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Transcript TitleBlake, Thora (O1990.1)
IntervieweeThora Blake (TB), John Bunyan (JB), Sister Lacy (Lacy), Dr. Regi
InterviewerPeter Ruffles (PR), Mary Ollis (MO), Simmon Townsend (ST), Eve Sangster (ES)
Transcriber byEve Sangster


Hertford Oral History Group

Recording no. O 1990.1

IntervieweeThora Blake(TB), JohnBunyan (JB), Sister Lacey(Lacey), Dr. Reginald Mortis (RM), JoanPamphilon (JP)

Date 5.12.1990

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

Transcriber Eve Sangster

Transcriber’s notes are italicised.

Dr Mortis (Side 1)

PR: You remember Thora and George Blake lived at the corner of Hagsdell Road. Thora moved here: was it 27 years ago that you moved here (flat at 12? Cowbridge) from Hagsdell?


PR: Oh well, yes.

RM:I've still got some photographs taken in that place.

MO: George's photographs?

RM:Yes;I had one taken of myself and my two sons, because we were all in the open together and he came and took the photographs. No, we went there and had the photographs taken. Of course, they used to Iive up in the top of Morgans Road.

TB:No, Hagsdell Road.

MO: The Blakes and all the Blake family lived at Queens Hill House.

TB:Yes, Morgans Road. Queens Hill. It's two houses now isn't it? And all the gardens are built on.


ES:It's a lovely house, isn't it?

TB:It was, it was, it was. It was a lovely house.

RM:It's where Mrs. Norris went.

MO: Yes.

TB:Yes, Sybil.



PR: So when did you first come to Hertford, Dr. Mortis?

RM:I came as a houseman in 1925 and I left in 1926 and then came back again in 1929 permanently.

TB:Yes, we were trying to work out last night when you came. It was the 1920's.

RM:Yes, it was 1925. September '25, I think it was, and. I stayed here for about 6 months and then I went to Shenley. Then I came back in 3 years time.

PR: That would be attached to the hospital?

RM:I was a Resident at the hospital.

PR: Yes, yes. And working exclusively at the hospital?

RM:I was full-time Resident there; house-surgeon, they called it in those days.

PR: And then, how did the general practice work develop?You …

RM:No, I went away and then a Dr. Hart was -

LACEY:Dr. Parnsworth Hart.

RM:-leaving and Medlock offered me a partnership.

PR: Right.

TB:Yes, Mr. Medlock was practising then, wasn't he? "


PR: And how big was the hospital?

RM:It was 108 beds in those days and it's the same today.

MO: No!

LACEY:It went up to 175, didn't it?

RM:Did it?


RM:Oh, when they put that new ?? ?in 1929?

LACEY:Yes, 175, it was. It just got in to be a training schoo1.

RM:Oh, yes, and they trained the nurses very well too.

PR: Your family connection?

LACEY:Is by my grandmother and grandfather as governors and on the committee, specially my Grandmother Lacey.

PR: It's topical news about having hospital committees again. But, what was the management arrangement then, in those days? What did the committee do?

RM:They met once a week, and they were all volunteers and unpaid. And we had one secretary full-time and one part-time secretary in those days; and a lady almoner who assessed you when you came in, what you were going to pay, and that sort of thing.

LACEY:You paid so much of what you could afford.

RM:Yes, that's right. And there was a contributory scheme later on.

LACEY:Granny Lacey ran a scheme, a sixpenny scheme, it was, She used to go round Addis's and people used to say, old Reggie Wilson used to say, 'Here comes Ma Lacey; keep your hands in your pockets; she'll have it out of you' (laughter). And she used to go round and collect it. Addis's factory came here in the First World War, didn't they? And she used to go round it and collect money off the people.

ES: "What happened, though, to patients who couldn't pay?

LACEY:Oh, they never were charged.

ES: Oh, I see.

LACEY:They got charged but there were letters. The people who paid a lot into the hospital had letters, and then if you couldn't afford a certain thing you went to get a letter.

TB:Your grandmother used to issue them.

LACEY:Oh, Grandma Lacey did. All sorts ofpeople had letters. People who had money and paid so much into the hospital had so many letters.

TB:That's right. They used to have this weekly scheme, because I used to collect ...

LACEY:Well, there wasn't an ambulance until Barker had an ambulance.

RM:Barker, he was wonderful.

PR: That ambulance was at the end of Cross Lane in North Road, wasn't it?(now 10A-C North Road)

TB:Where those tall houses are built.

RM:Barker his name was, wasn't it?

LACEY:That was his name.


LACEY:They were the people that had all the taxis and horse-drawn traffic and things like that. I remember going in a carriage to Goldings sale, when Goldings house was sold up.

RM:Oh, yes.

LACEY:Horse-drawn carriage.

TB:My Grandmother used to hire one of those for an evening ride. We used to think it was great fun.

LACEY:Barker kept them where Abbissis now(Railway Street). That was where it was.

JP: Yes, that's right. That was Barker's.

LACEY:And they supplied the horses for the fire engine.

JP: Well, Ernie Barker was part of the fire engine team.

LACEY:He was fire chief, wasn't he?

TB:I remember when Sir Edward Pearson gavethat fire engine.

LACEY:Audrey Kemp of Kemp -I'm a great friend of hers; she lives in Tetbury now, down in Tetbury, Gloucestershire -her father built the fire station and it had a stone in it. I have a photograph of that, actually, before it was demolished. Yes.

PR: So, was that the very first (sc. first motor ambulance at 10 North Road)?

LACEY:Yes, the first ambulance I can remember, and I can see it being pushed down the Ware Road, no, it was before they took the Plough down; it was a stretcher on 2 wheels.

JP: That used tobe the way.

LACEY:I can remember that.

RM:I think Barker ownedthe ambulance.

LACEY:Well, to tell you the truth, I think Grandpa and Grandma helped him.

RM:Yes, probably.

LACEY:I don't know but I always understood they started the first ambulance.

RM(laughing): When the state service came, he couldn't stand that and he left it.

PR: I can remember the end of the ambulance sticking out of the garage. The doors didn't seem to close. In North Road.

LACEY:In North Road? Yes.

PR: Not the Abbissconnection (?) but just opposite Cross Lane.

LACEY:Because the house where they lived was pulled down, where that was, on the corner and then they built the army house there, didn't they?

TB:It belonged to the church. Mrs. Jollands gave it to the church, DIDN'T she?

PR: And Harry Evans, her brother, the Rev. Harry Evans, lived there for some time. He moved up from Paynters, further down(i.e. from 4 to 10 North Road).

LACEY:Well, he really lived in Fore Street. He lived in the house next to the twitchel(Rookes Alley)in Fore Street.

TB:Where that garage is.

PR: Yes,

LACEY:You know where Bejam's is?

PR: Near Elliot's. Between Elliot'sand Bejam's.

TB:And his garden went right the way up to the alley, where the post (sorting) office is, right up the top.

LACEY:Right up to Churchfields. You don’t remember that, do you Peter?

PR: No.

MO:I remember those houses (on Fore Street, opp. Christ’s Hospital)

TB:Evening parties.

MO: They were really rather like the North Road houses.

LACEY:Yes, well, there was a medical office there. Christ's Hospital had a boarding-house there; mistresses lived there. Then there was the Inland Revenue at the end. Then therwas a space and ... oh, the dentist. Then there was a house on the end, yes, The Hollies.

PR: So, the Tasker-Evans family house was one of the Victorian Regency row, was it? Was it one of those or was it separate from them?

TB:No, it stood on its own.

LACEY:There was a space and then there was Elliot's.

TB:It was beside the alley. Where the alley went up.

LACEY:I suppose the alley's still in the same position, isn't it?

TB:Yes, yes.

JP: There's less of it.

PR: And why did they give parties, the Evans family? Was it a townie thing or a Church thing? Were the parties for Church connections or ... ? When you went to the house and had tea or whatever ...?

TB:It was a big, double-fronted house with a tiny cottage attached to it, but it was all one house.

PR: Yes, but the reason for the occasion was just friendship, was it?

TB:Well no, We used to have Church parties there of an evening and that kind of thing. He used to loan the garden.

PR: St. Andrew's or All Saints'?

TB:St. Andrew's. But poor Reverend Evans was very, very mean. Very mean. He'd lend the garden but not much else. And I remember a brother-in-law going once to ask for a whist drive prize and he went through all his drawers to find something and he found one of those matchboxes, you Know, the Swan Vesta big matchboxes. He was terribly mean and yet he was kind. He had money. He had plenty of money.

LACEY:He came round the hospital and we always used to say he only came (?)

RM: Theyused to pretend to be asleep.(laughter)

MO: So, if there were the same number of beds that there are now, what about the nursing staff? Was that comparable?

LACEY:Oh, we had quite a large nursing staff when I was there.

RM:There was a Matron, an assistant Matron, a Home Sister.

LACEY:Sister Housekeeper.

RM:I think that and the Home Sister are the same thing. And then there were Sisters of the wards. And staff nurses for the wards and the rest were trainees.

LACEY:And the staff nurse needn't have been fully trained but she usually was.

PR: Was it always regarded as a hospital of some substance for training purposes?

RM:Yes, and they then got the State Certificate.

LACEY:But then you were inspected so often by the College of Nursing that your standards were up to a certain standard.You could lose your ...

PR: ... licence to train or whatever it would have been. The name 'Hertford CountyHospital has always ... , the County bit suggests its importance but would patients have come from a very wide area?

RM:Well, no. I'll tell you something about that. As Welwyn Garden City developed they used to get more and more people from Welwyn Garden City and they used to grumble that the contributions from Welwyn Garden City hardly came at all.

PR: Ah, yes, yes.

TB:Do you remember the old Pound Days?

RM:Oh, yes.

SISTER(?): That was a great (?)

RM:(?) £1,000

TB:It used to be in the hospital grounds, to start with, I can remember.

LACEY:And the Castle grounds.

JP: Then it moved to the Castle grounds.

TB:You took a pound of groceries as an entrance.

JP: That's it.

TB:And then they had this big fête, you see, but the groceries that you gave as an entrance went to the hospital.

JP: And the really mean people took a poundof soda which was only a penny (laughter)

TB:Then they gradually progressed to theCastle grounds and it got bigger, didn't it?

