Watford's vanishing trick

Life before Watford was turned inside out

By Jeremy Prior

The Parade in 2002
Chater School demolished in 1980s
The expansive beautiful Cassiobury Park
Grand Union Canal Lock Gates

During those seemingly safe years after the second world war, my family moved to Watford from Harrow, when I was just 7 years old.

The town was almost self-contained having just about every shop and business from one end of the High Street to the other.  It was like one huge village with everything you needed within easy walking distance.  The Bus and Rail network was very advanced by 1955 and we could go up to London or out into the country areas very easily and I used to cycle out to Bovingdon to watch American aircraft at the Airforce base there.

We lived just 100 yards from the Town Hall and it was very handy to walk from home to Cassiobury Park with the dog, or when we’d go roller skating down the smooth tarmac between all those London Plain Trees. We used to walk to Chater School in West Watford, and we never needed to use the car to go shopping in the town it was all there for the asking.  It didn’t matter if we wanted a joint of Pork or a Piano or a fresh baked loaf, or even a bow and arrow we could buy it on the High Street.  There were  Department stores; An open air Market; Pubs; Furniture stores; Woolworths. Tailors and even a Snooker Hall over Montague Burton’s gents outfitters.  Farmers came in from outlying rural areas to the Cattle Market, and a cockle stall set up once a week outside St Mary’s Church in front of The One Bell public house.

Queens Road had its shops selling all kinds of things from second hand books to Mopeds and Cycles at Mr Buntings cycle shop. Buntings could be relied on to fix a problem on a bicycle at very reasonable cost, especially when income was only Saturday pocket-money! Motorcyclists were catered for at Lloyd Cooper in that street too.  They are still trading.

Second Hand book shops were a favourite haunt.  Another business that hasn’t vanished is the Queens Road Music shop that still boasts “Watford’s Oldest Music Shop”.

I was in the choir at St Mary’s until my voice-cracked at about 12 years old.   Recreation was centred around the Park and the Rivers Gade and Colne. We used to play quite dangerously on the canal lock-gates but there were never to my knowledge, any accidents down there.  Brightly painted barges would regularly sail down through the locks and we’d often stand by watching it all happen.

The annual Whitsun Carnival came past the end of our road Rosslyn Road and ended up at the opening of a fairground in Cassiobury Park just beyond the Bandstand.   The Town Hall was host to many great concerts and they also had a kind of Ideal Home exhibition where I remember seeing the first ever push-button telephones on display.

In my teens I would regularly frequent the wonderful Mocha Bar on the Parade by the Odeon Cinema in front of the pond, where real Italian Espresso Coffee was sold from a proper Gaggia catering machine.  The Odeon was demolished to make way for a huge ugly monstrosity of a building designed by someone who appeared to be obsessed with the shape of a dodgem!

We had five cinemas to choose from though, as well as the Palace Theatre.  Saturday morning pictures were hugely popular with kids around 10 years old and I still remember lots of the movies we went to see.

When doing up a house in those early days of DIY there were plenty of Ironmongers and Hand Tools retail shops to choose from. Marsh and Russell springs to mind as one of the town’s best, in Market Street which was a veritable emporium for getting timber cut to size, or buying screws and nails.  I remember the first ever worktop laminate coming on the market called Formica, and the first Chipboard called Weyrock.  My father used to buy hand-cleaner in tins, called Dirty Paws, and a barrier cream known as Rozalex.   I think you can still get both of them today.

Giant Scammel lorries sometimes took to the back roads of West Watford, on test from their factory down at Tolpits Lane.  The driver seemed to be right up in the sky, to a small child and I could never work out how they could see where to steer from up there!

We had a beautiful back garden with poplar trees at the end, and once or twice a woodpecker visited and would give us a morning alarm with his drilling the trunk.   I can still remember the sound of the Town Hall clock chiming through the night and sometimes when the wind was in the direction of our house from Watford Junction you could hear shunting going on with goods trucks in the sidings level with Orphanage Road.

Some day I’ll go and record the Town Hall Clock sound early on a Sunday morning before the traffic is up, just for soppy old nostalgic reasons. That’s a nostalgia fanatic for you! I’d best be quick as there was recent talk of the Town Hall being demolished to make way for some new noisy idea to take it’s place.  Wasn’t it a Lutyens design?  Beautifully under-stated and never looked grubby.  Surely they can get decades more use out of it with a little imagination?

Finally, who from that time can forget the fabulous ice cream sold at Rossis at the bottom of the High Street? It later became DeMarco’s cafe? It was something very special.  I think the Rossi’s name still lives on with ice cream in Southend on Sea but I don’t know if it’s the original founders of the company.

This page was added on 23/11/2007.

Comments about this page

  • Wonderful stories about Watford. Bring back great memories.
    Wonder if there is anybody reading this site went to Leggatts Way Secondary Modern School for Boys during the years. 1947-1949?
    Pat Maule🇨🇦

    By Pat Maule (04/08/2022)
  • Dear All/Denise/Mike Raysbrook/Brian
    Ive been trying to locate Mike Raysbrook especially to let him know that my Dad Mick Taylor died in the 4th of August and we are having his funeral on the 24th. I know they were very good friends and Im sure some of you may know him. Im really just trying to let everyone. We would love you to come to the funeral if you can. If anyone can track Mike down or would like to get in touch please ring 0774815689 and my name is Claire Conway. Im also at claire.taylor298@googlemail.com x

    By Claire Conway (18/08/2021)
  • Coming here after quite a few years since I wrote the initial article. I just want to say about denise hutchings (07/10/2015) some 6 years late Victor Raysbrook employed me when he was manager and salesman at Connoisseur Cars second hand car dealer opposite Bushey and Oxhey Station just the other side of Bushey Arches. Vic gave me a Saturday job washing cars for half a day. Handy supplement to pocket money. Vic was so nice and never did sharky deals. Top guy. The owner of C Cars was Eric Armstrong who built a large boat in the workshop below the car display area. I spoke to him about 10 years ago and he was very ill and living in Canford Cliffs Poole. He died around 2008. I still talk to his wife Violet who ran a hair salon in Cawdells Dept Store for some years. They both lived next to us in Rosslyn Road Watford. Great memories.

    By Jeremy Prior (03/08/2021)
  • Hello everyone i was born in watford but went to live away when i was very very young a mere baby but i left behind my brother born 1970 called barry andrews son of marilyn andrews who would of been 21 in 1971 i wondered if any of you knew of them at all…..many thanks for any snippets or pictures x

    By joanna holiday (06/05/2019)
  • I now live in New Zealand but went to school at St George’s in Watford in 1944. I remember well Grillos ice cream and meatpie lunches at the watford junction railway cafe and Saturday morning movies at the cinema in the high street.

    By Peter Bromhead (08/03/2019)
  • Wow!! Better late than never, what a trip down memory lane. I was born in Abbots Langley in the early 50s, had a big sister, Fay. Our memories of Watford are so different, we both went to Francis Combe, our mother worked in Clements and Cawdells, Jenny. Use to annoy me all the girls use to refer to me as Mrs Miller’s son. I was a mod so all those dance halls, Top Rank, The Trade etc were great and the stars we were lucky enough to see. But Watford could be a bit hairy, as Joe Kinnear said when interviewed about his past, Watford was a hard place, but what memories. All centring on the High Street, a place that changed from daytime to night. Ruined by developers as Abbots Langley was, most probably why I now live in the Cotswolds. Names I remember mentioned on this site – Dave Charlwood, I lived near him, played football with him and worked with him. Matt Hughes, now owns a market in Lytham St Annes or last known did, after years of working St Albans Market selling crockery obtained through his contacts during his Stoke City days, played with him also a great footballer. Remember going to Kingdom Hall with a mate, Brian Gibbard, different! as a mod, but as a friend of the Gibbards no one touched me. Watford had character then, the pond, the town hall with its flower display at the front, no more. We were very lucky to have been part of it in the 60s. I have a mate now who lives in Bedfordshire, Mick Calvin who came from West Watford and went to Watford Grammar. We have great chats about Watford and it’s characters over a glass of red wine or two. A place to be proud of and say we came from there.

    By Brian Miller (04/03/2018)
  • I was looking up Tunnel Woods as I went to Northfield school when I was a kid, when I stumbled on this page. We went to live in Watford in 1943 and there was no houses due to the bombing which was especially bad in North Watford and also evacuees from London so we joined other families and lived in The Gaumont Cinema until better accommodation could be found. I can remember so much – the canal, the lock gates, the paddling pool which had a slippery surface and I remember getting very wet!. the River Gade where we used to tadpole, and the piggery off Parkside Drive – the old Cassiobury Farm I think – where if we collected a bucket of acorns we were paid 3d. The nights that the Doodle bugs came over , the hole in the Wall where my mum would get black market goodies. Now I live far away, in the northwest of New South Wales but there will always be a very soft spot for Watford, the support between families due to the war, the simple pleasures of life which as I look back are something that may be the modern generation do not have. Recently , on one of our trips back to the UK we went to Portugal to spend a few days with my great friend, the Mums met in an air raid shelter, and we have stuck together all these years – reading those entries – based on something that Watford gave us and to others.
    Judy Davies nee Pearson New South Wales.

    By Judy Davies (28/02/2018)
  • This site has brought back many happy memories for me.I was born in Watford during the war but always lived in Bushey.My first job was working in Clements, in 1957 when I left Bushey Manor School. I loved the High St and the Market. Going to Cassiobury Park in the summer down by the Canal. Thanks to everybody who has written on this site.

    By David Daniels (13/02/2018)
  • I just found a photo of the Railway Cottages, by the old Junction Station, but sadly cannot find a way of uploading it 🙁
    Phil How

    By Philip How (25/01/2018)
  • Hi, If anyone out there is still following this page I just read through all the wonderful nostalgia that’s here. I was born and in Watford and lived there and Bushey Heath from the 1940s to the 1960s.
    Wow, it’s wonderful how other people’s memories jog one’s own into life. Like everyone else, I remember wonderful times playing in Cassiobury Park, and even when I was tiny I understood how wonderful the old gatehouse was. What vandalism to destroy it! I loved the window displays at Jacksons the Jewellers, and for a while I had a Saturday job at Clements, in the Linens Department. Much earlier, the Queen’s Pantry was a tea room/coffee shop which I guess was in Queen’s Road, and it had a mural of the Queen of Hearts on the wall inside. And didn’t Waitrose come to the Odeon site in the 1960s? I could write masses (and maybe I will some day) but that’s probably enough for now.

    By Celia Savage (23/11/2017)
  • Anyone remember my dad/ stories of my grandpa and granny? Dad, David Spence was born in Watford in 1933, and went to ‘Broderick school’ 20 woodland drive, Watford when he was 5, in 1938. Then later to Aldenham boys school; Grandpa was a doctor/ surgeon in Watford hospital- Dr Douglas Benham Spence. Any memories would be lovely!

    By Kate Spence (10/09/2017)
  • HI Tony,

    Just seen your response to my comment regarding my cousin Wendy. Sorry it’s taken so long, but I do find this site extremely difficult to follow since it was changed. Nothing seems to follow and to be honest I’ve lost a lot of interest in it, which is a shame. It’s nowhere near as interesting as it’s so disjointed. Nothing seems to make sense. I have commented on this, but never received a reply.
    However, apart from at a relatives funeral some years ago (John Wayman who was heavily involved and highly regarded with youth football in Watford until he died aged 91), I haven’t seen Wendy (Bray nee Middleton) since childhood. As far as I’m aware she now lives on a narrow boat. She has a site on Facebook. As far as I recall she married Simon the week before I married at Christchurch on 1st October, 1966. She moved to Bude in Cornwall and her mother Mert or Nora as some knew her, who was widowed from Harry Middleton moved to be close to them. Sadly, Wendy’s marriage didn’t last and she moved back to Luton area where she remarried. She has a daughter and grandchild, but as far as I know she isn’t married now. Wendy’s mum lived her life out in Bude on her own! Shame how families lose touch.

    By Christine Partridge (09/02/2017)
  • Christine Partridge, I have just spotted your comment above, about Wendy Middleton being your cousin.
    I lived next door to her at number 22. we were very good friends, and perhaps had i not joined the Navy we may of been going out together. If you can and if you see this comment could you find a way to let me know how Wendy is getting on, and if you remember me now.

    By Tony Atkins (30/01/2017)
  • This is a very belated response to Tony Atkins follow-up dated 14.10.13, to my recollections.

    Sorry Tony for 3 years delay in responding. I don’t often browse this site anymore, since it was changed from it’s original format. I find it too confusing as nothing follows a pattern anymore.

    However, you asked if you might have known my Aunt who lived in Copsewood Road. Her name was Nora Middleton (known also as Mert) where she lived with her husband Harry and daughter Wendy (my cousin). I can’t remember the exact number of the road, but from walking up from Leavesden Road they lived about half way up on the right.

    Also, you commented that your relative worked for the railway. Coincidentally, my grandfather also worked for the railway. His surname was Froud and he lived at 39, Parker Street with his wife and large family, sadly all now gone.

    I do hope you get this response, albeit late.

    By Christine Partridge (17/11/2016)
  • I’m more than happy to discover this site. I want to to
    thank you for your time just for this wonderful read!!
    I definitely enjoyed every bit of it and I have you
    saved as a favorite to see new information in your blog.

    By Lap Dancing Bar (29/08/2016)
  • Carol Darley, Watford town has changed since those days we spent way back in the 1950s. Those were the days Watford had so much to offer us teenagers, there was the black and white milk bar where we could buy a milk shake or watch a Horlics
    drink being made in what looked like a rocket shaped glass vessel. Then you could go to the Mocka bar or the Chef corner for a really great evening, then perhaps Courting down Cassiobury Park hand in hand, daring to steel a kiss, such memorable days.These were such innocent times. Now there’s Facebook email and IPads which seems to be the order of the day.
    I still have photos of Helen, and all the memories we shared together tucked away in my mind, Yes Boots the Chemist in Queens road long gone now, I used to dress all of the 12windows with anything from Cod liver oil and Malt, to Flannels and toilet rolls. But the Navy was my next step, and in 1955 I joined up, and each leave I spent with you Helen and Malcolm.
    I remember Opposite the empire cinema at the top of market street was w h lavers and son timber merchants, that’s where me and Malcolm would wait for you. 1950s Watford great times.

    Tony Atkins

    By Tony Atkins (16/08/2016)
  • Hi Carole, wow how surprised I am to come across your comments. Those times with you and Helen are truly deep memories, that never fade. Malcolm and I used to visit the Mocka bar, and the Chef corner house. How can we exchange email addresses , so we can catch up. I bet we have changed from those blind date years, I think we first went to the pictures at the gaumont.
    Tony Atkins

    By Tony Atkins (15/08/2016)
  • Tony Atkins, I remember you when you worked with my mother Mabel Dale in Boots before you went into the Navy. We went out for a while then you went out with my friend Helen Charlton.
    I cannot see any recent comments from you but if you still are around it would be nice to meet up.
    I will look for your comments to see if you still look at this page. Carole Dale.

    By carole darley (04/08/2016)
  • Almost 90 years old now and only just discovered this page. Is there anyone else out there who has similar memories about Watford in the 1930`?? I left Watford in 1939 to go to Australia. Have been back for some years but live in Devon now. It was a wonderful place for a schoolboy all those years ago!! Lovely to know that the “next generation” enjoyed it as much .

    By Eddie Aldridsge (28/07/2016)
  • I am preparing an exhibition about the Parish Church of Watford – St Mary’s church. I am looking for old photos of the interior of the church which I could scan and then use in the display. Can anyone help?

    By J E Fish (03/03/2016)
  • Born in Hemel Hempstead in 1949 while my parents were staying my my paternal grandparents in Kings Langley, I grew up in Grover Rd, Oxhey (not South Oxhey but Oxhey proper, just up Pinner Road from what was then Bushey & Oxhey station. My first school was Pendle, a small prep school situated in a large country house almost opposite where Bushey Meads school is now but at the time I was at Pendle, Bushey Meads was being built. Then circa 1956, I moved to Watford Fields Infants and Juniors, thence to Victoria Secondary Modern in Addiscombe Rd with an annex in William Street. In 1962 the school was moved to a brand new site in Tolpits Lane, West Watford that had an indoor swimming pool, woodwork and metal work shops, an art studio and a little tuck shop. To get to Watford West from Oxhey my brother Karl and I, plus several others, would take the train from Bushey to Watford High St then catch the Croxley Green train to alight at Watford West. What a nightmare of a journey that was each day. Talk about St Trinians! I can remember the Odeon and Gaumont cinemas and seeing the Italian Job at the Carlton cinema on Clarendon road (or was it Queens Road?). The cinema had a dirt carpark and Watford’s one way system had just been opened. The route included Beechen Grove, a right turn into the top end Water Lane then into Exchange Road. After the film the carpark was like a Le Mans start with us lads racing to our cars, revving engines, dirt and stones being flung up as we vied with each other to be first onto the one-way system. Total madness but great fun. Not so much traffic back then of course. The Top Rank Suite springs to mind with the occasional punch up in the pond outside, often instigated by those whom the bouncers deemed to be unworthy or unfit to be allowed in. I also recall a brilliant market behind the High Street. It had the feel of a ‘real’ market with traders shouting their wares, plus a small brick built fresh fish stall and next to it a similar brick built stall that sold fresh meat, including skinned rabbits. From about age 11 I had a Saturday job with Brown’s greencrocers in Capel Rd. They had a stall in the market overseen by one of the owners, a chap named Harold. Harold would do the call-outs ‘Get yer bananas here. All yer bananas! 1/-d (that’s one shilling or 5p for those not familiar with ‘old’ money :o) ) a pound….Fresh cucumbers, lovely tomatoes, all yer fruit and veg’ etc. The place had atmosphere. Then there was Cramer’s model shop close to High St station (I think Cramer’s burned down some years ago). Between the station and Cramer’s was a coffee shop that roasted fresh coffee beans, filling the air outside the shop with an almost continental smell of roasting coffee. I also had a paper round, delivering papers for Stan Pike’s paper shop on the Parade, to the big houses on Cassiobury Drive, Parkside Drive, Hempstead Road. Trainspotting at Bushey and Oxhey or Watford Junction was a popular hobby as was taking the DC line to Willesden Jct for a short walk along a canal towpath, past McVities biscuit factory, to sneak under the fence bordering the big railway yard at Old Oak Common to see GWR locomotives stored there prior to being scrapped. I moved from Watford in the late 1960s so have no idea what the town is like now but back then it was a great place to be – terrific High St, many cinemas, New Penny disco on Queens Rd, Top Rank on the parade, Trade Union Hall on Station Rd by Watford Junction close to where the buses used to park. London was only 30 minutes away. I had mates in Hatch End so used to go there fairly often. One evening we visited a pub very close to the bridge at Harrow and Wealdstone station. A guy was playing a piano. A while later we learned it was Elton John – obviously not famous then! I was told the Who used to play at the Trade although I didn’t go there very often so never saw them, and circa 1964/5 the Zombies (with Van Morrison?) won a battle of the bands type contest at Watford Town Hall. As if that wasn’t enough, plays would be shown at the Palace Theatre before going to the West End. What a place Watford was in those days – almost a mini-London but with London itself right on the doorstep. No wonder house prices have gone through the roof. There must almost be a waiting list of people wanting to move there!

