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Transcript TitleBlakes, Glynis (O1996.22)
IntervieweeGlynis Blakes (GB) (no. 78 Hertingfordbury Road) and Betty (B),
InterviewerPeter Ruffles (PR) and Jean Riddell (JR)
Date12/08/1996
Transcriber byJane Page

Transcript

Hertford Oral History Group

Recording no: O 1996.22

Interviewees: Glynis Blakes (GB) (no. 78 Hertingfordbury Road) and Betty (B), a neighbour at no. 86.

Date: 12th August, 1996

Venue: 86, Hertingfordbury Road

Interviewers: Peter Ruffles (PR) and Jean Riddell (JR)

Transcriber: Jane Page

************** unclear recording

[discussion] untranscribed material

JR: It's Monday 12th August, l996 and this is Jean Riddell speaking from Hertingfordbury Road and I'm in the company of Glynis Blakes who lives at no. 78 and her neighbour Betty, and another neighbour, Peter Ruffles and we're here to talk about Glynis' family and about Hertingfordbury Road and all the changes that have taken place in the town. Glynis, can you start off by telling us about your family, where you were born, and how your family came to be in Hertingfordbury Road.

GB: We came to be in Hertingfordbury Road mainly because my grandfather John Tubbert, he came from Dunlearie, Dublin, Ireland, and married Helen Walls who used to live in Chambers Street, who was the daughter of James Walls. He started the iron foundry down in Chambers Street. My grandparents married in l9l7 at St. John's Church (RC), Hertford and bought 78 Hertingfordbury Road somewhere between l9l8 and l920, that was after he got back from the war in France - he fought over there. On the house there was a down payment of £300 and they paid the rest off in mortgage payments afterwards. they had one daughter, Joan, who was born in l920 and part of the history of the family was that there were quite a few rows between the Walls family and the Tubberts. because the Walls being ironfounders and a little bit snobbish because it was a good business didn't like this Irish person who'd come over, particularly as one of his sisters was quite involved with the IRA albeit back in the l9l7 time. So, there was a little bit of a war between the two families on that. But anyway they got married and Joan, my mum, married my father in l942 - he came back from India on leave where he'd been sent during the war and he got married very quickly, married at the Mayflower hotel which at the time was in North Road, Hertford and at home I have the bill for their wedding reception which came to £4. l6s and something and that included the cake as well! (Probably reception only at Mayflower).

JR: That was very good, wasn't it?

GB: Oh, yes, yes, and again, interestingly there was a sort of war between the two families because Joan Tubbert was born in Hertford, although she had an Irish father, whereas Alban Victor Blakes my father, came from Ware.

JR: Oh!

GB: Oh dear, it was! Ware versus Hertford and that carried on even into my childhood, that sort of feeling at the back...Hertford people were far better than Ware people. I was born in l946 and my sister was born in l95l. She now lives in Ware whereas I still live in the family house. We went to St. Joseph's School at Hertingfordbury, the convent, as junior school, and then I left in l956, no '58 and went to Ware Grammar School and she left and went to Loretto College in St. Albans. She's married with 3 children, I'm unmarried and living in the house on my own!

JR: Glynis, when you were living here as a child, what were your strongest memories of the road and this part of the road here?

GB: OK. I was a child but the brickwork at the front of the houses was much taller because the road hadn't been built up then. (referring to the front garden retaining wall by the narrow pavement). I remember a vague path, a narrow path on the side of the houses and it was almost like sand.

JR: It wasn't really a pavement, then.

GB: Not as far as I can remember - it may well have been, but I can't remember it that way. Opposite, there was a huge, very high wall* behind which were allotments, of which we had 1½ and there was also an air raid shelter over there and we used to play down there - we used to flood regularly and we had a huge Victoria plum tree on the top and gooseberry bushes round the entrance, which we liked as well. Down the bottom of that was a small, it seemed like a river, but it was probably only a ditch, and a little pathway, the ditch and then just fields and you could walk all the way along the pathway towards Hertford and come out at some huge wooden gates which were by the Old Oak pub. We were banned from going down there, but we did quite often. *(remnant of the old Castle Kitchen gardens established in the late eighteenth century and bounded by a 20’ high wall opposite these villas).

PR: Was the shelter made by your family?

GB: Yes. And was shared by - well the Tubberts, the Blakes when Dad was home, and married, and Wallses, next door at no. 76. They came down the shelter as well, apparently.

PR: But it was a sort of family enterprise as it were?

GB: Yes, 'cos Jim Walls also had allotments over the road as well, a bit further down the road towards Hertford.

PR: And you had a little door in the wall.

GB: A little door in the wall.

PR: There were two doors, weren't there?

GB: Yes.

PR: One went straight in Jimmy's conserv.....well, greenhouse.

GB: That's right and his large brick wall they had there, against which he grew peaches.

PR: Yes, that's right, they had a buttress wall going in the opposite direction. Was the other door then yours?

GB: That went straight in on to ours, so you went in, the air raid shelter was on the left; our main garden going down to the bottom where the ditch was and that was mainly potatoes and veg. of all descriptions, soft fruit, things like that, and then on the right hand side of the door that you went through was another long oblong shaped piece of allotment which Mr. Finch used to dig over and use, and his was mainly apples, pears, plums - like a mini orchard.

