Wednesday, 12 March 2014


If you come out of  number 29 and head southwest down Watford Road (the A412), that is in the opposite direction to Watford, you go down Scott's Hill into Rickmansworth.  In many respects Croxley Green is actually part of Rickmansworth - its council, postal address and telephone numbers all place it there. Rickmansworth School (formerly Rickmansworth Grammar School) is in Croxley,at the top of Scott's Hill opposite All Saints' Church. To Croxley boys growing up in the fifties and sixties though it was definitely a separate place, albeit an interesting place with good memories.

One of my first memories of Rickmansworth was Saturday morning pictures at the Picture Palace cinema just as you go into the town from the Croxley side. Black and white cowboy films and space adventures. The cinema now is long gone but it was great for us in the days when daytime television did not exist. Our parents were probably pleased to have some time without us around too!

Rickmansworth had some reasonable sized shops if you didn't want to go into Watford - W H Smith and Woolworths for example. These days there is a Waitrose and a Marks and Spencer
food shop as well as such delights as Caffe Nero.  In the sixties my mother's favourite shop was the Swiss Delicatessen in Church Street which also had a cafe. We would pretty much always go there if we were in "Ricky". Also in Church Street there was a music shop selling records, sheet music and musical instruments. I purchased my first single there - Apache by the Shadows for six shillings and eight pence. Later I bought my first guitar there, a lovely German instrument called a Hawk - a real bargain. I was a regular in that shop also buying lots of sheet music and song books by Joan Baez and Tom Paxton.

As young boys we would often go down into Rickmansworth via Croxley woods which then also took us by the River Chess, a lovely chalk stream with plenty of fish and other wildlife and watercress beds. I remember fishing there with Ron Sharp and catching a fairly disgusting looking fish that we took home and insisted on having cooked for tea! Another route into Rickmansworth was along the Grand Union canal from Croxley moor near the Dickinson's paper mill. It was fascinating to see the locks in action with barges from London and Birmingham passing by. Another place we would visit was the Aquadrome, a wildlife sanctuary and outdoor leisure venue that had been created from old gravel pits.  I can recall taking a young lady from Croxley there for a walk one summer afternoon and then being told when I  tried to kiss her that she didn't fancy me!

When I was still at Primary School there was a class visit to Mr Findlay's farm just outside Mill End, the other side of Rickmansworth.  I can remember that we drank fresh milk (still warm) that we had seen being extracted from the cows.

If we didn't fancy walking or cycling to Rickmansworth we could always catch the 321 bus.  I  was never a trainspotter but I did go through a phase of collecting bus numbers. In those days most of the green London Transport buses were of the RT class but there were also RTLs,  RFs and single decker GSs on some routes. I think the books we used were published by Ian Allan and I  can see from eBay that they are still valued. 

When I first met Pauline one of her sisters, Mavis, lived in Hazlemere, a suburb of High Wycombe. In the Easter of 1970 Pauline stayed with her sister and got a job doing data entry for the  G D Searle company.  We arranged to meet in Rickmansworth and she travelled over by train.  As she got off the train and I saw her coming towards me I suddenly had the feeling that this was not just the latest of my girlfriends but the person I wanted to spend the rest of my life with. I was right. 

Sadly neither Mavis, nor her husband John are still with us. But in a remarkable set of interconnections dating back to the fifties there are some interesting links.  Like Pauline and Mavis, John was originally from Nottingham. But working for a bank he was based for a while in Rickmansworth.  I remember watching a few football matches involving Rickmansworth Town in the early sixties. From what John told me later it was probably him that I saw playing on the left wing. Mavis and John had two daughters,Heather and Claire. Heather was our bridesmaid and Claire has always been close to us too. When  Claire was  still quite young Mavis broke her hip and Claire came to stay with us for a while.  Much later Claire went to Bristol University where she met Chris Field, a young vetinary student from St Albans. They are now married with two lovely sons, who are being properly brought up as Watford supporters.  One big Hornet family!

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