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Transcript TitleBird, Eileen (O1991.5)
IntervieweeThora Blake (maiden name Farrow) (TB), Eileen Bird (maiden name
InterviewerPeter Ruffles (PR), Alan Greening (AG), Mary Ollis (MO), Simon Townsend (ST)
Transcriber byEve Sangster


Hertford Oral History Group

Recording no: O 1991.5

Interviewees: Thora Blake (maiden name Farrow) (TB), Eileen Bird (maiden name Farrow) (EB), Phyllis Shambrook (PS), Lydia Dye (LD), Joan Neal (JN), Fred Darton (FD), Harold Mills (HM)

Venue: 12 Cowbridge Hertford

Date: 5th December 1991

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

Transcribed by: Eve Sangster

Typed by Juliet Bending with additions by Marilyn Taylor 2013

**************** Unclear recording

( discussion) Untranscribed material

Recorded at the home of Thora Blake , 12 Cowbridge Hertford, a first and second floor flat with coal fire.

Side 1

Starts with 8 minutes of general conversation on who is coming and people arriving tea organised finding seats etc not transcribed verbatim

PR: Thank you all for coming. We're getting quite expert at these little things. And thanks especially to Thora, because Thora has been the host of previous recording sessions. But it sounds as if it's going to be a bigger series. Lydia, who's been before knows that. All we really want to do is sort of trail a few thoughts and memories as they occur with nothing being unimportant about them but the smaller and easier and the better. And we thought that today we might start off trying to recall anything we can remember about the Borough Council because we've talked about The Green quite a lot and we've talked about the pubs in Railway Street. The first time, we began with the County Hospital because Dr. Mortis was here and Sister Lacey and we moved into fire services but we don't really stay where we begin very long and we might come back to the beginning a bit later when someone has a new sort of thought. But schools are something we haven't actually' really touched on, what we can remember if we can, about our days in school - if it was in Hertford, especially useful. What else? Alan, you thought of something the other evening we haven't actually …..

AG: WeIl, there's always the …. , it's not sort of unique to Hertford but there's one side of it and, that's Hertford versus Ware.

PR: Oh yes yes. so we won't actually say, "Right, we've finished with that bit, we'll now concentrate on the next." We'll just sort of muddle along, really, but, yes, the Hertford/Ware thing might recall some stories to mind. Family bits and pieces are quite useful but don't really think only of the big days - anything that happens and if we were in school talking, I would say "the listeners are as important as the speakers" because it may be that you don't actually say a lot but you might just nudge the thing round a bit and we might nudge it from somewhere we think we've been before but you wouldn't know about. I mean, if we think, we won't say "we don't want to talk about that" but we might sort of drop a few hints if we think we've covered that area before.

MO: I was just thinking, we might, if we're thinking of the Borough, also with Harold here, think about the County Council, you know, I mean, you mentioned Hertford/Ware, the relationship between Hertford Borough and the Longmores.

PR: Yes yes, Municipal and local. Yes, yes, we could do but introductions are important, aren't they? Phyllis Shambrook is here on my left, Lydia Dye; Joan Neal; Fred Darton; Thora - everybody knows; Eileen, Thora's sister, and Harold Mills. Alan Greening and I, Simon and Mary Ollis are really, with Eve Sangster, we must remember Eve in her absence because Eve is absolutely crucial to what we've been doing and she is not here this morning, might come a bit later but we're the people that sort of push the little idea forward. Eve Sangster is crucial because she listens to the tape and types out - not every single bit of it but bits that she thinks; it takes her so long to do, painstaking task. So, Harold, could we ask you to start with, not about your first election to the Borough yet, but when you were younger, much younger. What do you remember seeing of the Borough Council and the style of the day? Have you any sort of early memory in your mind of public occasions, or anything like that?

HM: The only recollection I really have - it depends how many years back we're going....

PR: As far as you like.

HM: Well, as a boy I can remember seeing ceremonial occasions, of course. The Borough Council went to church, All Saints Church and others, and, of course, parading on other ceremonial occasions. That's my main recollection.

PR: Who would have been involved then? Was it the Town Clerk?

HM: Well, I can remember names, really. I can remember Ashley Webb, for example, in my youth.

TB: Purkiss-Ginn!

HM: Yes, Purkiss-Ginn.

TB: And Henry John Webb.

HM: Yes, yes, yes. That's the Horns Mill Webbs. Are you talking of somebody else? I was thinking of Alan Webb then.

TB: No, not Alan. Henry John Webb. Of Partridge & Webb.

HM: Oh yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes. And I remember many of the shops in the town, of course. My recollection of the Borough Council in those days is very vague really. It's almost entirely on being taken by my parents as a boy to see ceremonial occasions, as I mentioned.

PR: What sort of occasions would they have been? Was it the Assizes or was it Remembrance Sunday things?

HM: Well, I can remember the Assizes, of course, when the judge went to church at All Saints, of course, and then paraded down from All Saints Church to the Shire Hall and I can remember my very early days when I started, not necessarily with the County Council because - if you remember- the Longmore family were very much Clerks of the County Council, Clerks of everything, in fact, and you were therefore employed by Longmore's to start off your life …...

TB: Elton Longmore!

HM: Elton Longmore. There was Charles Longmore, lived in Port Hill House.

AG: He was almost eternal, wasn't he, Charles Elton Longmore? He went on and on, didn't he?

HM: All the Longmore’s went on and on and on. When Sir Charles was Clerk in the County Council, of course, he was also part-time member of the firm of Longmore. His cousin, I think, was deputy Clerk - another Longmore, Philip Longmore – and in fact, they really ran the whole of the town, legally, the Longmore family.

EB: Of course, there was Sir Edward Pearson; he had his own livery. It was always red. That was worth watching.

AG: That was Brickendonbury, was it?

EB: Brown and gold. Horses. Carriage.

PR: When would that have been seen in the town, then? When was he a big wheel? What sort of -

EB: I can't remember. I don't know. Must have been when I was a teenager.

TB: What? The ….

EB: When Sir Edward Pearson was mayor. The horses. The two horses.

TB: Well, it was when he gave the fire engine; so it was younger than that.

EB: Well, I can remember seeing him on various occasions. Don't you, Lydia?

LD: Sorry dear?

TB: Sir Edward Pearson! 'Cause we had a fire engine drawn by horses and Sir Edward Pearson gave the first motorised one.

LD: Are we talking about the First World War? Before the First World War?

TB: No latterly, end of the war!

LD: The end of the 14-18 War? That could be it, round about the 20's, 1920's.

EB: He was mayor for several years, wasn't he? He was a great benefactor to the town, I believe.

TB: He was very good to the country, to the town, wasn't he?

FD: I remember when he used to come round with the horses. I was quite a lad. It must have been just after the end of the First World War. I was 4 during the last year of the First World War and shortly after that, that's about the time ….

LD: Yes, the early 20's.

PR: What about the Purkiss-Ginn family, then?

FD: I remember the Purkiss-Ginn family from The Nut Walk in Queens Road and then in more recent years Mrs. Ginn was living in Farquhar Street, wasn't she?

PR: Little Eaves, yes.

FD: Then did she move back to Ireland? Because she originally came from Moira in Northern Ireland, didn't she?

PR: No, no. She didn't move back, I don't think.

FD: I know she always asked me about it because I was stationed a little way away from Moira when I was at Lisburn and we used to have a chat about it.

