Rubber and allotments

St Albans Rubber Company

By Daphne Knott

Rubber factory

Have you ever heard of the St Albans Rubber Company? Perhaps you know somebody who used to work there.   This aerial photograph from 1921 shows a small corner of St Albans which may have been built over long ago. Can you recognise where this is? Do the allotments still exist?

The photograph is part of the Aerofilms collection now held by English Heritage. Aerofilms, founded in 1919 by two World War I veterans, F.L. Wills and C. Grahame-White, took aerial photographs of towns and villages all over the British Isles.

The collection of photograph albums and negatives is now held by English Heritage, who are hoping to set up a project to catalogue these photographs in detail.

Your help is needed! If you recognise the landmarks in this photograph or know anything about the St Albans Rubber Company, please leave a comment below.

This page was added on 17/09/2009.

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  • Sadly I have to report that Bill Flynn passed away at the age of 98 on 29/07/2022.
    Anyone that worked at the St. Albans Rubber company during the 60’s to the 80’s will remember him with admiration and affection – a remarkable man.

    By John Bowles (30/07/2022)
  • To Chris Ward, Bill says yes he does still carry a comb but now in his shirt chest pocket.
    He may respond to you himself so check back in from time to time.

    By John Bowles (05/01/2022)
  • To Chris Ward,
    Bill says YES he still always carries a comb but not in his back pocket, now in his shirt chest pocket.

    By John Bowles (04/01/2022)
  • To Chris Ward
    Hi, I have messaged Bill and told him you left a comment here. I’ll let you know his response.

    By John Bowles (02/01/2022)
  • OMG… what a flash back in time for me reading this page..Billy Flynn ,Ray Curran,Fred & Tony Nash…etc I was an apprentice in the early 70’s what a fantastic bunch of real lovely people.. Chris Ward
    (has Bill still got a comb in his back pocket..!!)

    By chris ward (29/12/2021)
  • To Susan Flynn,
    So pleased Bill recalls the Benny Goodman concert at the Albert Hall, I should point out it was not my fathers private box but one that was rented long term by the company my father worked for. Shortly after the Benny Goodman concert Frank Sinatra performed there and I wanted those tickets for Bill as well but unfortunately my Mum and Dad wanted to go that one! I know Bill was a huge fan of old blue eyes.

    By John Bowles (11/03/2021)
  • To Susan Flynn
    John tried to send you his personal email via the comment section, but we can’t publish personal email addresses. If you’d like to get in touch, please email and we can pass John’s email address to you as he’d very much like to get in touch.

    Website Editors

    By John Bowles (27/02/2021)
  • This is a message to Mr John Bowles. My Uncle Bill was really moved by your kind comments. Brought a big smile to his face. He tells me that you were a good looking young man John. Ha. He also remembers your Father letting him use his box at the Albert Hall, to see Benny Goodman. Very fond memories of his time at the Rubber works.
    He says he would like to keep in touch.
    I shall keep checking this site for a reply. Thank you once again John. You have made my uncle very happy.
    Kind Regards
    Susan Flynn

    By Susan Flynn (24/02/2021)
  • I worked in the mixing and drug stores from 1967 till 1989 under the guidance of Mick Reilly nice to see some familiar names on this site still taste the carbon black halcon days

    By Phil clarry (11/01/2021)
  • Re the comment from Susan Flynn at the top of the page (October 2020).
    I am delighted to hear your uncle Bill Flynn is “still strutting his stuff” around Blackburn. I was an apprentice at St Albans Rubber Co back in the mid 60’s and Bill was my hero. He taught me most of the skills I learned there regarding mould making and machining. A truly wonderful man, send him my best wishes please.
    John Bowles.

    By John Bowles (29/11/2020)
  • My uncle Bill Flynn worked there. He lived in St Albans on Riverside road. He is 96 years old and lives with me back up in Blackburn, Lancs, where he originally came from

    By Susan Flynn (26/10/2020)
  • There are some more photos from different angles on this page here:

    By Paul Wilkinson (16/04/2018)
  • My mum Kathleen Kemp worked for the rubber works (as we knew it) both as an out worker in the 50’s and in the factory in the 60’s until her untimely death in 1972. We all helped with trimming the seals for cars and our house often stunk of rubber! My sister in law Connie Kemp also worked there. I used to baby sit Ray Curran’s children. (Ref John Bowles memories)

    By ANNI nee Kemp (19/12/2017)
  • I went out with a guy who’s Mum worked the Night shift at the Rubber Company.

