Something old, and something new

Hemel Hempstead Through Time - a new book by local author Eve Davis, of Crouchfield, Boxmoor.
Hemel Hempstead Through Time - a new book by local author Eve Davis, of Crouchfield, Boxmoor.

WHETHER Hemel Hempstead has changed for better or worse is a judgement readers can make for themselves by picking up a copy of the latest book by author Eve Davis.

The Boxmoor resident travelled around the town over a two-year period taking new snaps to match old black and white images she has collected over the years.

The result of her efforts is a picture book entitled Hemel Hempstead Through Time, which shows readers old Hemel vs new Hemel.

For some it will bring back fond memories of times gone by and for others it will reveal how much the town has changed.

Watford-born Eve, who moved to Hemel Hempstead when she married husband Peter 55 years ago, has become somewhat an expert on the town’s history.

So much so that this is her fifth book on the subject. Her first was Hemel Hempstead in Camera, which was published in 1987, and Eve insists this will be her last published work.

She said: “There is a limit to the amount of books you can keep doing on Hemel Hempstead.

“The latest book is slightly different from the others I have done because it is then and now, whereas the other ones were all old photographs.

“This is rather nice because the town has changed quite a lot and is changing all the while. Even since I started working on this project a few of the shops have closed,” she said.

The 79-year-old, who worked as a commercial artist for John Dickinson in Apsley before moving on to Hulton Press in Fleet Street and later becoming a full-time mum, used a camera brought for her as a gift from her husband to take the new snaps. “I have always liked to take pictures and I have had quite a few pictures published in WI calendars,” she said.

Now retired, she is a member of Boxmoor and Felden Women’s Institutes, enjoys drawing and painting in watercolour, lace-making, knitting and dressmaking.

Her latest book is dedicated to a new addition to her family, 11-month-old grand-daughter Amelia Eve, and all of her previous books have been dedicated to family members.

She said: “I don’t do it for the money. I do it because I don’t want this history to be lost. I feel that is my little contribution.”

But having spent almost two years looking at the town through the lens of a camera does Eve think the town has changed for the better?

“In some ways it has improved and in some ways it hasn’t,” she said.

“I feel very strongly that we should still have a proper hospital.

“I do think it has changed and it has to change to move on.

“We are quite happy here. Our roots are here.”

Now Eve has just one more book to complete – a recording of her memories of what it was like growing up in the 1930s that she will pass down to her grandchildren.

“It is another world for my grandchildren,” she said.

Hemel Hempstead Through Time is on sale at Waterstones in Hemel Hempstead and Berkhamsted and Parrys Newsagents in St John’s Road, Boxmoor, Hemel Hempstead.