PR: Yes, we heard about The Nut Walk again from Annie Inman. We were talking to Annie and recording some thoughts of hers when she was at the Grammar School with Sergeant Major Inman. The Nut Walk featured there. She read a prose poem she'd written about the piece of wilderness land near to the Nut Walk but, I think, within the Grammar School grounds. And she's 101½. The tape begins “I'm only 101½!”

EB: Purkiss-Ginn was very good. He was always loaning his gardens for all sorts of things, fetes, garden parties, anything. He was very good. This is old Purkiss-Ginn. Father-in-law to the lady …..

Transcribers note : father in law to Henrietta Purkiss Ginn

FD: Alexander Purkiss-Ginn.

AG: Just where was The Nut Walk?

TB: Where the roundabout is.

AG: Oh, I see.

HM: Vanished.

EB: And it had lovely walnut trees. I know, 'cos I've had some of the walnuts.

Transcribers note: it really was a ……… “Nut path”

TB: Didn't it have a passage or something to the Castle?


TB: One of those passages that are blocked up underneath the Castle. They're blocked up now, aren't they? Well, they went right through to The Nut Walk.

LD: You're right, yes.

PR: Oh! I shouldn't publish that too widely or we'll have treasure-seekers here.

TB: Queen Elizabeth, the first Queen Elizabeth was supposed to have gone through them and sat in The Nut Walk.

PR: Yes, hence Queen's Walk and Queen's Road.

EB: Earlier than that because Miss Ilott, Fanny Ilott, do you remember lived at the top of the hill, she said, now Queen who was it? Ooh, long while before Elizabeth, Matilda somebody? She used to walk up there and sit in Miss Ilott's garden as it was then. That's why it was called Queens Walk.

PR: Oh, so not Queen Elizabeth?

EB: That's going back to about the 13th century.

MO: It was a Plantagenet Queen wasn't it?

TB: Mr. Ilott was a character, wasn't he?

EB: Well it was Miss Fanny Ilott lived at the top of the hill when I lived in Queen's Road.

PR: So, Harold, when, at this stage, obviously it was non-political, as it were, the Council, in label-terms ….

HM: Independent, yes.

PR: Would there have been contests at the elections or ….

TB: No, not political.

PR: Did the Independents fight each other for places, as it were?

HM: Not to my recollection at all. They were all self-appointed, I think.

TB: It wasn't political like it is now, when someone sets up for Labour, Independent you didn't have that. They just set up against one another.

??: That’s true yes

PR: But there were contests some times between people, public elections, as it were.

AG: Josiah Wren!

TB: You ought to get Ruth Wren in here, you know. Ruth Long.

HM: Elections for political parties never really took place 'til about the early 30s, I think, my recollection. Because I remember there was one man who became the first Labour mayor of Hertford somewhere about the mid-30s. He was a railway man.

TB: Mr. Procter?

HM: Procter, that's right.

EB: Quite a stir, wasn't there?

HM: Yes, indeed, yes. There was an amusing story told about Procter, because I think some people thought they might have some fun at his expense and they arranged for the Meet of the local hunt to take place in the Castle grounds and they suggested that the Mayor should mount a horse and lead the way, thinking that it was going to be fun for he would obviously fall off. Instead of which, of course, he mounted to the manner born, as if he had been on a horse all his life: and this really spoilt the day. (laughter!) He'd been in the Royal Artillery, of course, and was well used to horses.

PR: So when did you first contest a seat, Harold, at the elections, roughly?

HM: Oh, 1958. I stood in All Saints then, was not elected. Next year in '59 I was elected.

PR: And that was just a fairly straightforward and polite election like we're used to nowadays, was it? There was no difficulty of an extraordinary kind between the Tories and Independent and the Labour Party?

HM: There was a great deal of fun at the time because of the candidate known as Fred Sparks (laughter) - one of Hertford's great characters. There's an amusing story. The background of Fred was that he was not acceptable to the Conservative Party of the day as a potential candidate and they really didn't give him any consideration at all. Fred was very annoyed in that he had ambitions to be a Councillor. Fred decided that if they were not prepared to put him forward as a Conservative candidate he would stand as an Independent, which he did. And, it 'was the same year, '59, that I was elected. There were many stories about Fred, of course, and he was a dairy man, as most people know, and there were lots of stories that Fred was leaving extra pints of milk. (Laughter) He didn't have to worry about canvassing because Fred was on everybody's doorstep every day. (Laughter) Any truth in the stories of extra pints of milk?

PS: I can confirm that, Mr. Mills.

HM: I'm glad you do. I don't want to be libellous about Fred. Yes, these were the stories going round. Fred, of course, electrified the town's elections. A strong character. A most independent minded person and you could never talk quietly to Fred because if you met him in the street, anyone within, what? 50 yards could hear what you were saying or, at least, what Fred was saying. And he would hail you like that. Well, we had some fun when we were elected because can I go …. on like this?

PR: Yes, yes, do.

HM: It's a little background about the old Hertford Borough Council days. Not all that long ago. About 30 years. But, as soon as we were elected, of course, we got a letter from the Town Clerk, together with a copy of the Standing Orders and details about protocol, and one of these letters said, of course, that there is an order of precedence of all councillors, you see, and those elected only this last year would be bottom of the pile, in order of seniority, and that was acceptable, of course, but the Town Clerk then said, "You will be expected to provide your own ceremonial robe." Well, Fred rang me up about this and said he was highly indignant. He wasn't going to buy a robe and I said I wasn't going to buy a robe either. We were told we could buy these from some London firm who made these ceremonial robes. And I forget the price now, it was so long ago, but, clearly, it was something that I was not prepared to spend and I took the view that I was not elected to buy my own robe. I was quite happy to go and, of course, one had to wear robes for all council meetings and for all ceremonial occasions.

So, the Town Clerk then said, 'Well, there are some old robes, which are hanging up in the wardrobe at the Castle, which you'll see, and you may choose one of these if you wish. Well, Fred and I chose robes, pretty tatty indeed, they were, bits of fur hanging down, and, of course, Fred and I were last in the procession. So, the first occasion was All Saints Church local ceremonial service after the elections. Well, of course, we were photographed, naturally, and Fred and I looked very tatty in our robes, right at the rear where you could be seen: in the middle you wouldn't have noticed.

So, people wrote to the Mercury saying these Councillors look terrible in their dreadful old robes, and what was going to be done about it. This sparked the Council off to decide that perhaps they should do something about the robes. Some people owned their own, of course, and others had taken theirs from their predecessors but a lot of them were very tatty and they all moved that they would go to this firm in London and have all those that were capable of being repaired nicely presented and they'd buy 2 or 3 new ones. Lo and behold, I was I presented with a brand new robe. (Laughter) But the fur was ersatz, of course, it wasn't the original. Anyway, that made things much better. We looked very neat and tidy. In fact, I looked much more tidy than some of the older Councillors.

PR: Yes, yes. I mean the robes, of course, are used by the Town Council. They're just the trimmings of their function but the function now is nothing like it was for the Borough. It's a lot less. Joan, Dan Dye, and Lydia, of course, as well, but, what about Dan? Did you pick up stuff from Dan at home as it were, about his view of the proceedings? Did he usually seem happy with what was going on?

JN: Well, I think he always seemed happy. That was his life, I think, in the latter years.

PR: He came on to the Council in the war, during the war, or before?

LD: Oh I could have looked that up because I have got a Christmas card from him when he was mayor, taken with Lord and Lady Salisbury and Dan and Lizzy. I can’t tell you the year though I don’t know.

PR: He was mayor soon after the war I think for 2 and a half years I think he did more.

