Living in Stevenage New Town

The early days

By Helen

Very, very cold

Coming to Stevenage to live in 1961 with my late husband, one cat and one budgie, sad at giving up a good job in London Mayfair.  It was very, very cold in Stevenage.  The buses went every half an hour from Chells to Town and cost about 9 pennies.  There were no shops at the Glebe.

The watchman

There was a watchman’s hut on Eliot road opposite Bernhardt Crescent and the watchman came to our home and sat in front the fire and we gave him tea and filled his billycan up with water (hot) or tea.  He gave us a box of fruit sweets for Christmas.  He had served in the navy and he was clever at knitting and tapestry work.

Pride in the town

We didn’t see many of the neighbours for the first few winter months but when spring arrived we shyly all got to know each other and to be true friends with each other.  People looked after their gardens and took pride in the town, sadly these times have gone.

A cup of sugar

People would sometimes run out of sugar and salt etc and would borrow a little from each other.  People even borrowed chairs when they had visitors coming from a distance.  One could enjoy a good fire and leave the electric light on all the time without worrying about the high cost of energy bills.  We had an electric pay-as-you-go meter which was useful to prevent one getting into debt.  The town was cleaner and the children were much better behaved than nowadays.

This page was added on 15/06/2011.

Comments about this page

  • THis is Six Hills House today May/June 2016. This building should be completed by late 2016 and price to live in there is 1 bed £130,000 2 bed £190,000 3 bed £215,000 -£240,000.

    By Andrew (19/06/2016)
  • Has anyone heard of Six Hills House? It was an office building by ICL and built around 1975 now in 2016 the building it self is being converted into luxury apartments picture in 2008.

    By Andrew (18/06/2016)
  • We moved from Fulham in 1955, (we got there in the back of the removal lorry) thick snow on moving in, that day, me and Ron my brother we left house(63 Broadwater Crescent)and walked to uncle berts and peggy , in the Noke. no town centre then  or Roebuck  shops, Cox’s was in the house where they lived corner Fellows Way and Broadwater Crescent, only shops were in some houses opposite the Roebuck school. the Roebuck shops werent there then, sweetshop was the smithy near busy a1 great north road. in those days we walked to the Old Town, for shopping  me mother and sister in pram. I worked on Old Town market years later, wasnt many houses then Broadwater, the Noke , Bedwell.

    By Paul Johnson (27/06/2015)
  • I lived in Stevenage for 20 years – my parents moved there from London first living in Bedwell until they were infested with eyrie wigs! They then were moved to Wortham Way just as the Hyde was being built – I was born in 1963 – I remember pearces where mum won me my only new doll, the lovely greengrocer who knew what mum brought and Mr Anderson at the chemist who was there up till my 3rd child was born in 1984. Apparently my eldest brother died (before my time) when they were building the rent office – an accident he had on the building site – any further update on that I would be interested in.

    By Janet O'Farrell (28/08/2014)
  • My parents moved here from the north of England. Originally my dad worked at ICL. In his latter years he worked for BAE. We lived in Chells Way and my sister was born at home and delivered by my dad as the midwife and Doctor could not get to our house in time, due to thick snow (January 1963). My mum said she couldn’t take my sister out in the pram until March as the weather was so cold! I remember moving to the house where my mum still lives in Burns Close. I loved growing up in Stevenage and had a lot of freedom. I especially liked to go to the town centre with my sister to go shopping!

    By Heather Barnes (03/05/2014)
  • yes I lived in Eliot Rd no 30 and the lady who wrote about the watchman, the hut was opposite my house. we use to give him tea as well he was a very nice man. I must know u Helen I lived there from 1961 to 1987. I moved to Oakwood Close in Shephall lived there till 2004 now live in Norfolk. Had a lot of memories in Stevenage

    By marie (19/01/2014)
  • I thought Grix’s hardware store was at Oaks Cross shops? There was a chemist and a VG store at Marymead. My fave shop was Johnsons corner shop.

    By Mick (17/12/2012)
  • Yes, that’s definitely Marymead shops – not the Town Centre. If I remember rightly the supermarket on the corner was Foxes Supermarket (same as in town) before it became the Co-Op. In my time the local buses were green London Transport “RT” type double-deckers on routes 800 and 801 and 800A and 801A which looped round the industrial area during peak hours.

