The Old Library

Little Oxhey Lane

Carol Males

Iris Bew and Olive Roberts - Original Library
Carol Males
62 Little Oxhey Lane
Carol Males
First Fun Fair on the Estate
Carol Males

I was brought up on the South Oxhey Estate.  We lived next door to the Library at 62 Little Oxhey Lane.  My mother’s name was Iris Bew and she was the senior assistant at the library for twenty five years, along side Olive Roberts.  Iris was known as the ‘Library Lady’.  The library opened in June 1951 and had originally been a farmhouse and remained there until a new one was opened in Bridlington Road in May 1962.  The old library was a two-up and two-down building with a little outhouse for personal use and a little hot plate on which to heat a kettle.  The upright paraffin heaters were the only form of heating.

The Junior library was upstairs and there was only lino – the old fashioned brown thick type – on the floor.  The building was whitewashed at the front and there was natural brick at the sides and rear.   The roof was made of slate.

The back yard was not used by the library but was rented to a Mr Waller who lived in Lytham Avenue.  He kept chickens in the cobbled yard  in old-fashioned chicken runs.

There were a couple of bulls when I was very young.  They used to be attached by rings to the back wall of the library.  I think the farmer was a Mr Twizzle.   A cattle bridge led  to the field.  It was not unusual to open the back door and see a cow looking in!  Cows used to wander in and tread down the chicken wire.

The community swimming pool now stands on the site.

My parents were among the first on the estate in 1948 so we saw the whole estate being built.

A cottage stood opposite the old farmhouse but it was pulled down and a block of warden controlled flats for old people were later built on the site.  I remember a well in the cottage garden.  It was boarded over and as children we used to jump on it, unaware of the danger.  The land was unused for a long time until Woodhall School was built there in 1954.

1.   Photographs show my mother Iris Bew in the  original Library with Olive Roberts

2.   My mother and us children in the front garden of 62 Little Oxhey Lane.  You can just see the Hampden School building to the left.

3.   Myself with brother Christopher at the first ‘Fun Fair’ to be held on the estate.


This page was added on 01/07/2012.

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  • Good to hear from you Linda. Sorry it has taken me so long to respond ; it has been months since I looked at the website. I remember you and your Mum very well. Funny we have not seen each other since we  were 11 years old. We probably wouldn’t recognise each other! All very best to you anyway- Jimmy.

    By J. Gardiner (07/02/2016)
  • Hello Jimmy, I remember you at Woodhall School, my mum was the head cook there. She was also a cleaner at Hampden, with your dad in charge. We lived in Ganton Walk just off Woodhall Lane. You are so right about the estate is so run down now, it so sad. Regards Linda Warne, nee Hawkins.


    By Linda Warne nee HawkinsL (01/03/2015)
  • Hi Carol. It’s Jimmy Gardiner ; we were neighbours a hundred years ago when I lived at the School Lodge. I remember you and Chris and of course your mother very well. I practically lived in the library , especially after BARBARA OSBORNE came to work there around 1960. I used to help her out after I got back fro school ( Rickmansworth Grammar ) , and she was a great influence on my life. She instilled in me a great love of books , which is still there , and I have since published many of my own.

    I love the photograph of your Mother , who was always very kind to me , although she could have a very strict manner sometimes . I loved that old building ; it was a tragedy when it was pulled down to build the road up to the new pool , and I was very upset. I recently went back to South Oxhey for the first time in thirty years. I was surprised how run-down much of it seemed. The photograph of you and Chris and Iris in the front garden is before 1953 , as that was when the School House where we lived was built  , and the school buildings would not have been visible from the garden of 62 afterwards. I remember your neighbours were called Figg and then Dyer. Poor Mr. Figg was involved in some kind of scandal and they moved , I seem to remember , must have been around 1956 or 7. Mrs. Dyer was a rather fierce young woman with lots of dark hair. How extraordinary that I can look at that photograph of your Mother and just hear her voice so exactly after 60 years. All good wishes to you , anyway.

    Jimmy Gardiner

    By James Gardiner (23/10/2014)