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Memories of growing up in Bradmore Way in the 1950s

Photograph of 51 Bradmore way in about 1959. My father added the big gate when my sister was born in 1955 Image courtesy of Judy Marchant
51 Bradmore Way in about 1959
My father added the big gate when my sister was born in 1955
Image courtesy of Judy Marchant

Former local resident Judy Marchant (nee Watson) remembers moving to 51 Bradmore, Brookmans Park in 1946 when she two. Early memories include "building enormous dens out of bales in the field beside the house". She write about having a crazy paving path built by Otto and Fritz, two German prisoners of war. And she recalls the time when the Brookmans Park transmitter mast fell down, and skating on Gobions Lake when it was frozen. Judy has shared her memories with this site.

The house and neighbours


My parents bought 51 Bradmore Way in 1946 when I was two. It was brand new, and the last one on the left-hand side of the road bordered by open fields.

It was a 'utility' model with solid walls and Crittall windows, three bedrooms and, unusually for those days, an open plan living and dining room. There were red tiles in the hall, and the kitchen had a larder with a metal safe for cool food, a Belfast sink with wooden draining board, a free-standing coke boiler, gas cooker, big American-style fridge, and a cabinet with a metal pull out enamel 'table top', at which we eat breakfast. In the living room had a tiled fireplace and open fire. Outside the kitchen door was a big coal bunker.


Photograph of the garden at 51 Bradmore Way. As 51 was the last house on the left, we were surrounded by fields before the other houses were built Image courtesy of Judy Marchent
As 51 was the last house on the left, we were surrounded by fields
These were the days before the other houses were built
Image courtesy of Judy Marchant


The garden soon after we arrived had a crazy paving circular path built by Otto and Fritz, who were German prisoners of war. They also made me some lovely toys.

After some years more houses were built on the right-hand side of the road down to the bottom field, then some beside our house, and eventually the extension of Peplins Way.


Photograph of the front garden at 51 Bradmore Way showing houses opposite. My mother with our Morris Minor Image courtesy of Judy Marchsnt
The front garden at 51 Bradmore Way showing houses opposite
My mother is pictured standing alongside our Morris Minor
Image courtesy of Judy Marchant


Opposite us lived a reclusive lady known as 'the Pole', to her left Mrs Tether and her two boys, to the right the Plowmans, and next door to them 'Auntie Ida ' Hampton and family - her brother was Cyril Fletcher, always known to us as 'Uncle Cyril'.  Next door to us on the right lived the Johnsons and then the Lawrences. My father worked at Barclays Bank in Potters Bar, to which he used to cycle every day.

Schools


At five I went to Potters Bar High School, then when Brookmans Park Primary School opened I went there for a year and was in Miss Raines class who used to take us for lots of nature walks through the woods bordering the railway behind Peplins Way. At seven I was sent to St Martha's Convent in Barnet. I then went on to Queen Elizabeth's Grammar School for Girls at eleven travelling on the 303A bus and occasionally the Greenline coach. The Queen actually visited the school in November 1957 and I had to open the classroom door for her, curtsying at the same time. She gave us two days
holiday as well!

Shops


I remember the chemists on the corner of Brookmans Avenue where the front of the big counter at the back held sweets, my favourite being banjo bars. There was the fish and meat shop next door with its huge tiled open display where I can remember buying rabbit for my mother to cook. I remember the shoe shop next door to the library where every year I was fitted with Clarks sandals, only at the end of the summer to have the toes cut out as they had become too small. On the corner opposite was the newsagents, and next door the hairdressers where you could see ladies sitting with their hair sticking out and connected to what looked like wires - I think they were having a 'perm'. On the row of shops to the south-east side of the green were a greengrocers, cake shop, café where you could buy delicious lime-flavoured lollies, and Jennings the drapers.

Childhood memories


Photograph of me in the snow winter 1946 possibly before the path was laid Image courtesy of Judy Marchant
Me in the snow winter 1946 possibly before the path was laid
Image courtesy of Judy Marchant

  • Being taken to the clinic at the Brookmans Park Hotel to collect my National Health orange juice and cod liver oil.
  • Building enormous dens out of bales in the field beside the house.
  • Being put on the 303 not the 303A bus by my father to come home from Potters Bar High School when I was six, crying when the bus didn't turn left down Hawkshead Road, and then being taken by the conductor to Hatfield bus station, given a cup of milk, and put on a bus back to Brookmans Park to be met by my mother!
Photograph of a 303A bus at the Hawkshead triangle in the 1960s. Image from Ron Kingdon, part of the Images of North Mymms collection
A 303A bus - the bus Judy should have caught - at the Hawkshead triangle in the 1960s
Image from Ron Kingdon, part of the Images of North Mymms collection

  • Train spotting Mallard, Silver Fox, Sir Nigel Gresley, and of course The Flying Scotsman on  the railway bridge where there used to be a 'pill box' by the station entrance and walking along the railway path and over the railway lines on the crossing.
  • Watching the nodding Fremlins elephant's head on the side of the Brookmans Park Hotel.
  • Walking across the field at the end of Bradmore Way collecting golf balls which had come from the golf course and over the bank and into the woods at the top of the field.
  • Cycling on my 'Palm Beach Tourer' to North Mymms church down Bradmore Lane past the tank traps, being fascinated by the lovely real gypsy caravans on either side of the road towards Water End, and crossing the Barnet bypass which you could do then as it was only three lanes, the middle one being for overtaking.
  • Cycling to the farm at Bell Bar.
  • The time the transmitter mast fell down.
  • Going to David Clark's house down the road to see the very first ITV programme.
  • The year snow completely covered the road from Folly Arch at the level of the top of the hedges for several weeks so that no traffic could get through and having to go to school in Barnet on the train.     
  • Skating on Gobions Lake when it was frozen.
  • Russ Conway playing in the primary school hall at a summer fete.

As a teenager


  • Teaching at the Sunday School at the chapel in Moffats Lane.
  • Going to the Youth Club, which I think was held in the same building.
  • Going to The Ritz at Potters Bar.

Growing up in Brookmans Park was great. It was a very friendly place, and as children we were free to play in the rhododendron bushes on Bradmore Green and generally roam about the roads and fields. I left in 1962 to go to teacher training college in Brighton while my parents stayed until about 1970 when they sold the house for around £17,000.

Judy Marchant nee Watson




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