    By Pete Terry (16/08/2012)
  • The fish and chip van would come down our street (Sleaps Hyde) on a Friday evening. Also there was the rag and bone man who would ring a handbell and yell out “Ragabone! Ragabone!” Women would run out to either sell something or buy something from him. Gypsies would sometimes come to the door to sell flowers and you better buy some or they might put a curse on you!

    By Janet Johnston (Thomson) (09/08/2012)
  • I’m only 28 but even I have seen change in Stevenage since I was a kid. There doesn’t seem to be much street spirit anymore and people often appear angry on the streets. I really wish I could of experienced this town in the 50’s and 60’s where the people just seemed nicer. At least I have these wonderful photos on here to give me some idea of how Stevenage once was.

    By Dan (03/08/2012)
  • Our shopping centre was at Roebuck. We had a chemist, a haberdashery,Spar, greengrocers, Cox the butchers,tobacconist, Toy shop (Playland) and hairdressers Maison White. I recall once buying cigarettes for my Mum (no age restriction then) and with my lisp asking for 10 Senior Service – after 2 or 3 unsuccessful attempts the assistant decided I wanted sherbet and told me to go to the other side of the shop where the sweet counter was… I eventually made him understand by yelling ” no, I mean fags”! The greengrocer was a favourite place. Armed with the “jelly” plastic bag, (every mother had one, pink or blue) lined with newspaper, the loose potatoes were the first items to go in… 3lbs of Edwards, 3lbs of Whites, then the vegetables, sprouts or cauli, finally the fruit on top and then as a treat maybe a Findus mousse chocolate or strawberry. Mum & Dad both worked and in school holidays we were left to fend for ourselves and sometimes we had some money to buy lunch and as a treat we would buy either crinkle cut chips or Vesta Chow Mein or Chop Suey (dried packet variety)from the Spar. We also had the bakery van… going up the steps into the wonderful world of Teatime biscuits, Burtons marshmallows, Wagon Wheels etc. Always wanting… seldom getting! and the Corona lorry with it´s tantalising array of fizzy drinks. The shellfish van on a Saturday afternoon cockles, whelks, winkles and prawns all being sold by the pint or half pint enamel jug. Then there was the ice cream vans musically enticing us to buy 99´s or blocks of ice cream and wafers. Then there was Lawsons… the ¨divi¨van selling just about anything else. Good memories!!!

    By Terri Anderson (20/06/2012)
  • The name of the hardware shop was Grix. Next to Grix was the Greengrocers but I cannot remember the name.

    By john cochlan (02/02/2012)
  • Yes, Tony is right this picture is the Marymead shops. Just before Pearce the bakers was the Newsagents and Tobacconist and before that the Fish and Chip shop. Past the bakers was the CO-OP. Other shops were Ironmongers, Westminster Wine Off License, and on the corner the famous Marymead Cafe owned by Mr King. Further on was the Man in the Moon pub. Bus nos were 801 to Oaks Cross and 802 Bandly Hill The Hyde

    By john cochlan (29/11/2011)
  • I could be wrong but the picture here looks to me like Marymead Shops – Ref the buses I remember early days there was the 392 & 392A one would go via Broadwater and one via Shephall cant remember which but did sometimes get on the wrong one and end up going via Broadwater to get to Shephall – I recall that the fare was 4d. The Chells bus was then introduced as the 809 I recall and the destination blind read “Pestcotts Wood” in those days. Prior to the Glebe being built there was a group of mobile caravans/huts exactly as there was at the Hyde before it was built and in many cases the same people – T Elmes & Sons Hardware – Pearces Bakers – Greenhalghs Newsagent – Mikes Barbers and probably others that I do not recall. This method of trading seemed to happen in other places also – I remember Burwell Road shops with Mr Philipps setting up Tressle tables outside the shell of his shop selling newspapers to build up custom ready for when it was completed. at Burwell there was also Tingeys Grocers ( later WH Kaye) Tom Broadbent Butcher and a Greengrocer name that I cannot recall – I always remember that before they opened, if my Mum wanted a bag of sugar I would run – yes run – to the Hyde to either Foxs or the CooP. Often I would also have to go to the Hyde to collects her 18 shillings per week Family Allowance from the Post Office in Baileys Newsagents, many times getting myself a 4d bag of chips at Furr Bros Chip Shop- Nothing changes for me!

    By Tony Smith (06/11/2011)
  • Stevenage actually sounds like a nice place then. Today I avoid it the town centre full of chavs and an underlying atmosphere of aggression. Sad really esp for the older folk

    By over 50 (30/09/2011)

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