Happy boyhood memories

By Mike Seaman

Although I am now 62 years old, living in sunny Cornwall for the last 23 years and the last 6 running a very successful allotment site, my memories while turning the soil so often go back to my happy early years living in Watford.

Born & bred near to Watford Junction, as soon as I’d finished my paper round I’d be off ‘down’ the Bridle path with my duffle bag and notebook and pen overlooking 1C,  the code for Watford’s engine shed, watching 40672 shunting and 47432 scurrying about, yes I still remember the numbers some 50 years later.

The friends made, the excitement of an express coming through, getting covered in smuts and smoke, and the disappointment of the time allowed being up all are vivid memories.

I worked for British rail at Melton House, Clarendon Road for around 6 years before getting married and having to remove to Bedford as the property was SO much more affordable for a mere railway clerk but continued to commute.

As an ardent supporter of the Hornets since 1958 when my Grandad used to take me along, plying me with humbugs and embarrassingly shouting advice to the referee, I still remember the team to this day, Bobby Bell, Sammy Chung, George Catleigh, etc,etc. I still look for the team’s result as soon as possible on a Sat and it’s a big help with the media coverage nowadays when at least I get to see the highlights but can’t exactly be a regular home attender anymore.

Wherever I have lived, Watford is ‘home’ to me and it pleased me to see my Cornish wife (from Port Wenn, sorry Port Isaac) actually looking in estate agents windows last time I visited my home town, she liked Watford so much.

So do I, but committed to retirement on the allotment in the South West now. I could have a worse fate?

This page was added on 28/07/2011.

Comments about this page

  • It’s good to know that 46102 really did exist as my pals and I began to think it was like the Loch Ness monster – you heard about it but you never found anyone who had actually seen it. We used to clamber up on top of the tall grey brick wall at the side of the path to get a better view over the tracks. Clambering down one quiet Sunday I slipped, grabbed at something to try to hang on only to realize it was the bit of barbed-wire at the top and shredded a finger – blood all over the place. A kindly passing gentleman walked me up to the Peace Memorial to get it stitched while my pal wheeled both our bikes up there.

    By Will Mouger (13/03/2022)
  • Hullo,

    I was born in Watford and before my parents moved
    in 1959 was an avid spotter at the Bridle Path.My favourite moment was copping my only Clan ,72005 .The only Scots not seen were 46102 and
    46121. I also followed Watford FC and to my regret still do at the age of 72 !Thank you so much for rekindling those precious memories

    By neil ambrose (01/08/2020)
  • The story of 46102 Black Watch going through Watford is great. Could you tell me what year this was? I lived in Harrow and during my spotting days 1956-1961 never saw this engine although on one trip to Camden shed in 1960-61 i saw 46107 and 72009 Clan Stewart both in filthy condition. As a child i lived at Belmont Circle and saw the branch line trains from Harrow and Wealdstone..Shedded at Watford numbers that come to mind are…40010…..40020……40020……41320 and on rare visits 41230 and 84002 and 84004 on loan from Bletchley shed.

    By Colin Rutter (12/02/2014)
  • Arthur, I read with interest your comments as I can identify with your mischevious adventures, tunnels were scary places. Used to stand near the steam escape chimneys from Watford’s long tunnel listening to the trains below whistling away, especially the Brittanias with their 2 tone whistle. In Cornwall, I am lucky enough to live a mile or so from the Bodmin and Wenford private railway which has a good working ex BR steam engine stock. My real love was standing at the end of platform 6 or 9 scribbling away while sitting on an empty postal trolley. I often type in the search box of you tube ‘steam at Watford Jn’and it is surprising what choices come up. Worth a look.

    By Mike Seaman (26/01/2013)
  • Mike, I too was born in Watford (now 73) and have moved to Cornwall. We used to dash down on bikes to watch the Irish Mail and others steam through. Once we were inside the tunnel when a train came through! It was always great to watch a loco get wheel spin when pulling north from the junc. I still have my Ian Allen train number books!

    By Arthur Boyt (17/12/2012)
  • That brings back memories. Watford Junction with my underlined Ian Allen and a pack of sandwiches, the smell of steam, the excitement when something unusual came through, or just a black 5. Later I also worked at Melton House processing accounts from some of the Welsh stations, after being in the enquiry office & booking office at the junction, then off to the railway savings bank somewhere near Euston. I suppose things have changed in the last 40 years …

    By David Norman/Adelaide Australia (11/04/2012)
  • Hi Mike Seaman, I have read your interesting reports. Since we are almost at the same age (65), you might remember a visit to a German football youth team in 1963 and 1965, VfB Lünen 08, in North Watford? I try to find more former players from the North Watford Youth Football Club. Perhaps you knew the club? Friendly greetings from Lünen near Dortmund / Germany Hans-Peter Bludau

    By Hans-Peter Bludau/Lünen Germany (10/01/2012)
  • As a matter of interest, anyone remember “The Cricketers” pub on Watford Fields, the landlords were my grandparents but I was young when this place was pulled down? I do remember ‘helping’ Grandad Ealey with the barrels in the cellar and collecting as many different coloured beer bottle tops as I could. The pub did not have a spirit licence, only selling beer. The pub literally backed on to Benskins and the hop smell fascinated me but very little on the internet about to read about the history of this area. Love to know more.

    By Mike Seaman (16/11/2011)
  • Yes Keith remember it so well. The highlight for me was one wet Saturday afternoon and not much happening although ‘the path’ was pretty crowded being a non-school day when with a loud, long whistle the rarest to be seen Scot Black Watch (46102 I think?) hammered through going North. It was if the winning goal in a cup final had just been scored, the joy and disbelief amongst those present was fantastic. We swopped addresses to prove to those who doubted us so we could confirm each others story. Absolutely brilliant !

    By Mike Seaman (25/10/2011)
  • I have very fond memories of Watford junction tow path and platform 9, 1955 to 1959, Caledonian, Royal Scott, Midday Scott, Mancunian, Irish Mail, also Corros, Scotts, Pats, Jubs,  Blackies. The Deltic Prinie Royals. And the shout 7s Pegged or 6 is Pegged, and a grumpy old station master Keith and Richard, still mates today

    By keith adams (13/09/2011)

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