Watercress and the River Ver
Watercress growing first became established as an industry in Redbourn in the 1860s, the proximity of Watling Street allowing access to markets in London. The main beds were in Ver Meadow off Waterend Lane, as well as down to Redbournbury Farm from Dolittle Mill. There was also a large section of watercress beds on the Ver to the SE of St Albans, which still exists as a nature reserve ( http://www.watercresslnr.org.uk/about/ )
Watercress growing requires a reliable supply of fast flowing water and by the 1930s the Ver Meadows site was falling into disuse as the River Ver was often dry. After the opening of Friars Wash pumping station in 1955 and a general decline in the value of watercress the industry ceased completely in Redbourn.
The first photo shows the watercress beds in Ver Meadow in the 1920s, the second photo is a similar view from 1968.
The third photo shows George Lee, a WW1 veteran who was one of the last workers on the watercress beds in the 1950s.
The final photo shows Tom Sansom (whose grandfather started their business in 1868) and his employee Tom Burchmore at the Redbournbury Farm ford watercress beds in 1928.