JN: He did more, yes

PR: I have forgotten quite why that was, he did half a year which doesn’t very often happen added on to ………..perhaps someone died and he started early or something I suppose that’s possible is it Harold?

JN: Well who did he follow then?

HM: Dan was gone when I was elected I know, how long he had been gone I have no idea now. Certainly he was pretty long serving. An Alderman for some years.

PR: I am pretty sure he was mayor in 47/48, that sort of time I don’t know when he first came.

EB: In the 30’s, he went on the council in the 30’s

LD: Wouldn’t be that early Eileen it wouldn’t be that early

EB: I thought he was at the beginning of the war?

PR: Well yes I would guess he probably…………

TB: Yes early part of the war on the council.

EB: Oh I am sorry I thought you were talking about when he was mayor

TB: No no he was on the council during the war

EB: During the 30’s I think he went on the council

PR: What were his special things for the town, Joan? What was he, you know, rooting for?

EB: Well, he was very keen on slum clearance, to start with. Because we had quite a lot of yards with tumbledown houses in in those days, in the middle of the town and he was very keen on the abolition of that, wasn't he?

PR: Was he born, then, in your Railway Street quarter or, where was he …. ?

JN: No, he would have been born over on Bircherley Green.

PR: On the Green. Then, when did he become associated with your present house and the yard?

JN: Well, my grandfather, he bought those 3 houses and Uncle Will and Uncle Dan had the one that's one now, was two, and they had one each and they went there……..

LD: ……….. I before I was born. Yes.

TB: Yes, well when Doris Dye was at school with me she lived there and that was 1920s.

JN: And Kathleen and Gertie were there.

LD: Yes, before they moved to Hertingfordbury Road.

JN: And then it was made into the one house.

PS: I do remember about Hertford. I came here in 1932, in April 1932, and they were demolishing what my in-law’s called the Green. And I know they demolished some and burnt most of the wood. We stood in Thornton Street watching this ….

PR: Oh, a lovely bonfire! Ready for Waitrose!

JN: Well, I was 8 when I moved from down there; well, between 7 and 8. Into Railway Street.

PR: So you've been there a year or two now in Railway Street?

JN: Well, just a few years, yes.

LD: In 1932, then, Joan.

JN: Yes, though I did move for 11 years.

Transcribers note: She moved to 89 Fore Street

PR: Did Dan found the Evergreen Club?

LD: Yes, he paid for that. And he maintained it for quite a while.

PR: But you don't remember him coming back grumbling about any rows or dirty tricks, you know, like we tend to do after meetings?

LD: Well, I suppose there were moments (laughter). Well, he would find them, I think, or be in the middle of it.

PR: Yes, and the more your heart's in it, the bigger the anger when you don't sort of get your way and he clearly was right in the heart of Hertford.

LD: He was, and my husband used to always say he wasn't there for his own gain. You know, he was for the people.

JN: I think he was another one like Fred Sparks. (laughter). Yes, they were a couple of good ones together.

HM: I remember Bircherley Green, as a child, I suppose. I remember it being cleared in the early 30s.

LD: Yes, that's right. It was round about '32. Because we moved to Hertingfordbury Road in '33 and that was ………….. your mum wanted to come into the cottage in Railway Street.

JN: Well, I must admit, I had happy memories of living down there although people tend to say, "Fancy! Fancy living there."

HM: It had a terrible reputation, didn't it? True or not, it certainly had. And it was, I suppose, the first clearance of old residential property in Hertford. The early Thirties.

JN: Well, in those days they did used to have quite a lot of fights. But you could go into anybody's house and if you were short of anything they would give anything that they'd got.

LD: Yes, there was that neighbourliness.

PS: I believe, Joan, there was quite a number of public houses; an excessive amount for such a small area.

All: Oh yes, yes.

JN: I think they had about 10 or 11 in Railway Street.

PS: No, but on the Green itself.

JN: I can't remember ….

LD: Can you remember any pubs round the Green?

LD: Beer houses, weren't they?

FD: The only one that I can recall that was anywhere near the Green, and that's not too far back, was The Diamond. That bordered the Green, as we knew the Green but I can't actually remember any on the Green.

JN: I can't remember any at all on the Green.

TB: There was one facing the river because I was talking to an old man once on the river and he said to me, "Have you lived in Hertford long?" you see. And I said, "Oh yes, all my life.” He said, “I was born just over here,” and that was across where Waitrose was being built then. From the Folly, you see, we were looking across.

LD: Oh yes, like by The Barge.

TB: "I was born there," he said, "My father kept a beer house there.” So that was facing the river, on the other side.

FD: You're talking about the fights from the people down the Green. It was recognized for a brick fight with the lads from Ware. They used to come up on the barges when Garratt’s had the mill where the old bus station was and a brick fight between the Ware boys on the barge and those on the Green. Some of them went home with some great lumps on their head.

LD: Oh yes, Ware and Hertford were quite at cross-purposes, weren't they;

FD: Real fiery against each other, weren't they? Same with football, wasn't it? Terrible, like Arsenal and Spurs. I always remember those brick fights. I was never actually, you know, wrapped up in one but I've seen a few. I think, young as I was, I had enough sense to keep out of the way. But I can't remember any actual public houses on the actual part that we've always known as the Green. The nearest one I can remember would be The Diamond and, coming out the other way, where they come out of the bus park now, would have been The Lion's Head. It had a kind of chalk plaster head on the wall, didn't it? And, if you looked close enough, the mane needed stroking. (Laughter)

JN: There was one opposite where I live now and that was called The Crossed Keys.

FD: Oh yes. The Crossed Keys. Mr. Pearce!

JN: I can remember seeing them strip the roof, for the lead.

FD: When McMullen's built The Sele Arms they took it over. Mr. Pearce took it over. Mr. & Mrs. Pearce from The Crossed Keys.

AG: The Diamond is where Fosters is now?

FD: That's' right. Later became The Punchbowl.

PR: Fred, what about school, your school days? Where did you go?

FD: Could you spare me that! (Laughter) Well, I enjoyed my school days. I mean, obviously, it was very, very elementary, St. Andrew's School, wasn't it? In fact, I've told a lot of people what I'm going to tell you now and none of them don't believe me. I was taught to knit. When I was in the early classes at school, you see, it was a mixed school, as you know, boys and girls all sat together and when it was knitting time for the girls, we had to knit. They actually taught us to knit with two needles and wool, which is not the thing, of course. I can always remember the first thing I ever knitted and maybe most of these ladies will remember - horse reins.

Chorus: Oh yes.

FD: About an inch wide and you would sit and do a long length of them like you used to make paper-chains at Christmas and I remember knitting those and people say, "Oh, you're pulling my leg, I but I'm not. I used to have to knit.

AG: I can corroborate that. When I was in the infants' school in Swindon, that was early, middle, thirties, we did a spell of knitting.

FD: But, you see, what didn't make sense to me, even though I hadn't got much brain, haven't got much now, we used to have to knit but we was never taught to write until I was in my last term at school. We had to do this little script, a kind of a small block letter with little curly bits on. You could never write a letter today in the time they do now, you know. It'd take you a day to write a letter like that. But we was taught actually to write and join up letters together ….

AG: Joined-up writing!

FD: …. in our last term. at school and I can see it now, Miss Rutter. Polly, Polly Rutter, MANUFACTURING from one side of the blackboard to the other. MANUFACTURING! She said, "That's how you have to join your letters up." And, well, I can see that happening now and yet we was never taught to write.

PR: And that was St. Andrew's school in Hertingfordbury Road, opposite Sessions

FD: Wareham’s Lane?

PR: So, how many classes, Fred?

