Sunday, 27 January 2013

The Bunch of Cherries

This week I have received a picture typical of the 1950s.  Taken in the coal yard at the old Fleetville sidings – now Coach Mews – it shows two Kendall's coal lorries, having picked up a new load for delivery.  Kendall's took over the coal business from Stanton's, whose family had a wood and coal business in Castle Road.  Many thanks to Steve Kendall for letting us recall those days, when children were often asked to "count the bags in" and to "go into the road and pick up any dropped lumps."  A photo of Kendall's shop in Bycullah Terrace appeared recently on the front page of the website and is now on the photo library page.

Thanks also to Janet Lang who is now able to let us see once again, not only the pub sign for the Bunch of Cherries public house at Oaklands, but also a drawing of the first building.  This was occupied in 1949 when the licence was first granted, but at a time when no licences were available to erect permanent structures.  Use was made of former builders' huts, believed to be already on site from  unfinished pre-war house-building activities.  The huts remained in service until the 1960s when the present house was put up by owners, Whitbread.

It is rare to find a group photograph with all of the names of those appearing listed on the reverse.  Fortunately Janet had undertaken that task as soon as she received a copy of the picture in 1961.  If you were in Oakwood School's top class of 1961/2, and were taught by Mr David Sidnell, then visit the School Groups 2 page of the website.  You will only be disappointed if you were absent on that day!

It seemed about time to give some coverage to a former hamlet known as Camp Hill.  First identified on a map in 1766 with a single house, it became home to an increasing number of families, initially associated with farming and domestic occupations; and then, from the start of the twentieth century, to industries setting up nearby, including the rubber works, electricity works and printing works.   Work places also came to the hamlet, although all no longer exist.  Today there are a number of modern office and apartment buildings near the top of the hill, but it all seemed to begin with a single home, known as Camp House.  There is now a new page on the website called Camp Hill; see the menu list on the righthand side of the Welcome page.

Sunday, 20 January 2013

Thomas Smith

Last week I finally went in search of the will of Thomas E Smith, whose printing factory launched Fleetville.  Finding the date of his death was not easy, for a start.  Enter Smith, Thomas,  London into any search engine and you are confronted with dozens of possibilities.  After much searching and cross referencing, I discovered that Mr Smith lived in a very grand house in Enfield; a house called Bycullah House, in Bycullah Road.  So there is our link to Bycullah Terrace in Fleetville!  According to the obituary in the local newspaper in Enfield he was a driven man, taking little rest and having a mountain of different interests.  One of them being the Liberal cause.  He had just returned by train from St Albans where he had been addressing a Liberal meeting, when he collapsed and died while running along the platform to catch the last train home at Kings Cross Station (today Enfield trains leave from Liverpool Street).  This occurred in February 1904.  I still have not discovered a photograph of the founder of Smith's Printing Works, and his Enfield house is no longer there.  It and the grounds in which it was set have long since been transformed into a housing estate.

Ian, who kindly provided that lovely photo of Branson's shop, on the corner of Harlesden Road and Burnham Road (now on the Photo Library page of the website) has sent two more locally relevant pictures.  Although no other information accompanied the pictures, shown here, it is likely that the Osborne advertisement was printed on the back of the admission ticket to the sports meeting, held in 1922.  Until the opening of Verulamium Park a considerable number of open air entertainments took place at Clarence Park.  Even through the 1950s the Co-operative Society held its annual family Co-operators' Days there.  The modern connection between bananas and sporting activity is clearly not so new.  Osborne, a fruiterer was in Hatfield Road, near the Methodist Church.  It later became Jagel's, fruiterers.  Now it is Connecting People, a recruitment agency.  The street number is now different, following a renumbering in 1932.

I have also received a tantalising glimpse inside the Kendall's shop in Bycullah Terrace, as it was when this final house in the parade was converted to a shop in the 1950s.  Thanks to Steve for sending it.  I am hoping he will be able to produce a higher resolution picture so that it can be further enlarged and enjoyed.

Finally, I have found one – just one – example of those cinema poster boards that could once be found.  Usually a red Odeon panel sat next to a blue Gaumont one; both cinemas being owned by the same parent company.  This 1959 example comes from Exeter.  Does anyone possess a photograph in which one or two of these boards appear?  Let's hope so, and of course, the film being advertised will help to date the photograph.

Sunday, 6 January 2013

Another good week

There is possibly something about the immediate post-Christmas period which encourages us to catch up with contacting friends, tidying up and sorting out, or trying in vain to make a dent in the general "to do" list.  As a result I have been able to record some wonderful progress.

First of all Ian posted me a copy of a photograph I didn't expect existed.  Almost all of the shops which have been historically photographed were in prominent locations, and that includes the 1964 survey of shops in St Albans, the collection of which is in the care of the Museum of St Albans.  But there were a small number of shops off the beaten track, and one of them was on the corner of Harlesden Road and Burnham Road.  I can hear people now saying to themselves, "Oh yes, Branson's."  Branson's had been built as a shop in 1903; the usual corner shop which could be described as a grocery with sweets.  I am sure someone will email in to tell me when it served its final customer, for that is a date I do not have.  But I do know that Mr and Mrs Field in the 1960 period had an alsatian dog.  I delivered the London Evening News to the shop on behalf of my employer, P H Stone, and the delivery was made, double folded, to the dog's mouth, and it would quietly walk through to the room at the back of the shop.  Anyway, enjoy the picture, which I imagine to have been taken in the 1950s, but if not, I am sure someone will correct me.

I have now received my second recollection about wartime street shelters and am therefore increasingly certain that the council constructed more of them in the actual road space than I had previously realised.  I knew about one at the end of Upper Heath Road, and I received a letter in which a shelter was said to have been built in front of their house in Oakwood Drive, near to the Elm Drive junction.  Now I have received a message from Stewart, who lives in Malaysia, recalling an unknown number in Royal Road, again, built on the road surface.  This would make sense as there had been a row between the parents and the county authority about the safety of children during raids.  The existing shelter under the nursery would only have been sufficient for a small number of the school's children.  The authority would therefore have needed more than one additional shelter.  Neither person recalled exactly how many shelters there were but the suggestion is between 4 and 6.  The photograph (above right) was not taken in St Albans, but gives an idea of what the street scene might have looked like with street shelters constructed there.

Finally, Stewart (see above) emailed me about a warden's post in the grounds of Beaumont School, at the end of its drive.  I wasn't quite sure what kind of structure it would have been, but was told there was space inside for two bunk beds.  There was one photo in my collection, taken by former teacher, Alf Childs, at Beaumont Boys' School in 1959 which might have shown something.  And there it was, that brick building in the background, immediately behind that gaggle of parents and pupils – we were just about to leave on a school journey, and that is me on the extreme left.  So that is what a wardens' post looked like!  From Google Earth it looks as if it has been demolished, which is not surprising given the number of new buildings the school has added to what we knew as the back field.

That was a good week.