I was born in King Street maternity hospital in 1950 and have fond memories of Watford n the 50s and 60s. 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.
A mod in the sixties
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.