    By Susan Cortes (07/11/2017)
  • Hi Adrian,
    Agree with your comment about rubbish wages but lovely people. When I left in the early 70’s I was earning
    about 11 shillings an hour as an engineer and got another similar job that paid 19 shillings an hour.

    I imagine you knew my brother-in-law David Scottow who also relocated to Durham with Starco but returned to St. Albans when the factory closed.

    By John Bowles (26/09/2017)
  • Hi, just found this page and decided to add a bit.
    I started working for St Albans Rubber Company, in Camp Road in 1977. I was asked to relocate with them in 1989, which I did.
    I worked there, through various company name changes, owners and management until it went into receivership in May 2007 and everyone received their redundancy.
    Having discovered what a great place the North East is, to live and work in I stayed.
    I make regular trips to St Albans to see close family,friends and thinking about my time working at Rubber Company brings a smile to my face…..rubbish wages…lol..
    but great people!!!!!

    By Adrian Joyner (15/09/2017)
  • My dad worked there does anybody remember him Muhammad Abdul Gani

    By Siraz manuar (14/12/2016)
  • I worked at L.S.& J Sussman in the late ’60’s early ’70’s. They were next to the St. Albans Rubber Co in Lion Way, I thought! There was a cash and carry in the same road. Don’ t know if I’m mistaken about the names or if Lion Way was the back of the factory. I was  16/17 when I started work there and very much ‘in love’ with a chap who worked at the Rubber Factory. Ahh… those days!  Sussmans made pyjamas for M&S.  Linda Rose née Paxton 


    By Linda Rose née Paxton (12/03/2016)
  • Hi Maddi, many thanks for the update of St Albans Rubber, very sad to hear that the demise of the company was at the hands of an arsonist.

    Was anybody harmed and was anyone ever charged with the offence? Someone with a grudge against the company perhaps.

    I knew some of the people that relocated when the company moved – I wonder if they returned to the St. Albans area or stayed around the Durham area after the factory closed.

    Best wishes


    By John Bowles (10/02/2016)
  • My father was a director of St Albans Rubber Company (Camp Road), he bought the company out with two others around 1984 from Hanson Trust, when the land was rescheduled for redevelopment. He relocated the company to Stanley (nr Durham). The company was a success and he finally sold it when he retired. Unfortunately the company no longer exists as it burnt down shortly after the sale from arson. do not hesitate to contact me further should you require more info

    By Maddi Rose (08/01/2016)
  • Ahhh….happy days!

    I did my apprenticeship there in the late 60’s/early 70’s. Bill Groves was the chief engineer – lovely man, as were all the other engineers including Peter Cooper, Bill Flynn, Doug Powell, Fred Nash, Tony Domanski and Ray Curran. Other apprentices at the time were Tommy Day and Murray Hoyes.

    A few other people from the factory I remember well are Paul Gisbourne, Mick Whitney, Ernie Scottow (who became my father in law), Jock Hamilton, Rusty Gauntlet and Brian Walters.

    I was a member of the Starco Judo club for several years run by Ted Taylor and Norman Brown.

    Lots of fond memories!!




    By John Bowles (04/04/2015)
  • Yes Jane Bazeley, I knew Billy Warner. I started at Townsends when Bill was driving for them but I think he left soon after Wilkinson Transport bought the concern out in the early 70’s

    By Mick Austin (13/12/2014)
  • Hello, my question is With regards to St. Albans Rubber Company…… My late father worked there in the 70’s/80’s I am just wondering if any one worked with him, his name was Geoffrey Howson? Hope to heaR from you soon. 

    By Kathleen HOWSON (14/10/2014)
  • Mick Austin, did you know Billy Warner who drove for Townsend?

    By Jayne BAZELEY (05/06/2014)
  • I joined Starco in Jan. 1976 and retired in April 2001, when it was in Tanfield, Co. Durham. It became part of the Evans and Reid group in late 1997, and shut down in Feb 2007. I remember Kelvin Dow, who left soon after I joined.

    By Dara Dastur (19/01/2013)
  • I joined the company in in the late 60s as the laboratory assistant. I eventually qualified as a chemist.During this period I worked with Heath (technical director), John Pillow (Chief chemist), Tony Jones (chemist), Chris Smith (chemist). We all worked on the succsessful development of ‘Starskin” Neoprene wetsuit material. I did a lot of work on the adhesive system used to bond the nylon to the neoprene. It was a good company to work for and set me up for my new life in Australia.

