A Life in Watford

Christine Partridge (nee Sharman)

St Albans Road, 1960s
Watford Museum

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.

My Father’s new job

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.

Taking a sledge for paraffin

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.

Leaving school

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.

So many memories

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.

This page was added on 21/08/2011.

Comments about this page

  • Hi Christine,

    Sorry I’ve been a while replying to you, another example of trying to locate your latest post!

    I do remember the Saturday morning pictures incident so clearly. Obviously you didn’t smoke at such a young age, so you must have found the cigarette packet on the floor in the cinema. It was actually written with a pencil.

    Yes, I remember congregating by the cinema exit slope but, like you, I’ve no idea why, just young kids at a loose end!

    I also used to go to the Watford Town Hall Saturday evening dances (looking for girls but they were mostly old women!) but I never remember seeing you there.

    Trev.

    By Trev Makepeace. (17/03/2021)
  • Hi Trevor,
    I’ve tried to remember the events around the note, to no avail. As a non-smoker I can’t imagine where I’d have got an empty cigarette packet to write the note, let alone a pen. That’s not to say this didn’t happen. I contacted my cousin Evelyn to ask if she recalls this, but she has no recollection. As I said previously, I lost touch with Ann Henderson when we left school and all went our separate ways, which is sad. The only other person I regularly played with was my cousin Pat Froud, but I can’t recall if she ever came to Saturday morning pictures. Do you remember a group of us used to congregate by the side of the North Watford Odeon down a slope near the emergency exit in the left of the building. No recollection of why or what for. My cousin Pat and I used to go to the Watford Town Hall every Saturday evening to the ballroom dances.

    Christine

    By Christine Partridge (10/03/2021)
  • Hi Christine,

    You said you don’t remember the Saturday Morning Pictures occasion, when you sent a girl down from your seat, nearer the back, with a note on a cigarette packet. That was the only way we both got to know each other. It seems possible that girl was Ann Henderson because you say she’s the only girl, of your friends, I would have known. What do you think and if you’re still in touch with her would she remember?

    Trev.

    By Trev Makepeace. (05/03/2021)
  • Hi Christine,
    Yes, I do remember Ivor Thomas, but I had no idea he was related to you, I don’t remember any of the other people in your list, although Ann Henderson rings a bell – did she used to play with us?.

    I didn’t know you bought your first house in Middle Way, I presume you then moved elsewhere. I would love to do a memory lane walk like you, but, unfortunately, I can’t walk very well at all and I have to use a walking stick.

    I can’t understand why the people living locally have such disrespect for the environment, strangely it seems that, since the properties where available to buy everyone thought they could do what they wanted!

    I remember the modernisation work being carried out and Tony Jefferies and me annoying them with our misbehaviour, until they approached our parents. It’s really terrible that they took advantage of your partially sighted mum and stole the gas money. It’s equally terrible that your parents were made to pay the money without any compensation from the gas board.

    I do so remember Peter Fothergill, my father and I used to play snooker with him. I don’t know how you and he were related, but I do remember one Saturday morning he brought in one of my watercolour paintings that, he said, you still kept on your wall at home, have you still got it?

    I’ve no idea what Watford’s Vanishing trick is about (unless it means that the Watford we remember has gone!)

    I certainly agree about the Cassiobury Park Gates and feel equally disgusted about their demise! Thankfully I took a photo of them which I’ve still got on my wall.

    You seem to have so much time, and ability, to walk around all the places we remember, whereas my memories are so limited.

    As you say, happy days for us long gone.

    Trev.

    By Trev Makepeace. (23/02/2021)
  • Hi Trevor,
    You wouldn’t know Julia Holbrow, she was older than us. Ann Henderson was the only friend of mine you’d know. She lived in Longsprings. Sadly, I lost touch with her. We’d all play on the green in Fuller Road. I wonder what happened to Clive.

    When I left the Watford Observer offices in the High Street I went on to work at Watford Police Station then Handley Page Aircraft in Colney Street until it closed. I joined Odhams in 1970 where I remained until its closure in 1983.

