More great memories of Stevenage from the Good Friends Group

The market

A memory of moving to Stevenage in the 1960s from Sheila:

My husband worked at Mentmores.  They moved to Stevenage, so we applied for a house here and I still live there.

Oh – to get a house was lovely.  We lived in rented rooms in London with two children.  Half the shopping centre was open, it was lovely.

We came to look at houses; the one in Penn Road was really perfect, near my husband’s work and near the town.  My children went to Broom Barns School and I was a dinner lady there.

Lilian and Edith added some stories of their own:

I moved from Clacton, having visited relatives in the town beforehand.  The railway station was in the old town.  There were woods and lots of open ground.  There was a pig farm then and the deer used to come to be fed.  The little ones would come right up to the window to take food.  This was near Box Wood (where the Great Ashby estate is now).

I went to the St Nicholas Community Centre – doing dinners and we set up the Monday Social Club there (with Age Concern).  I retired from it at 90!

Jenny noted: We’ve been there the longest in our road (33 years).  I liked the old town when we moved in.  There was a good fish shop and a fruit shop.  Waitrose moved in and that put paid to the separate shops.  My husband had a job in Stevenage and the houses were cheaper than Watford.

My next door neighbour said that two doodlebugs came down around the end of my garden and only one bomb was ever found!

Joan told us: I came down on the “Parents of Tenants” list.  I moved into Hillcrest.  Stevenage seemed colder than London, but you don’t get the London smells, there is lovely fresh air here, and a lovely market!

Edith added: I moved from Enfield into a house next-door to my daughter.  Mary Tabor used to manage the housing.  She set up the Good Friends Club and we helped her run it.  Stevenage does a lot for its old people.

It was strange, coming from a busy town, I never seemed to see anyone walking about and there were lots of streets looking alike.  It was difficult to find your way.

My Mother came to visit.  I said how did you sleep?  She said “I didn’t, I missed the sound of the traffic!”.

Jenny D told us: It has been nothing like the impression that people gave me before I moved here.  In St Albans you don’t know your neighbours; they are out at work to pay the mortgage.  There is a lot going on in Stevenage.  It seems easier to find facilities for older people.

There memories were recalled by members of the Stevenage Good Friends Group on 21 June 2011.

This page was added on 11/07/2011.

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  • Lil and Roy Aspland

    My mum and dad moved to Stevenage in 1955 with 2 small children from London. Dad had commuted for 3 years building council houses for the new town and qualified for a council house. He got a 3-bedroom house with a garden in Meadow Way, Bedwell. It was a grand palace from a 2-room flat in SE London which was rat infested. For Mum it was like moving to another country as she was born and only lived in Bermondsey, London. All her family and friends were there.

    It was a great place to grow up, schools were close. Lots of young families around who helped each other out. My dad and his fellow bricklayers continued to build the town and neighbouring areas. For my mum, there were no shops locally then, she had to walk to the Old Town with the pram and 2 young kids to get the daily shopping. We used to stop in st. Georges park (King George V Playing Fields. Ed.) on the way home for some playtime and a rest for Mum.

    Eventually Bedwell shops were built for the neighbourhood. During the winter, if Dad had no inside work, he was on the dole and Mum would go to work at the local grocery store. At weekends we would go to London to see Mum’s family providing the weather was good. Dad did eventually buy a car, he had a motorbike and sidecar at one time. With a growing family and travelling to work the car was more practical. A ford poplar (Ford Popular. Ed.).

    As time went by, Dad bought some land in the old town and built his own house, a bungalow, at weekends. We moved in and went to Barclay School. Dad also volunteered to help build the swimming pool with other volunteers, which we enjoyed for years. As time went Mum bought the Polar Bar in Stevenage Market and Dad, a few years later, bought the Jiffy Bar. They ran a joint operation for 30yrs.

    When the town centre opened it was the shopping, entertainment and meeting place for the whole town. It was always busy, the market was packed and young teenagers hanging out.

