Radlett is a large affluent village in the county of Hertfordshire between St Albans and Borehamwood on Watling Street with a population of approximately 8,000. It is located in the council district of Hertsmere and is covered by two wards, Aldenham East and Aldenham West. It is located inside the M25 motorway.
There has been a settlement known as Radlett since at least as far back as 1453. However modern Radlett has been created almost entirely since the end of the 19th century, for despite its position on Watling Street it seems to have been ignored as a place for a substantial settlement. During the 19th century Radlett was a rural community dominated by the estates of Kendals, which owned most of the land to the west of Watling Street, and Newberries and Aldenham Lodge which owned the land to the east. The only buildings then were a pub and a few buildings at the crossroads at the bottom of Shenley Hill.
In 1823 Radlett was the site of an infamous murder.
In 1860 the Midland Railway was extended from Bedford into London and a station was built at Radlett connecting it with London. On 8 December 1865 the Ecclesiastical Parish of Radlett was created out of the eastern part of Aldenham and this marks the start of the modern history of the village. Development could only start when the landowners sold off their land for this purpose and this started in the final decade of the 19th century when land to the west of Watling Street was sold off. In 1910 the estate of Aldenham Lodge to the north of Shenley Hill was released for development and in 1935 the Newberries estate. Newberries mansion was demolished in the 1950s and Aldenham Lodge in 1964.
Handley Page Ltd opened a grass airfield just north of the town in 1929 for the production of aircraft. Radlett Aerodrome was upgraded by 1939 to have three hard runways for use in the production of Handley Page Hampden and Handley Page Halifax bombers during the Second World War. Post-war the airfield was used for production of Hasting transport aircraft and Hermes airliners. The Society of British Aircraft Constructors held air shows here in 1947 and 1948 which subsequently moved to Farnborough. The Handley Page Victor bomber prototype was built there with the main runway being extended in 1952 to allow flight testing. Handley Page went bankrupt in 1969 and the airfield closed in 1970.
The 1948 Olympic Marathon went through Radlett. It was an out-and-back course from the Empire Stadium, Wembley.
1977 Eddie Kidd the stunt rider jumped over 14 London Double Decker buses at the Handley Page airfield.
The introduction of the Metropolitan Green Belt in the 1950s set a legal framework limiting further outward growth beyond the then existing limits of the village, and since then new development has been restricted to infilling within the built-up area. Despite this, many new houses continue to be built in former large gardens, and the population now stands at over 8000.
In 2005, and 2006, there was a large campaign in the village, and surrounding areas to save the Fire Station, which was opened 100 years ago. The campaign failed, and the station closed in October 2006. The campaign continues. There is now a campaign to prevent the building of a huge distribution centre at what was previously the Radlett Aerodrome Site, the former production site of the British aircraft builder Handley Page.