JR: Did all the residents have an allotment then, as a right?

PR: No, but nearly all of them did and it wasn't town allotments, it was Lord Salisbury's land and you paid your allotment rent to Lord Salisbury, nothing to do with statutory allotments, like there were the other side of the railway bridge where Willowmead is...they were town allotments, but they were inferior, weren't they, because they were just wide open spaces, where you might have a few soft fruit bushes, but here there were fruit trees, summer houses and bits of lawn.

B: That was always flooded across there, well, very often. (Floods were almost always beyond the allotment land on the meadows between allotments and West Street)

GB: Particularly the other side of the ditch.

B: Look out from our upstairs window and look out and it was just like the Great Lakes, before they built the flats over there. They were pile driving for days, weren't they.

JR to B You didn't have one then?

B: No!

GB: I know with our fruit trees, the apples and the pears, my grandmother used to sell pounds of apples at the back door of our house, because I think it was probably illegal or something, 6d a pound and children from the Campfield estate and Sele Road used to come down and sneak up to the back door and buy 6 penn'orth of apples.

PR: Yes, we did the same, I'd forgotten the back door bit.

PR: Your mother used to sell at the back door too?

PR: Yes. And a lot of 'give away' to friends. A penny a pound, wasn't it?

GB: Well, these used to come to 6d but they also did, because we had chickens, eggs in isinglass and she used to sell those to the kids as well and runner beans and potatoes and any surplus.

JR: Were the chickens kept at the allotment?

GB: No, in the back garden of 78. I can remember as a child as well, we used to have the dummy china eggs to make the hens broody and then I don't know where my grandma got the eggs from but they hatched out and we had to keep them warm by the boiler in the kitchen, so there was always the cheep of chicks running around the boiler in the kitchen when I was little.

JR: That's nice.

PR: Oh, I think most people had them, we did, and Dyes next door. Dyes kept them longer than us.

B: You went to school in Hertford then, did you?

GB: I went to St. Joseph's. It started down St. John Street in Hertford opposite where the church is now, and then the nuns took it over to Hertingfordbury Convent.

JR: So your grandfather had the iron foundry?

GB: No, that was my great grandfather on my grandfather's side.

JR: Had you anything to do with that then or your father.........

GB: No, he worked at Ware Garage. Started as a mechanic after the war and worked up to company secretary.

B to J Sorry, I should have asked you, do you have milk in tea or anything, do you have milk or would you like it....without milk?

JR: No, no that's fine as it is, thank you, that's lovely. What about Peter, did you know Peter as a child?

GB: Yes.

PR: Didn't go to the same school though....I was with estate children, Sele Road.

JR: Yes, to St. Andrew's.

PR: St. Andrew's and Glynis was with the posh lot.

GB: That's right.

B: Well, we had evacuees in the road, didn't we, 'cos I know Mrs. Wackett had some evacuees, didn't she?

GB: Yes, and Cis did at one time.

B: They didn't reign very long though with her!

PR: But when you said no apples at the front gate, that could have been, apart from the possible illegality of it, it wasn't the kind of road to have a notice up saying 'Apples for Sale'.

GB: No, it was....posh!

PR: Privet hedges in almost every.....

GB: Yes, and you had a monkey tree in front of your house as well.

JR: The walls along the road were intact, nobody had a wall down to put a car in the front garden?

PR: Good gracious no!

JR: What happened though if you had a car, did your father have a car, Peter?

PR: Oh, no. There were three cars in the road when I was a child and all three could get into the bay, the semi circular bay made by those double gates Glynis has mentioned opposite the end of Cross Lane. Mr. Harding had one, one from the end; Mr. Finch had a car, and the NSPCC Inspector and I think that was it.

B: I never had a car until l960 something and that was....but it was thought then to make a backway from the hospital, but it never materialised.

PR: You couldn't really stop outside, either, if visitors came along because the path was 3 feet or 4 feet at the most, and the carriageway very very close indeed and with the brick wall......it would have caused a jam I suppose every time a delivery van came.

GB: We used to have things like groceries delivered. They came in boxes.

PR: Yes....who did you have?

GB: Down the Ware Road, opposite Addises, I can't remember, I know the box used to come from there on Saturdays.

B Garlands.

GB: Got it, Garlands!

PR: We had Cook and Dranes, and Mr. Drane used to come on Monday with a pencil behind his ear and sit in the kitchen going through the list of things. Then go next door to the Turnbulls and delivery was later.

GB: And they came to the back door.

B: I was in Ware in 1940. My father died in 1942, so I wasn't really here, I never used to know you people, did I really?

JR: You lived here, but you worked in Ware?

B: Yes.

JR: So, who were the neighbours then Glynis, that you remember?

GB: I remember Mrs. Harding, now.

B: But who was in the house after her, the one that was pulled down? (next to Cross Lane, no. 50).

PR: Thorns, Mrs. Thorn, one daughter was a teacher.

B: It was demolished to make Cross Lane wider, wasn't it?

GB: And the house opposite on Cross Lane was demolished as well. There was a tall house with a basement and 'wildie' cats living at the bottom. (other corner, now a grass plot with trees).

PR: Ah, you've noticed that!