RM:They thought if they made a £1,000 they really had done something.

JP: Well they had, of course, It was a fair sum of money then.

LACEY:Well..Granny used to do about £200 on an ordinary stall of fancy things. And that was considered a lot of money.

TB:Well, it was in those days.

LACEY:(??) ... (hot air?)balloons. Grandma used to blow up balloons for her. One room was full of balloons and they were taken by Barker in an ambulance, in theambulance, to the Castle grounds. I can see it now. All those balloons had been tied up and taken.

TB:A pound of sugar was an entrance and a pound of sugar was tuppence-happenny.

RM: The medical staff then were very different to what they are now. They were all local G.P.s: three physicians, three surgeons; they were local G.P.s and they were unpaid.

PR: Yes, the funding ... I'm sorry to sound like a modern Councillor, but the funding puzzles me still. So, unpaid doctors. But what about the equipment? The furniture and the medical provision? Was that paid for directly out of subscription? Where else was the funding from?

RM:Yes, from the funds.

PR: But was there no support from government or ...

RM:In 1929 it was estimated that a third of the income came from the contributory scheme, a third from what people paid and a third from the County Council.The County Council came to an arrangement that they would have a line on certain beds and that would save them from building a hospital.

PR: Ah, RIGHT. Yes, that explains quite a little bit but the Committee and Evelyn's Grandmother and others would be responsible for providing frills and extras.

LACEY:Oh, yes. She used to go round the market and supply for the doctors for when they had housemen, doctors like Mr. Bedford, when he was there; she'd go and get special things from Carton's. She used to buy cakes from Carton's(Maison Carton, Parliament Square).

RM:Bedford came originally as a Surgical Registrar for which he was paid. And then he left and went back to his home town, which was Leeds, and, one day, I was talking to Dr. West, a doctor in Hoddesdon who was then a physician at the hospital and he said hewanted to take a partner and he hoped he'd get a surgeon. So I said, 'Why don't you try Mr. Bedford' and that's how Mr. Bedford came.

LACEY:Yes, I knew that.

TB:And now he's due to retire, isn't he?

JP: I should think so.

Mary Ollis: And the surgeons really did everything, didn't they? I mean, there wasn't anything like the degree of specialization that there is now.

RM:No, no. There was no orthopaedic section (?), for instance.

SlSTER: But ?? have advanced so much.

RM:Yes, after all, in those days if you had a hernia you had to lie in bed for three weeks for it to heal and a hernia case was in hospital for three weeks. But today, he's out the same day.

TB:Some hospitals are, not all.

LACEY:All equipment is terrific now.


LACEY:That's the thing. The equipment and all the ?? is so expensive to run, isn't it?

RM:Yes, and all the pathological department we used to send away.

LACEY:And then, of course, we had path. come (?) then.

RM:And then we had a chapcame as a path. man there I've forgotten his name,now. He got a knighthood later on. And one day he gave me a box of pills and he said, 'Now you keep those and don't use them until you get a case of pneumonia and then you prescribe it'. And it was M& B and I kept it for some time and one day, a Christmas Eve, I was called up to Hertford Heath and I found a man, a lobar pneumonic. I gave him this stuff and the next day I went. His temperature was normal and he was much better. And I thought, 'You've made a mistake in the diagnosis', but I went to his chest and it sounded just like pneumonia.

PR: You were a Sister on Queen's Ward, Evelyn,for a long time.

LACEY:I was part-time Staff Nurse and then I became a Sister and then I was Sister of Queen's for six years.

PR: Yes.

RM:That was the newQueen's?

LACEY:Yes. Yes. I worked there 25 years. Yes, those were built in 1922, weren't they?

RM:No, after that. About 1929.

LACEY:The Nurses Home was marked 1922.

RM:Yes, the Prince of Wales came and opened it.

TB:That's right.

LACEY:I had a programme of that at one time. I gave it to the archives.

RM:The long buildings that they use as Queen's Ward, they were built in 1929.

LACEY:As late as that? But where the theatre now stands and where Prince's is, and that area, I can remember the big army huts. But I was only a child then.

RM:There was a little place there called The Hut -


TB:That's right.

RM:-and it was put up by The Red Cross during the War and I went to a board meeting and said,'people don't like being sent to The Hut! Much nicer if you gave it a name' and so they said, 'we'll call it Prince's' and it became Prince's, and it's still Prince's Ward, I believe.

LACEY:Yes, it's still Prince's. Only King's has gone. Kings is Castle.

PR(to JB): There's a seat for you over by the fire. Thora's got a coal fire on the go.

JB: Thanks very much.

PR: When did you go to the hospital originally?·

LACEY:Forty-seven, I think it was. I didn't train there. I trained in London. I trained at St. Mary's, Paddington. Well, my mother didn't think it was wise for me to train in Hertford.

MO: As a patient, I must say, there was something very comfortable about having your G.P. also administering the anaesthetic. I remember when you put a rubber(?) mask on your face, with that awful smell of ether, when I had my tonsils out. But it was really comforting, somebody you knew doing it for you.

ST: Dr Mortis, were you in Hertford during the Second World War?

RM:No, I was in the army. I was a T.A. and called up when the war started and I was away during the whole of the war.

TB:That's right. We had Dr. Ramsey,didn't we?

JP: Yes, the only time I needed a doctor, when I had an appendix out, it was Dr. Ramsay who came.

MO:Oh, there's JohnBunyan. Hello, John.JB: Good morning.

RM:Hello, John.

PR: Over by the fire, John the far side.

JB: Oh, thank you very much.

PR: I've saved you a seat.

RM:Are you playing cricket tomorrow, John?(laughter)

JB: Ah, no. I' don't think I'm down this week.(laughter)It's a pity, because those that are aren't doing any good.

MO:John, do you know everybody?

JB: Well, more or less. (Produces an antique object) I don't know whether anyone knows what that is. Anyway,you can be having a look at it.

JP: It's what my Dad would call a whimmer or a whammer.

JB: It's a tool.

LACEY:I've got one the shape of that at home. I think it's a meat hook.

JP: It's like the old meat hooks we used to have but I don't know that it is one.

LACEY:Yes, I've got one nearly that shape but smaller.

TB:Yes, hanging over the spit.

JP: As long as we don't find it's a medical tool of the past (laughter)

JB: No, I understand it was a stevedore's hook. For hooking in sacks.

LACEY:Yes, a sack hook.

JB: They came up a hoist. When the old river was very busy, they had the barges up. There were several warehouses up there. They used to have corn come up in sacks . And they had this hoist and the chap stood at the top with that hook and hauled them in on to the platform to wheel them away. That's what it was for, as far as I can gather. How it got into my garden I don't know.

TB:They used to do that at the mill at Hertingfordbury. I remember I used to go as a small child with my father to fetch flour and they used to do that.

LACEY:Well, they did that at Garratt's, backing on the river by the Lombard House(the Lea Navigation at Bircherley Green).

JB: Garratt's had a warehouse down on the river when the barges used to bring the corn up. Stone's was on the river and one other I think it was Ilott's. They all had about three warehouses with these hoists, Then next to them was the timber people.


JB: Well, it wasn't Jewson then. It was Ewan & Tomlinson.

TB:That's right.

RM:Yes, something and Tomlinson.

LACEY:Ewan & Tomlinson.

JB: And they used to walk the plank with it off the barges. They came up the river piled up with timber that used to come. in on the Thames, I think, from Norway and Sweden and then it was switched to barges and brought up the Lea.

LACEY:They used to bring coal up.

JB: Well, I think they mostly took coal down. It came up on the railway. There was a chute on the old broadwater (sc. wide water) there and they used to chute it down into the barges (upstream from Mill Road, to Dicker Mill)

LACEY:It had cups on it, didn't it? It went down in cups.

TB:The horses pulled the barges, didn't they? I used to love watching those as a child.

JB: The old river was busy in those days.

TB:It was.

ST: Did any of the barge operators live in Hertford or were they travelling in from outside?

JB: They were brought up the river from the Thames.

TB:From London.

JB: -horse-drawn and pulled up with a rope.

MO: But they weren't local people.

JP: There were bargees in Ware.

JB: They hadn't got the engines in them then that they have now.

LACEY:No, because if you walk on the River Lea, by the River Lea, you can find the brick. on the curves, where the bricks have been laid there, for the horses, so they didn't get muddy and could pull the barges round. If they're still there. They were still there. But they came into their own, the river did really, in the war-time, when they shifted all that stuff out of London. It was shifted by boat, wasn't it, by barge, all that wood timber that they brought down at Ware, was brought down by barge.

ES: Where was the mill at Hertingfordbury?

LACEY:It's still there, on the left-hand side, opposite Vigus' farm. It's only just been closed.

TB:Topham's, wasn't it? Topham's Mill.

LACEY:There was a lovely mill at the bottom of Ware Park. Do you remember the mill at the bottom of Ware Park, standing over a bridge?

TB:Over the river.

LACEY:Over the river.

TB:That's right, yes.

JB: Yes.

LACEY:And there was another mill, Dicker Mill, wasn't it?

JB: They used to make cattle feed there, didn't they?

LACEY:I wouldn't know what they made there but there was a mill there.

TB:Yes, Robins. Mr. Robins lived there. There was a big house there.

JB: Oh, you're talking about under Ware Park now, aren't you?

TB:No. down by the -um-What d'you call it?

JB: What, the old Dicker Mill?Yes, Dicker Mill. Mr. Robins lived there. There was a big house there.

LACEY:Yes, a lovely house.

TB:And didn't he go broke when Wall Street fell? Something like that. He was almost penniless, I remember.

LACEY:And there was a lovely little cottage by the river, timber cottage. White, little timber cottage.

TB:Yes, and a son Billy, Billy Robins, I remember. Yes, that's right.

JB: They used to make oil-cake, didn't they? For cattle.

LACEY:When(why?) did they pull the mill down below WarePark? This was at Ware Park. If you stood at the lock at Hertford you'd see it in the distance (locals usually referred to walking ‘over’ Ware Park (near the Park House sanatorium) or ‘under’ (near the Lea).

TB:There used to be a road, a rough road, ran right the way through.

LACEY:You could get through from Hertford.

TB:From Bengeo.