    By Peter Wooton (06/12/2015)
  • I used to work at John Blundell Ltd. It was an old fashioned department store where everything could be bought on tick (like Brighthouse). I used to work in the accounts dept with a girl called Erica. There was a cleaner called Phylis who seemed absolutely ancient and she had a daughter who had become a doctor.

    The gorgeous young manager never knew that his christmas dinner had been salvaged from the bin.

    A scary Mrs Ponsford was our boss. She was stern but kind and I loved her.

    I remember my first day – I had bought a bright orange handbag and got into Watford by 7.30 a.m. as I was so worried I’d be late.

    Top Rank on a Saturday night was brill. My friend and I would buy matching dresses and wear them with our black lace up boots.

    I was born in Bushey and grew up in Hemel so I’d get into Watford on the 322 single decker (due to the railway bridge).


    By Sue Hearfield (10/11/2015)
  • Hi there does anyone remember a place called bushey antiques 151 sparrows bushey, it was run by my great auntie violet and her husband i was just wondering what happened to them!

    By Anna Talbot (06/11/2015)
  • Watford. My home town. Ripped to pieces by the town hall mandarins…who always know best. My grandfather was major (twice) and tried to stop it. (At least that’s what he told me) The park gates, the high street overpass. Etc etc etc. Sacrilege. meaningless. corporate vandalism.
    Watford was a beautiful market town where I grew up in the 50’s with my large family. They have all gone….and so has Watford

    By David Hart (05/11/2015)
  • I saw a comment from Jill Clements asking if i was Denise Raysbrook, and i am. My dad was Victor Raysbrook who owned the garage next to high street station. Would love to get in touch with you Jill

    By denisehutchings (07/10/2015)
  • Can any-one remember Sturmans the shoe shop at the High Street end of Queens Road. They had a machine, I think called a Fluoroscope, which x-rayed children’s feet to see if the shoes fitted correctly.

    By Ann Teak (22/08/2015)
  • Hello. I am wondering if you can help me… It is my mums birthday soon and I was hoping to do a sort of montage of her childhood. She recently told me that she went to the Paradise Lost nightclub and managed to get her photograph in Smash Hits magazine in a number 7 makeup commercial from 1980 – 1990 or sometime around then. I really hope to find it but so far have had no luck. I am wondering if any of you have seen it? If so, please can you post a link to the webpage. Thank you! – Liberty

    By Liberty (25/07/2015)
  • I was born in Liverpool Rd in 1965 where my dad bought the corner shop for my mum as a birthday present, I went to Holy Rood school by the church and then to Greenbank Road, My uncles used to be involved with the Firework display at Cassiobury Park so we used to sit on the lorries right at the front! – I remember a deprtment store in the town centre, that had a flight of stairs above a pond in the entrance, Can anyone tell me the name of the shop?, I left Watford when I was 10 years old, I have enjoyed reading the memories of everyone on the site and it has made Watford come alive to me again! Thanks

    By Geraldine Filer (23/07/2015)
  • The shop that sold coffee beans etc was called Caradines I seem to remember . I lived in Carpenders Park from 1947 to 1971… I really love this site it brings back so many memories of Watford and my School Victoria boys school in the late fifties to early sixties

    By alan green (07/07/2015)
  • Oh how fantastic that everyone has such warm and endearing memories of Watford. I too have been sitting here for a costly two hours or more. Does any one remember the little jewellers in Market St who did ear piercing while you sat on a three legged stool, no sophisticated gadgetry just a bodkin and a cork I believe, I had mine done at the age of 13 as a gift, complete with gold sleepers, from my mum and dad, then got stared at whilst walking round Woolies thinking that my new earrings were attracting some admiring glances, when my mum handed me her hanky and told me to mop up the blood running down my neck from the piercings. Has any one any memories of Alban Wood, Leavesden Green, or Leggatts way school, I remember a Miss Muggeridge at Alban Wood, the head at leavesden green Mr Burden (Sid) lovely man, Miss Dorothy Butler Mrs Pooley, Mr James and Mr Dutton and the caretaker Mr Cramer who was sadly killed crossing the north orbital in the 60s . I can still remember my senior school register, where are you all? and finally can anyone remember the art work that used to adorn the railings along the town hall walk to the gates [now demolished so, so sadly] of the park, I think that my parents bought a painting that was subsequently hung on the lounge wall of our council house in Hope Green.

    By Trish Woods nee Slade (29/07/2014)
  • Have been sitting here for two hours, reading everyones memories.Most of the places mentioned i remember, with fondness. Watford dosnt sound very attractive now, to my mind it was perfect as it was. several people have said the heart has been ripped out of watford, and it seems so, but it will remain the same to all of us lived or worked there. My youngest brother was born in king Street hospital in 1952, he was born prematurely, so maybe it was an emergency hospital.We all came to Australia in 1969.

    By barbara birch (11/07/2014)
  • Hello, I am wondering if anyone can help me. I was born in September 1944 and at that time my mother was staying with her parents in Carpenders Park, my father being away at War and being killed when I was only two months old. On Saturday, I met someone who said she was born in Watford Nursing Home and I said I was too. She said it was in Kings Street. Upon arriving home, I looked up my Birth Certificate and wrote to this lady telling her that the address where I was born was 12 Essex Road, Watford. She has now written back to me to say that she has looked up this address and in 1966, it was registered in the Kelly Directory as being a boarding house but has since been demolished with apartments taking its place. Apparently, the nursing home in Kings Street is also no longer there. She says she wonders if, it being wartime, 12 Essex Road was an emergency nursing home but this does not sound right to me as I think Mum would have told me, just out of interest. My mother is now dead so I cannot ask her, but I do know that she always told me my father wanted her to have the best of care so paid for her to go into the Watford Nursing Home. She mentioned other mothers who were in the ward with her. Upon my father’s death, my grandparents sold their house in Carpenders Park and moved to Essex with my mother where they bought two bungalows side by side and this is where I was brought up. I now live on the Essex/Suffolk border so this is why I am hoping that local Watford people might know the answer to this query. I shall be very grateful for any information you are able to give me. Many thanks. Heather 19/06/2014

    By Heather Gomm (19/06/2014)
  • *Moved*

    I have just stumbled on to this site and it already feels like home. I lived in Croxley Green and then Rickmansworth Road in Watford from the age of 5 (then 1957) until 28, when I moved away to Basingstoke. I went to Durrants School, and then on to Harrow School of Art. I had many wonderful school friends, some of whom I still see regularly, and I often think back to those days of Beatles, Biba and beautiful Watford. It’s only now that I am reading other stories from my youth that I realise how lucky I was to grow up in such a great town. My memories are of playing tennis in Cassiobury Park, and walking through Gade Avenue to get there, passed the river. I also worked at my first part-time job in Fine Fare supermarket just after it opened. I remember getting £4 for working Friday evenings and all day Saturday. The money I earned was used to buy fabric from Watford Market to make a mini skirt on two hours flat! Top Rank was such a luxurious treat on a Saturday morning – it seemed that America had arrived in our little town. Diana Rigg was my heroine and gave me the idea that a woman could do more than just survive in a mans world – it was a time of change for women. I also worked in Cawdells on Saturdays (for the terrifying Mrs Thornton) and discovered make-up and womens underwear for the more mature woman! I remember dusting endless shelves, only to be told to dust them again, rather than stand and do nothing. Cawdells had a black wrought iron lift on the right of the ground floor, but I can’t remember if it was manned or not. I can also still remember the rich flavour of the Lyons ice creams that were sold to you in a sort of cylinder with paper which you used to remove yourself – this came with matching double barrelled cornets, one for each ice cream. Was it Woolworths? I also worked for a time in Hinds Jewellers in Clements and spent all my hard earned cash on rings, (still do!) I think my parents Bob and Joyce Foster were extremely happy living in Watford, but mourned the day that the dreadful flyover was agreed and built. Something died in Watford after that, which is why its so nice to read about the days when it was in its original form. Reading these stories has made me smile. Thank you

    By Marilyn Foster (09/06/2014)
  • Thanks to Letitia – I thought it might have been Oxhey and was doing a Google search when I saw your 2012 reply to my original post. The photo on this page conforms that it wax Oxhey park I was looking for. http://oxheypark.com/history.htm Thanks Letitia for your help.

    By Anthony McKay (09/06/2014)
  • Really lovely memories. I was born in Souldern St in 1958. My father was born in Liverpool Road in 1924. Early memories are of learning to walk in Vicarage Rd Cemetery! Moved in 1961 to Kelmscott Crescent and went to Chater School- walking there and back at lunchtimes too. Headmistress was Miss Sennett and we had outside loos across the playground. Went to St Marys church and was a member of 19th Watford (st Mary’s) Brownies! My father worked at Watford Generating Station which was near Shrodells and which closed around 1966 – when we moved away to Huntingdonshire. I thought the country was awful- where were the street lights and pavements? I missed my school and the wonderful education it had given me, starting me on a lifetime of learning. I remember the Pond, the Crib near the Town Hall at Christmas, the smell from the coffee shop! The wonderful sculptures outside the Peace Memorial ( hospital where my grandfather had died) and the swimming baths, which were very noisy to a shy 6 year old. Learning to ride my bike in Cassiobury park, and the bus ride on the green bus to visit grandmother in Croxley Green. No one left now in Watford and I haven’t been back for years, but my husband visits Northwood for work, a long way from home in Wiltshire, which sparked my interest. Best Wishes to all ex-Watfordians!

    By Judith Ellis (08/06/2014)
  • for the attention of Christine Partridge Hi Christine My name is Colin Sharman, I live in Tring, My father is Harold Sharman who ran the barbers shop at 99 Vicarage road Watford until he retired at the age of 65. He lives in Honiton Devon and will be 89 this august. Myself and my sister Christine will be going down to see them next weekend and it would be lovely to here from you before then. I am General Manager at Watford Printers Ltd in Vicarage Road And would love to here from you.

    By Colin Sharman (05/04/2014)
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    I was really interested to read Christine Partridge’s story about G H Sharman’s barber shop, as he was my great-great grandfather! (I’m related to his son, George Herbert Sharman, who joined the Navy. You probably couldn’t get much further from the sea than Watford…)

    By Katie (23/03/2014)
  • My earliest memories of Watford are watery. Watford Baths in the 1960s had a cafe/shop where it was a family ritual to buy a pack of Horlicks tablets for 4d after a swim. For years they still reminded me of Watford Baths until they seemed to disappear from all shops not long before the old Baths were demolished. There were rows of baths in cubicles alongside the changing room and my mum would explain to my astonishment that some people didn’t have bathrooms or hot running water at home. I also remember a three tier diving board at the deep end of the pool with green sandpaper on the boards – good for scratching an itchy foot and catching veruccas! The concrete paddling pool in Cassiobury Park was also a favourite family outing in the summer but the water was often very murky as well as cold.

    By Simon Colbeck (09/03/2014)
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    Have just come across this wonderful page and am delighted to read so many comments about my hometown. I now live in Norfolk, but being reminded of my childhood in the Watford of the 50’s and 60’s is a real treat – especially when I see comments from my cousin Christine Partridge with whom I shared many happy times!

    By Eve Bennell (14/02/2014)
  • just came across this site – amazing how easily memories are recalled upon a word or a name of a place – I’d completely forgotten these memories!! Cassiobury park, metropolitan line, the canal gate, Whipendale road, the pond at the ton center, the town hall, Wimpey(!), Clements, BHS, the market, the Chinese restaurant on top of the market (loved that place!)…..I spent my teens on Shepherds Road from ’81 to ’84 and went to Northfield School for girls – would love to hear of classmates of ’88 (GCSC level)….Denise Hutchings which year wer you at Northfield and which teachers do you remember? Mrs Elliott, Mrs Patterson, Mrs Sade, the French / German teacher I forget her name but she was oddly me favourite teacher! Would love to hear from Northfielders!!!

    By Dina A (24/01/2014)
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    Hi Ian Needle, As soon as I saw your comment on the 17th January I responded saying I was quite happy to make contact, but as this site do not publish email addresses or contact numbers I was unable to email you. Unfortunately, to date they have not printed my reply. I didn’t want you to think I had ignored you. Christine

    By Christine Partridge (24/01/2014)
  • the houses at the bottom of leavesden road near the old bus garage where built by the midland railway i believe. the bricks look like midland reds.

    By chris bonnick (23/01/2014)
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    Hello Ian (Needle), More than happy to make contact with you, but due to the privacy rules of this site I do not have your email address. Any suggestions? Christine Partridge

    By Christine Partridge (nee Sharman) (18/01/2014)
  • Very intersting site….I will add my memories of Watford soon….

    By Denny H (14/01/2014)
  • I was born in Watford, (King St in 1952) 82 derby road, house was demolished in 1962 for the one way system….then mildred avenue, then thorpe crescent……I remember in 1960 (derby road being just around the corner) Bramwells cycle shop ( i think that was the name), lower high street, opposite the railway arms, next to the fish and chip shop Westons, gibsons the butcher was also in that row of stores…the old benskins building was at the back of these stores (just down a bit) other side of the small canal….I came across this site google mapping queens road, i’ve bought many a guitar from Stan in the 1970s, queens rd music shop, is he still alive? i now live in the states, last 20 yrs, i love sunshine, today (Jan 12th 2014) it was 78 degrees, last sunday it was 82, i was out with several bikers (motorbikes)…i don’t miss the cold, i don’t miss watford either, i remember the summer of 76, i bought a new harley in the spring…when i was 16 (1968) i think there were 21 pubs from the town hall to bushey arches…….also i read about the railway cottages on this site, they were at the side of reyford motors on st albans road..other memories….top rank, i saw tommy cooper, he came on stage, everyone was laughing and he hadn’t said a word, that went on for 5 minutes…dance hall above the green man, that was for the mods, kingdom hall for the rockers, I saw atomic rooster, the who, 1970, kingdom hall, i also saw a ton of bands at other watford venues…i see geo austin , scrap dealer, lower high street is still in business….as a kid i remember the gates at cassiobury park and the statues outside the peace memorial hospital, huge gold lion comes to mind…(having to jog my memory here)…i had a girl friend that worked at cawdells in the china dept downstairs, that would be 1969…perrings furniture store, woolworths on the corner of king street…the new penny discoteque, spent many a friday and saturday night there…alms houses, was that bedford street just off king street? hammonds music store at the start of lower high street…anyway, very interesting website…..

    By Denny (12/01/2014)
  • what a site. memories rekindled. early 60s cassi park helped lock the narrow boats through, coal & roses lime juice I think. swinging across the river gade on the willow trees. riding the miniature railway & other stuff. halcyon days.

    By chris bonnick (31/12/2013)
  • I was raised in Watford I went to St Andrews infants, Beechen Grove Junior, and Victoria Secondary Boys all of which have been demolished In my teenage years I loved Dancing at the Town Hall on Saturday nights . In 1956 I enlisted in the Army, I was 17 1/2. After training I was sent to Cyprus for two years. During that time Watford colours had changed from blue and white to yellow and they were known as the Hornets. Not something I got used to. I have seen references to Veras in Queens Road, Alf Gurney, probably Watford’s greatest supporter. Gibsons Sausages. I forget the number of pubs in the High Street but the challenge was to see if you could have a drink in every pub as far as the Dog. I never knew anyone who tried it. Why was the Queens Road Methodist church demolished? To all the lads who completed National Service you should be awarded with some recognition for your Service. I have lived in New Zealand for 40 years I am retired but still have good memories of my early days growing up in Watford. Rob Badrick

    By Rob Badrick (25/12/2013)
  • Hi I am just like to add I was born in kings street hospital which has long gone in 1955 and was brought up in charlock way on the Holywell est went to chater school till I was 11years old and yes we had to walk there in those days then I went to Victoria boys school. I now live in wimslow Cheshire but my heart will always be in Watford and I often think about the times I had there as a boy from caddying in moor park to working for old ginger on the paraffin rounds and helping me old dad on his milk round still have lots of family and friends still there .thanks Steve rush.

    By Steve rush (23/12/2013)
  • Wonderful site , thankyou. I was born in 1948 at 129 Hagden Lane, and my grandparents lived in that house until the late ’70’s. I used to love to stand in the upstairs window of Nans house behind her dressing table , and wave at the drivers of the mighty Scammels as they set off for the oil fields of the Middle East from the factory in Tolpits lane . I then grew up a little to become one of the Rockers at the Busy Bee on the by-pass, I still have my old BSA out in the garage . Time moves on , but early life stays with us forever , Watford is in my blood althogh I am over 300 miles away now .

    By Colin Smith (21/12/2013)
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    Hi especially for Christine Partridge(nee Sharman).. Mrs Needle in her Whites was my Granny … Noel Needle became my adoptive father, a very kind, sweet man … He died in 2005 at 82 …. If you see this please email me. ..Ian A Needle … Ps I went to Queens School Bushey 1973/1978 then Watford Art College…. Very special

    By Ian A Needle (17/12/2013)
  • I have been very interested to read you description of the history of Watford. I have ancestors that lived at 105 St Albans Road in 1851 and would be grateful for any information anyone has for that period of time. Also my great, great grandmother Louisa Elizabeth Langley was born ‘on the Railway Station, Watford’ as stated on her birth cerificate, so I would be interested in finding out more about that ie., newspaper articles etc., Many thanks Toni

    By Toni Bartlett (12/12/2013)
  • For anyone reading or contributing to this very wonderful site, the Watford Observer has published its latest Watford in the 20th Century Volume 3 covering the years 1960-1979. It costs £12.99 plus postage, available from the Watford Observer and would make a lovely Christmas gift. Yet another very interesting and informative book.

    By Christine Partridge (17/11/2013)
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    Hi Again…Yes Railway Cottages were opposite Fishburns. We had no front garden. You walked in your house off the cobbled street. I think the Railway Club is still down the same street and I also think Bedford Street is at the back of where the houses were. The back gardens were long and thin with coal bunkers at the bottom. Going to find the page on the Pumphouse Blues Club, I loved going there every Sunday. 

    I have told my friends who still live in Watford about this page. It is so lovely to remember all the good times I had when I lived there. I will return to this page again and again!