GB: And there was one big white one used to go out on the razzle and even as a child we noticed him coming back virtually on his knees after a night session. We used to get told off for mentioning that out loud by the parents. There was Mr. and Mrs. Finch, he worked for...

JR: Where did he live?

GB: 82, he was something to do with Social Services.

B: Or Probation, Social Services.

PR: I'd just seen him as County Hall like the Fordwich Rise men used to be and he'd walk home sometimes with Stan Day. I thought it was County Hall, but I may be wrong.

B: Mrs. Wackett used to live next door and then did she sell it to Miss Wigginton.

GB: Miss Wigginton - she was ever so old, wasn't she, and Finches' daughter Christine is older than me but we happened to come by one day and we saw Miss Wigginton up a step ladder cleaning her window and she was about ll0 at the time - that's when the iron rail was put up outside her house - to help her get up the path she was so wobbly.

B: They used to have that shop, didn't they which is now Wiggintons (again).

GB: It was Barbers.

B: Yes and before that it was Wiggintons and they've taken all that down and that's why you can see the name Wigginton. She used to work in there as a young girl as cashier or something, she used to tell me.

GB: The NSPCC man lived at 68 and I don't remember his name but I know the one that was there roundabout l958, '59 was moved quickly because he had a penchant for young girls: there was a vicious scandal at the time.

PR: It wasn't Mr. Warwick, it was the one after, immediately after Warwick. Francis was the inspector I first remember then the Warwicks then this chap.

GB: And then it was Emery.

PR: Frank Emery, yes.

B: Then there was the Dyes, wasn't there, further down, Kath Dye.

PR: Clements - he was an NSPCC Inspector. (Harry Clements (moved to Stanstead Road))

GB: I honestly don't remember the name, I just knew it was talked about at school. He used to hang about what's Ware College now, was Ware Grammar School, at coming out time to try and chat up the girls.

PR: He had this nervous thing - he always used to cross the road, walk down to where his car was parked in the bay and jangle his keys into the big red brick wall as he walked along.

B: Then there was old Mrs. Burr, along here, a JP, wasn't she?

PR: Yes - Labour! Strong socialist! Yes, she and her husband.

B: He worked on the railway, I think, didn't he?

PR: And then he took over when Will Wackett packed up his place, old man Burr took over the running of that cycle shop where the garage is - he had it for about 2 years and sold off all the bits that were left when the business closed when Will Wackett died - but he stood for the council as a Labour 'no hope' in those days.

B: 'Cos those two houses on the end must be older than any of these along here because they must have been the original ones, weren't they? (nos. 88 and 90).

PR: No, I think they were the last - built as an afterthought - yes - I may be wrong - I think they are quite a lot younger - but I may be wrong because they've got red tiles and the others are slated.

GB: But they haven't got bathrooms, or didn't have bathrooms. (they did).

PR: Oh, so, right.

GB: I thought they were the first ones - 'cos it's that lady who owned them - can't think what her name was.

PR: You may be right.

GB: She thought they were the first - they could - because they didn't have bathrooms.

PR: A lot of them didn't have hot and cold running water.

B: We didn't have electricity.

GB: I was just thinking that. Aunt Marjorie, she wasn't my real aunt - but she lived where Greenalls live now, so that's 74 Hertingfordbury Road and right up until quite late on, she only had gas lamps in her house.

PR: Who was that? Alcock? and her old mother was Mrs. McLellan, ancient Mrs. McLellan, a Scots lady with the whiskers.

GB: Yes! She was a witch!

B: I was trying to think when we had the electricity put on, but you wouldn't do anything until well after the war, could you.

GB: We used to have a big copper in the back.

B: Well, ours was in the corner in the kitchen.

GB: You know my little back room, called the scullery, well, that's got a tiled floor, it's been revamped obviously since then, but it used to have a drainage hole underneath the copper so when you'd done the washing you'd just turn a thing at the bottom and the water all drained through.

B: We just had the copper and then we had the black-leaded stove that was in the kitchen.

GB: Yes, that's what the chicks hatched round.

JR: A cooking range ? (yes) Yes, I wondered about that, so they all had these ranges in when the houses were built.

PR: You can't say 'all' for anything about these houses, can you, because we had a copper, but we didn't have a soakaway drain and we had the kitchen range but next door didn't.

GB: The Finches had the copper with the drain.

PR: Oh, that's a refinement then.

GB: And they've still got the Aga they had when Mrs. Finch was around when Christine was little and she's over 50 now and that Aga is still in the house - it's been changed to gas-fired now as opposed to what other fuel you might use in it.

B: They're all different inside although they look the same from the outside.

JR: So, did you have an option when you came in as to what you had inside it, do you think?

PR: The first people in, had good liaison with the builders, Scales and the price was fixed. What did you say yours was?

GB: It was £300 down and they paid the rest off by mortgage but I don't know how much it was in total.

PR: My granddad was able to choose whether to have for £24 extra the tiled floor, mosaic tiled floor, and that was l0% of the price of the house and he was also given the option on that site of 4 bedrooms and a larder or three bedrooms and a cellar. The price was determined, but in the price you could choose.

GB: That links in.

PR: Does it?

GB: Yes. We had a larder but we didn't have a cellar.

