New book outlining the history of Hertford launches
29th August 2011
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This September will see the publication of a major new local history book co-authored by two of Hertford’s best-known local history experts. Hertford Through Time is part of an exciting series of paperback books produced by Amberley Press containing 180 ‘then and now’ photographs – half of which are old photographs set alongside contemporary full colour photographs which illustrate the same scenes today. The contrasting illustrations show how a town has changed and developed during the last 100 years.


The book is a unique collaboration between two local historians: Jean Purkis (author of a number of books for Hertford Oral History Group on North Crescent, Hertingfordbury Road and Sele Farm) and renowned Town and County Councillor Peter Ruffles, whose local history talks and two DVD’s on the County Town’s heritage have been hugely popular. Stephen Poulter, co-owner of books @ Hoddesdon, has taken the contemporary photographs, as he did for the best-selling Hoddesdon and Broxbourne Through Time which he helped get published last year. The period photos are being sourced from Hertford Museum’s extensive archive, with additional material from Peter Ruffles’ private collection.


Jean Purkis, who has worked at Hertford Museum as a volunteer for many years, explained: “The Museum has a wealth of photographic images and one of the aims of this book was to reproduce some that were unpublished, taken from the very early 20th century. Modern technology can now transfer to a computer views that otherwise could only be imagined today."


The Museum’s recently-arrived Curator Richard de Peyer added: “It is the detail in some of the early photos that enchants us so - streets that seem all of a piece, roses and front gardens that are just ’of the period’, passing characters that come straight out of a story book. What a contrast they make: many views are recognisable and display some real sensitivity about streetscapes and planning issues, but far from all! The photograph of the great chasm of Gascoyne Way, for example, stands as a visual indictment to the worst of postwar planning.”


According to Peter Ruffles: “There’s an old Chinese saying: ‘He who forgets the past, must live it again’. The book contains something for everyone – Old Hertfordians, questing newcomers, valley dwellers and hill folk, scholars and browsers.”


A VIP launch for Hertford Through Time is being planned at Hertford Castle on September 11th, an official signing session at Hertford Museum in October, followed by a public talk by the two authors in November.

Enquiries : Hertford Museum 01992 582686 or


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