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Transcript TitleBedington, Kay (O1999.29)
IntervieweeKay Bedington (KB), Mary Beddington (MB) and Mary Ollis (MO)
InterviewerPeter Ruffles (PR)
Date27/11/1999
Transcriber byJane Page

Transcript

Hertford Oral History Group

Recording no. O 1999.29

Interviewees Kay Bedington (KB), former Divisional Education Officer for East Hertfordshire; Mary Bedington (MB), sister of Kay; Mary Ollis (MO)

Date 27.11.1999

Venue 50 The Drive, Bengeo

Interviewer Peter Ruffles

Transcriber Jane Page

Tape 1, Side 1

PR Hello

MB Cup of tea?

MO That’d be lovely. If you’re making it, but not...

KB I’ve got the kettle on, so…

MO Oh Good heavens! I’m not going to be interviewed.

PR It’s going to be the Bedington-Ollis show, this.

MO Oh, right. What a privilege.

PR Kay, I’m going to put it on your lapel, I think.

KB Put it where?

PR On your collar.

KB Put it where you like.

PR Don’t get excited.

KB I think you’re tormenting a ninety-year-old. Thank you.

MO Well, it’s jolly good of you Kay, but I think…

KB But my memory’s very bad now.

MO Well, mine is a bit shaky. It goes back rather a long way.

PR Well, let’s do the …

KB You’ve got the questions.

PR Well, we’re not going to interrogate you.

KB I don’t mind. I’ll answer as well as I can.

MO Peter, it did just occur to me, although it was the Hertfordshire County Council, before, I mean it was basically a Hertford Education Department. It was really run by Hertford people initially, and we owe a great debt of gratitude to them.

PR Yes, well.

MO And you know, in 1939 they moved up to County Hall, 1939. John Newsom was appointed in, I think, the autumn of 1939, and his appointment was quite interesting, because it was through the High Sheriff, Geoffrey Haslam. It stemmed from the connection between Hertfordshire and Durham, during the thirties, you know, the depression. There was…did you not know that?

PR No, no.

MO I mean, I think it might be just worth mentioning this, because there was this particular link. Some of the more affluent counties had unofficial links with the North East during the depression. I mean, for example, I remember, I think I mentioned it before, the Jarrow Marchers came down, and some of them were put up in the Corn Exchange on paliases, and we at school, Ware Grammar School, we had to collect, our charitable purposes were allocated to the unemployed miners in Durham. And John Newsom, who became really the first county education officer, he was only 29 when he was appointed, but he was running the Community Service Council in Durham, and because of the link, and Geoffrey Haslam, being High Sheriff (I think I’m right in saying High Sheriff), knew something of his work, and thought "ah, this is an impressive fellow, when we are sort of properly organised, we’ll need somebody like that to take over the Education Department". Before that, the titular County Education Officer, was in fact Howe, Mr Howe, who was a senior solicitor at Longmore’s. And it was all run really from Longmore’s, and with the help of (John Newsom always said it was eighty-two part-time clerks to governing bodies) but the official figure in the minutes, I think, is sixty. And I mean, I think it’s just worth knowing that, because he was the first person with a…. the first graduate to be appointed to the Education Department until 1940, June, and he proposed that Jack Longland should be the Assistant Education Officer.

KB Oh, I remember him.

MO Jack was…

KB He was up in digs at Hertford Heath, and I was in digs up there.

MO Was he, that’s interesting.

KB Had an eye for the girls.

MO Jack…Longland, yes probably, that’s interesting. How did you….Yes, he did, rather.

KB Not me.

PR You didn’t ask, "How did you know that?".

MO No, what I’m trying to say is the work was done by the chief clerks, who were all Hertford people, most of whom, with the exception of Frank Cowell, who ran secondary, had left school at 14, and done a short period in Longmore’s office, probably as office boys. It really was quite remarkable, because by 1940, 20,000 of that news???? had been planted in the county, and when you come to think of it, they had only just come together, such a short time before. I mean, I just thought I’d mention that as background.

PR I’ll nip out to the car.

MO I just thought I’d mention that as background.

KB The delightful woman who was in the chair, who was interviewing me, was a youth organiser apparently.

MO Yes it was Kay, you see.

KB There was a funny little man, with a baldhead, who sat like this, with his papers on his lap, and never raised his head, and he didn’t ask any questions, he didn’t do anything at all. And I thought, "well, I don’t know, what on earth is this?" And I’d been expecting…I’d given a reference to Mr Barnes, the headmaster of Earnseed ??? School, Arneside???, where I’d first started teaching, because it seemed the more…I’d done everything with the boys, I was only 21, and I’d done everything with boys, and it seemed the more appropriate experience, but I hadn’t thought they’d probably ask me why. So, I wasn’t at all surprised when he suddenly lifted his head and said "you gave one of your referees, Mr J. M. Barnes, who’s the headmaster of Earnseed School". So I said "yes, well, I know it’s a long time ago, but I thought that my experience there, when I did everything with the boys was more appropriate". I shared a room in college with his son, John. It’s amazing how it happens, these things crop up.

MO Crop up. So when did you… Betty Sparks was the County Youth Organiser, wasn’t she?

KB Oh yes. Oh gosh, she didn’t half make us do silly things.

MO She must have been appointed about …she was there when I went there, it must have been 1940 she must have been appointed. It must have been one of the first appointments.

KB Yes.

MO And she was, I suppose she was about the only sort of qualified woman in the whole department.

KB She made us do the most stupid things there.

MO Yes.

KB That really wore us out, and were quite useless.

MO Yes, yes, that’s interesting.

KB It was a pity really.

MO Yes.

MB Biscuit?

MO Oh I say!

MB You can dunk it.

MO I will, thank you, dear. I wonder where she came from, actually.

PR I’d better be mobile, I think – not far from the machine.

KB Then they decided they weren’t going to have Youth Organisers any more. They were dismissing all the Youth Organisers.

MO Can you remember what year that was?

KB 48?

MO 48.

KB Something like that, I think. So, they were only going to have further education officers, and we were all being dismissed, but we could apply, if we liked. Well, I forget what happened. I had been out with somebody the day before, one of the committee. We’d been trying to … a boy had been wanting to be released for day release, which we had got then for one day a week, and his boss wouldn’t let him, so the Chairman and I had gone out, and I had managed to persuade this man, and, so apparently, one of the committee told me afterwards, they said "no, it’s no good appointing a woman to a job like this, she can’t take these men", and he said "well, let me tell you…". That was my lucky stroke, you see, otherwise I wouldn’t have got it at all. Just a fluke.

PR So, shall we begin to record properly do you think? The machine’s there, where we can give the date. We’re saying sensible things.