LACEY:From Bengeo right through to Ware on the -what did they call it? -lower road, lower brick road.

MO: Oh yes, I know.

TB:It's all overgrown now.

LACEY:Dreadful down there. The big houses have been converted into flats, I believe.

TB:Yes, you can get through as far as there but no farther.

MO: And there used to be fish in the river in those days.

LACEY:Well, there is quite a bit of fish still around.

MO: Did you fish in the river, John?

JB: Oh yes, quite a lot.

TB:And there used tobe a house there you rented rowing boats from.

LACEY:That was a lock house.

TB:That's right, yes.

LACEY:A person I know who was a friend of my mother's, her relations were the lock keepers. But they had them on the back water?? (where the Rover Rib hasits confluence)

JB: Old Dyer (?) used to live at Hertford Lock. I remember him.

LACEY:I only remember the person Fisher.

JB: I used to go fishing there in their garden under the ?????

LACEY:Well, Grandfather used to swim in the lock when the lock gates were closed. And he used to swim in all times of the year. And then he used to change at the tie-up there. Ithink it's still there. And he used to sit on that when he changed and went home.. 'Til he caught a cold. Nearly killed himself.

TB:I can remember as a child on a Sunday evening walking along there. The boys used to be diving off those bridges.

JB: Well, nearly all the rivers were clean enough to swim in in those days.

TB:You couldn't do it now.

LACEY:They were lovely boats, the rowing boats, they had -

MO:Yes, I remember now.

LACEY:-they had wicker backs. Do you remember the wicker backs?

MO: Yes, wicker-back seats. When did they build the swimming bath? (well upstream to Hartham) I remember it was jolly cold being taught to swim in the old ? ? swimming baths over the ? ?

LACEY:Well, it was river water, wasn't it? It only went through filters.

RM:There used to be an open-air swimming bath.

TB:Yes, we used to spend our holidays there, our summer holidays.

RM:And then they built the new one.

JP: But they didn't build that until. well after the war.


TB:There was a Mr. Trower(?) lived at Bengeo Hall and he said -I was on the Committee of the Swimming Club then –and he said, 'the only thing is, you've got to get that swimming bath condemned and then-you'll get a new one'. And we did. Wrote to the Castle and all that kind of thing, got it condemned and, of course, didn't get the new one.(laughter)

LACEY:Well, you swam in that little baths and you swam with the fish. I mean, half-a-dozen fish were there as well as you.Tiny fish.

TB:They used to run in one end, through a grating, and over pebbles -

JP: Yes, over pebbles.

TB:-and out the other end.

JP: But you used to go down to swim from school and it was 57 degrees and you were expected to be keen to jump in.

TB:Yes, 56 or 57.

JP: Now they go in and say 'Isn't it cold' and it's like bath water.

LACEY:We used to rush in and pull out the thermometer to find out what it was like and jump in quickly. But Cannon used to write it up.

TB:Oh, Captain Cannon, yes.

LACEY:Captain Cannon kept us in order.

TB:He did, didn't he?

JP: His sons used to ...

TB:We had a lovely time in that old swimming baths.

LACEY:There was a water-polo team, wasn't there? Charlie Baker.

MO: Charlie Baker, that's right, who had a sweetshop in Fore Street.

LACEY:.Uncle Tom and Charlie Baker. Both had mastoids from ….

TB:Cyril Bates was captain of the Swimming Club.

MO: Was he?


JB: Cyril?

TB:Cyril Bates.

JB: The grocer chap.

TB:He kept the grocer's which is the Italian restaurant now in Fore Street(near Shire Hall).

LACEY:One of the funny shops with one of the funny fronts to it. There are very few of them. Egyptian.

TB:Yes, that's right.

MO: Then there used to be plenty of shops around in those days. The grocers' shops. I mean, there was Bates. I used to queue up at Bates for gin in the Second World War.(laughter)

JB: Did you?(laughter)

MO: A long queue for that.

JB: You didn't get a lot, either.

MO: No, but there was Bates. There was Westropes, wasn't there?

ES: Where was that?(Market Place)

JP: Then in Maidenhead Street you had International, Home & Colonial, Woolworths and the Co-op. Every other shop was a grocer's shop.

MO: Greaves in the Market Place.

JP: Yes, Greaves in the Market Place. Yes. Salisbury Square.

LACEY:And he used the old telephone for years. Never changed his telephone("Dog and Bone" phone).

MO: Who? Greaves?

LACEY:Yes. Because he couldn't hear. Stone deaf. Used ?????

MO: And there were lots of butchers. StaIlabrass, wasn't there?

LACEY:Several fish shops.

JB: Do you remember the old' blood-and-thunder cinema on the corner, before Boots?(Maidenhead Street and Bull Plain corner)

TB:Yes, I can justremember it.

LACEY:I can remember the cinema in Market Place, the Regent. That was called the flea-pit, wasn't it?

JP: That was used, of course, before then as an entertainment hall. Because the people who kept The White Hart in those days were the Gaunts (this is my mother, not me. I wasn't alive) and Mrs. Gaunt was, in fact, Fanny Brice. She was in the West End in 'Arsenic and Old Lace'. They used to have a lot of entertainments at what was the ? ? I think they owned it probably, because they seemed to run the, and my mother of course, from an early age was useful at the piano and accompanied lots of visiting singers and Fanny Gaunt, as she was known locally. And so it was used for a long time as thelittle entertainment place. So I gather. But, of course, by the time I knew it it was The Regent, and rather crummy. But we had the Castle Cinema, of course, where Castle Hall is, where we could go on a Saturday. Tuppence, if you sat on the forms. Then there was the dividing aisle and then you paid threepence for seats. So we were lucky, we had threepenny seats. Did you ever go on a Saturday afternoon?



JP: Well, you missed a treat.

JB: We used to sneak in through the side door.

JP: Old Mr. Carpenter used to be in charge.

LACEY:Yes, I knew Carpenter

JP: With his waxed (moustache ?). And he called 'Order, Order', in his own way. He'd have kept the House of Commons in order (laughter). Because there used to be in the intervals fights with orange peel and things. They didn't have as much to throw around but they managed to throw things at one another.

TB:Mrs. Lake used to play the piano there.

JP: Mrs. Lake. And in Salisbury Square (it was Railway Street, there wasn't Salisbury Square) there were some cottages there and Mrs. Duff, I think her name was, who had bits in some of the silent films.

LACEY:My first bicycle came from Quelch & Brown's shop. And then there were shops where the War Memorial is now.

JB: Oh yes. I remember those. The Triangle.

LACEY:The shoe shop was there -

TB:There was Bruton's.

LACEY:-Coleman's was there.

TB:Bruton's, the shoe shop, Hayden's and then Nightingales the hairdressers and when Lord Salisbury gave the land for the memorial, Nightingale wouldn't get out until they'd built him something and when the memorial was ready and to be unveiled he was still there, his little place, so they hung a big Union Jack over his place to hide it.(laughter)And then he moved to where that family planning is now(junction of Parliament Square and The Wash).

JP: That!s right. On the corner.

TB:They built that for him.

RM:Nightingale used to be very fond of going into the Salisbury.

JB: A cocky little chap. Five foot nothing.

RM:.And he always looked right and left to see that there were no customers before he went in.

JB: He was a real perky little fellow.

LACEY:There was a watchmaker, wasn't there? The opposite side of … There was a shoe shop.

MO: Haffia!

LACEY:Haffia, who lived in that funny little house along the Hertingfordbury Road. ….

JB: He was Italian.

LACEY:Italian, wasn't he? He had about the first self-wind clock in his shop. He invented that himself. I believe he was the first inventor of it.

LACEY:You went down into the shop.

JB: That was where there was electricity when I first started. He was quite good at that sort of thing.

MO: It's interesting. How did the people come into Hertford, Italians and ... ? How did the Cartons come? The French pastry cooks.

TB:That's right. Georgette Carton.

JP: What brought them to Hertford?

JB: I don't really know.

MO: That used to be the gossip-shop, didn't it?

JP: Oh yes, that was the shop to go to.

LACEY:My Grandmother and Georgette Carton's mother -she was huge, wasn't she? -


LACEY:-Absolutely huge -they got on like a house on fire. She used to buy such a lot of stuff from there.

JB: That was known as the gossip-shop of Hertford. All the dear ladies went there for elevenses and gossiped away.

TB:And then the Green, of course, down Back Street. Was the Green still going when you came?

JP: Oh yes, too. It didn't go 'til after the war (WW1)

TB:Yes, terrible place it was.

JP: It was a good job that went.

TB:It was real, real slums.

JP: That didn't go until they had the first Council houses. Slum clearance. They built up at -

LACEY:It was Foxholes, wasn't it?

JP: No.

TB.: Hornsmill.

JP: Hornsmill were the first ones. And most of those went to Hornsmill.

LACEY:I thought they went up to Gallows Hill.

JP: No, Foxholes wasn't built, let's see, I was about seven when they went up there, 1926 or 27, something like that.

TB:It was Hornsmill because where you're living Dr Mortis, the Council houses backed on to it, almost come up to it, didn't they? And Highfield Road were up in arms because these houseswere being built up Peg's Lane (Pearson Avenue)


MO: There used to be an awful lot of pubs in Railway Street.

LACEY:Every other place.

JB: That was known as the Sunday morning walk for the gay (sc. happy) lads. They used to tryand drink half-a-pint in every pub and they never finished it. There were too many -

TB:Railway Street was full of pubs.

JB: -or if they did they were real drinkers.

RM:And the policemen used to walk up there in pairs. They wouldn't go alone.

TB:I remember my mother telling us a tale. Se had two of us in the pram and she was late meeting a niece off the Eastern Station so she cut down Railway Street and old Dr. Burnett-Smith came out of a cottage down Railway Street and he said, 'What are you doing down here? Don't ever let me see you down this street with children in a pram, because it was such a dangerous street.

ST: The lighting shop in Railway Street that's there now, just past Pearce's Bakery, was that

ALL: Coleman's!(27 Railway Street)

LACEY:The tannery it was originally. I always understood it was a tannery that shop. Well, there was a tannery there, somewhere in that district … And when they pulled all the things down you could see much more of it but unfortunately they built it all up again. But it's very old property there.

ST: Yes it is, but it wasn't a pub?