    By Ann Gater (09/11/2013)
  • *MOVED*

    Reading about Tony Atkins memories was like hearing my Wife Joy Hall (Nee Tanswell) reminisce with her Sister. My wife, then Joy Tanswell, was born in Perivale Gardens May 1938.

    The house was purchased new by her Father Brian Tanswell who ran an electrical business called ‘T & S Electrical Services’. Joy also attended the same schools, and enjoyed similar activities. The Austin Family lived opposite. 

    We still live in Perivale Gardens, having purchased the house, after her Fathers death. I will explain how I came to read Tony’s comments, after I have completed my comment. She will be surprised that there is somebody who experienced similar past times on the Kingswood Estate, and will be desperate to read Tony’s comments for herself. I will now close, it will be interesting to see her reaction.

    By Arthur Hall (07/11/2013)
  • Most of us reflecting on the site may be getting into old age but the memory sure hasn’t gone. We were all so lucky to have lived in the area at that time, but never appreciated it fully . Enjoyed all the comments.

    By roger fletcher (02/11/2013)
  • Hi Christine, re your comment 10/10/2013, I notice you had an Aunt living in Copsewood Road, what a small world, I moved from the Kingswood estate to Copsewood road with mum dad and my sister in 1950. We lived at No 22, which was opposite the Railway houses in Copsewood Road. My Grandfather who worked for the Railway lived in one of them, and was one of the first to have electricity put in, in place of Gas Lights. You can hardly find a place to park there now as every space in front of the homes has a car parked . A few doors down from our home No 22 used to be the Railway Mission Hall, long gone now. At the bottom of Leavesden road on the corner was a shop that sold groceries, Skewins I think. Police station over the road, along with the pub called The Queens, The pub you mentioned Is The leviathan on the corner. opposite what was Skewins. The flea Pit was First call The Collisium, and then became The Plaza. I wonder if we knew your Aunt?

    By Tony Atkins (14/10/2013)
  • Hi, does anyone remember a lady called Audrey Barry?

    By Louise (10/10/2013)
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    An excellent page. 

    Ann Gater: Where exactly were the railway cottages? My great grandfather lived there in 1851 according to the census, but I could never suss out where it was. Were they on the same side of the railway as the old Watford Junction station, which is now a garage, opposite Fishburns? Sad to think that it’s been pulled down anyway, but time marches on! The Pumphouse has a page on Facebook, for those of us that remember watching blues bands there :) 

    With regards to Rozalex: my dad used to have a factory in Harlesden (started by my grandfather) and as a child I remember there was a shiny chrome plated machine on the wall which dispensed Rozalex barrier cream. I remember the smell and the consistency of the stuff. Me and my brothers used to put it on whenever we visited the factory, so that our hands didn’t get too dirty playing there. 

    I also remember……the machine on Watford High Street Station that you could put tuppence in and it would stamp an aluminium label or nameplate…. Yes it had a huge dial that you would set to one letter at a time. Brilliant! 

    I must confess that I skimmed through some of the letters here, so as not to waste another day wading through nostalgia, but I seem to recall that the coffee shop down by St Mary’s was Lyons Coffee house? 

    Also remember the public baths! I actually used them once, when going to an interview when I didn’t have time to go all the way home to Croxley and back. You bought a ticket and the attendant showed you to a room with a bath in it. You hired a towel. It all seemed very posh, but I suppose it was left over from when a lot of the houses didn’t have a bathroom. Just a tub in front of the fire. 

    I was briefly shocked a few years ago when my daughter started at Watford Girls Grammar and told me that nobody there knew how to strike a match to light the bunsen burner! I guess kids today never encounter a naked flame or an open fire unless they hava a gas cooker, and even then it’s all automatic. I still remember using a sheet of the Watford Observer (which still had full size pages) over the front of the fireplace to draw the fire up, and watching the newspaper going brown as the flames got higher. Then that moment of panic as the paper caught fire, like the map at the start of Bonanza, and you’d have to make sure that all the burning bits of paper went up the chimney and not on the carpet. 

    It is odd that we took for granted walking everywhere, when now most people wouldn’t even dream of walking from Watford High St to the Junction. I knew all the shortcuts and back alleys in Watford, as I lived in Croxley and every few yards saved took time off the extra 2 or 3 miles that I had to walk to get home from Watford. 

    It is good to share memories that you can picture so vividly in your mind, as if it were this morning, and to realise that there are many other people from previous and more recent generations that know exactly what you mean. So many good times!!

    By Phil How (09/10/2013)
  • To Phil How, Yes, I think you’re correct about the location of the railway cottages. They were definitely opposite Fishburns Printing Ink factory. I had an Aunt living in Copsewood Road, and I recall walking down the road to Leavesden Road, passing the old bus garage as I approached St. Albans Road. I recall the pub on the corner and the old ‘flea-pit’ cinema just up the road. I remember the railway cottages were close by in a cul-de-sac. I stand corrected if wrong.

    By Christine Partridge (09/10/2013)
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    Very interesting post Ann, I felt the same thing when I first started reading some of the stories on this page.

    Your ‘post’ resurrected a memory for me when you mentioned the Leggetts Way Swimming Pool. My younger brother Clive and I belonged to the Watford Life Saving Club at the Watford Baths and did some voluntary life guard duties at Rickmansworth Aquadrome during the summer weekends. We had a small outboard boat and would patrol the edge of the lake keeping an eye on the swimmers (and the young ladies I suspect…. we were only 19 and 20). When the North Watford Pool opened in 1971 I think, my brother and I were employed as the first two lifeguards. We worked most weekends and evenings keeping the changerooms clean and tidy and making sure no one got into trouble in the pool. I can only remember one of the female lifeguards, Melanie Tearle, who used to go to my old school Watford Tech, she was a very nice girl and an excellent swimmer and we had a laugh with her. 

    Great days, infact my brother met his wife there, twin sisters that used to swim VERY regularly… I always thought they liked the swimming but the probable truth was they liked a particular pool attendant more than that and it wasn’t me!! 

    I remember the railway houses too, they had no front gardens, as you came off St. Albans Rd they were in a terrace, my brothers and I used to play “Knock up Ginger” every time we passed, it was always the last house away from the main road as we could disappear up the alley way to Leavesden Rd, we had a fright one day as the occupant was waiting for us and chased us for a second or two…. hope that wasn’t your house? Innocent fun, makes me smile when one of these stories triggers a memory.

    By Doug Petty (24/09/2013)
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    Wow..what an amazing page. I have read all the entries with a big smile on my face. I lived in Watford, 1965 – 1991. I was born in Barrow in Furness but at only a few months old my parents moved to Watford.

    We lived in Railway Cottages off St Albans Rd by the Railway Club. They were old victorian terraced houses which belonged to the railways, my dad worked on the railways. No bathroom (Tin Bath hung on a nail on the wall in the garden) and an outside freezing toilet. Two big rooms downstairs, front room with a coal fire that you could not light because it smoked out the next doors front room and a big back kitchen with a fire you could use. The bedrooms were in the roof, three in total. Two small rooms at the back and one large room at the front. The windows were sash and very low to the floor which was wooden and had small holes in. My brother and I used to post pencils down into the front room! 

    I remember the coal man arriving and a lorry used to come around full of bottles of pop. The insurance man used to call and I think Benskins Brewery with the big shire horses used to come down the road to the Railway Club as well. I lived there until I was 11 and then we were one of the last families to go up to The Harebreaks, Woodside. 

    I went to Holy Rood School (Percy Rd) then went to Greenbank school near Leavesden and finally St Michaels in Garston. Such memories came flooding back!! 

    The Sundays I spent at a club I think called The Pumphouse listening to Blues Groups and coming home to my dinner in the bin, New Penny Nightclub in Queens Road, Baileys Nightclub with the chicken in a basket dinners which then became Paradise Lost (never as good without the live groups) 

    My first job was working in Clarendon Road at a florist opposite the Watford Palace Theatre Dorothy Heathcote Florists who then moved into Market street. I remember going as a child into Cassiobury Park Golf Course and rolling down the bunkers and then running away from the keepers. Swimming in the locks and rivers etc around the park, spending all day there on a weekend from 09.00 till late and then using the phone box near the entrance where the old Peace Memorial Hospital was to phone home to say I was OK…could not do that nowadays. 

    The Saturday morning clubs at the Odeon Cinema, going up to the pond in town to the bakers who also owned a restaurant (black n white building) cannot remember its name, sorry. The Harlequin Centre being built and destroying the top of town and most of the bottom of it as well!! 

    I remember as a very little girl going into Liptons in Market Street which was a small shop, the outside market near where they built the flyover and the new one near my beloved C&A. I remember Clements at Christmas time, the old sewing machine shop in Clarendon road, Going to John Lewis for my uniform in Queens Road.The toy shop on St Albans Road next to Woolworths, Froggys clothes shop along there as well. Swimming at weekends at the Leggets School Pool (cant remember how its spelt)

    So many memories that keep coming back…I often think about Railway Cottages and the amazing childhood I had there. Unfortunately the houses were protected by a plaque hung on the wall in between our house and next doors so they could not be pulled down BUT one day it went missing, we were moved and they were demolished..I do not know to this day whether anything is there now in its place? I remember the elderly gentleman who lived in the old railway station house, Mr Messenger, when he died it became a car sales/hire office I think. 

    I have friends who still live in Watford but it saddens me to visit because it has had its heart ripped away and is not the vibrant place I remember but then again at 48 yrs old everything looks rosy to me from my childhood!! Thank you for making my day..keep on posting!!

    By Ann Gater (nee Simpson) (19/09/2013)
  • Wow Tony, even though I was born and bred on the Harebreaks Estate I had forgotton the coffee café, but memories have come flooding back. I too was a regular visitor to Flanagans Fair and remember coming home with a goldfish in a clear plastic bag. Now that was a real treat and it was great excitement when the fair was expected. Such happy days.

    With your recollections of the doodlebug, I wonder if it was the same one that chased my father along Radlett Road whilst he was riding home on his push bike from the airforce base he was stationed at! I think that doodlebug was the one that hit and demolished a lot of Sandringham Road.

    By Christine Partridge (29/08/2013)
  • Hi, Christine. Sorry, I must’ve missed your earlier comment somehow. I’ve published it now.

    By Ian Grant (site editor) (28/08/2013)
  • Thanks Christine for your reply and update on the Butcher boys. Now lets see if you remember that small coffee café, it looked like a shed on the field where each year Flanagans Fair came. Now that was worth going to, and great fun. A short distance from that area a bomb dropped during an air raid I think its target was Leavesden Aerodrome, it was a doodle bug. Thanks again for taking the time to keep my memories going.

    By Tony Atkins (28/08/2013)
  • Hi Tony, I did write a reply to your comment prior to my last which wasn’t printed so this has made that reply rather obscure. In my original I did confirm that I was at Leggatts Way Girls School, but I didn’t know anyone called Austin, although she may have been in another year. I also offered my opinion on the youngest Butcher boys name. I also said that the late actor Terry Scott was a relative of the Butcher boys and based his Auntie character on Mrs. Butcher and her son ‘Knocker’ (Rowan) in his My Bruvver record.

    By Christine Partridge (27/08/2013)
  • Thank you Christine, I do believe it was. I was in the same class as the younger boy of the Butcher family, I remember his mother coming in to the class room of Mr Anderson (Leggatts Boys) and having a right go at him for hitting her boy with a plimsoll. She had a head scarf on, and looked for all the world like Peggy Mount the film star. I can not remember his first name it might of been John Butcher? We just called him Butch. 

    I also remember the 345 double decker bus went up and down the Harebreaks and the 346 went all the way to Kingswood estate. If you went to Leggatts Way Girls, do you remember a girl with the surname of Austin, she was always good at sports and running.

    By Tony Atkins (23/08/2013)
  • Yes Tony I did go to Leggatts Way. I can’t recall a girl called Austin, but she might have been in a different year to me. I think the Butcher boy you’re referring to was known as ‘Bib’. His real name was Michael. All the Butcher boys had nicknames, but quite posh real Christian names. I lived opposite them and remember Mrs. Butcher very well. The famous Terry Scott was their relative and based his little boy sketch on Mrs. Butcher and one son Quentin aka ‘Knocker’ in his song ‘my bruvver’. I won’t repeat myself as I’ve already outlined some memories earlier in this very interesting and nostalgic forum.

    By christine Partridge (23/08/2013)
  • In hindsight Tony, I think I may be incorrect about the Butcher boy’s nicknames to their proper names. I think the younger one might still have been Michael, but his nickname was ‘Bunty’. I don’t want to upset any Butcher boys who might be reading this if I’m wrong. Names can escape me as the years progress. If I recall the elder one was Quentin (Tiny), next was Rowan (Knocker), then ‘Bib’, but I’ve forgotton his real name and finally Michael (Bunty). Sorry for any confusion.

    By Christine Partridge (23/08/2013)
  • Hi Tony, I think the dance hall you are referring to in Clarendon Road might have been the Oakley Studios.

    By Christine Partridge (22/08/2013)
  • I worked at Clements 1955 to 1958. I use to live on Colne Way by the bypass. My friend Susan Deschamps and I went to Watford Jazz Club I think it was on a Wednesday night. We use to dance trad jive.

    I emigrated to the US in 1964 and now live in New Zealand.

    By Dianna Rule{nee Ward} (21/08/2013)
  • Just seen your comment Dianna Rule/nee Ward I would suspect that you too used to go to the North Watford Odeon, and possibly your Doctors were Dr Woods surgery next to the Dome Roundabout Garage/ Bungalow Stores.

    When you were at Clements, Elliots was across from your store, they sold Records and Radios. Clements had Toys Hardware Electrical goods China and very nice figurines in the basement, that’s where Father Christmas also had his Grotto, up the steps to the ground floor was Perfumes Bedding Cases stationary, next floor was ladies coats etc, and the top floor was Furniture and Radios etc. 

    Cawdells opposite Market street, near enough, was always trying to mimic Clements, that’s where the arcade entrance was to the market, on the other side of the Arcade was Timothy Whites. 

    Do you remember the Star Ballroom Dance hall in the high street above the Green Man public house? Also Ballroom Dances at the Watford Town Hall. There was another in Clarendon Road but I have forgotten the name. My mate Malcolm and I used to knock about with the Americans from Bushey Hall, and we would go to there base and have a Schiltz?(beer) or two. We also had to change our sterling pounds into what they called script to spend on the base. 

    I wonder if you went to the Chef Corner or The Mocha Bar, as Mal and I did when on leave. Most of the time we were in our Navy uniforms showing off as you do, and we loved going to the Pictures like the Gaumont and the Odeon, Regal and Empire within the High Street. 

    All that has gone and our Watford is really no more as it was in the Fifties. A big super store called Asda is close to Colne Way, and the average price of a house in Colne Way is over £400.000. 

    I was 16 in 1955, and used to live on the Kingswood Estate, I had a Girl friend who used to live in North Approach near the entrance to North Watford Cemetery. 

    Well I do hope I have raised a few memories. I seem to remember the name of Susan Deschamps, but it was along while ago.

    By Tony Atkins (21/08/2013)
  • *MOVED*

    Thank you for bringing joy to this old wrinkly. I was a babe born in 1938 in Watford, Mum and Dad raised me on the Kingswood Estate, Fernway, our garden had the North Watford Cemetery woods at the back. I went to Kingswood infants School and Miss Fowler and Miss Pooley were a couple of my teachers. Mr Burden was the Headmaster, Mr Truman was the school Caretaker, and lived in Briar Road his garden led into the school playground. 

    North Watford Odeon was our Saturday morning venture, I even remember the song we sang before the show. Bungalow stores for an ice lolly on the way home, then cowboys and indians up the spinney. I have so many memories, especially Flanagan’s Fair that came every year, the rag man that gave day old chicks for old clothes etc. 

    Anyway if you remember me, I started work at Lilley and Skinners the shoe shop in the High Street, then just before I joined the Navy I worked over the road at Boots the Chemist, they actually had 15 featured windows, I had to dress them,and serve on counters. Then The Mocha bar became my haunt, especially The Chef corner , when I came home on leave, glass coffee cups and saucers filled from an Espresso Chrome plated machine (Mocha Bar). Great. 

    I was one of the first lads in Watford to purchase a Power Pac, this was a motor that fitted on my bike, and was one up from a Cyclemaster that was another motor used for ordinary cycles (back wheel housed in the centre) 

    Well folks I have only scratched the surface, as I may be so ancient that I have been forgotten. Oh yes, Leggatts Way Boys School, my teachers Mr Mitchel, Mr Casbon, Mr Ritchie, Mr Rolfe, and Mr Townsend. And as first years we got bumped and drowned under the tap in the playing fields. Must mention Cox’s sweet shop over the road from school, remember. The best times was the Girls sports days, you guessed it our noses were firmly pressed up on the windows of Mr Day’s Science room. Watford, the best town ever.

    By Tony Atkins (18/08/2013)
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    While the memories are still coming may I continue with my times living on the Kingswood Estate. We were called the Kingswood estate gang in those days, and we would be found over Woodside playing about most of the time. Our main tasks were to find pop bottles and return them to KENTS the newsagents and post office, to earn a penny or two on the deposit. Kents was a great shop I can still smell the aroma of stationary and Magazines, it was a special smell that remains with you from childhood just like bluebells do when you have played in a wood full of them. 

    In the 40s as children we had all had street parties, to celebrate the end of the war and Fernway was no exception. Our parents placed tables all down our road, and we were all waiting to be waited on with jelly, blancmange and junket, along with a treat ice cream! At the corner of Fernway opposite the spinney that took you past the cemetery and Stanborough park a huge bonfire had been prepared, right in the middle of the road. Radios had been place in front rooms by the windows to provide music that went on for as long as my young mind can remember. The bonfire was ablaze and Mr Picton from round the corner was in charge of fire drill in case of emergencies, along with other men and dads who had been demobbed. 

    My childhood memories of those I played in the road with and were in our gang were, Alan Dyer, Bobby Cotton, Brian Rawlings, Susan Rawlings, Joyce Rawlings, Colin McCrystal, Stella Leach, Pat Leach Carol Marnie, John Griffin, Brian Dowling, Mary Dyer, the Vaughans, The Phillipsons, Chambers, Horne, The Browns and others who escape me at present (apologies for bad spelling). 

    Kingswood Estate was wonderful in those days, and going to Kingswood Kindergarten was a great experience. We would have air raid drills and told to crouch up against the corridor walls, or under our desks, In the playground there was an Air raid shelter, but I never went in it. We even had school teas as well as school dinners, the teas were because our mums were working in factories, and picked us up later when they finished work. My mum worked next to the fire station opposite Sheepcote Lane, I think its a garage now. (Next to Woodside that was.) 

