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Transcript TitleBlake, Thora (O1991.2)
IntervieweeVera Long (VL), Jack Doyle (JD), Jim Morris (JM), Lydia Dye (LD)
InterviewerPeter Ruffles (PR), Simon Townsend (ST), Alan Greening (AG), Mary Ollis (MO), Eve Sangster (ES)
Transcriber byES Sangster, with some additions by Marilyn Taylor 2013


Hertford Oral History Group

Recording no: O 1991.2

Interviewee: Vera Long (VL), Jack Doyle (JD), Jim Morris (JM), Lydia Dye (LD), Chris Quarry (CQ) and Thora Blake (TB)

Venue: 12 Cowbridge, Hertford

Date: 5.5.1991

Interviewers: Peter Ruffles (PR), Simon Townsend (ST), Alan Greening (AG), Mary Ollis (MO), Eve Sangster (ES)

Transcribed by: ES Sangster, with some additions by Marilyn Taylor 2013

************** = unclear recording

[discussion] = untranscribed material

Tape 1, side A

LD: Members the staff at Hertford Post Office

JD: What a glorious…

(General conversation between the group - difficult to transcribe accurately)

JD: I can fully recommend those ********* Group laughs

TB: Yes it’s lovely isn’t it?

TB: Would anybody else like a…

PR: That looks interesting

JD: Mary, you bought me along didn’t you?

MO: That’s right I did

JD: You’re? Dora………..

MO: Dora’s daughter. Dora Ollis’s daughter

JD: Horice! Orrice! That was the name!??

MO: Rose. She was Rose when she came…………..Dora Rose

More general conversation between group while tea is served, talking of Golden Lunch etc. (Lydia Dye) and continues in background over main conversation

JACK DOYLE produces photographs of a pageant.

TB: Jack, was this the Pageant?

JD: My sister is the extreme left, dear. The other two are Rev. Johnson's daughters. Do you remember the family? Course, we're going back a long time you see

LD: Well, I know I should. I'm a little bit younger than you but I should remember. Now this rings a bell because all Jim's family ....That was some pageant at the Castle, wasn't it?

TB: 1914

JD: Yes, 1914. The old boy kneeling, I think his name was Harvey, from Bengeo. Who was on the horse, I don't know.

LD: There was Jim and his Grandfather and two uncles, Dan and Will, were all in this Pageant. It happened at the Castle, I think, and they were all dressed something like this. Peter, you've got a photo, I think, in your films, of the Evergreen, haven't you? The old Evergreen Club? Only I brought it along. I didn't know whether you might be ….

PR: Yes

JD: If anybody has got any questions to ask me I'd try and help as much as possible, over the town.

PR: Yes, there may be dates and things like that, Jack. I got the Evergreen Club late in the day.

LD: Well, you're welcome to it if I can find it. I'll just pass these to Jack and see if I can find it.

PR: What date was this, Jack? The Pageant?

JD: That was the millenary Pageant. 1914. Just immediately before the First World War. It carried on for a week and there were various episodes. It was based on historic ....particular ....Well, of course, I was only a boy about 10 or 12. When it was carried on. My father was the general secretary so I thoroughly enjoyed myself mucking about.

PR: Yes, you were in behind the scenes a bit.

ES: Somebody in West Street found an old programme for a pageant. I wonder if it was that one, based on the history of Hertford? No no, not the synod. Written by a local woman, I believe.

TB: Yes, Mrs. Graveson, wasn't it? 1912 or 1913. Mrs. Elsie (?) Graveson.

CQ: What have you lost Mrs Dye?

( [discussion] while photos are looked for etc chairs are sorted out etc..)

LD: It was a photo …..just a small one………..Evergreen Club…..just a snap……………..

CQ: You just had it there a minute ago

LD: Green Street, because Clara had a house along there and Jim lived with his father who was blind. (Hands Peter a photo of the Evergreen Club.)

PR: Yes, that's when it was looking good. I didn't take mine until it was beginning to ....'47, I think.

(more discussion with everyone talking at once and settling on chairs etc. and more talk of who is who and the evergreen club etc.)

ST: Shall we begin by introducing ourselves? I'll just go round saying who everyone is just for everyone’s benefit. Vera Long. Lydia Dye. Jim Morris. Thora Blake, who we're very grateful to today for offering a home for yet another recording session, Eve Sangster, sitting at the front. Jack Doyle. Peter Ruffles, I'm sure you all know, perched behind. Chris Quarry. Mary Ollis. Alan Greening and myself, Simon Townsend.

JD: With the background of The Castle all the time you see

ES: Yes I see that

LD: Jack…the pageant did he say?


PR: We're really interested in The Green area to start with, aren't we?


ST: That’s right

JD: She developed TB in those days, nothing saved her you know. If she were here today, a pill would……….

ES: That’s right - I had an uncle and aunt who died

ST: Jack, can I begin by asking you about the Railway Street area of Hertford. Do you remember Hertford when it was ….

JD: Yes. Yes. Was this where the bus station ….

TB: Yes.

LD: (handing over a photo) You haven't seen that one, have you? Well, this gentleman lived in Railway Street.

ST: Did you?

JM: The Green.

JD: …. remember the blessed cottages because they were practically all wood at the bottom and the smokes from the fire didn't go up the chimney; it used to come out the front door. But they were all happy, jolly and, of course, they gave birth to men who went to the First World War and fought and did their stint.

ST: Jim, you were actually born in Railway Street?

JM: No, I wasn't born there. I was three years old ….

JD: Of course, I used to have to collect the rent from the pub with the Rating Officer and Borough Accountant and he used to send me round to collect the rents from these people. But they were very good. They coughed up all right.

Jim Morris responds as asked in the background

ST: Which pub was that?

JM: The Angel.


ES: Where did you say it was? The Angel? In Railway Street?

JD: Yes, right in the middle there.


JM: we had a big hall, cellars and everything ....right in the middle there and our backyard went right the way back where Waitrose is. I used to have a problem clearing the backyard.

PR: So would it have been where the open market was?

JM: Yes, where the open market was, that was all our part. There was a sweetshop next door, The Welcome, and Smith's, the milkman, and the other side was Mrs. Healey, then The Cross Keys, then came Barber's.

PR: Right, I've got the spot. I couldn't think where The Angel really was ….

JM: A very big pub. Four storeys high. Big dance hall at the front. Everything.

PR: So when you went into The Green, behind, was it on the line of the road as it now is?

JM: same road now was our front.·


TB: Where Pearce's is now was the entrance to The Green.

PR: And also coming out where Bircherley Court is.

JM: Same place where you come out now.

TB: That was Barber's.

PR: What was the layout in there, Jim? [discussion: The ragged school is mentioned]

PR: There was more than one street though, wasn't there?

JM: Oh yes. There were loads of cottages. There was Mrs. Claydon, the rag-and-bone. Course, there was Wren on the corner and opposite him was the fish shop, Mr. Watts. Tuppenny and Pennarth, as much as you could eat, 2d. and 1d.

ES: Who ran the dance hall?

JM: No. It was a dwelling then. There was three whole families in there. 6/- a week rent. The lot.

PR: So did McMullens own quite a lot of the property?

JM: A lot there, yes.

PR: But was some brought privately, rented?

JM: Yes. There was another pub in between which was The Cross Keys. That was McMullen's as well.

TB: Latterly, John Summersgill's father owned a lot of the cottages down there. Because I remember how he used to be sent to collect the rent.

PR: And did Dan Dye have property there, Lydia?

LD: Only .... The house is still standing. No, Clara had a house on The Green and then when we were first married, Jim and I, we went into Railway Street, into 28, where Joan lives now, and they were going to pull The Green ....That was just before 1933. They were, going to start on The Green and Clara's house was on The Green. There was just a row of cottages and then there was quite a nice house that Clara had and she owned the house that Mrs Crewe (?) had in 28 Railway Street and Jim and I were living in it from the time we married in 1928 'til 1933. And then we were one of the first to go up to Hertingfordbury housing estate, the new council houses. We had a chance of having that because Clara owned 28 and she wanted it. That's how we come to get up to Hertingfordbury Road.

PR: So Clara Dye's family have been in the town ….

LD: Oh yes.

PR: What was the family name? What was Clara's name before she married?

LD: No, she married a Dye. That's what complicated it. She was a Dye, Clara Dye, and she married a Dye. She married David Dye. That's what complicates the Dye family, really.

PR: Right. Unravelled that one!

JM: The majority of The Green, when they started the clearance, they took us to Hornsmill. That was the first estate built.

