Listed as the first home ground of Apsley FC, Salmon Meadow was on the land now occupied by the retail park housing Sainsbury, Currys and Argos, among others off of London Road, Apsley. The meadow took its name from a nearby public house called “The Salmon”, and was hired in 1885 by a club known at that time as Apsley End. The pitch was located on the area of the meadow opposite St Mary’s Church; the pub was next to the church was and was used as Apsley FC’s clubhouse and changing rooms. The Salmon pub also has a strong link with the town’s oldest football competition – the Uncles Cup. This competition derived from Mr. C.H. Hawkins, one of the publicans at The Salmon who started the competition. The Salmon was used up to the Great War after which the club used the now demolished Apsley Club & Institute (more recently known as Apsley Social Club, rebuilt on land adjacent to the old club, which has now become Flower Pots nursery).
The ground had a small stand built on the London Road side. The nearby Dickinson paper mill owned the meadow, and Apsley were forced to move off following the 1927/28 season due to the planned extension of the mill – £100,000 was spent on a new card department which opened in 1933, forcing the club to find a new home. The last game played on the ground was on 5th May 1928, Apsley lost 1-6 against Sarratt in the Apsley Charity Cup Final.
Following the departure from Salmon Meadow, Apsley relocated to Gee’s Meadow for the 1928/29 season, which was just off of London Road by Bourne End on the way to Berkhamsted. The small stand at Salmon Meadow was dismantled and re-erected at Gee’s Meadow; however this was unfortunately flattened in a storm. Gates were low at the new ground and it was clear Apsley had no future at their new home. A supporters club was formed in 1929 with a view to searching for a home closer to Apsley, and it was reported that this club negotiated the purchase of land on the Corner Hall Estate near Hemel Hempstead. The club moved out of Gee’s Meadow after just one season.
Initially referred to as the Wood Lane Ground, it was 1934 when a fence built restricting access to the ground from Wood Lane saw official documentation refer to the ground as Crabtree Lane. Easter 1934 saw the ground attract 2,275 spectators for the local derby against Berkhamsted on Good Friday; the game resulted in a 1-1 draw. This record gate was beaten three times in 1938/39 during the clubs greatest FA Cup run, by the time Apsley entertained Leytonstone in the final qualifying round 3,160 spectators crammed in. The ground saw an official record gate of 3,500 when Tooting & Mitcham visited in the FA Amateur Cup in 1962.
Local press reported on 25th August 1970 that the Crabtree Lane ground was up for sale. Dacorum Borough Council were planning a new development at Jarman Fields which included an athletics track; the football club was hoping the council would incorporate a football pitch in to the development so Crabtree Lane could be sold to pay off debts. However, on 29th January 1971 it was reported that the council’s plans at Jarman Fields were shelved due to the estimated £80,000 cost of the project.
Crabtree Lane was sold for development in 1971, Hemel were committed to competing in the Athenian League the following season and had to find a home ground which met the leagues standards. During the summer of 1972, the club merged with Hemel Hempstead United, moving in to United’s Vauxhall Road ground.
The land on which Vauxhall Road and the football ground was built used to form part of Cox Pond Farm, which dated back to 1567. In the early 1930’s the land was it was purchased by Arthur Brock, the firework manufacturer. He was moving his firework factory to Hemel Hempstead and purchased Cox Pond Farm in order to build houses for his workers and to establish a sports club for them. The old farm buildings were then demolished. The Brocks Fireworks Factory was based at nearby Woodhall Farm from 1933 to the 1960’s. Both Vauxhall Road and nearby Ranelagh Road were built in the 1930s as residence for workers of the factory, the names Vauxhall and Ranelagh refer to two gardens in London where spectacular firework displays were held by Brocks. Henry Brock, the founder of Brocks Fireworks, allocated part of the land to serve the employees of Brocks, and the football pitch and clubhouse started out as Brocks Social and Sports Club, with a Brocks team competing in the West Herts League. The founder of Brocks, Henry Brock, died in 1938 and is buried at Holy Trinity Church in nearby Leverstock Green.
The post war years saw major housing development in the town of Hemel Hempstead. In March 1948 the Hemel Hempstead Development Corporation compulsorily purchased land in the Adeyfield area for the site of its labour camp, the arrangement included the clubhouse and playing field of the Brocks Social and Sports Club. The first ‘community association’ of the New Town of Hemel Hempstead named themselves Greenhills, and Brocks Social and Sports Club was handed over to them as their base. Greenhills Club was officially opened early in May 1948 and after six months the development corporation was so delighted with the way the club was going, it promised to supply two extra huts, 200 chairs and a new roof for the clubhouse. During the early new town years Greenhills was to be the home of entertainment for many of those arriving in their new home from London – everything from baby shows and fancy dress parades to dances and more importantly the chance to make and build new friendships. During the development of Hemel Hempstead, the development corporation held exhibitions at Greenhills to show models of the houses to be built in the first stages. In 1950 a BBC Television unit visited Hemel Hempstead for a programme on making fireworks, based on the Brocks Fireworks Factory; it was narrated by Richard Dimbleby and included a firework display arranged at the Greenhills Club. In 1951 a film premiered at the Festival of Britain which featured the Greenhills Club. “A Home of Your Own” starred Harry Locke (a big star of the time) and was about a bricklayer who brings his wife to live in the new town of Hemel, away from the “squalor” of Willesden, and featured dancing in the Greenhills Club before ending in nearby Longlands.
Greenhills also had a football team which later became Adeyfield Athletic and then Hemel Hempstead United. Following a merger between Hemel Hempstead United and Hemel Hempstead Town in 1972, the Vauxhall Road ground it became the home of the current club as it is today. The ground has been subjected to fire damage and extensive refurbishment and redevelopments over the years; in 2000 insufficient ground grading prevented Hemel’s promotion after the club won the Isthmian League Division Two. Since then, much work has been carried out at Vauxhall Road and a new main stand is currently planned which will complete all four sides of the ground having comfortable covered areas for spectators.