    To conclude this little bit of Kingswood in the 40s, us kids had the times of our lives, playing marbles conkers swapping comics playing cricket between the silver birches teasing neighbours with knock up ginger, that’s knocking doors and running away like mad, and all in the street, wow! My next story may include the Rushden Avenue gang of those times?

    By Tony Atkins (18/08/2013)
  • To Colin Delve, reference working for Mr Wren in exchange road, were you also aware that Wrens before it moved to exchange road used to be nearly opposite Clarendon Road in Watford, across from John Colliers (the windows to watch.) on the left of the original Wrens was BUCKS CATERING. 

    Well Colin you would have known my Aunt (Sally Rider) who went on to purchase the business from Mr Wren when she took over Wrens Sports and Leather goods in St Albans Road, Mr Wren became very ill and sold up. Your shop in Exchange Road still has the name of Wren House, and on the corner where you worked I am sure you would have gone into Elliots the Radio and Record shop to listen to some 78s and 45rpm in the booths provided. 

    Those were the days, especially if you went down to Woolworths and parted with 2/6 for a 78rpm record sung as close as the proper artist as could be found, meaning a song that Frank Sinatra sung originally would cost more in Elliots, but Woolworths had copy artists hence they were cheaper to purchase. I also recall the weight of those 78s from Woollies Tarmac I think!

    By Tony Atkins (18/08/2013)
  • This is such a wonderful site to read. I was born 1968 and don’t remember a lot about Watford so it’s lovely to read. I’m the youngest of 6 children and was the only one not born in Kingstreet Hospital. However my partner Brian smith was born in Kingstreet in 1951 and remembers most of the places mentioned on hear. I really am enjoying reading all of this.

    By Madeline mcconville (16/08/2013)
  • This is such a wonderful site to read. I was born 1968 and don’t remember a lot about watford so it’s lovely to read. I’m the youngest of 6 children and was the only one not born in kingstreet hospital . However my partner Brian smith was born in kingstreet in 1951 and remembers most of the places mentioned on hear. I really am enjoying reading all of this .

    By Madeline mcconville (16/08/2013)
  • It’s really fantastic that these stories have invoked such happy memories from so many different parts of the globe… my sister Jan went to a family wedding recently and one of her in-laws Ken Lowery who now lives in the US regularly visits this site and informed her that I was contributing in a small way to the continuing story lines… she knew nothing about the Watford site or my contributions! 

    So to please her I will relate another short, pleasant memory I have of Cassiobury Park that I used to frequent with my two younger brothers in the late 50’s. It was a long walk from the Harebreaks to the park, but the two miles or so, was no problem in the school summer holidays. We always made for the Grand Union Canal and the busy lock right at the bottom of the park. We would watch the narrow boats and barges slowly chugg their way along the length of the very picturesque Cassiobury section and if we were lucky get to help the “bargees” open and close the locks. All the more remarkable as none of us could swim! There were more working barges then, than pleasure craft, exactly the oposite today I understand. From there we used to cross the canal to the River Gade that ran off the main canal and under a lovely wooden bridge. Quite often we would climb a willow tree and watch the big fish stationed in the current, they were very good sized Chub and years later I tried to catch some there, but never succeeded. Then we would make our way to the paddling pool and have a bit of a slash about and some times I believe there was a miniature train running on tracks around the area. From there we would gradually amble to the small weir nearby, this was a great spot for a rest and if we had our home made “tiddler” nets made from mums old stockings, a bit of wire a bamboo cane and a jam jar we would try and catch Bullheads and Stone Loaches from under the sill of the weir, I must say I loved anything aquatic then and still do, fifty years later. We carried on down stream to the Water Cress beds, was it Voss’s that ran it? The water was pristine and the watercress so green, to my young palette very, very peppery…(our school dinner salads always had watercress in it too, must have been good for us).

    Next stop was the bottom of Rickmansworth Road, we were getting tired now, but I was always fascinated by the very old cottage situated just a short walk back towards the town centre that was clad in “Herringbone” sticks, I think it was a Tudor building and to my young eyes one of the loveliest houses in the town. We would arrive back home at whatever time it was, I can’t remember what we ate all day and mum didn’t worry where we’d been, “what have you been up to?” she would ask…. ‘oh nothing’

    By Doug Petty (12/08/2013)
  • What a wonderful site, made me feel homesick. Lived in Croxley Green early 50s, then we moved to Watford Fields. Lovely place to live. Went to Watford Fields infants and ku ours, then to Victoria Girls school for 1 term only. We moved away, but Watford will always be home to me.

    By Christine Mckenzie nee Rose (02/08/2013)
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    How lovely to read all those stories, it really took me back in time to the good old days when I was a teenager in Watford. Especially as I live abroad (Bavaria,Germany) and have hardly any contact now with Watford. Like most people I had various Saturday jobs like at Timothy Whites, Littlewoods and as an usherette at the Odeon which was great fun watching films four or five times! Once we had a Western and they sent along Indian costumes to promote it, so I had to wear this and say hello, Indian style, to everyone coming in! There’s even a photo of me wearing it at the car park at the back of the cinema. Those were the days – going to Top Rank on the lookout for a good looking lad – didn’t work out – found one here. I lived in Cobb Green Woodside and went to Francis Combe from 1960 to 1969 where I left for Germany and have been here ever since. My sister worked at Clements which was classed as quite posh in those days. It’s a shame it’s all gone and that flyover – how could they? My grandparents (Mathews) were from Oxhey and had a little shoe shop in Villiers Road. As I live abroad I greatly appreciate these stories and this site so please keep them coming in. 

    By Ann Albertz-nee Balcomb (24/07/2013)
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    What a wonderful site! I lived in Croxley Green between 1961-70 and my first job was on Saturdays at a cake shop in Market Street, Watford. I have been racking my head to remember it’s name and this morning I woke up with “Spurriers” coming to mind. My Google Search brought up this website and the comments have brought back so many memories. I used to do the family shopping for my mother on Saturdays for years and it was whilst doing it one Saturday that I discovered a sign in Spurriers window for a Saturday girl! In I went and I began the following Saturday (still did the family shopping in my lunch hour!) and continued on Saturdays and in the school holidays until I went off to Uni. There were other branches in the neighbourhood and I used to relieve at those as well, particularly in the school holidays – I particularly remember one in St Albans Road out past Watford Junction station, and Radlett (where Una Stubbs came in one day). I vividly remember the day of the World Cup – I was relieving at another store (?Bushey) and both the shop and the street were deserted all afternoon! The shop opened up a whole new lot of experiences for me! Everything had to be added up in your head as you went along, as the old pop-up cash registers did not do that for you. Some ladies (I cannot remember men asking me to do this!) would not trust my mental arithmetic and get me to repeat as a check! Thank you so much for this site – I will come back to it and read in more detail later. I have lived in Australia since 1980 but do return to the UK fairly regularly and hopefully one day will get the chance to visit Watford again. The plans for revamping the town centre were put forward whilst I was still at school and at the time the idea of fly-overs seemed very alien….. We had moved to Hertfordshire from Cornwall and at first I would call Trewins TREwins because that was how that name was pronounced in Cornwall. My mother would tell me that no-one would understand me if I persisted! Susan Long (nee Lambrick).

    By Susan Long (nee Lambrick) (05/07/2013)
  • Every now and then I return too this page. The amount of people who live in Australia including myself is interesting, and one lady went to the same school as myself, but 3 years later. I hope more people find this page and add to it. I think there should be more of it, cheers rob

    By rob aldred (29/06/2013)
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    Doug, that has brought back more memories. In my previous contribution I said I lived on the Harebreaks Estate, in Middle Way. I remember well Ron the Milkman with his horse. Mum would give him a cuppa and I would always rush out as a child to chat to the horse, who never replied!! I remember our next door neighbour Mrs. Needle who would rush out when the horse did it’s business. She would scurry behind the horse, in her white tennis outfit, scooping up the droppings with her shovel and place them in a bucket for her roses, just like to say. I remember her son was called Noel Needle. Every Saturday when Mum paid the bill she’d give Ron a cuppa and a 6d tip. Her divvy number was 32119, I’ll never forget it. Phil the Laundryman would call weekly to deliver our newly laundered sheets and collect the dirty ones. We didn’t have a washing machine and my mum was virtually blind. We weren’t well off, but needs must in such circumstances. He too received 6d tip. I think the baker was called Mr. Ellis, but can’t recall his first name. He’d bring a large wicker basket round the back on a Saturday with the selection of loaves and cakes. Mr. Alban who had a green grocers shop in Leavesden Road would deliver our greengrocery on the Saturday which Mum would have ordered when we called in on Friday. On our way back from visiting my Nan in Parker Street Mum would also stop at Mrs Finches, the grocers to pick up some shopping and I would gaze longingly at the square boxes with glass lids containing biscuits. I loved it when we had some of the broken biscuits which were cheaper. She also bought one ounce of butter with her post war food coupon allowance. Such luxuries. She had an assistant called Ina. Her shop was just past Girlings the bakers where my Uncle Charlie was one of the bakers there. The freshly made bread and cakes were all so appealing and I loved the savoury rolls. I so remember the real Hovis loaves and the delicious nutty flavour which has gone forever. That was real bread. We were spoilt for choice. I used to collect one of there bloomer loves on my bike. Having just come out of the oven, the smell of the loaf was intoxicating. I would strap this across the pannier on the back of my bike, but by the time I got home with the heat of the loaf it bent into an upside down ‘V’ shape, but it still tasted the same. Happy Daze……

    By Christine Partridge (nee Sharman) (27/06/2013)
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    Thanks Linda, I’m glad that short story bought back some pleasant memories. I was talking to a friend of ours in South Australia the other day about our experiences as youngsters in our respective home towns… the older you get the more you remminise I suppose! Anyway we got talking about home deliveries and I was able to relate a couple of stories from when I used to help both the Express Dairy, and the CO-OP milk and bread man around the Harebreaks Estate circa 1960-3. My favourite story was helping the CO-OP milkman “RON”… he had a horse and cart, but I can;t remember the horses name. Anyway it was an early start summer or winter, Ron would tell me the order for each house and off I would go with up to 6 pints of milk in between my fingers. There could be gold top for the posh people, green, silver or red top for the rest and the older customers would also have the pasturised milk in a longer skinny bottle, which was harder to carry between the fingers as it had a crimped metal cap. Once the bottles were delivered I had to pick up the empties in the same way and return them to the “Cart”, once the glass bottles had clinked in the crate “old dobbin” would automatically move on to the next house. The wheels of the cart would regularly run over my foot if I didn’t get rid of the bottles quickly enough and get out of the way…. lucky the wheels were pnuematic tyres so it didn’t do any damage. Half way around our “round” we would cross paths with the CO-OP bread man, we would give him a bottle of orange juice or 1/2pt of milk and we could take our pick of any cake that was available… (always a split jam and cream doughnut for me) then we would continue on our way. On Fridays we used to collect the money and I would sometimes work the CO-OP Dividend machine, penciling in the number so the customer could get their “DIVI” back. I still remember my mums number to this day as she would sometimes send me to the local CO-OP for some items for dinner. One of the funniest things working with a horse is that between houses he would have a munch on the grass verg or have his nose bag on for a feed, resulting in, of course a reaction at the rear nether regions of his body… amazingly, to me anyway, was that the instant he did a POO one of the ladies in the adjacent house would rush out with a hand shovel annd bucket and clean up the mess….. for the roses! They must have been watching like hawks. It was a great Saturday job and every I worked every day in the holidays, winters were a bit harsh especially in the snow, but in those days we just got on with it and I did like having the 1/2 a crown I earned!

    By Doug Petty (24/06/2013)
  • Was the coffee shop with delicious smell mentioned by Kathleen Bennet the Kardoma? (No idea how you spell it).

    By Kathy Thomas (22/06/2013)
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    Doug, I remember Sainsbury’s at North Watford so well. I do remember all that you do , as well as being mesmerised by watching the person behind the counter cut the cheese with a wire cheese cutting contraption. That amazed me how they cut that cheese…. I asked my dad to make me one for when I played shops at home …. Loved going into Sainsbury’s…. I also now live in Australia in Brisbane… Still have very fond memories of Watford. Top Rank, Cawdells, Clements, British Home Stores, Watford market every Saturday morning. My dad used to buy himself some kippers from the seafood stall.. I also went to Francis Coombe school 1966 to 1969. We then emigrated to Australia… My dad worked for Benskins then Ind Coope.. Most of my Mum’s family worked there their name was Deacon.. Great days and times…

    By Linda Adkins (17/06/2013)
  • Denise, are you Victor Raysbrook daughter?? My mother was Majorie his sister. Just found this site!

    By Jill Clements (07/06/2013)
  • I have just found this wonderful page. It has bought back so many memories, I was born in King Street in 1954, Went to Northfield School and worked in Kardomahs when I was 16 as my saturday job. My dad had a garage next to the High Street Station which sold Lotus cars. It now has the road going through it. I lived backing on to cassiobury park. They were great days! The gates were still there then.

    By Denise Hutchings (nee Raysbrook (30/05/2013)
  • Jayne – thank you so much for your reply Vera was my paternal grandma and I have fond memories of her ! Do you ,by any chance , have any pictures ? Jim

    By james victor rogers (22/05/2013)
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    There are some wonderful recollections on this page, rendered all the more poignant because the Watford that we all remember has ceased to exist. I went to Holy Rood School in the centre of town and remember my pals and I going to the Home and Colonial store for a penny bag of broken biscuits or to the sweet shop in Market Street for a frozen Jublee – after three sucks you were left with a flavourless block of ice! At Christmas we went up the fire escape to the roof of Clements to look down on the Christmas lights, the magic of which still lives with me! Clements was posh and Cawdells less so. To the market for jeans, records and shellfish (as someone eslse mentions). As I grew up we visited the pubs (Green Man, Woodman, Dog etc) Seeing the Who at the Odd Fellows Hall; Billy Fury at the Gaumont etc. I remember Cersales ice cream van on Sunday afternoons (a real treat in those days). The street behind mine was supplied by Toni’s – obviously a trade demarcation agreement had taken place! I was at a rugby club dinner many years ago, sitting next to a Watford Councillor and I told him that successive councils had destroyed Watford and that was why I had (then) moved to St Albans where they protected their heritage. He ignored me for the rest of the dinner!

    By Kevin McMahon (14/05/2013)
  • James Victor Rogers: so sorry to be answering your question 2 years late! But, better late than never 😉 I missed it! Yes, I do remember Vera’s second hand shop very well. My mum and dad bought 99 Queens Road I believe from her daughter and I was 5 when we moved in. Ironically, a few years previous, when I was 2, we lived just two doors up at number 95! I loved Vera and always popped over the road for a chat with her, she was very grandmotherly to me. The things you remember as children eh? I remember her eyes were always watering x

    By Jayne Nicholson (06/05/2013)
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    Going on from my last story about my Saturday job at Watford market, I moved from there to Sainsbury’s in St.Albans Road, North Watford, near to my home in the Harebreaks. This store was a”Manual” shop… pre supermarket and was a great place for a 15 year old to learn about food and provisions. There were a number of different ‘counters” and for anyone who remembers the store run by Mr. Collins, as you walked in the front door to the left was “Dairy”, that specialised in butter, cream, chicken, rabbit, lard etc and it was only a few weeks before that they had ceased patting the butter by hand. The next counter was “Cheese” and as well as serving on this area I was also taught how to unpack, skin and cut up 56lb round chedars from Australia , New Zealand and Canada. I also used to have a crafty taste of all the different varieties to see what they were like! Next stop was “Provisions” which sold Tea, Coffee, and biscuits that came in big metal square tins and were weighed out by the pound . Then across the centre aisle was bacon where sides came in either Smoked or Green to be broken down and sliced up by the expert bacon butchers. Next counter was probably the busiest “Cooked Meats” they had Corned beef (which came in huge tins from Argentina) liver sausage , luncheon meat, meat pies ( my favourite Chicken and Ham) Pork pies etc etc. Some times us staff had to slice the liver sausage and lunceon meat by hand and I was always being asked for, because I had a steady hand and could slice really thin. The last counter was “Meat” again nothing pre packed, all the lamb, pork and beef came in bulk and had to be cut up and prepared. We made our own sausages, salt beef and mince daily. The butchers were the jokers out of all the staff and would talk in code sometimes, so you didn’t know what they were saying. If I remember rightly you had to pay at each counter… I might be mistaken on that as there was a central Till/Office at the back of the main isle. I was really lucky because I eventually became the “floater” and would arrive on a Saturday and be placed to whichever counter needed an able body, so I had to be familiar with every aspect of the store… what a lucky boy I was. I’ll just mention the uniform before I finish, we were issued with a white, double breasted , high collared long sleeved jacket with black buttons held on by little metal rings on the inside, then we had a long white apron that nearly reached the floor, this was about as ‘Victorian era’ as you could get in the sixties and to me the end of a great era, before the modern Supermarkets came in. Thanks for listening

    By Doug Petty (03/05/2013)
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    Hi all, What a nostalgic forum this is for all of us “Watfordians” from decades past, no matter where we live now ( me in South Australia) I’m sure our thoughts often wander back in time to our childhood days in what was then a very different town. I used to work as a schoolboy at the Watford Central Market at Toy Gurney’s fruit and veg stall opposite the Cawdells side entrance. Under cover we may have been but the snow and rain still found somewhere to get in. My Saturday began around 7am and I was normally busy sorting out the sprouts, spuds and deleafing caulies, these were sometimes covered in snow and my fingers used to be so cold. My mum made me sit in front of the fire after my bicycle journey home in the dark and my fingers used to thaw out too quick and ached…. chillblains? For breakfast at the market Tony used to give me half a crown on top of my one pound wages to get a good breakfast, the little take away stall near the back exit/entrance was my favourite venue and I always had an omlette sarnie with brown sauce and a mug of hot tea to start the day. At lunchtime I was tasked with taking the empty banana boxes down the hill to Ffyths Banana depot, on one of the markets two wheeler carts. On the way back I had sit-down, fish and chips at the little shop opposite Ffyths, which were absolutely delicious. Sometimes in the school holidays I went to Covent Garden Market in Mr Gurneys old blue “Commer” van in the early hours of the morning to buy the stock for the week, it seemed such a long journey there and back and I was pretty tired for the rest of the day. Does anyone remember Tony’s dad, he always wore a straw boater at the Watford football matches, he would climb up a pole and try and get bets on the score. I think he was a bit of a character and didn’t mind a drink? When I left the market I joined the staff at North Watford Sainsbury’s, this was pre super market times and I learnt so much about all the different products…. another story maybe.