MO What sort of questions, Peter, would you like to ask? I mean, how would you like to play it?

PR What I’d prefer, but you say. It would just be nice to trace Kay, and Mary can chip in where she’s appropriate. Kay’s arrival here, in this part, and her impressions and with yourself chronologically and go on.

MO 48 was a great year, wasn’t it? 48 was the year Kay came.

PR Yes.

MO As a County, District Youth Organiser.

KB Yes, they were advertising for a Youth Organiser. I met the father of somebody, who had once been a colleague of mine, who was teaching at what was then a school like Christ’s Hospital a school for girls here, and he said "there’s a post going, been advertised, which I think would suit you, in Hertfordshire". Sort of, never heard of the place.

MO I was going to ask you, had you heard of Hertford.

KB No, I don’t know.

MO Know its reputation at all?

PR Let’s trace that, then. Kay, you said that you’re now quite old.

KB 90. Go on.

PR Trying to stir you up a little bit.

KB I am 90, and fast becoming decrepit.

PR Ah, where were you born then, 90 years ago?

KB Moseley, Birmingham, right?

MB Yes.

PR And were your family…I remember your mother being here, but she moved to join you much later, did she?

KB Yes, oh yes.

PR Let’s trace things through. You stayed in Moseley for, until what sort of age?

MB One year.

KB One year. We moved to Streetley, which was 10 miles North of Birmingham.

MB A little village, near Sutton Coldfield.

KB Thank you. It was opposite Sutton Coldfield Park, which was heather and gorse, like the chase, you know, all wild.

PR Mmm.

KB The only thing was, that it was all right when you were small and you could join in with friends who had a governess, but after that you had got to go to King Edward’s School in Birmingham, go in by train every day. So, of course, they would only have you if you passed the entrance examination. Well, my English was perfectly all right, my arithmetic was absolutely appalling, and my father tried to teach me at night, but it ended in tears, didn’t it, do you remember?

MB Yes, I remember.

KB Night after night. And I went for the examination. Sit down and do a certain paper, and if you did well enough on that paper, do another, however they turned to me and said "thank you very much, but I’m afraid we can’t ask you to come again". So then they’ve got to do something with me. They didn’t have any money. They didn’t know what to do, and it happened then, it was Auntie May Wood wasn’t it?

MB Somebody

KB Mother was meeting a friend, and she had with her either a friend or a relation who was living near Dolgelly, and she said, "Well, you know, there’s an endowed school, Dr. Williams’ School, Dolgelly. It’s an endowed school, and the fees are very little, and you might get them paid for you anyhow, so why don’t you see if she could go to that?" So, at the age of 10, I went to a boarding school. That’s a thing I’d never do with a girl of my own, but I enjoyed it thoroughly.

PR Ah.

KB Trouble is, you see, if all your friends are scattered, when you get home you haven’t got the friends there, but, no, it was…

MB Dr Williams apparently endowed the school in Dolgelly, one in South Wales and there’s the Dr Williams Library in London.

MO Really.

PR Did you make the same sort of moves, Mary, then? Were you also away at school?

MB I was away at school, yes, but I left earlier and went to work for our father. Our father had to go into his father’s business in Birmingham. He wasn’t a businessman; he’d have been better as a teacher, wouldn’t he?

KB Yes, he would, much. He was a hopeless businessman.

MB The business was fittings, window fittings for trains, in the days when they had balances. And he enlarged it to do ships’ compasses, of all things, in the middle of Birmingham, and father did ship’s compasses for fishing boats and also he did the little Scout compasses, and so on. Never flourished his business, did it? However, I went to work for him.

KB It was an awful shame, you shouldn’t have.

MB About, until I was 25 or so, nearly 25, and it was only then that, out of the blue, a friend of my grandmother’s in Edinburgh left me some money to go to ??? in Edinburgh, so father’s business was just about finishing then, so I went back and trained, not for teaching of course, I did a one year training for domestic science. And got a job in a girls’ school down in Warwickshire, cooked there for a bit, a lady cook. It was very nice; it was outside Warwick, a lovely position, very nice school. Then I went to Oxford High, and I was in Oxford High for 4 years. I had a year there; I went as a sort of supervisor on the domestic side, which meant I had nothing to do. If the cook wanted a spoon, I’d spend the morning going down to Oxford and buying a spoon. After a year, they wanted a housemistress for the boarding house, and I was there for 3 years and you stayed with me there, once or twice, didn’t you, that was lovely. And then I went back to my original girls’ school, because it had two principals and they both retired. I was very friendly with the one who took on being principal, and I went back there as housemistress in charge of the girls. And I stayed there, and then I thought "I don’t want to spend the rest of my life stuck out here, enjoyable as it is", so it was Killiban??, who suggested (you must have been here, then, living in Cheshunt, I think) and he suggested that I trained to teach, so, I was very aged when I trained to teach. Looking at me in horror at the interview, and saying "well, you’re…", (I can’t think how old I must have been. I suppose I must have been, I think I must have been in my late thirties) "what if they want you to play hockey?". I said, "oh, I still play hockey, regularly." So that’s when I went up ??? just after the war, because, I went into one of the emergency training colleges, you know, temporary, and you were living here then, in Cheshunt.

KB Cheshunt.

MB Kay had both parents living with her in Cheshunt, because they couldn’t cope at home, so they came up to Cheshunt, and I got down at weekends from London.

MO Kay, after you left school, did you go to university?

KB Well, it’s rather interesting really, because I was seventeen when I left school, and my father took me, to register me for commercial training.

MO Yes.

KB And, the head of the training department at Birmingham University was alongside, and she said "no, don’t. I think it would be very much better, if she says that she will teach, then she can get her three years at the university free, and then do a training year afterwards, provided that she says that she will go and teach." So I said "but I don’t know if I should like to teach, or be able to teach". They said "well, never mind, that’s what you’d better do". So, father sat me down doing the papers, and she said "date of birth?" and I told her, and she said "no, that’s a year wrong isn’t it?" and I said "no". She said "but you’re only 17", and I said "yes". She said "you have to be 18. Well, I haven’t noticed it, have I?" So that’s how I got in.

