Changes in the Welham Green during living memory. Contributed by Mrs Rose Simmonds (born 1899) to the North Mymms W.I Scrap book 1953. She left the village in 1909 returned 1961.

North Mymms is a parish made up of several hamlets, Bell Bar, Little Heath, Water End, Roestock & Welham Green. Colney Heath was formerly part of the parish, but has been taken over by St. Albans, Brookmans Park has been developed and became a residential area and so has the Hockey Lane Estate, which started during the war as an American Hospital.

This is written by one who was born in Welham Green, left at the age of ten and returned fifty-two years later.
Our Old House has been demolished and the site occupied by the Men’s Institute. The fresh water tank is still there, having acquired a new lid. The Well on the green, from which the village no doubt took its name, has been decapitated and its top covered by a concrete slab.

One of my earliest recollections is of going to Sunday School and on the way meeting an old man bent nearly double. He wore a very clean smock, a red handkerchief round his neck and on his head, what was known as ‘Billy-Cock’ hat. He would be going to the Sibthorpe Arms, where with Porter at three ha’pence a pint (and good stuff at that, I’ve been told) he would be able to get fairly well sozzled for a shilling, that is if he a shilling to spend, which is doubtful.
The Water Cross is now called the Water Splash, where the water ran unhindered across the road, with a wooden footbridge at the side, is now covered by a road bridge.

We used to paddle there and then on down the stream through the fields to the pond, catching minnows and sticklebacks on the way. The pond was quite a large one and was full of Jack. Wild Forget-me-nots grew around the edge and there was one patch of King Cups or Marsh Marigolds. There is no fish in the stream now and the pond is absolutely chocked with reeds. A fallen tree lies in it, a few Forget-me-knots still strive for life in one spot.
The footbridges are still in place where the stream runs through the park, but we always preferred to cross by the stepping stones a little further on. It was better still to run and jump over, but when we had a mishap and we got our feet wet someone would be sure to tell ‘Mum’.

Now the stepping stones are invisible and the whole valley is a bed of reeds, which is to the advantage of the wildfowl. Many have taken up their abode in safety there, and although not often visible, they can be very plainly heard. The crab apple trees which used to delight us when we were children are still there and still produce fruit and the stream still forces its way through to the swallow holes at Water End. The contour of the land here alters after every flood and there has been quite a few changes.

The school we attended at Water End is till flourishing, having been enlarged and improved in various ways, We had to walk there a mile and a half each way, in all weathers, In dry weather we went by way of the Park and swallow holes, or through the fields from the stile at the top of Dixons Hill. There was a pond just inside the first field which has now become an ornamental affair in a private garden.

The discipline in school was very strict and the cane was treated with great respect. It was seldom used and was referred to as ‘The Doctor‘ Swearing was a terrible crime and should a child be guilty of such an offence, our governess would, with a bowl of very soapy water, thoroughly wash out that dirty mouth!. There were trees opposite the school and we would watch the Red Squirrels running up and down and jumping from one tree to another. Now the children are taken to school by bus, the footpaths have naturally disappeared through disuse and there are no Red Squirrels. Water End has altered a good deal owing to the Barnet By Pass having been cut through it, but the old cottages in Warrengate Road still remain with the Maypole a 1512 public house and the Woodman also pretty ancient.

We used to walk from Sunday School to Church up the Church Field. The footpath is still there and to the left the Hockey Lane Estate has sprung up. Hockey Lane was formally called Occupation Lane, the buildings here are only temporary and will gradually disappear as the new council houses in the district become available and they are rapidly taking shape.

The Church has recently lost its steeple, but in the intervening years has advanced from candles to oil lamps and thence to lighting by electricity. The Bells have been increased from six to eight. The Church itself is most beautifully kept and is a credit to the verger.

The approach to the Church by road is by a magnificent avenue of Lime tress, people change with the years, places alter beyond recognition, but these trees look just the same after half a century. The 1914 - 1918 War Memorial is at the bottom of the avenue at the junction of Tollgate road and Dixons Hill Road, set in the centre of a green triangle with Maple trees on guard at the sides.

I remember a large white gate at the top of Tollgate Hill, though it was not in use at that time. I do not remember (The toll gates at) Bell Bar or Swanley Bar or Warrengate, but the names remain to remind us of the pence paid at these points.

