However, the field, much larger then because fewer homes had been built, was used between 1940 and 1943 by the Home Guard for training – they even had a meeting hut nearby. One or two trenches were dug for exercises and only filled in later when house foundations were laid out in 1947.
The ground was far from level; grasses and nettles grew tall, and hiding was all part of the fun in playing adventure games. Two badly mauled trees, previously next to the farm house which straddled Woodland Drive at that point, became their own centre of attention for climbing and swinging . Between these trees traced the usual rough and worn path which enabled anyone to take a short cut towards, well anywhere really.
|An informal game of football on the field not yet built on in Central Drive.|
Out went the idea of a church; Benskin's acquired the site for a future public house, and erected a large sign to inform the world the land belonged to them. Children saw an opportunity and used it for target practice – stones, mud, footballs. Nearby, almost no-one noticed a square of heavy concrete which told of a former well, used by the farm.
In 1953 when just about everyone celebrated the Queen's Coronation, Woodland Drive held a street party on a part of the field where Oakwood School now stands, and in the evening the adventure field was the location for a giant bonfire and a fireworks display – this time it was the turn of the grownups to have some fun.
|Team lineup with the the Central Drive shops behind.|
Soon after 1960 St Albans Council's policy of making shopping more convenient for those living in residential areas, came to Central Drive and part of the field was developed for a parade of convenience shops with maisonettes above. In time this brought a post box, and public telephone kiosk tucked around the corner of the righthand-most shop. Not forgetting children's play, the council levelled the remaining field, and for the first time children could organise their own football games. The worn path was still there, although foreshortened where the shops had been built. Probably with safety in mind the Council erected one of those chestnut paling fences around the edge. The success of the fence is doubtful, as footballs regularly soared over the top into the
roadspace, necessitating an inevitable indirect walk to the gateway to recover the escaped ball, which may have ended up in a garden, or under the only car then parked by the roadside opposite.
|Irene Stebbings House replaces the open play space.|
All good things come to an end sometime, and that end came with the 1970s building of the flats of Irene Stebbings House. Today, the two trees have gone, so has the fencing intended to keep the footballs in. There are no more opportunities for youngsters to engage in adventure games or get thrown into the stinging nettles or ride their bikes over the uneven ground of little hills and hollows.
It was great while it lasted.