MO That’s rather interesting, because, when I was first at county Hall, it was in exactly, well, a similar manner. People would be surprised now, I think, because I decided in November 1940, when I was still at Ware Grammar School, after Dunkirk, that I really couldn’t face three years at the university. I was about to take an entrance exam. for Girton, in history, being schooled, you see. There weren’t many people who got their higher school certificates in those days, only about three of us, I think, and I thought "oh, I can’t bear to think of three years at Cambridge, you know, it would be such a monastic life up there, no fun at all". And I remember Miss W??? coming to me in the sixth form, one lunch hour, and she looked at me in a rather severe way, and she said "well, Mary, if you will persist in this stupidity, the County Education Officer’s been on the telephone, he’s got a job in his general office. You’d better go up and see what it’s all about. You must write a letter to apply." So, I wrote the letter to apply in a great sort of state of anticipation, because I’d no qualifications at all. Well, apparently, I was called to go up about two days later, but apparently, when Newsom had been looking through the applications, there were several applications apparently, Frank Cowell, who was in charge of secondary education, sat in front of him.

KB Little Cowy???.

MO Little Cowell, bless him, who was the chief clerk of the secondary department, and Newsom was looking at these applications, and he said "oh, there’s some silly girl, who actually hasn’t even put her address on", and Mr Cowell stepped forward, and said "well, sir, may I just have a look at the letter?" and he looked at it, and he saw that it was from me. And he said "ah", he said "yes, she may have been forgetful on this occasion, but I think she’s worth seeing". So, I worry over the fact that I went up there, and then I think he almost immediately said "you can come into the general office and turn the duplicator". This wasn’t at all the aspirations of my parents, who had always said "well, if you don’t go to the university, you’ll have to go into the haberdashers department at Gravesons". So that’s how it happened, but it is interesting because the situation has changed so much now, and when I was there, of course, there were no graduates at all, no women graduates. The first one was appointed about 1943, I think, Margery Philips, who was in charge of special education. It wasn’t really until after the war, that graduates came onto the staff at all.

MO Thank you.

MB More tea?

PR No thanks.

KB No, they advertised they were putting Youth Officers in, and I happened to meet the father of a former friend of mine, who was teaching at what was then a school here for, it was like the boys’…

MO Chapmore End.

KB No. It was in Hertford, what was the name?

PR Not Kingsmead?

KB No. The school here – the boys’ school had uniform, and the girls’ school…

MO Not Christ’s Hospital?

KB Christ’s Hospital. It was Christ’s Hospital, and he got a…I think his daughter was here or something, somebody here. And he said "well, you know, I know you’re not really very happy where you are, because I said….

MB That’s when you were first coming to Hertford, wasn’t it?

KB I wasn’t in Hertford then.

MB No, I said that was what made you come and have your interview.

KB Yes, because, I’m sorry I’ve lost….

PR Where would you have seen…Was the youth officer post advertised, or did he just know of it?

KB The post was advertised. One had to apply for it, you know. And I didn’t really know anything about this, but I’d seen the father of a friend of mine, whose daughter was at the school here, and he said "well, you know, I know that they’re advertising for youth officers, and I know that you’re not (I’d been seconded then to do part-time youth work), I know you’re not happy where you are, you’re not getting any opportunity to use your own initiative, why don’t you apply?" And I said "I don’t know anything about Hertford, I’ve never heard of it." And I forgot about it. I was very busy. I met him again about a week later, and he said, "did you apply for that post?", and I said "oh no, I didn’t". So, I rang up…. He said, "Well, do something about it." So I rang up somebody who had been my headmistress when I was teaching before, she’d married and retired, and said, "do you know anything about this, I don’t know what Hertford’s like?" And she said "no, but I’ll tell you who does know", and gave me the name of one of the officials, education officials, I knew quite well, and said, "ring him up and ask him what he knows about it". So I rang him up, and he said "oh, yes, Hertfordshire, John Newsom, oh yes, I know him well. Well, if it’s scope you want, and I imagine that’s what it is, he’ll give you plenty of rope, but mind you don’t hang yourself." That was absolutely true, of course, John was extremely good, he did, didn’t he?

MO Yes, he did. But, if anybody made a dreadful mistake, you knew that he would always be there to support you. He always supported people in committee; this was very, very significant.

KB I was very fortunate really.

PR So what did the job involve, Kay, the first role that you played in Hertfordshire?

KB As a youth organiser?

PR Yes.

KB Well, it really meant trying to get people to…going round to youth clubs, and trying to put life into them if they hadn’t got it, or trying to boost the morale of the leaders, trying to get local people involved in taking an interest in them. Not as leaders, but going in and taking part in things with the youngsters sometimes, you know.

PR And was it East Hertfordshire as a sort of division, then that was your area?

KB Oh, there was no North Herts in those days, so my area went up to the Cambridge border, and down to Waltham Cross.

PR Yes.

KB It had a lot, what did I have? 2 further education places, grammar schools at Hertford, Ware, Herts and Essex, Bishop’s Stortford, Sawbridgeworth, no, Sawbridgeworth wasn’t a grammar school.

MO That was a senior secondary school, at that time.

KB And at lot of other schools, some run we organised, you see.

PR So were the youth clubs associated directly with the school?

End of Side 1

Side 2

PR Yes, yes.

KB And you had to get the authority to agree to pay a leader, and that was a difficulty.

MO Yes, yes.

PR Yes. When I went to Baas Hill School, and failed to take your advice, (you told me not to).

KB Oh, well, I was glad you did, because you did it a good deal of good, but all the same. He was a shocker.

PR Yes. It turned out all right because he wasn’t there long, but you weren’t to know that at the time. Neither was I. But, at Baas Hill there was a youth club attached to the secondary school.

KB Yes.

PR That Lionel Fiddiman ran, and he used to boast about his…

KB Oh.

PR Earlier contacts with you, through the Youth something or other, but that was cadets wasn’t it?

KB Yes, it was.

PR That he originally worked with. He was a tricky…

KB He was really. His wife, Betty Fiddiman, was delightful.

PR Yes.

KB But he was a shocker, John.

MB But you had some that weren’t connected with schools.

MO Yes.

KB Did I?

MB I say you had one youth club above a shop in Hoddesdon. That was no connection with a school, was it?

KB No.

MB You had to go over and more or less run that, as far as I remember.

KB Oh that was connected with the church, wasn’t it? What did we do? There was a church at the top of the hill, wasn’t there?

MB Yes, there was a church at the top of the hill.

KB And I persuaded them to let us use their…

MB That was above a café, I think, in the main street.

KB Oh had it.

MB Above a café in the main street.

KB Oh no, no, no, not above a café. I had it there, by the church. They had a room, they let us have a room, and we were supposed to leave at… the last ones, I was only allowed to have it if they all left by I think it was 10 o’clock or something like that, you know. And I know I had to go, I was not living there then, I had to go back to Stanstead Abbotts, didn’t I? Which was quite a walk from.

MB No, you were in Hertford Heath, weren’t you?

KB No, I wasn’t, I was with Miss Woodhead in…

MB Oh, in Ware.