B: You haven't got a cellar?

GB: No.

JR: Have you got 4 bedrooms then?

GB: Used to be, but we had one wall knocked down to make it one huge and two smaller.

PR: But you've got a cellar.

B: We've got a cellar and a larder and three bedrooms.

GB: And Mrs. Finch's had got a cellar but she's got four bedrooms.

GB: And three reception rooms downstairs, hasn't she.

GB: Yes, did have, again it's been changed.

JR: Well, no doubt if you were willing to pay a bit extra, you could get everything, could you?

PR: I would think so, yes, obviously it's not a master plan. If you look at the shapes of the houses, the width of the staircases and things like that, they're all different and different patterns - arrangement of rooms inside. Some were built as detached houses and then made to look like semis: between 58 and 56 there are two external walls because 58 was built first of all as a detached house and then later 56 was built right up against it to make it look like a semi-detached pair but the wall between them is much thicker than the dividing wall of others. And if you look at the chimney pots you can see they are all different arrangements, different stacks in different positions.

JR: But you, Peter, have a drive, don't you, a small drive by the side of your house, but very few do.

PR: Ours did, and next door, Blackaby's, because it was asked for at the start by the Post Office, because he had a pony and trap in the very early years and the Post Office mortgaged ours, as my grandfather worked at the Post Office, and Mr. Blackaby next door (nos. 60 and 62). They were both Post Office workers and that allowed them at the outset a little bit of extra width. But nobody else did that, I don't think there is another one, is there, with room at the side from the very beginning.

B: I think I could get right through if I wanted to.

PR: Yes.

B: But I'll just keep that until....the gate across the.....

PR: I can't go....you've got a bigger width than I've got......

B: I didn't used to have that....the gate used to come down but when I had the car I had the gate moved back so I could get between the two houses - protection from the frost - it's amazing how it does keep the car clear.

JR: Was there a pony kept in your..........

PR: Not ever stabled there, no...his sisters lived over the road and he stabled the pony, I think inside those big double gates and to the left.

GB: There used to be what looked like a stable on the right hand side as you went through the double gates.

B: Do you want any more tea, anybody?

PR: But it was there parked and sometimes had its nosebag when he came home from the Post Office at lunchtimes. I don't think that went on for more than the first ten years of living here.

JR: But the carriage or coach or cart or whatever it was....

PR: Trap.

JR: Sorry, trap....was put in the back garden?

PR: Don't know, shouldn't think so. Probably backed it up off the road and let it chew its nosebag and then it was stabled, but it wasn't necessary, it wasn't a necessary vehicle, it wasn't used for business and society, it was just countrified and handy.

B: What used to be down Mimram Road, was that always down there, I can't remember.

PR: Scales's top yard, wasn't it, and they had various other workshops there like they did down opposite number l4. There were various sheds and things.

B: Because Shepherd's used to charge their accumulators down there.

PR: Yes, they also used the barn beside the Oak, Shepherd's, where they had the Coron........do you remember the party?

GB: With the Shire horse...

PR: Yes.

B: When was that?

GB: Coronation of the Queen, '53. We had a party down there, remember that, and this huge shire horse ....in the barn the Hertford side of the Oak.

PR: That was when they thought I was awfully clever at winning the game of 'pinning the tail on the donkey'. I did what to me seemed the obvious thing to do which was to go up a while before they put the blindfold on, when no one much was looking, and measure by stretching a finger and thumb where it was going to be, so when they put the blindfold on I just went er...er...bonk! and got it and they thought that was really, you know....but they didn't see me cheat. Well, if you've got the chance to win a prize you might as well go for it!

JR: But this party, part of the Coronation celebrations.....were you all quite a community along here then?

PR: No!

B: I was going to say, I never knew anybody.

JR: How did you get together for this party then?

PR: Well, I think the ones who organised it were more of a community and they were the cottages and the Wisbeys (nos. 14-36; and opposite cottages 39-61, now demolished)...Hilda Wisbey's done me a little tape....and the Biltons and the Walkers in the row opposite, but we weren't really meant to mix. I did at school, but it wasn't quite the thing, was it.

GB: No.

B: I suppose not going to school down here, I didn't sort of get involved.

PR: When we were here as children, we were about the only ones along here.

GB: Yes, and Tommy and Christine Finch.

PR: Yes, she went to St. Andrew's but it wasn't like....you probably weren't allowed to but I used to go up Sele Road and Campfield Road and just muck around....but you wouldn't have.

GB: They were called the 'Chinatown'...that was all Chinatown, wasn't referred to as Sele and Campfield, it was Chinatown and they were.....

JR: Chinatown?

GB: Mm...don't know why, but they were definitely a no-no as far as even going near, sort of untouchables.

JR: Really?

GB: Mm...yes, it was really snobbish.

J to PR: But your mum didn't mind?

PR: She did really, but she didn't stop us.....but (to Glynis) your family were more posh.

GB: Mm.....

PR: There was the slight difference because they were my school mates, some with shaven heads because of lice and things, it was hard to say you can go to school with them but you can't knock around with them afterwards, but they were always suspicious if I brought them home and always looked around to watch and see what was being looked at or fingered and my mum used to say certain friends of mine were really only friends in the soft fruit season....they'd come round to play when there was something going.

