Growing up in South Oxhey

Early memories

By John Brooks

We moved to South Oxhey in 1948, a complete mud bath.

I remember walking to Lower High Street, Watford to buy Coke from the Gas company, this was transported in the baby’s pram probably 2 or 3 times a week when money was available.

Our front garden had some of the best lawns in the area we went turfing on the Golf course  The wonderful greens were our front lawn

I first went to school at Watford Fields School, half a day (My daughter is now deputy head at this school) when Warren Dell was opened we went there for half days also, such was the need for schooling. I passed the 11 plus and was accepted for Watford G.S. but my mother could not afford the uniform so I went to Hampden School. A very strict regime was in place and cannings were common, We were even whacked with the end of the gym ropes by one sadistic teacher, truancy was an every day occurance, it was difficult to hide in Taylors Cafe.

 We lived in Muirfield Road and I saw  my  first coloured person. Dr Irvine who lived  at number 27. He was not allowed to practice here, but our neighbour Mrs Wilkins did his cleaning.

On the opposite side of the road was the site of the brick buildings which had not started but piles of bricks had been stacked and in them we made camps. Often we went on expeditions all day only coming back when mothers called us in for tea. One of our favourite expeditions was to Pinner where the streets had crab apple trees growing in them and we picked these and brought them home.

My first job was at the butchers on the other side, sweeping up the sawdust after the shop had closed (I was not very old) in the sweepings were small amounts of meat gristle etc. which went into the mincing machine with a element of sawdust to make sausages. My next job was a caddy at Grimsdyke I always caddied for a miserable old doctor. the bag was leather and very heavy and if I did not see where the ball went and he lost it I did not get paid (it was sixpence a round) this also involved cleaning his clubs and shoes after the round.

My next job was Saturday boy in the newly opened furniture shop,  a good job.

I joined the 2nd Oxhey Scout group which was in Oxhey Lane near Watford Heath and stayed with them until I married.

One year we put on a fete and it was opened by Peter Sellers of Goon Show Fame. We also put on Gang Shows at Hampden School.

When the new shops opened in the precinct my mother in awe of the new self service Sainsbury’s forgot that she had taken my baby sister in the pram to do the shopping and left her outside for quite a few hours.



This page was added on 21/08/2012.

Add your comment about this page

Your email address will not be published.

  • We moved to 165 Muirfield Road when it was a new build and I have photos of the neighbouring houses being built but no date on the photos. I think that this must have been 1950 (or possibly 1951). Does anyone know when these houses were built/completed so that I can date the photos?
    My best friend then was Barry Austin, probably living around 175 to 181 Muirfield Rd.

    By Mike Roberts (09/01/2023)
  • 161, Muirfield rd was first occupied in November 1950

    By Neil Hamilton (12/01/2023)
  • I have a typ0o in my first comment we moved to the estate in 1946 not 1948

    By john brooks (14/02/2021)
  • With reference to Peter Sellers opening our Fete
    He was well acquainted with Flight in that he appeared in the Gang Shows during the war, It was flight who asked him to open the fete
    Flight was constantly in touch with Peter when Peter Sellers lived in Chipperfield.
    I think the name of the furniture shop was Thompsons it was double fronted as you say opposite Boots
    Josie I remember you had a crush on you
    Does anyone remember being paid to take grey squirrel tails to the police .We used to trap the in the woods at the bottom of Muirfield Road.

    By john brooks (08/02/2021)
  • Just found this site. Amazing. I have good memories of living in Carpenders Park in the late 60s. I was in 2nd Oxhey Scouts 1968 -1969 then family moved away. I remember a shed near the scout hut with piles of old newspaper rammed in to it. Also at one scout meeting a zip wire was set up from a tree. Great fun. I was very good at the game of draughts and used to beat everyone at scouts including Skip.

    By Michael Stone (31/01/2021)
  • Very interesting reading first comment by John Brooks. I clearly remember seeing Peter Sellers at the fete, I think the headmaster Mr R P Neil was aquainted with him. I watched them speaking together and seeing Peter Sellers drop his cigarette end on the grass and stub it out with his foot so I pounced on it and took it home to show my mother, we were very impressed as it had his name “Peter” near the filter end. I kept it for many years before a friend pointed out it was a brand called Peter Styvescent. Illusion was over..

    By peter willard (13/04/2020)
  • I was in 2nd Oxhey late 60s when Skip was scoutmaster before we moved away. He lived with his parents at bottom of Hayling Road. His brother was Group
    Skip had a business making pots….just off Watford High Street
    We camped out at Flights place at Sarratt a few times
    I aslo was caddy at Grimsdike….never got a tip…except from Mr Freeman….he was only one in club who ever tipped
    My sister lived in Old servant quarter in Oxhey Grange for a few years…I think Mrs Absalom just wanted somone around…she was in 75+ in 70s….never got into main house…but ground were great…had a big stable and there was old cricket pitch near main road…long overgrown

    By Elwyn Davies (17/01/2019)
  • I moved to South Oxhey in 1949 at the age of 12 and joined the 2nd Oxhey Scouts shortly thereafter, I met Ted Shelley now sadly deceased and Geoff Osborne, who just celebrated his 81st birthday. Apart from him I only remember Eric Dutton, who is still alive. Happy memories of Flight Cracknell and Joe Seabright, the scoutmasters.

