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Harold Hill Estate History.

This section is devoted to the history of the Harold Hill Estate “proper” We have separated this from the history of the area prior to the construction of  Harold Hill because the whole area was changed beyond recognition in the early fifties.  The stately home, its grounds and surrounding farmland became the London County Council housing estate which is now known as Harold Hill.  More than 7,500 homes were built for nearly 30,000 people and if they had not been built it is certain that you would not be reading this now.

For a potted year by year history (1939 - 1973) of the Harold Hill Estate, compiled by Don Tait click here

Index

A&BC Bubble Gum Factory   Murder St George's Church
Albemarle Youth House Harrowfields School Mitchell, Dr J B Straight Rd School (Hilldene)
Amy Crockford Hendersons Doors Petersfield Shops Taunton Rd Fields (Hitchin & Sevenoaks Close )
Building Infill post 1955 Hilldene Shops

Politics

Tenants Handbook
Camborne Shops History of Harold Hill & Noak Hill by Brian Lingham, complete Police Station Tenants Assn
First Council House Sale, Sheffield Drive. (external site) Industrial Estate Portbelle Cafe RSPCA
    Quarles School  

I can't find a more concise, evocative memoir to start off with than the first of these by Ken Hatfield formerly living in Dagnam Park Drive on the junction of Sedgefield Crescent. This is followed by Albie West's memoir from Dagnam Park Square in the fifties..

Memories of Dagnam Park & Harold Hill. by Ken Hatfield

Petersfield, Hilldene and Whitchurch shops, the 1st, 2nd and 3rd woods starting in Dagnam Park Drive and heading towards Petersfield shops, the 66A bus, the 174 and 174 Express with blue signs instead of black.... (always tried to get a 'Noak Hill' 174 to save quite a walk!) Dycorts School, an excellent school with Mr Tanner as the head and a truly excellent teacher called Mr Smith. Quarles School with a horrible man as the head but with a true gent, Mr. Gerrard as his deputy. The winter of '62 / '63 when we made a few bob clearing people's paths of snow. The moat, the green lake, the perch pond, the lily pond, The Manor, the old house at the junction of the Colchester road and Gubbins / Gooshays, belting down Dagnam Park Drive on a book and skate. The adventure playground in St Neot's with Amy Crockford running it (what a lovely lady she was!) and that tractor!... The A&BC Chewing Gum factory, the Eastern Electricity Board canteen, both where my dear mum worked, the White Lady (ghost!) The mud hill, the log in the green lake, the log across the moat, the death track, Central Park, playing marbles on the green, playing conkers, making and using catapults made with the "Y" of a tree branch, 1/8" thick black elastic bought from the toy shop at Petersfield and a leather tongue from an old shoe for the pouch,.... the sweet shop, the shoe shop, Fairways grocery shop (Roy was the boss there I remember), Pearks (general groceries), the fish shop, the hardware shop and the telly shop on the end, all at Petersfield shops. The cafe too, which had a serving hatch / window looking out to the pavement where sweets were on sale by a tall, balding, oldish man wearing a white coat, I think he had a white moustache matching the little bit of hair he had. Frozen Jubbleys.....The little street sweeper man who had a hump on his back and who swept the streets around Petersfield shops pushing a lidded barrow in front of him....He wore a flat cap I remember.... an ice cream "brick" wrapped up in newspaper by my Dad and left outside in the cold until after dinner (no fridge)...The tennis courts and the parkie's hut at the manor, the pink paraffin lorry and it's rival, Boom Boom Boom - Esso Blue! both of which supplied fuel for our bathroom heater used once a week. Bread and Dripping....Spam fritters....Bonfire night, with my dear old Dad letting off the fireworks around the bonfire in the garden...French's offices at the end of Petersfield Avenue, they were the builders of the estate....Setting off on a Saturday morning on the 66A bus for Saturday morning pictures or to the swimming baths in Romford where I normally ended up with an Arrowroot biscuit and a cup of hot Bovril.......

Ken at about the time he learnt to write.

The gas and electricity meter men who would leave behind a great pile of shillings and sixpences after emptying the meter boxes. (It took me a long time to fathom that one!) ...putting together a bike from various parts scavenged or swapped, rarely bought, ...cowhorn handlebars, fixed rear wheels, (with these you always had to be turning the pedals and you couldn't freewheel ......carts with rope steering.....The poor gentleman who hanged himself at the manor close to Dycorts infants school (sorry about that, a tragic event). The Jungle Jim (Gym) and the drinking fountain near the walnut tree in the playground at Dycorts. Scratching the metal walls of Dycorts Junior School with our fingernails (just the thought of it!!). Stephen Barnard, Martin Loible - I have traced Martin and now keep in touch with him. The tall old gentleman who came round in a big old grey van once a week to collect and deliver the dry cleaning, (I never heard his van's engine running, he always used to roll from one house to another down DPD - his mpg figures were probably quite good!)..............

