When Harpenden Prisoner-of-War Camp closed, the huts were used as temporary housing while council estates were being built. The Golden Tap was the only source of hot water for residents of the former camp.
When Harpenden Prisoner-of-War Camp closed, the huts were used as temporary housing while council house estates were being built. Facilities were grim. There was a communal wash-house, the only hot water source being a brass tap, known to the residents as The Golden Tap.
To prevent accidents and avoid the tap being left on, the handle was detachable and kept in a safe place. Inevitably, someone forgot to remove the handle, a child turned on the tap and was scalded. Harpenden Urban District Council was taken to court, charged with negligence, and ordered to pay several hundred pounds in compensation.
The tap was removed. It’s just an ordinary brass tap, but the footnote it adds to Harpenden’s history is a reminder that housing crises are not new and that the immediate post-war period was a time of great hardship for many, following the trauma of the Second World War. The temporary accommodation provided by the P.o.W. Camp huts lasted until 1958.