JP: No, not in our time because in my childhood there was Ilott's, the milk shop, the Welcome, the sweet shop and Godfrey's, the tailors. Remember? And Pearce's were all Wrens. There's another family, if you want to talk about Hertford. I mean, there's still Ruth and Leslie Wren. He's up in Hertford Heath. She's Mrs. Long in Ware Road(high ‘even’ nos along the road; another Mrs Long at low ‘odds’). Their father was Alderman Wren and all these bakers shops that are now Pearce's were Wrens, so they've got a terrific background of Hertford.

RM:I remember old Wren. He was a great talker.

JP: Oh, he was.

LACEY:A Shakespearian.

JP: He would declaim at any time.

RM:I was on the (sc. Hertford Borough) Council and we wanted to find out about something that was going on that we didn't mow about and so we went to talk to Wren and he brought it all out. Nobody knew where we got this information from. We'd got it from Wren in a pub.

LACEY:Wren was also Mayor of Hertford at one time.

JB: Didn't he go somewhere where there was supposed to be a ghost and there was a saying going round that old Wren ? ? ? 'Gentle Spirit, are you there?'. I forget how it went now and I forget the circumstances of which house was supposed to be haunted but there was one somewhere in Hertford and I know that was the first thing he did, to walk in the door and to start off, 'Gentle Spirit, are you there?'

TB:And his eldest daughter married an M.P., didn't she?

JP: She's still alive. She's now 91. Emily!

LACEY:She's not well. She's been very ill.

TB:Arthur Greenwood, wasn't it?

RM:There was a Mayor of Hertford who used to be the railway station master.

ALL: Procter.

RM:Procter. Yes, well, Procter was Mayor and they decided they'd have a hunt meeting in Ware and he got a horse and he was going to meet them there and I saw old Wren and he said, 'I'm going to see Procter on this mare'. So I said, 'You forget that he was inthe Yeomanry for years. And he was in the Northamptonshire Yeomanry.

LACEY:That little house is pulled down now, isn't it?


JP: The year he was Mayor we had a Railway Queen. It was a great excitement. All the schools had to choose children. Do you remember? The first sort of beauty type thing.

MO: I was an attendant.

JP: I think my sister was one of them.

TB:I remember as a small child, because I've never, never forgotten it, there was a baby gnawed by a rat down in that Green, that slum.

LACEY:If you behaved badly when I was a girl, you used to behave like a Bircherley Green kid.

JP: It wasn't called Bircherley Green though; was it? It was just called the Green. My Grandmother, of course, lived ….

RM:The City Street was there.

TB:Green Street.

RM:Green Street, City Street and Bircherley Street.

TB:It was all little cottages.

MO: That's what used to be the Butchery(sc. corruption of Bircherley), isn't it?

LACEY:All the cottages had baths hanging on the outside.

JB: And a fewpubs chucked in, of course.

LACEY:-and outside toilets. Kids played in the river -

JB: There were plenty of pubs.

LACEY:-I used to long to play in the river like those children. I thought it was lovely to be able to play in the mud of the river. A lotof them got drowned, didn't they?

TB:Oh yes. I was coming along the tow path one afternoon a few years ago and there was a very old gentleman standing there. It was when they were building Waitrose. And he called to me, 'Do you know Hertford? I said, 'I was born here'. He said, 'So was I. I was born just across the river there.' He said 'My people kept a pub down there'. I bet it was a rough one.

RM:Was it on The Folly?

ES: No, he was pointing to Bircherley Green.

TB; I was standing on the tow path.

JB: The Old Leather Bottle, it might have been. That was one of them, I know, in Green Street.

MO: I like your story, John, tell us your story about going into that pub, was it The Flower Pot?

TB:Oh, The Flower Pot.

MO: You tell that story.

JB: Oh, that was when we were all drinking a bit after time and suddenly the door got a tap-tap next door at the Saloon Bar and the chap behind the bar immediately put the lights out, went through the flap, opened the door and there was a ? and a couple of pints was pulled up and in no time at all he shut the door, come back, put the lights on and said, 'It was only the local police calling in for their pint.



JB: ---at Old Cross, which is shut now -Sloppy Joe's or something or other. And, er, back in 1800 or something they had Mr. -Mr., I can't remember his name. Lived in Ware Road a dentist.

ALL: Lacey.

LACEY:My Grandfather.

JB: They had him up in front of the Committee because he'd accidently put his elbow through the glass panel of the front door.(laughter)And he was had up in front of the Committee for it. So they said, 'Well, what's it all about?'. He said, 'It's your been.... It's nothing to do with me. I only had my normal couple of half-pints, three at the most.' And he said, 'I'll admit I fell into the door with my elbow and broke it.' He said, 'Your beer's too strong.' And, do you know, that wasit. They used to have their beer in those days in big hogsheads and it stood in the cellar –Wickham's across the way, a little fat thing, behind Durrent's used to be -and they used to have it in hogsheads during the Spring and that stood there and matured. And it got so strong that really they had to fetch it out in the finish and dilute it, I think.

RM:When Wickham's closed down, and that sort of thing, the scheme came before the Council for re-doing Old Cross and it was quite a big, expensive scheme and we were discussing it in the Council for a long while and then Jack Skinner, if you remember, put it to the thing and voted for it and he and I left and I said, 'Why on earth did you go and vote for that and he said, 'They'll never do it' and they haven't yet (laughter)

TB:It's where they're excavating on Mill Bridge. Good Gracious, that's some years ago!

LACEY:Well, that was very badly damaged when the flying bomb went into the river bank.

TB:And they've never done anything to it.

LACEY:That's when Ilott's Mill came down.

JB: That was a flying bomb, wasn't it?

ST: Do you remember the morning when it happened?


RM:I do, too. I was up in Newcastle and I was just ~ going on and I thought, 'Oh, this is a nice, sleepy hour. I wish I was at home and it would be all nice and quiet and I shouldn't have to get up.' And then I heard what had happened and all my windows had gone in St. Andrew Street.

TB:I was in church that morning, the early service, and it went over and then it came back. It was a horrible feeling. It fell and I thought, 'Well, I must get home', you know, see if everything is all right, and got out into St. Andrew Street and it was just smothered in glass, all the way down.,and I went back through the Castle.

LACEY:I was in bed when it fell. I was at Castle Street, as Mother ;was looking after Castle Street. I was home on leave and I heard the noise and then the explosion and Mother was down the garden going to look at some chickens and heard this noise, rushed up and got by the gate at 36 Castle Street, tucked herself up behind a big gate and when she eventually went down the garden therewas a massive metal ?? right where the hen coop was. We never saw the hens or the baby chickens again. And there was this great big piece of metal, all twisted. She came running in to the house and she said, 'Oh, I think Tom and Bianca have been hit.' Because they lived at Wiggington's(2 St Andrews Street). I ran all the way from Castle Street and it was devastation everywhere. There were two Yanks wandering around by the Castle Cinema. I don't think they knew what had hit them. It was absolute chaos. There were cars, bits of cars and the balustrade of the bridge had been sliced off, just as if it had been cut with a knife. It was all gone. All the balustrade had gone.

TB:Yes, I remember that.

LACEY:I can't remember the state of the houses. They werepretty shaken. And I walked over the big front door –Bianca and Tom lived at the top, they were my Uncle and Aunt, lived over the shop when it was father's and the front door was very heavy and it was an ? :front tdoor with great big bolts on it and I walked straight over that door and up the stairs. And the front room had a false wall in it which was sacking covered with newspaper and that was blown, all the furniture was blown, right up against the wall, just as if somebody had stirred the whole room with a spoon. And the plaster was hanging. All the windows were out; they were sash windows; they "were all broken; they'd all flown up and the plaster was hanging off the ceiling. Just awful! And we were allowed to put all the rubbish, when we started trying to clear up, out into the street and being very old plaster, they provided us with the knives to cut it down with, actually. It was cow hair, all coloured hair in the plaster. Bright red cow hair and all sorts of things. But Bianca was very upset and they had taken in. for the police a Frenchwoman who worked with the Free French and she had a Russian husband. He couldn't speak a word. of English and none of us could speak very much French and they were in a terrible state. They thought they'd really had it. And they were living with them at the time. But we had to take Bianca away from it. Luckily, Peter Barberhad got out of bed and wasn't in bed in the room he had. And I should think he would have been killed. There was a lump of plaster bigger than that table.

TB:It was a miracle no-one was killed, it really was.

LACEY:They said that if there'd been anyone in the Roman Catholic Church at the time they'd have been killed. It was a terrible mess. Remember it?

JP: I don't remember that our Church was badly damaged.

TB:It fell into the bank.

LACEY:It went into the bank.

TB:The soft part of the river bank and that was what tooka lot of the blast.

JP: I always understood it was pretty bad but I never went to see any of this damage.

MO: Wereyou in Hertford at the time?

JP: Yes, up the Ware Road, obviously.

LACEY:The mill was shattered, absolutely shattered, and all the little shops that were along there.

TB:Yes, Nicholls the fruiterers.


LACEY:And Dixons the saddler.

RM:Oh yes, that's right.

ST: Of course, they closed the Castle Cinema, didn't they?

LACEY:Ruined it. It never was the same after that.

ST: Did you know Violet Riddle?

LACEY:No, don't know the name.

ST: Because she was the manageress of the Castle Cinema and she was fire-watching that night from the Castle Cinema and she heard the bomb go down, went to have a look and got hit on the head by a flying door. So she was concussed. Fortunately, it wasn't a serious injury.

LACEY:They had to get an old man out of one of the little shops opposite Barber's. They had to get him out through the window. Mr. Law, the little tobacconist shop(on Old Cross, next to no. 1 St Andrews Street).

MO: Oh, Law.

LACEY:Law. There was Hugman's, the sausage people.

JP: Thepork sausage people.

LACEY:Thepork sausages. I remember her packing those sausages. They were lovely.

MO: You remember Hugman's,don't you, John?

JB: Yes, yes.

LACEY:Hugman's and Mr. Law, wasn't there?

JB: Used to stand there stripping off legs of pork to make their sausages.

RM:Was there a pork butcher's there?

JP: There was.

JB: They made 'em with pork inthose days.

RM:They had a ? , the Miss whatever her name was, she got a chap from Christ's Hospital, no, not Christ's Hospital, Dr. Barnado's, Goldings, and he was manager for years.