LD: That's right. You're right.

JM: 'Cos we took Everything with us, bugs and all (laughter)

LD: Yes, they were very rough, weren't they? Oh dear, oh dear. Happy memories!

JM: Down The Green, now, I was with my Uncle then. I'd just started work. 6d. a week. At night time they had this candle ….

LD: Well, Jim used to say there was only one policeman who dared walk down there.

JM: You couldn't go down there late at night.

LD: There was only one policeman - and that was old Knight - was the only one that would really go round The Green at night. Nobody dared go round there.

JM: If they did, it was in two's. One of them did get set about once.

ES: Was there any 'green' there?

ALL: No!

JM: No grass or nothing.

LD: No, it was Green Street.

ES: And where was City Street?

ALL: No. City Street?

PR: It's on the old maps.


JM: There wouldn’t be no sign up. Just pull it down they would.

AG: some things never change do they?

PR: So your connections, Vera, with Wren's, on the corner ….

VL: Are you talking now about where Pearce's is? I came in 1941, so this is all fascinating to me so I don't know anything about it. I can remember, you mentioned a little sweetshop, The Welcome. I do remember that.

LD: And Mrs. Smith, the milk shop.

JM: Stanley.

LD: Yes, Mr. Stanley. He ran the theatre in Market Place.


ST: (referring to a photograph from The Museum) I think it's Haydon's Court.

JD: (looking at the photograph) Where do you reckon?

LD: Well, I've got a feeling she was a Barbrook, that lady there.

VL: A name that I have heard in these years

JD: I wasn't worried about the ladies. I was wanting to know whereabouts it was. Ely’s Claydon’s down there. I think its Hayden’s court.


LD: …. 1932. It said 'for slum clearance'.

JD: Yes. Good Lord. So, of course, you know, we have progressed, haven't we? Everyone's got a bathroom nowadays.

TB: I had a Great Aunt and Uncle who kept a sweetshop at the bottom of South Street. Do you remember that?

LD: Yes I do.

TB: I was only a tiny child.

VL: There were lots of courtyards in those days.

PR: This is off Railway Street.

JD: There was another courtyard on your side.

TB: Yes, that's right. Where the butchers were.

ES: Do you mean where Parkins was?

JM: Yes, there was a clothes' shop there.

ES: But there's quite a big space behind there now, isn't there?

LD: That's where the court was.

ST: When the area was demolished and people were moved out, was there a lot of ill-feeling about that? Were you sad to leave?

LD: When they developed Green Street, you're talking about and had to move out? No, not really, because we were offered an alternative. We went up to Hertingfordbury Road. No, not really. I don't know where they put all the old people.

TB: Well, Hornsmill!

CQ: Is it right that some of them came into The Folly?

LD: There's a possibility, dear, if there was anything available.

JM: No, I think it was a relief when they moved them all out, really. You got away from all the fighting going on, and everything.

TB: It was rat-infested.

JM: We was young then and we looked forward to Saturday night for the fights. The thing is now, kids can't go out soon as it gets dark. We was out there at 11 0' clock at night.

ALL: Yes.

LD: You didn't have any fear, did you?

JM: There were no street lights. Dark! But you never came to no harm, only the fellows what was fighting.

LD: And you daren't interfere because, you know, they would turn on you.

JM: Used to be the same ones fighting every night.

LD: The Barbrooks.


CQ: That hasn't altered though, has it?

JM: ….. Moulding (?)

LD: yes, ....Luddy Moulding (?)

JM: And, what was his name, who had the ?, Bull Plain, right down against the river. Can't think of his name now. A name like Beadle, or some name like that. A big fellow he was. Yes. He was fighting nearly every night.

ST: Were those people, people who lived in The Green area or were they people who were just coming in from outside to the pubs?

LD: Oh, they lived there ....There used to be the Carltons. The Carltons were brought up down there. Does he still live in Hertingfordbury Road, on the estate?

PR: Yes, a small holding. Yes.

LD: Well, they were more round The Green.

AG: Did they fight just because of the booze or was it a long-standing feud or something?

JM: It was 4d. a pint. It was fighting beer. Not today!

TB: So many pubs, too, in Hertford.

LD: Jim used to count them in Maidenhead Street. I think he said 19 or 20, from Maidenhead Street to what is The Haig now.

AG: There was one quite recently on the opposite corner to Wren's. What was that? Where Fosters is.

All: The Diamond.

LD: That was notorious.

AG: It changed its name in the end?

PR: The Punchbowl. Yes, but when it was The Diamond, it was quite a corner! That was really where they used to fight, didn't they? And the other one, over the other side, The Duncombe. You used to butt your head on the door when, you went in.

LD: Yes, the Fullers had that then.

PR: I wonder whether Jack was involved in the building of the new houses. Jack, were you at the Borough when the first council houses were built?

JD: Oh yes, I was collecting rents from the very first council houses.

PR: Where were they? Where were the first ones?

JD: Camps Hill. I think they were the first

TB: Hornsmill.

JM: Sele Road came later. Hornsmill first.


JD: Camps Hill was first. Camps Hill was good enough

Transcribers note: Camps Hill is Sele Road

TB: Camps Hill was all allotments, wasn't it, Jack?

JD: They were allotments.

TB: My father had one.

JM: Hornsmill, that was allotments.

PR: So, Jack, would they have been Hertford people that moved into those first houses or did people come from outside the town?

Transcribers note: Peter makes a note that it is pronounced Har’ford but I have transcribed it as correct spelling

JD: No, very few from outside. Oh no, we kept them for Hertford residents.

TB: They had priority, didn't they?

JD: So far as I can remember, elderly Hertford people took priority but they were all Hertford people that came as far as I can remember. Cos, of course, you're going back to ….. I suppose I was a bright young bloke of 16 or 17 and I'm now 89, so you can tell.

JM: Those houses at Hornsmill, when they built them they were £340 each and 7s.3d. rent, including rates. And you got a rebate every six months and you got a free week's rent once a year.

LD: But then seven and something was quite a lot.

ALL: Yes, yes, yes.

PR: More expensive than the present rent.

LD: What were men earning? Not much more than £2, were they, a lot of them?

JM: £1.50 …. about £1.50.

LD: That's right.

JM: I had an uncle, the man who got in there, Mr. Fisher, a contractor for sweeping the roads and one thing and another, a horse and cart £1.50.

JD: (to Jim Morris) You're an old Hertfordian. What's your name?

JM: Jim Morris.

LD: Used to have the pub in Railway Street.

JD: That wasn't the only pub in Railway Street! Every other place was a pub! And the ladies and gentlemen from the workhouse, by the time Saturday night came along, they were drifting home and the ditch all along from the middle of Hertford to the workhouse, these - insensible by then - people were lying about in the ditch.

TB: The workhouse was where the police station is.

JD: They used to try and round them up but some stayed there all night long.

JM: There was a workhouse at Ware as well, wasn't there?

ALL: Oh yes, Western House.

JM: And one at Buntingford.

PR: Yes.

TB: And wasn't there one at Hatfield?

JM: Yes, because they used to walk from one to the other.

JD: Well, I'm very proud to have been taken on for this job. I don't know whether I've done any good at all or been helpful. I hope so but, of course, my hearing - that's a bit of a stumbling-block, you know. But I've thoroughly enjoyed myself, anyhow.

ES: When did the workhouse cease?

JD: What was that? When…..?

TB: It became a school, Kingsmead School.

VL: It had been going some years before the war.

TB: Oh yes. It was going all the time I was backwards and forwards to school.

JD: The police station that was built on the site of the workhouse, I should think its 20, 25 years ago. That's a rough estimate. Because I wasn't living along the Ware Road in those days. We lived in North Road. But I would say 25 to 30 years.

JM: That's the clock on the church now, isn't it?

ALL: Yes

TB: Dan Dye transferred that, didn't he, the clock?

LD: Well, I think he had something to do with it.

PR: Didn't the Ware workhouse, Western House, last longer as a workhouse?

TB: But still, that building's still used, isn't it?

PR: And it stayed in a similar sort of use, didn't it, with its hospital use? Whereas Kingsmead changed completely to being a School.

TB: The old workhouse at Ware was opposite Western House.

JD: Our workhouse came under the Union and I believe at the time we took in Ware people. But what the Union was or what area it covered, I really don't know.

JM: I think why there was a lot round here was because each day they used to walk from one to the other and, also, if they stopped they had to do some work, chopped wood or things like that.

TB: They were only allowed to stop one night. If they had their breakfast they had to do some work.

