"GRANT'S HEMEL PAGE." Hemel Hempstead by GrantBoone

Hemel Hempstead Travel Guide: 56 reviews and 203 photos


This is the place that I still think of as my home town as I lived here nearly all my life. I moved to London in 1996 , but still come 'home' a few times a year to visit family or have a night out with old friends in some of the many pubs in the town. Why visit Hemel? Well you have the choice of bustling town life or beautiful countryside alongside each other.Hemel is also near the motorway and railway for easy access to London, but not too close!!
It really is a nice place to live or even visit.

HEMEL 2014



Hemel is famous for its "Magic Roundabout" (officially called the Moor End roundabout, or "The Plough Roundabout" from a former adjacent public house), an interchange at the end of the town centre (Moor End), where traffic from six routes meet. Traffic is able to circulate in both directions around what appears to be a main central roundabout (and formerly was such), with the normal rules applying at each of the six mini-roundabouts encircling this central reservation. It was the first such circulation system in Britain.
Hemel claims to have the first purpose built multi-storey car park in Britain. Built in 1960 into the side of a hill in the Marlowes shopping district, it features a giant humorous mosaic map of the area by the artist Rowland Emett.
The new town centre contains many sculptures by notable artists from the 1950s including a 1955 stone mural by sculptor Alfred Gerrard entitled Stages in the Development of Man . There is also the Rock & Rollers sculpture, which once resided outside Bank Court but has been moved to the water gardens, Water Play, a fountain, a 3D map of 1940s Hemel, and the The Residents' Rainbow, a concrete and glass rainbow sculpture in the Marlowes that has become an unofficial war memorial.[23] The new town centre is laid out alongside landscaped gardens and water features formed from the River Gade known as the Watergardens designed by G.A. Jellicoe. The Watergardens is home to many ducks, which have been known to cause major delays on the surrounding roads. The main shopping street, Marlowes, was pedestrianised in the early 1990s.
Hemel also was home of one of the first community based television stations West Herts TV which later became Channel 10.
For many years the lower end of Marlowes featured a distinctive office building built as a bridge-like structure straddling the main road. This building was erected on the site of an earlier railway viaduct carrying the Hemel to Harpenden railway, known as The Nickey Line. When the new town was constructed, this part of the railway was no longer in use and the viaduct demolished. The Nickey Line is currently used for walking. The office building, occupied by BP, was designed to create a similar skyline and effect as the viaduct. In the early 1980s it was discovered that the building was subsiding dangerously and it was subsequently vacated and demolished. Adjacent to BP buildings was a unique double-helix public car park. The lower end of Marlowes was redeveloped into the Riverside shopping complex, which opened on 27 October 2005. Retailers taking residence at the Riverside complex, include Debenhams and H&M (previously HMV).
A few metres away, overlooking the 'Magic Roundabout', is Hemel's tallest building; the 22-storey Kodak building. Built as the Kodak company's UK HQ the tower was vacated in 2005. It was then temporarily reoccupied in 2006 after the Buncefield explosion destroyed Kodak's other Hemel offices. It is now being converted into 434 apartment homes.[24]
The Heathrow airport holding area known as the Bovingdon stack lies just west of the town. On a clear day, at peak times, several circling aircraft can be visible in the sky.
The national headquarters of the Boys' Brigade is located at Felden Lodge, near Hemel.


As early as 1539 there had been a market on this site and in that year King Henry VIII created a charter for Hemel Hempstead which allowed more building work.More workshops, inns and a new market were built making Market street as it was then known ,to be the focus of the whole town. The road is now known as the Old High Street. The more modern shopping area is a southern continuation of the High Street known as The Marlowes .

Pros and Cons
  • In a nutshell:If you are staying in London,Come and visit Hemel for a while
  • Last visit to Hemel Hempstead: Jun 2014
  • Intro Updated May 9, 2016
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Reviews (45)

Comments (58)

  • CatherineReichardt's Profile Photo
    Aug 3, 2012 at 3:29 AM

    Fascinating page!
    I was born and raised only a couple of dozen miles away, but to my shame, I think that all I've ever seen of Hemel is the Kodak building where my uncle used to work.
    Anyway, I see that it's your birthday, so have a fistful of ratings to further enhance your day!

  • mvtouring's Profile Photo
    Mar 22, 2010 at 1:55 PM

    Work for BP in RSA, our HO is in Hemel, so had to check it out ;-)

  • traceyspacey's Profile Photo
    Aug 4, 2008 at 2:29 AM

    The first time I went around the Magic roundabout, I went the wrong way around. Only it seemed the right way to me!

  • marinarena's Profile Photo
    Apr 3, 2008 at 6:29 PM

    Hi Grant...I missed Hemel on my UK trip last year...looks like it is easy to get to from London...I'll keep it in mind for the next trip...whenever that may be! Cheers-Marie :-)

  • alywang's Profile Photo
    Oct 28, 2007 at 7:05 PM

    Hi,Grant! the pictures about Hemel Hempstead look very special:)

  • budapest8's Profile Photo
    Apr 4, 2007 at 4:45 AM

    Gr8 HH pages Grant...interesting reading about the banana factory, shame more VT's too shy to expose their past lives here in their pages.. Remember the '80's too well, but I didn't sport a 'flock of seagulls' hairdo.. Dodgy clothes..Yeah man

  • priyaanka's Profile Photo
    Mar 10, 2007 at 5:42 PM

    heya !! i really njoyed ur hemel page !! good tips ....sumday soon will visit it .. priyaanka :)

  • Oct 1, 2006 at 4:29 AM

    I really enjoyed your Hemel page, Grant! Going to build mine soon, as I was there this September:) Quite calm and lovely place for a family living! And quite a different look from London. I liked being there.

  • RAJASTHANBYCAR's Profile Photo
    Aug 2, 2006 at 9:58 PM

    Hi Grant good tips Hemel Hempstead page.I wish you Happy Birthday and greetings from India Cheers Mahavir Yadav.

  • Firestar24's Profile Photo
    May 17, 2006 at 2:47 PM

    Finally popped by as promised.. was going to explore all pages but got stuck here due to the number of PUBS you've reviewed!! Five stars for showing us all how to forge your signature!! ;o)

GrantBoone Used To Live Here!


“The great thing about virtualtourist is you can quote something and totally make up the source .(Lenin 1917)”

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