    By Doug Petty (29/04/2013)
  • I found this site very recently while trying to find some info on the town of my birth Watford. I have lived in Australia for 30 years but still have some extrodinary memories of Watford in the 50’s and 60’s, I feel really lucky to have been born during this post war period in what was then a great place. I have visited many times over the years and agree with many of the comments regarding the changes to the town. It seems to me that Watford borough Council have a yearning to pull down anything that has some history to it , so they can create a bland place that it is today… enough said! Pleasant memories now… when I was about 14-15 I worked on Saturdays at the old semi covered market on Tony Gurney’s fruit and veg stall, it was situated opposite Cawdells side entrance. The market in them days was a bit more rough and ready than it is today but a great place for a bargain especially at the end of trading. Tony who inherited the stall from his “boater’ hatted father, used to get me to ‘knock-out’ any lingering perishables such as bananas, strawberries and the like. I hated it but felt it was part of the job and with every other stall doing the same, 4pm on a Saturday evening was somewhat noisy. my other memories include the great old characters that used to have some of the stalls, Deakin, Gibsons (those sausages!!!) Charlies etc etc. It was a very cold and windy place in the winter and I regularly had to unpack snow covered boxes of sprouts caulis and greens because therewas a small open to the sky area at the back of our stall. My fingers when I got home in the dark in winter were as fat as the afore said sausages and my mum would sit me in front of the fire to warm them up… chillblains if you did it too much! I earned one pound two and six for the whole day and would buy my breakfast from the snack bar on the opposit entrance of the market, it would always be an omlette sandwhich with brown sauce and a cup of tea. At lunch time Mr. Gurney would get me to take all the empty Banana boxes down the hill to Fyffes banana depot on one of the markets two wheel trollies. On the way back I would have lunch in the fish and chip shop and then be ready for the afternoons work. I loved it, Mr and Mrs Gurney were good to me as were the other staff and I sometimes in the school holidays went to Covent Garden market to pick up the weeks fruit and veg in his old Commer van, we would be there at 3am and get back about 7am I think, this normally happened on a Wednesday and I was knackered for the rest of the day. I stayed with the market for a couple of years until I got a Saturday job at Sainsbury’s North Watford “manual” shop which was just down the road from my mums Harebreaks council house. More of that next time as I find it really interesting looking back to pre Supermarket food retail, some of the things I picked up from the wise and wonderfull people I worked with still play a part in my life, as they should… Regards Doug

    By Doug Petty (22/04/2013)
  • Hi there so glad to see people talking about the town I grew up in and loved, I was chatting with an old friend the other day and we tried to name all the old shops from the tackle carrier to the veralum arms, we did really well I thought, then someone mentioned wyals shoe shop, I really can’t picture it, I remembered curtis’s by the army and navy shop but not wyals, can anyone help jog my memory?

    By Andy booth (07/04/2013)
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    Read this page with increasing sense of warm nostalgia. Yup, Bailey’s was indeed Top Rank, I worked ther in of the upstairs bars for a year or so. One of the best nights was the night England won the world cup in ’66, fantastic atmosphere. Also remember actually walking up the High Street from Watford Tech. on my way to catch the bus back to Ricky in Market Street and in front was this group of long haired lads who I finally recognised as the Stones! Also remember standing outside the Wimpy one day, turning around and bumping into a young Pat jennings. I was into local football at the time and there were some good teams around, Mill End, Swillet, Tudors, Riverside, Woodside, etc. Always wonderd why so few of the lads that played in those teams did not make the grade into the professional ranks. I can only recall Joe Kinnear and Matt Hughes making it. Greta times

    By Mick (13/03/2013)
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    Hi Sacha, If I remember rightly Baileys used to be Top Rank in the early 60’s. I recall when it opened I was the second person in the queue to become a member and I still have my membership card – somewhere. I stand corrected if my recollections are inaccurate.

    By Christine (06/03/2013)
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    I’m desperately trying to find out what area club/ now cameo club used to be before it was baileys or whatever it was. Years ago. Help!

    By Sacha (05/03/2013)
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    Great to read all these tales about Watford. I used to have a Friday night / Saturday job in MacFisheries right in the middle of town. That would heave been around 1972, my pay for Friday and all day Saturday was £1.60 ! So many shops have now gone, Hammond’s music shop in Queens Road was marvellous, all those guitars and drums. Colin Lester mans shop for Levis sat-press trousers and Oxford shoes with blakeys fitted for a good ‘click’. I recall driving with my parents to trewins, there was a small car park, no more than 50 spaces, you could always get a place to park, imagine that today! Keep the stories coming.

    By Malcolm Redfearn (22/02/2013)
  • Have just discovered your amazing nostalgic catalogue of recognisable memories of Watford. My sister and I were reminiscing this very afternoon about our family shopping trips to Watford as children in the early ’60s – a bus ride on the 142 or 158 bus from Bushey Heath with an inevitable snarl-up at Bushey Arches! One of our treats was to go to the Odeon restaurant where we were greeted like royalty and shown to our table by a matronly lady, immaculately outfitted in black who was the Manager. Having taken our order, she would then allocate a waitress to take care of serving our meal and she would also be immaculately turned out in the classic black outfit with frilly white apron and hair adornment. The highlight of the meal was the arrival of the sumptuous dessert selection which was wheeled to the table on a positively groaning carved wooden trolley which had 2 decks – how to choose! Black Forest Gateau usually won the day, topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Rarely did we then proceed through to the cinema, but used to watch enviously as other diners would then continue their evening’s entertainment. I remember alongside Wrens in Exchange Rd there was another similar style restaurant, but just cannot remember the name – any clues? Gills gents outfitter, up by the pond, was where father went approx once every 5 years to get himself kitted out with quality clothing, observed by my mother, sisters and I who witnessed a level of service second to none. Mum used to do a similar shopping trip for herself at Claridges where she was served by very attentive members of staff – one in particular called Miss Bristow. For special occasions, my 2 sisters and myself were treated to dresses purchased from a childrens outfitter, close to the pond, whose name escapes me. It was so disappointing to see that shop disappear, but I think the competition became too much. Many thanks for the email thread – it makes fascinating reading.

    By Linda kerr (15/02/2013)
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    i just found this page and i can relate to most of the things people have spoken of,i lived in abbots langley hospital about 1955-1971,were my parents worked,i started work for alecs hairdressers in headstone lane,and sometimes in st albans rd watford,also michaels in apslay and dunstable,i worked at the top rank about 1967-1970,i enjoyed the people,the bands,and the whole place,i spent most of my time when younger at the woodside playing fields,my brother phil played and captained evergreen fc in the late sixties,he passed away 2-8-10,also i went too woodside community centre to dance etc,and on a thurday night there was a dance at levesden hospital,i remember gene and the cossacks,i have been back many times,too look at the town,the pond,dont like it,haliquin centre,like so many place in australia were i have lived since 1971,i went to francis combe school 59-63,dont blame them for my spelling,i went to the cubs/scouts abbots langley,so much more really,the shops in the village,dobsons the barber,liberty the chemist i think,rw sheffield,the hall,the main church,buying scraps from the chippy after cubs,318.347 bus to watford,or 306 from ganders ash,saturday morning flicks,i did a few gigs at the rank on saturday morning with the kids,when the dj was ill,sorry anyone who may read this and is confused,i am already,as it has no time line,i do agree with alot of other writers,watford is not the same,but in my case 42 years on why should it be,if it did,then it would not grow,yes i miss the old pond,the old high street,the coachmakers,but we all move on,but we all remember the town we new,the thoughts are fond,and are a time and place we all relate well too,i know i do,thats all for now folks,cheers

    By rob aldred (08/01/2013)
  • I lived in Watford from birth 1965 to 1989 and grew up in Garston. I worked at Cheap Jacks Jeans, Wyles Shoes (in St Albans Road), Norwest Holst (in Clarendon Road), British Telecom in the huge building at the back of the jewellers with the alley next to it and also at the social services house in Queens road. I remember eating at the Kardomar and the golden egg. The high street was the place to be.. How about chelsea girl for clothes? Very fond memories and i now live in the Midlands but came back last year for a look around but absolutely not the same place it was.

    By Denese Hill (nee Weatherley) (02/11/2012)
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    I was looking for a picture of Cawdells in Watford when I came across this site. My mother used to work there and I was feeling nostalgic. I didn’t expect to see all these memories… so intersting. I was a teenager in the 1960s and I do remember all the places (and shops) people are talking about here. It’s triggered so many memories… first Saturday job in Woolworths at the end of the High Street… meeting up in Lyons Corner House (top floor) with all the other wannabe mods…. I didn’t see any mention of The House of Taurus. My friend and I used to bunk off school and go down there… I’m sure I remember seeing Donovan with his guitar there but that might be a false memory. I, too went to The Trade, Saturday and Sunday, and saw so many great groups…. I remember the Who (High Numbers), The Hollies, Cliff Bennet, Nashville Teens… Yardbirds…. too many to mention. Also great dances at Kingham Hall, Oddfellows Hall, Greycaines Hall…and always on the lookout for that guy who used to promise to get you tickets for Ready, Steady Go. I remember going to that trndy sandwich bar called The Munchery…. and the day they pulled it down to make way for that blasted flyover through the town. What a mess they made of it all. Suprisingly one of the best places to see groups was Woodside Community Centre. I saw John Lee Hooker there, The Steam Packet with Rod (the mod) Stewart and Long John Baldry, …. lots of others. Always packed with mods and those exotic boys who had come all the way from Abbotts Langley and Hemel Hempstead….. Happy days.

    By Pat (26/10/2012)
  • Great memories. In reply to Anthony McKay (20/11/10) regarding Cassiobury Park in the 60s, the footage and photos doesn’t look like the Park to me. It didn’t have swings and roundabout like that. There were slides and swings, but next to the paddling pool by the river. So, not convinced.

    By Lynda Bullock (11/10/2012)
  • A really interesting read. I am the great great granddaughter of “granny” Clara Duce, who ran the chip shop at 142 lower high st, as well as other shops in Watford. I visited last year, was delighted to find the shop in vicarage road now sells motorbikes (still selling grease in one form or another!) Any Memories please feel free to contact me.

    By Sarah Duce (29/09/2012)
  • Anthony McKay querie about park in Avengers. I am almost sure it is Bushey and Oxhey park. Wiggenhall road/ Eastbury Avenue. I spent many happy days there in my childhood and climbed the large tree seen in park, also I took my own sons there when they were children and they also climbed the tree. I have really enjoyed reading everyone’s memories and will add some of my own soon.

    By Letitia (31/08/2012)
  • Anthony McKay querie about park in Avengers. I am almost sure it is Bushey and Oxhey park. Wiggenhall road/ Eastbury Avenue. I spent many happy days there in my childhood and climbed the large tree seen in park, also I took my own sons there when they were children and they also climbed the tree. I have really enjoyed reading everyone’s memmories and will add some of my own soon.

    By Letitia (31/08/2012)
  • Sorry I must make corrections to my earlier post, written in haste. Oxhey Park. Eastbury Road/ Deacons Hill. If you look on google map you will get an idea of the layout, the path that runs through the park is where the cars are in the photos and film clip, and just through the trees are the swings ect.

    By Letitia (31/08/2012)
  • A wonderful site. Does anybody remember the College of Further Education at the top of Queens Road. The Principal was Mr Elliott (I think) but there was Polish lecturer we used to call ‘Soz’. He was ex wartime RAF pilot.

    By F Byrne (21/05/2012)
  • Great memories,in my teens I used to work in Wrens, the sports and leather shop in exchange road,this was just as the flyover reached ground level.In the mid 60’s Wrens bought out Watford Baby World which took over half of the ground floor. There was a bank before Wrens then a bakers, a constant source of temptation.

    By Colin Delve (20/05/2012)
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    Great Memories, I remember Garston Youth Club had a band on Friday nights, Saturdays were Kingham Hall (Rockers) with the Mods using another Place, (the name escapes me at the moment) then on Sundays The Odd-fellows Hall. I am sure that The Rolling Stones were at the “Gaumont” which became the Odeon (or vis versa). There were plenty of cinemas “Odeon”, “Gaumont”, “Palace”, “Essoldo” and “Empire”. I worked at W.Wren & Sons in Exchange road from when I was 12 (after School) until I was 18.

    By Colin Delve (20/05/2012)
  • Great memories, I worked at Wrens, in Exchange rd. Throughout my teen years, I remember it taking over Watford Baby World and moving it to take half the ground floor. On Fridays there were live bands at the Garston youth club, Saturday was Kingham Hall (For the rockers) I can’t remember the name of the other one the Mods used, at half-time the pubs were just across the road from each other, cannot remember any trouble though. On Sundays there was the OddFellows Hall. We also had plenty of cinemas with the Odeon, Gaumont (sure the Stones played here 63 / 64), Carlton, Essoldo and Empire.

    By Colin Delve (20/05/2012)
  • What wonderful memories of Watford. My first job after leaving school in 1956 was for an insurance agency called F.H.Haines in Clarendon Road across from the theatre, then later at Meltonian Wrens (The Cobra) down off water later, some friends and I used to walk to the High Street on our lunch hour to the movie house on King Street to listen to records and dance, then we would go back to work. I too remember the smell of roasting coffee wafting from the coffee shop in the high street. This is such a wonderful site it brings back so many lovely memories, I still have some family in surrounding areas, Sarratt and Hemel. I have lived in the states since 1960 but have been back many times over the years and have seen the sad changes to Watford High Street, so I am so grateful to all the people who have contributed to this site, keep up the good work.

    By Doreen Sedlak (nee Vincent) (17/05/2012)
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    Wow, I am so happy to read all the memories. I was born in Garston in 1953 and loved my town. Shopping on a saturday was a must with your pocket money. I had my ears pierced with a cork and pin at the jewellers opposite the post office and went home on the 321 bus looking at them in the windows of the bus. I went to top rank to see Love Affair where they gave away free perfume, I was wearing my grandmothers ring which was too big for me and I had paper in the back to make it fit, after dancing and screaming it was gone and I often wondered who had picked it up, it had a black pearl in the middle. Later I worked at clements and remember the owners son who used to come to the shop, often coming in to the boutique called Shop67 and gave me perfume and asked me out on a date. My uncle used to play for Benskins Football team, he had a heart attack on the pitch and died whilst playing, it was headlines in the Observer. My husband used to wok for Charlie on the clothes stall in the market and i remember him coming home with a two tone suit and check shirts with the button down collars. My first record was bought on the market, cheaper than the record shop. If you close your eyes and sniff you can smell all the aromas: Woolworths wood floors and the biscuit counter with all the tins arranged at an angle and at the end a large pile of mixed broken assortments, the Wimpy bar with the tomatoe squeezy dipensers and frothy coffee. The busses with the conductors who sometimes gave you a half used roll of tickets, we lived by the garage so we had a good supply. I used to go to north Watford library on the bus from Garston 2d and the aroma in the library where you could get 4 books. The swimming baths on a friday with school and the hot oxo drink after. When i was small i used to go with my mum to the oddfellows hall and the Trade Union Hall for her to play bingo. I would collect the tea cups and wash up. Hetty who run the bingo gave me money for this on which i treated my pals to oxo and crisps after swimming. Later I worked at Orphanage Road Ministry of Labour and before that at Chas Brightmans the builders merchants, just up the road. This could go on and on and on but I will finish and look forward to reading more and more and maybe hearing from old pals, one in particular a girl I worked with at M of L,???? Grillo her dad had the ice cream firm, she drew on my hand and done intricate drawings on napkins for my engagement and wedding. Many thanks for an enjoyable afternoon’s reading.

    By jacqueline brandon (07/05/2012)
  • New photos added to Cassiobury Park spring 1957. Hope you enjoy the memories

    By Ron Evans (12/04/2012)
  • Great memories of Watford it has made me somewhat home sick. R.W. Evans must have been at Vics when I was there however I do not remember you. Your fantastic photos of Cassiobury Park are terrific. I visited the park in 2006 and saw all the improvements of the childrens play area. As I am disabled to walk the length of the park is now beyond me.

    By Rob Badrick (02/04/2012)
  • The coffee shop in the High Street? Might it be the Kardomah Cafe, which if I remember correctly was just down from Clements before the road to the Palace Theatre. I too miss the old Watford. I lived in Hagden Lane, then on the Cassiobury Estate. I went to the Boys’ Grammar after Cassiobury Jr School. My folks still live there, but to me the place is ruined by a succession of weak Council leadership. I see the same happening in Aylesbury and High Wycombe as well – the local planning authorities need sacking! Bring back our lovely market towns instead of trying to turn them into down-market glitzy shopping mall nightmares – yuk!

    By Gary Coleman (26/03/2012)
  • Hi, I was born in Watford at King Street. I remember the smell of the Coffee Shop, as I used to work in the hairdressers on top of the Coffee Shop every saturday as a saturday girl. Which I loved. I have been living in Australia for over 40 years now, but Watford and England are still my home. I can remember so well going to TOP RANK of a saturday morning, meeting all my school friends there from Francis Coombe Seconday School. I loved going to the markets, they were behind British Home Stores, and Marks and Spencers.Woolworths was across the street, with the shop assistants standing behind counters, and the wooden floors.Also the wonderful Christmas ride to see Father Christmas at Cawdells and Clememts, it all seemed so MAGICAL to me at 8 years old. So many fabulous memories, growing up in Watford in the 60’s.

    By lyn adkins (21/03/2012)
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    Those memories are are wonderful I lived in Casiobridge road, mid 60’s -70 before that South Oxhey, I remember the coffee shop, the smell was fantastic, I used to go Top Rank on a Saturday morning, walk to Chater School, play down the park, thank you.

    By Gina Pollard (nee Battaglia) (21/03/2012)
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    Hello from Germany, Does anyone remember the visit of a German soccer team from Luenen (VfB Lünen 08) 1963 and 1965? We have lived in English families. We would like to contact our English friends. Who knows the time nor the player from the North Watford Youth Football Club? Mick Harman from Bushey, David Charlwood, Saviner Paul, George Gascoigne from Maytree Crescent, Brian Vickers, Barry Cook, Long John and manager Charlie Pinnington. We had a wonderful time at Watford.

    By Hans-Peter Bludau (18/03/2012)
  • Such great stories of Watford, I loved reading them. A small correction about my age in 1947. I was born in 1934,so that makes me thirteen in 1947. Imagine me aging myself like that. Never good at sums when growing up, still so apparently…. I was hoping to get in touch with my smashing boy friend from Watford, just for old times sake of course. Bernard Watts, where are you? Thanks again for the great website…Audrey Anne

    By RTP17 (03/03/2012)
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    Such wonderful memories of Watford I remember Mrs Beckett the Bakers, she had a huge cat that would sit in the window of the shop. Also the Watford steam laundry shop on the corner of Farraline Road. And Southwoods the Greengrocers along with Duce the Fish & Chip shop in Vicarage Road and also the wet fish shop opposite the Cemetry.