    I do remember waiting for you to come home from work in London most evenings when you got off the bus in St. Albans Road and walked home up Fuller Road. I don’t think you were aware of this. A few more names come to mind you might know and who lived nearby. At the end of Middle Way, near Beechwood Rise, Janet Clark lived in the last house on the left. On the other side was Ivor Thomas, a distant relative of mine. Further up Fuller Road., Julie Knight lived on the left. She used to go to ballet lessons at the Star Ballet School in the High Street near Peter Lords shoe shop. She went on to become a dance teacher. Coincidentally, I bought my first house from her and her husband Rodney Creasey. He lived next door to us at No. 67 Middle Way with his sister Doreen, before he married Julie. Opposite Julie’s house Peter and Jill Musgrove lived. Peter went on to work to Odhams and Jill worked at Bentley Priory in Bushey. Maurice Wright lived on the other side of us at No. 63. He went to the Seventh Day Adventist School. I remember we used to swap comics. I had the Beano on a Thursday and he had the Tuesday edition of Dandy. I did know a lad called Philip who lived at the top of Beechwood Rise on the right, just before the Yeatman’s sweet factory – another place we’d often play when the factory was closed. I can’t recall how I came to know him. I’m still puzzling about the note you say I sent you in the cinema . Wish I could remember, and who I would have sent the note with.

    A few years ago I tool a nostalgic stroll down memory lane, walking up and down every road on the Harebreaks estate from Leggatts Way down to St. Albans Road, including the whole of Leavesden Road and all the side roads. I used to remember with fondness the beautiful pink cherry and apple blossom trees that stood majestic either side of the length of Harebreaks and looked magnificent in Spring.

    As I meandered through the streets, gone were all the neat, well-kept gardens and hedges which most residents took a pride in and a joy to see. In their places block paving drives and concrete hardstands stood in their place with cars, many in disrepair appeared abandoned everywhere.

    Similarly, on another occasion I took a stroll down Cassiobury Park. The worst decision I could make. The deterioration and neglect evident immediately. Gone were the beautifully manicured flower beds and regularly mown grass. In their place, waist-high overgrown grass, a magnate to ne’er-do-wells who could hide and pounce on unsuspecting children playing. The demolishing of the park gates was nothing more than criminal vandalism and totally unnecessary for the work the council carried out to widen Rickmansworth Road. I barely recognised the childhood home town and park I recalled with such fondness. Sadly, in my opinion Watford is now a shadow of its former self.

    Do you remember when all the Harebreaks estate houses were moderned by the council during the 1970’s? Many residents moved out whist the work was taking place, but some like my parents had no alternative but to remain. They had to store all their furniture and possessions in the front room, where mum would have to stay in there all day until the workmen left at the end of the day. She would then rush about, sweeping up to settle the dust and washing down before preparing dinner for when my dad came home from work. This went on for months. Not easy, when by then mum was registered blind and minimal sight left. I recall on one occasion it was found one, or more contractors has broken into the gas meter which was full of shillings and they’d stolen them. Mum was bereft and heartbroken that someone would take advantage of anyone, let alone someone who was blind. Despite the circumstances the Gas Board made my parents repay all the money taken and the council were unsympathetic. I’m sure my parents weren’t the only house targeted.

    As you were on the committee of the Conservative Club, you might know Peter Fothergill who was a member and regularly visited on a Saturday morning to play snooker. He was also an excellent drummer. He too worked at Odhams in the art studio. Following its closure I donated a lot of interesting vintage literature and photographs to the Watford Museum. Some photographs taken long before Odhams was constructed and some documents outlined exactly how this was built, down to how many bricks were used.

    You might find another Watford historical site interesting too, called Watford’s Vanishing Trick, started by Jeremy Prior with many interesting contributions you might recognise and in a continuous format. Indeed Happy days Trevor, sadly long gone.
    Christine.

    By Christine Partridge (nee Sharman) (16/02/2021)
  • Hi Christine,

    A couple more memories from the ‘good old happy days’ of Watford.