JR: And this was Campfield rather than Sele?

PR: Well, it just happened that most of my classmates were at Campfield Road and we used to sit on the ring which is still there, the circle, the road roundabout thing, waiting for Jack the dustman to come home from his bins and he'd bring food from the bins and comics and things. I did tell them once that I had some comics off....they called him Jack the Comic Man.....and I got into a lot of trouble for doing that and I also got into trouble for eating some apples which one of the people came out with from one of the houses and gave to all of the really poor kids, and I'd joined in.

Tape 1 side B

PR: I remember my grandmother talking about people moving into the estate when the houses were first built and describing how Chinatown, how rough it all was and how some walked from London with all their belongings on carts.

GB: And it wasn't the good part of London, it was the bad part, where they hadn't paid their rents.

PR: And others coming up from 'The Green' at Bircherley Green, and why not, if you've only got a bit of furniture you put it on a barrow and walk it up here, I mean you didn't hire.....and then the life....the inside of the house when you were there was ever so primitive in almost every case. And yet those same people now, some of them are the same, have got palaces in the very same rooms and modern....

B: Oh, they are very nice.

JR: And this is still Campfield?

PR: I'm thinking of Campfield.

JR: The people we've interviewed who went into Sele Road to start with, they think it's posh area, don't they.

PR: Yes. Sele Road was always a rung or two up from Campfield, and some of the first people living in Sele Road were professionals...not the very top professionals....but professionals working in County Hall. And that marked them up as being a bit special, and one or two skilled shop workers from the town. There were other poorer families there, the Ilotts near the bottom of the hill and Stan Day on the corner and one or two further up and they always had those privet hedges and ornamental trees in nearly every garden in Sele Road. They weren't allowed to take the hedges down until a very few years ago, whereas Campfield was never......

GB: It's like a hierarchy, isn't it, lowest of low and you get the next stage up.

B: But there was one of the houses demolished on the corner there when they sort of made that slope, wasn't it, up into Sele Road.

GB: Yes.

PR: That's where Sid Ilott lived who used to wind the Shire Hall clock, worked at Harry Harry's, the clock maker.

B: Remember Harry.

JR: So it was as you say, a hierarchy, this was on top and then the middle ones were Sele.

GB: That's how I interpreted it anyway and what I was told.

JR: Sele was still part of Chinatown as far as your parents were....

GB: Yes.

PR: But there were tiers above us, we weren't top of the pile.

JR: Oh, no, I just mean here in this particular area.

B: But until recently, I mean the people that lived along here, it didn't change very much did it.

GB: No, but now it's gutted (?)

J to B: So, how did it strike you when you moved in here, what sort of area did you think it was?

B: I'd got nothing to compare it with really, because I lived in London and it was totally different, I mean. No, I thought it was quite an up market sort of area - it was quite friendly, but as I said, I wasn't here all day and I never really got involved with the people along here. In fact I didn't know anybody beyond Mrs. Finch, for ages, for years really. It seems strange, but I didn't because I wasn't about.

PR: So what were you doing then when you first got here?

B: When I first got here? I worked in the Food Office and then my father died and I sort of got involved with that and then we moved out down to Ware, so I never really saw much of Hertford after l943.

JR: Oh, you moved out of here!

B: Didn't move out of here, no, my mother stayed here. I went down to Ware, but I didn't have the same connection as if I was here all day.

PR: So what were you doing in Ware?

B: Well, we had a cafe in Ware.

PR: Just over the crossing?

B: That's right.

PR: On the left.

B: That's right and then I worked at Creaseys.

PR: Mm...for a long long time, but your mum worked in the cafe as well, didn't she?

B: Oh, yes.

PR: I used to see her going down the road to it, but what would she do, take a bus?

B: Yes, well, we didn't have cars in those days, so it was a matter of catching the bus.

PR: And when she got there, you'd already....

B: I was already there, I mean I used to go out at half past five in the morning and come home at seven or eight o'clock at night. I mean it was a full day so I never got involved with the people or knew who they were along here, so it was a different sort of.....it wasn't like a residential life style, you know.

PR: Mm...was that a new sort of venture for your mum, or was she used to that kind of....

B: No, no, we did that after my father died.

PR: Just branched out into something different?

B: Yes.

PR: That must have taken a bit of doing.

JR: Your dad didn't have the cafe then?

B: Not in Ware.

JR: Right, I see, OK.

B: No, he died in '42, so I mean he was only here for a couple of years, really, so that was that.

PR: So why did you pick Hertford?

B: He just wanted to get out of London and this is the place he chose.

PR: And would he have seen it in an estate agents in those days?

B: I don't honestly know.

PR: That's a difficulty, isn't it, how you come to acquire a property if you're not long there and don't...because you hear people say that they got their lodgings by hearing about it within Hertford you know, next door neighbour says someone's just died so you go and see the landlord and get the.....but if you are buying somewhere......there weren't really....well, there weren't estate agents on every corner like there are now.

B: When war broke out, he just wanted to get out of London and this where he.....it nearly was Oxford, I think, but as I say, I wasn't old enough to get involved with that side of it.

PR: Did your mum work there until she was quite old?

B: She worked down in Ware 'til we gave it up and then when I went to Creaseys she retired so that was about l958, because I was there for 23 years.

