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Memories

Local memories shared by local people

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20th Century North Mymms

Photograph of author of this piece, R. G. Colville middle back row. Image from the NMCC
By the beginning of the 20th century, in spite of all these changes, the Parish of North Mymms was still very much a rural community under the control and authority of the Church and the principal landowners. The larger estates of Brookmans, North Mymms Park, Potterells, Leggatts, Hawkshead and Abdale were still privately occupied each with its own indoor and outdoor staff. Bell Bar and Roestock with generally smaller houses and local tradesmen, including builders, butchers, bakers, blacksmiths and possibly a small grocery store and one or more public houses.



A Brookmans Park childhood in the 1950s

A postcard of the Brookmans Park Hotel taken in the 1960s - image from Ron Kingdon
Colin Hawksworth writes: "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."



Brookmans Park in the 1950s

Photograph of Bluebridge Road in 2000. Image from the Brookmans Park Newsletter
Former local resident, Mary Morgan, recalls life as a child living in Brookmans Park in the 1950s.  She remembers Moffats Lane as "a cart track". She remembers rhododendrons on the Bradmore Green. She writes: "I remember very nearly breaking my nose playing in the foundations of what is now Station Close, and I too remember Merrylegs in the field in the village. I use to ride the ponies that were kept in the fields behind our house and belonged to friends of my parents."



Brookmans Park's Evacuees

Photograph of a policeman helping young evacuees prepare to leave London for their temporary homes Part of the Civilian Evacuation Scheme in Britain during the Second World War Images from Wikimedia Commons (image not part of original feature)
Marjorie Tether recalls taking in two young brothers from London who were evacuated to escape the WWII bombing. She writes about being moved by the poor condition the boys were in. "They had only the clothes they stood up in, which were green siren suits, which they had unfortunately wetted. They had only one pair of pyjamas each. Their heads were full of lice, which I had to try and cleanse, not a pleasant job." The boys stayed with Marjorie and her husband for two years.



Childhood memories of the Octagon Lodge

Photograph of the Octagonal Lodge at North Mymms Park. Image from the former Brookmans Park Newsletter
While browsing the web in a search for information about her childhood, a Dutch woman came across the Brookmans Park Newsletter. One particular image caught her eye. It was of the Octagon Lodge at North Mymms House, her childhood home. Hendrien Ferkranus then set about organising a trip down memory lane with her mother to retrace her past and unearth some fond memories. This is her story.



During the Great War

Phptograph of The Marshmoor Warblers. Image from A Nott, G Knott
Local resident Doris Ambrose remembering life during the Great War. "My mother was born during the last few years of the old Queen's reign and her first memory was of sitting up in her father's arm watching the firework display in celebration of the Relief of Mafeking. She was 16 and a half when the Great War broke out and when the Zeppelin raids started over London. My grandfather sent my grandmother and a girl cousin away to Wildhill for safety."



Forty Years Ago In Brookmans Park

Photograph of Moffats Farm House in the 1950s - Image from E. Stamp
In 1995, local historian and author Peter Kingsford reflected on how life in Brookmans Park had changed in the previous 40 years and when Moffats Lane was a farm road. "It was an unmetalled country lane with the north side lined with 1930s houses and the south side, farm land. When you reached the top, Moffats Farm was a working farm, though a small one. The farmhouse itself was not, needless to say, as spick and span as it is today. It had stood there for 500 years."



Growing up in Brookmans Park in the 1950s

Postcard of Brookmans Park taken in the 1950s - image from Ron Kingdon
Ann Gillard write: "We did not have central heating, only a coal fire; coal was delivered and kept in a brick coalbunker at the side of the house. On cold winter mornings your breath came out like jets of steam as you pulled back the bedcovers and ran to turn on the two bar electric fire to dress by. Condensation would drip down the windowpane. My mother had a never-ending battle to keep the windowsills dry.



James Chuck - My Life in the Village

Photograph of James Chuck on a tractor at Potterells in the 1940s. Image from L. Maxwell
In 1986, local resident Albert Thom interviewed James Chuck, then aged 83, about his life in North Mymms. It was an oral interview, which Albert recorded and which was later typed up by Ruth Carrell. The interview was made into a pamphlet, published by the former North Mymms Local History Society. The result is a fascination look back at what life was like in the parish during the early 20th century.



