A History of Preston

in Hertfordshire

Alfred Cain, labourer of Preston, charged with riding asleep whilst in charge of a wagon drawn by two horses on the highway at Preston. Fined 5s including costs. Paid. (October 1870)


HIGHWAY OFFENCE. William Winch, labourer of Little Almshoe was charged with riding without reins on the 11th March at Hitchin

Police-constable Martin said that on the above date at a quarter past two o’clock he saw the defendant sitting at the further end of a wagon coming along the London Road without reins and having no control over the horses.

The defendant who was in the employ of Mr Cook of Hill End Farm, who gave him an excellent character, said that he had been to the station two or three times that day and thought there was no harm in getting up to ride as his horses were very quiet.

The Bench cautioned the defendant and discharged him on payment of 2s costs.(March 1880)


HIGHWAY OBSTRUCTION. Benjamin Brown (aged 23, son of Emma) of Preston was charged with allowing his horse and cart to obstruct the highway on Hermitage-road on the 5th of March. Police-constable Berry said he watched the defendant’s horse and cart for more than half an hour on Tuesday last. There was no name on the cart and no one in charge. Defendant said that was quite true. He brought some  cows and calves to Hitchin and one cow being wild he was afraid it would do some harm. He went after that and forgot about the cart. he was sorry it had happened, but would take care that it did not occur again. Fined 6d and 9s 6d costs. (March 1878)


John Jeeves of Preston (wood carrier of Back Lane b 1807; son George b 1836 no occupation c1881) was summoned for leaving his horse and cart on the highway at Gosmore on 27 January. Pc Day said that on the 27 Jan. He saw the horse and cart of the defendant outside the Bull public house at about two o’clock. It remained there for more than half an hour and then he went in and spoke to the defendant about it. Witness had cautioned him several times about leaving his horse and cart unattended. The defendant admitted the offence but said he was waiting for his son, who had been ill for 20 years. To take him home. Fined 10s with costs. (Feb 1882)


OBSTRUCTING THE HIGHWAY. Herbert Jeeves (aged 17)  James Andrews (aged 14), Arthur Palmer (aged 14), Arthur Burton (aged 16), William Jenkins (aged 16) and Edward Saunders (aged 17) all lads of Preston were charged with obstructing the highway on the 13 inst.

Police-constable Day said that on the day in question, he was at Preston and saw the defendants on the footpath obstructing the way so that people had to leave the path to get to chapel. They were playing and talking on the path for more than an hour. Witness had cautioned the defendants on several occasions previously.

The defendants had nothing to say in defence and the Bench fined each of them 1s 6d.



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Highway Offences

Ernest Cannon, carrier of Preston, was summoned under the Highway Act with being at such a distance from his horses and van as to not have control of the same at Hitchin on 21 December  and was fined 10/- including costs. (January, 1901)

November 23, 1901. Arthur Sutton, William Bath, Frederick Cannon, Arthur Fairy, Ernest Smith and Frederick Gray, boys, were summoned for throwing stones on the highway at Hitchin on November 3. Pc Burt spoke to seeing the boys throwing stones at Walworth Road, near the railway bridge. The boys denied the charge. Each was fined 1/-.

December 7, 1901. Frederick Armstrong of Preston Hill Farm was fined 5/- for driving an unlighted vehicle on the highway in the night time at Gosmore on November 23.

Death of Marjorie Cropper                                                                       Hertfordshire Mercury 12 July 1930

Early yesterday morning, Miss Marjorie Cropper of ‘Aswaby’, Bearton Avenue, Hitchin died in Hitchin Hospital from injuries sustained in an accident at Preston on Wednesday night.


Miss Cropper, who was a dispenser to Dr Marshall Gilbertson, was out horse riding with two friends, Miss Baulk of ‘Thistley’, Gosmore and Miss Barrett of Hitchin and during the ride, changed horses with the last named. Just before nine o’clock, Miss Cropper was discovered seriously injured and it was apparent she had been thrown from her horse. Medical help was summoned and Dr Gilbertson did the 4 mile journey from Hitchin to Preston in seven minutes. The Hitchin Hospital ambulance followed and on this, the injured young lady was taken to hospital. Mr Slesinger, a London surgical specialist was called but he could only pronounce that the case was hopeless. She remained unconscious until the end which occurred at six o’clock on Thursday morning.


This sad occurrence is a great blow to the family and Dr Gilbertson. Miss Cropper’s brother is mathematics master at Hitchin Grammar School and her parents live at Streatham.