    By margaret snowdon (23/02/2012)
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    Christine 🙂 It’s astonishing and sad how easy it is to lose connection with your beginning, so I’m thrilled to get any news of Watford. I want you to know how much I value and enjoy your remarkable memory. (Loved your tale of ‘Knocker’ and the back stage visit.) I recall playing in the “rec” at the top of the Harebreaks, the wooden seat on that big old roundabout and the creaking sound of the swings , collecting beechnuts to eat and acorn cups to decorate. I remember the carnivals in Cassiobury Park and the walks along the canal up to the Watermill House…so beautiful. My brother, Michael, went to Leggatts Way secondary school. I went to WGGS then St. Albans Art School and eventually became an art teacher in the high schools in North Vancouver. I emigrated to Vancouver in 1967 and returned to visit only once, in 1982, but my mother had moved away from Middle Way. I miss you all.

    By Julia Holbrow (09/02/2012)
  • Julie Holbrow – Hello, How nice that you remember me after all these years, especially as you live so far away in Vancouver. It just goes to show what an excellent article this has turned into with so many people contributing their memories of Watford. I too remember the Butcher boys from Middle Way, with their nicknames. There was Tiny (Quentin), Knocker (Vivian), Bunty (I think was Michael) and Bib, but I can’t recall his real name. They had a dog called Paddy who scared me to death everytime I saw roaming about the street. Their cousin was the late comedy actor Terry Scott (Owen), who was born in Watford. When I was 15 ‘Knocker’ invited me to the Whitehall Theatre in London to see Terry Scott, Brian Rix, Elspeth Gray and Hugh Lloyd in the Whitehall Farce ‘One for the Pot’. We met up with the stars after the show which was a real treat. I seem to recall Terry Scott based the song ‘My Brother’ on his cousin ‘Knocker’. Living on the Harebeaks estate I recall spending time as a child playing in the ‘rec’ at the top of The Harebreaks, having fun on the swings, round-a-bout, climbing frame and sea-saw. The old air raid shelters which we were forbidden to venture near, but always did. I used to cut through the ‘rec’ to and from Leggatts Way School. Then there was the Watford Carnival which everyone looked forward to. The beautifully decorated floats would all congregate up The Harebreaks. So much hard work and effort into making this day a special day for everyone. With bands playing, they would make their way up St. Albans Road towards Rickmansworth Road and Cassiobury Park where a funfare drew massive crowds and so much fun was had by all. We used to walk all the way there and all the way back. No thought of transport ever entered our heads in those days. Happy days. My thanks also to all those making contributions which is a joy to read.

    By Christine Partridge (nee Sharman) (08/02/2012)
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    Julie Holbrow – Hello, How nice that you remember me after all these years, especially as you live so far away in Vancouver. It just goes to show what an excellent article this has turned into with so many people contributing their memories of Watford. I too remember the Butcher boys from Middle Way, with their nicknames. There was Tiny (Quentin), Knocker (Vivian), Bunty (I think was Michael) and Bib, but I can’t recall his real name. They had a dog called Paddy who scared me to death everytime I saw roaming about the street. Their cousin was the late comedy actor Terry Scott (Owen), who was born in Watford. When I was 15 ‘Knocker’ invited me to the Whitehall Theatre in London to see Terry Scott, Brian Rix, Elspeth Gray and Hugh Lloyd in the Whitehall Farce ‘One for the Pot’. We met up with the stars after the show which was a real treat. I seem to recall Terry Scott based the song ‘My Brother’ on his cousin ‘Knocker’. Living on the Harebeaks estate I recall spending time as a child playing in the ‘rec’ at the top of The Harebreaks, having fun on the swings, round-a-bout, climbing frame and sea-saw. The old air raid shelters which we were forbidden to venture near, but always did. I used to cut through the ‘rec’ to and from Leggatts Way School. Then there was the Watford Carnival which everyone looked forward to. The beautifully decorated floats would all congregate up The Harebreaks. So much hard work and effort into making this day a special day for everyone. With bands playing, they would make their way up St. Albans Road towards Rickmansworth Road and Cassiobury Park where a funfare drew massive crowds and so much fun was had by all. We used to walk all the way there and all the way back. No thought of transport ever entered our heads in those days. Happy days. My thanks also to all those making contributions which is a joy to read.

    By Christine Partridge (nee Sharman) (08/02/2012)
  • Hello Julia (Holbrow), So nice to read your comment and that you remember me. I just had to respond. How wonderful that despite you living so far away in Vancouver you are able to view this site with happy memories of times gone by in Watford. It must be over 50 years since we all lived in Middle Way. I was a young girl then, nearing my 70s now. I recall the Butcher boys, the ball games we played in the street. and their nicknames. There was Tiny (Quentin), Knocker (Vivian), Bunty (I think he was called Michael) and Bib, but I can’t recall his real name at present. Their cousin was Terry Scott, the late actor. I remember ‘Knocker’ took me up to London for a treat when I was 15 to see Terry with Brian Rix, Hugh Lloyd and Elspeth Gray in the Whitehall farce ‘One for the Pot’. After the show we all went out and it was such a thrill for me, just an ordinary girl, to meet these celebrities. So many memories and such happy times. I wish you well.

    By Christine Partridge (nee Sharman) (07/02/2012)
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    I was 17 years old in 1947 & met a lovely boy from Watford who took me dancing at the Watford Town Hall one Saturday night. I lived on the Headstone Lane Council Estate in Harrow. So much looked down upon in those days as most tenants were bombed out Londoners. Anyway, I loved to go shopping in Watford with my Mum on Saturdays, we especially loved to go to the market where one could buy almost anything fresh & lovely to eat. I even brought my wedding dress at one of the dress shops along the high street. Unfortunately, not for Bernard Watts, the smashing boy from Watford but to an American. Thanks so much for your wonderful site. Such pleasant memories, however, I can’t believe I am that old. Thanks again! Audrey-Anne

    By Audrey-Anne Grisham/Reynolds (05/02/2012)
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    Christine Partridge – How wonderful to read your posting! You triggered so many flashbacks… I’m Julia Holbrow (now in Vancouver B.C.) I lived between the Smith family and the Davis family and I remember the fair haired Halwards and all the Butcher boys who had nicknames beginning with “B”. I remember the horse and cart salesman slowly making his way along the street selling his produce and the avid gardeners racing to collect the horse’s droppings .. the street games , the box-carts..the prolonged snow battles with the “Thrums” kids.. The 346 bus travelling along the Harebreaks road was as welcome a sight as a favourite family member.

    By Julia Holbrow (30/01/2012)
  • THis is the link to unused footage of THE SAINT filmed in Watford mentioned earlier: http://youtu.be/Zzq39WS4-Ts This is a link to footage that was actually used in the episode, location unknown: http://youtu.be/WcPKJs2Hvjs

    By Anthony McKay (29/01/2012)
  • Here is the link to the park seen in THE AVENGERS which I thought could be Cassiobury (mainly because Watford Central Baths and The Grove are featured in the eposide). http://youtu.be/DxaYmnjUUVo

    By Anthony McKay (29/01/2012)
  • Hi, everyone. Just a reminder that it’s really easy to add your own pages, including any old photos you might have, to the Watford Junction site. For example, R W Evans has just added a great page about Cassiobury Park over the weekend. There’s some more info on how to do that here.

    By Ian Grant (23/01/2012)
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    I would like to hear from anyone who remembers the music venues in Watford in the 60s, my first bands were at the Holywell Comunity Centre local bands playing rock n roll, Kingham Hall used to have a lot of local bands one l remember was a ryth’m & blues band called the Cops & Robbers the lead singer named Smudge sang great Howlin’ Wolf blues like Smokestack Lightnin’. l saw the Small Faces on one xmas eve, ten shillings to get in they came very late played for half an hour and left but they were great especially Steve Marriot. Another small hall hosting local and some out of town bands was the Oddfellows hall l saw the Pretty Things there but they didn’t go down too well, too heavy for the local mods. The Trade Union Hall was our biggest venue run by Joe Seabrook who became a very good friend of mine in later years and became personal bodyguard to Keith Richards in the late 70s until he died in March 2000. The Trade was host to many great names including The Birds, Ronnie Wood, The Herd, Peter Frampton, The Move, Roy Wood, John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers, Eric Clapton, The Who, The Yardbirds,  Jimmy Page, The Creation, The Action, Four plus One, Long John Baldry, Rod ‘the mod’ Stewart, Brian Auger Trinity, Julie Driscoll, Graham Bond Organisation, The Artwoods lead by Artie Wood Ron’s brother, and many more including some of the old Chicago Bluesmen who came over to tour Europe. There were also many pubs who had live music from local bands but the Top Rank opened, end of all the local venues R.I.P.

    By Kenny Clarke (10/01/2012)
  • This a brilliant page for any Watfordian to browse and reminice. Now 62, having so many vivid memories of our family town but unable to converse with the family now as most passed on, I get a ‘well being’ feeling reading all the comments. I thank all the contributers for their fascinating memories. Born in Essex Road, was a former pupil of Chater, Callowland,Bushey Meads and Langleybury schools and a choir boy at St. Michaels before the voice breaking. I moved to Bedford where houses were SO cheap in the late sixties but commuted to Watford by rail for the next few years before eventually moving to Cornwall for good in 1987. So pleased to note Viviens comment about Gibson’s pork sausages still available, never tasted anything like them since, must go back for more one day. Mrs Tucker on her little market stall just selling mushrooms, putting them in your bag after weighing with her saucer (that’s all she sold). Top rank with Caters underneath was my second home, loved that place. The Trade union Hall around 1965/6 was the place to be on a Sat night, whizzing around outside on my Vespa, fox tails flapping behind, The Who’s music causing temporary deafness for the next few hours, some decibels they belted out. My Grandparents were the publicans of ‘The Cricketers Arms’ on Watford Fields only selling Benskins ales, no spirit licence, while my Great great grandad on my fathers side was the head park keeper in Cassiobury and planted the long (Beech?) aisle alongside the main path from the entrance to the cafe. So many hours I spent in that park and in the woods with their watercress beds being of great interest to a young lad. Probably where I got my lifelong interest in horticulture from that man and now run the second biggest allotment site in Cornwall on the NT property called Lanhydrock. I am proud to call myself a Watfordian and isn’t the internet a marvellous tool when I can still read the Watford Observer without leaving my allotment shed? Keep posting your highly interesting thoughts and memories good people, they are so enjoyed by many.

    By Mike Seaman (05/01/2012)
  • Hey Eddie O’Connor, how could l forget many a great night spinning records with this great DJ when l lived in Watford playing the clubs and pubs as Mikky Dean spinnin’ records at the New Penny, Top Rank, My Place, Bailey’s, City Hall, and many more gigs. Now singing in a rock’n’roll band in France but still fond memories of Watford in the 60s.

    By Kenny Clarke (02/01/2012)
  • Have become very engrossed in reading all the memories of Watford and it’s now very late but feel I must add to the comments. I moved to Oxhey from London Colney at the age of 3 in 1957 and lived there until I moved to the Bedford area aged 20. As I still have family in Watford I visit regularly and sadly have seen, in my opinion the heart ripped out of the town across the years. I also have many fond memories of Watford. I too have very vivid memories of visiting Cawdells at Christmastime and riding in a huge white swan whilst scenery past by, eventually arriving to visit Father Christmas – magical! I remember eating cockles with my Dad at the market stall and being given a tiny hand of bananas by a Market Trader. Running up and down the grand staircase and sliding down the banisters in Gade House! The little house on the pond at Christmas that was all lit up. Mum queing for bread at the Chef Corner house during the shortage. The shop that sold roasted coffee was “Importers Coffee Shop” Mum always used to buy Blue Mountain. Wonderful memories of Cassiobury Park where my Mum and Dad met during the War, Mum being a Nanny who had come to Watford from Holland just before the War. Dad was sitting on a park bench in Cassiobury Park and Mum asked him the time whilst out pushing her charges in the pram – needless to say this was the start of a beautiful relationship and Mum made her home here in England with Dad their first home together being in Bricket Wood. I worked at the Nat West Bank also the Leicester Permanent Building Society as it was then. My Saturday job when still at school was at Freeman Hardy and Willis the shoe shop. I loved the Carnival and would always stand up by the pond with a “waver” of shredded tissue paper I would also always get a black ballon with a zulu type face on it and a coloured feather. I have wonderful memories of Cassiobury Park, taking my dog Toby on the 346/347 bus and walking through the wonderful old Park Gates to the river Gade and throwing sticks into the water for him. Also fishing with my net and swimming with my lilo. I am pleased to say that my children have also enjoyed similar pleasures in Cassiobury Park including the wonderful train ride which I intend taking my Grandchildren on hopefully next Spring/Summer as well as paddling in the pools. I could go on forever but must finish now – it’s good to share happy memories with those who have experienced similar. Viv Hawkey 28/11/2011

    By Vivien Hawkey nee Moore (29/11/2011)
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    Have become very engrossed in reading all the memories of Watford and it’s now very late but feel I must add to the comments. I moved to Oxhey from London Colney at the age of 3 in 1957 and lived there until I moved to the Bedford area aged 20. As I still have family in Watford I visit regularly and sadly have seen, in my opinion the heart ripped out of the town across the years. I also have many fond memories of Watford. I too have very vivid memories of visiting Cawdells at Christmastime and riding in a huge white swan whilst scenery past by, eventually arriving to visit Father Christmas – magical! I remember eating cockles with my Dad at the market stall and being given a tiny hand of bananas by a Market Trader. Running up and down the grand staircase and sliding down the banisters in Gade House! The little house on the pond at Christmas that was all lit up. Mum queing for bread at the Chef Corner house during the shortage. The shop that sold roasted coffee was “Importers Coffee Shop” Mum always used to buy Blue Mountain. Wonderful memories of Cassiobury Park where my Mum and Dad met during the War, Mum being a Nanny who had come to Watford from Holland just before the War. Dad was sitting on a park bench in Cassiobury Park and Mum asked him the time whilst out pushing her charges in the pram – needless to say this was the start of a beautiful relationship and Mum made her home here in England with Dad their first home together being in Bricket Wood. I worked at the Nat West Bank also the Leicester Permanent Building Society as it was then. My Saturday job when still at school was at Freeman Hardy and Willis the shoe shop. I loved the Carnival and would always stand up by the pond with a “waver” of shredded tissue paper I would also always get a black ballon with a zulu type face on it and a coloured feather. I have wonderful memories of Cassiobury Park, taking my dog Toby on the 346/347 bus and walking through the wonderful old Park Gates to the river Gade and throwing sticks into the water for him. Also fishing with my net and swimming with my lilo. I am pleased to say that my children have also enjoyed similar pleasures in Cassiobury Park including the wonderful train ride which I intend taking my Grandchildren on hopefully next Spring/Summer as well as paddling in the pools. I could go on forever but must finish now – it’s good to share happy memories with those who have experienced similar. Viv Hawkey 28/11/2011

    By Vivien Hawkey nee Moore (29/11/2011)
  • I also meant to add to my memoirs that I believe Roger Moore lived for a period of time in one of the large houses in Nancy Downs, Oxhey. I also remember him opening a TV/electrical shop at South Oxhey. I joined many others to get his autograph and was one away in the queue from having my photo taken with him and published in the Watford Observer – alas the only part of me that was captured was my red bag! I and my family still enjoy Gibsons sausages today when either I buy them when I go down to Watford or when my sons Nan visits us – she always brings us the afore said which are the best sausages in the world! It is late again – I must finish! By Vivien Hawkey on 29/11/11

    By Vivien Hawkey (29/11/2011)
  • I’ve not been able to look at this page for a while and so I may be coming back, a bit late with some answers – not that they are very reliable. I don’t remember any coffee place near The One Bell (Front of St Mary’s Church) But the coffee roasting place Kathleen Bennett mentioned August 09 may have been KKK or the Three Kays Cafe as we used to call it. Though this could be one I’m muddling up with a cafe of that name near Harrow Railway Bridge at the Hill side of the town. Someone here said it was called Importers, but I don’t remember that at all. To Anthony McKay I want to say that I tried going to his link on the BritFilm forum but it didn’t lead to any movie about Roger Moore’s “The Saint’s” Volvo. I couldn’t search for the movie without joining and registering. So I’d be glad of a bit of clarity on that so I would willingly go and look at the movie. Roger Moore I think lived in Stanmore or Edgware and we used to see him driving in that Ivory coloured Volvo sports car around Watford and also occasionally came up alongside him in Park Lane on the way to Hyde Park Corner usually with a female Celebrity in the passenger seat. All very suave and showing considerable street-cred long before anyone invented such a term! Looking at the park photos that Anthony McKay posted a link to, I don’t think they are Cassiobury Park as the trees don’t look right and there was no recreation ground there during my time apart from one down by the Paddling Pool which looked very different from those in the photo. So it could be another North London park. Certainly cars were not allowed in the park other than in a small special car park still there today at Gade Avenue. We used to practice skidding our cars on snow in that car park but back then in the early 1960s you could drive onto the grass and do untold damage; Now it’s all cordoned off with bollards to prevent vandals like me (or today’s equivalent of them!) from ruining the place for everyone else. Lovely extra comments made here since 2009 – it’s always good to come back and read the newly posted old memories. Jeremy Prior (also known as Lawrence/Laurie Prior)