MO Oh, you lived with Miss Woodhead, or were billeted on Miss Woodhead.

KB Yes, with Miss Woodhead.

MO I see, yes.

KB She called me "Miss Bedington", you see, so I said to her "oh, don’t call me Miss Bedington, everybody calls me Kay", and she had that funny little laugh, "aha", so she said "aha, what would you like to call me?" and her name was Hilda, so I was just going to say "Hilda", when she said "you could call me auntie". I said "no, thank you", I had a lot of non-real aunts.

MO Poor Miss Woodhead.

KB I called her "Miss Woodhead" to the end.

MO Yes, yes.

PR So, what is the date, very roughly, of this work? It’s forty…

MO Youth work?

PR War time, was it?

MO Yes, it stemmed, didn’t it Kay, from the Board of Education, Youth Movement. I forget the date of the circular, but they produced a circular. It was very much sponsored by a man called K.F. Lindsey, who was the parliamentary secretary to the Board of Education. In a sense it was an educational, but it was also a slightly political movement. It had its beginnings really as a counter action to the German youth movement. They were greatly influenced by the German youth movement, and it was accelerated during the war because, well, partly to create good, healthy young men and women, and it certainly was originally partly a political movement.

KB Mmm, because when one wanted to start a youth club, first of all one had to get a group of adults who would be a managing committee, all of whom would agree to take a turn in staying in and sort of policing the place, you know, and that wasn’t very easy, and you did get some very good groups.

PR What was Lionel Fiddiman doing, then?

KB John Fiddiman.

PR John, yes, he was Lionel John. Was it in Buntingford or Hoddesdon?

KB It was in Hoddesdon, but I can’t remember what his actual job was.

PR He had something to do with the Haileybury Boys’ Club, I think.

KB That’s it.

PR It’s coming.

KB Yes, I’d forgotten Haileybury Boys’ Club.

PR Other things to do with the cadets, but that was quite separate with the army

KB That was separate, but he was Haileybury.

PR So, he was tricky, was he?

KB Yes, he was, very unreliable.

PR Yes. I’m going to take my pullover off, if you don’t mind.

KB Very unreliable.

MO And really, the great and the good, so to speak, in the county were represented on the County Youth Committee and the County Youth Advisory Committee, which supported it, and I always thought it was so interesting that George Brown, in those days, who was the trade union (later to be foreign secretary) he was the trade union representative for the Transport and General Workers’ Union, happened to be on the County Youth Advisory Committee.

KB Yes.

MO And I remember him quite well

PR Mm, gosh. He was a Londoner, wasn’t he? So not so far from base, really.

MO He was, certainly. Yes. He used to sort of come in and out. I was almost a doorkeeper to the Education Officer, and he used to say, "What’s the form, this morning?" And there used to be difficulties, because one cooking depot, which shall be nameless, not Hertford I hesitate to mention, was in dreadful trouble because, it being in the time of rationing, they’d misappropriated a great deal, a great big consignment of jam.

KB Oh.

MO Strawberry jam. The whole of that particular depot, I think, was threatened with the boot, and George Brown was negotiating on behalf of this member of his.

PR So, Kay, we’d better move on, otherwise we’ll never get you into the post of Divisional Education Officer.

KB I don’t know how I did. I don’t myself know how I got there really.

PR Well.

MO Who did you succeed, if I might ask?

KB Joyce Harcross???wasn’t it M.?

MO Was it?

MB I thought Joyce was there a bit after you.

MO When did Jack Boyce, wasn’t he…

MB Jack Boyce came after you, didn’t he?

MO Did he?

KB No, no, before, because, oh that’s right, I was doing youth work, and they were just making it into further education. And it was March. It was a lovely March. And they said that Jack couldn’t be released. John Newsom had seen Jack in the army, and was determined he was going to have him, and he said to me, who had never done anything like it in her life, "well you can just carry on until he can be freed". And he wasn’t freed until March. Well, at that time you had to, places like Hoddesdon, the different schools’ managers met and had a meeting, and you had to go and clerk their meeting, you know, and then do the minutes, and do the same thing in a group of Hertford schools. And I was sitting up in bed at night drooping over the minute book, you know, when I was trying to write up the minutes from the notes that I had taken, and, when at last Jack arrived. Mary, do you remember him?

MO I do indeed, in fact…

KB Handsome and bursting with energy and enthusiasm.

MO Indeed I do in fact remember…

KB I became very fond of him, but, it was a March day, and we were going out. He said, "I’d like you to take me over to Bishop’s Stortford, I don’t know that area at all, so I’d like you to take me over there, this afternoon". And as we were driving across to Bishop’s Stortford, this lovely March afternoon, he suddenly said, "God, to think we’re paid to do a job like this." And I nearly slapped his handsome face; I was so tired, you know. And when we got there he said, "well, come on, we’ll go and have a cup of tea first". We went into a restaurant, and had a cup of tea. I was horrified. You know, but it was… He was very good and he taught me a lot.

PR He went on to …where did he go from here?

MO Well Jack went as… Jack Boyce went as a deputy in East Sussex, and then eventually he went to be… he succeeded… I forget his name now, he became the Director of Education for Liverpool, er Lancashire.

KB Lancaster.

MO Which was one of the biggest jobs, Lancaster.

KB Yes, I went up to stay with him there.

MO I went up once or twice, on courses. But, when Jack was appointed, of course, people were rushing back into…

KB Yes, men were coming…

MO Jobs. I think there was a real feeling that people wanted to be involved in education just after the war, and you still had this great spirit of building a New Jerusalem. And if I remember rightly, when Jack first was appointed, there were at least a hundred applications. I was told…

KB I remember. That of course, that was where Newsom was so good, because he would look at applications from men and women.

MO Yes.

KB And he was fair about it, but that was practically… I remember somebody coming to me, I knew, and saying "a friend of mine’s just come down from, I don’t know, some other authority, and she won’t believe that there’s a woman education officer, will you come and show her?" And I said, "why not?". "We never had anything like that. They wouldn’t have a woman with us."

MO In fact there was only one woman education… County Education Officer or Director, all through the war, there was only one, Miss Scott-Baker, who was the acting Education Officer for Wiltshire, oddly enough, all the rest were men. And it is very remarkable, when you look round now, and see how many women have got the top job.

PR Mmm. Were you the only divisional education officer, female?

KB No. Audrey Fitzjohn, wasn’t it Audrey?

MO Audrey and Rita Chester.

KB Rita went.

MO Yes.

KB Almost immediately.

MO There had been three.

KB And Audrey was.

PR How long were…You were appointed in 1948, is that right?

KB I think so, I hope so.

PR We can check it.