MO: And there used to be a lot of little shops in St. Andrew Street. I mean, not a street of antique shops.

LACEY:There was a barber's shop, wasn't there? There was a barber's pole stuck out of one of the shops along St. Andrew Street, wasn't there?

JB: Yes, that's right.

RM:And Mrs. Slee (?unknown ?Mrs Higgins) the grocers, we used to buy all our stuff there.

MO: So did we.

JB: That was up towards St.Nicholas Hall.

LACEY:There used to be a barber's pole in Fore street, too, on the barber's shop there(Dickens near Shire Hall).

JB: If you went into his shop, he'd cut half your hair and then pop across to the pub to have half-a-pint (laughter) and you couldn't go -you'd got half cut off and half left(sc. Harry Whitby, St Andrews Street barber).

ES: Where did you live in Castle street? Where is 36?

LACEY:36 is still standing. I didn't live there. My Grandparents lived there. The garden had been destroyed, then it was sold to Retallick's and they were dairy people, they sold milk, and then Retallick gave the postern gate back to the town and they moved the brick wall so you could get into the Castle from Castle Street.

ES:But what is there now?

LACEY:Oh, they pulled it all down and built all those offices there now. They pulled down the granary; they pulled down the stabling; they pulled down the shop and the office. There were hay stores and straw stores at the back there. When I was small everythingwas drawn by horses. There was a large stable there and a horse-keeper.

RM:I can remember the horses going up to Mangrove, to our house. We used to watch the horses, if the horses left anything for the garden.(laughter)

LACEY:They used to deliver coal and stuff like that because Grandfather was a coal merchant as well as a seed merchant and they used to deliver out to the big houses like Bayford and places like that and then the horses used to go out in pairs, no, a pair and an extra walking behind. That was to go up hills. But there were no hand brakes on those wagons. They all were blocks if they wanted to stop it.

JB: Shove the block under the wheel.

LACEY:And they were bow-fronted, too. I believe there is one still around that belonged to the family, over in Harlow Museum.

MO: You've got a lovely story about one of the farmers who lived at the top of Gallows Hill who used to come down to

All: Oh, old Cooper!

JB: Yes, he used ·to come down and go to the pub at the back of us, the Salisbury, and, er -

LACEY:The Tap.

JB: That's right. And when he came out about 2 or 3 o'clock in the morning they used, to fetch his pony and cart out, shove him up, push him up in the seat; he was about twenty stone -

LACEY:That's right.

TB:A huge man.

JP: How the poor old horse got himup Gallows Hill, I don't know.

JB: -and they'd hand the reins to him. He'd just say, 'Gee up' and the old horse would take him all the way up Gallows Hill home, to stop outside the front door.

LACEY:You know, you used to hear that horse get slower and slower. I lived at the bottom of Gallows Hill, at one time. Click-clack, click-clack, click-clack. You'd hear him going slower and slower as he went round the bend. lHe had a son as big as himself, too.

JP: He was just as bad.

MO: Ware Road used to be very different because I remember as a child when there had been a fall of snow, going the whole length of Ware Road, being pulled in a tobaggan. You'd never be able to do that nowadays.

LACEY:Well, there was a ditch on one side of the Ware Road, you see. The ditch came round from Addis's.

TB:Through the alleys.

LACEY:Yes, and then it went all the way down the Ware Road, one side of the Ware Road, and then turned and went under the road and out into the Crib's (?) Corner, dead water -

TB:Down beside the houses in Ware Road.

LACEY:Down beside the houses in Tamworth Road, under the road again, and out by the biscuit factory.

TB:The Gulphs is the real name, I think.

RM:I can remember seeing Neal and one of his men standing there after the thing, and the whole place was flooded.

LACEY:Mrs. Cooper and Mr. Cooper and the son were all the same size.

ALL: Huge.

LACEY:I mean, if Bill Cooper, the old man, got on a bus no one else could get up or down the aisle because he blocked it.


LACEY:And Ware Road had plane trees for a long way down.

TB:All the way down it.

LACEY:Nearly down to -

TB:I remember the plane trees.

JP: And it had a horses' trough still, down by Christ's Hospital.

ES: Why was it called the Devil's Ditch?

TB:I don't know. We called it the Devil's Ditch as children, that's all I know.

JP: The sloping field opposite, which is now, of course, built on, that was when you prayed for snow because that's where we tobogganed. How people didn't come straight over into Ware Road -

LACEY:Well, they did.

JP: Yes, they did occasionally.

LACEY:Someone was killed.

JP: Only one.

TB:There was a hedge, wasn't there.

LACEY:There was a hedge and then there was a ditch.??

TB:And up Gallows Hill there was a lovely row –before those green-roofed houses were built -a lovely row of beech trees. We used to go and gather beech nuts.

LACEY:I always remember in the war-time a Lockheed, I think I'm right. No, a double plane it was. It was an odd plane and it was on a transporter and they hadn't folded its wings back properly and it got wedged in Gallows Hill. You could get your bicycles underneath because it was on a transporter but it was wedged there for ages before they got it out again. Somebody –I suppose it was one of the coloured people driving the van -

And the Americans used to bring bombs through the town. I remember seeing that, too.

TB:And I remember a plane came down on the golf-links didn't it? I remember as a small child going to see it.

LACEY:And ~mother thing you used to see, Do you remember the races? The air-races?

ALL: The King's Cup.

LACEY:The turning point was on Hartham somewhere.

JP: Well, they came straight over our house in Page Road, which is off Gallows Hill.

JB: Hartham was a corner turning point.

LACEY:It was a turning point, yes. We used to go up on to the allotments -there used to be some allotments where the green-roofed houses are now -and we used to take a picnic up there and watch them come.

JP:We lived in Page Road in those days and I remember all our curtains ? ? They were very, very low. And great excitement. Do you remember the introduction of the new ?? There were all these ? of the single wing, which was the norm, and I remember this year they introduced this new fast plane, the new ? ; it was handicapped tremendously and we stood open-mouthed as it whizzed by, wondering what it would do now. It was the first change from this single, light plane. I think they decided it was too dangerous after that. The war coming (?)

LACEY:You used to have to climb up the bank and get off the Ware Road to come up through the allotments. It was terrific.

MO: John, I suppose you remember the first motor cars in Hertford.

JB: Well, most of them. There weren't many, anyway. Everything practically was horse-drawn. If you saw a motor car it was an event, really.

LACEY:Somebody walked with a flag in front.

TB:Ford car, we used to callthe tin ... ?

LACEY:Tin Lizzie.

TB:Tin Lizzie. And then when the buses started, that was a thrill. Harvey & Burrows buses. Brown and yellow buses.

JB: Well, they used to race up and down Ware Road, didn't they? They were all competing againsteach other.

TB.: Well, there was only Harvey & Burrowsto start with, wasn't there?

JB: Well, there was a terrific lot of competition in the finish.

TB.: They were the only ones to start with, I know. I remember being taken as a child on a Harvey & Burrowsbus to Welwyn Garden City (they were building Welwyn Garden City)as something special,and also the bus ride was something special.

LACEY:Well, you used to get to London for half-a-crown on the train.

JP: If you went workman's, it was only one and tuppence. We used to go up on the workman's, which was half-past six, six forty or something, for one and tuppence and do shopping.

RM:Well, the train was one and sixpence from midday.

TB:I remember the bluebell-time whenthe Londoners used to come down.

JP: And you'd see them cycling back.

TB:And bank holidays they used to queue up by where the Corn Exchange is for the Green Line buses and they used to have to put on extra ones. Queues and queues of people.

ES: Where did they go for the bluebells?


JB: And Bramfield.

LACEY:There were a lot behind Presdales. There used to be a field there. You were not supposed to go. You were trespassing and you used to go to Walnut Tree Walk, run across the field as fast as we could go, through the barbed wire, into the most lovely bluebell wood. And then the return journey back, but it was trespassing.

RM:Well, where the Sele Farm houses are now, we used to go and collect mushrooms.

TB:That's right. Also, down by the Hertingfordbury Road we used to get mushrooms, just where that wood was? ?(Epcombs field opp Chelmsford? Wood)

And, of course, St. Andrew street was full of yards, little yards with cottages.

LACEY:Do you remember the milkman there?

TB:Hayden, wasn't it?(next to Hayden’s Yard 85? St Andrews Street. Patemans)

LACEY:Had a lovely china hen that always had a lot of eggs in it. And a churn stood in the window and he used to go up and down North Road deIivering milk in a pony and trap.

TB:Well, Topham used to come from Hertingfordbury Mill and you used to go for your milk in a jug.

JB: lt was always dished out of a big can: a half-pint or a pint.

LACEY:And the measure used to hang on the side. Very hygienic.

RM:I remember in London Colney, once, my car stopped just behind this milk float and the woman came out with the empty bottles and she put them under the thing, filled it up from the bloody great urns they had and took them back to the house.

MO: John, you remember Hertford in the First World War, don't you?

JB: Well, yes.

MO: Because your sister was saying that you had bombs on Hertford in the FirstWorld War.

LACEY:Along the North Road.

JB: The Zeppelins, yes.Down Bull Plain. They were killed in the club down Bull Plain.

LACEY:They came out to watch the 3eppelin.

JB: The Hertford Club on Bull Plain. There was quite a few killed there.

TB:Mr. Hudson.

LACEY:Mr .Gregory was killed.

TB:Mr. Gregory, the organist at All Saints. And there was another one. There were three of them killed(Mr Jevons, Mr Cartledge, Ernest Jolly, Mr Spicer, George Game(in Bull Plain)).

RM:They were in the Conservative Club there.

TB:That's right. And there were cottages where there is the Nursing Association place. Little tiny cottages.

JP: There was a dairy there. Because I was born in Bull Plain, No.9 Bull Plain, where Canvas Holidays are now. My father had in those days his builders merchants shop and we lived above and below and, as a matter-of-fact, my father and mother were getting married in that October and all their wedding presents were out and they were covered in glass and everything. They were actually married the day thefuneral took place. So

yes, I remember her talking about that.

TB:Mr. Cartledge, that was the other one. They had a draper's shop in Fore Street.

SIMON: Were there any preparations for bombs in the First World War. How did you know that Zeppelins were on their way?

