With the arrival of the railway in the 1850s, and then the station in 1884, the early settlers of ‘new’ Knebworth also started to develop their trades and businesses, to support the new houses that were being built.
Looking at the 1881 census, all the occupations relate to farming or domestic and labouring work on the Lytton estate, with only one shop in what is now Old Knebworth. But by the census of 1901, we see the introduction of commerce with, for example Sydney Smith, Blacksmith and Charles Lowe, Cycle Agent with his wife and seven children.
In the Kelly’s Directory of 1910, we can see the Lowe family have now established themselves as Coal Merchant, Cycle Agent and Boot Repairer.
Barclays Bank had also already arrived in what was then called Knebworth Station, situated in Station Road rather than its present position in London Road.
Postcards from the years around 1910 clearly show Station Road.
This view, taken at the crossroad and looking up Stevenage Road, clearly shows the lack of development there. The postmark on the back of the postcard dates it to 1914.
This map dated 1902 shows the village with very few buildings. Westland Road and Station Road are now established, with the Station Hotel, the congregational Chapel and a few houses in Park Lane.
The next phase of Knebworth’s development was along the London Road, and these early photographs show the first few shops.
The Dearman family had also arrived in Knebworth as can be seen from the 1911 Census return. Ernest and Marion Dearman had originally bought two shops, selling boots, shoes, ladies’ and children’s clothes, haberdashery and some household wares.
By the beginning of the Second World War, there were shops to cater for every need of the village, from butchers, fishmongers, bakers, grocers and greengrocers, to sweet shops, ironmongers, hairdressers, and clothes shops. Dairy produce came from the local farms, and the meat was butchered locally too. And local businesses, like Creaseys the motor car body builders, Darby and Pictons,house builders plus the plumbers, chimney sweepers, dressmakers and even a ‘corsetiere’.
Here are a few more photos of ‘new’ Knebworth, all taken before the Second World War.