MO Yes, we can check it.

KB How long had I been here?

MB It was 1948 you came. When you became Education Officer, I don’t know.

MO Was that about the time when they were raising school leaving age, 1948?

KB What?

MO Raising school leaving age.

KB Yes.

MO And building all the awful huts.

PR I think it was. Yes. Oh.

KB I was preached against from the pulpit in one of the Pelhams, by name, as trying to deny children the right to become Christians. Which was a little hard really, because the Pelhams and there was one other village, I forget what, were absolutely abysmal because there were hardly any children, and the schools were terrible, you know, there were hardly any children there, the teacher was… it was really awful. And after talking to parents and heads, and everybody concerned, and the priests, who agreed with me, I arranged for a coach. I got permission to put on a coach and take them. Collect the children as they went and there were three schools they could go to: there was a Church of England aided school, there was a Church of England controlled school, there was a county school, and I arranged that they could be dropped off at any one of those that the parents wanted, you know. And it all seemed…well, it was, it was a jolly good arrangement and I got the transport agreed, which was very unusual, and then????? Don’t need it???.

MO Yes, because you were providing the opportunity for them to go to the state school, the controlled school.

PR Of course.

KB It’s funny.

PR And the changes that must have happened in the course of your reign were enormous, both secondary and primary level, the school building programme for a start.

KB Yes, I was wondering where… Oh, yes, some of the schools…Well, first of all we were given a little money, at last, for capital expenditure, and there was the most ghastly school in Stansted Abbotts. It was really absolutely awful, and dark and miserable, and so I thought, "well they should be the first people", and I got the committee to agree that I should offer them the first money to put electric light in. And there was an old boy there; Raymond Shrubbs, a funny old boy, and I went to see him. And he came to the door, he hadn’t a clue who I was, and he said, "ah, come in, have you ever seen a baby reindeer???bathed?" So I said "no", "oh, it’s very interesting, I’ve just been watching", so he told me all about it. So, at last, I said, "look, I’m awfully sorry, but I think you’re mistaken, I don’t think you know why I’ve come," you see, and I said what it was: that we thought we’d like to offer you a chance to put electric light into the school. "Oh, no, no, it’s been good enough since for ages, we don’t want any more, thank you very much, very kind of you. And I had to get the chairman of the schools sub-committee, who was, oh he was lovely, he was the vicar of one of the villages, I forget now, he was a delightful person, and he was head of the schools sub-committee, and I had to get him to come with me, to tell his fellow priest just what he thought about it. Then he did see sense.

MB You had he same thing in a village school with lavatories, didn’t you?

KB With what?

MB With lavatories, when you wanted the lavatories to be put inside, and they said "oh, no, we’ve always had them outside across the playground.

KB That was the managers. I met the managers of one of the little village schools, and it was husband and wife. It was a very sort of royal, almost royalty, you know, and the "down theres". I went to say that we would put in toilets, and he said, "huh, toilets, don’t want those, been good enough for us for years, huh, good enough for these people, they always used… my people have gone on using ??? for ages. Which is why we had to intervene then, and say, you know.

PR Did St. Andrew’s, Hertford feature at all in your troubles, because it was a pretty primitive building in Hertingfordbury Road.

KB Yes, it did, but what was it?

PR Miss Hilda Annie Smith.

KB Yes. I can’t remember. I did have some bother there.

PR We all were made to read Garroway Gamble, she was a great disciple of Newsom’s, yes, it was a class book.

MO Hope you didn’t recognise me in it.

PR Were you?

MO Under another name.

PR Oh, well.

MO Yes, it was based, if it isn’t side tracking, it was based on the fact that the Newsom family had spent a holiday on a hired cruiser on the Norfolk Broads, and in 1951, when the Hertfordshire Educational Foundation was established, they brought together all the obsolete educational foundations in the county, where the original deeds had been overtaken, and there were no more purposes, and they formed under the council, the Hertford Educational Foundation. And one of the first things Newsom decided to do, of course, through the trustees, was to establish a camp in Norfolk, a sailing camp, to give young people the opportunities that people, more affluent people were getting at Cowes or what ever, and that was one of my responsibilities to start that.

KB He also arranged for us to go for a weekend to some place, a college, or something, where we were entertained over the weekend and he got people to come and talk to us about anything and everything but not education.

MB Hitchin, Hitchin, I expect.

MO I wonder if it was, or whether it was in fact at Balls Park?

KB No.

MO It wasn’t, because he had a very interesting group of celebrities talking to teachers at Balls Park.

KB Yes.

MO Including Marie Rambert, who founded the Ballet Rambert, Marie Rambert, and André Simon, the bon viveur, who wrote books on wine, and I think was president of the Wine and Food Society, and the chairman of the Arts Council Poetry Panel, and one or two others, and that was at a similar time, to broaden teachers’ outlook, really, beyond education.

KB Yes, we used to be invited to this, and he got really interesting, some really interesting people to talk to us.

MO Yes, and of course there was the Director General of the Arts Council, the first Director General, who succeeded Mary Bradstow. During the war the Arts Council was coaching in music and the arts, and W.E. Williams, who had been the head of ABCA???, Army Educational Corps during the war, became the first chairman of, the first Director of the Arts Council, and I remember he came on several occasions.

PR We’d better just, Mary, put some dates on, when…because the Hertfordshire education thing was so big, wasn’t it, with the architectural developments and the philosophical moves that it gave the nation really, or that’s what we were…

KB We worked very closely with the county architect’s department.

MO Yes, well, I can tell you, Peter, that the first post war, the first conference on post war architecture was held in 1941 or early 1942, to discuss the post war planning. That was really before the architect’s department as such had been properly established, before then it was part of the surveyor’s department, and it was before Herbert Asland had been appointed the chief architect. So people were thinking about building new schools as early as 1941, 42.

KB The Chief Architect had a French wife, yes?

MO Mrs Asland.

KB What was his name?

MO Herbie, Herbert.

KB Oh no, I’m thinking of Asland.

MO Asland, that was the surname.

PR Yes, yes.

MO I don’t think she was French, was she?

PR Well, she had…

KB She wasn’t English.

PR Continental mannerisms, I know that.

MO Ah, yes, that is perfectly true, but I honestly don’t think she was French.

PR She adopted them.

MO She wore big hats, full of fruit and flowers and flowers, and there was the famous story when the Aslands, (he had previously been the architect in Derby actually) but the great story when they went to a funeral at the crematorium at Golders Green, and Mrs Asland took her great big hat with flowers off, put it at the back of the car and adopted a nice, suitable toque, but unfortunately, as the story goes, the funeral directors thought this was one of the wreaths and placed it on the coffin.

