Mill Hill Preservation Society
Down Memory Lane...
David Welch spoke to a lady who has lived in Mill Hill for nearly 75 years, and she told him some of her recollections of the area as it was in the thirties and forties.
“My family came to Mill Hill soon after I was born and I went to St. Paul’s School. Mill Hill was very quiet before and during the war, very little traffic and you could walk for miles in absolute safety. Very few people bothered to lock their doors. My brothers and sisters and I would sometimes walk across the fields to Hendonwood Lane up to Arkley and then down the lane to Elstree to see the horses in the Horse Home. We might then walk across the fields to Elstree Station and catch the steam train back to Mill Hill. Borehamwood didn’t exist then, it was all fields. Another outing we loved was the Hendon Air Pageant. Our dad would take us across the park to where the ground rises (there were no trees) and you had a wonderful view from there of the planes doing their aerobatics above the aerodrome. Red squirrels abounded in the park before the war.”
“As well as the Broadway, there were shops all over the place, within easy walking distance of most people. John Evans was the butcher at the top of Hammers Lane, which later became Vincetts. Round the corner was Hawes Bros. in Post Office Cottage, which sold groceries as well as being a post Office. Polly Perkins was the postmistress behind the counter. Along the Ridgeway the house called the Bungalow was built by Mr. Phillips, the builder and undertaker. It’s now owned by the school. In the High Street you had Warmans, which sold groceries and sweets, and opposite where the school built some houses you had Hilltop – a tearoom. Griffins was the grocery store on the corner by the Almshouses, later taken over by Lambs.”
“Behind the Almshouses was Stan Read, the shoe-mender. The wooden cottages besides the Almshouses were known as Waites Cottages and down Milespit Hill were two big houses, The Hollies and the Vineries. There was even a shop at Featherstone Farm, as well as Hinds the bakers in Shakespeare Road.”
“I remember the Three Hammers when it was like the Rising Sun and, of course, the Kings Head was a well-known pub on The Ridgeway, pulled down around 1945 I think. My brother used to climb over the fence into the fields behind the pub to look for Dick Turpin who, the story had it, used to ride across these fields and stop at the Kings Head for a drink.”
“During the war, Mill Hill School was a military hospital and the fields up Hammers Lane where Bedford House now is, then owned by the school, were converted into allotments. My dad would take us children up into the fields behind St. Paul’s Church, where we would glean enough corn after the harvest to feed our chickens through the winter. We would also collect acorns from the oaks in St. Joseph’s College grounds for the College pigs and get a bag of apples in return. The Old Forge at the top of Lawrence Street was a tea room and sweet shop.”
“Mill Hill roundabout was just a crossroads with Lawrence Street going up through fields, apart from the Sunnyfield estate, and the other way going down into the Broadway. Mr. Golby had his auction rooms on the corner of Hartley Avenue and the Broadway, which later became the Capitol cinema. Before that the cinema was on the Woolworths site. Mead & Marsh dairies were on the corner of Birkbeck Road and Daws Lane, with the milk yard behind. All the main necessities of life were catered for by local businesses and shops, so we were a very close-knit community. Mill Hill is still a lovely place, but it’s changed a lot.”
David Welch 2005