ALL: Whistles!

JP: Whistles used to blow.

TB:There were kind of air-raid wardens. They weren't calledair-raid wardens. Myfather was one, in Fore street. I don't know how they knew but they used to go out and blow whistles.

JB: They probably got it through the telephone or something because they were very slow-moving things.

JP: Well, I was going to say, my Grandfather and Grandmother lived where is now Willsher's Café (Salisbury Square, conjunction with Railway Street) or whatever it .calls itself, and that was the telephone exchange. That was thetelephone exchange. And I can just remember the girls there operating handsets, as a child. And I think my Mother -I wish we'd all asked questions at the time but we don't,do we? -she used to do a little part-time fill-in and she was actually on the switchboard when the news came through to get everybody out because of what had happened.

LACEY:I can remember the stamps in the First World War. And I can remember going to Walkers (?) Stores for it in a pram and my Mother pushed from the back and I sat up grandly in the front. I can remember that.

RM:I can remember when they had these telephones where ? ?

ALL: Oh yes, yes.

RM:And I remember ringing up one day. I wanted to speak to Dr. Gilmour. And he said, 'Oh, you can't get him; he's over in Much Hadham. 1911 give you the number, if you like'.

JP: It was a service. They did a lot more than just put you through because they did know everybody. There were so few on the exchange.

RM:This chap happened to be a territorial and he was the orderly for Dr. Gilmour in the T.A.

MO: Well, JohnBunyan's got a story about you, Reginald,playing cricket. You tell that story, when Dr Mortiswas summoned for an emergency and he tookhis pads off -

JB: He took his pads off and somebody else had to put them on .

MO: I suppose somebody came up on a bicycle?

JB: I forget how they came up and fetched him. I remember him being called out. I believe there was a telephone in the pavilion then, though, wasn't there? I know they fetched him out and old Bill Hollis put your pads on and took your place.

RM:I was keeping wicket.

MO: Hertford, was it? Hertford Cricket Club? .At Balls Park?

RM:Yes, I was the captain for some years. I remember playing golf at the Golf Club once with Dr. Gilmour and. Somebody came rushing across and said 'You're wanted out at Letty Green.' So I said to Gilmour, 'You practise your putting .. I'll come straight back.' So I went out to Letty Green and the woman said, 'We're so sorry to send for you, Doctor. Dr. Gilmour's our doctor but he's away on an urgent case ..'


JP: Of course,living in Bull Plain I can remember the fair that used to be there. Used to sit in sitting-room and the swings came practically up to the window. And, also, of course, the market was there, in those days . Much more interesting than the market today. Remember the tuppenny man? He used to throw everything on the floor and nothing was more than tuppence.

LACEY:And the Banana King?

JP: Oh yes! I can't bear to buy bananas at the price they are today when you think you could get a thing that size for half-a-crown...

RM:We used to buy them and keep them down in the cellar, a great big bunch. Buy them green and they gradually ripen.

TB:And Michaelmas and May Day they used to have big cattle markets as well as the fair. And they used to dress the horses; plait their tails and their manes and get them all up with their medals and things and then they'd parade up and down Fore Street. Oh, it was wonderful. We used to watch from the windows. Wonderful sight!

LACEY:Whitsun, it was, wasn't it?


LACEY:Because the wagons used to have special things put on their wheels, decorated with flowers. I can remember them being hung up in the barn.

JB: There was a chap used to come on that bit of grass by Hartham Lane and he used to sell cheap crockery.

LACEY:The China King.

JB: And he was quite an entertainer.

JP: They were all entertainers in those days.

JB: He'd throw about a whole dinner service. 'How much?' and he'd be tossing them about. '12/6d.? Oh no, you can't have them for that. No. No. I'd sooner do that with them.' And he'd smash 'em down.

LACEY:I used to like to see him juggle plates, like a pack of cards.

TB:Used to be lovely to watch, those people on Bull Plain.

LACEY:And do you remember the flares down Market Place?

JP: Yes, yes,

LACEY:And the market used to go on for hours.

JP: And do you remember, too, that the man who used to make some sort of toffee would throw it over a hook -

LACEY:-and pull it.

JP: And we didn't all die of it, did we? And I'm sure he'd licked his hands before he pulled it . And there was another man, I can also remember as a child, he was selling shaving soap and he put it in his mouth and said, 'If it's good enough for me to eat, it must be good enough for you to shave with.' Another man used to be tied up in chains. And they'd break loose. You didn't need anything on Saturday afternoons but the market. And, of course, you could go round as a child quite happily.

LACEY:And it was never lit by electric light. It was lit by those flares.

JP: Naptha flares. And, of course, Market Street itself was amarket, then. I remember the chocolate man who was so hoarse selling his stuff.

ST: Do you know where these traders came from?

LACEY:All over the place.

JP: Mostly London by the sound of them.

LACEY:Well, they travelled round. from market to market.

MO: And the shops used to keep open much longer.

JP: Oh yes, yes, on a Saturday night.

JB: We kept open 'til 9. In fact, at Christmas time, 'til 10 or 11, catching the drunks, if we could.

MO: You managedto catch a drunk.

JB: Oh, I cauht a drunken sailor one night. Well, I didn't catch him but I'd got the shop open and all the rest had gone to supper -Miss Marks and Miss Dalton and all that lot –and left me on my own there and this chap rolled in the door. And says in a drunken voice, 'I Want a gold watch.' I thought, 'Well I must be a bit careful here.' Anyway,I fetched down a gold watch. 'Have you got a gold chain?' I fetched these things out and laid them fairly handy. So I said, 'That'll be -', I think it was somewhere about £25, which was a lot of money in those days. You could get a gold watch for about thirty-five bob. Nine carat. So he dives in his pocket and fetches out a wad of notes. 'You better help yourself. 'So I helped myself, packed it all up and got him out of the shop and I was just putting it all down on the till-sheet and they came back. 'Bout time we shut up. There's not much doing, is there?' I said, 'We-e-e-ll.'


LACEY:Not so badly!

ST: John, how did you find your way into the watch-making business?

JB: Well, I didn't find my way in, I was pushed in, really. I was at school, getting towards finishing time, and up rolled a tricycle outside and off got Miss Marks, marched in and she said, 'Mr. Hyatt (?), have you got anyone that's finishing this term?' So he said, 'Yes, several. Why?' 'Well,' she said, 'We want an apprentice.' So he said, 'Well, there's so-and-so and so-and-so and JohnBunyan.' 'He'll do,' she said. 'I like the name.'(laughter)So that was that.

MO: She was a Sunday School teacher.

TB:Well, you weren't asked in those days what you wanted to be, were you?

JB: You had no choice. You were only glad to get a job.

ST:How old were you, John?

JB: Fourteen.

ST: Was that your first job?

JB: That was my first full-time job. I'd been butcher's boy. Used to run up Queens Road and Ware Road with joints from a butcher in the Covered Market on a Saturday.

MO: How much did you get for that, then, John?

JB: One and sixpence for the day. That was pretty good pay.

TB:Yes, well everyone employed errand boys in those days. We had one.

JB: Well, almost everything was delivered.

JP: My Mother would be horrified to live in these present days. She never went shopping. She lifted the 'phone and Brewsters would send her one piece of filleted fish. It didn't have to be a big order.

RM:The butcher and the baker used to call daily.

JP:, And the milkman, the grocer, Everyone delivered. When I see Tesco's big notice 'We have changed your way of shopping', I think 'not half you haven't'

JB: Not exactly for the better.

JP: No, I don't think so. We haven't got the service that we had then from everybody ... When I started work in 1936 I only got 12s.6d.

TB:I started at ten bob aweek.


TB:We thought we were wealthy.

JB: This is a photograph of our old shop front, actually. They used to hang all the things on the window in those days. The big coffee pots and tea pots hung on little red tape.

MO: When was it, John, that you used to have to cycle up to Hatfield House?

RM:That was a weekly job, wasn't it?

JB: Yes, that was a weekly contract.

LACEY:To wind the clocks?

JB: I used to go on an old New Hudson All-Weather bike that weighed about three parts of a hundredweight and 1'd start out from Hertford about 9 o'clock, go to Mrs. Somebody at Epcombs(Hertingfordbury).

ES: Well, it's presumably not the Thomson-McCauslands?

JB: Anyway, from there I went through the Greens and did one or two schools. Then I went to the bottom of Essendon Hill to a house there, a daughter, the Hon. Mrs. Gibbs, did some there. Then I went on to Hatfield House. That was about a hundred and ten clocks there, in those days. Then I went on from there,to Newgate Street, Cuffley. I've been as far as Cuffley on a bike. Then back to Ponsborne Park andfinish up coming through Bayford to old Powell. He had a place on the left-hand side coming through Bayford. He hadn't got many clocks. only about ten or ???

MO: Wasn't there a dreadful occasion when you were at Hatfield House and you'd got a heavy cold?

JB: Oh, that was the old butler. I went into his office and he said, 'What's the matter with you?' and I said 'Oh, I've got a terrific cold.' He said, 'The family's not here. You get round and get finished and come back and see me.' So I got round and finished and went back. He'd got a concoction there in a glass. I never did know what it was. He said, 'Drink this and go down to the house carpenter and get him to fix you up on a couch and have a couple of hours sleep and then you'll be all right.' I said,'Well, I can't afford ...' 'Well, an hour's sleep, then. Have a sleep before .you go, anyway.' So down I went after I'd taken this concoction and I slept off the worst of it. I went round in a bit of a dream.


MO: You managed to cycle home all right, did you?

JB: Oh yes!

RM:He was breathalysed.


JB: I finished up once, on a very bad night, down Bayford Hill over in the ditch with the bike and a bag on top of me and all the stuff that I'd taken to show the housemaids for Christmas alltipped out. Fortunately, a moonlight night and I was able to pick 'em all up, it was on snow; so I picked 'em all up and bunged 'em back in the suitcase. Then I picked up my bike and the front wheel was round looking at me. I had to pick that up and put it on one shoulder and the bag on the other and trudge home and I knew I'd got that lot by the time I got home, I can tell you. Good job I was pretty tough in those days. Just as well I was.

LACEY:What were your lamps?

JB: Oh, acetylene. I'd got acetylene on the front, I think.