    By Tom Miller (21/11/2017)
  • My parents Mr and Mrs Peddle lived at 37 Murfield Road, with my sister Joyce ,myself Josie ,(Josephine) and my brother Tony . I think we went to live there when I was about 12/13 years old, now just arrived at 80. I first had to go to Bushy Hall School, this meant I had to catch the train in the morning and evening. I don’t think the school quite knew what hit them, street wise London kids, when the school in Oxhey Lane was built I went there. I remember Doris Harrigan? Who had a fight with me and bit a hole in my arm, still have the faint friend was Josie Snowden she lived across the road from us.

    By Jo smith (04/10/2017)
  • Thanks everyone, I have enjoyed reading all your memories, I also went on the bus to get fish and chips.we lived in Sidmouth Close, got off the bus in Hayling road.

    By Barbara Birch (02/07/2014)
  • My family well known for being a big family (8 siblings) lived in Hayling Road. I left school in April 1963. I can remember opening of the ‘New shops’ in Carpenders Park and a furniture store that was opened by Bob Monkhouse !!! there was a mad crush to get to see him. Friday nights we used to catch the bus down to the fish and chip shop and do the washing in the Laundromat next door. Sometimes the fish and chips were cold, waiting for the bus by the time we got home. Going to dances at the South Oxhey centre and seeing at the time “The Highnumbers” and then became know as the “Who”

    By Gordon Rumball (02/06/2013)
  • I was a scout in “flight” Cracknell’s gang shows at the Palace Theatre in the early sixties. I was from the 9th SW Herts troop which long longer exists as a separate entity. The shows were hard work for months before and great fun during. He was always tough on us after opening night, I now think just to stop us getting full of ourselves! My school chums get me a ragging for having traces of makeup on the next day.Wonderful memories!

    By robert lear (20/10/2012)
  • How interesting your story is John and all the comments that have been made – I too lived in Oxhey from early 1948 and went on a bus to Watford Fields School then Warren Dell when it very first opened and Hampden when it was first opened – I was there from 1952-56 I was in Mr Wrights class the last year I was there and remember he married Miss Buckingham the PE teacher – Mr Westaway was headmaster and Mrs Salter was deputy head – I got married in 1959 and moved away – I’m sure our paths must have crossed atsome stage.

    By Josephine Parsons nee Searle (05/10/2012)
  • How sad that ‘Tudor House’ has gone, made me realise how long it has been since I went down Oxhey Lane. Had a look on ‘Streetview 2008’ – a sad loss for the area. It would be nice if you could add your photos of ‘ Tudor House’, Neil.

    By Susan Waller (16/09/2012)
  • Tudor House was demolished a few years back – managed to get a few pics before it came down. Now has a block of flats on the site – was once used as a Sunday school and for a while Mr Absaloms son Rowland lived there. Think it was built by the Penroses.

    By Neil Hamilton (14/09/2012)
  • Thanks Neil & Susan for confirmation, and the interesting memory of ‘Flight’ and the Scout Group. We had another Hall called the ‘Barn’ which was opposite the footpath which ran alongside ‘Tudor House’ towards Greenfield Avenue. ‘The Barn’ was used for many functions, which included Scouts, Cubs, Guides and Brownies, that is why I could not remember which hall the 2nd Oxhey used. The ‘Barn’ unfortunately was destroyed by fire, a great loss to the community as it was home to the Library, Social Club, Clinic, it had a Stage, Dance Floor, & Snooker Room. a Mrs Dixon ran a group called the ‘Barnstormers’ who produced good ‘Musical’ shows. No doubt after the fire 2nd Oxhey was the nearest group to join.

    By Arthur Hall (12/09/2012)
  • Yes Arthur, John ‘Flight’ Cracknell was the Scout Master of the 2nd Oxhey for many years and lived opposite the Scout Hut in the lodge to ‘The Grange’ before moving to Sarratt where in the extensive grounds of his bungalow he planted many trees ‘named’ for many of the Scouts. He was very involved with the ‘Gang Shows’ at the ‘Watford Palace Theatre’. My brother Colin Davidson was one  of the scouts. One incident comes to mind when ‘Flight’ was taking some of the scouts on a trip abroad. The families of the boys had gone up to the hut to wave them off, when suddenly there was quite a quantity of foreign currency fluttering down Oxhey Lane. Flight had put the money inside passports and had put it on the top of the car while talking to someone, he forgot it was there and drove off. There was quite a scramble to collect it all up and eventually they set off again.

    By Susan Waller (10/09/2012)
  • Arthur- yes the hut was in a field oppoite the Grange and had been presented by the Penroses – the cottages once housed workers from the local brickfield and are/were called ‘Woodland Cottages’.

    By Neil Hamilton (09/09/2012)
  • Was the Scout Group in a hall opposite Oxhey Grange, as I can vaguely remember a ‘Flight’ Cracknell running a group in that hall, which was also next to a row of cottages.

    By Arthur Hall (07/09/2012)
  • Yes Neil ! That was it, I worked opposite at ‘Boots The Chemist’ for many years but have not been able to remember the name – Thank you.

    By Susan Waller (24/08/2012)
  • Just checked in an old 1960 Kellys directory – would it have been G.W. Thompson house furnishers at 8 – 10 St Andrews Rd, between Maypole Dairies and Woolies.

    By Neil Hamilton (24/08/2012)
  • John , can you remember the name of the furniture shop?

    By Susan Waller (23/08/2012)