    By Jeremy Prior (06/11/2011)
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    Rambling reminiscences (in no particular order) of a fifty-something… I was searching for anything to do with the “Importers” shop in lower High Street and up popped this site. What a treasure! I was born in ’58 at Stanborough Park and lived in Bushey and Watford until 1996. Although it took a ride on the 301 to get into town it seemed closer than Bushey high street as that was walking only. As soon as I was old enough to ride the bus alone, Watford was the place to go. As a child, shopping in the town was a Saturday affair and was as regular and guaranteed as going to church the following morning. “One and two halves to high street station” was the invocation –forever in my mind’s ear- that bore us to a fascinating sprawl of shops and stalls providing everything for everyone. The exhaust from the coffee shop was at head height to a little ‘un and issued from the vent at quite a rate. I used to take a deep breath as we approached and brace myself for the hot blast to come whilst mum would comment on how pleasant the aroma was. Mac fisheries, opposite the co-op. Two shop fronts; one for fish and I think the other was the delicatessen. Brightly lit but always cold and damp, black and white ceramic tiles everywhere and a fascinating knockout between the two premises that continued the tiling through from one side to the fishy side where the odours were just too much for a little pair of nostrils. Fantos had a mention somewhere. Needless to say, the only section that existed for me was the toy department. Restrained within an alcove for eleven months of the year, it burst out on to the entire width of the front end of the first floor during December in a time when Christmas didn’t start until the twelfth month. Cawdell’s: I remember the Santa ride with great fondness. Jeremy, the term “groddled about” to describe its motion is absolutely brilliant, although at the time it was far too magical an experience for such harsh terms! It certainly transported me. I guess it must have been constructed by the shop’s handymen –when such labour existed. Watford junction, twelve platforms, was it? Hissing of the hydraulic lifts; mysterious things to a young ‘un. The Bridle Path, many memories there. At the top end there was a semi detached house, the right hand one was a cafe for as long as I had known it. The left hand one, from C1972 until C1985 was my dad’s plastic moulding factory! Many hours spent watching the trains from the upstairs bay window. All gone now. Remember the Orange Hand shop at the high street end of Queens Road in the early seventies? A kind of post-hippie cool clothing store. I picked up some really wacky stuff there. Flares and 4” platforms; what was I thinking?? Timothy Whites (I said in no particular order) was the first shop in town to have an escalator. My favourite escalator was the one in Clement’s. If I’d been good, I was allowed to travel up it three times during Saturday shopping, returning via the back stairs. Three times was the limit I was told, lest my activity attract the attention of the comissionaire, an upright, pinstriped-suited gentleman with swept-back grey hair and a prominent moustach, who as far as I could tell was never seen without a white carnation in his lapel. There was a quaint shop on Queens Road, more or less opposite the Radlett Road junction, called Avondales. A tiny but somehow vastly stocked emporium of electrical junk. Perfect for a pocket-money based self education into all things electrical. Mickey Mouse’s Bungalow, anyone? Demolished in C1973, it was a low, concrete shelter-like building next to the library, behind where the bandstand is now sited. It was a sub station from a time when Watford had its own electricity supply (Cardiff Road power station) for street lighting and municipal buildings. My friend’s mum worked at Clement’s and passed there on her way home for lunch. Knowing our passion for electrical junk, she enquired about the equipment being discarded and subsequently ferried loads of it on her shopping trolley (I have no idea how) to their house on Hempstead Road for us to play with. Some really antique –and huge- stuff! Carey Place, now a strange pastiche of its former self. When I first saw the blocked up version I wanted to close my eyes and keep on walking through the wall at the end. Where the old covered market started, outside the side entrance to Cawdell’s, and again at the back end of the arcade by the cafe on the corner (cheese sandwiches and orange juice; yum), there were two beautiful semi-circular mosaics set into the vaulted ceiling, with the words “Market Arcade” set out around the radius. Sometime in the eighties I was taking photographs from the top of Charter Place car park and happened to look down into a walled-off dead space at the rear of the spiral ramp. Although barely visible through the wooden slats that bound them (someone must have received an order to set them aside) there were the two mosaics, still mounted on a foot or more of semi-circular masonry; one propped against the wall, the other fallen onto its face. By that time they were in a poor way. I made many calls to the town hall and museum in an attempt to have them rescued but as far as I know they never saw the light of day again. So sad. Dad worked at the Town Hall in the early sixties. He and his mates mounted the coat of arms that adorns the balustrade. Idyllic childhood vignette: Early Saturday morning, a little boy in shorts riding high atop a bouncing pile of deckchairs as dad pulls them along on a four wheeled handcart from the town hall stores, along Rickmansworth Road, through the archway and down to the bandstand to set them out for the afternoon’s performance. Yes, so many things have gone, but never the memories and mysteries that accompany a child growing up with access to such a place.

    By Steve Kemp (30/10/2011)
  • What a great site, my memories of Watford are during the years 1971-9182 when I was working at Waltham Electronics in Queens Road, in the old banana warehouse – I note this building is now flats! (we had relocated to Watford from Edgware) We were opposite the horse trough and I remember one day a member of staff called the fire brigade as the house opposite was on fire – the firefighter had to take the woman out of the bedroom window and she had been in bed with no clothes on! We did laught but she did get out safe and sound. I remember a sandwich shop just up the road going toward the station where we would often get bacon butties. All the memories came back, going to Top Rank or Baileys as it had become, shopping in the market and Clements and also Tewins of course. Watford is a very different place these days but these posts bring back happy memories.

    By ann (04/09/2011)
  • Fantastic memories! My wife and I -35 years this month-walked upfrom the ‘Junction’ passed Seapride fish bar towards the church with bells ringing when we went to the ‘Rank’ with our free Tuesday tickets from the Echo newspaper. passed Barrington’s tailors and the new boutiques towards Timothy Whites, then to the Tonibell coffee shop Bricks Mans shop, where I had a Saturday job, Freeman Hardy and Willis , where my wife worked Saturdays..towards Ashby’s boutique, Ronald Coles mans shop, Gerald Clive mans shop…then to the Rank. In Queens Road we left behing ‘My Place’ but stopped after the Odeon to check out Motown’s latest at the Harlequin record store, mamaged by Paul who is now in Spalding as a local churchman. Geno Washington, Them with Van Morrison, McCoys, etc all at the Rank….Those were the days….In Beechen Grove was Kingham Hall whwre I used to run dances with FA BONE and BITTERSWEET with light shows. Bill was the drummer in the latter-a colleague from Bricks -where is he now?! One Way Club was futher down near Gladstone Road and was for the ‘Bikers’!

    By Vic Wright (02/09/2011)
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    Just an amendment to my previous article. I think Mrs. Beckett’s bakery shop was on the corner of Fearnely Street, not Farraline Road as stated, which was further down Vicarage Road. Time plays games with memories but it’s so nice to recall such happy times. Wish we could say that about today. Keep the memories flooding it. Wonderful.

    By Christine Partridge (nee Sharman) (23/08/2011)
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    Thank you for bringing back so many wonderful memories of times gone by in Watford. I can recall everything you have all said and wish those days had never passed. Like many, I was born in King Street Maternity Hospital in 1944. My Grandfather owned and ran the Gents Barbers, G. H. Sharman & Son, at 99, Vicarage Road, near the Cemetery. This was in the family for over 150 years. His first premises was on the corner of King Street. The family originated from Long Buckby in Kettering. Mr. & Mrs. Percy Wells owned the newsagents nearby where my mother did cleaning. Mrs. Beckett had a lovely bakers shop on the corner of Farraline Road and as a child I used to venture in with caution and stand at the top of some steep steps leading to where the bread was baked, but I was always warned never to go down there. A Gibson’s butchers was on the other corner. Although trained as a barber, my father decided, at the age of 14 to take a job at W. H. Lavers, Timber Merchants in Merton Road where he worked until he retired. We lived on the Harebreaks Estate in Middle Way. I remember the immediate families from the Halward’s, Butcher, Jefferies, Violet, Culverhouse, Wright, Needle, Bunnage, Frost, Atkins, Holbrow. I went to Alexandra Infants School, Parkgate Junior and Leggatts Way Secondary Modern. On leaving I was told by the school I would have to work at Yeatmans sweet factory in Cherry Tree Road, later owned by Mothercare, but my mother hoped for more, sending me to the Commercial College in St. Albans Road, North Watford near Haynes Pram Shop and close to Bushey Mill Lane, where I learnt shorthand/typing. Mr. Haynes also had a cycle shop on the opposite side of the road near Longspring. The council offices were at the bottom of Beechwood Rise with Dodds hardware shop, an alladins cave nearby. I used to take my sledge with wheels on to get a gallon can of paraffin filled then drag it home. Underhills was the newsagent where I’d buy a packet of Smiths crisps with the little blue bag of salt for tuppence and take it to the Odeon Cinema nearby for Saturday morning ‘flicks’ costing sixpence to get in. I’d crush my crisps to tiny pieces to make them go further. Threshers off-licence was further up the road with a bank on the corner. On leaving school I worked as a junior for the Hertford Handbag Company in Sutton Road. Blowers Ink Company were located on the ground floor. I then joined the Watford Observer working at the offices in the High Street and took a Saturday job at Finlays tobacconists opposite. I didn’t last long there, I was useless at figures. Does anyone recall the legend of The Fig Tree in St. Mary’ Churchyard, I remember that well. It was then on to Odhams the printing giant in North Watford until it closed in 1983. North Watford holds a lot of memories for me as my maternal family originated in Parker Street, off Leavesden Road. Callowland Girls School at the bottom of Leavesden Road and the boys school further up on the left. Redrups butchers, Girlings Bakers, Mrs. Finch’s grocery shop where mum would buy a quarter of butter a week with her rashion coupons and the broken biscuits were a joy. Froomes, another grocers, Mr. Christie’s chemist where he made up all sorts of potions, a real chemist. I still have a bottle of his made up linament which is just a keepsake. Mrs. Rumsby’s hairdressers with the gents downstairs and ladies upstairs. Gregoes fish and chip shop and greengrocers and Albans greengrocers and a cycle shop nearby where I bought my racing bike. So many memories. There was a pet shop near Christ Church in St. Albans Road, the Co-op shoe shop one side and general homeware store on the other where customers paid for their goods and the assistant would put the money into a circular canister, push it into a fitment above her and it whizzed off the what appeared to me as a child, a box suspended in the sky. Someone up there used to take the money, then send the change winging down. I was fascinated. The Co-op also had a dentist, and foodshop and naturally a Gibsons where we’d buy a pound of eights sausages, a Kinghams further up and not forgetting Spurriers bakers, Timothy, Whites and Taylors and Woolworths. I could go on.

    By Christine Partridge (nee Sharman) (21/08/2011)
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    The coffee shop was Importers, they had two shops on the High Street, one near St Mary’s church, near where Mobile Solutions is on Google Street View and the other on The Parade, near Chef’s Corner. Both shops produced wonderful roasting coffee aromas. I can still remember going in with my Dad for a quarter of Dark Continental, medium ground on Saturday mornings after music lessons at Watford School of Music when it was in Red Lion Yard. That was before it moved to Nascot Wood Road.

    By Guy James (21/03/2011)
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    WOW!! Such wonderful memories. I was born in Watford and went to Chater School. I worked in the fashion dept of Cawdells on leaving school. And during school holidays worked in the Chef corner which was opposite Fine Fare, near the Pond at the top end of the High Street. And can anyone the remember Jax fashions just opposite the St Mary’s church yard and the fresh ground coffee shop opposite M&S. I also remember a family by the name of Martindale who lived in a road off Harwoods Road. Lots of memories of Vicarage Road and the Hospital and shops especially Westons fish and chip shop, Betty’s wool shop, Clarks butchers, Yorkshire bakery.

    By Margaret Snowdon nee Ashcroft (03/02/2011)
  • My mum and dad had Clarks newsagents in Queens Road. I got married in 1964 at St Mary’s Church on 30th march, one of my bridesmaids was Mary who was a daughter from a catholic family. I married Rodney Parkinson and went to Australia. Would be good to catch up with old friends. Bob and Hillary had a dog called Kennedy I think, Bob died early from cancer. Best wishes to catch up.

    By Janet Clark (24/12/2010)
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    What a wonderful website! I have best remembering of Watford. In the years 1963, 1964 and 1965 I have play football with my youth team VfB 08 Lünen. We was guest of the players from the North Watford Football Club. The manager was Charlie Pinnington. My english friends are in this time are Kevin Stratford, Mick Harman, Dave Charlwood, Paul Saviner, George Gaiscoigne, Long John and many other players. Wonderful friends. Now, 47 years later (I am now 63 years of age) I remember this very nice time. We was every day in the town. From the Town Hall to the Pond. Watching the wonderful Watford-girls… Have a coffee in the shop right from the Top Rank. .. And the Top Rank. We never saw a Dance pub like the Top Rank. Music we never heard in Germany. We have much fun there and have contact with many young Watford boys and girls. The wonderful shops in the town. Clements, Marks & Spencer, Woolworth – and the Market. A fooballer from the Watford team was there and sell fruits. Later on he was milkman. And the pub Green Man. We come with perhaps 8 boys in the pub for a drink. We have a nice morning. We was hungry and the Barkeeper give us sandwiches – free!! Watford High Street was for us young peoples like a film, watching watching watching. I remember the little clubhouse from the football club in Garston. 1963. I stay in a family home in Garston, The Brouw. A nice family, Jones, live in 105 Newhouse Crescent. Some nice hours we have there. After my football time I was some times in Watford. The last time was 2008. My good old friend Kevin Stratford died. But it is not the Watford I know from the sixtees.The big roads in the town center. All nice shops are gone. The Harlequin…. I live in The Harebreaks and in Bushy in the house of Mick Harmans parents. If somebody remember us and me from the VfB 08 Lünen please give me a message.

    By Hans-Peter Bludau, VfB 08 Lünen, Germany (07/12/2010)
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    No one has mentioned Joe Lyons Coffee House. The waitresses wore white, frilly caps. Mum would meet me and my sister from school and have a lovely tea there every Friday before heading off to “The Flicks”. Also ABC restaurant on the corner of Kings St. It was a good place to see Watford F.C. footballers. And the Black and White Coffe Bar next to the Midland Bank.

    By Margaret Elliott (01/12/2010)
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    Well, yes, Queens Road Music. There was a guy there, a drummer, who had worked the cruise ships and told us younger musicians all sorts about the music scene. He must have acted as a DJ at some point and gave me a whole box of pre-release singles which I still have! As a member of an average band, we used these to fill our repetoire, although most of our gigs were in the youth clubs of Hemel. As far as the Trade was concerned, we used to have a couple of shandies at a pub on the corner of St, Johns Road and head off to the music. It was usually 2/6 to see a decent band like Cliff Bennet or Spencer Davis. Otherwise, they dropped it to two bob and we got the Who, Friday, Saturday and Sunday as I remember. What I do remember is having to sit very close to the front of class on a Monday morning, as I couldn’t hear much at all!

    By Chris Meggs (29/11/2010)
  • Thanks for you memories, Mike – are the photos on this webpage anything like the playground at Cassiobury as you remember it, or is it not Cassiobury at all? 

    By Anthony McKay (26/11/2010)
  • I moved to Watford in 1966 and lived there until 1988. I have lots of fond memories of it. Unfortunately it is now not a patch on what it was. However, Cassiobury Park and the canal are always worth a visit. I spent most of my youth in those areas and it always stirs up memories whenever I visit.

    By Mike Sadler (23/11/2010)
  • If anyone out there played in Cassiobury Park in the mid to late 60’s could they please visit this page…and let me know if the photographs featured here are indeed Cassiobury Park – it would be much appreciated.

    By Anthony McKay (16/11/2010)
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    What an interesting page, thank you. I was born in King Street maternity hospital in 1950 and have fond memories of Watford n the 50’s and 60’s. I remember draughty Watford market, and in particular the fish stall which stood on a really cold corner. Mum would buy winkles, muscles, cockles or shrimps and we would take them home for Saturday night tea. And of course, we couldn’t leave the market without our Gibsons sausages! I remember Cawdells too, which seemed like a somewhat poor relation of Clements then. In those days British Home Stores used to sell wonderful cheese from their food counter near the front of the shop and Marks and Spencer had assistants behind every counter. Can anybody remember the name of the bakery opposite Fine Fair at the then ‘posh’ top end of the town? I used to work opposite in shop in an insurance office. The first time I went into Top Rank (fibbing about my age) I was absolutely gobsmacked how luxurious it was – and that was only the ladies powder room (honest). We had never seen anything like it because up till then the only dances we had been to had been in somewhat grotty halls – the Trade, Kingham Hall, Hillside, Woodside etc. But they were great nights out with real bands, something we lost with the advent of discos. I was a mod in the sixties and every Saturday (via the 318 or 347 bus) it was important to get the very latest clothes (seen on Ready Steady Go the night before), to go out in. Martin Fords was my favourite, as it was the only shop I could afford to buy clothes in! Then of course, you had to stand about in the High Street, trying to look cool but hoping desperately everybody was looking at you! Once your boyfriend had a car, it was off to Old Redding for a snog and steamy windows! I think the rot set in when they knocked down the Park Gates, it was like a disease really, they just kept pulling things down until they had ripped out any semblance of character in Watford, now most of the shops are the same as can be seen in any other town, except good old Jacksons the jewellers. Happy days.

    By Ann Waine (12/11/2010)
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    I well remember, as a child my mother taking us shopping to Watford. At the time we lived in Elstree and this wouls have been in late 60s – very early 70s. We used to get the ‘green bus’ either 306 (?) and we knew when we were in Watford as soon as we smelt that delicous aroma of coffee..I also remember buying presents from Clements and the market.

    By Geoff Gwillym (04/11/2010)
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    Jayne – do you have any memories of the junk/bric a brac shop to the right of the dolls hospital ? It was called Vera’s Dresses i think. Jim Rogers

    By James Victor Rogers (23/10/2010)
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    I am trying to identify some film footage which could be Watford in the late ’60’s. Could anyone who knew the town centre during this period please visit: http://www.britmovie.co.uk/forums/topic/26447-unused-footage-of-the-saints-volvo/ Building include a theatre/cinema and a Woolworths. Feedback would be appreciated.

    By Anthony McKay (29/09/2010)
  • What was the wonderful shop (near the One Bell) which sold fresh ground coffee and you couldn’t miss the aroma as you walked past? I think it was Importers?

