Wartime Thundridge and Wadesmill

Some reminiscenses of an evacuee aged four

By Terry Askew

The house in Ermine Street
Terry Askew
The old watermill - since demolished
Hertfordshire Archives and Local Studies
The Old Post Office
Terry Askew
Former shop on Great Cambridge Road
Terry Askew

Notwithstanding the strain it must have put on my parents at the time, for the past 66 years I have carried with me warm, fond and vivid memories of my stay at an old house in Ermine Street, Thundridge, owned by a Mr. & Mrs. Fern.  

 I was evacuated with my Mother late in the War from North London, due to the many V 1’s and V 2’s which had begun falling in our particular area, whilst my Father stayed behind to carry on working in aircraft production.

Apart from the outside, I can remember little of the house, apart from the fact that one had to go into a cupboard to go up the stairs. Around the corner, just before the Post Office, lived a friend in a house with a garage (now gone) in which was his parents’ car, laid up on bricks for the duration. On the roof of the car, I recall, a great quantity of onions were stored for drying.  

I remember many visits to the Post Office which is now, sadly, closed down. Also, across the main road, was another shop – now a private residence. Opposite that shop, back across the main road, I have a vivid memory of milk being delivered to some cottages involving a lady with a pony and trap carrying a huge milk churn. People came to their doors with jugs, which the lady filled from a strange ladle, like a long tin can, which she dipped into the churn.   I mentioned one friend, but I was lucky in having many then, and we spent happy times exploring the water mill – from which we were frequently chased as it was in a dangerous state – and paddling in the millpond. I believe that the Feathers Inn was derelict at that time, as I seem to remember exploring that building also.  

When not with my friends, very often I was picnicking with my mother, sometimes near Thundridge Old Church, and I can still picture a horse-drawn reaper/binder working close by. On occasions we saw men in uniform, which I now imagine were the local Home Guard. Sometimes people would be looking up at the sky at vapour trails, and I would be hearing references to “our boys, up there”.   From time to time we were able to meet up with my Father, and I remember taking a green bus into Ware and visiting the livestock market which was held at Amwell End.  

I consider myself very lucky in having such early, and happy, recollections.      

This page was added on 27/02/2011.

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  • Does anyone have a picture of Topcotts from the 1960s?
    What is the name of the wood that overlooks Anchor Lane and the river Rib?

    By Julia (30/05/2021)
  • I had a great aunt, who had a pony and trap. She may have arrived in the the 1920s or 30s. My mother used to visit her from North London. I was told that she traded in something in the village and lived in a cottage on the top of the hill. It was demolished and sold to an architect after her death. Her surname was Mansfield. The property had a wonderful view according to my late mother. Maybe she was the milk lady?

    By Josie Cherrry (18/05/2021)
  • I enjoyed reading Terry’s account of life in Thundridge as an evacuee. The photos of the watermill and post office were especially evocative as I also played in one and lived in the other as recorded for Herts Memories. Alas I don’t recall Terry himself but maybe he was a few years older than I was. He doesn’t mention the school.

    By Joan Woolard (nee Skeeles) (11/09/2011)