Plans to create a unique ‘heritage trail’ through the newly-renovated Old Town have been set in motion.
Dacorum Borough Council has submitted eight applications for a series of heritage plaques to be placed on some of the High Street’s oldest and most interesting buildings, all of which are either Grade II or Grade II* listed.
Unlike the iconic blue plaques seen around the country including in nearby Piccotts End, these prestigious 16-inch diameter badges will feature a gold and black colour scheme, which will be inkeeping with the range of new street furniture currently being installed as part of the upgrade of the High Street.
Council leader Andrew Williams said: “The heritage plaque scheme is part of a wider heritage trail to celebrate the historic importance of Hemel Hempstead’s Old Town.
“The Old Town in Hemel Hempstead has been the centre of local life for hundreds of years and the purpose of this trail is to encourage exploration of the town’s long history. Hemel Hempstead is an old town with a heritage to be proud of.
“The heritage trail is a unique trail linking natural, historic and cultural heritage. It aims to encourage awareness of Hemel Hempstead’s past by inviting people to look at the special character of the town and its historic assets, and to delve into the town’s history.”
One such build to be included in the trail is the 1882 build formerly home Lloyd’s Bank, which operated from 1926 until 1997, and now houses AIC Insurance, along with the White Hart pub which dates back to 1655 and has ghost stories associated with it.
The home to the Hemel Hempstead Institute and Club since 1919 on Queensway has been chosen to receive the honour, along with the Oak House in the High Street.
Neighbouring The Bury and the Norman St Mary’s Church – which features one of the tallest spires in Europe dating back to the 14th century – will also be adorned with the signs, which will feature snippets of information about the historical sites.
The planning document for the project reads: “The plaques form part of a wider heritage trail for the area to encourage people to get the best out of visiting and understanding the area’s cultural, natural, social and historical interest.
“The location has been carefully chosen so as to relate to the architectural features of the building and characteristics of the site, and to provide minimal intrusion.”
The applications comply with listed building consent regulations and reversible fixings will be used to prevent damage to the historic fabric of the structures.
The Dacorum Heritage Trust was also approached to ensure accuracy in the descriptions featuring on each plaque.