FD: There was Miss Hornby. I think she was in charge of the very tiny tots. Miss Rowe from Ware Road.

TB: Yes, Aunt Lil.

LD: Was there a Miss Hurt?

FD: Miss Turnball was headmistress. Some of the other names have eluded me because, they did change a bit. I remember we had a Miss Cattermole come from Welwyn Garden City during my time at school and a Miss Selway. She was a tartar. She was like a German. Ooh, my word! She was real tight on you. But there were teachers that changed, you know. Been there maybe two years then they changed over but the old-established ones was Miss Hornby, lived in a little cottage near where the Esso place is.

PR: Frogs Hall (??)

FD: Then there was Miss Rowe from Ware Road, (to Thora) your relation. Turnbull was headmistress. Was there another one I can remember? No, there wasn't too many classes.

PR: No shortage of children, though?

FD: No, it was usually full up. And every Friday morning was scripture lesson. We used to have the Reverend Lamb. Do you remember the Reverend Lamb? The Reverend Lamb used to come up to give the scripture lesson. He was sort of standing in for the Reverend Gardiner, of course. If the Reverend Gardiner was available he always came. He wouldn't miss it. But if he was otherwise engaged the Reverend Lamb used to come and take the scripture lesson.

PR: Any sort of behavioural problems, were there? How did they discipline the children? What was the ….

FD: Well, there was no real behaviour problems. But the top half of the playground was, well, we call it tarmac today but it used to be called asphalt, didn't it? Now, that was for the girls and the bottom half which was gravel was for boys. But if the boys strayed up on to the girls playground you was disciplined then. Had to write so many lines, 'I must not go on to the girls' playground. You'd got to do something to be punished, you know, but that was about the only regulation.

PR: You were then down where the coal pile was? Used to be a great coke - coal, I

think it was, wasn't it? - at the end of the playground, when I was at St. Andrew's, that's....

FD: I don't remember any coal. Right at the bottom there was an old fence with a very little old ditch that used to come along ….

EB: It's still there.

FD: …. where the ducks used to swim up there. The ditch used to come along from the bottom of Wareham's Lane, you know, where you went down to Mr. Pateman's premises. It's only an old ditch there, really, but it was a little bit narrower as it went through the bottom of the school playground. But we used to have rather a hard job to get them to give us permission to put water down by that fence in the winter, so that it froze over and we could indeed slide on it. We tried hard but eventually they gave in over that. They used to let us pour water down when they were certain there was going to be a hard frost and then we, could go and slide on it and enjoy ourselves. 'til you got home and your mother found your shoes was wearing out. No, there was no hard discipline at the school, you know.

JN: Well, all the children seemed to be good, didn't they? They wouldn't do anything.

FD: Well we were I don’t know ****** without making a mistake but we were much better behaved than the children today because for one thing we always had that fear of a clip round the ear.

All: Oh Yes!

FD: and I think in many ways that was a lot better……….


TB: And the cane.

JN: Oh I can remember Major Upton’s cane……….

HM: You've struck a chord in my memory now about early days at school in Hertford. I was born in Bengeo and lived in Parkhurst. I was born in Parkhurst Road, and then my parents moved to Balfour Street. Now, in Balfour Street, by that old bridge, is an old building, it was an infants' school ….

TB: That's right.

HM: Everybody know that?

Chorus: Yes!

HM: And you mentioned the name of a teacher. You said, "Polly!”

FD: Polly Rutter?

HM: No, it wasn't Polly Rutter. This was Polly Porter. She was the headmistress of this infants' school right next to the bridge in Balfour Street.

AG: That's the place that is now the little theatre, is it?

HM: That's the Company of Players, is it? That's right. They've taken it over. Well, I can remember. It was obviously in the First World War. I was born in 1911. So I must have been 3,4,5. My parents just walked me down Balfour Street and dumped me in the school and I can remember Polly Porter. She was a strict disciplinarian, nevertheless very kind, and I resented going, of course. I went in tears for days, I think, when I was confronted with this school but that is quite a recollection. My earliest recollection, and I can remember the war particularly, of course. I can remember the zeppelin that was brought down at Cuffley. You've read about it, of course. I can remember my parents taking me out into the open air that evening and seeing this flaming thing coming down, which was a mystery to me, anyway. But that's one of my earliest recollections.

PR: How would that school have been heated, Harold, in the winter? It became a scout hut later.

HM: Coal fire, it must have been.

LD: Well, they had the tortoise (stove!)

Chorus: Christ Church, wasn't it?

PR: St. Andrew's was open coal fires, wasn't it? Just like a domestic ….

FD: The funny thing was, if you was the worst in the class, you was always in front of the fire so that the teacher was right on top of you. If you was trying to do well and was, you know, up in the class you was at the back. (Laughter!) This school you're talking about, is that the place where it

became a meeting-place for Scouts?

PR: Yes, the 3rd Hertford Scouts ….

FD: You're not talking about the old tin hut round in Balfour Street?

HM: No, no.

FD: What was the old tin hut originally? ,

HM: That was the parish hall.

FD: That was the parish hall. That was actually 1a Balfour Street? Well, of course, the hill was Balfour Street as well, really, where the old pub,and that used to be. Well, that was a scout meeting-place then; wasn't it? Just above the church. Yes. But coming back to St. Andrew's quickly, when it was anything to do with sports, which was very seldom, we got 20 minutes for football once a month, if we was lucky, and we used to go down the field, which was Dick Baxter's at the time. Remember Dick Baxter? Well, he had that meadow down there and he used to let us go down for football. Now, Polly Rutter used to take us down, and with all due respect, she didn't know the first thing about football. We couldn't learn anything. There was no such thing as sports gear or goal posts. You just put a pile of hats down and they was the goal posts. And we had 20 minutes to kick all one way. No change-over, you know. But at least we got a little kick-about with the ball. And then, of course, in the season; they used to invite the school children to play in the hay field. But, of course, they had a very good reason: we turned his hay over for him.!! (Joke)



LD: What was the little pub? Was it The Cranborne.

All: No! (discussion)

Transcribers note: But it WAS The Cranborne

FD: …. which is now the Kingsway Chemist. Well, then they had to move from there into The Wash.

TB: Where the flower shop is.

LD: Yes, where Doris (Paddick) is now.

PR: I thought that was, well, it was a wool shop. Miss Hart's wool shop.

FD: Yes, there was a wool shop years ago.

PR: I thought that was where Baxter's ….

TB: Yes, fruit and vegetable.

FD: But St. Andrew's School was so poor (scholastically??) that, you know, it's unbelievable really. I don't mind admitting to anybody that what little knowledge I've got is self-taught. I've learned my knowledge and taught myself. I never learned anything at school. Not to say really learned anything. Perhaps I shouldn't do this but comparing that with the schools they've got today. The opportunities they've got today! You see, I do remember once during the –?????? -- we used to have these sports meetings, the various schools. Well, I was still quite young but we took part in some races over on Allenbury Sports Field in Ware. Now, to us, as kiddies then, that was like being at the Olympics, to be on a place where there was a bit of short grass, you know, honestly.

TB: Lydia, did you go to Faudel Phillips?

LD: No. Joan did.

TB: It was called the School of Needlework, wasn't it, when my great-aunt went? Sixpence a week.

JN: I went to Faudel Phillips. Miss Thear and Miss Baker. Do you remember? Hilda Baker, wasn't it?

TB: And what about Kate Davis?

JN: Poor Kate Davis, yes, she lived in School House next to Abel Smith School, didn't she?

TB: She was a disciplinarian.