VL: I was wondering about the insensible people on their way back to the workhouse. I was wondering what was going to happen to them.

JM: That's why they always walked in the gutter, you see, looking for cigarette ends. Always walked in the gutter. You’d see them coming along there. You’d see them coming along. Cole Green……..picking up cigarette ends.

ST: How did the people living in Hertford view the people living in the workhouse? Did you see them as outsiders coming in, did people ignore them?

JM: We didn't take notice of them. We gave them one glance and that was all.

LD: They never used to interfere.

JM: No, no, not one bit. They never even come begging at your door.

AG: Well, as well as your casuals, of course, you had people who had been committed to the workhouse.

JM: You only got the odd one or two, specially out in the country, just knocking at the door and all they wanted was a pot of hot water to make their tea.

ES: But were they local homeless people or were they travelling around?

LD: I wouldn't say they were local.

VL: And wouldn't they be separated into the women and the men?

JM: I know my Granny she had somebody in one of the workhouses, a brother or someone like that. Sometimes she used to get him home, once or twice, like. And off he went again.

PR: Lydia, I was wondering about characters, you know, people you remember. Were there any, say, that children would have liked or been frightened of?

LD: Well, of course, when you just went round by The Diamond there was Mrs. Spinks and

Mrs.Costin, old Mrs. Costin. Then you went further along and you came to Clara's house, which was Clara Dye; then past that were Mrs. Ansell, the Ansell twins are still around. Mrs. O'Smotherley and …...

PR: Oh yes, Daisy and Nelly and Eve.

LD: That's right. They all lived there. Opposite them was the notorious Mrs. Dunnage and Granny Raw.

JM: Old Raw is well known. Used to love tomatoes. Used to eat pounds and pounds of tomatoes.

JD: The two characters I remember was an old boy named Cheshire and his son, and I was born on Port Hill by the Warren lodge and Christmas time they'd park themselves there and you'd get all the Christmas carols.

LD: That's right. He used to play a big harp.

CQ: Is he the Cheshire that's in The Folly?

LD: He lived in The Folly.

JD: I thought a cornet came in to it.

TB: Yes, there was a cornet. They used to go round Christmas Eve, used to come down Fore Street.

LD: Yes. Now then. Over Water Lane, Peter, there was two brothers and they had a three-wheeled cycle and they used to …..

TB: Oh, um ….

LD: Now, come on, Thora.

TB: Fell, wasn't it?

LD and PR: Yes

TB: Used to go round with the papers on the back of this tricycle.

LD: On the back of his tricycle. Now, one of them used to play, I think it was, an accordion.

JM: Old Wren (?) used to play an accordion.

LD: Yes, he played an accordion. But, going back, I can't tell you anything more very much about round Green Street because my association stopped at Clara's, you know, and I did know a few just round there. Round the back were the Carltons. But old Granny Raw! My memory of her was always going on a Monday morning with a black cloak to the pawnshop. And my memories of old Mrs. Dunnage, I went down to visit Jim, because he was on the coaches, and he said “I think I'll be home early. Come down to Clara's.” And I couldn't get in the back way at Clara's. There was Granny Dunnage laid right across the entrance. I was only young, you know, and I was frightened to death.

ES: You mean she was drunk?

LD: Yes.

JD: They weren't all pubs in Railway Street, were they? Because my wife's forebears had a butcher's shop somewhere where that little new precinct is - somewhere in there

ALL: Warren Place?

JD: There was a blacksmith's along there, wasn't there?

LD: Wilkinson and then Mr Hughes, wasn't it? Yes. My early memory is two fish shops there, the Dodsons and the Donoghues. Oh, and then there was a sweetshop. Who had the sweetshop?

JM: This way was The Welcome, I know, but ….

LD: No, I'm going back to where the ….

JM: Yes, I know!

LD: I should know!

JM: Wasn't the Watson's, was it?

LD: No.

TB: Not the Searles, you're thinking?

LD: Hopkins? Yes, Hopkins. That's right.

JM: Yes, because I think they used to sell loose pickles and Everything, the lot.

JD: So they weren't all pubs up Railway Street.

LD: There were a few.

AG: You mentioned pawnshops.

LD: Yes, Connell's.

AG: Where was that? Railway Street?

LD: Maidenhead Street.

JM: Where MacDonald's is now.

AG: This is something that has completely disappeared from almost every town that I know. Was there a lot of use made of it?

JM: They was queuing on a Monday ....and Friday they was queuing again to get them out.

LD: Granny Raw had this old black cape and you never knew what was tucked under the cape.

JM: There used to be big racks outside with all the condemned things in it. For Sale.

TB: It was a jeweller's shop in Maidenhead Street and the door was round the side.

AG: That was the usual combination, wasn't it, jeweller and pawnbroker.

LD: Oh yes, and Friday nights they'd get them out when they got paid.

JM: Another well-known character in Hertford then was - there was a car park where the White Hart is - Bonsey Illott

LD: Oh, yes, I think that's a closed book. I’m talking about his daughter…………..(laughter)

AG: Tell us more !

LD: Oh, you haven't taped that, have you?


JD: I can't get a word in edgeways. Connell, Aulkie Brett

LD: That's right.

JD: Do you remember?

LD: And one of the Brett girls - I came along North Road one day last week and one of the Brett girls was mowing her lawn.

TB: There were two girls.

LD: Two girls in North Road.

JM: Next then was old Gratton, the boot shop.

LD: That's right. Blue boots stores.

PR: What about up by Ketteridge's, opposite the War Memorial?

LD: Oh, you're going round Castle Street.

PR: I was just thinking round a bit. I mean, there were characters in those cottages in more recent times.

JD: Talking of characters, some were decent there were plenty of the other sort.


JM: Old Wren lived just there. Old Wrennie did.next to Ketteridge. Yes, with the three-wheeled bike. The Midnight Milkman ....yes, with his accordion, yes old Rene (?)

MO: Why was he called the 'Midnight Milkman'?

JD: He used to deliver milk at night- time, not in the morning. So he got the nickname 'Midnight Milkman'.


LD: Oh yes, that was Taylor on Port Hill.

TB: You remember him, Jack Taylor, the muffin man, on Port Hill.

JD: Oh, Boss Taylor. He lived opposite where I saw the light of day, you see. Yes, Boss Taylor with his big, brass bell.

JM: He used to balance this big tray on his head.

JD: That's right.

JM: He had a special cushion.

JD: I suppose they must have made them in the house but they were very good muffins.

TB: I don't know. Would they be able to make them there?

JD: I don't know where they came from.

LD: Oh, I would think a local baker.

ES: Did he have a cry?

JM: He had a bell.

ES: Did he say 'Muffins for Sale' or anything of that sort?

JD: Boss Taylor

TB: It was the bell you knew.

PR: I used to remember a horse and cart going by our house in the mornings about 7 o'clock. To Welwyn, I think. And they used to say, “there goes Boss Taylor.”

JM: Oh yes, that was for the vegetables.

PR: I can't remember.

JM: Yes, Bossy Taylor.

PR: Used to go clip-clop, clip-clop. I think he was round The Reindeer somewhere and stabled ...

Transcribers Note: this was the same family - “Bossy” was Walter Taylor the muffin man. There was no Jack Taylor in the family and his sons worked for him and the business changed into greengrocery and was run by them from shed behind the Reindeer up to 1949. Sidney (Rocky) Charles (Bronc) and Frederick (Elmo). I think it was Sidney that Peter remembers, as Walter died long before Peter was born! Walter had originally made the muffins himself though we are not sure where the bake house was but latterly they came from London on the train and the sweets, blackjack, rock, toffee apples etc were made on Port Hill. The family lived in 2 houses and used one of the boilers in the back yard to boil the sugar).

LD: There were stables there, yes.

JD: Anybody else we can drag up?

PR: Who can we think of? Well, Mr. Ketteridge was a recent figure with his arm…. He lived at Hornsmill, didn't he?

LD: Well, who lived in the little cottages down by the side of Ketteridge? Can you recall?

PR: There was Mrs. Foster and the fire, next door. Mrs. Foster was burned and lost her life in the fire in the cottage next to Ketteridge.

LD: Were they the cottages on the road?

PR: Yes.

LD: Or down the yard?

PR: No, on the road. She used to have little rag dolls in the window and golliwogs there for 6d.

LD: Then I recall there was somebody named Hills lived there, wasn't there?

PR: I think that was the other side of the yard, wasn't it? On the front opposite Cook & Drane’s.