    I mentioned the Young family next door to me and they had a boy called Billy. One day, we were playing in the long grass of Fuller Gardens (we called it ‘the green’) and Billy got a bad cut from broken glass hidden in the long grass. We regularly played down there, did you ever play in Fuller Gardens – it’s about halfway down the lower part of Fuller Road?

    Also, the Watford Benskins Brewery in the Lower High Street. Opposite was a pub called The Three Tuns, another sad loss to Watford. A group of us used to play darts in there every Friday night and a Benskins employee, having had his free allowed eight pints, while on his eight hour shift, would come over, after work, and continue drinking many pints! I think you must remember the Benskins Brewery – the offices are now Watford Museum.

    I’ve tried looking everywhere for the white dress photo of you but no luck. Luckily it is still very clear in my mind so it has to remain just one special memory for me.

    By Trev Makepeace (13/02/2021)
  • Hi Christine,

    Hi Christine,

    Because I worked in London, I could only see the smouldering remains of the BMH fire as the train approached Watford Junction.

    As I said, Keith Halward was nothing but a worthless trouble maker and your parents were so right in banning you from seeing him! I don’t remember someone called Peter Halward living near Clive King. I only remember, between me and Clive was the Young family.

    That little White Dress (do you still have it?). I did take the photo I mentioned, which must have been taken when we were 16 and 17 years old, because you were wearing stiletto shoes, and we’d gone to St.Albans where I took the photo by the lakes. I MUST try and find the print because you do look so lovely in the white dress! I don’t think it was me who took the photo of you leaning over the bridge on the River Colne, so I’ve no idea who took it. Yes, I took up my own photo processing in the bedroom and went on to do wedding photography and portraiture. I always remember doing the final cake cutting and toasting, by the bride & groom, then rushing to my darkroom, make proof prints, then rushing back to the reception with them to get orders from the guests!

    I was then on the committee of the North Watford Conservative club (based in St.Albans Road and the corner of Regent Street), which was where they announced your father’s application withdrawal. It’s obvious that, because you and I had previously had such a close relationship, your father must have worried that we would try and get back together again. It was after you and I met at the top of Woodmere Avenue when you must have mentioned to him that I was a member?!

    I remember sometimes waiting for you outside the, then, St.Albans road offices of the Watford Observer, and we would walk home together. Am I right you worked there with someone who knew a director at Odhams London and then my getting a job there?

    I so much agree with your sentiments about Watford’s yesteryear, sadly it’s so true what you say. The town has been so much ruined I now call it “Grotford”!

    I remember us going to Sunday school at Christchurch and roasting chestnuts in nan’s front room. Peggy Lee was O.K. but my real heart throb was Patsy Cline.

    Why didn’t your parents allow you to go on holiday with us? can you tell me? – they must have had deep suspicions about our close relationship!

    Happy memories indeed.

    By Trev Makepeace (12/02/2021)
  • To Christine (nee Sharman)
    “Hi Christine, It seems that JULIA HOLBROW is the only named person that I might also have known. Do you think I would have known her? Is she the girl you sent down to me, with a note, during ‘Saturday Morning Pictures at the North Watford Odeon? “

    By Trev Makepeace (11/02/2021)
  • Hi Christine,

    It seems that JULIA HOLBROW is the only named person that I might also have known. Do you think I would have known her?

    By Trev Makepeace. (28/01/2021)
  • Hi Christine, I’m interested in your two friends, Julia Holbrow (lived opposite you) and Ann Henderson (who lived in Longsprings). As they were both local to us, would it be possible that I knew them?

    By Trev Makepeace (26/01/2021)
  • Hi Christine, It does seem this website is having problems because a couple of other items are missing.
    I remember Haynes cycle shop in Longspring where I was bought my childhood train set then, later, when I started work, a bicycle for getting to Watford Display.
    Also, I mentioned about the British Moulded Hose having a major fire in the hot summer (1965 I think?).
    I’d still like to know who the various girls are that you mention in your original article. Would I have known them or were they just your school friends?
    Please reply (when they let you!)