JN: Oh yes. I had her at Port Vale School, thank you!

PR: Fred - we'll get off the school subject in a minute - Miss Turnbull wasn't actually related to our family but they lived next door.

FD: Oh, I thought they was related.

PR: No, everyone thinks that.

FD: 64, wasn't it?

PR: 64! Next door then but they also lived next door at the end of the previous century, across the road, because my granddad was born in the cottage next to the school beside Wareham's Lane in 1870. And the Turnbulls at that time had moved from George Street round into next-door-but-one, I think it was, in Hertingfordbury Road, the ones that were pulled down about 5 or 6 years ago to widen the road. But they all moved across the road together to where we now live at 62 Hertingfordbury Road and the Turnbulls, too, brother and sister, bought 64 and 66, so they've been connected for a century, as it were, but not related. We used to call them aunts, like you do.

FD: I've always thought it was a relation of yours. Getting off the schools quickly as you say, I don't know whether anybody will remember this but right close to St. Andrew's School there used to be a pub in Hertford and there's not too many people who can remember it.

TB: Opposite the school?

FD: Well, not quite. It was on the opposite side.

LD: Down towards Waters?

FD: It was literally opposite to where you go up to Castle Mead Gardens and it was called The Nelson.

PR: No. 8 Hertingfordbury Road. The Ebenezer Chapel, the Chapel House then the pub.

FD: I wasn't old enough to go in it but I remember you went up 3 big steps to go in and the first person to live in there after it was finished as a public house that I can remember was Bill Easter's daughter, when she got married to a Mr. Saggers from Hertingfordbury. Do you remember Bill Easter, used to work for the Council?

TB: There used to be some children for Sunday School, St. Andrew's Sunday School, didn't there? There used to be some children from that place, in the St. Andrew's Sunday School.

FD: From what? From the old pub or from Mr. Easter's place?

TB: I don't know. I can't remember that, whether it was a pub or whether it was a house.

FD: No, he didn't live there. His daughter married a young Saggers from Hertingfordbury and they was the first people I knew to go in there after it finished as a pub. No, Bill Easter, at one time, lived right opposite the church in a little low place next to Jimmy Moulton ….

TB: Where you went down steps.

FD: …. where Jimmy Moulton was, you know, the old music teacher. That's another story.

PR: You don't, Fred, remember The New Inn in North Road? I think that was probably before everybody's time, but opposite North Crescent, where Mrs. Blackford lived when she moved round from St. Andrew Street and where Ray and Ivy Buck now live. I think it was No.6 North Road. There's a sign on the post, the gate post, there's a sign that you can still read that says, 'The New Inn' and I don't know when it closed. No one can remember it as a pub, as an inn. The sign's still quite clearly visible, as long as you look in the right place, you know, and look for it. And it's probably, maybe, 100 years since it was painted.

FD: I wonder if I could quickly ask if anybody in this company now can remember a place in Hertford or if there ever was one called St. Nicholas Lane?

ALL: Yes! yes!

FD: Well, I went about two weeks back down to Barber's Warehouse on the right-hand side of the Library because I wanted to do a bit of fishing and I want to ask if the property I'm going to speak about came under Barber's. Just before you get to their warehouse there's a little track goes down to the river. Now I didn't know whether it belonged to anybody or what, so I went and asked. I didn't know at the time but I was talking to one of Mr. Barber's daughters and she said, "No," she said, "That's a public right of way and you've got every right to go down there," she said. "That's St. Nicholas Lane." "Well," I said, "I've been in Hertford a few years but I've never heard of it." And I hadn't. She said, "Well, I think the name is still on there." But I did look.

PR: It is there. It’s still there. It's under the gutter. Quite high up. There's a cast-iron ordinary street sign.

FD: I kept looking. I thought, "It's probably wore off."

PR: There's no 'Saint' on the sign. It's just Nicholas Lane.

MO: Isn't that supposed to be the original crossing, Hart Ford, where they crossed the river, went down Nicholas Lane.

FD: Probably, maybe, yes. It was the shallowest point of the river.

PR: St. Nicholas Church was really where Woolworth's is, more or less. Well behind Woolworth's. That sort of area. One used to get muddled up which was St. Mary and which was St. Nicholas. They were 2 churches fell into disrepair at about the same time. But if you think of Woolworth's with the red sign and Nicholas being red, that's the way to remember it and St. Mary's, of course, was on the site of the Library, so Nicholas Lane led towards St. Nicholas church from St. Mary's.

FD: I'll have to look for that when I go down.

TB: Well, when they excavated and moved all the bones, weren't they put in the twitchel, in the alleys, going to the Castle. Because there used to be tombstones along there, along the wall. Now they're taken into the Church, aren't they?

PR: Yes. Sorry, Phyllis, you

PS: When I first came here in 1932 where Woolworth's is standing now was a very very old pub. It wasn't in operation but I can remember the cobwebs in the window.

AG: The Maidenhead.

PR: That’s where the street got its name from.

PS: Well, I presume. I don't know. It was Maidenhead before that, wasn't it, Lydia?

LD: Yes.

FD: Mr. Eaves (?) was the landlord. The only way I know who the landlord was is because I was working at Howard Roberts at the time and I'm going to say this with every respect because the fellow's dead now - he got killed, actually - but he was an assistant in Howard Roberts and he used to get me to go down, you'd probably remember this, used to get me to go down the back of our warehouse and nip over there and get him a little drop of beer in a bottle. He used to like his drop of beer midday and used to send me down there to get it from The Maidenhead Arms and the man who was the landlord was Eaves. I don't know how he got the nickname but he was always called Aunty Eaves. And the fellow I'm talking about was Alf Utteridge. Remember Alf Utteridge. He was on the provisions counter with Mr. Vic Cook from Gallows Hill. And he used to send me down there. He got killed, didn't he? Unfortunate circumstances, he got killed but he did, nevertheless.

MO: You left St. Andrew's School. You didn't go to any other school afterwards.

FD: No, I was never lucky enough to get away from there. To go anywhere.

MO: How old were you when you left?

FD: 14. I left on the Friday and started work at W.H.Smith's at the North Station on the Monday. Twelve shillings and sixpence a week. Yes, I was 14. Finished up Friday, started on Monday.

JN: And did they take them from 5 to 14, then, at St. Andrew's.

FD: 5 to 14, yes.

JN: I did go to 3 schools: Faudel Phillips, Abel Smith, Longmore's School and then we ended up, because the doodle bomb dropped on Longmore's School ….

TB: Were you at Longmore's when it was bombed?

JN: Well, then, and from there I had to go to Port Vale, yes.

FD: But the chances in schooling today are far better than what we ever had.

JN: Oh yes.

FD: No, I didn't even get progressed up to Port Vale. I mean, some people got shoved up there and that was a little bit, you know, better but, no, I done my service at St. Andrew's. Well, I had some good, happy times there.

PR: What about your family, Fred? Were you born, no, you wouldn't have been born in Sele Road, would you?

FD: No, I was born in what was called Pavitt's Yard. That was down the alleyway between what was Mrs. Hattam's Bakers Bun Shop and the other side was Jefferies' sweet shop and there was two rows of cottages, one either side, where one ended the other one started. Now, behind Mrs. Hattam's shop was cottages, little old tumbledown cottages. Mr. Giddy lived in one and Mr. Thurgood lived in the other. Then there was the actual old bakery what they used but her eldest son was a great man for wireless and used to start off. He made a lot of wirelesses and he used that as a workshop. Now there was one row following that on the left, about 6 houses, cottages. Then it stopped there and the other side went down six that way. Well, we lived in the bottom one which was a large place in those days. There was 5 bedrooms. Mind you, some of them was quite small. Then we had that enormous garden that went right down to the meadows which you meet going over, past St. Andrew's Church. You know the meadows all what was Mr. Pateman's and Mr. Baxter's. Our garden went right down to there.