LD: Yes.

AG: Which yard is this, Peter?

PR: Miller's Yard. I can't remember anyone living at the back; the buildings were there but I think they were empty for a long, long time.

JM: Opposite that Chinese Restaurant?

LD: That's right, yes.

JM: I think that Mr. Read, the butcher ….

LD: Harry Read.

ALL: His display at Christmas!

TB: He used to have a big table outside his butcher's shop with all the fowls and turkeys and things. Ooh, it was wonderful!

LD: There weren't restrictions then, in those days, about dust ....and we've lived, haven't we, Thora?

TB: And there used to be a pub next door to him, a little pub. I forget the girl's name.

LD: What, next to Harry Read?

TB: Yes.

JM: There's The Blackbirds.

TB: No, there was a little pub.

LD: I can only remember Lewis the sweetshop.

TB: Between Lewis and Read. It was a little pub. And, of course, next to Lewis was the gas shop.

PR: I'm going to have to go back to school, sorry. But one more quick question. What about the Culls?

TB: (to Vera) You lived over them, didn't you?

VL: I was thinking about them. It brought back a memory because I was thinking of the war-time when we went there. If I wanted sweets on the ration, on Saturday night … no, Friday night, when they were preparing for the Saturday, I must have hastily written a note out and I was quite a neat writer and, what it was like I don't know, but I heard Cap Cull saying to Curly Cull, “There's education for you.” (Laughter) I was demoralised!

MO: And Curly Cull was the one who wore the trilby?

VL: Yes, he was in education. Frank. And one in Longmores.

PR: Yes, Bertie.

LD: Reggie was the one at Hatfield, was he?

TB: Frank was at County Hall.

LD: Reggie was the one who worked at Hatfield.

VL: Oh, did he? Before he was responsible for the shop? When I came to Hertford, mother, I think had had a stroke and she was sitting in the shop. But from 1941 onwards certainly, Reggie was controlling the shop and Curly worked whenever he could to help but the other one didn't.

PR: Bertie the Bowler was at Longmores.

LD: Yes, Bertie went to Longmores and then there was Reggie and - what was the other one?

AG: Is that the one who is still in Castle Street?

LD: Frank.

VL: And Miss Cull.

PR: And the sister, yes.

LD: I can always remember her lovely hair. Can you remember the sister's hair?

VL: No! I can remember a funny story she told me about the family which is very personal.

LD: Oh, it was lovely.

TB: She never let anyone in the house. Because Frank Cull was godfather to my sister's

child and Hilary always used to go round at Christmas but she never …....

End of tape 1 side 1

Tape 1 side 2

VL: …. used to go round reciting “Only the busy beetle tap-tapping in the wall”. Do you know that one? I think it's Walter de la Mare. Because there were certain wooden posts there, one in the little bathroom, and the most enormous - I think they were probably death-watch beetles, not the tiny holes you get in furniture - I often wondered …..

PR: But has the Cull family been in the town for a lot of years, then, previous generations?

TB: Well, old Mr.Cull had a tailor's shop.

VL: Oh, that's right, opposite.

TB: (to Mary) Tailor's opposite your place.

MO: Called Bruton's, wasn't it?

TB: No, not Bruton's. Bruton's was where the Memorial is.

MO: Oh, is that so?

TB: Bruton's was a big outfitters. And behind it there was a yard, or beside it. The hearse always used to be kept there. I don't know who it belonged to. But I remember the hearse, with horses. And there was Nightingales, the hairdressers, and Roche, wasn't it, the shoe repairer.

They talk over Peter

PR: Reg is still living in the house.

AG: This is 23 Castle Street?

PR: Yes! Reg 'is the last survivor of that generation. He's 96.

AG: Well, he's middle nineties.

PR: He lived there all through the last ....All the roof off and one side.

TB: I haven't seen him for some time. I wondered if he'd gone in a home.

PR: No, he wouldn't move when offered the chance to have a time away while they repaired …. He's done quite a lot of work that wasn't necessary and a lot that became necessary because of the storm that damaged the roof initially and as they looked for that problem. You will tell me I am wrong Alan but I think this is the story, they kept finding new problems with the roof and gradually the whole roof came off and then the side wall.

AG: It's a very difficult house to read, that is. A very intriguing house, that.

PR: I went to see him the other day because he's put in a planning application, or his agent has, to rebuild a chimney stack that's at the back of the house - you can see it actually from Gascoyne Way - and it’s had to be pulled down, because it was unsafe, right down to the ground. He's already spent £108,000, plus some grants, on his property, and this chimney would be another £8,000. For the first time he's got central heating now because they put it in while they did the rest, so he's sitting in the front room with his gas fire on and his central heating on, but previously the flue which we're talking about was the one that provided the hot water and would provide some added warmth if it were reinstated and he says he's worried in case the central heating fails next winter and he wants an alternative and so he thinks he will have the chimney rebuilt for £8,000 so he's got an alternative to his new gas central heating.

More talking over one another

TB: He must be worth a good bit.

JM: I don't think he's got two halfpennies for a penny (laughter)

PR: We can see your face, Jim Morris.

AG: Well, the outside's a period piece, there's no doubt.

JM: Still he never harmed anybody.

PR: No, no.

VL: Wouldn't the house - was it next to it? That is now an estate agents, would there be less planning control when that was all altered because that was quite an interesting old house ....I feel sure that would have been preserved more nowadays.

AG: I've only seen one bit of that, where that fireplace is. It's a very interesting range the whole way along.

PR: Going back to school brings me to education. What do you remember about your school days? And your school teachers?

VL: Well, do you want to hear about people's childhood. It might be more interesting. I came in 1941 and I do remember the war years in the school vividly. When I came in 1941 the authorities sent you in war-time where ever there was a vacancy and I was sent to Thundridge for a couple of years. I won't go into all that.

AG: You were evacuated?

VL: No, I'm sorry. I'd married and come to Hertford.

AG: Oh, I see. I beg your pardon.

VL: I shared the village hall with two classes and a peripatetic Domestic Science teacher who came once a week and shared the hall with us, but that was Thundridge. When I came to Longmore School, the teachers' centre, in the playground there were two wooden huts. I seemed to be in one of those huts. I remember coming to school, the boiler had gone out and at times it was 38 degrees. What I remember about it – it was a very happy school and how neat the children were.

I've been searching for a photograph - it'll turn up, one day when I least expect it. The girls wrote to a merchant ship - to the different members of the crew and knitted for them and that merchant ship was on the Russian route and would it be the George Medal here - the captain got a medal after the war and when he came to Buckingham Palace, he was also invited to Longmore to us and I had a photograph of him and the girls in front of the old building, because it wasn't repaired until after the war. All the girls in their little white socks, looking so neat and tidy, and they were so easy in those days. It was very pleasant.

TB: Were you there when the bomb dropped on it

VL: No, that was just before.

TB: Oh, I remember that.

JM: I can remember going to school when I was three-year old, when I first went to school. That was St. Andrew's School.

TB: The old school?

JM: Yes, the old St Andrew’s school. I remember that.

AG: Where would that have been, Jim?

JM: Opposite Water's Garage now.

AG: Oh, I see.

JM: It's a bit of tip full of broken-down cars and all that. There's an entrance there now.

AG: Just by those two cottages by Roche's?

JM: Yes, that's it. I was remembering that we used to have, a tea party there once a year. But you had to bring your own cakes, a bag of sugar and a bit of tea and they supplied the milk. (laughter) We couldn't afford cakes in our house and Mother done jam sandwiches, bread and jam like that. I took it to school and they was all put together which meant that you got somebody else's and somebody else got my bread and jam and I got their cake. I always remember that. They supplied the milk! You had to take everything's else. Yes, went to school when I was 3. I know the first day I came home.

TB: I went to a small private school along West Street where Nurse …......

LD: Miss Norris?

TB: No. Miss Hilton.

AG: Opposite Eve's place? Yes.

ES: Yes opposite where I live.

TB: That's right.

JM: Yes, they used to have women teachers there, kept there for a few years, and there was no stick or nothing, just a ruler on the back of the hands, and all that and, of course, at the back there was a bit of a ditch, and all that, and there was frogs spawn …....

TB: Yes, it's still there.

JM: ….... and we'd bring it in. There was frogs all round the school. 'Cos there was half-a-dozen of us they couldn't do much with, you see, we were getting a bit too big and they used to give you a letter then to take home and you'd got to go to another school. I went to Port Vale then, you see. I know two women teachers at St. Andrews. That was Mrs. Turnbull -

TB: She was head mistress, Mrs. Turnbull.