The Barnet By Pass now cuts across the bottom of Dixons Hill and Wakeley’s Nurseries have sprung up on one side and North Mymms Café on the other. Bungalows’ now reach almost to the top of the hill where we have the scout house. This has no connection with the Scouts, but it is the headquarters of the Women’s Institute and serves a very useful purpose in the neighbourhood.

The Old cottage at the top of the hill are well remembered, but the pond has been filled in, as have all the other wayside ponds in the neighbourhood. I suppose there was a good reason for doing this but I miss the ponds more than anything, they were picturesque and great fun to slide on in the winter. The old thatched cottages near the pond have disappeared and trees have been planted in their place, The Laurels has been enlarged and become Welham Manor.

St. Paul’s Cottages look just the same as ever, but are now generally called Ten House Row. there was no shop at Whites Corner fifty years ago in fact it was known as Betty Pollards Corner, the cottage she lived in has also gone and the first council houses built in North Mymms, just after the first World War, started there. There has been some development in Dellsome Lane including six shops three of which are used for the school canteen. There are also fifty council houses and the Playing Fields, which consist of the children’s playground, the Bowling Green and the football pitch. All this adjoining Bush Wood where we gathered Primroses and Bluebells years ago, there are still some Bluebells but no Primroses.

The Boys School is in Dellsome Lane, formerly only Boys of seven and over attended here, all infants went to the Girl’s school at Water End, now they take mixed infants as well. Balloon Corner is at the junction of Dellsome Lane. Huggins Lane and Parsonage Lane, the two are almost built up now and there is nothing the signify that the first Balloon came down. Following Huggins Lane round to Marshmoor which was certainly what its name indicated we have several large factories which extend in both directions, to Travellers’ Lane and to the back of Holloways Lane, this was just a lane with no buildings at all fifty three years ago, now it is built over on both sides.

Nash’s Corner has altered very little, where formerly on the green were felled trees for the use of John Nash the village carpenter and undertaker now stands a bus shelter. We very often played on the trees and when we heard of a death in the village we would creep up Nash’s yard to see if he was making a coffin, He would Look up from the job and say “Sling your hook”. Now at Marshmoor we have a huge coffin factory, so we know that there’s a “Wooden overcoat” awaiting us just around the corner.

Bull’s Lane has altered very little and is still a pleasant country walk. Skimpans Farm is here a very old building and looks just the same as always, but the pond like all the others has been filled in. In this lane is the overhead railway bridge, where we used to “Holler” and wait for the echo, Foxes Lane where we went Blackberrying is now impassable almost, it was never more than a cart track, the stream which ran across it is now piped.

The one place which seems to have remained unaltered is Bradmore Lane, this is owing to the fact of its being in the Green Belt, there is a footpath from this Lane leading to the fields behind Potterells, this was a house of great importance in the village, being the residence of Mr & Mrs Cotton-Curtis who had a a very large family and a retinue of servants. These gentry used to travel by carriage and pair with a coachman and groom in front and two footmen sitting like statues at the rear.

Now Potterells is used as a furniture repository and the stables and coach house are another factory.
There is now a railway station at Brookmans Park, formerly we had to walk to Hatfield or Potters Bar to get a train.
There is not much difference at rookery Corner except that the Smithy has given way to a café, which appears to be a very good pull in for lorry drivers and motor cyclists, I remember sitting here with a few other children on a Bank Holiday Monday to see the first motor cars go along the great North Road, we stayed all day and went home in triumph having seen three (no doubt it was the same one each time!), now one could sit there a week without seeing a horse.

What changes in half a century, we had no sewers, the “Double You” was as far away from the house as possible, there was no water laid on, no gas or electricity, no newspapers delivered, excepting those that came by post, no telephones or cinemas or whist drives and or course no wireless sets or television, but we had our musical evenings at home, each one doing a ‘turn’. Occasionally there was a concert in the Boys School severely censored by the Vicar.
One could go on indefinitely recounting changes in North Mymms, which is rapidly becoming a built up area. One can not stop the march of time, there as been some progress, but I still feel sad about the ponds, I’m glad the crab apple trees are still there.

22nd October 2015

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