My Happy Memories of Living here in Stevenage all my Life

By Sheila Watters-Hughes

Holy Trinity Church c.1900
Stevenage Reference Library
St. Nicholas' Church
Hertfordshire Archives and Local Studies
My cottage

I was born on the 4th October 1942 and started the beginning of my life with two loving parents. Name of William James Marvell and Ella May Marvell in their little happy cottage at 64 Albert Street .

My Baptism

The following year I was baptized in the Holy Trinity Church on Sunday 18th April 1943 and was named Sheila Marvell.

My First School

In January 1948 at the age of five I started St. Nicholas School, which was near the bottom of the avenue off the old Town High Street.

As I well remember it was a very primitive school, the floor was all wooden and also the desks and chairs. We had very poor lighting.

In the main Assembly Hall a very old fashion wireless was used for our school programmes. There was a little porch way for our coats. On cold winter days a coal fire would be lit with a fireguard for the safety of us children.

The boys’ and girls’ lavatories were outside. We had a medical at the school. A lady came from the clinic in the High Street. One thing that I shall never forget was the knitting needle going through our head of hair, looking to see if we had any nits.Then after each child she would just dip the needle into a old jam jar, which had some disinfectant in it.

The teachers were very strict with us children in those days.

In the month of May we had the tradition of the May Pole put out on the grass where we each had a coloured ribbon to hold in our hand to make a pretty pattern to the sound of music coming from an old Gramophone.

Sometimes on a very hot summer afternoonour lessons were taken outside on the grass under a big shaded tree.

The last event was Sports Day, which we all enjoyed taking part in the races, and cheers of encouragement from our mothers.

As we got a little older arrangements had been made by our Headmistress, Miss Lawrence, for us children to go once a week by coach to the open air swimming pool in Hitchin for learning to swim. I was now on my last year at St. Nicholas School. Our teacher was a Miss Ferguson, she was very strict with her class of girls. She spoke sharply and when asking me a question I was very frightened of giving the wrong answer, which most of the time I did, as I was a very poor scholar at most of the lessons.

As it was a church school, the vicar, Mr. King, came from St. Nicholas Church to our school once a week to give us Religious Instructions. I think that was my best subject. We also attended some church services.

My Second School  

In January 1954 I started at the new Barclay School, which was the very first Secondary Modern School to be built in the country.

Us children who came from a very old school were full of amazement to see this new looking school, with all the modern heating for the cold winter days. And how nice it was to have indoor toilets, and a larger cloakroom.

All the classrooms had very good lighting and very well equipped with a supply for all our needs.

There was a large Assembly Hall where we all had our morning assembly to start the day.

The Canteen was near the Big Hall for the school dinners. I lived near by so I could go home for my mum’s lovely cooked dinner each midday .

After a little while I happily settled in my class, which was called The New Wing and started catching up on good process with all my school work.

My best subjects were English and Singing lessons. I also liked playing Hockey and Netball.

My very favourite was the cooking class, which I took a great interest in and would bring all the ingredients, from my home in my mum’s basket, for the recipe each week. My cookery teacher told me that I had the making of becoming a very good cook. So when I left school at 15 I went into the Catering Profession.

This page was added on 20/09/2010.

Add your comment about this page

Your email address will not be published.

  • My parents moved to Stevenage from Tottenham London in October of 1951. We lived at 8 Bowcock Walk, Monkswood (later part of Bedwell). Dad was one of many bricklayers working in Stevenage. I was sent to St Nicholas school old town as an infant and remember the outside toilets!. The avenue and the conker trees the walk to St Nicholas church warm memories. I was then sent to Broom Barns juniors when it opened . My brother David went to the infants.
    Mum used to have to walk along the busy Great North Road as it was then to shop in the the old town. Hendersons, Home and Colonial, Shadbolts ,Simmonds the bakers were some of the shops I remember. I was sent back to the old town for secondary schooling going to the Barclay School.

    I have fond memories of Stevenage especially my College days while training with British Aircraft Corporation in the mid sixties. Oh and then the Mecca, Bowes Lyon … another story.