LD: They lived next door to Peter.

JM: …. and Mrs. Read. Her husband was a teacher as well.

LD: That's right.

TB: Port Vale was a boys' school then.

JM: That's what I was saying. We had to go to another School. We had two choices: either there or the Cowper School. We got a bit too big for them at St. Andrew's. But Mrs. Turnbull, I'll always remember, she had this white collar all round her. Proper old lady.

VL: I was just thinking, before I went in 1941 the Jewish School was evacuated to Hertford at Longmore. My husband and I were in digs because we were expecting him to be called up and we didn't do anything, foolishly, about a house then and we were in a council house at Foxholes and there were two Jewish boys there. I was thinking about them the other day - I should think they were about 9 and 11 years old - and how they were treated. They were very pleasant people we were with. She was kind in a sort of impersonal way to the boys. They had to share the small bedroom, which must have been awful. I remember one boy - I sort of worry more about it than I did when I was young - he frequently wet the bed and she was marvellous. She just washed the things and never grumbled at him but took it out in the long run. It would indicate the stain of the foreign evacuee, I suppose, and they seemed to spend a lot of their time in the little kitchen, which now seems unkind, but I suppose they were happy the two of them together. And one thing which she did, they loved in the winter - she'd give them a lot of root vegetables to chop up and they'd spent hours each week making soup for her. It was one of the good things.

ES: Were they evacuated, you mean, from Europe?

VL: No, from London.

TB: They used to put on wonderful Gilbert & Sullivan plays, those Jewish children.

VL: Oh, did they? I didn't know much about the school and it must have gone by 1943 when I went to Longmore.

TB: Yes, I remember those plays they used to put on.

JM: Do you know if there's any school inspectors now?

AG: Still H.M.I.'s, yes.

JM: Well, we had one then.

TB: Mr. Peat

JM: Yes, went round on his bicycle.

AG: They were the attendance people, weren't they?

JM: If you weren't at school they'd be round. Used to be in breeches and .... a big, tall fellow, he was.

VL: Are there still welfare officers?

JM: Yes, you used to live in fear and dread of them coming after you.

TB: Mr. Peat used to take blind children and deaf children who went to special schools. He used to fetch them at holiday times and take them back. I always remember that.

MO: So what did they teach you at school?

JM: The three Rs. That was the main thing. Well, you got to class 7, which was the top and they didn't know what to do with you. I always remember, near the end there, we did something special, decimals (laughter) But, myself, I learnt more after schooling.

VL: Well, that's a good sign.

MO: How old were you when you left school?

JM: Just turned 13.

TB and MO: 13!

JM: Oh yes. You got a job and away you went. Oh yes. It was more important. And I used to bike to Cheshunt then, on a cycle, day and night.

LD: We didn't think anything of it.

JM: No, no, no, no. As I was saying to Mary, that's 14 miles…………

AG: What was the job?

JM: I was serving in a big shop, hardware ....And in my spare time I was making furniture ....You know, paint 'em, varnish 'em. You probably know the name. He died some time back. He died a millionaire, really. Mr. Holman. He had all these garages round here. One at St. Albans. One at Royston.

LD: ....hardware shop in Fore Street. Somewhere near the Westminster Bank.

TB: That's right. I'm trying to think. No, not Westminster Bank. Before you get there………

LD: Well, in that vicinity.

TB: Yes. Big, double-fronted shop, it was.

LD: Sold everything.

TB: Mr. Hugo

LD: Hugo! That's it. That's right. Yes.

JM: The only one I can remember there is old Donoghue. Fish.

LD: Oh, yes. The fish, yes.

JM: We had what we called 'wet fish'.

LD: Wet fish.

JM: Cheaper……….fish were already wet

TB: And I remember as a very small child when the postmaster lived over the Post Office. I can't remember what his name was but he lived over the Post Office because I remember going with my aunt once [discussion]

LD: He was connected with the post office.

TB: Well, he was the postmaster

VL: Rather like the bank managers very often lived there.

JM: That was when we used to put a halfpenny stamp on.

ALL: (laughter) Yes.

AG: 1d for letters, ½d for postcards.

MO: (to Jim) And then you worked at McMullen's, did you, as a very small boy?

JM: I went there when I was 15.

MO: And your uncle worked at McMullen's?

JM: All the family, they done just over 300 years, I think. Grandfather, stepfather, mother, my aunts. My mother was queen - they used to have a procession, Whit Monday, and she was Queen of the what's 'is name.

LD: It used to be a notorious day, Whit Monday. Oh, quite a celebration. 'Pickle' Brace with his pickles.

TB: I remember when Brace was a little shop in Ware Road but he must have sold wonderful turkeys. Do you know, he used to bring turkeys down on a barrow with my grandmother to examine them. And I remember as a small child going round the table where all these turkeys were laid out and she used to feel them all and choose the one she wanted and then he'd take the rest back on his barrow.

LD: That was the corner of Townsend Street, wasn't it?

TB: That's right. Brace. Pickle Brace?

JM: Well, I remember going there and he used to have tea chests full of broken biscuits.

LD: That's right. Yes.

JM: He didn't give you a bag. He got a bit of newspaper and made a cornet. When you got to the bottom there was sort of dust.

AG: Now you buy your broken biscuits totally packed up and ….

JM: Course, he didn't have far to get them really, for the biscuit factory was just along the road. You could go there and get a big bag for 6d.

JD: You remind me of the biscuit making. Gilbertson & Page had the contract for army biscuits. They were things about that size and I got a job there through my father and it was a wonder I didn't kill myself with these biscuits 'cos I used to eat them as they came straight out of the oven. Lovely biscuits too Gilbertson and Page

ALL: That’s right

CQ: Did you know Mr. Miles that worked there? David Miles! He lived at Foxholes. He ended up General Manager there.

JD: Well, dear, it's going back such a long way.

CQ: Yes, he would be as old as you.

VL: Do you remember Mr. Street who started the coaches? When I was living over ….

TB: Cull's?

VL: No, the previous ....Sparks, just for a couple of years. I used to love to go to pay my bills - it's the only place I enjoyed going to - because old Mr Street used to tell how he started going round Hertford selling firewood -

[discussion - coal and coke merchant and, then eventually]

LD: I suppose his sons were running it by then.

VL: But he was a fascinating old man - this is back during the war time.

LD: That's right. I can remember he used to go and visit his wife - well, it was his second wife - they lived in Park Road - he married a Thurgood.

JD: (looking at a photograph) Yes, I had two uncles worked at Gilbertson & Page and one was Harry Mason.


CQ: No, it's David.

JD: Let's have a look at that. 'Peeps into the Past'.

CQ: No, that's not him. It's David.

LD: Oh, David! No. This is Reg.

JD: Jim died.

LD: That's him.

JD: (reading) 83 of Bengeo. Mr. Jim Fisher. Sapsford …..

CQ: You must all remember Hugman's, the butchers, surely?

ALL: The pork butchers.

JM: He does the professional sausages.

CQ: That's right.

JM: That's all he sold.

TB: Wonderful sausages.

VL: Oh, didn't he sell anything else?

All: Pork! Pork!


LD: You used to get chitterlings.

AG: That's something that's completely disappeared now, isn't it? You can't buy 'em for love nor money.

VL: I met them for the first time when I came to Hertford.

LD: There was a Mr. Bent used to work there.

TB: Yes, and they left it to him, didn't they? He was an adopted boy. 'Cos I had an uncle married a Hugman.

CQ: Mr. Bent's wife is a sister to this Mr. David Miles.

ALL: Oh?

CQ: Which is related to me as stepfather.

TB: He was adopted by old Mrs. Hugman, wasn't he? And I always understood he took the recipe with him when he sold up.

CQ: No, it was supposed to have been left to one of the family but in actual fact Rosemary Bennett from the Museum, she is friendly with a Mr. Whiting, is it, Alan?

AG: Somebody up Woodlands Road who used to ….

CQ: Who used to actually work for him but has still got the recipe but we don't talk too much about it because I know the person that the recipe should have gone to. It was actually left to her and she never did receive it.

JM: I was 12 year old and I worked in the bakery. Mr. Farrow's in Fore Street.

TB: Oh, that was me.

JM: Was it? I worked there.

TB: I don't remember you! (laughter)

JD: That was 65 years ago!

TB: Yes, but I should remember it, shouldn't I?

JD: I used to go down the cellar, clean the knives and that.