    By Trev Makepeace (25/01/2021)
  • Hi Trevor,
    One thing I forgot. You mentioned the names of the girls you posted as my possible friends. Just to confirm from all those listed the only two people I know responding to my article are Katie, a distant paternal relative and Julie Holbrow, who lived opposite us, a few doors down from the Halwards. All the others are unknown to me. I think they were responding to other contributors or making their own comments. This is why this site is so muddled up now, there’s no co-ordination.
    Christine.

    By Christine Partridge (25/01/2021)
  • Hello,
    Apologies for any confusion – to ensure visitors to the website do not see spam or abuse all comments have to be authorised. Sometimes this can take a few days as we are a small team, but we are putting a lot of work into our online content and love seeing comments, so please bear with us.
    Thank you, Admin

    By Sarah Priestley (26/01/2021)
  • Hi Trevor,
    Yes, I remember the British Moulded Hose fire. I recall standing at the junction of Middle Way and Fuller Road during my lunch break where I could see the the inferno clearly. I recall Mr. & Mrs Halward had the luxury of a television and I was invited to watch the Boat Race in their front room. I think there were four children. Len Halward went on to live in Harebreaks. A sister, whose name escapes me, then Peter who went on to live in Fuller Road, I think near Clive King’s house. Then there was Keith who got me into so much trouble when I was playing in his garden with Tony Jefferies. They sent me home to get a box of matches, no doubt to cause mischief. As I so wanted to belong to a group of friends I complied. However, after stuffing this box of matches up my cardigan sleeve, as I left home to return my parents suspected what I’ done and I was given a short, sharp slap and banned from playing with Keith.

    Regarding my previous post sent on 21st January which seemed to disappear. I will try to remember the content. I just hope Watford Museum don’t find it and it’s duplicated. In it I said:-

    “Ah!! Yes, the little white dress which I loved and felt so nice in. A dress that still comes back to haunt me to this day following an accident when I was getting read for work at Watford Police Station in Shady Lane. Dad was re-decorating the hall, staircase and landing, so the stairs were wet. I was dressed in my crisp, freshly laundered white dress, a with a crisp, sugar-soaked layered net slip which made the dress stand out, as us young girls used to do, and white stiletto shoes. As I started walking down I slipped on the wet stairs, falling from top to bottom and landing heavily on my left ankle. Rather than seek medical attention, I got up, brushed myself off, being mindful I mustn’t be late for work, got on my bike and rode off. To this day that fall comes back to haunt me as I’ve had problems with that ankle ever since. I think I did more damage than I realised in that fall. The white dress didn’t fair too well either….

    I don’t remember you taking any photo’s. The only one I have appears under-exposed. I presume the flash didn’t work so only a dark outline of me is visible, as I was leaning on the bridge over the river Colne at the bottom of Cassiobury Park as Whippendell Woods is approached. No idea who I was with or who took the photo, maybe it was you Trevor! Did you take up developing films in your bedroom?

    I was intrigued when you said my father had withdrawn his application to join your club and you think WE know why! You have an advantage over me with that. I didn’t know he’s applied, let alone withdrawn his application and no knowledge as to why. Tell me more…. I remember your parents were keen members. Wasn’t it based in Woodford Road?

    I’m quite sentimental about Watford’s yesteryear. I’ve accumulated a collection of old postcards dating back to the 1800/1900’s relating to bygone times of the town with all its character and charm. Watfords shops and places of interest as we knew it have sadly long gone, replaced by so many ugly monstrosities and Lower High Street looks more like an industrial estate with all the large warehouses which would be more at home on an airfield as hangars. So-called progress has a lot to answer for.

    Do you remember us going to Sunday school at Christchurch? I think you were in the bible class. I also remember you roasting chestnuts on the fire in your nans front room? You were also a fan of Peggy Lee, the jazz singer. I remember your parents invited me to go away on holiday with you all, but my parents wouldn’t allow it”. Happy Memories.
    Christine.