    By Mike Humberstone (19/04/2020)
  • in respect to initial entry by Sheila watter-hughes: i attended Barclay school during much the same period as yourself, leaving school at the age of 15 in 1962. My parents moved from east London to Stevenage old town in 1950, firstly living in gredells [Greydells. Ed.] road then haycroft road. i had a good friend who lived in albert street his name is roy ord and im guessing you may remember him, his house was roughly mid way down the street .. I can recall a fish and chip shop at the intersection of albert street and letchmore road, if my memory serves right. They only opened on Fridays with just the husband and wife cooking and serving. There used to be long queues that good was the food.

    By michael goham (08/12/2019)
  • John,

    You are absolutely correct! The small grocery shop in the parade of shops at Hydean Way, Stevenage, was called the Home and Colonial. I remember customers had to queue at the counter, a glass cabinet displaying bacon and dairy products, and the Assistant went to a store room to fetch any non-perishable items requested. The floor on the customer side of the counter was a green industrial lino. I remember a woman scrubbing it on her hands and knees on many an occasion. If memory serves me well, the stock room floor was tiled with cardinal red tiles.

    When James Goldsmith acquired the Home & Colonial Group in the 1970’s, the store turned in to a small Lipton’s self service supermarket. It went on trading as a Lipton’s until the end of the seventies.

    By Shane (02/10/2019)
  • Kathleen you were in my class, Mr Ford was the form teacher and Mrs Lee taught us geography, you might remember some others Cynthia Bell, Sue Whitmore, Allen Copeland , Denis Lewis. Just a few to remember. I left in 68 and joined the forces.

    By Phil Barker (21/06/2018)
  • I remember Mr Foley and Mr Cook from Roebuck school. Mr Foley used to give you the cane if you were sent to stand near his office at the blue wall. I moved to Stevenage in 1954 to St Margaret’s which backed on to the School. Was your brother’s name Alex and did your parents run the shop by the name of Johnsons?

    By Chris Cope (28/06/2016)
  • Martin, Thanks for sharing your memories of Nixons and my Grandad’s Bakery. Lovely to hear from you and sorry being so late in responding. Best wishes, Kim.

    By Kim Simmonds-Hurn (13/02/2016)
  • I was a year old when we moved to Broadwater Crescent with my parents and two brothers that was 1955 when we moved from Fulham. I have memories of Roebuck School,Headmaster Mr Foley. does anyone remember Andrew Spencer, Jane and Sally Lynford the twins? they lived in Forest Row ,also I remember Shepallbury Secondary School shame its no longer there does anyone remember the Teacher Mr Cook.

    By Irene Johnson (06/07/2015)
  • Message to Kim, your grandfather delivered bread to my mothers, Nixon bakery as I knew it to be. Some times I would have to run like the wind down to Nixon’s for my mums Hovis ha ha  I remember it well.  On Saturdays I helped Stan Leggat to deliver groceries from Warrens on the High Street and if I was lucky enough to spot Nixons van I would ask for some  donuts or cakes and charge it to my mums bill, I can still feel the had of wrath. Marty 27/10/2014

    By Martin Lines (27/10/2014)
  • Sorry but I dont remember you Andrew! Our geography class went to Wilderswill in Switzerland, near Interlaken. The total cost was £28 for 10 days full board and the travel. We went by ferry and train all the way. Mr Atwood our geography teacher came as did Miss Kenelly our cookery teacher.