TB: That's right. Had a knife machine~

JM: Knife machine and a ....put a handful of rice, not rice, coconut, in my pocket to go

to school with. That's how I had so much coconut.

TB: Do you remember the Ladleys?

LD: Yes.

TB: One of those worked and one of the girl Ladley's was our nursemaid.

JM: Was it you or .... sister worked at Graveson's?

LD and TB: That was Eileen!

JM: Yes, on a Saturday I was going to the bakehouse to make the swiss roll, do the swiss roll, make the cream. I used to go in the morning for half hour or so, couple of stale buns to school with me and I was called in when I come out.

TB: That's right. They used to come in the morning and sweep the front and things like that. You don’t get that now……….

JM: And I used to go down below to see if there was any more cleaning down there, then Saturday …....

TB: You'd come all day, wouldn't you?

JM: No, 'til dinner-time and I got my first week's wages - 1s. 6d. My mother wrote a letter, take it back, 'My son's worth at least 5 shillings'.

TB: One of the Neal's - do you remember the Neal's in West Street - one of those boys worked for us at one time.

LD: Well, there was George at the Castle, wasn't there? And there was Jack, but he went in the Navy, didn't he Jack?

TB: I don't know which one it was. I remember a boy Neal.

LD: I recall going across the road, was it The Thistledoo?

TB: On the corner.

JM: Jim Roberts.

LD: Jim Roberts, yes.

JM: I think that was the only restaurant in Hertford, in them times, wasn't it?

LD: There was Carton's.

JM: Oh, yes, there was Carton's. But weren't many. Not like it is now - Chinese, Everything, all over the place. 'Cos I remember that Saturday morning, he was pretty annoyed 'cos I used to come in with some sandwiches or chips and that, cup of tea and sit down and eat the chips. 'Cos he said, 'Go and eat the chips where you got' em from'. But I think I would really, they come in there and just want a cup of tea and brought their own food in …..

VL: There weren't many cafés or restaurants.

TB: That's what we were just saying.

VL: I felt terribly sorry for Christ's Hospital parents when they came to visit the girls. They had to search around. Even the ones that existed didn't necessarily open on Sundays.

ES: It was really Christine's was the only one but I don't know how long that had been …..

TB: That was later. Much later, Mary's great aunt was it? Owned that big jeweller's shop. Beautiful shop.

JM: If you'd ever started up a MacDonald's then you'd have made a fortune.

ST: So what entertainment was there in Hertford in the evenings?

JM: You had two cinemas and a theatre.

MO: A theatre?

JM: Yes, in Market Street. I used to go in there on a Sunday and clean the stage and all that up.

TB: It was a cinema as well, wasn't it?

JM: Yes, and a theatre. And Mr. Stanley, who kept the Welcome, the sweetshop, he ran the theatre.

VL: Was that the funny little cinema down - did you say Market Street?

JM: It's a hairdresser's now, it is ….. where the stage and that is …...

LD: I can't recall one - can you recall one? - on the top of Bull Plain. Where Hinds is now.

TB: Yes, that was right, yes. I can just remember it

LD: Jim's always talked about it.

JM: Cinema?

LD: Yes.

AG: That was the first, wasn't it?

LD: But in my mind I can't recall it but my husband used to say about it.

TB: I can just remember it and then I can remember when it was closed and all the hoardings were up, for sale.

JM: Perhaps we all remember there was a fire at Hiltons: the boot shop caught light. I got some cheap shoes that day. Yes. Caught fire.

TB: And then ? Thomas's. On a Sunday morning and I remember we were dared to leave the garden. 'Cos we could see all the smoke and wanted to go out. 'Don't you dare go out of the garden.' That was a big fire. Thomas's (?) wasn’t it.

VL: When I came to Hertford my husband didn't know many people. He'd only been in Hertford a year and he was in the Home Guard, so he was busy and I joined the W.E.A. It was an extremely lively group, a very social group. I had many happy times there apart from the classes, a great deal of social activity.

AG: Did they used to run excursions and things like that?

VL: No, I don't remember the excursions during the war.

AG: No, probably not.

VL: I don't think there would be then but several people had lovely gardens and we had summer activities. We even had a little drama amongst ourselves not to have visitors but -

ES: Where did it meet?

VL: In houses of members or the Friends Meeting House. I remember the psychology class in there. Oh, I've forgotten the names. Someone who lived in the house I mentioned next to Cull's - Dr. What's 'is name? Quite often lectures there and Mrs. Pilcher in The Old Rectory and we used , I've thought of them a lot , you've probably heard of David Gentleman well, Mr. and Mrs. Gentleman were keen members and we often had garden parties at their house behind North Road, near the water there.

TB: Fair Isle.

ES: Oh yes, 14b, North Road.

LD: Rockleigh and…………

ST: Talking about war-time Hertford, how did it change? Did you feel unsafe during the war in Hertford or did the war not really touch Hertford?

VL: I think when the flying bombs were going over one had that momentary fear. I was thinking when later the V2s came over I don't remember the girls being ....I mean, occasionally we heard crashes; but you didn't know, until there was a crash and then you felt safe but the girls weren't afraid at school so I suppose we weren't touched very much.

ST: Were there many prisoners-of-war living in camps near Hertford?

ALL: No.

TB: There was a lot in Hertford Heath in the First World War. There was a camp up there.

JM: In the last war, wasn't there Panshanger? There was a prisoner-of-war camp there, German prisoners.

TB: I never heard that.

JM: Yes, Panshanger.

TB: There was one at Hertford Heath during the First World War.

ST: Did many of those prisoners stay in Hertford after the First World War was finished?

TB: I don't know. I couldn't tell you. Oh yes! Because when, I used to help at the kitchens W.S. kitchens there was a person there whose husband worked at Addis's and he'd been a prisoner-of-war here. I can't think what her name was now.

VL: I haven't come across many German names through the years.

ST: How do you think local people would have treated the Germans? Do you think they were afraid of them or didn't like them because they were angry, of course?

TB: As a small child I can remember lots of tales used to go about in the First World War and I used to go upstairs at night, when it was dark, and think, 'I hope the Kaiser's not after me.'

LD: 'Cos you used to hear the grown-ups talking.

AG: The First World War propaganda was pretty crude, wasn't it?

MO: Jim, were you here during the war? You weren't here during the war.

JM: Not the last one, no.

AG: The Second World War.

JM: That's what annoys me about this Gulf business and the Falklands and that. They go out there; they've been there about a couple of months and then about time they came home, they're all on leave. I was stuck out there 5 years. This is the honest truth. I had a little boy there. I came home and he said to the wife, 'Is that my Dad?' He didn't know me. They forgot us out there.

TB: (pointing to a photograph) That one was born six months after ?? He was nearly 3 when my husband saw him. And he resented him. (Rupert)

LD: Well, he didn't know him, did he?

ES: Were there any Americans in Hertford? I mean, was it a more exciting place for a woman in the war?

JM: There was a lot got married to Americans.

TB: One of the Donoghue’s did, didn't they?

ES: Was there a camp then?

TB: They were out at Hunsdon, was it?

CQ: ….. the other side of Wadesmill.

LD: No, that was a prisoner-of-war camp.

TB: Where the airport is.


TB: That was a camp, wasn't it?

ALL: Yes! American!

JM: Several girls married Americans.

ES: Used they to come into town on a Saturday?

LD: I don't think we used to think anything about it.

TB: Mrs.Brazier from Ware Road, she used to run parties and take them out. I didn't go but my sister went, I remember. They used to go out to these dances at these camps.

JM: I don't remember but what I've been told is that there used to be a lot of fights then when The Diamond was at The Green. (Bircherley Green)

LD: Yes, well, there was always fights there. That was the residents of The Green

JM: And a lot of Americans used to get in The Diamond. That's where I hear the landlord made his packet there, used to give them farthings amongst their change, they would think they had a lot of money ….

LD: The Young Men's Christian Association next door, wasn't there?

AG: Bottles of cold tea for whiskey.

JM: Well, that happened just recently. A pub at Ware - The Gilpin, is it? No, The Red House - it's a garage now, isn't it?

LD: That's right. That's Father Gilpin.

JM: Well, what happens is, when a pub closes, the “rep” takes all his belongings, the cases of whiskey and everything, all goes back to the brewery. It had been back there and, of course, they come round checking it's all there. The whiskey wasn't whiskey, it was cold tea. But he got away with it 'cos it was too late. Months and months before they noticed it.

VL: Am I right in remembering that there was a little lending library in the Arcade when I first came to Hertford?

ALL: Yes, Gunter's.

