Category Archives: Olde Molewood

Bengeo Stories

Originally an exhibition and publication called Bengeo Stories at Hertford Museum in 2013, Marilyn was loaned the Museum exhibition to add to her display collection of local resources for another exhibition at St Leonard’s Church early in 2014. Around 1,500 people came to view the exhibition and £1.5k was raised for the church funds. Another exhibition is planned for 2015.

Below is a video combining some of the content of the exhibition, as well as the day itself.

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June Dyer

A reflection on 49 years in Bengeo

June Dyer

Together in Rhodes – May 1994

My husband, Ron, and I moved to Bengeo from Tottenham, North London, in 1963, together with our three children, Paul, Angela, and Sandra. Coincidentally, Ron, had been evacuated here during the war. It was a lovely sunny day in August when we arrived and, whilst weather and neighbours welcomed us warmly, the local wildlife was less friendly. Soon after arriving, a lone wasp (renegade or hitman?) seized his opportunity and stung my 7 year old daughter, Angela. There have been no further conflicts, so maybe this was just a warning shot.

We had lovely neighbours – Eric Shaw, Olive and Fred Church, Joan and John Roberts, Will and Queenie Purkiss, and Paul and Toni Liffers.

On 2nd May the following year (again, a sunny day, unlike this year), I went into labour with my fourth child. Olive had already given me a lift to the hospital during a couple of false alarms a few days earlier but, on this occasion, Ron was working nearby in The Avenue. My son, Paul, ran and got him to come home before settling himself in front of the TV to watch West Ham beat Preston 3-2 in the FA Cup final. Ron took me to the hospital and Lynne was born that day, her name being chosen by Eric’s mother.

In those days, we had doorstep deliveries from the milkman and I fondly remember the time when ours was delivered via horse and cart. The horse seemed to know the round as well as our milkman and knew exactly which houses to stop at. Part of the daily routine was to put the empty glass bottles out at night, and bring in the new bottles the following morning. I remember that, one sunny evening, my eldest daughters, Angela and Sandra, saw this as an opportunity to be helpful. We didn’t know what they had been doing when they appeared in our hallway after an evening out “playing”, but they were in hysterics. After several attempts to find out the reason for their mirth had failed, only being met by heightened levels of laughter, they finally led me outside and pointed to our neighbour’s house. There were literally hundreds of empty milk bottles around the doorstep. I’m sure that the milkman was exceptionally grateful, although I don’t remember anyone being quite as amused as we were.

In 1969, the River Beane flooded. I was in Hertford at the time and it seemed that every route I took was blocked by flooding. Fortunately, I met up with my daughter, Angela, as she was trying to get home from school, which eased some of the stress. We finally got home after someone had rowed us across one of the flooded areas. (How many people have a rowing boat in their back garden?)

We always got on very well with our next door neighbours, Will and Queenie Purkiss. When Lynne was playing in the garden, Will would be in his garden pruning his roses and keeping an eye on her. I think he enjoyed talking to Lynne and watch her play as they were the best tended roses in the country. They used to have sherry and mince pies with us every Christmas Eve and we used to leave a stocking on their doorstep the following morning. I remember that the stockings got bigger and more elaborate each year.

From 1975 to 1980, my son owned the newsagents shop in The Avenue and I managed it for him. Our timing could have been better. There was a long period during which newspapers were often on strike and, without the aid of computers, we were continually having to amend the newspaper accounts, resulting in a lot more work for much less reward. We officially opened at 7am but had to be there a lot earlier to get the newspaper rounds ready, and I remember asking one of the paper boys to unlock the door for me as I couldn’t quite reach the upper lock. When leaving at night, I used to stand on my glasses case to give me the extra inch that I needed. I always enjoyed looking at the gardens on the short walk from our house to the shop, and remember that Pam Lutner’s was always exquisite.