    By Christine Partridge (nee Sharman) (25/01/2021)
  • Hi Trevor,
    Just to let you know I did respond to your latest comment on 21st January, sending some more memories of our childhood and querying one or two things. However, whilst they said my comment had been accepted, I haven’t received an email confirming this, so it may not appear.

    This is not the first time I’ve made contributions over the years which have been accepted, but never appear. The lady at Watford Museum did say they’d had problems with the site which they were trying to resolve. Christine.

    By Christine Partridge (22/01/2021)
  • To Christine (nee Sharman). I wish I could identify the various girls in you original message. Do you think I knew any of them? Do you have any photos I could look at and scan for old times sake?

    By Trev Makepeace (22/01/2021)
  • I practised dentistry in Watford from 1965-2001, initially in the High Street and then in Cassio Road. I wonder how many of you remember the Australian dentist, Brian Thornton Dobson, who practised in the High Street initially in Lovibond Chambers and then further down near Water Lane? It would have been in the early 60s, the first site being taken over by the expansion of M & S. There may even be someone alive who can remember his predecessors, Fane and Snook. This would go back to before the second world war. The original practice dated back to before 1912. It’s still going strong in Cassio Road.

    By Brian Conway (21/01/2021)
  • Christine, a few things I forgot to mention yes, I remember us waving to each other from our diagonally facing bedroom windows.
    I didn’t realise you were employed by Odhams Watford (I was based in Odhams London and it became IPC magazines).
    Do you remember the ugly red brick factory British Moulded Hose which had its top two storeys gutted by fire in that hot summer – 1965?
    You mentioned my lovely old ‘nan’ and I loved her even more than my own mother!
    You’ve made several mentions of the Halward family. I can only remember Keith Halward with utter dislike, he said that I was “not yobbish enough” as if being yobbish was something to be proud of!? I know he didn’t like me and I think that’s because I achieved much more in life than him. For me a nasty individual!

    By Trev Makepeace (20/01/2021)
  • Hello Christine,
    Thanks for your reply,
    Yes, I remember seeing you in Woodmere Avenue, I was on my way to the North Watford Club where I was, at that time, on the Committee. It was mentioned at the next meeting that a Mr. Sharman had withdrawn his application for membership. I rather think I knew the reason, don’t you? The model ship was actually a Nelson style 3-gun-deck ‘Ship Of The Line’. I appreciate the fact that you still have the painting I did for you. Do you remember the occasion of Saturday morning ‘flicks’ when you sent a young schoolgirl down, from the back to nearer the front, where I was sitting, with a message on a piece of a cigarette packet? Was she one of the various names you mention in your original post:- Faith, Sarah Duce, Katie, Susan Long (nee Lambrick), Margaret Snowdon, Julia Holbrow? I don’t remember any of your friends – Anne Henderson, her sister Maud or Christine Pullen. I don’t remember Alan Aldred or Diane Cooper. Keith Halward and I were childhood enemies/friends! I DO remember playing with you all in Clive King’s garden. I remember Janice Williams who’s garden backed on to mine. I well remember you wearing a blue blouse and matching skirt. IMPORTANT, I used to have a photo of you, which I took, on a summer afternoon and in it you look lovely reclining on the grass in a flowing white dress, near a lake. Do you still have it because I’d love to scan it to make a copy? The crossroads where all the crashes happened were Fuller Road and Middle Way – I was nearly injured when one of the cars ended up on top of our garden gate where I’d been swinging on! I didn’t previously mention that I used to go into Haynes cycle shop, in the shopping parade between The Leggatts Rise Estate Office and the North Watford Odeon. I was bought my childhood clockwork train set there and later, when I started work at Watford Display Co. my first bike.
    You have far more memories about those times than me – but you ARE a year younger that me!
    Keep well and avoid the bug!!

