Growing up in South Oxhey
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.