MB She used to walk across the road quite oblivious of the traffic.

KB Absolutely.

MO Yes, I think she came from Derbyshire.

PR And then Geoffrey Fardell who lives at the end of your garden…

MO Oh, bless him.

PR Was his number two, or…a bit later.

MO Yes, because Geofrey, I think was in the surveyor’s department actually before the war, and then he went off to the war, and then he came back after the war. And, actually, one of his first jobs in the architect’s department was furnishing the expanding county offices for more staff coming in and all that sort of thing, but he took over as deputy.

PR And working for them or with them were people like Bruce Martin, who was the Morgans, now listed, building.

MO That’s right, yes, they established pretty early on, I can’t remember the exact date that Asland was appointed, probably about ’43 or ’44, and they established some groups of young architects to develop the school buildings of primary schools and secondary, and Bruce Martin, if I remember rightly, led the primary group. And Morgan’s road was one of the first. Essendon and Cheshunt were the two first ones to be built after the war, from the prefabricated materials.

PR So we had all this great movement of buildings.

MO Yes.

KB And you had your surveyor for each division.

MO Yes, yes.

PR And then divisional officers who came into place at the end of the war really.

MO I think it was as early probably as 1941 or ’42, when a report was put up to the education committee. It was called really "The Establishment of Divisional Education Officers", and the proposal then was to replace the 60 part-time clerks to governing bodies, who were mainly local solicitors in the area with full-time staff.

PR And then Newsom, say again, how did he arrive here, how did Hertfordshire capture him?

MO Well, I think up to 1939, although responsibility for education was delegated to the County Council, much of the actual work was done in Longmore’s, the solicitor’s office. And Elton Longmore was the Clerk to the County Council, and then, when the building was completed, I think it was 1939, they moved up from Longmore’s in Castle Street into County Hall. He remained the Clerk to the County Council for quite a long time, and he was a very impressive character.

PR So, at that stage, this is pre-Newsom still.

MO No, well yes, when they were at Lomgmore’s, yes.

PR So the schools that were covered in the war let’s say, or in the ’41 period that you mentioned, were the primary schools and secondary schools and grammar schools?

MO Senior schools and grammar schools, yes, yes. I think there were probably about, I don’t know how many primary schools there were in the county as a whole. There were about 12 grammar schools and about 70 senior, reorganised after Haddow??? Report.

PR As Education Officer, when he arrived, Newsom was in his twenties?

MO He was 29 when he was appointed.

KB Who was?

MO Newsom.

KB 29.

PR That’s phenomenal, isn’t it, by any…

MO Yes, that’s very interesting.

PR And then Jack Longland?

MO Jack Longland was appointed about a year later.

PR To what post?

MO Assistant Education Officer, and there were no other qualified, degree people involved in ..

KB Carr and Ensum???

MO Carrly, Ensum, Sapsted and Wheatcroft and..???

PR Charlie, Charlie Ensum ?

MO Yes.

KB But it was Carr and Ensum who were the backbone…

MO Yes, yes.

KB And they were so good, because when the Divisional Officers came, you know, they had to come to us and ask this and that, and they were so good, because they had done it for so long, and they never made us feel uncomfortable. Carrly was lovely.

MO They were incredible really, because…I don’t know how they’d acquired it, before they dictated…

End of Tape 1 Side2

Tape 2 Side 1

KB Yes, and, he was given to me. He used to come in and say, "Kay, your memory’s better than mine, what about so and so?" He hadn’t a memory, and he was hopeless. He really was. He was a liability.

PR So let’s see for our listeners, we must think of them rather than ourselves, at the moment. Pecking orders and things. We’re talking now, let’s say, about 1950, let’s put a rough date on it. And there’d be Newsom at the top, Longland?

MO No, no, he left.

PR He left quickly, did he?

MO He became the Chief Education Officer for Dorset in about 1943.

PR Dorset, was it? Right.

MO Might have been 1942, 43, and he was succeeded by Alan Chorlton. Do you remember him?

KB Who?

MO Chorlton.

KB Yes.

MO Yes.

PR You’ve got an Education Committee with members.

MO Yes.

PR An Education County Officer sitting in the centre under the committee, and then the Divisional Education Officers immediately below the Chief and his deputy.

KB There were only District, then, you didn’t have any….

MO District, yes, yes.

PR Did you have…I’m trying to understand who you would have been answerable to, Kay, apart from the Good Lord, in all that you did. I mean did you have to furnish reports to the County Officer?

KB Well…

PR Or were you, or did you deal direct with…

KB He kept an eye on us, didn’t he?

MO Yes, the District Education Officers all came together once a month.

KB That’s right, oh, I’d forgotten them. We had those ghastly monthly meetings. I’d quite forgotten those.

MO Well, they weren’t meant to be ghastly. They were meant to create teamwork. How were they ghastly?

KB They were very funny, very often.

MO Yes, yes.

KB I can’t remember why now, but I know sometimes we found it very difficult to control our mirth.

MO Oh, yes.

KB I think it was really because, oh, who took them?

MO I think Newsom usually took the chair.

KB No, no. Oh, who was his deputy?

MO Gourd?

KB Who?

MO After Alec Chorlton it was Sidney Gourd.

KB Yes, no, it wasn’t Sidney, I think it must have been in Chorlton’s time. He couldn’t remember and had to ask, you know, the clerk who sort of prompted him, like Currell???, prompted him

MO Yes, yes.

KB While we sat round.

MB Was Joyce ??? or was she over you, or was she?

KB Oh, no, I succeeded Joyce.

MB You succeeded Joyce.

MO She went off to Nigeria, didn’t she?

KB Yes, That’s right.

PR So Currells were around longer than I’d realised then in the education world. Are we talking about one of the three bachelor brothers?

MO Yes, yes, there was Reg.

KB And a sister.

MO And Amy, the sister.

PR Bertie and Frank.

KB That’s it.

PR And Frank was the youngest.

MO Frank, I think, went to the grammar school.

KB He was our little Cully???

PR He was trilby, wasn’t he, Bertie was bowler and Reg was cap.

MO Yes.

KB That’s right.

MO And Miss Amy.

PR Yes she had a little pomeroy??? dog. So, I didn’t realise that Frank’s connection with education went on as long as it did.

MO Oh, it did, yes.

PR He started in darker years, as it were, and then moved into the enlightened times of the new age.

MO The fifties, because I left in 57 and I think Currell was still around.

KB He could answer any question you wanted to ask. He could help you out of all sorts of difficulties, and always did.