Ron worked for the Co-operative Insurance from 1967 until 1991, when his failing health meant that he had to retire early. This gave him the opportunity to do things that he had never got around to doing when he was busy working, such as making matchstick models. We were lucky to have such a good neighbour in Anthony Liffers (Paul and Toni’s son) who took him on a number of day trips, notably to the Houses of Parliament, which Ron often talked about.

Sadly, Ron passed away three years ago. My daughter, Lynne, and her family moved in with me but I feel that it is now time to move on. So, after 49 wonderful years, I have now put the house up for sale. I will miss all the friends I have made during that time and, as you can imagine, having worked in the shop for a number of years, I have met a lot of lovely people. I will take a lot of happy memories with me.

Details on the development of the Molewood estate

onionpatchsaleMost of the land Molewood estate is built on was bought by builder Hubert Leach from the Bengeo Club in 1960. This newspaper article from October 1960 records that in less than ten minutes the club’s finances went from a deficit of £49 to a healthy surplus of £98,000.

What we now know as the Bengeo Club was the Bengeo Working Men’s Club back then. They had bought the 10.3 acre plot for £950 only six years earlier from the estate of Squire Parker. Does anyone know anything about him?

The land had been used by 83 allotment-holders who were given a year’s notice to vacate after the sale. Does anyone know any of them? Got any stories or photos you’d like to share with other residents?

Read more about the early days of the estate and see some photos in the story ‘Know Your Onion Patch?’ in the special 50th anniversary edition of the Outlook.

Interested in writing about local history ?

Interested in reading or writing about local history? This is a link to the ‘Welcome to Our Hertford and Ware’ website. You can share and enjoy photos, memories and historical research. This website is part of the Herts Memories network set up by the County Council with money from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

You can use the site to share your stories, memories, snapshots, research and observations of life in Hertford or Ware. It’s entirely up to you what you add; your memory can be of an event you attended last week or something that happened years ago.

We’d like to develop the MRA website with history of our estate but if you want to look outside it and get some ideas about the sort of things that others might find interesting take a look at this website.

If you’ve got any stories, pictures or film clips about Molewood please email them to us or speak to one of the committee.

Buying a Cowper Cresent home in 1961

Norris & Duval’s 1961 “Ad” in the Enfield Gazette & Observer stipulated that applicants for houses in the Second Phase of the Leach Development at Bengeo must be made by Telephone at 9.00 am, on the morning of the opening day for applications for these most desirable residences (the post war housing shortage still endured); and people arriving at their Office would be turned away. I drove up to look with admiration at the already completed First Phase, which included Woodhall Close and the Avenue, as far as the present day shops, where the Leach Site Office stood.

From the advertised details, I was interested in the Chalet Bungalow type houses but I was unsure whether I should be looking at those at the Shops end of the Avenue , or the “Dutch” type at what was to become the entrance to Cowper Crescent. Nevertheless, I stood by the telephone on the designated day, and at precisely 9 o’clock I dialed for the first time but the line was continuously engaged. When at midday, I at last got through, I was told that all the houses were sold; and that people had queued outside all night, in such numbers, that they were forced to let them into the Office when it opened. My name was taken and put on a reserve list, in case any of the successful applicants subsequently dropped out. In the event, one property did become available and I was offered a house of the style we wanted. It was a corner plot with a chunk of extra land for an extra £75. And it was the very one we had chosen from the plans as being the most desirable.

Later, we watched as foundations laid along Cowper Crescent, slowly grew into recognisable dwellings and, just before Christmas, we moved in to number 49. From the road, two narrow strips of concrete led up to the house and either side was a soggy mass of mud. The Removals Van, reversed with only one wheel on the driveway. The other sank deep into the mud and had to be towed out when it had unloaded. These conditions continued well into the new year; but gradually residents got their properties in order, the pavement and roadway was cleaned up and gardens arose on the chaotic detritus of a building site. It was useful having the Leach Office manned by a Foreman who could deal with problems as they arose; and deal with them on an informal basis. Our Boiler had a fault and the resident plumber came along and fixed it by exchanging a faulty part with one taken from the boiler in an as yet unoccupied house further up the road!

Brian Laming