AG: This was off St. Andrew Street, was it?

FD: Off St. Andrew Street. Course, it's all down now.

PR: Near The Red Lion.

FD: That's right. You'd got The Red Lion pub; then Mrs. Hattam then you got this yard called Pavitt's Yard, an archway, it was.

PR: So did you move to Sele Road from there?

FD: No. I was born, my sister was born there, Rene. She died just before she was 16. Well, then we moved down to Chambers Street. After my sister died we moved to Chambers Street. I was 15 when we went to Chambers Street and eventually we got moved up to Sele Road. And then we had 2 houses in Sele Road. Not 2 at a time. We moved from one to the other. Then, what happened? I was beginning to be grown up then and, you know, getting out in the world a bit.

PR: So what was the order of the ….

FD: Children? There was Rene, the one who died, then myself, then George, then Peggy, then Dick, then Laurie, then John, Uncle Tom Cobbley and all. (Laughter) Course, you know we lost John, I suppose. John died in Tokyo. So we lost the eldest one and the youngest one. I'm the next eldest now and I'm wondering when it's going to be my turn.

EB: When was Sele Road built? It was Camps Hill

FD: When was it built? I was at school when it was built. Ekins built Sele Road. They was real tradesmen, Ekins.

PR: In the 20s, wasn't it?


FD: They were very well built houses but very basic. There was no bathrooms, as such. We had what was called the scullery, you know. It didn't even get the name of kitchen. We had the scullery and there was a brick-built copper on one end and a bath that went along by it. So when it was bath night, you see, you had to light the fire and boil the water and ladle it out into the …. But it was a bath and we was always clean, you know, and there was no electricity, just gas, gas mantles.

EB: 'Cos I remember that there were fields. Camp's Fields, it was called.

FD: Yes, Camp's Hill …. But they were well-built houses. In fact, I'm not much in the building profession but I've always said they were the best built, you know, structurally, council houses ever built in this town. Because Ekins were good tradesmen, weren't they? And a lot of people probably wouldn't even be interested in knowing this but the ones that were all brick, ' cos some were this rough-cast stuff. They was Blakey's red brick from Tonwell. Not Tonwell. Along the Sacombe Road ….

All: Stoneyhills!

FD: Stoneyhills, yes. They were Blakey's red brick and they was a rattling good brick, they were. And they were built by tradesmen. Oh, they were sound, but basic, you know. Because they've all been changed. They've all had electricity and, you know, very, very modern now. All mod. cons. now.

PR: Would the first people in Sele Road have been Hertford people or did people come from ….

FD: Well, there was some what we might call strangers but the majority of people were sort of local, like my own parents had been in accommodation but wanted to get into something better. And then you sort of get your name on a list until eventually they get you in somewhere, you know.

TB: I think Clara Basham, she was there most of her life, wasn't she?

FD: Who?

TB: Clara Basham, used to work in Graveson's.

PR: No.24!

EB: Oh, but they lived originally in Hartham Lane.

TB: Did they?

PR: She probably moved in at the beginnings of Sele Road, though.

FD: I didn't get the surname.

PR: Basham.

FD: Oh, Basham.

TB: I know. She had a sister living with her but she died.

FD: There was a Maudie Basham.

PR: Well, they were Hills before she married.

LD: Mr. Basham was not a local man.

LD: Am I right in thinking at that time Addis's were moving a lot of people from their factory outside and they were housing people over at Sele Farm?

PS: 'Cos, while we're on housing, Joan was saying she lived on Bircherley Green but most of those people went to the houses that had just finished being built at Horns Mill.

PR: Yes the timing would have been about right wouldn’t it, 1930’s. Sele Road probably was the first of the council’s.

AG: They were the first (discussion)

PR: Campfield Road, Hornsmill, Bengeo (discussion)

PR: Foxholes I had forgotten yes (discussion)

LD: That’s right yes

JN: and Mrs *****from railway Street (discussion)

LD: we moved up there, that’s 1933

MO: Because Bengeo came before Hornsmill didn’t it, Bengeo? (discussion)


FD: I thought it did, I thought the Bengeo Estate came before the original Hornsmill ones

TB: It did yes I am sure it did

PS: Because I moved from The Folly to Bengeo and the Hornsmill ones had only just been finished

FD: That’s the original Hornsmill ones. I am pretty convinced Bengeo was built first

EB: It was just New Road and Parkhurst wasn’t it in Bengeo I mean

AG: Not Parkhurst

All : Parker Avenue, Palmer Road, Gosselin Road and Revels Road

EB: Because it’s not so long since they were all redone is it

PR: No no

??: New kitchens, bathrooms and all that sort of thing, some of them they only had one tap in the house didn’t they.

??: That’s right

PR: But it bears out Fred’s point - although we think possibly Sele Road were the first, they weren’t the first to be modernised; the others were calling for modernisation earlier so the quality of the Sele Road structure is borne out.

FD: the structure was the best ever built.

PR: What about street names? We've done Maidenhead Street and The Maidenhead being in it and then with Parker Avenue, Palmer Road and Gosselin Road. Gosselin is Bengeo Hall.

AG: Admiral Gosselin.

PR: Where did they find some of the other names? Pearson Avenue of Horns Mill was the Pearson of Brickendon. But there are others I'm not too sure about.

PS: Lea Close in Hornsmill was close to Lea Hoe House which was then a closed order of nuns, wasn't it?

LD: Yes, it was a closed order.

PR: There's Horns' Close and Bayford Close well, they're presumably - Horns Close is easy. Bayford presumably means like Brickendon later ….?????? …. by village, does it?

HM: That's right.

FD: Going back not so far as the names you've just mentioned is the one in Bengeo named after Councillor Mansfield, is it? Is it Mansfield Close?

PR: Mansfield Gardens, yes.

AG: The one in Bengeo which always mystifies me is Parkhurst Road. It's a nice little road but, I mean, to me Parkhurst is a gaol. (laughter)

HM: I was born in a gaol, obviously (laughter) (discussion)

AG: Elton Road, yes. I mean, Elton is obvious, it’s Elton Longmore isn't it? How about Ives Road?

PR: Ives and Fanshawe.

AG: Fanshawe's O.K. Yes

PR: Fanshawe, we can manage. Farquhar, we can manage. Sir Minto. Ives, Byde, Wellington. It's going to be a big name, isn't it?

AG: Byde is the Bydes of Ware Park, of course, Peter. And we've got Nelson Street and Wellington Street. Balfour?

AG: Arthur James Balfour, M.P.

LD: What about Farquhar, how did it get that?

PR: Is the time right? (discussion)

AG: Balfour Street is 1870's on, isn't it?

PR: The Town Council's been a bit clever with one or two recent ones, or tried to be, when re-naming's come along but there are a lot in the dark. I mean, there's Liberty Close up at Horns Mill, that's between Pearson Avenue and there's a new development. Brickendon Liberty so we've brought that in. But I think most of us don't actually know about Liberty because Brickendon Liberty is the name give to the parish, as it were. And then the ones that will take a bit of unfathoming are Holden Court, I think it is, on Railway Street ….

AG: Well, I can explain that one. Holden Close, which is because it's on the site of the old Great Eastern Railway Station, of course, and James Holden and his son Sydney Holden were the chief locomotive superintendents of the Great Eastern Railway at the turn of the century.

