the church, a pub and the school but Broadwater had the shop, post office, a pub and most importantly transport to the outside world.

Some of the fascinating buildings that were of interest included the original Broadwater Cottage (circa 1600’s – 1700’s) which was a wooden structure with an earth floor, brick chimney stack and the water supply was brought from a local spring. Another was the Smithy, (circa 1410 – 1430) which through the years had many transformations including a petrol station, and after the war a sweet shop, then the shop was converted into a bedroom annex. The garden to the south was sold and an old style cottage was built on the space. Then in 2013 disaster struck when the owners wanted to extend the building and their builder demolished the grade two listed smithie with his JCB. The irony is that the local authority planning department took them to court but they had demolished quite a few old cottages themselves, deemed as unfit for habitation.

The Roebuck Pub wasn’t originally called that but known locally as The Broadwater, and was a travellers’ rest run by monks and in the 1800’s McMullens took ownership. Broadwater Farm was owned by the Lytton Estate but when the Great Northern Railway arrived some of the land was owned by the railway and after 1949 much of it was owned by Stevenage Development Corporation. We all learnt so much about Broadwater and next time we are at Tescos we will take a closer look at the surroundings because of the many interesting facts regarding the area.

Roy has written a book on the history of Broadwater which includes many interesting stories of the life of the hamlet.