Radlett's quality street – a guide to the town's shops and services
PUBLISHED: 12:36 14 October 2013 | UPDATED: 12:58 14 October 2013
In the top 10 most expensive areas to live in the UK, it’s not suprising that Radlett has a range of quality shops and services, most of which are on ancient Watling Street. Julie Lucas searches out some of the best
With rolling hills and green pastures surrounding it, but within easy access of London, it is not surprising that Radlett is one of the priciest places in the UK to live. This year it was listed in The Sunday Times as the seventh most expensive area to buy a house, with an average property price of £830,914.
People looking for property in the area are drawn to that combination of rural living and connectedness, Margaret Towey, director of village estate agent Lumley Estates, says. ‘It has excellent transport links, all the airports are easily accessible and the schools are wonderful around here. Haberdashers’ Aske’s is one of the top schools in the county and a new free school, Harperbury, has been approved. Of course properties are towards the top end of the market – flats here sell for £250,000.’
Hub of activity The hub of activity here is Watling Street, on the line of the old Roman road which runs through the village (Radlett is thought to derive its name from the Old English for junction). For a relatively small place, it is bustling with life and although it can sometimes be referred to as a town, it is known to locals as a village and retains that village community feel.
Silverman’s Butchers on Watling Street has been selling kosher meat to the large Jewish community in the village for the past seven years. One customer, Sharman Franklin, who has been coming here for two years, says the quality of the meat is excellent and the staff very helpful. ‘Nothing is a problem. They have a lot of fresh meat and I do not know of another butcher that offers this much selection.’
Further down the road is Vila Flora, selling flowers, accessories and chocolates. It is run by Iranian born Kazem Moloudi and his wife Rosa. They are proud to have provided the ITV hit show Dancing on Ice with bouquets since the programme began in 2006, and those given to the skaters are all made personally by Rosa. The florist also supplies the film studios at nearby Elstree.
Kazem’s brother-in-law owns the popular Italian restaurant Va’ Pensiero next door. In fact, Radlett has a culturally diverse range of eating places including Indian cuisine – Akash and Indian Royal, Greek – Meze Grill, Turkish – Isot, and a great deli in Nosher’s Smoked Salmon.
Also along this parade of shops on Watling Street is Su Kaye. Having worked as a primary school teacher for many years Su decided to follow her passion for photography and opened Su Kaye photography 12 years ago. Her portraits capture the personalities of families and especially children and they all look like they are having great fun. She describes her style as ‘casual and fresh’. One particularly striking photograph is of a line-up of seven children, a cheeky little boy who won’t hold his brother’s hand, a sibling looking down the line and another with her head in her hands.
Nearby is Cuts for Kids where four-year-old Charlie Loughlin was having his hair cut in a special child-friendly chair in the shape of Lightning McQueen from Pixar’s Cars movies. His mother Lucy Baxter says they first started coming here a year ago because Charlie had a fear of hairdressers. ‘We were recommended. He now loves it and looks forward to coming. The children get to pick which car they sit in and what they watch on the screens.’ Owner Sara Khan says the shop is a franchise from the US and there are only two in the country. ‘I was looking to come back to work after having my children and it appealed to me as I had a nightmare with my son at the hairdressers – it looked more fun and appeals to children.’
For reminders of your own childhood, head to Art you GREW up with, tucked away in Station Approach. It specialises in animation and superhero art, including vintage pieces. The gallery has just been given the licence for Beatrix Potter and is the sole outlet for Dr Seuss artwork in the UK. Gallery assistant Emma Gillson bubbles with enthusiasm for the works, ‘We find that people come in and rather than buy for their children they buy for themselves,’ she says. Next door to the gallery is the cheekily-named Luv It, which specialises in unique gifts and unusual sweetie bouquets.
It’s not surprising given the surrounding countryside to explore that there is a specialist bike shop on Watling Street. Giant (dealer, unsurprisingly, of the Giant bike range, as well as providing servicing for all makes) was given a refit in June and was voted among the top 20 independent bike shops in the UK by Bike Biz magazine this year.
Don’t leave without visiting Battlers Green Farm. Just outside the village, it started as a single farm shop but has grown into a rural shopping village with 14 shops and a teashop. These include tiling specialists Fired Earth, the mini boutique filled barn of the Hertfordshire Craft Collective and interiors firm Blacks of Sopwell, which opened in July. It remains a working farm but now provides unusual shops in a beautiful environment.
In order to encourage people to shop in the area, Aldenham Parish Council pays a sum of money to Hertsmere Borough Council to provide the first hour of parking free in the village.
Parish council chairman Estelle Samuelson says work is also under way to create a traders group. ‘We want Radlett to remain a great place to visit and with that in mind the parish council is trying to facilitate a shopkeepers forum to ensure the high street continues to flourish.’