PR: Roger Martin's brainwave, that was.

AG: He's a railway buff, too, is he?

PR: I tried hard to think of a sort of railway connection for that site. Foxholes has given us opportunities. We've got things to do with foxes and hunts and it's an industrial area really but there are little closes there but the one I wanted they won't accept. We'd got, what is there now? I've forgotten, now. We've got Vixens and, er …. I can't remember the ins and outs. I'll have to come back to that but I wanted Post Horn Gallop 'cos I thought that would be a nice address for someone but they wouldn't have it.

AG: Well, the corniest ones though surely are on Pinehurst, aren't they? I mean, Iron Drive and ….

HM: Golf course connections.

AG: It's an interesting thing if the streets off Ware Road, Townsend Street, Villiers Street, Currie Street, and Raynham Street, they've all got connections, of course, with the Balls Park family, the Townsends. But the thing that puzzles me is: I'm not quite sure how Davis fits in. But the thing that puzzles me, they all started life as roads and then became streets at sometime and I wondered why.

PR: Well, I learned from St. Andrew's School, from Mr. Munns, that street was an old-fashioned name and the association was with washing on lines and that sort of thing and roads ….(discussion)

HM: Road sounds rural and street is urban.

PR: But you're saying that it moved the other way round.

JN: It's funny, there again, how areas get one name: like Ash Street, Oak Street, Elm Street. The gaol which wherever you lived, was always called the gaol.

EB: It always struck me as very funny because I always connect Gallows Hill with a gaol.

AG: Presumably, Baker Street was Bakers of Bayfordbury was it?

TB: I'm not sure.

MO: Or it might have been the Bakers, the Solicitors, mightn't it?

EB: ….town clerk. Still stuck up in some notices. Baker, Town Clerk.

AG: Did he sort of own land there or something like that?

MO: They did own a lot of property in Hertford. Because they owned Evan Marks, for example, you know, at one time.

AG: Yes. I'd forgotten that Baker.

PR: While you're here, the town centre obviously, has been important in your life as it has been with nearly everybody here. Were you born actually …?

EB: Fore Street.

TB: Born in Fore Street.

EB: Very different. There was a cattle market in the middle of the street.

PR: I was going to ask about views from the window, yes.

EB: Yes, used always to watch from the windows and the ….

PR: I should think the windows were very important.

EB: …. horses being paraded up and down, decorated, you know, with … braided manes, and so on. Michaelmas Fair, they always used to have the horse parade and Bull Plain had the roundabout, swings and whatnot.

TB: Beautiful with all those brasses, ribbons on, you know.

FD: Yes, I'm trying to recall which part of Fore Street now is where your place is.

EB: It's a shoe shop now. True Form's.

??: Yes I knew it couldn’t be Sheffield’s and I knew it couldn’t be the Midland Bank near the clock isn’t it, is that the Midland? I knew it couldn’t be either of those and I often wondered where your place was.


EB: Lloyds bank was next to us in those days

??: Which side of Lloyds bank was your property - going through Fore Street or coming back towards the clock?

EB: Going towards Ware

??: Past Lloyds Bank towards Ware (discussion)

EB: Sheffield's was there when we were there. And Mr. Sheffield in those days was a great big fat man, wasn't he?

FD: That's right. Used to make lemonade.

EB: Do you remember him? With an old-fashioned wing-collar (discussion)

FD: Yes, they manufactured mineral waters.

EB: Oh yes, we used to stand and watch that.

TB: Oh yes, they used to make ginger beer.

EB: Glass stoppers in the top.

FD: Glass marbles. Knock 'em in with a little round wooden thing.

TB: He used to use a wire mask when he was working the machine because the bottles would explode.

HM: To protect the face and eyes, yes.

TB: The bottles with a marble in the top. Do you remember those?

All: Yes.

JN: In fact, I found a marble on Mrs. Warner's wall. The top was all broken bottles, you know, all the way along. And, I mean, I've been standing talking to her over the wall for years but this one particular year there was a marble.

Transcribers Note : Next door almost neighbours in Railway Street. Kept the paint and wallpaper shop ……refer to OH tape of Mrs Molly Warner

PR: So what would you have done on holidays from school, Eileen, to pass the time?

EB: The churchyard was our playground.

TB: Because our garden went right up to the churchyard.

EB: Used to take our bicycles up there because we weren't allowed on the road, didn't we?

TB: That bottom part of the churchyard was our playground. I learnt to ride my bicycle along there.

EB: Because there were a lot of children in Fore Street, quite a few.

TB: Oh yes, quite a few.

EB: You see, in our day, there were the five Pecks, weren't there?

TB: Then the Dimsdale was a lovely hotel in those days....

EB: …. children on and off.

HM: That was the best hotel in Hertford. The Council used to meet in that back room very often, I was told.

EB: Oh yes, there was quite a lot of us, weren't there, used to collect up in All Saints Churchyard.

JN: And there was a lot of children in Church street, wasn't there, at that time? The Braces and ….

TB: And there were the Bell family; Bells, lived near where the mortuary is. And, of course, Minnie Fentiman. Especially when they cut the grass at the bottom there; we always played in the hay field. You don't hear of children playing in the hay field how. I mean, when we were children, my mother used to meet us out of school, when we were small children, and take us down the Meads for a picnic, to play, when the hay was cut.

JN: And the stale cakes and lemonade crystals and we were all right for the day!

EB: And thought it was wonderful!

AG: And a bag of broken biscuits!

TB: There was the old swimming baths.

LD: Yes, Mr. Cannon.

TB: Females went in the morning and men in the afternoon. And we used to go down there to swim, didn't we, of a morning?

HM: The water was completely black. You couldn't see the bottom (discussion)

TB: It's where the pool is now. Well, it's empty, isn't it, that pool?

PR: The Paddling pool

Transcribers note: location and explanation on request to Peter Ruffles.

TB: The fence round it was the boxes, the dressing boxes.

ST: Do you remember being taught to swim?

JN: Yes, I do. I can't swim now but I can remember having my first lesson with this Major Cannon and his big stick and a thing round it and you was inside it and he used to walk up the side with it. I didn't go again!

ST: How was the stick used?

JN: Well, it was a long pole with something -

TB: A harness.

JN: …. on it and you was in it and he used to walk round with it, sort of thing.

TB: And also there was a board across the water.

LD: Yes, I can remember the board 'cos he let me under and I didn't go again.


TB: The swimming pool was the highlight of our summer holiday.

EB: We lived down there, didn't we? We had an older neighbour, you see, Una, that took us.

TB: Una Webb.

EB: It was up to here when I first went. We learnt to swim immediately (discussion)

TB: Our pleasures were simpler.

JN: We used to go fishing with a pole and a piece of string and a bent pin with a piece of bread on. We could sit there hours with a jam jar.

PR: Yes, simpler and no less enjoyable.

TB: We always used to go away in the holidays, didn't we, for a fortnight?

EB: Oh yes, we were always keen on swimming.

TB: Used to go to the sea for a fortnight.

EB: Another thing, we used to have a picnic in - it would be Whitsun or something - wild strawberries from Ware Park. Did you ever do that?

LD: Yes, that's right.

EB: There was a lot, ever such a lot, of wild strawberries and they taste gorgeous, you know.

AG: Oh, wild strawberries are a treat.

TB: That was at Ware Park – my family - used to take us there.

PR: We've probably got as much as Eve wants to transcribe.