PR: So that's when she stopped. I mean I know from a child's eyes people always look older than they are, but she looked as though she was past retirement age when she was going to Ware, past 60.

B: Probably only just. Folk always looked older in those days. When I remember my father, I mean you never sort of see them as, I mean he was only 52 when he died but to me he was still sort of elderly in his outlook, I mean they always wore the white collars, didn't they, and shirts and suits: they didn't walk around casually like they do now, so I mean they just portrayed that older appearance, didn't they.

PR: I think the people one flush ahead Glynis, along here were tradespeople, weren't they really, when you think along the properties from Thorns, Hardings and Tysers who'd been the baker on Old Cross, then Creaseys.

B: Mrs. Creasey lived along here, didn't she?

PR: Then Mrs. Cozens who was Richardsons the....

B: Scoley.

PR: .....gents' outfitters, with shoes, Scoleys.....

B: Farnhams....

PR: Farnhams.....

B: Dyes.....

PR: Botsfords, Dyes and coming up here it's still the same little.....

B: They were all business people really, weren't they.

PR: I remember Mrs. Harding being so proud of living in the villas having moved over from the cottages.

B: Oh, she lived over in the cottages, did she?

PR: Quite a lot of the Turnbulls and my family were born in the cottages. When they graduated up here it was a real big landing. But did your family give that impression that they were sort of...that they'd made it? (14-36, and those opposite demolished).

GB: They'd made it, yes, oh, yes and I think that was why the hierarchy bit came in because they were only council people, whereas we are actually paying for ours.

B: And they were all sold, these houses, were they, they were all bought, they weren't sort of rented or anything like that?

PR: One or two were rented. A family called Hemmings I think in North Crescent owned one or two of them. Mrs. Harding rented hers all the time, she never owned it.

(to J. Have you done the Walls?) (to Glynis) You're not related directly to Evelyn Walls, the other side of the road, number 55...there were two, when we were kids, there were two Walls families. Mrs. Nubbo with the posh hats and bandy legs...

GB: Shhh....that's my great aunt you're talking about!

PR: Exceedingly posh and then the other Walls that came to St. Andrew's.

B: Suppose this is it, you lived in a place like that, you had the families and the generations didn't you and you built around it.

PR to G: You think they're not?

GB: No. James Isaac Walls who owned the iron foundry in Hertford had three children:

James/Jim married Esther...

PR: Arsenal supporter.

GB: Of course, and she had James, Ernie and my grandmother Helen. So Jim married.....

PR: So she was called Helen?

GB: Helen Mabel Tubbert.

PR: I thought your grandmother was Nell....

GB: Well, it's short for Helen and when my great grandmother died, she left everything to my grandmother and somewhere here I've got a letter because obviously the two brothers got a bit annoyed about that and they made my grandmother (write) 'after discussion with my brothers Jim and Ern and my father, I hereby agree to hand over to my father half of the money willed to me by my mother, excluding money in the Co-operative Society and after all expenses have been paid. Signed H.M. Tubbert'

PR: So she was pressured into giving up what was actually left to her.

GB: Parting with half, yes, that's in l939.

PR: Why would she have...was it just mother and daughter and women sticking together?

GB: Yes, and wasn't...again it was Mary Anne Walls was Mary Anne Parker before she married J.I. Walls and the Parkers were one of your 'not so good' families, so I...

PR: So after the marriage then...

B: Who used to live in here then, before we came?

GB: I don't know.

B: I suppose it would be in the lease, my brother's got that.

PR: We can look it up, it will be in the museum in the trade directories. Well, it's interesting, that that must have happened, your great uncle Jimmy, J. Walls, great chrysanthemum grower, prize winner year after year after year, Horticultural Society, and waiting for a bus or car to take him to Highbury over the road, double gates' bay on the Saturday lunchtime. You'd see him across the road waiting to be taken by car to Highbury, a very 'up' way of travelling - they had no children, did they?

GB: No.

PR: And she, Mrs. Nubbo...don't know why she was called that.

GB: I never heard that one before. She was quite fierce.

PR: Yes, she was Miss Britten.

GB: That's right, yes.

PR: Because her mother died here living with her.

GB: Yes.

PR: And she had a sister.

GB: Margaret.

PR: Living in Ware Road, in the newsagents

GB: That was Millie, that was Millicent.

PR: Oh, that was a sister?

GB: Yes, then there was a Margaret Britten, moved to Winnipeg, Canada - she's dead now, but she used to write to me as a child.

PR: Is that how they got that evacuee then?

GB: Presume so, because that was Ontario, where he came from - I don't know how close that is.

PR: I think you mentioned Winnipeg just then, anyway that's another thing. Was that a posh family, the Brittens then - the style of Mrs. Nubbo was something - I remember Mrs. Harding who went to All Saints' always speaking of the lofty manner of her friend. She was always talking about Mrs. Nubbo's style, yet her sister had a newsagents.

GB: Yes, we used to sit outside the shop.

B: Was that the newsagents that used to be in St. Andrew Street?

PR: Ware Road, there were two, not next door to each other, I think Wren's the bakers came in between and Miss Britten's and Martin's. She always wore a hat, Mrs. Nubbo, every day of the week.