MO: But talking of snow, that reminds me of when the water meadows in West Street used to get flooded..

LACEY:Oh, Castle Meads.

TB:And they used to go skating there.

LACEY:I went skating on those, several times.

JP: And also on the meads at Chadwell.

JB: My old father had several sets of skates. I never did do any skating but he did a lot of skating. It used to flood and freeze pretty regularly in the old days.

JP: They used to reckon on skating every winter.

LACEY:Mr. Tomlin that lived in Cromwell Roan used to have those long, long Finland skates.

TB:My Grandmother used to tell us about when the wide water froze and they cooked an ox on it.

JP: Roasted an ox on it!

TB:You know where the wide water is? Where the boats are now, the marina is now, that's called the wide water.

MO: That's a lovely name, wide water.

JP: Nicer than marina.

LACEY:Well, they've changed it all very much there. I took photographs when they did that flood prevention at Cowbridge: where they put the river in to the polythene tubes, moved it from one side to the other. I've got snaps of that. And they've got a tractor down on the river bed working on one side.

JP: They used to be flooded a lot there, didn't they?

TB:Well, it's not so many years since it was flooded down here.

JP: Yes, but that was an exceptional one. But, I mean, Chambers Street was pretty regularly flooded.

TB:Chambers Street was always flooded. They've cured it now.

JP: Oh yes, that big scheme did it.

TB:That wasn't so long ago because my youngest boy was at school. I remember he came in and said, 'We're going down to help Chambers Street clear uptheir houses and he got down to the front door and said, 'Oh, we're supposed to ask our parents if we can go.' I said, 'Much good now!' He'd already changed. But he said it was terrible down there. The smell!

JB: Yes, it was terrible. Right up their walls. Well, the Baptist Church had quite a lot of that. I've got an old neighbour, by the way, of 97. If you could get to talk to her. You'd have to go to her. But she's been in Hertford since she was 3!. And she's still got her mental agility.

TB:Who's that?

JP: Eunice Abrahams. Isn't that a lovely name? And she was Eunice Smith before

at Westrope's (?)

TB:She still alive?

JP: Yes, yes, indeed. She still looks after herself. She has arthritis in her hips and moves slowly but that doesn't stop her going out and sweeping her leaves and doing all the things I couldn't do.

TB:Oh, I say! Yes, I knew her.


questions, she'd answer all right.

TB:And old Jack Doyle.

JP: Yes, that's another one .

TB:He's nearly 92. He said to me, 'Oh, Hertford isn't like it was in our young days.'

JB: And it certainly isn't.

JP: And Gordon Akers is another one who's lived in Hertford all his life. He, again, is arthritic in the knees. But he'd be a very good man to talk to. He was a very big man at Christ Church, the one that's been pulled down in Port Vale. And he ended up as Registrar for Weddings. He had a long connection with the area.

TB:Jack Doyle used to collect rates, didn't he?

JP: That's right. He was therate man.

RM:Oh, I met him the other day.

JP: Yes, he still walks down to the shops.

JB: He's still very active.

JP: Oh, I wouldn't say veryactive, but he keeps going, poor man.

MO: A bit like the pubs, there used to be a lot of churches in Hertford.

RM:He used to ring me up and say, 'Your rates are owing.'


JP: Well, they did look after you in those days, you see.

TB:There's only one church been taken down, isn't there? There was a church in Raynham Street, wasn't there? And then anotherone in Old Cross. St. Marythe Less was at Old Cross and St. Nicholas was in Maidenhead Street.

LACEY:Yes, and there's a lane down the side of Adam's Yard, which is Barber's, which is called St. Nicholas Lane. Obviously there must have been a crossing there at one time because there does look as if there's been a bridge there. That must have been the entrance to where the church was. Where's the font of that? The font was saved from when they pulled down St. Nicholas Church.

TB:The font from St. Marythe Less is in our church, St. Andrews.

LACEY:Yes, but I believe the other one is somewhere else in the town.

RM:I've got some fonts in my garden. Because it used to belong to Norris's before I bought it and they'd obviously??

JP: Good gracious!

LACEY:They likely belong to one of the churches. They pulled down Christ Church but they didn't pull down the hall, did they?

TB:No, it was a little school, wasn't it, at one time? Years ago? a little school.

MO: You went to Bengeo, didn't you, JB? Because you've lived in Russell Street all your life, haven't you?

JB: Yes, yes.

MO: But you went to Bengeo School.

JB: Well, there wasn't any choice then. You went where you had to go.

RM:There used to be a school pretty well opposite you.

JB: Yes, it came there before I finished schooling but I went to Bengeo before that started.

MO: Wasn't there a school at Cowbridge? The schools were attached to the churches, weren't they?

JB; Mostly, yes. The Bengeo one was attached to Bengeo Church, really.

LACEY:Built level. You could go from the churchyard into the school.

JB: Lady Longmore used to make an occasional visit.


TB:There was Infants, Boys and Girls.



JB: She was very fond of a pointer. ? ? 'What are you doing, young man ?? under your ribs.


Yes! 'What do you think you're doing, young man' and all the while she was digging you with the sharp end of a pointer.

ES: There used to be a school in our house in West Street -Miss Fountain's. Nobody went there?

TB:I went to Miss Hilton's. You know where the old people's houses are, well, there was a school in those gardens.

ES: That's right. Someone was telling me who lives in those flats.

TB:Yes, I went there until I was about ten.

ES: Were you there with MonicaGilbert?

TB:Yes. yes. we went together.

ES: She explained that she went to school there and now lives in those flats. She taught music there.

LACEY:I went to Miss Fountain's School but not in West Street.

JP:And Miss Cox's at the bottom of Port Hill. Miss Fountain had various places.

ES: I thought it was Miss Fountain and Sister somebody.

MO: And Miss Bose (?) was it?

LACEY:We used to go down a yard at the back of Sheffield's, the chemist, and it was there. And then she moved from there to where Oddbins is now(corner of Salisbury Square and Bull Plain). They'd taken a floor out of that place, there were three floors,and we were in the top floor, and those tiny little windows at the top, and then I went to the Grammar School.

JP:You saw Roses at the bottom when you were on top. (stationers on Bull Plain)

LACEY:Yes, they'd taken out the third floor.

JP: I never knew that.

LACEY:I couldn't think what was wrong with it.Then I suddenly realised that the floor had gone.

MO: That's where Emma Marks was married, wasn't she? She married my Grandfather Rose and they lived at Rose's Corner.

LACEY:On the corner, where Oddbins is now.

MO: And I always remember my Mother saying that her mother, Emma Marks, had gone down the social scale because she was a watchmaker's daughter who lived in Fore Street and she'd married a printer who lived in Back Street.(laughter)In those days that was a social solecism. Hertford was riddled with class distinction.

LACEY:There wasa terrible row in my family: my Mother's father was a tradesman; my Father was a professional and my Grandmother Lacey never really forgave him for marrying my Mother.

TB:It was terrible, wasn't it?

LACEY:And Queens Road was the place to live, wasn't it?

TB:Oh yes, that was the road. And North Road was a lovely road in those days.

LACEY:When you started living in the Ware Road you were getting a bit ….(laughter)

TB:Oh, they were a snobby lot in those days, when we were children. My Mother was.

MO:Morgan's Road was very exclusive, wasn't it?

JP: And Bengeo. Do you remember Eddie William’s revues? He used to make a lot of jokes about Bengeo.

LACEY:Warren Park Road was full of very big houses and had stabling and that sort of thing.

JP: Can't you remember the revues? Eddie Williams and 'Mrs. Muir. They used to do them in St. Nicholas Hall. Mrs. Muir did ? ? up the yard(above stables, 60 Fore Street)

LACEY:She lived up the yard, didn't she?

MO: Who was that?

TB:Mrs. Muir.

MO: Oh, up the yard. Well, yards have a special kind of connotation, don't they? There were all thoseyards up St. AndrewStreet.

JB: Most of them are connected with the old coaches that used to run from London to Hertford. And they all stayed at Hertford for the night before they went on through Stevenage.

MO:So were they attached to the pubs?

JB: They stayed at the pub, and they were left in the yard and at the back, nine times out of ten, there was a shoe-maker, to do the shoes for the horses before they moved off. And stables too. Nearly all of them had stables at the back. One team stopped there, the other one went on.

JP: Do you remember the last shoe-makers in Hertford? End of Railway Street.

LACEY:What was his name? Friend of Grandfather's. Horace. Horace had two sisters who lived behind Coleman's. I can't think of his surname (Hughes) (Rayments of Molewood Road lived there)

JP: Well, as you come from Hertford town up Railway Street and you've got the little development, Warren Place, it was somewhere around there. It's difficult to place it. We always used to stop on the way home from school to watch. Because I went to school down St. John's Street and my Grandmother was at the end in Salisbury Square. By that time Railway Street was quite presentable and you could walk down safely. And we always stopped to watch him shoeing the horses.

LACEY:But his stuff was so full of rubbish at the back that he was nearly on the pavement. How he shut the door, I don't know. There was another farrier at Old Cross, wasn't there? Near the tobacconist.

TB:Yes, just here.

JB: That's right. Almost opposite Hart (?) & Blane (?)(Hartham Lane). Yes, there was one there. And there was one right in the middle of Railway Street.

LACEY:Yes, we're talking about that one now.

JB: I knew that old chap. Can't think of his name.

LACEY:Horace I think his name was.

JB: Horace -oh dear.

TB:Wilkinson, wasn't it?

JP: No.

JB: He was in the fire service. Taught me all I knew about being a fire man.

MO: Were you a fireman, John?

JB: Yes, I did three and a half years as a fire man.

MO: With Barker?

JB: 39 -

MO:Oh, no. That was in the war.

JB: Yes.

TB:The hooter used to go and they'd rush out to the fire station.

JP: What, the second war?

JB: Yes, this last war. I did three and a half years then I went into the army afterwards.

LACEY:Did you fight the fire at Botsford's?

JB: Yes! Yes, I helped. with that one. I helped to keep it going.(laughter)

LACEY:And the poor prisoners-of-war that had to chip all the ice off the road. Dreadful, wasn't it?

JB: Oh, dreadful. It was really cold.

LACEY:With the big marks on their backs.

ES: Where did they come from? Where were they billeted, the prisoners-of-war?

