Rehoused in Hemel Hempstead

Memories of Hemel Hempstead from 1951

By Phyllis Malcolmson

Lower High Street Hemel Hempstead, c.1949
Hertfordshire Library Service Postacrd Series No. 2/2
Where the Pavillion once stood
Lionel Howard
The Square, New Town of Adeyfield
Hertfordshire Archives and Local Studies

I lived in Harrow Weald during the war with my mother and sister; my husband was demobbed from the army in 1945 and joined us. We had one room downstairs to sit and eat in, and one bedroom upstairs. Our names went on the council list, with very small hope of getting rehoused.  

Not enough room to swing a cat

My son was born in 1946 and my daughter in 1951 that made four of us sleeping in one bedroom, not enough room to swing a cat round as the saying goes.  

At the beginning of 1952 the council suggested my husband gave up his job, he had quite a good position at Kodak then, and take a job at Addressograph in Collindale. We could then be rehoused in Hemel Hempstead. We really had very little choice. Within a short while we were given keys to a three-bedroom house in Adeyfield with a garage, a very long front garden and a larger one at the rear. It was heaven to us, at last room to move around. The house had an open fire with a back boiler, plenty of hot water but no central heating.  

The coal was stored in a large shed, which we bought a ton at a time from the Co-op coal merchant. There was a toilet in the back garden, which was very convenient when the children were in the garden.  

My husband had to travel by coach each day, supplied by the firm until the factory was ready in Maylands Avenue.  

No shortage of shops

The Square had all the shops we needed. Hawkins – baker, Greens – grocer, Thomson – tobacconist and newsagent,  Pearman – butcher, Lea – draper, Young – fishmonger, Goodrich – hardware, Andrews – greengrocer, Lipman – shoe repairs, Taylors – chemist, Oddy- confections and tobacconist, Sketchly – dyer cleaners, Coachworks – cycles, frames and electrical goods.  

The Co-op van came round the houses so we could get our shopping done; the baker came every day and the milkman.

Alexandra Road had more shops: a furniture shop, grocers, boot and shoe repairs, TV and radio, doctors surgery and last the Fire and Ambulance Brigade.    

Next, coming to the old High Street: a bank, a library at number 48 Woolworth’s, Home and Colonel, jewellers, Callor Gas, Rolphs Drapery, Waggons, Car Sales, Dinky Dell, Basket Shop and not forgetting the market held where the car park is.

Then down the Parade again: chemist, newsagent, freezer shop and bank, so there were no shortage of shops.


Walking to the playground

I used to walk down Windmill Road to where Turner Hill is now. There was a farm, with a footpath leading to Hillfield Road - the chickens ran loose everywhere. We went past the hospital which was only an old building, then later it was extended with an outpatients and new wards. The Queen Mother opened this in July 59. From there the walk took us down Marlowes to Moor End, where we bought sweets at the little shop. Then on to the children’s playground with swings and roundabouts. Then came the walk back, not so funny when you had a big pram it push up the Midland Hill.  

The town develops

It was a big day when the Queen laid the foundation stone for the church, after which she drove round the estate, she had a great reception.  

My son went to Maylands school for a while until Broadfield was opened. On Sundays he joined the band. He learnt to play an instrument at the citadel and stayed with them into his teens, my daughter also played the tambourine.

I saw the Marlowes develop into a very good shopping centre with all the facilities and shops we needed with a very good market. Now we have lost the cinema and Pavillion, and there seems to be a lot more going in the near future.

This page was added on 23/07/2010.

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  • My parents owned the shoe repairers in Queens Square and I was born in Hemel Hempstead, my father was in a book made to commemorate the opening of the Square but I don’t know what happened to our copy, my sister grew up and went to school in Hemel too
    Jeff Lipman

    By Jeff Lipman (11/03/2023)
  • I was born in 1945 in Harrow, Station Road in a small flat over a tyre shop. My Father was recruited as a bricklayer to work on the New Town. We were given a new 3 bed house in Lower Yott, Adeyfield and moved in, in 1950, it was heaven. I started school at Maylands aged 5 and moved over to Broadfield when it opened. We had neighbours and a great community spirit, there were the Porleys. Paines, Waye, Mitchells, Clarkes, Morris, Flynnes, Simpsons, Tennys, Harris, Spencers. Aged 11 I started Adeyfield School and did a paper round all down Turners Hill, then back to do Hobblets Road and Widmore Drive, working for the Queens Square Newsagents. My Mum would stay home and after school half the street kids would be at our house until their mums finished work, most had tea with us and you had to be quick if you wanted to eat, On Saturdays I would push a pram down Hillfield Road and across a field to the market in the High Street, the pram would be loaded with spuds and vegetables and was hard work on the way back. Like many others at 15 I started work at John Dickinsons making envelopes, it was piece work and I saved quite a lot, spending some dancing at Adeyfield Hall on a Saturday night, where from the 50’s onto the 60’s Ballroom gave way to Rock and Roll, we had some great bands there and the boys had some great fights all kept in order by George Clarke the local bouncer, I married in 1967 and still live in Leverstock Green.

    By Pam Fleming (nee Watts) (18/03/2021)
  • Does anyone remember the Tranah family 1963 to 1969 we lived in Adeyfield gardens?xx I had a lovely friend called Debbie Clarke she lived in Hobbletts lane xx

    By Dawn (14/10/2020)
  • John Mackey – I was at the convent in Boxmoor from 1953 to 1956 and remember a Mary Mackey.  Your sister by any chance?

    By Patricia Green (05/12/2015)
  • My family moved from Harrow Weald too in 1950 to Longlands. I went to Maylands then a Catholic convent school in Boxmoor then being too old as boy at 7 joined Broadfield with the wonderful Mr Davies Miss May and Mr Joseph. I remember some of the shops especially the fish and chip shop!

    By john mackey (24/02/2014)
  • Hello It was a trip down memory lane with a smile on my face reading your post. My mum and dad moved to Hemel with Rolls Royce in about 1951/2. I would have been about 1. They got their first house in Masons Road and then we moved to Sawyers Way in abt 1960/61. Rolls Royce moved away from Hemel so Dad went to work for Adressograph Multigraph on Maylands Ave. I used to go to their xmas parties where father christmas used to come and give us a present 😉 I went to Maylands Infant and I think for the first year of the junior school until we moved when I then went to Broadfield school. My sister went to Broadfield and I can remember she used to run away back home ha ha I also went to Corner Hall and then changed to Adeyfield Sec Mod! Mum was a home hairdresser and used to go and cut the kids hair at a children’s home in Highfield – I would like to find out more about the home because I am doing my family tree and google searches haven’t turned up anything. Our next door neighbour at Masons Roaf was Flo Chesterman and she was the cook at the home. When I was old enough, 12 I think back then, had a Saturday job in sketchly’s dry cleaners, must have been abt 1964/5 and also worked at the newsagents nearest to the PO because there were two newsagents. I can also remember the travellers Mary and her husband who used to come and collect rag and bones or maybe just old clothes and things that weren’t needed. Mary would sit in Queen’s Square and sell the wax flowers she used to make. They lived in a caravan at Buncefield. I used to go up and ride the old horse. I can remember Mary’s husband, who was no spring chicken, running up and down the field with me on the horse in tow 😀 I would love to find out more about them if anyone knows? Hmmmm, the more I read your article the more I remember. Oh happy days – thanks. Carole

    By Carole Gonzalez (01/02/2013)