B: Does anybody want any more tea or anything, do you want any more tea?

PR: No, no thanks.....

JR: Well, hats were 'in' anyway, weren't they.

PR: But St. Andrew's people didn't wear them so much, but she was All Saints' and I often wondered whether she came from a very rich....because I never saw this mysterious Mrs. Britten, her mother, she never saw the light of day, never saw her in the front garden.

JR: But she was here?

PR: She lived here when I was a kid and I remember hearing that she'd died and I remember hearing about this great age because she was in her nineties and it was a thing to be revered, but she was never a body I saw, alive or dead, whereas Mrs. McLellan next door, you did see, going out and pottering down the road with her whiskers on the top lip, that was more kinda public.

B: What was all these people (that) lived around here then?

PR: Well, they were all tucked in, weren't they, behind the net curtains

B: As I say, not being here probably.....

PR: They were here in your time.

(JR to B quietly...the fifties, I think)

PR: And next door, Harry Barton.

B: I remember him, and I remember Mary Wray, she moved down to Dorset, her brother was Frank Crawley.

PR: Mmm...I'd forgotten about the Wrays.

B: I don't think they were here all that long, were they. And he had Gunners the tobacconists, can remember them. But I don't remember all these other people you were talking about.

PR: Mmm they were there, tucked in. Mr. Scoley who had his raincoat across his shoulder going down to work. He fell downstairs in the end.

B: Because Bill, the son is still about, isn't he, Bill Scoley.

PR: Yes.

B: I often see him, but I don't remember his father.

PR: He was a widower. What other little bits are there on the social scene?

B: We used to have the shops down there, didn't we, the fish and chip shop and then there used to be the tailors, a newsagents and the general shop and a sweetshop- that was in a little parade of shops. Then Frosts the butchers, wasn't it, before you got to the....and the Cold Bath (now Ebe apartments) was opposite and the sweet shop by the side of it - Mrs. Bedford used to keep that because her son used to be a speedway rider, didn't he. (these shops demolished for Gascoyne Way).

PR: Yes, Dan's Cabin it was in the end. Daniel Lovelock, then Roches' old shop next door (70 St Andrew Street), yes between where the Ebenezer Baptist Chapel (demolished for Ebe apartments), new one, is now and Roches.

GB: There used to be a little alleyway if you went down there, there was a man who used to make puppets - marionettes - had a little puppet theatre down the back there. (Hattam’sYard?).

JR: Had that got a name, that little alleyway?

GB: I've no idea, I was only about this high, but I used to go down with older children and I used to watch this man making his marionettes.

B: There used to be a little alleyway between the shops I was saying where Ginns and the newsagents....

PR: Yes.....but have we mentioned your mum?

JR: No, we haven't mentioned.....

PR: Joan. She and mu mum got on very well....so she was an only child, was she?

GB: Yes, born in l920. She went to St. Joseph's Convent when it was down at St. John Street and in those days it went all the way from infants as well, to fourteen or fifteen.

JR: When did it move up to the Park here? (Hertingfordbury Park).

GB: '54 or '55. It had moved by '56, I know that. And they used to hold Mrs. Spriggs dancing classes down at St. John Street. That was on the second floor, the school main part was on the first floor. And the top floor, Holloways rented rooms there and Mr. Holloway was the brother of Stanley Holloway, and we did tap, acrobatics and ballet up there as well on Saturday mornings and then when the school moved over to Hertingfordbury the classes continue for Mr. Holloway's groups down at St. John Street but then they went to London and we didn't see them again, but he came back to be buried in North Road Cemetery. Mum went there.

PR: She was beautiful, wasn't she, had lovely hair, lovely colour.

GB: Yes, rich auburn.

PR: Rich auburn, is it?

GB: Not carrots, rich auburn.

B: I can remember your mother and your father but other than that I don't remember many people down here really.

PR: I always thought your dad looked like King George VI.

GB: He acted like it - he was very very strict, extremely strict.

PR: Was he? He gave the impression of being mild and....

GB: Literally - things like you came home with your school report at the end of term, and you had to give it to him, but he sat behind his desk in our middle room or dining room and you had to call him 'sir' and stuff like that, and heaven help you if your report was bad. Made us work, but he was very strict. If you said 'damn' in the house, that meant a hair brush.

PR: Did your mother sort of support him in that?

GB: No, no, no - he was of the Victorian ilk - a woman's place is in the home -she should be in the kitchen. she should be doing what she's told .....she got used to that during early marriage and didn't challenge him, even when he was dying and very ill, she didn't challenge his 'get this for me', 'get that for me'.

PR: That's how things were when the male/female roles were much more clearly traditionally defined, and yet that must have been quite difficult for him because my mum had the same problem in a way in that it was her family that the married partner came in to and when it's the dominant male coming into the bricks and mortar with an in-law in residence..............

GB: It's like my grandmother, she was there the whole time. So my parents never actually had a home on their own, there was always the grandmother there.

B: And they were there when the house was built were they?

GB: More or less, yes.

JR: Do you think it would have been different had it been a house bought by the husband, the father, I mean he's coming into a house that's not his....he's got to assert himself somehow, hasn't he....

PR: I think that's the issue, I don't know the answer.

