Where I Live
By Arthur Hall
I live at Perivale Garden, on the Kingswood Estate. My knowledge of Watford started in 1940, when we moved to Carpenders Avenue on the St Meryl Estate at Carpenders Park, where I lived until 1959 when I went to live in a Flat over a pram and baby shop at 452 St Albans road, which was on the corner of Bushey Mill Lane.My memories of Watford, therefore, started from 1940. The building of St Meryls estate having been halted due to World War II, this meant that very few shops had been built, and there were no schools, hence, it was necessary to go to Watford to obtain our main shopping. There were two ways that you could commute to Watford, one by walking to Watford Heath, and catching the 302 Bus, the bus stop I should mention was next to a water fountain, which I believe was made of Marble, the second was by train from Carpenders Park Station. The train was the most popular, as they were the most frequent. Our destination would be to Watford High Street, it was from this station that we would, in due time, become familiar with the shops, and places of entertainment. Our first stop to shop in the High street, was Brighton the bakers, opposite Norman Reeves showroom and garage, next to the station, followed by an unscheduled shop, whose smell attracted us, which was the lovely smell of coffee being roasted, this shop was aptly called Adams Tea Plantation, for it also sold several types of tea, then there was Gibsons the butchers, another unusual shop for us, as it was divided in two. one was pork , and the other beef, the shop had a kiosk, where a rather large lady collected your money, we later discovered that she was a Miss Gibson, related to the Gibson owners. We only went as far as the market on this occasion, which was situated behind Cawdells, next to Henry Kingham and sons the grocers. Our second visit to Watford, would be to register me to attend Watford Fields school. I will now end at this point, and continue with my memories later.
The first school that I attended was in 1940 at Watford Fields, we travelled there from Carpenders Park, by Premier coaches of Queens Avenue, which was provided by the council. I can only remember the names of 4 teachers, 1 being the Head Master Mr Colemen, a Miss Clark who was my teacher, and music teachers, who were sisters Miss Horn Senior, and Miss Horn Junior, both responsible for providing music for morning assembly, in addition to music lessons.
Later in 1942, I transferred to Victoria school in Addiscombe Road. Entry was via a passage way called, I believe, Victoria Passage. on the corner was a confectioners, and next along the Passage way was a blacksmiths, which manufactured wrought iron ware, gates, and fences etc., and on certain occasions would shoe horses. I should mention that our lessons were frequently interrupted by Air Raid sirens, which sounded like a ships siren. The siren was a steam siren attached to a chimney in Benskins Brewery, and was called ‘Big Bertha’, intermittent blasts meant that you had to take cover in an Air Raid shelter situated in the school grounds, a long lasting blast meant that it was safe to leave the shelters. The teachers that I can remember at Victoria was Mr Wells our Head Master a kind understanding man, Mr John Hard, Mrs Eaton, Mrs Murrell, Miss Bentley, and in 1945 a Mr Cookman, I mention the date as it was the start of the return of Male teachers, Victoria being a split school, Girls School, and Boys school. Our science lessons were given in a separate building, the upper part being a Library, Mr Holmes was our science teacher, nick named ‘Corker Holmes’ as it was rumoured that his artificial leg was made with cork. Our wood work classroom was also in a separate building, the wood work teacher a Mr Chalmers, had a fierce character, but his assistant a Mr Lilley was a more helpful and patient chap. While at Victoria School, we were expected to ‘Dig for victory’, and had school gardens at King Georges Ave, and at the bottom of Cassiobury Park, I am not sure if the man who took us for gardening was a qualified teacher, his name was Mr Winkman. My schooling in Watford ended in 1946, as the leaving age was 14.