TB: Did you used to come in from Goldings to school, Harold? I mean, did you have to walk (discussion)

HM: No, I'd left school by the time my parents moved to Goldings.

TB: But Hilda would have had to walk, wouldn't she - because she was at school with you, wasn't she, Eileen? - and think nothing of it in those days.

HM: No, I've walked from Hertford to Goldings. In fact, the only way to get from Goldings to Hertford was to walk. Buses were a rarity.

AG: It still is! (discussion)

AG: I work there, you see. How come you were at Goldings?

HM: Ah! My father was employed by …., Dr. Barnado's moved to Goldings in 1922, I think it was, and my father got a job there. Yes, so ultimately we moved to Goldings, one of the houses there.

AG: Oh, I see. Down Goldings Lane?

HM: No, they were built subsequent to my father working there. Yes, they were comparatively new. No, this was one of the older houses within the grounds, the Abel Smith family houses.

EB: You didn't live in the ghost house, did you? (discussion)

EB: I've known people who lived there. They've never stayed more than a few …. A very nice house. A square-built house on its own. Oh no, it's got poltergeists, ghosts, all, everything. It's most uncomfortable. They've had the clergy in with bell, book and candle, but it hasn't done anything. Haven't you heard that, Peter? It's the other end. Bramfield Lane end. It's not Chariton

AG: Oh, Broad Oak End, that way.

EB: But it really is. They can't keep dogs, cats, or anything. It's dreadful. And yet it's a lovely-looking house.

TB: Would it be Windy Ridge?

EB: Oh no, it's an old place. Windy Ridge is quite new.

PR: Can I ask Lydia just to mention Pemberton Billing,?

LD: Oh, yes. Do you remember Pemberton Billing'?

Chorus: Yes.

LD: Do you remember the red car he had that was built like a zeppelin?

FD: It was an old Bentley. It had the old running-board.

LD: That's right. But he had it designed like a zeppelin, didn't he?

PR: Your listeners will want to know who Pemberton Billings was, Lydia.

LD: Well, he was an M.P. and he put up against Sueter, didn't he?

FD: An Independent candidate.

LD: Independent.

FD: If I can interrupt just for a moment. He was the instigator of Farquhar Street. Billings Estate! He instigated the building of that. He lived in one of them ….

TB: He had wonderful ideas and he built this house, it's there now in the middle of the estate with a central fireplace.

AG: Revolving fire-place, yes.

TB: And it was all built round that.

LD: You're right, yes. Because Bill Allan and his wife they lived up there. You know, he used to work at Norris's, didn't he, Bill Allan? And, of course, the Allans lived near you, didn't they? (Pavitts Yard)

FD: That' s right.

LD: Yes, and I always remember I used to go and visit Bill and his wife and they used to talk about this house.

TB: Yes, it's in the middle of the estate, on the left-hand side.

HM: I have been in this house recently.

LD: You have?

HM: Yes, because one of the Civic Society members, who's gone to live in France now, I can't think of his name, we had a meeting in his house. I can remember that, and I said, "Was this the house Billing …. was this the house he built and lived in?" Yes.

MO: Not Riemsdijk?

HM: Yes, John van Riemsdijk

LD: There was a rhyme. I can't remember ….

TB: "Vote, vote Pemberton Billings." Carlyle. A man named Carlyle,put up, didn't he?

LD: Well, I can only remember him and Sueter.

TB: "Vote, vote, vote for Pemberton Billings. Stick old Carlyle in the eye." Something like that. Children used to go about the street singing this.

HM: I remember he captivated my father, Pemberton Billing. Oh yes, he was a great supporter of this Independent candidate. Most of us thought he was an old rogue, actually.

FD: In those days, wasn't a Mr. Hughes, the liberal?

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

FD: That would be in those same days, wouldn't it?

AG: Sueter took him into Court, didn't he?

LD: There was something; I can't recall.

AG: For libel.

JN: I've got a lovely picture of Sueter standing underneath the Shire Hall, Shaking my grandfather's hand. When he was about 90 something.

AG: Pemberton Billing virtually started the Super Marine Aviation works at Southampton.

TB: Do you remember when they used to put the platform outside the Town Hall and always give out the result of the election? That's not so long ago, really, is it? And people used to come to us to sit in our upstairs window to hear the result. Used to have crowds there in Fore Street.

Transcriber’s note: The Shire Hall and the Town Hall are the same building, it was known by both names simultaneously. Peter Ruffles aged 9 stood in crowd with a notebook to jot down result in 1951……alone, no parents!

HM: Pemberton Billing spent a lot of money getting himself elected; he tried to get himself elected. He took …., hired coaches ….

LD: Well, I should think it, because Dye's were collected because ….

HM: …. for fêtes. Absolutely corrupt, he was.

LD: I don't know when he left Hertford but my husband always said he could remember taking a lorry, which was Dye's lorry, down to one of the docks with all his belongings. So he probably went abroad somewhere. I don't know where he went from Hertford.

EB: But he wrote a book, Pemberton Billings, you know. And it came out quite a long while before the war. I've read it but it's very clever. He foretold everything that's happened over the last- what - 60 years! Jet engines, jumbo jets, which hadn't been thought of. It's all in that book. It's a novel. Really very clever.

HM: Subsequently he was regarded very much as, a maverick. A questionable individual.

AG: Oh, I think he was a maverick. I don't think there's any doubt about that.

HM: And he went on one …. you remember the old liners in those days going to Australia or somewhere? You never went by plane, you went by liner, didn't you? His wife, so it was said, fell overboard and was drowned. She was pushed, of course, by people who knew Pemberton Billings. He obviously pushed. But, that's libellous, I suppose.

PR: Yes!

HM: But, nevertheless, she vanished.

PR: …. but you'll get away with it!

AG: He gave at least one big children's party in Hertford, didn't he?

HM: Yes, at least one. Yes, I went. Yes, I can remember. I was, what? Yes, I can remember. I don't think I actually went but I can remember these parties taking place.

EB: (to Fred) Yes, because you said you went to some parties that he gave, didn't you?

FD: No, I don't ever remember going to a party.

EB: Oh, I thought you told me you went.

HM: I don't think I went. No, I think I was too old but, certainly, I can remember parties he gave.

FD: I think Josiah Wren also gave parties for children. But, no, I don't think I ever went to any, certainly not to Pemberton Billings, no. But he was, as you say, to do with aviation, wasn't he.

PR: Well, we've been talking for an hour and a half non-stop (laughter) and I am worried a bit about poor Eve who is going to listen to all that we've said and pull out bits and write down so we've got two records, really: a tape which will be complete, and then some highlights and bits and pieces. What may happen is we might, as we've done with Lydia, ask you to come again to one of these group sessions because there's more to tell, or we might ask you perhaps if you would talk one-to-one to one of us in the future about any particular thing. But, could you bear in mind that we don't want to double-up what we've talked about before but if you can think of areas, either geographical areas or topics that somebody you know might be able to speak about. People panic beforehand and think this is going to be a very stiff and serious thing and that if they make a mistake it's going to change the record for all time. As long as they realise it's just chatting and we accept that memories may fail, particularly dates. Wrack your brains and tell one of us if you can think who ought, at some point in the future chat to. Annie Inman was very good one to one. You've talked to Jim Morris from Horns Mill but there are plenty of other sorts of topic areas other than the one's we've covered this morning.

LD: We haven't learnt very much from Hertford really, have we?

PR: No spent an awful lot of time on the Green.

LD: This happened last time.

PR: But we'll formally stop there so Thora knows she can get rid of her houseful fairly soon but thank you all for your patience.


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