    We carry fond memories and friends with us. Mum and Dad are laying in rest at St. Nicholas Church.

    By LINDA Aspland ZUMM (04/08/2021)
  • I’m glad to read about the Nissan hut [Nissen hut. Ed.] at Popple Way as I remember distinctly going to a very crowded event in a semi circular shaped hut which I later realised must have been a Nissan hut, just to the left of the Popple Way row of shops. I also recall coming out of the crowded event with a posh spoon with a royal badge on the top. Putting these 3 year old’s memories together, it must have been a celebration of the coronation of Queen Elizabeth.

    We had moved into Edwards House – a block of flats on the corner of Sish Lane and Popple Way – in 1952, the early days of the New Town. We went on to live in ever larger houses in Shackleton Spring then Forest Row as our family grew.

    By Andrew Morris (02/01/2020)
  • When i was young still at school i worked on the market and when it moved to the new town

    By Paul (02/12/2019)
  • Hi Valerie. I remember you. We were in the same classes at school.

    By CB (24/07/2019)
  • memory jogging,anyone like to add about Bowes Lyon, Stevenage Old Town market,Hendersons middle row,Gunners butchers, the wine and coffee shop they had a coffee roasting machine -think the shop is the old town library now, Derren Nesbbite [cant spell it]he was the actor who made the council reroute the roads and spoilt old town? ivy House antiques,Deamers ironmongers Furrs the fishmongers

    By paulinuk (28/06/2015)
  • My family moved to 66 Shephall View around about 1953 from Yorkshire. My dad was an architect and helped design the Stevenage library. We also lived in Sleaps Hyde, Roebuck Gate and Martins Wood. I went to Bedwell Infants, Longmeadow Infants and Junior School. Then onto good old Shephalbury Secondary Modern before Stevenage College.

    By Janet Johnston (27/05/2014)
  • Our family moved to Stevenage in Sept 1954. We lived in Elbow Lane where only a few houses were occupied.  There was only The Noke and Melne Road built and nothing from there to the Old Ttown. my brother and I remember muddy roads, cows in the garden, fields to Aston.  Dad got the house after getting a job at the school furniture makers ESA, so many houses had been bombed in London we had to move.  Dad eventually worked as a ‘chippie’ and must have helped build half of Stevenage.  Mum dug potatoes at Rooks Nest Farm, bottled disinfectant, worked at Mentmore’s pen factory, school cook…… It was hard!   I remember Shepherds the butcher van, green grocery van, and others and many more memories!

    By Pauline Manley (22/05/2014)
  • I lived in Stevenage for only a short time. In 1962/3ish I went to school there too. I was at school with 2 girls Margaret Dolby and Marjory ( the surname escapes me.) I lived on the Chells estate. I don’t suppose anyone can remember me or my 2 brothers Robert and Roy Dow. My mum moved and I was going to stay with friends to do some exams at school. ( plus I was in love with a boy!) but my mum could only afford a few months and then I had to join her in Elstree, Hertfordshire . I went to 9 schools in all, I’m just trying to join pieces together!!! Please email me if anyone can shed some light. Thank you Jane x

    By Jane Dow (24/04/2014)
  • When we first lived in Shephall View in 1952 the nearest shops where at Popple Way at the top of ST Georges playing fields. There was a big nissan hut there, and I remember the Laurence Gard van. When the fair came to town we had to walk to the Old Town and then up to Franklins field where the main part of the fair would set up.

    By Roy Hooper (11/07/2013)
  • We came to Stevenage in 1957,my mum worked for Mentmore pens and dad as a plumber for the council. I remember the Cavalier hotel which was situated just past the old town. I also remember the converted coach which was run by a man called Laurence Gard also a man that used to come round renting the twin tub washing machine for 5 bob a week so neighbours would get together and push it to each others houses.

    By valerie webb (05/06/2013)