Mr Hollingsworth, the insurance man; Provident cheques which my mum used to occasionally get at the door to buy my brother and I clothes, usually from a shop in the market place in Romford, probably because it was the only shop around which accepted Provi cheques. Harry, the mobile greengrocer, Wally - the mobile sweetshop,... remembering to give the co-op divi number to the milkman every week when he called for payment (I'll never forget that number, 673405)...the charity box in the chemist's shop at Petersfield where a wooden spotted dog would place your penny into the box as the weight of the penny made it tilt forward, (I was only allowed to put one in... ONCE!) Ingrebourne 42895, later changed for some strange reason to 42897, the number of the local phone box in Dagnam Park Drive. The drone of piston engined airliners occasionally and slowly going over at night (No jets then) The old boy who wore a brown workcoat and a flat cap who was the baker that delivered Price's bread. Di-Marco's ice cream van (early 50's), watching Picture Book, Bill & Ben, Rag Tag & Bobtail, Andy Pandy and later on, Arthur Haynes, Charlie Drake, Crackerjack, The Adventures Of Robin Hood, Sunday Night At The London Palladium, Dixon Of Dock Green, No Hiding Place, The Four Just Men, The Army Game, The Invisible Man, The Human Jungle, Take Your Pick, Double Your Money, Juke Box Jury etc. on our little black & white Ferguson telly (which regularly broke down requiring a new valve or the like.) - Channels 1 and 9 with channel 9 being ATV......Billy Cotton, shouting "Wakey Wakey!" on the radio on a Sunday morning....the sound of a hand pushed lawn mower.......My Mum applying Windolene to the windows when cleaning them, it used to turn white (still available!)...... and of course remembering my dear Mum, Dad and Brother... really great memories and I often go back to reminisce.

The recollection below was lifted from the Francis Frith Website.

Editors Note; By the sixties I had come to know Albie but by reputation only. Though I was a friend of both his sister Jackie and her husband Georgie Wheeler who died a few years ago. In the mid to late sixties I was also a close friend of his sister Pat who went on to have two children with her then husband Ian Kerr. Ian was also a friend of mine from Noak Hill his father was a cowman to Robert Watt at Hill Farm. Pat where is she now?  Del Smith

 Albie wrote……………..
“I moved to the hill as a child with my brother and sisters in the early 1950s to Dagnam Park Square. We had a lovely wood there to play in. Tin Tan Tommy was our best game, standing on the sand bin spying out the other kids and calling out their names once they were spotted. We had to cross the old A12 to get to Harold Park shops, or Dutch and Little as it was known back then, where we would shop in Fairways grocers owned by a Mr Christian. I used to catch a coach to London Road School the other side of Romford, it was a long journey in those days. There was no Harrowfields, Pyrgo, Dycourts or Priory for some time. We would hang out up the manor, walk to the back of Maylands golf course and into the deer woods or walk up to South Weald where there was an old Second World War army tank in a ditch we could play in. We would get our sweets in Bon Bons or Wally's shop and a packet of Woodbines, a bottle of orange juice and get lost all day till we were hungry, then we would make our way back to the Square. In summer we would swim in the lily pond up the manor or pick bluebells in Dingly Dell which was in the woods off of Stratton Road behind Harrowfield School. My mum dreaded us all bringing arms full of bluebells home to our house. There was an old boy who used to lurk around the golf course, we called him Spunkey Joe, we were terrified of him. He would chase me and my brother John when we were nicking golf balls, we would run like hell, so excited not to get caught and catching our breath. He was probably quite harmless. I was only 23 and my brother 22, I'm joking of course, we were maybe 9 and 10. We would often camp out all night up the manor and wait for the white lady to appear, I reckon I saw her at least once when I was a teenager but I'd had a couple of light ales so who knows! I remember the tree where the man hanged himself,  it was all a bit eerie. I was a Harrowfields boy. Mr Gregson was the headmaster. We had a mad Mr Roberts, Mr Bullock was the science teacher, Hammond the library, Irvine the pottery, Eades the weeds was gardener teacher. We would have to go down the huts to some classes. They were wooden, built long before the brick-built Harrowfields we know and love. I enjoyed my school time. Wally's mobile shop would be sitting in Settle Road when we came out at 4 o'clock or so, I loved a jubbly or palm toffee, oh what happy easy carefree days. Then we had to grow up and stuff. Little did we know back then, ah you guys, bye bye”