GB: It's the Ware/Hertford bit coming in and also, with my parents anyway, he came from Ware, he came from a council house where there were thirteen surviving children to a house in Hertingfordbury Road where there was one daughter.

JR: Well, then he's going to have a struggle to....and this is a bit like your dad (to P.) he was from a big family, it's very similar, isn't it.

PR: Yes, and similar behaviour, his behaviour was very similar. But my mum was cushioning us from him and not really arguing with him but giving us tactics and techniques for avoiding the issue but you don't seem to have felt so much of that.

GB: No. Yes, they had arguments, but never while we were around, it was after we had gone to bed, but she, as far as I could see, always gave into him. He had his own way, full stop.

PR: But she was wonderful up at Sele School, wasn't she.

GB: Oh yes, secretary there from when it opened in '64.

B: I can see the difference when you sort of looked up and you sort of - you have a different sort of way of life, don't you, I didn't have that.

PR: What about when you got the old polio then?

GB: Yes, l956.

PR: So how old were you?

GB: Nine.

PR: I remember the buzz up the road. Do you know how you came by it?

GB: Yes, a tooth, and the bug went in through that. Well, that's as near as they got to.....but I was also too old at the time to have the first Salk vaccine that came out because that was children born in l947 onwards and I was born in December '46 and so I wasn't eligible to have it.

PR: Gillian got it?

GB: She got it, yes.

PR: Got the vaccine? (yes) So how did that all....we've talked to Dr. Mortis about bygone years of medicine and how did they, how did you find you'd got it, and how did they treat you. Polio was a big thing at the time, nationally.

GB: I don't honestly remember too much. I can remember odd bits. First thing I knew I was ill, 'cos I was in my grandmother's bedroom, the front bedroom and we never got put in there unless we were ill with chickenpox or mumps. Then remember not being able to use arms and Dr. Gilmer* coming round and then sending another man around and he arranged for an ambulance to come, and I was taken to Honey Lane Waltham Abbey. Visitors were allowed on Wednesdays and Sundays only, for two hours maximum. I remember my grandfather coming down from Tamworth because he'd split with nan and he was living up in Tamworth, and he came on November 5th. *(Dr Scobie Gilmer, Queens Road surgery which evolved into current Castlegate Surgery).

PR: Did he come on a motorbike?

GB: Yes.

PR: I remember the motorbike being parked in Cross Lane, where those step houses were.

GB: Yes. He got 'done' for speeding twice on that!

PR: So he actually came.

GB: Yes, and he brought me a bunch of violets. That's the first time ever I'd been given flowers. The treatment as far as I can remember....you had to lie flat and I remember the iron lung - huge- and you were in isolation rooms, but nobody ever told you what was wrong with you or anything like that and you were put in plaster casts each night and before that you had to decide whether you wanted your arms up, in bed, or down. If you wanted them down you were casted up to there and if you wanted them up it was just done to here, but it was tight round there.

JR: Did they make the casts every night or was it a tunnel.....

GB: No, they made the cast out of plaster and then it was put on each night and bandaged. They put the 2 halves round and bandaged it, but there was the long one if you were going to have your arms down that night.

JR: So movement was severely restricted, was it?

GB: Yes.

JR: Why was that then....to make sure what?

GB: I don't know. The right thing to do, to stop things curling up, perhaps because it affected thumbs particularly. They were put into that position at night, so presumably that was to encourage this muscle here to grow or reform or something like that. I'm just guessing. I remember Christmas Day I was in there and I got a doll and that was quite disappointing because I wasn't really a doll sort of person, I thought I was far too grown-up to have dolls, nearly ten, for goodness sake. But it was a beautiful doll, and is still in the cupboard upstairs.

PR: Cor.

GB: And being disappointed as well, because my parents had asked me as it was very special because my birthday's on Boxing Day so I tend to get Christmas and birthday presents together, what would I really like and I said a party dress. I wanted a yellow organza one, really 'it', and I got this green felty thing which was gross! But I had to say thank you. Came out of there after about three months or so but then had to go up to Hertford County every day for a visit. (Tape l ends; Tape 2 begins)

B: How long has the County Hospital been sort of there?

PR: Last century.

GB: Yes, it was 1800 and something.

B: But it's had extensions put on it.

PR: The Prince of Wales opened one of them and people here looked over the back fences to see him. The bit that comes down behind you was extended in l933...anyway, sorry!

JR: When you came home here you had to go there everyday for....

GB: Yes, for nearly a year.

JR: What did they do?

GB: It was physiotherapy and electric treatment and hot wax baths. So you plunged limbs and stuff into hot wax and then it had to set and they put towels and stuff round you and you had to sit there and then they peeled it off and I think the idea of that, 'cos you had it done before you went for the physio exercises, was to loosen up muscles with the heat, and the electric treatment, you had to put your hands into water and they sent electric charges through and it tingled and that was to jolt the nerve endings into action they thought. It didn't work, but they thought it might. One of the physio things was to play about on the piano because that was good exercise for fingers. One thing I'm always grateful for....had to learn to write again, because hands weren't working properly and they felt that rather than doing Marian Richardson, rounded handwriting, if you are a bit jerky it's easier to do spiky type writing, so I learned italic and I have beautiful handwriting now.


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