    By Trev Makepeace (19/01/2021)
  • Hello Trevor,
    I’ve just seen your comment and so pleased to hear from you. I hope you’re well. So many years have passed since those happy days of yesteryear and whilst hard times, I wouldn’t change them for anything. Do you recall some years ago, probably more than I care to remember, I was driving down Woodmere Avenue towards Bushey Mill Lane and I stopped when I recognised you from our school days coming out of your house. I did stop and get out of my car to introduce myself, but you were in a hurry to get somewhere. I remember our childhood with such fondness. You and Tony Jefferies used to walk around the Leggatts Way school playground pretending you were both carrying a large sheet of glass and boys would avoid walking through the gap for fear of breaking it. Such a laugh and harmless fun. I remember your fathers shed where you built the model Cutty Sark galleon in fine detail. A masterpiece. You were always a clever lad and I could see so much potential in you. I would come round and watch you creating this work of art. I still have the oil painting you painted for me of the Cutty Sark which I still have. You were truly gifted. I remember the skeleton you had in your bedroom and to this day I can reel off the bones in the body from head to toe, just as I learnt them from you. I remember we used to look out of our bedroom windows and could see each other across the road. We also played with Clive King a few doors down from you, also Brian Turner opposite you, but a fit further down. I used to play with Ann Henderson from Longsprings, she had a sister Maud, and we would all play in Clive’s garden. Do your remember Keith Halward who lived opposite me, I think he married Christine Pullen, and Janice Williams who lived in the corner of Thrums. Her parents had a huge cherry tree in their garden which we would wait impatiently for the fruits to become ripe before for eating. Yes, I remember your parents well. I recall you said your mum looked like Mariliyn Monroe with her blonde hair. Your nan was a lovely lady who lived in your front room and preferred to take her meals in her room. Your parents always made me welcome and had a party to which I was invited, and I remember wearing a turquoise blue blouse and matching skirt. You always took pride in your appearance and your DA hair style was your pride and joy. I do remember writing to Odhams as I could see the potential in you and I remember your mum brought me a lovely bunch of flowers as a thank you. In fact I too worked at Odhams Watford for over 14 years until its closure in 1983. Only a few years ago I took a walk around all the streets on the Harebreaks estate reminiscing over the past, but so many streets and houses unrecogniseable. It was heartbreaking to walk along Middle Way and Fuller Road with many of the lovely manicured front gardens long gone and St. Albans Road a shadow of its former self.
    Yes, Trevor I still remember our times together as children so long ago. Do you remember the Salvation Army used to meet up at the junction of Middle Way and Fuller Road on Sundays for their service and they would make collections from the houses. The Butcher family opposite me were members of the Salvation Army. Also, all the accidents at that dangerous junction where no-one gave way. Happy Days.
    I did see a comment from an Alan Aldred who was asking if anyone remembered him and his wife, the former Diane Cooper from The Harebreaks. I used to play with Diane and responded so many times, but although it said my comments had been accepted, they never appeared which is sad.
    I wish you all the best and stay safe in these troubled times. Christine.

    By Christine Partridge (nee Sharman0 (18/01/2021)
  • Hi Christine,

    Have you seen my original post sent on 27/12/2020?

    Trev.