    By Kelvin Dow (11/12/2012)
  • I have downloaded Edward William King’s (my grandfather) WW1 military record. He signed on at St Albans and served in the Royal Garrison Artillery in France. His occupation at the time, 6/11/1915, is listed as a “rubber worker”. His address was Gustard Wood, Wheathampstead. We don’t know which rubber works he was working for when he signed up, but he did at some time make tyres.

    By Roy McKnight (17/11/2012)
  • There was another rubber works which was down Valley Road Industrial Estate Near Porters Wood. That did indeed Burn down .I know because my Mother worked there…… The Rubber works Above is indeed Camp Road!!!!

    By Deanne (29/09/2012)
  • My mother had sheets of rubber products delivered to her door in Sandridge once a week to be cut out. This was like slave labour, and she was paid 5p a hundred if she was lucky. They were things like rubber toilet seat buffers, or rubber football boot studs or similar. She would sit watching TV and cutting these out all evening every evening and would earn enough money in a year to take me and my sister on a UK holiday.

    By Stuart Clewlow (21/06/2012)
  • I worked there from 1984-1988 in my first job straight out of uni. Worked in export sales, where “STARSKIN” closed-cell expanded neoprene rubber sheets were sold to wetsuit manufacturers across all of Europe and many other parts of the world too. It was owned by Hanson Trust at the time who sold in 1988/9 to a management buy-in team that relocated the factory lock, stock and barrel to Tanfield Lea in Tyne & Wear. Shortly after that the site was demolished to make way for housing. The site had obviously been expanded since this early shot making way for the neoprene sheet laminating lines, packaging areas and loading bay. The “new” office block which, was a secondhand prefab affair, previously used by a bank I recall, sat adjacent to the road on what was the football pitch. As Mick Austin comments, many of the factory employees continued to be of Asian descent and we extremely hard workers in what were often very hot conditions! I met my future wife when working there and made many lasting friends, many of whom, sadly, have passed away. As a young twenty-something-year-old, it was a wonderful first job that took me to many parts of the world that I no longer have the chance to visit and stumbling across this picture was quite a nostalgic moment.

    By St John Harvey (01/02/2012)
  • I used to collect the large boxes of finished rubber used for making skin diving suits, they were heavy and they often near filled my lorry. The factory was always warm in the summer with all the machinery working. I particularly remember the ‘goods dispatch’ bay being very slippy with a coating of chalk everywhere, apparently to stop the rubber binding on itself. I also remember the huge machines used for breaking down the raw rubber, it would ‘pop’ and ‘crack’ as it turned over and over in the machine. I knew the two lorry drivers there although I can’t remember their names now, St Albans Rubber operated two articulated lorries during the time I collected there, a Bedford TK and a Ford D Series. One of the drivers was Irish. Most of the workforce were Asian during the time I went there (1972-1978). The company I drove for was Townsend Carriers, becoming Wilkinson Transport of Higham Ferrers, Northamptonshire.

    By Mick Austin (02/10/2011)
  • I lived very near to the Rubber Works for twenty years until 1966 but have no recollection of it being burnt down during that time.

    By Joan Johnson (nee Allen) (01/09/2011)
  • My dad (lives in Bushey) has a memory that this factory burnt down. Was is this one, or was there another rubber factory in/near St Albans that went up in smoke?

    By Katy Whitaker (24/06/2011)
  • My nan May Scott worked there most of her life and had a friendship with the manager probably about 1935-55 his name was I think Tom Hyams or Hiams anybody shed any light on his family whereabouts? I also had a few sweaty months working there in the late sixties

    By tony scott (09/11/2010)
  • I saw this picture a while ago, and was confused. I knew that the Rubber Works were in Camp Road, but this didn’t look like the Camp Road I know! However, closer investigation proves that it is indeed Camp Road, which is the road at bottom left. Most of the cottages still survive. The houses at top left are also in Camp Road. The lane with the trees is Cell Barnes Lane. The farm may be Cunningham Hill Farm, not sure about that. The playing field was built over and replaced with another larger one where the farm once stood. The nearest end of the allotments was built over (Springfield Road) but some still survive.

    By Robert Bull (22/10/2009)