Local Farmer Killed                                                                               Hertfordshire Mercury 27 March 1916

The great blizzard on Tuesday was responsible for two fatalities and much havoc in Hitchin and District. While the storm was at its height, Mr George Jackson, aged 63, farmer at (Heath Farm) Breachwood Green, was driving home alone from the Hitchin market. It is supposed that when near Preston his horse became entangled in fallen telephone wires for he was found dead under his overturned horse and cart.


(This incident was recalled by Jessie Peacock Sansom in Memories of a Whitwell Woman. She added, ‘(the accident was) at the bottom of Hitch Wood...but the pony, although cold was alright. It had stood buried in the snow all night’)

The Highway. John Carter, publican of Preston Hitchin was charged with allowing two cows to stray on the highway. The offence was proved by PC Anderson. Fined £1 including costs. (8 August 1868)

Fred Jenkins of St Martins Place, Preston was summoned for riding a motor cycle without front and rear lights at Gosmore on 21 November 1928. A fine of 7s 6d in all was imposed.


Doctor motorist fined. Dr Robert Colson Williams, of ‘St Davids’, Moreton Avenue Harpenden was fined £3 for driving a motor car without due care and attention at Gosmore near Hitchin on 16 June. The defendant pleaded not guilty. Evidence was given by Mr Fred Andrews of ‘The Chequers’, Preston who was cycling towards Preston from Hitchin in company with Mr Sam Wray of Preston after a visit to the Purwell Greyhound Racing Track. Mr Andrews stated that a car driven by the defendant shot out in front of them at the Gosmore crossroads and both he and Wray collided with it. Witness heard no hooter or warning of any description. Mr John Payne, gardener employed at Tatmore Place, Preston who was chatting with the licensee of the ‘Bull’ public house at the time of the accident which he witnessed also gave evidence for the prosecution. Mr Ottoway for the defence submitted that his client did not dash onto the crossroads as had been estimated by a witness. His client’s car was only slightly scratched which showed it was only a slight collision. Dr Williams and his fiancée, Miss Edna Claridge (who was a passenger in the car at the time), gave evidence. Miss Claridge stated that Dr Williams could not have done anything to avoid the collision. The Chairman in announcing the magistrates’ decision said that although the defendant had shown some caution, he had not taken sufficient precaution in view of the dangerous nature of the crossroads. (19 August 1932)

Petty Sessions, Hitchin. John Dew, farmer of Preston, was summoned for neglecting to repair a certain highway leading from Charlton to Offley in the parish of Preston. Mr W. O. Times, clerk to the Hitchin Local Board, appeared for that authority. The case was brought in order that a highway which forms the boundary of two highway districts be divided transversely. The Bench decided that Hitchin should take the part from Wellhead Farm to the west corner of Offley Holes turning, the remainder to be repaired by the parish of Preston. (10 December 1892)

Frank Ernest Brown of Preston was summoned for riding an unlighted bicycle on the highway in the night-time at Kings Walden on February 20. He said that the night was so rough that he could not keep the lamp alight. A fine of 2/6d was imposed. Frank Ernest Brown was also summoned for driving unlighted vehicles on the highway in the night-time at Hitchin. He was ordered to pay costs. Frank Brown of Preston was fined 5/- and 4/- costs for riding an unlighted bicycle at Ley Green on August 16. (7 March and 27 August 1904)

Thomas Ward (41, of Back Lane) marine dealer of Preston was charged by Inspector Hawkes with having no name on his cart. Ordered to pay 5/-.(7 February 1857)

John Carter of Preston, Hitchin, publican was charged by Mr William Woollett, farmer of Kings Walden with

allowing three cows to be straying and lying on the highway for the purpose of feeding them. The magistrates

considered it a case where Mr Woollett might have impounded them: case dismissed. (6 July 1867)

William Cannon of Ippollitts, baker was charged by Mr John Foster of Preston with negligent driving. Mr Foster

stated he was returning from Hitchin to Preston on 14 August about eight o’clock in the evening with Mrs Foster

in a pony chaise when he saw the defendant who was quite drunk driving in a horse and cart and coming

towards the complainant. He called out to him, but he took no notice and drove right up against the complainant’s

chaise. Defendant was very abusive to Mr Foster when he remonstrated with him on his conduct. Fined £2 and

10/- costs and allowed seven days to get the money. (2 September 1843)