Poor but proud

John Schad interviews David Reidy

By Beverley Small

John Schad interviews David Reidy
by Beverley Small

Local historian and author David Reidy was interviewed by John Schad at his Literary Estate event at the Palace Theatre on 2nd June 2012.

David Reidy was born in Sloan Street in London.  in 1948, when he was 2 1/2, he moved to Caldwell Road in South Oxhey.  David had an idyllic childhood, spending a great deal of time out of doors building camps and dens and going birdnesting.

Getting a house

Prisoners of war did some of the ground work for the building of the estate, Italian prisoners started in Brookdene Avenue. Most of the houses were built by 1952, but there were no streets, no shops, no youth or social facilities.  Even so, people could not believe the greenery, and the housing they had come from in London was inferior in comparison.  There was a points system in operation to get one of the houses based on things like your health and the size of your family.  There was a TB scare in the 50s and there was some ill-health in the area, but not a disproportionate amount.


There was a lot of anxiety amongst local residents about Londoners moving in.  A vigilante group was set up to protect the women by people in Carpenders Park.

It was so cold even the loo was frozen

In the winter it was very cold as they had no central heating (even the outside loo was frozen), instead they had pink parafin heaters and hot water bottles.  They could not afford much coal so they went wooding on the railway embankment


There were very few school places and many pupils still went to school in London where they had come from.  David originally went to school in Beechan Grove in Watford as there were very few school places locally.  One day his brother got on the wrong coach and went to Croxley Green by mistake.  Warren Dell opened in 1949, Oxhey Wood in 1950-54 and Woodhall in 1954.

An adult education Institute was set up in Hampden School but it closed due to lack of numbers.  The people worked very long hours and this meant that they were very tired, too tired for learning.  The Clitheroe Club also offered education in the 50’s including visiting speakers.


There were no buses to Watford until the 50s.  David can remember walking to the paddling pools in Cassiobury Park because they could not afford the bus fare.  The Golfers Halt train station survived until 1952, it had 2 wooden platforms but a bigger one was needed due to the amount of traffic.

David Reidy’s book “Poor but proud; a history of South Oxhey” is published in June 2012 in collaboration with Three Rivers Museum Trust.

This page was added on 15/06/2012.

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  • I was Sandra Collins married name Sandra Jefferies,I married Roy Jefferies. I lived at 5 Glencorse Green,I knew the Reidys,Beryl Roseblade. My best friend Joan Buckingham married Alan Catlin and they still live on South Oxhey. My two brothers are Brian Collins and Keith Collins. I remember our neighbours Peter Gooden,Tony Lines,Gina Jones etc and Beryl Roseblade.I didn’t go to Clarendon school I went to Bushey Grammar.

    By Sandra jefferies (25/07/2020)
  • Hi there, anybody know where I might get a copy of Reidy’s ‘Poor but Proud..’ ? Second hand, ideally, but new would be fine, too. I see the library has it, but would like to have my own copy. Thanks!

    By Simon Mc Gough (26/05/2019)
  • Lived 2 Glencorse Green ,opposite the Falkner’s ,Roseblades, Reidy’s and others, next door to Peter Gooden, played with them all , speak to Gill and Ian Falkner on fbk, went to Clarendon photo on fbk , and remember sailors faces stained glass on Falkner’s upstair  windows.

    By Anthony William Lines. (Tony) (25/08/2016)
  • My husband played for Oxhey estates football team in the first years of Oxhey estates his name was John.

    By Margaret Hawtin (12/11/2014)
  • I have read the page and remember Caldwell Road with affection.We lived in number 20.

     I  remember a family called Reidy they had twins David Reidy are you part of that family. I have twin brothers Barry and Keith Simms who played with them there were. a few families with twins in Caldwell road.

    By Jean Hendy (11/04/2014)