Memories of growing up in Bradmore Way in the 1950s

Photograph of Judy Marchant's home 51 Bradmore Lane. Image courtesy of Judy Marchant
Judy Marchant remembers moving to 51 Bradmore in 1946 when she two and having a crazy paving circular path built by Otto and Fritz, two German prisoners of war. She remembers building enormous dens out of bales in the field beside the house. 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. The time the Brookmans Park transmitter mast fell down, and skating on Gobions Lake when it was frozen.




Memories of Swan Lodge, Bell Bar

Photograph of Swan Lodge in the 1900s  Image from G. Knott, digitised by Mike Allen, and from The Peter Miller Collection
This feature is written by Nikki Greenleaf, whose family used to live at Swan Lodge, Bell Bar, formerly The White Swan pub. Nikki originally posted in a discussion thread in the old Brookmans Park Newsletter  community forum and her memories have been reproduced here, enhanced with pictures from her own family collection. Nikki's family ran a various local transport concerns in the '60s and '70s. Some will still remember the fleet of Greenleaf coaches that used to populate local roads.


Moving to Brookmans Park in the 1950s

Photograph of Moffats Farm in the 1960s. Image from E. Stamp part of the Images Of North Mymms Collection
A series of articles, written by Dorothy Hummerstone about her move to Brookmans Park in the 1950s. These pieces were published in successive editions of the former North Mymms Local History Society's newsletters. The first piece, about the actual move and Dorothy's initial impressions of the area and the people living here was published in the December 2002 edition of the newsletter. All three pieces have been combined into one article.



My love affair with steam began in Brookmans Park

Photograph of The Flying Scotsman speeding through Brookmans Park in 1969 - image from Ron Kingdon
Trevor Alcock writes: "Steam was king, and held an unrivalled passion. Mothers could not understand the importance of A3’s, and the double header of two L1’s that drew the rush hour express from Kings Cross. I met my father off this train one day, and carried his briefcase to the Brookmans Park Hotel. Many commuters had a swift half on their way home. On one particular occasion, the Hotel had its first carpet laid in the lounge bar. All the Dads took their shoes off at the door."



North Mymms on the eve of the century

Photograph of gamekeepers at Brookmans in 1904 Image from the former NMLHS
Peter Kingsford's feature looks at the early trades and jobs in North Mymms and, in particular, the role of gamekeepers and poachers in the later 1800s. He writes: "Gamekeepers were always incomers, since they were never recruited from local people. There were ten of them by 1891. This is hardly surprising, for ever since the Game Laws began, poaching had been regarded as an inalienable, if illegal right by the country workers."



Reminiscences of my childhood in North Mymms

Photograph of Tom Nott WWI - Image from A. Nott / G. Knott
Tom Nott was born in Welham Green in 1890 and wrote this piece in 1975 when he was 85 years old. He writes about growing up in the village during Victorian times, and has fond memories of his former headmaster, Ben Mallett, who he felt should have been honoured. This memory includes references to Tom's 25 years as a North Mymms parish councillor, and the soup kitchen that helped care for the poor of the parish.



Welham Green From 1900-1953

Photograph of The Sibthorpe Arms 1900s Image R Papworth/ G Knott
Rosie Simmonds writes about life in Welham Green at the turn of the last century. "One of my earliest recollections is of going to Sunday school and on the way meeting an old man bent nearly double. He wore a very clean smock, a red handkerchief round his neck, and on his head was what was known as a 'Billy-Cock' hat. He would be going to the Sibthorpe Arms, where, with porter at three ha'pence a pint, (and good stuff at that I've been told), he would be able to get fairly well sozzled for a shilling".



Welham Green 1914

Photograph of Maypole dancing in North Mymms in the 1900s - Image from G Knott / P Miller
Ruth Pinder writes: "Our village of Welham Green lies between Hatfield and Potters Bar and has grown from a hamlet, as I first remember it, to what it is today. I still live in the same house that my father built about 1905 before he was married, so I have many memories, some of which I will tell you about. Among the happy memories were the lovely hay making days and all the picnics in the hay and catching tiddlers in the stream nearby."



White's Corner - Welham Green

A postcard of the crossroads at White's Corner, Welham Green c1900 Photo by George. J. Knott
According to Sue Mason and Sidney King who wrote this piece, "White's Corner was originally known as Town's Corner, taking its name from Miss Town, who had the first shop there, a single-storey building erected in the early 1900s. The shop later passed to the Smithsons, and Esme, the son, started the first coach service in the village, meeting trains at Brookmans Park station and providing a door-to-door service to St. Albans on Saturdays."


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