VL: My husband was a librarian and I've always used a library and I couldn't imagine people going to Boots and these other places, paying for the books.

TB: Gunter's!

VL: And a popular one at Boots.

TB: Yes, very good.

LD: Then there was the sweetshop, Dewbury's. Dewbury's had a sweetshop in Honey Lane, didn't they?

JD: You went up several steps.

ALL: That's right, Jack

TB: His son worked for The Mercury, didn't he?

VL: Was it before the war?

LD: Yes.

JM: There was a pub there. What was the name of that pub?

TB: There was a pub on the corner.

AG: The Old Coffee House Tavern.

LD: No, it wasn't The Coffee House.

TB: No, it had been The Coffee House.

LD: Oh, I'm sorry. Had it?

TB: Wright's took it, didn't they? Used to live in Bull Plain.

JM: Bull Plain. Old Daddy Wright.

LD: Oh yes. He was a character, wasn't he?

JM: Had a horse and cart.

LD: Used to live in a little cottage next to the camera shop, didn't he? That was two steps. The cottage is still there.

JM: Prickett, I think. Sanders & Prickett.

???? Old Daddy Wright .

LD: Whisper. Whisper Wright. They all had nicknames, didn't they?

JD: Yes, I can always remember Bon Marche.

LD: Where they pulled the lever and the ….

JD: Wires

AG: The old change thing, yes.


JD: The boss of the shop was a big snuff-taker. Bon Marche. Don't you remember it? Where the shoe-shop is on the corner.

LD: Did you say something about snuff?

JD: Yes. The boss, the old boy who ran the shop was a big snuff-taker.

TB: Which one was that? There was May - he left his wife - and then there was Abbott.

JD: Well, you see, I'm going back years.

TB: Well, I am, too. There was Mr. Abbott, whose daughter married Skinner, the baker. She just died a little while ago. He was the manager. And before Abbott there was a Mr. May. He ran off and left his wife.

AG: Local sport!

JD: We better not go any further. (laughter)

TB: I remember those two managers when I was small.

AG: What was Bon Marche? Was it drapery?

TB: Drapery, yes.

JM: Pins and needles.

LD: Well, haberdashery, really.

TB: Well, everything. It was a big shop.

JM: Must have had four or five window fronts there. Right round the side where the toy shop is now.

AG: They were a very useful sort of shop, actually.

JM: The thing was in them days it seemed to be dark when you went in, wasn't it? Wasn't a light or anything. You go into these big stores now! Then, you had to feel your way around. The thing was, if you got some cloth you had to go outside to look at it.

LD: To see if it was the right colour.

JM: Or if you went to Drury's for a suit, you went outside to have a look.

VL: …. one of the schoolmistresses ?? Mrs. Burgess in church talking about her husband's shop - or his family's shop - where the gas company's showrooms are.

TB: The old gas showrooms?

VL: Yes, it must have been for the higher class, as it were. Because I remember hearing about the courtesy and the chairs to sit on.

TB: Morris's (??) Was that the name?

JM: What, the furniture people?

VL: No, no. It was Burgess.

LD: Oh, Small and Burgess.


MO: Yes, that was a superior store. They had a shop walker in there.

AG: 'Are you being served?'

MO: Very much, it was, yes.

JD: There's one thing I'd like to clear up and that is the Hertford Reformed Church opposite (opposite 12a Cowbridge) always was called Congregational.

TB: Over here?

JD: And the first pew inside, Mother always dragged us there regularly -

LD: That was your pew.

JD: The first pew had teeth marks of a little boy in the pew and I very much want to get in there some time and see if they're still there. I expect the pews are all altered.

TB: No, the pews are still the same.

AG: Do you think they're yours, Jack?


LD: He's the guilty party!

JM: Do they still have the Sunday afternoon service?

TB: No.

JM: I used to go to it then.

LD: They don't, do they?

TB: The churches don't have Sunday Schools now, do they? (confusion)

LD: …. Sister Cutts

JM: Used to do the same at the Ragged School, they did. Old Dixon there used to I have classes and everything, you know. And the first one there, I done it once or twice, you went up in the loft and get on your hands and knees and ring this bell. Couldn't stand up or nothing, had to kneel down.

TB: My father used to go and sing sometimes at the Ragged School: He used to make my mother go and my mother was thoroughly nervous. She was ever so nervous of going down there to the Ragged School.

JM: You knew Mr. Dixon, then. Yes, nice man.

MO: My great grandfather - my great grandfather Rose - they were all Congregationalists and I've got a letter somewhere where my great grandfather Rose started the Ragged Sunday School on The Green and in this letter I think it said it was because he felt the Congregationalists were rather too sort of exclusive and he wanted to do something about a Sunday School for the less well-off, these people on The Green.

JM: The other thing about The Ragged School then, Christmas time you used to have a big Christmas tree, you never got no toys, always got clothing - a shirt or-

TB: Well, they used to have a Band of Hope, didn't they? down the Mission Room? Well, I had a great aunt who used to help down there and she always seemed to be making shirts, shirts and petticoats.

JM: Well, they found out that clothing was better than toys.

MO: And wasn't there something called 'The Young Abstainers'? Or was that the same as The Band of Hope? I mean, it was part of the movement against drink.

TB: Yes, that's right. They used to sign. A Miss Thornton used to run it.

MO: Yes, I remember my mother she'd signed it.

TB: Aunt ?? making these shirts and petticoats. Flannelette, I suppose they were.

LD: Oxford shirting, they called it.

AG: When you come to think of it, to run a temperance organisation in towns like Hertford and Ware was a really uphill job with the number of pubs there were.

ES: Did any of you sign the pledge?

VL: I must have done. I left a mining village when I was 10, so when I was about 8 or 9 I must have signed.

MO: You didn't, Jim? (laughter)

CQ: He didn't hear that!

TB: …. this aunt, she signed the pledge, so I suppose she must have joined The Band of Hope when she was a child. Ginger wine was all ever she'd touch at Christmas. She didn't touch anything else.

JM: You talk about doing these shirts and things. I can remember the shirts when they used to give you a bit of spare cloth at the back of the neck for patching; a bit of cloth pinned to the back here, so if you tore anything, that's for mending, see. I'll tell you a story, now. I'm not Max Bygraves or nothing. (Laughter!) Now, the men in them days used to have some trousers, you see, and they used to have a button here and a flap, you see. Well, Granddad he tore the knee and give it to Granny to mend. She thought that was a spare bit of cloth and she cut it. (Laughter!) I think to this day the sailors still wear them, don't they? With the flap.

AG: Yes, yes, the sailors' trousers.

JM: But the men then, you could go into a shop and buy a pair of trousers like them. There were several clothes you got then with a spare bit of cloth for mending. But I always remember the shirts, with a big tag at the back, yes.

VL: We're given a button nowadays, aren't we?

JM: 'Course, going back to Neale's Bon Marche, another thing there, it was three and eleven three (3/11¾d.)

End of side 2

Tape 2 side 1

Transcribers note: There is a gap here between the taped side, they are now talking of Sister Cutts.

LD: I can always remember she used to bring this sort of - like a mobile caravan thing up to Brickendon Green and used to preach.

CQ: Like the Church Army?

LD: Because we didn't have a church there then. There wasn't any church at Brickendon. Our nearest church was Bayford or we came under All Saints which was the Liberty of Brickendon.

AG: Yes, whereabouts were you born at Brickendon?

LD: Well, it's a little cottage next to The Farmer's Boy and no longer exists. It was extended with The Farmer's Boy, which at the moment is closed, much to the …. We're a little bit upset about that but hopefully it is going to be opened.

AG: 'Cos there used to be two pubs there, didn't they?

LD: The Five Horseshoes.

AG: The Five Horseshoes, yes.

LD: Next door but The Five Horseshoes only had a beer licence.

AG: I thought so.

LD: The Farmer's Boy had a spirits licence.

AG: I believe The Five Horseshoes was in the same family all the time, wasn't it?

LD: Yes, it was in the Rule family. Rules had it.

AG: Closed in the fifties, didn't it?

LD: That's right. Or the Oakleys, a well-known Brickendon family. Well, it's been very


TB: It's been very interesting, hasn't it?

JM: It's put ten years on me! (laughter)

LD: On you or off you?

AG: You're looking well, on it Jim

JM: That's the cycling. Brookman's Park, anywhere, where you like.

LD: Keeps you fit, doesn't it?

