Former Victorian inn demolished to make way for flats

Concern for safety of historical milestone


The Swan being demolished - October 17, 2018 - Image by Peter Miller
The Swan being demolished - October 17, 2018
Image by Peter Miller

Work is underway to clear the site of Swan Lodge, Bell Bar, and build eight one and two bedroom apartments. The area has been fenced off as workmen demolish the old building that once served as a important coaching inn along the Great North Road. Local historians are keen to ensure that the 18th century milestone that leant against the wall of the building is preserved, as stipulated in the conditions of the planning consent.

The Swan taken in 2007  Image by Bob Horrocks
The Swan taken in 2007
Image by Bob Horrocks


Provision to protect historical milestone


In 2016, the proposal to build the flats was opposed by the North Mymms District Green Belt Society. The society said that one of the grounds against development was that the area would lose an important part of its local history.

And although councillors finally voted through the plans to pull down the old coaching inn, a condition was added to the planning approval to protect the 18th century milestone that leans against the front of the building.

The milestone leaning outside Swan Lodge Image by Peter Miller
The milestone leaning outside Swan Lodge
Image by Peter Miller
According to historian W. Branch Johnson, writing in his book ‘Industrial Archaeology of Hertfordshire’ published in 1970, the milestone is one of only two known dated milestones in Hertfordshire.

But now the site has been fenced off with red hoarding there are fears for the safety of the milestone, now hidden from view.

A representative of the North Mymms History Project (NMHP) called at the site on Thursday morning October 18, to check whether the demolition team was aware of the historical milestone. The foreman of the team confirmed that they were.

Planning details


Below are the planning details and link to the the relevant page on the Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council site.
6/2016/0168/FULL
Swan Lodge, Bell Lane, Brookmans Park, Hatfield, AL9 7AY
Erection of 8no one and two bedroom apartments, car port, refuse and recycling store and associated works following demolition of existing buildings.
Granted 21 July 2017
Condition number eight of the planning approval states that the milestone must be protected.
"Prior to the demolition of the existing building a scheme for the protection, retention and reinstatement of the historic milestone on the highway frontage of the site shall be submitted to and approved in writing by the Local Planning Authority. The development shall not be constructed other than in accordance with the approved scheme and shall be maintained in that condition thereafter."  
This requirement was set out in the planning update granted in July this year.

6/2018/1247/COND
Swan Lodge Bell Lane Brookmans Park Hatfield AL9 7AY
Submission of details pursuant to condition 2 (materials samples), 4 (tree protection plan, arboricultural method statement and site monitoring schedule), 6 (hard and soft landscaping), 8 (scheme for protection, retention and reinstatement of historic milestone) and 9 (construction management plan) on planning permission 6/2016/0168/FULL, dated 21/07/2016
Granted 31 July 2018

The history of the site


The Swan in the 1900s  Image from G. Knott, from the Peter Miller collection
The Swan in the 1900s 
Image from G. Knott, from the Peter Miller collection

In 2016 when the plan were being considered, local historian and archivist, Peter Miller - who is one of the team behind the NMHP wrote that The Swan was the last link in Bell Bar's coaching history as part of the old North Road.
"Originally called The Swan, the inn has occupied three separate locations. The first was recorded in 1746 as being where the present Grade II listed Lower Farm stands (next door to Swan Lodge) and by 1768 had moved to its second location between Lower Farm and Swan Lodge. This building no longer exists. In 1833 the Swan became known as The White Swan and c1851 was moved to its current location at the junction of the old and new roads when the Great North Road was diverted round Bell Bar and no longer went through the village. In the 1960s the White Swan finally closed and became a private dwelling house."
The Swan, Bell Bar, in the 1900s Image from the NMLHS, part of the Images of North Mymms collection
The Swan, Bell Bar, in the 1900s
Image from the NMLHS, part of the Images of North Mymms collection

The building is mentioned in several articles on the NMHP, including:





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