    By Ian (30/08/2010)
  • Someday maybe, I’ll go back again to Watford, That’s if I can find somewhere to park my car. But I might as well go try to catch a moonbeam, Or to light a penny candle from a star! I lived in Watford for 28 years before emigrating to Australia. I came back after almost 10 years and Boy! had it changed! It’s even worse now and that’s what prompted me to write the above parody of “Galway Bay”…

    By John Keogh (08/08/2010)
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    Just like Jeremy Prior I too love nostalgia and am so pleased I stumbled across this website. I was born in Bushey (Bushey Hall Road in a house next to Watford Technical High School) in the 1960s and moved several times in Watford. My childhood was mainly spent at 99 Queens Road, Watford and I remember walking with my mum up Queens Road to the High Street. In Queens Road, right at the start of the shops, you had the Corner Shop which was run by Bert and his assistant Nancy. Bert also ran a dolls hospital here and I often took my dolls to him to be repaired though was rather upset when he changed the colour of one of my dolls eyes from blue to brown because he didn’t have any brown eyes in stock! I must have been around 5 then. Just across the road you had Clarks, run by Mr and Mrs Clark. This was a Tobacconists/sweet shop and you could buy loose tobacco that Mr Clark would weigh on his scales. The Victoria Tavern was just before Clarks. There was a launderette next to what must have been the first Indian general stores. I hated the smell of the spices as a child going past that shop and would run past it holding my nose and breath! There was a coblers opposite run by Mr Malone who walked with a very pronounced limp – his wife Mary worked in the launderette. The there was Carrs second hand shop, Symbols, Dunns Wallpaper and my very favourite shop of all, Ivor Newman’s pet shop. He moved his shop from one side of the road to the other. He always had puppies for sale in the front window and I loved going in there and picking them up for a cuddle! He also had a talking parrot that I had the most extraordinary conversations with. I can just about remember the Congregational Church on the corner being knocked down, where Allied Carpets were sited. Grevilles Photographers were on the opposite corner and a Dairy Shop opposite that with a lady serving with white hair in a bun and always wearing a pinafore. Trewins, a charity shop, a toy shop and then, turning left into Lower High Street was my favourite, Fantos. I loved this old shop with wooden floors and would make a bee-line for the toy department upstairs. I’m pretty sure that Boots was on the corner. At the top end of town I loved the chips from Sea Pride fish and chip shop, next to Peter Spiveys. Clements was a favourite especially at Christmas when they had a fake train ride for the children to see Father Christmas. I really felt we were on a long journey and then saw Father Christmas in his own ‘home’, wow! I’d sit on Father Christmas’s lap and tell him everything I wanted for Christmas and go home with my present and a competion entry form which was a picture you had to colour in and put your age on. Loved Cawdells, which had two entrances, one at the front and one in the side opposite the market. A little tobacconists opposite was where my dad used to buy his pipes. Christmas pantos at the Palace Theatre where I went with the school and the sweet shop opposite that sold lovely sherbet lemons. The Palace Theatre used to have wooden phone boxes inside the foyer with sliding doors exactly the same as they had at Watford Junction. Watford Junction, mmmmm, the smell that used to waft across the front from the cafe was luvverly, I can still remember it now. Opposite the Junction in Woodford Road, you could get the 142 and the 258 to London and the small single decker green bus to Two Waters Garage in Hemel Hempstead. Does anybody remember a firm in Woodford Road called Technical Designs? Know as TD, my mum used to work there and I’d walk down Queens Road with my toys to meet her from work. Completely unaccompanied, you couldn’t do that now, could you?

    By Jayne Nicholson (26/07/2010)
  • 1966 at The Trade lives on vividly. I missed The Who (1965?) but my first ever live band was here – The Action, explosive all-mod Tamla act renowned for Reggie King’s seven minute Land of a Thousand Dances. This was followed by The Birds, with Ron Wood – a night of sublime r ‘n’ b and Tamla, where I lifted off to another planet without the aid of drugs. And The Creation – arty live paintermen with guitar bow bursts courtesy of Eddie Phillips. No alcohol as I recall at The Trade but other substances available in the toilets. Exciting Saturday nights with sound system in between the live acts. I first heard Mustang Sally here about three foot from the speakers. All three bands I mention have been playing live recently in different forms with the exception of The Action who had the original line up on stage about 8 years ago. Those of you who fondly recall that amazing 1966 Birds night – the lead singer’s (Ali MacKenzie) version of the band plays their complete set at The Sportsman, Croxley Green on 7th August 2010. Circle back in time – I’ll be taking my Trade membership card…

    By Chris Marshall (30/06/2010)
  • I read the comments about Rozalex with great interest. I actually bought the brand 18 months ago from a former Unilever company where it had been lying almost dormant for 20 years. I can assure all readers of this thread that the brand is very much alive and going from strength to strength. Please visit http://www.rozalex.co.uk for more info.

    By Nick Angel (12/06/2010)
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    Watford, my home, lovely memories of my past. I’m talking about 1970 until 1980 , i’ll never forget my first film seen at the cinema ” Grease” and the saturday shopping at high street with my friends , fantastic memory of chater school where i used to go when i was only 9 years old and endly with our bikes riding through the park and seeing the squirells running away as we rushed down the lanes, can’t wait to return to my native home with all my wonderfull memories since i left to go to live in Italy.

    By Lina (pasqualina) on11/04/2010 (11/04/2010)
  • *MOVED*

    To Jeremy Prior, thank you, that is the name of the jewellers. also, MacFisheries would have been where mum bought the sprats.

    By Hilly Buckman (07/01/2010)
  • *MOVED*

    Must comment on a few interesting things two contributors have unearthed for me. To Hilly Buckman, the Jewellers in the High Street may have been Jacksons. They were the oldest in the town and founded in 1876. Their business was sort of opposite Clements Department Store roughly where there’s a flyover cutting right through the original store building. Jackson’s shop was on a site that dates back to about 1500. I often walked past Jacksons on my way to Choir Practice so never had time to stare in the window and drool over the lovely wrist-watches on sale there.
    They were only a few doors down from Elliotts Music Shop who sold pianos records and musical instruments as well as Radios and Radiograms.

    To Ross King I wish I could remember the name of the store he says was East off the High Street. The only two roads that were turnings off the High Street were Clarendon Road by Garners Bakery, and which had the Palace Theatre and Carlton Cinema in, but I don’t remember a Provisions shop there. Or Queens Road which had Trewins (John Lewis owned store) and Watford School of Music plus a few shops in the first half of Queens Road such as Television Dealers and that kind of thing.

    I do remember a small corner shop down the end of Queens Road almost by the Horse-Trough opposite Fyffes Bananas depot. This was a little provisions shop which my Father used to go to and purchase items that were against the Sunday Trading laws which I think then forbade selling anything other than cigarettes tobacco and sweets – and people used to go and buy the things in the food line which they’d forgotten to get on Saturday and customers would leave the shop with a cardboard box covered in a cloth to prevent anyone seeing them breaking the law.
    It was all very clandestine illegal trading that mostly the law turned a blind eye to. The law now seems archaic but we all know how Sunday trading laws only recently changed to allow food and anything to be purchased on the Christian Sabbath. Funny old world eh?

    Cawdells dept store was always amusing when they ran the Santa’s Grotto and we as kids were put into a fake sleigh ride that was a kind of box that groddled about on a motorized simulated waves like a kiddies boat. While it was slowly grinding up and down they would wind the scenery past the windows by rolling them past on a canvas painted roll that made very young kids think they were going forwards on a journey.
    It didn’t fool my brother and I and we were under strict instructions not to make comments that would spoil anything about Santa. They’d then ferry us out of a different door than the one we entered on. We’d walk down a tunnel to meet Santa and be given some sop of a present and asked what we wanted for Christmas. Santa would make some encouraging remark and we’d all file out and go home with whatever bunch of disappointment we’d been given as a token.

    My friend Geoff got a good prize from Clements the other store though, he entered a competition in-store to race Scalectrix cars against other members of the public and he won so many times that they gave him first prize – a new Scalectrix set.

    Does anyone remember The Maypole a kind of dairy orientated delicatessen opposite the end of Market Street. Or Findlaters the posh Off Licence. I also remember Mac Fisheries in that same row of shops and Perrings Furniture store which had a fire gutting the place. Before it burned out they had a Foot Massage machine in the entrance that was in use even after the shop was closed at 5.30pm and you could stand on the platform like weighing scales and put Sixpence in (6d as it was abbreviated) and it would vibro massage your feet and you could feel it right up your legs. After it finished it was like walking on air.

    Finally on today’s contribution does anyone remember the machine on Watford High Street Station that you could put tuppence in and it would stamp an alluminium label or nameplate for your briefcase like some mighty Dymo Tape machine and you had to wind a big clockface arm around a circle to choose the Letter or Figure you wanted stamped on the label. Then you’d press a big lever and CLANGK it would stamp it on the label which came spewing out of the front letter by letter on an ever lengthening strip. Then you pulled it out to discover you’d made a spelling mistake or not put a full stop on it. All very disappointing but nevertheless fun for kids who were not easily bored and very easily entertained.

    By Jeremy Prior (04/11/2009)
  • grew up in the area at the time, watford was great. as a teenager Musicland next to the Wimpy was the place on Sat Lunch. Top Rank was the place to be. Wonderful evocative memories and a beautifully written peace. The annual fair at cassiobury park was amazing and of course The Who played the Trade union Hall.

    By vivib (22/10/2009)
  • *MOVED*

    Both my parents came from Watford but by the time I was born they had moved out to Pitstone. I remember my many trips to Watford as a child during the 50s, wide eyed with wonder at all the shops. Clements and Cawdells offered visit to see Santa. The covered market was a favourite as I would always buy a small bunch of anemonies for my grandmother who lived in Upper Paddock Road, well I think I chose them and my great uncle who owned the stall probably gave them to me. Gibson sausages were always on my mum’s shopping list, just as well there were no domestic freezers at that time otherwise I think she might have bought out the butcher’s stock, and of course the wet fish monger where we would buy sprats.
    Driving into Watford past the town hall and the pond there used to be the swimming pool and as a child I was alway puzzled by the ‘Public Bath’ sign, I could never understand why people would have a bath in public, a child’s mind is so literal. My engagement and wedding rings were purchased from a jeweller in Watford high street, the name of which escapes me, but it was a beautiful black and white building. The families connected with Watford are Martindale being my father’s name and Parkins my mother. I believe my father’s maternal grandfather Joseph Smith was the owner/landlord of the Crystal Palace Beer House, 121 High Street Watford.
    I now live in East Sussex so have little opportunity to retrace childhood steps, although I intend to go again to my grandparent’s grave in the cemetary in Vicarage Road, so if by chance anyone reading this has knowledge of the Martindale/Parkins families I would be delighted to hear from them.

    By Hilly Buckman (30/09/2009)
  • *MOVED*

    In answer to Eddie O Konnor’s contribution and question. The first ever supermarket in Watford on the Parade opposite the Odeon Cinema (which later became Top Rank) was FINE FARE. I think Fine Fare in recent times morphed into Key Markets possibly later on the International Stores got involved in ownership but I’m not sure as here in the West Country Key Markets and International were bought out by Gateway, later to become Somerfield or something like that.
    The first actual “self-service” shop that wasn’t a Supermarket as such were The Co Op just along from Fine Fare. They were near to Stan Pike Newsagent and Tobacconist and about the last shop before the unusually named Cakebread Robey who were a showroom for Fireplace and Fires. My parents bought an Esse Stove from them.
    To Kathleen Bennett; The only shop with Coffee smells I remember were the place that sold coffee beans and roasted them on the premises. It was two doors along from Chef Corner Cafe which was opposite front of Odeon Cinema and I can’t remember what it was called. The first shop beyond Chef Corner was Woolcotts a sweet shop and tobacconist. I bought an Italian Coffee machine from the Coffee retailer in 1969 for just £11.0 I still have it to this day and it still works!
    Beyond the Coffee shop was a Toy Shop in the corner where my friend noted that you could buy 12 plastic toy pennies for the prices of One Shilling and Sixpence and we wondered what kind of a trick that was when a child could play with 12 real pennies and spend nothing! Anyhow I do remember that lovely coffee roasting smell drifting down past that Tudor fronted building where Radio Rentals were and on the first floor of which was The Cookery Nook – a favourite morning cafe for the more elderly population who loved it’s olde worlde charm.

    I’m sure I could think of much more but I don’t want to dominate this page as it may discourage others from posting up their wonderful memories.

    By Jeremy Prior (26/08/2009)
  • Comment to John Harris. You’re right about Dirty Paws product no longer being available (my mistake). It probably lost popularity on account of any product called “Dirty” in the trade name might not have a superb appeal! But on the subject of Rozalex it most certainly is still sold. I found tubs of it online today being sold on a Classic Car Renovation site and they did Dri-Guard and Wet-Guard versions of the Barrier Cream. The price was just over 5 uk pounds per jar that’s about $8 at today’s Exchange Rate. So Rozalex still lives – Amazing.
    Dirty Paws doesn’t ! I should add that I am not giving any company free advertising here. I haven’t bought barrier cream for a very long time.
    I now use surgical gloves to protect my hands from ghastly oily stuff when doing mechanical jobs.
    I noticed the other day the AA Roadside Repair and Rescue mechanic uses disposable surgical gloves too. Good for him.


    By Jeremy Prior (26/08/2009)
  • dont forget caters supermarket by the pond and also one of my favorite haunts of the late 50s early 60s the le-ronde coffee bar opposite high street station

    By mike pates (06/08/2009)
  • Very well written article – bringing back good memories. For a few years, I walked each Saturday morning to the Music School when near the Market for piano lessons and then, when possible, on to queue for the childrens’ cinema. I recall cattle being driven to the Cattle Market and shopping with my mother in Watford’s then covered Market. Being then a passionate young gardener, I looked avidly at Wards stall – and remember being invited by the elder Mr. Ward to go with him to Holland when he next went bulb-buying. The joy of a time when this would be seen as OK and fine! I cannot recall the name of the provisions shop off the East side of the High Street, but recall when it first broke the mold and started offering self-service. It all seemed a safer, gentler and less threatening time – a more human and cohesive period.

    By Ross King (01/08/2009)
  • You say “My father used to buy hand-cleaner in tins, called Dirty Paws, and a barrier cream known as Rozalex. I think you can still get both of them today.”

    My father used Dirty Paws too, but I doubt if you can buy it today, because when I Googled pages from the UK with to see if I could buy some, only there were only 18 hits and none were advertising the product. This article came top of the 18!

    By John Harris (22/07/2009)
  • *MOVED*

    What was the shop called situated around the middle of the High Street that used to have wonderful-smelling fresh coffee wafting from the doorway, and also sold ice-cream cones? – even as a small child walking past with my mother I used to love the smell of the coffee! Also, fish and chips in Cawdells Restaurant was a real treat, followed by strawberry icecream with lumps of ice in it! Watford Pond was beautiful, with the water-lilies and huge goldfish. As I grew into teenage years, going to the Top Rank on a Tuesday and Saturday was always exciting, also the Trade Union Hall, where we saw the Who and the Pretty Things live, before they were really famous!

    Kathleen Bennett (nee Fawkes)

    By Kathleen Bennett (21/07/2009)
  • Thanks galore to everyone for their very kind comments about my memories of old Watford. To Eddie O Konnor I must say yes *Moved* I remember the first Self Serve proper supermarket opposite Top Rank (Odeon then) it was FINE FARE – does that ring a bell? My friend Geoff who lived at Wiggenhall Road down by the River Colne tried to pilfer a packet of Beech Nut Chewing gum and the manager of Fine Fare saw him, as they had columns in the supermarket with mirrors on all four sides. He caught Geoff at the checkout and advised him to put the chewing gum in the basket! He did and went very red! But he let him off with a quiet ticking off. He was a nice guy. The very first self service store was actually the Co-Op just along from Fine Fare who were technically the first to introduce the idea of helping yourself with a wire basket. They were near to a Stove and Fires shop called oddly Cakebread Robey do you remember them. My mum and dad bought an Esse stove from there. Stan Pike was in that parade too with a Newsagents and Tobacconist.

    Thanks too to James Russel for that lovely picture of Marsh and Russel store.
    The store was the best Ironmongers and Hardware in Greater London in my opinion.

    The Gaumont was a superb cinema where I remember seeing “live” concert by the Dave Brubeck Quartet and his band put on a superb show and Dave complained a few times about the very out of tune piano he’d been expected to play on. Typical of the management not bothering to tune it for an important musician like that.
    I remember how the audience did a standing ovation for the drummer Joe Morello who gave a 12 minute drum solo towards the end of the concert.

    Eldorado Ice Cream and Nelsons was the order of the day in Cinemas. It wasn’t as good as Rossi’s but it wasn’t bad. We used to eat Chinese meals at the Kam Wah in Kings Street. Bucks had a fabulous Bakery and Garners. Sainsbury had a shop in the High Street where they cut and shaped fresh farm butter for you and wrapped it in greaseproof paper all neatly folded. Imagine that today in our plastic and throw away society! Peter Spivey Sports shop was on the Parade and I used to buy Air Gun pellets from there. Radio Rentals I bought my first ever HMV Tape Recorder.

    Oh the memories just keep on flooding in the more I think about it. I think I’d better stop before I explode with nostalgia. Greetings and Best Wishes to all you Watford of old fans out there.
    Laurie Prior

    By Laurie Prior (10/07/2009)
  • A very interesting and well written article. The mention of Marsh & Russell.
    brought back memories. As a young teenager I spent many a saturday working on the bench cutting plywood and glass to size to supplement my pocket money. I would often spend it later on a visit to the Empire cinema.
    I have enclosed a photo of Marsh & Russell taken in the early fifties, with manager Mr Harold D’eath and assistant manager Mr Eric Knight.
    I enjoyed my younger days in Watford but left nearly 40 years ago to live in New Zealand, but still keep up with the local news, thanks to the internet.

    By James russell (29/03/2009)
  • An excellent trip down memory lane. I was one of the team of DJ’S at the Top Rank and also sometimes at the Clock House if anyone remembers those venues. My mind has been wandering to what supermarkets were in Watford in the early to mid 60’s especially the supermarket opposite the cinema [ subsequently Top Rank ] – can anyone help – was it Gateway??

    By Eddie O'Konnor (23/03/2009)
  • What a lovely article about Watford – I lived in Hempstead Road two doors from the library and all the comments said I remember as well – the days spent in Cassiobury Park swimming in the lock gates and changing in the toilets next to the paddling pool. I attended Chater School from 1945 – 51 and what a long walk it was. Don’t forget grillos ice cream on the parade every Sunday afternoon, they were just magic. When it was rag day at the college in Hempstead Road our front garden was covered in everything to blue ink which the pond colour became and everything you can imagine. The queues outside the Odeon & Gaumont cinemas for the 1/9 seats and waiting for the commissionaire to let you in. The memories of sitting in the Mocha Bar with one cup of chocolate all evening and gazing out of the windows to see who was going by – those were the days.

    By Marian Holland (nee Shipton) (09/03/2009)
  • Every time I read this tale of Watford it makes my day. I also remember the old high street with Cawdells and Clements dept stores and walking up the side of Cawdells to get to the market where we all brought our jeans from Charlies Stall. And as for the Town Hall I used to go often to watch the wrestling that was held there about once a month, Saturday Morning Pictures at the Gaumont Cinema and as we got a bit older we went to the Regal Cinema to listen to pop music in the lunch hour. It is a shame it has been destroyed, even the Lodge and gate to the park has gone.

    By David Rush (26/02/2009)
  • I love this article on Watford , it is nice to read the very same things I remember from my childhood as I was born in Watford in the front bedroom of 75 Liverpool Road and I remember all the places mentioned like Rossie’s and going to London from Watford High Street Station. In those days the Bakerloo Trains ran from the Elephant and Castle to Watford Junction, which has been demolished and replaced with a non-descript building.

    By David Rush (28/01/2009)
  • A wonderful page. This guy always writes beautifully about the Watford of the 1950’s and 1960’s; there is nobody better to provide an accurate and memory tugging account. More please.

    By Diana Sholl (08/01/2009)

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