JM: …. I used to have a racing bike. That's when they'd just built the A10. Bike to London Sunday mornings. Don't smoke nor nothing. Funny thing, you could go up on the coach for 1s.6d. return.

LD: Well, we had no Bayford station and if we wanted to go on holiday we had to walk from Brickendon to Broxbourne Station. We didn't think anything of it. We used to do it. There was no alternative. There was no transport or anything. You had to walk.

JM: .... get on the bus for a penny to Ware. It's nearly a quid now.

TB: You can't make children today understand.

JM: No, they don't realise.

LD: We didn't think anything. It was a thing we had to do ….

TB: My son was on about this unemployment the other day. I said unemployed people are not in the state they were in in the 1930s. It was terrible then. He said, 'Oh, Mother, you don't understand. Things are different now.' I said, 'Yes, but people are not as hard up as they were then. They didn't have unemployment money. It was about ten bob a week. They used to get food tickets. A butcher's ticket. A grocer's ticket. A ticket for coal. Do you remember that, Jack?

JD: I think so.

JM: They called it the 'means test'.

TB: They were really hard up.

ST: That affected Hertford very badly, did it?

TB: Yes. I belonged to TOC H and up in the North it was terrible and we looked after a family in Clarin? Fallin?. I remember we collected a big box of clothes and sent it up and when I was on my honeymoon in '38 we were up in the Lake District and I got my husband to take me to Fallin to see this family. Oh, it was tragic. They'd got a fire, a good fire, but they all sat round it - about 5 or 6 children and the mother. The husband had been out of work - coal mines, I suppose; I don't know; been out of work years. But it was pitiful to see them. And they lived in these houses, back-to-back; we were down a passage, round the back.

Possibly Fallin Sterlingshire?

VL: I had four years in a back-to-back house.

ST: So you supported a family, did you? Did you send them a food parcel or a …...

TB: Well, we had a whist drive and I knew someone up there, Durham way, and we sent the money to her so it should be spent up there. And she went and bought blankets and pots and pans and kettles because they hadn't got anything. As anything wore out they couldn't replace it. And she spent the money up there and bought blankets and pots and pans and crockery for them. But honestly, I'll never forget, it was pitiful to walk in that - well, it was just like - it was a kitchen.

JM: Look at the support they get today.

TB: Yes.

ES: But where did the tickets come from? The tickets for the butchers? I mean was that government ....

TB: I don't know where they got them. The food office, or something.

LD: But there were, charities that supplied, weren't there, Thora? Because I can well remember we used to go to St. Nicholas Hall and get some flour tickets and bread tickets.

TB: They still exist. There's been a meeting and they've brought these charities together.

LD: The Purkiss-Ginns left a charity, didn't they? The Two Miss Ginns

TB: They had a meeting. I think it was last year. Peter would know more about that. And they've brought these charities together and still dealing them out but dealing them out. as money now, not as a coal ticket or a bread ticket.

VL: And help people in a variety of ways, not just sheer poverty in the home or anything like that.

JM: I remember my aunt - when there'd be this means test - her husband was out of work and that, and they come round the house like, you know, sell that, and I always remember they had an old gramophone with the horn, you now. Sell that 5/-. You know. You had to sell everything.

ES: What, sell it before you got any help?

LD: Before you got any help, yes.

JM: Yes, what they called the 'means test', you see. Same as the community charge, the poll tax, they've got now, you see. If you don't pay ....really, I'd like to see everybody else not pay in a way because they said they'll come round and take this. Well, they can come to my house and take the settee and everything. What are they going to take next week? They can only take it once.

ST: In the '30s then, you could have all your possessions taken away before you got any relief?

JM: Yes, see they came in. Oh, well, that's a luxury sell it.

ES: Of course, it's not really 'taken away', is it? You've got to sell it before you can get any relief. So it’s a choice.

ST: How did the workhouse work in with this? Were some people going to the workhouse because they couldn't afford to live.

TB: Yes.

JM: You got a meal, you see. Got a meal if you done 2 or 3 hours work, chopping wood, things like that.

TB: There was a little shop in Fore Street where that gift shop is now, where the hairdresser's are, people called Bray, do you remember?

LD: Yes, Bray.

TB: Now, something happened there, didn't it? That the daughter Bray – whether the old people died and there was no money - but she'd got children and I remember they were all taken to the workhouse.

LD: That's right. I can remember.

AG: It was the ultimate disgrace, wasn't it?

VL: Oh, yes, yes.

ES: But were your fathers out of work in the '30s, and so on?

TB: Well, we had our own business. Well, not in the '30s. They sold it by then.

ST: Did you keep busy, Jim?

JM: I've been busy all my life.

ST: So you weren't affected too badly by the 1930s?

JM: No, I’ve worked all my life ever since I was twelve and I still ain’t stopped

MO: What were you doing in the 30s, Jim? Working at McMullen's?

JM: Yes, I was there 40 years. And I had 20 years at the maltings still in the beer business. I was foreman down at McMullen's.

MO: When you were a very little boy, when you first came to Hertford, you used to go round with your uncle on, um ….

JM: Oh, a steam waggon, delivering beer and that. Solid tyres., these Garrett steam engines with a trailer, everything. You didn't see many cases of beer, not much bottled beer, there wasn't.

LD: It was all kegs, wasn't it? Well, barrels.

JM: ...when Colonel McMullen was alive. I went to one of the son's wedding. Jim McMullen. We went to the Shire Hall. We had a 7-course dinner and Mary Ollis's father was the comedian there (laughter!), 7-course dinner. Salmon! I can remember because the salmon upset me. Roast beef. Everything - 7-course dinner.

ST: When was that?

JM: Phew! Let's see, about 60 year ago. Not, I suppose, that the cost was much then.

VL: Was your father a professional comedian?

MO: No!


JM: He entertained!

MO: Yes, he probably was a professional in the sense that ….

JM: I can't remember the jokes! I can still picture him, though. Yes, old Monty Mac . I could tell some stories about him. Silly old fool. He used to see a nail on the floor. “look at that, that nail, someone can straighten that!” and remember the rubber bands on the stoppers of the beer? 'They're a penny each”

TB: That's how people made their money.

JM: Once we had to put a pane of glass in and he came round there and said, 'What d'you put that in for? It'll only get broken again.' That's the way he used to talk. And then what happened? They stung him for death duties. They had to sell all Hagsdell, everything, the lot.

MO: They owned a lot of property, didn't they?

JM: They owned two-thirds of Barnet.

MO: Barnet?

JM: Barnet, yes! Bedford! Rows of shops! Rows of shops in Ware! Just below the bridge there's ten shops there. That's all McMullen's. I'll tell you a story now, when you talk about McMullens, I was a fitter at that time and they tried to find you a house, you see. At the time there was a house in this road here, in Cowbridge. Well, a friend of mine - he's still alive, he's a plasterer , he was living in this empty house, in this road. I can't tell you the number. I'm talking here about 20 year ago, and he was squatting in it with this woman. He'd been there some time and he thought 'e'd better pull out, you see. So Mac's see this empty house down here, see, so they applied for it - it was their own property.

TB: One of those two that stand back.

JM: It could be one of them. It was empty for so long. People were squatting there.

LD: On the other side of the road?

JM: No, this side. The Pearl Assurance side. That's their property?

TB: They own next door, yes.

JM: And there's flats at the end, aren't there?

TB: There's one flat at the top. They've got notice, so what they're going to do with the house now, I don't know. He worked for McMullen's.

JM: Yes, that's what I'm saying.

TB: Offer him somewhere else.

JM: He came to me one day, Peter McMullen, and I said, 'I don't want one of your houses.' Tied down. I had a meeting with him. I told him. I said, 'You should make a ?? of it.' Either, if you're in there ten years it's finished. Make a limit,see.

TB: Still, Macs do look after their people, don't they?

JM: It's different now. When the old Colonel was alive. Ooh! Peter was as bad really. I was only young. I was working with two elderly people, men, like, and they were getting 4,or 5 shillings more than me and I was doing the same work, you see. So I approached him one day and I said, 'The other two are getting more money than me. I'm doing the same work.' 'Oh, well,.' he said, 'You get enough for your age, don't you?' That's what he told me. Silly remark.

TB: Well, I don't know. They did pay mostly by age, didn't they?

AG: It was very much the attitude, wasn't it?

JM: Well, if you do the same work …... well, they served me all right, a pension and everything.

LD: Sorry but I must leave you. I've got a golden lunch.

ES: We'll never be the same again, will we?


ST: Well, thank you very much everybody for coming along this morning and recounting all your very interesting experiences.


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