LACEY:I don't know. The only big one we knew was at Hatfield Broad Oak.

TB:There were a lot at Hertford Heath, weren't there?

ST: How did local peopleview the prisoners-of-war?

LACEY:They were sorry for them. Well, thatday. The ice was hanging off the telephone wires. There was a raging fire and it was freezing outside.

ST: Were they mainly Germans and Italians?

LACEY:Yes! Yes!. When I worked at Bishop's Stortford as a nurse and we had a large quantity of Italians and Germans. And when there was an air-raid siren the Germans laid in bed at attention and the Italians ran around calling on everybody they could think of and crossing themselves and waiting for the bombs to fall.

RM:I remember the Italians -I was in India during the War and the Italian prisoners-of-war worked in the hospitals and at Christmas time it was the custom in the British Army that the officers waited on the men and the Italians were absolutely amazed when we started doing that.

LACEY:Oh, they were a perfect nuisance, the Italians were. They caused absolute chaos, The Germans used to do what they were told.

LACEY:Most of them were from the Africa Corps, all in this dusty colour and funny peaked hats.

TB:I was about four when war broke out but, of course, in those days, there weren't lorries carrying the men. The men walked and they commandeered as many places as they could in Fore Street.

MO: This is the First World War?

TB:Yes, they commandeered our dining-room. We had stables at the back. They commandeered those. And I remember my Father carrying me down to see these men all sleeping on the big dining-room floor. And the horses. And the men in charge of the horses slept in the stables with them.·

ST: Who are these men?

TB:The 1914 War English troops.

ST: And these are English troops?

TB:Yes, marching through, you see ?? the sloping field.

LACEY:That field along the Ware Road which is built on, we were talking about tobogganing on it, apparently the horse lines used to be on that, my Mother told me, and there was a big scar on the top of the hill and apparently that wthe latrines.

JP: I know my neighbour had soldiers billeted on them in the First War.

TB:You see, they just marched. They marched and marched everywhere.

LACEY:And Grandma Barber in Castle Street, where the Grammar School is now, that was horse lines??Grandfather went to the War but Tom wasn't fit, stayed and helped his mother. And there was horse lines there. They had to provide the fodder for the horses coming into the town.

TB:And where St. John's Hall is now, that was all field, they put all the mules and, a maid we had took us children to see these mules and we went down with ringworm. And Dr.??

Whether we did or not, I don't know.

JP: Sounds likely.

MO: Do I remember that Botsford's fire? I'm not quite sure. There was a lot of trouble because the captain of the fire brigade refused to call in help from the Ware Fire Brigade. There used to be such rivalry.

JB: Oh, quite likely.

JP:That was my father.(laughter)(Captain of Hertford Fire Brigade)

MO: Am I right?

JP: Well, I don't know. Unfortunately I didn't know about this until after my Father had died, otherwise I would have asked. But in the Museum you have a history of the fire brigade. I have seen it. Because my Father's father and his father were all captainsof the fire brigade. And it has a report of this fire. I didn'tthink it was Botsford's. I thought it was another fire where they had trouble with hydrants -they were ineffective -and he had refused help, according to this write-up in The Mercury and he did have to attend a meeting of the Council. But I didn't know about any of this until after my Father died. I would like to have known his version of it, obviously.

TB:Was that Arnold Thomas's in Maidenhead Street?

JP: Arnold Thomas, that's the one I'm trying to think of.

TB:That was on ,a Sunday morning. I didn't see it but Iremember we were in the garden and we were dared to leave the garden.

JP: I think that was the one that the fuss was made about.

JB: That was the old cinema at Arnold Thomas's, that fire you're talking of.

JP: Yes, I think that was the one where there was this argument about whether they should have called Ware in.

JB: And the old cinema on the corner, that all went up in that. That was during the War.

TB:In Maidenhead Street that was.

MO: Where Boots used to be.

LACEY:I remember the biscuit factory being on fire (July 5th, 1918)

JB: What, Gilbertson & Page?

LACEY:Being taken to see it, afterwards. I can remember seeing it blazing from the bedroom window.

ES: Where was that?

TB:Gilbertson &Page, where the old Hertford (Bus)Garage was.

LACEY:And I remember being taken over the level crossing and down Mead Lane to see the firemen damping it down. They all had the brass helmets on. And I can remember King's Mead School, which was for M.D. (sc. "mentally deficient", i.e. slow learners). One of the classrooms went on fire and we had a window that looked straight up Gallows Hill, a bedroom window, standing standing there with my Mother and seeing the fire engine and it was horse-drawn.

JB: One of the old horse-drawn steamers?

LACEY:Yes, a steamer. That went up there to the fire at the school.

JB: They had to light the fire to get the steam going.

LACEY:By the time it passed us it was sparking.

TB:When I used to cycle to school in Ware that was the Union(workhouse), the old Union, the King's Mead. School and there was a railed-out paving outside and there used to be the men one side and the women the other -. Used to keep them separate, the men and the women.

LACEY:I have a photograph of the Matron. It was the workhouse, then, The Matron, Walters, her name was. The Master and the Matron of the Workhouse, before it was a school.

JB: Yes, I remember the old steamers. They used to have four horses to pull them.

LACEY:I can remember there was agrey among those horses.

JP: Gracious, I don't remember that.

LACEY:Well, I suppose, if you're very small and see something rather dramatic like that, you do sometimes remember it.

MO: There's always been this rivalry between Ware and Hertford.

LACEY:They hate each other's guts.

MO: I think it's better now.

LACEY:They've been warring ever since early days, haven't they?

MO: They used to throw stones.

JP: Oh,yes. There used to be battles down at the bottom of the hill, so they say.

JB: They used to have brick fights and that sort of thing between Hertford and Ware. Dreadful!

JP: But now we've got so many people from other areas, it's no longer the same make-up.

TB:When you used to go out when you were younger, you knew, everybody you passed but youdon't now.

JP: The population'son the move more isn't it too?

TB:Well, when I went to school there were no houses after you got to King's Mead, the police station.

JP: No, that's right.

LACEY:Well, when I was born (7) I was the last family, the last house, before Mead Lane. There was a space, and a dump. I don't know what they dumped there. It grew the most beautiful Evening Primroses and that was covered with Evening Primroses. And then theybuilt -

TB:The two houses.

LACEY:No, three houses they built. The police took one during the War. And then there was another house, and then Miss Farringdon. And then came Mead Lane, which had anopen ditch, again.

TB:Then there was that row of houses.

LACEY:Yes, and then they built the garage. Then there was two houses, then the little shop, then a row of cottages and where Hudson's stands now, and those places stand, Lakes had a field full of chickens.

JP: Well, Hudson's kept their garden for a long, long time by the side. It's not many years since that was built on.

LACEY:Then there was two houses; one, the man was a lock-keeper, I think he was -something to do with the river and he was a bee-keeper, used to take all the swarms in the district.

JP: You can't get one now.

LACEY:And then there was the row of houses that Norris's built.

TB:I remember those being built when I was going to school.

JP: Well, my neighbour remembers when she was moved in to where she is, at 214 Ware Road, when she first married, that they looked over the fields and she watched and she remembers when they were first built. She had a period away, when she went to Braintree, but she came back to the same house but when they first moved there it was just fields, which is why she wanted to live there.

LACEY:Well, Audrey Kemp's father owned all the place, King's Road (not Audrey Kemp of (in 2011) Rayment Street. She was a Martimes of Ware Road)

JP: Well, all behind where I am were his fieldswhere he kept turkeys. And also he had an orchard.

LACEY:And also he had peacocks there. He had peacocks.

JP: Yes, well we know because we lived at 198 and we lived with the peacock noise.

LACEY:They had to put them away ? In the War.

JP:I don't know.I know they went but when we first went there we had to listen to peacocks. Quite a weird noise.

LACEY:The peacocks apparently used to scream, start screaming, before the siren went, sometimes.

RM:I've often thought of getting peacocks in my garden but then I thought, 'that noise.'

LACEY:Well, anyhow, they had to be put out.

JB: They can be a bit of a nuisance, can't they?

JP:Yes, I know when they had them up at Crouchfield, the community school,they used to damage cars. They were quite a problem.

ES: But who used to drink in all those pubs, then, if the population was so much smaller?

TB:That was why Back Street and the Green were so bad because they all drank. There was terrible cruelty.

JP: Yes, but you see you're talking about 'drinking' but they drank at a much less price than the people drink today.

TB:2d. or 3d. a pint.

JP: And they hadn't got anything else. They'd no comforts. They drank to keep themselves going.

LACEY:And they all lived in such small??

JP:They were tenements, just as you see in pictures of inner cities.

JB: Most of those pubs in Railway Street were door-to-door, almost, and all they had were just a few customers that were friends,more or less. The man went out to work and the woman looked after the pub and they probably only sold about a barrel a week.

TB:There used to be terrible fights, didn't there?

LACEY:I can remember being taken down there. Grandfather used to go to look at the granary that was on the end where Lloyd's Bank is standing now. That belonged to Barber's and he used to inspect the property, go round looking at things of a bank holiday, and htook me with him to see the granary and we went down Railway Street and they were fighting like mad. They were fighting, kicking each other, men were down on the floor and they wore boots then, sparks were flying in all directions. And he spoke to them and said, 'Look here, Stop it. I've got a child here with me. I want to go further on.'And they did stop. And, honestly, we passed through them and they started off immediately again.

RM:My wife had a cousin who was a Matron at Holts shopping and she came back and she said, 'Oh, there must be a school round here. I've seen lots of boys. What school is it?' So my wife said if they were scruffy they came from Haileybury; if they were well-behaved and. quiet they came from Goldings.


TB:That was Barnardo's, wasn't it.

RM:Barnardo's, yes.

TB:Because where Sele Road is, behind the hospital, that was all fields. There were allotments up there. I remember my father had an allotment and there was a path. You could walk from North Road round into Hertingfordbury Road, which is the roadnow, I suppose, Sele Road. Gracious, there's been some changes.

ST: Maybe we should wind up the official session this morning. Thanks everyone for coming along. Thank you, Thora, for hosting it.

TB:It's been fun. It's been interesting.

ST: It's been very comfortable. I'm sure everyone enjoyed sitting in front of your fire.


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