The Cassiobury Kid

My husband nicknamed me the "Cassiobury Kid".

By Sue Stacey

Mocha Bar, circa 1960s/70s
Watford Museum

My husband nicknamed me the “Cassiobury Kid”.  I went to Cassiobury School, newly opened around 1950, lived on the Cassiobury Estate and my parents having moved from Watford after my father retired, named their house in Sussex ‘Cassiobury’.

Reading through all these memories has been a real nostalgia trip. As a child and teenager, Watford was such a brilliant and rather lovely looking town to live in. Now like many other towns, it has lost some of the landmarks that made it special. Who on earth decided that the Park Gates should be demolished?

Now on to my mish mash of memories.

  • The Wednesday Beat Club, does anyone remember Ray and the Riversiders?
  • Going down ‘The Trade’ on Saturday and Sunday. The Top Rank never held the same appeal to me, and we lost our Odeon for it.
  • Like others have mentioned, the tiny shop that sold ‘Rossi’s’ Ice Cream and tasting the best ice cream ever.
  • ‘The Cabin’ by Watford Baths to buy sweets, after going to Watford Swimming Club, having a mug of Oxo and a penny biscuit.
  • The old market behind Cawdells.
  • Going to Watford Girls Grammar, and remembering some of the girls spending time during ‘recess’ at the bottom of the playing field, eyeing up the ‘talent’ working in Benskins Brewery.

In about 1960, does anyone remember when some bullocks escaped from the slaughterhouse? (as it was called then) One ran into Freeman Hardy Willis on the High Street, one into St. Mary’s graveyard and one on to WGGS tennis courts where all the girls were leaning out of windows dreading that it would be shot in front of our eyes.

  • The great haunt that was The Mocha Bar and my introduction to frothy coffee.
  • On Sundays I worked in the “The Sedan Coffee Bar” near High Street Station, where my friends would try and congregate and want one bottle of Coke with about nine straws.
  • The annual Whitsun Fair in Cassiobury Park, is it just nostalgia that makes me think it was so brilliant?
  • Watford Palace Theatre when Gilda and Jimmy Perry ran the weekly repertory company.
  • Brilliant shows held at The Gaumont with many current pop stars.
  • Garner’s chocolate cornflake cakes.
  • Being told off by my headmaster at Cassiobury School for playing around by the lock gates in Cassiobury Park, when all the working barges passed through!
  • The masses of bluebells in Whippendell Woods
  • The large ‘Pudding Basin’ golf hole where we used to go tobogganing.
  • The old ruin of a watermill by the River Gade.
  • The watercress beds, seen on my journey from Watford Met Station (having walked across Cassiobury Park to the station) via Metroland to London

I think my list of happy Watford memories could go on and on, like I went on and on at my parents when they decided to move away…

This page was added on 19/08/2012.

Comments about this page

  • Just come across this page whilst browsing and reminiscing with friends. Such a joy to read of all these oh so familiar things and places…….poignant in so many ways but…such lovely memories.
    I was at the Grammar when the bulls escaped and still remember the excitement….
    Thank you all for sharing…..

    By Eve Bennell (nee Seymour) (19/07/2022)
  • hi there lovley to read your memories here. I’m researching aabout the watercress beds at the moment do you have any more memopries of them?

    By Tab (23/12/2015)
  • I think the carnival procession and the fair in Cassiobury Park were so important to us because there were few other distractions in those times. Life was fairly colourless – literally – and the gaily painted floats were incredibly attractive to us children. Also, the population was fairly stable and so the carnival brought people out and many of them would know each other. It was a gathering. I agree about the Top Rank; it was far too sterile. I went to my first pop concert in the Gaumont. It starred Billy Fury and featured Eden Kane, Joe Brown, John Leyton, Shane Fenton etc. The first of anything is always the best! I wonder if anyone remebers the ruined house next to the Gaumont. Very spooky to us children who used to play in it. The pubs in Watford were marvellous. We used to meet in the Green Man on summer Saturdays at lunchtime. There was also the Dog, the Horns (very different then) and the Woodman etc. I’m afraid that successive Councils have ruined Watford over the years. Apart from the Palace Theatre (which I have rediscovered) there is nothing left.

    By Kevin Mcmahon (14/05/2013)
  • Just came across this web page by accident as I was searching the web for pictures and information on the Watford Whitsun Carnival in the early 1960s. I had friends who participated in the parade, especially on the St Johns Ambulance float. If anyone has any information and especially photographs of the St Johns Ambulance float, I would very much appreciate details of this for use in my research. kim. lawrence 5 May 2013

    By kim lawrence (06/05/2013)
  • Lovely to see a website with memories of Watford – I only found it by accident as I was looking for photos of the rubber factory fire. Michael Seaman – I’m always going on about the Watford carnival and those tissue paper wands! I have sometimes wondered if I’m the only person who remembers them. I’m a little younger than Sue so I missed out on a few of memories, but it’s great to see the park gates debacle crop up again!

    By Heather Gambier (16/04/2013)
  • Interesting read your posting Sue and would add that I too wonder if nostalgia clouds the memory a little as I have never seen anything to rival or better the Watford procession through the streets followed by the fair in Cassiobury. The Scammell 3 wheelers polished up together with other trade vehicles in pristine condition parading was THE highlight at Whitsun. Remember the coloured tissue wands we were given or bought to wave, mine always came apart or was that my fault waving it too much? Anyone remember Dr. Leach based in the Cassio Road surgery? A wise man. Shame you only worked Sundays at The Sedan as I used it every weekday night for my dinner because I courted a girl at the time who could only see me after her family meal. I agree about the Top Rank, the Trade Union was a far better atmosphere especially when the Who were on to the delight of us Mods who idolised the up and coming group. Great Saturday nights even if we couldn’t hear properly for a couple of days, the decibels were so high. The watercress beds I always thought was a ‘secret location’ that only I and the staff knew about in my immature mind, loved the peace and quiet here. Good place for blackberrying too. Another location that I found curious as it really seemed so remote at the time was the Watford Met Stn so far out of the town, I’ve read up and know why now. I loved my childhood in Watford and remember most of it as if it was only months ago, not 50 years and proves how important a happy upbringing is to look back with such fondness.

    By Michael Seaman (15/12/2012)

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