    By Trev Makepeace. (09/01/2021)
  • To Christine Partridge (nee Sharman). There’s one other family name you don’t mention (perhaps because we didn’t live in Middle Way – we were in Fuller Road. It’s the family name of Makepeace and I’m Trevor (Trev) the only son of Mr & Mrs Makepeace. It’s pure chance that I came across your article when I was researching the history of Leggatts Way Secondary Modern School (we were both pupils there). I think Leggatts was a lovely example of 1930’s school architecture and I’m so sorry it was demolished. My father, Cyril, also attended Leggatts as one of the first ‘batch’ of pupils, when it opened around 1935/6, and he was in the school’s first 11 football team! (Also, like you, I attended Parkgate Junior school). I knew of all the family names you mention, particularly that of Jeffreries, because Tony Jefferies was my long time mate until he went to live in Canada. I was also born in King Street and so many more of the places you recall are the same for me. Like you, I went to the Saturday morning pictures at the North Watford Odeon, a classic style building which I was so sorry to see disappear – why DID it have to go? We used to get our chocolate covered mice at Underhills to take to the ‘flicks’ and, from Dodds Hardware, we kids used to get our fireworks – we knew Norman Dodd very well. Some other shops we used, Woodleys grocers and S.W.Cornes the chemist, both in St.Albans Road, and on the corner of Parkgate Road, Gibsons butcher is one I still use today. At weekday lunchtimes a lot of us Leggatts pupils would go into the ‘rec’, next door, to play ‘hide’n’seek until the very Loud Yeatmans/Goodies Sweets hooter would blow (I think it was around 1:25pm), when we would ‘scuttle’ back into school before the whistle blew for afternoon lessons. I’m sure you remember the beautiful old Cassiobury Park gates, where the Watford Carnival passed under (having started in The Harebreaks) and on its way into the park. I’ve still got a photo of those park gates which I took before they were demolished (like the rest of good old Watford). Apparently, the ‘reason’!? (excuse) for their demolition was for the widening of Rickmansworth Road! I very well remember your parents – it was your Mum who explained to me the story of the fig tree growing out of an old tomb in the church yard. (Apparently, it was a person buried there, who stated that ‘if there is a God a fig tree will grow out of my heart after I’m buried’). (I remember your Dad smoking St.Julien pipe tobacco in his pipe).
    On leaving school I spent around 2 years working in Watford Display Co. who were silk screen printers. But, I think, of more interest to you is that, until I retired, I spent the remainder of my working life at Odhams Press – latterly I.P.C. Media, Magazines – and it was through you that I got employed there!

    I’m sorry this message is all ‘jumbled up’ I tried to reply to you in the best way as I thought of everything you mentioned! Even so, I’ve probably overlooked some memories.

    I reckon that so many of your memories are the same as mine.

    They really were good days to remember and it’s been so nice to share them with you.

    Trev.

    By Trev Makepeace (27/12/2020)
  • My belated response is to Nick Parker (24.2.17 comment). It’s sad this revamped site is so difficult to navigate with comments disjointed. There’s continuity anymore. However, I recall vividly the Foxens pram shop. If my memory serves me well, the daughter, or a relative of the owner, called Pam originally lived at Herkomer Hall in Bushey with her family, and married my late cousin David Anthony. They had two children and Pam now lives in Cornwall and I think runs a B&B.

    By Christine Partridge (nee Sharman) (11/05/2017)
  • Haynes cycle shop and pram shop were owned by my Grandfather, Laurence Foxen. My eldest brother was born in the flat above the pram shop.

    By Nick Parker (24/02/2017)
  • Today the name kinghams popped into my head. I looked it up and it was subsumed into Waitrose. I too was born in king street maternity hospital in 1948. I recall my grandmother taking me to kinghams on the 311 bus from bushey. I spent the first 5 years living with my grandparents at 316 park avenue bushey. The bungalow is still there. We moved to a council house in scottswood road number 56. I went to highwood school then to Watford technical high school before we moved to Leighton buzzard in 1963. I remember my mum worked in the finance department in cawdells. She was on the receiving end of the money canisters posted through the tube system from the tills. I recall eating cockles in Watford market and ice cream from rossi’s in the high street. A lifetime ago now.

    By John rickman (19/10/2016)
  • Hello does anyone remember the Haney family?

    By Faith (25/07/2016)
  • My great grandmother Clara Duce moved from rural Cambridgeshire to Watford in the 1860’s. She bought a shop with yard and accomodation at 197 High street, opposite the Benskins brewery. She is credited with being one of the first people to sell fish and chips. They went on to have several other shops in the town, including one in Vicarage road, where my grandfather was born. They also had shops in High Wycombe, Reading and Windsor. 197 High street was a very old building with tunnels under the yard, and a grapevine reputed to be a cutting of one from Hampton Court.

    By Sarah Duce (22/11/2015)
  • 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)
  • 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)
  • 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)
  • 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)
  • 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)
  • 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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