MO And he was a great support to the heads of the secondary schools. They all had a tremendous respect for him. One of the interesting things, I think, Kay, is the people who actually served on the committees, on the district committees and particularly on the education committee, and the County Council in those days, because many of them were still very much the landed gentry. I can remember being terrified every time Sir Lionel Faudell-Phillips came in to see the Chief education Officer, In his great big lovett green tweed cloak, rather like an eighteenth century gentleman, and the then Marchioness of Salisbury, a very distinguished lady, she was constantly coming in. It was probably in Hertfordshire, as well, the landed gentry, or people who had connections dating back, say to the eighteenth century, like Woodhouse, Major Woodhouse of Woodhouse Marsala?

KB Major Woodhouse, fortunately, approved of me.

MO Yes, he did.

KB Otherwise life would have been extremely difficult.

MO Yes; yes that’s true.

KB He had quite a say in things, didn’t he?

MO Yes, he did.

KB But, he was good, and he would come and help if I were in trouble, I would say, "could you come?" and he would do that.

MO Of course, Harold Williams, who was the chairman of the education committee all through this time, who was, so to speak, the lord of the manor at Aspenden, he was a great scholar. He was a great scholar on Swift. He’d come in his Rolls Royce driven by a chauffeur. Very different nowadays.

KB He interviewed candidates when I was appointed further education officer, would it be?

MO Yes.

KB One of…’cause I remember going in, you know, and he was in the chair, and he would of course… what I did do, I was youth organiser going out at night, night after night I was visiting clubs and things, and he asked me, "did I feel that I would be able to drive at night?"

MO Can you imagine it? Can you imagine it?

KB I said, "Yes, I was quite used to it".

MO I don’t know if he drove himself, I can’t remember. And then there was Bedington, General, Brigadier Bedington.

KB Oh yes.

MO I’m sure it was your…

KB Well, yes, there was a nasty little story that our uncle had about them, because of course their name was taken from the town of Bedington, you see. It wasn’t their name at all. They were Jews, and I forget what their name was.

MO Yes, they were, that’s true, yes.

KB It was something like Moses, or whatever it was.

MO Yes, Moses Bedington.

KB It wasn’t Moses, but it was an equally biblical name, you know, a Jewish name, and Bloch???, our uncle said when he took on the name, this man took on the name of Bedington, some joker pinned on his door "and the Lord said unto Moses, or Isaiah, or whatever it was, "Good morning Mr. Bedington".

MO He was also chairman of the county finance committee, Bedington, and I remember in some of the letters which I sent over to the county records office, there was one letter, which I suppose I’d typed from Newsom, asking for approval to his… Well actually the letter was, the first two or three paragraphs consisted of a discussion on whether or not that particular year, it was going to be a good Burgundy vintage. And Bedington wrote back in his own handwriting, and I remember on two sides of a piece of paper, in his own manuscript, a very detailed discussion about Burgundy and Bordeaux, and whether Burgundy was more fulsome than Bordeaux, and then at the bottom, he said, "P.S. Of course, my dear boy, I’ll have no objection to your budget of £12,000,000".

KB I used to have quite a lot to do with Richard Bedington.

MO Yes, I can’t remember.

KB Do you remember Richard?

MO I do, vaguely.

KB He was very nice.

MO He was the son, was he?

KB Yes, he and his wife were very good, and they said, "You can always come in here and have a meal at any time".

MO It was very interesting really, they really were dedicated to their work as County Councillors, and then, of course, gradually the thing became… it became much more political. There were only about half a dozen members of the Labour Party who were members of the County Council when I first joined, I remember. They were either intellectual, Bloomsbury people, or… Letchworth Welwyn Garden City, or else trade union representatives like George Brown, and George Lindrum, of course from Welwyn Garden City, who became...

PR Lord Lindrum.

MO He became the minister for, well I think it was, Town and Country Planning, quite a big government job. But I remember gradually after the war certainly more Labour county councillors were appointed, and one day I remember Newsom coming into the office and saying, "The independents have formed a caucus, this is the beginning of a political situation". And in a way, I suppose that was reflected in the districts as well. Did the Abel-Smiths play a part in East Herts.?

KB Barbara Abel-Smith.

MO Yes.

KB What was her husband’s name? I can’t remember.

MO I can’t remember.

PR Where did Barbara live?

MO She lived at Letty Green.

PR Letty Green growing daffodils.

MO That’s right, yes.

KB But I had a very good divisional surveyor, Bob Castle, who came, of course, under the architects, and he was very good, he kept me absolutely up to date with all the things that needed to be done and so on. He used to come and I used say, "Well, I don’t really think we can do that just now", "No but I just want to keep you up to date so that you really know", he was marvellous.

MO Was there a lot of expansion and new school building in East Herts.? I mean it wasn’t affected in quite the same way as North Herts. with the development of Stevenage and Borehamwood and Hemel Hempstead, was it, with the new towns.

KB No, not really, no.

PR Well, we ought to roll up, I think. I’m just wondering if we can ask Mary to come and sit next to you and put the mike on, just so that we can follow Mary’s career.

MB Well, my career really wasn’t here.

PR Well, but you taught at Sele.

KB You taught at Sele.

PR Sele Farm’s very much…

MB Yes, but that was the only part. You see, when I came into teaching very late, and I didn’t teach in Hertford and I didn’t go to Monty Woodhead, much to her disgust. I went down to Cheshunt, to Cheshunt, to Frank Smith.

KB Wonderful, best head we ever had.

MB That was marvellous. That was my beginning school. It was marvellous

PR What was the school called then? The Cheshunt School?

MB No, Cheshunt Secondary School.

PR Cheshunt Secondary, and then became the…

MB I only stayed there four years, because it was my first job, and I thought, "No, I ought to move". I moved to Ware. I enjoyed the staff, but I didn’t like the head. I didn’t approve of the head.

KB Where did you go afterwards?

MB I didn’t stay there more than two years.

MO Was that a new school, Fanshawe?

MB Ware Secondary, can’t think of the head’s name…

MO Yes, the central schools?

PR Braybrook.

MB I went to Welwyn Garden City, and that was marvellous.

KB It was a great difference from Braybrook, wasn’t it?

MB Oh, yes, Braybrook was not a good head.

MO When you were at Cheshunt, was Cliff Richard there?

MB Yes. I gather he was in chapel last night.

MO Was he?

MB Mmm. Apparently, he was singing… I didn’t hear it all, it was on the wireless this morning, on the news, and he was singing the Lord’s Prayer to the tune of …

MO Auld Lang Syne, I think.

MB That’s right, and apparently some people didn’t approve of it, and he was very indignant, he said he didn’t think they liked elderly people, and he didn’t think they wanted popular figures to go on. No, he was lovely. Yes, it was a very good school that was, and the one at Welwyn Garden City.