    By Kathleen Nye nee Bristow (15/03/2014)
  • I really enjoyed reading these memories of Stevenage as many members of my family have grown up in Stevenage and my brother and several cousins still live there. My Mum is Mavis Collins- nee Nixon, born in 1937, she was Married to Roger Simmonds who had moved from Willesdon with his sister Judy to find a new life in the New Town. Dad was born in 1932. Later, they divorced and Mum married Terry Collins( born 1944). Terry went to Alleynes school and Mavis to Barclay.I think Mum also went to St Nicholas school (picking up on Sheila’s thread). My Dad Roger worked in the family business- a bakery based in Alleynes Road in the Old Town. Roger was a keen footballer and darts player. He played for The Two Diamonds and The White Heart/Hart pubs. Terry played hockey and also cricket (for Weston?). My Grandfather was Arthur Joseph Nixon and Grandma Laura Gladys Nixon (nee Hawkes) and they ran the bakehouse and delivered bakery goods on rounds throughout Stevenage and surounding villages. My Grandma was a keen member of the Methodist Church in the Old Town. Relatives also had a greengrocer’s and shoe shop in the High St. I carried on the retailing theme having opened a Swimwear and Lingerie shop in Letchworth in 2009. Mark, my brother, still lives in Stevenage- continuing our connection. Mum (Mavis) lives in Sandy. Sadly, Dad died in 1985 and Terry died in 2005. Terry was a Chartered Accountant and as a child had lived with mum Violet Collins and father Freddie in Haycroft Road. Thanks for all the interesting Histories. Kim.

    By Kim simmonds-Hurn (17/09/2013)
  • I have very similar memories of growing up in Stevenage and remember both John Lingley and Kathleen Bristow. I was 6 months old in 1955 when we moved from north London to Peartree Way and attended both Peartree School and Barnwell School. I went to Swtzerland on the hill walking trip with Mr Atwood at age 13 and recollect swimming in lake Luzerne and a boat trip on the lake. I think we stayed at Fluhle (spelling probably wrong) having traveled by train through the night but not in sleeping accomodation.What an adventure. My father worked at British Visqueen for 25 years transferring to Welwyn Garden City for a further 5 years before retiring.

    By Andrew Board (01/07/2013)
  • I too moved to Stevenage with my parents and 3 year old sister in 1956 for a better life. Dad was a gas fitter and secured our lovely house in Ashleigh. We arrived on the back of the removal lorry in the summer. Mum walked me to the local school Peartree Spring where I started not long after. I loved Mr Choldcroft, I was sleeping beauty in the school play he presented. there were no local shops but vans came round the street, Camps bread van, the CoOp van and a greengrocer too. We seemed to walk miles to get anywhere in those days. I later went to Barnwell School and went to Switzerland with my Geography class when I was 13. I have such fond memories of growing up in Stevenage.

    By kathleen nye(bristow) (04/03/2012)
  • I was only two years old when my mum dad and sister moved from London for better prospects,a new house and work for my dad.Our new house near the hyde had everything you could wish to hope for in those days.My younger sister and brother were born at home.I loved that house!I went to peartree spring school which I loved.I have an old photograph of some of our school pupils taken outside near my old classroom.Flying ace sir Douglas Bader came to our school to visit.He came up beside me and said”You have missed the I out in Hatfield house!”I replied.”Thank you sir.”Then he went elswhere around the school.My classmates teacher and I had gone for a daytrip to find out the history of Hatfield house.I was so pleased that Sir Douglas bader came and talk to me.Kenneth More played Douglas Bader in reach for the sky.Our headmaster Mr Anstock had a signed picture of Sir Douglas Bader hanging on the wall in our assembly hall.we all had a “team house”.There was Churchill.Hillary.Swhiezer,and of course Bader.I was in Bader.One day our school had the T.V. people come to our school for a programme that was being made.The programme was called “Seeing sport”.Peter Loyd presented the programme,he apparently helped Mr Anstock build our school swimming pool.All the pupils at Peartree school were amazed to see our school on t.v.When I left Peartree school I felt really sad and upset.I then went to Barnwell school.The sad thing is I have never gone back to visit either of the schools I attended,which is a shame as I would have liked to have.I have so many fond decent memories of stevenage that this is my roots,and am really proud to live here.If I ever have to go away from home,I can’t wait to come back again.I am never normaly away long though.My two sisters,brother and I are the first generation of children that moved to Stevenage when stevenage was first being built up.When we first moved into our house there were no houses in front of where we lived,or to the side left hand side which was near wigram way.We saw them being built.My poor mum had to take us all the way to the top of hydean way shops to get food milk,etc.When we were running low on food.I think the shop was called,”The home and Colonial!”The hyde shops had not been built at that time.Stevenage has got bigger now,there have been so many changes,but everything has to change at stage.Even still though,we love our Stevenage.We always will.

    By John lingley (05/03/2011)