Winchmore Hill People & Pictures: A labour of love
Winchmore Hill People & Pictures is the latest book from local historian Stuart Delvin. It is a book in two parts, the first section which makes up the largest proportion of the book is oral history, described by Stuart as “a new set of accounts from ordinary people”; gained through a series of interviews over the past five years; The second half of the book, “the Great & the Good” includes potted biographies of some of Winchmore Hill’s most distinguished former residents and families.
Stuart has been researching and writing about the history of Winchmore Hill and its past residents since the 1970s. His first Winchmore Lives was published in 1991 and More Winchmore Lives a decade later, in 2004. His latest book, Winchmore Hill People & Pictures is a book to dip into, rather than read from cover to cover. It is self published and perhaps would have benefitted from a little editorial pruning. Nevertheless, the book is a real labour of love, involving hundreds of hours of detailed research and writing and Delvin continues to do a service to the local area, retelling the stories of a number of people who have sadly died since they were interviewed.
Some of the oldest WH residents he interviewed recalled stories from both world wars; “vivid memories of seeing the Zeppelin shot down over Cuffley in the summer of 1916, whilst the V1 attack on Carpenter Gardens in the summer of 1944 is etched people’s minds”; and “on 15th November 1944, a V2 rocket landed in Ringwood Way”. Mr Tragis, born in 1929 talks about the public bomb shelter on The Green, “just down a bit from the horse trough” (opposite the Kings Head), which he described as dank and hardly ever used.
The book contains some rich insights of a time not so long ago when Winchmore Hill was truly a village, beautifully illustrated in the collection of photograpahs he has brought together from a variety of sources, including private family photos.
Harry Skinner, who was born in 1912 and was interviewed in Delvin in 2005, talked about his Winchmore Hill childhood “Winchmore Hill was still a lovely country place with fields all the way to Enfield. ..... I can remember scrumpying in the grounds of Southwell Farm, between the Hall and the New River, and climbing up an oak tree in Paulin’s grounds to watch the cricket. What a good service the family did when they left the grounds to the club”. Winchmore Hill Cricket Ground was founded in 1880 and the land was left to the Club in 1960 by Irene Paulin, on a 99 year lease.
While Alf, born in Wades Hill in 1920 recalled “the fine livestock in Paulin’s fields, as you walked alongside the Broadfields estate in Wades Hill”.
Colin Wackett, a war baby, born in 1945, speaks about the late 1950s as being a golden era : “You ask when the area was at its best as far as I’m concerned. I would opt for the late 1950s. After that it changed quite suddenly. Up until 1960 there was a real family centred community feeling and all the children were able to get into their homes without a key because the front doors had been left on the latch”. Colin goes on to blame “the more extensive use of the motorcar” for the demise of the strong local community.
The book contains lots of interesting little facts about the local area. For example, in the 1940s and 50s at the top of Orpington Road was a factory run by a Thomas Salter, which made jigsaw puzzles. Bourne Hill used to be called Dog and Duck Lane, which is where the pub of that name in Hoppers Lane will have got its name. Where Barrowell Green rubbish dump now stands was Barrowell Green lido, which opened in 1913. Capitol House in Green Lanes was formerly the site of this vast cinema, shown below.
There are over a hundred photographs, some dating back to the 1880s. Stuart has kindly allowed some of these to be reproduced, here are a few to whet your appetite. They depict a simpler, quieter, not necessarily easier life and the book is a fascinating insight into what has changed and what has remained broadly the same over the past one hundred years or so.
The motor car and the coming of the railway in 1871 was to accelerate residential development. This image, a postcard which was franked in 1904 shows the line between Winchmore Hill and Grange Park, as open countryside.
Not much call for saddlery and corn in Winchmore Hill these days and sadly you have to drive out of the area for ironmongery and all those other useful bits & bobs you only seem to be able to find in a DIY superstore these days.
The book also looks at some of the families who had lived in the local area for hundreds of years. The Downes family were well known shop keepers.
Life before we had mass car ownership was so much quieter, although many of the residential roads were not tarmac until the late 1920s
Station Road and the Queens Head nearly a century ago are much the same, although the Queens Head was rebuilt in the 1930s and the road was widened.
Copies of Winchmore Hill People & Pictures can be ordered directly from Stuart Delvin, at £14 plus £2 p&p on orders to be sent outside the Borough of Enfield. Cheques should be made out to Stuart Delvin, 259 Southbury Road, Enfield, Middlesex EN1 1RG
Other books by Stuart Delvin which are still in print which can also be ordered include:
A Look at Old Winchmore Hill £6.45 (+ 40p p&p outside Enfield)
More Winchmore Hill Lives £5.80 (+ 45p p&p outside Enfield)
Winchmore Hill Village 1780 1830 (+ £1.80 p&p outside Enfield)
Stuart is continuing with his Winchmore Hill social history project and is keen to find out more about Ted Ray, radio and TV comedian of the 40s and 50s, remembered best for Ray’s a laugh. Can anybody help?
Winchmore Hill People & Pictures is the latest book from local historian Stuart Delvin. The book is part oral history and "the Great & the Good" includes potted biographies of some of Winchmore Hill's most distinguished former residents and families.
Winchmore Hill People & Pictures is the latest book from local historian Stuart Delvin.