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A Brookmans Park childhood in the 1950s

By Colin Hawksworth

Postcard of the Brookmans Park Hotel in the 1960s - image from Ron Kingdon
Postcard of the Brookmans Park Hotel in the 1960s where, aged 16, the author had his first pint
Image from Ron Kingdon, from the Images of North Mymms collection

I went to the Primary School around 1952-58 when it was run by Mr Harris. This was in the days of corporal punishment, and I suffered the cane (on the hand I remember), and no doubt richly deserved it.

I was not traumatised, and appear to have suffered no long-term distress. I remember Mr Harris as a firm, fair headmaster, who towered above me (I was five or so), who at one stage congratulated me on what was probably a fairly average performance as "The Mad Hatter" in the school hall.

In fact it added to my street cred to have been caned. I recall two teachers Mr Clifford and Miss Raine. I was at the school when the fund-raising for the pool was happening. I went from Brookmans Park Primary to Hertford Grammar.

I had many happy hours in Gobions Wood, playing alone (and safely), and only going home for tea. My mother did not worry, and the only fear was facing her, soaking wet, with boots full of water, and covered in mud.

The Lower Woods were considered spooky (and patrolled by "The Swanley Bar Gang"), and we rarely went there, except when armed with catapults, and home made bows and arrows.

I even went ice-skating one year on the upper lake (Gobions Pond). I lived in The Grove (backing directly onto the woods), when there were only few houses at the end of the road, toward the Great North Road.

I remember Moffats Lane as an unmetalled road, and cycled to school on a tricycle (no people carriers full of children then).

The road to the golf club was narrow, and you could walk through woods toward the present site of the "secondary school" by Pine Grove.

My mother regularly had tea in the café ( Pantry) on the green, and I spent my free time watching steam trains (A4 Pacifics) thunder to the North.

I remember the sweet shop run by Mr. Copeman, who used to take me, and others, to watch Barnet play football (a real treat).

The Bloxham's latterly ran the newsagent/post office, and the barber was next door. Brookmans Park Motors were in the village then.

I had my first pint of "brown and mild" in the Brookmans Park Hotel when I was only 16!

We used to cycle our bikes to go swimming at "The Water Splash" in London Colney. The youth club was in the church hall in Moffats Lane (Beatles in those days).

I have been back to Brookmans Park since, and actually stayed at the Brookmans Park Hotel in 1993. Did I notice any changes? Oh, yes.

We moved away in the late sixties (my parents are both deceased), and I followed a career in aviation. I retire at the end of this month (October 2003), and hope to improve my golf handicap below the present 9 - perhaps a game at Brookmans Park Gold Club. I haven't played there since the early sixties.

I live in Cornwall with my wife. We have two grown up daughters. All have seen where I grew up.

There are probably more memories somewhere out there but I would be intrigued if anyone remembers me, (I would also be amazed).

By Colin Hawksworth 

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