KB Oh, that was.

MB Heronswood. We had a marvellous head there.

MO Sorry, which one?

MB In Heronswood.

MO Heronswood, oh yes, yes.

MB I can’t think of his name. Oh, how stupid. He died this year.

MO Yes.

MB But he was a marvellous head, and again that was almost the beginning of the school. It had been going for a year with a grammar school in the same building, and the grammar school had just moved out.

MO Did you have a mural painting at Heronswood?

MB A what?

MO Mural painting. A painting, I had a feeling that that school had one.

KB Which school?

MO Heronswood.

MB Not in my time.

MO Not in your time, no.

MB We had a very good painter there on the staff. In fact, I’ve got one of his pictures, unfortunately, he hasn’t signed it and I can’t remember his name, but no I don’t remember….

PR You came to Sele.

MB I came to Sele when it started, for one thing, it was nearer home.

KB She came really to help me, because I’d got the parents, you see.

PR Ah, yes, yes.

MB That’s when I started teaching at Sele. Yes, ‘cause you got the little house up here didn’t you, when I started teaching in 1951, I suppose, and I went to Sele when it started, which again was exciting. I mean it was so exciting being at the beginning of a school.

PR Yes, yes.

MB And I was there, I suppose, for about 6 years before I retired.

PR And you still keep in touch with Sele, don’t you?

MB I don’t really, now. I haven’t seen Maxwell for ages. I used to see his wife.

KB We’re without a car, you see.

MB We don’t get out now, you see, without a car. I haven’t really seen him.

PR Marie’s only just given up; she was telling me when you were coming, that the car’s gone.

MB I think I told you.

MO Yes, yes, yes.

MB The last time I saw Bill Maxwell…Bill Maxwell was a very good head for the beginning of a school. I don’t think he was probably so great as the school got older. I don’t know, that’s my opinion.

PR Yes, a special quality there that he could bring to…

MB He was very lively and very enthusiastic when the school started, and it did have a good start. After all, it was big building with plenty of room and we had a large proportion of staff. We could do things with the children, and…

KB He did a lot to that school.

MB They were very exciting times, as I say, I only stayed for my retiring age, and then I retired, retired ‘71, I think. It was an exciting time, that.

MO Did he come from Cambridgeshire? I think…

KB Did who come from Cambridgeshire?

MO Maxwell, I think he came from Cambridgeshire, and was very much associated with the Village College movement.

MB I can’t remember where he came from. He’s got very deaf. Apparently in the last two or three years he’s been very lame too.

PR Yes, yes.

MB But, the last time I met him, there was a very sad funeral of someone who had been a pupil when I was there, and she’d married one of the staff, again, whose name I can’t remember now. They went on to London to the …youth thing, and she died, and for some reason they came back here for the funeral. The church was full of students from London, and I was going with somebody. The church was packed, and as it was all silent and waiting for the coffin, Bill Maxwell walked in, saw us just inside, I pushed up and he came and he came and sat next to us, and he’s got very deaf, and so he wanted to talk of course. It was most embarrassing. That, I think was the last time I saw him.

KB And he was embarrassing to meet. If you met him out, he used to stop and give you a spanking kiss.

PR They both do quite a lot of work still for the Friends of Evron. That’s been one of his holiday, retirement things.

MB Do you do that?

PR No, no. Well, I do some, but I indicate that I approve and let the others do the thing. Yes. Well, we’ve covered a lot of ground, haven’t we, and you’ve tidied up very nicely. I’d like to refer to the fact that I was once the paperboy, of course.

KB You were once what?

PR Your paperboy, at St. Michael’s, from Farnhams. I had to bring the Times up to you for quite a while.

KB Yes.

MB I didn’t know that.

PR Yes, yes.

MB Somebody told us recently you used to be the paperboy, I think it was Betty Smith.

PR Yes, it probably was.

MB Betty remembers everything.

PR Yes, we must go and talk to her. I think I have said we would, but…

MB She’s got a fantastic family ???cross, since they came, because they were there before we were. We got a lift down to Hertford the other day and we met somebody who, well I suppose he’s retired now, kept County Hall on its feet for donkey’s years, whatshisname Smith.

MO&KBAlec Smith.

MB He used to be our next-door neighbour, and we hadn’t seen him….

MO Yes. He was in the finance department.

MB He kept County Hall going.

KB And he knew everybody’s business, and he didn’t keep it to himself.

PR Yes, quite a character in a sort of way. It always amused me, knowing that he probably isn’t particularly hard up, that he and his wife, first wife, he’s married again recently, hasn’t he, used to go, as darkness was falling on a Saturday evening, walk from Cross Road down into the market and get all the cheap… And about half past four, you’d see this pair processing down Port Hill, and, oh you know, I’m amused by it, and I don’t object to it, I think it’s very sensible, but it’s a sort of ritual they go through.

MB They were neighbours for years, weren’t they.

KB St. Michael’s and the next house had been one. Adam Orton??? had bought it, and he’d had it dived just absolutely straight down, like that, so we were nowhere more than one room in depth, and in one place there was a gap, and I could put my hand through and shake hands with the person next door. And Mother’s bedroom again, the first floor with huge windows down that had been a nursery, and the water tank there, and there was somewhere there, oh up at the top it was open, wasn’t it?

MB It was 26 foot long and 9 foot wide was the parents’ bedroom.

KB It was an awfully inconvenient house. We had the top floor, didn’t we, but we could entertain up there, that was something.

KB Yes, you could.

PR And then you’ve landed here at number 50 The Drive.

KB Absolutely by luck.

MB Well, we decided that we should die before mother if we didn’t move, because by that time, she wasn’t coming downstairs, so our living room was upstairs, the kitchen was downstairs and right the length of the house, and open fires and so on, and we decided really if we were going to live much longer, that’s when we decided in 1971, just as I retired.

PR Well, let’s press the pause button. Thank you all very much.

KB We were very lucky to get this house, actually, weren’t we?

MB Yes.

KB Because we’d just agreed the price, it was more …we agreed how much we’d go for, and the man wanted to sell it, very quickly. We were in here weren’t we?

MB £17,000.

KB £17,500, and we’d just looked at each other and said all right, you know, and he’d said all right, accepted, and there was a knock or ring at the front door bell, and Mary said "I think there’s somebody at your door", and she went to the door, and spoke to somebody, and he went off again, and she came back and said "do you know who that was?" It was his next-door neighbour who wanted to buy the house. It was just sold, and they never went back on it, although we’d got no agreement.


 Hertford Museum   18 Bull Plain   Hertford   SG14 1DT   01992 582686  
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