• 9DR Smells

    Smells! I'm not sure I'm going to be able to re-evoke much of this aspect of 9 or 7 DR in this post if you haven't been there yourself - but then on the other hand, who reads this blog if they didn't use to know the two houses? Smells are like will-o'wisps, they tend to vanish as soon as you put your memory to the task. So I'm sure you'll help me remember places or occasions associated with smells in various parts of the two houses. The problem will be, I think, that I'm not sure at all which products (washing powder, perfumes, soap brands...) would be useful to help us connect with their smells.

    In fact, now that I'm trying to see where to start, I wonder whether smells weren't all over the place! I mean specific ones, ones which, were I to breathe them once again, I would immediately recognize them. Like this smell of loganberry jam in the making (top picture)! Suppose we start with the entrance then: perhaps you remember Noël writing a year ago (here) how he had smelled such a smell, and surprisingly he hadn't connected it with 9DR... Well, this is also a sort of problem for me: I know there was a specific smell, but I can't re-evoke it really; it remains an abstract memory, strange to say. What is certain is that the familiarity of the place was made of these very specific smells, the front room had a sweet smell, the kitchen (scullery as Grandma called it) another, especially when washing was hanging from the lift up/lift down railing, probably the type of washing powder used by the aunties; then the back room's musty smell when we were younger and it wasn't used any more, but later the smell changed when Grandma had decided to turn it into her bedroom.

    Upstairs, there is one exception to the faintness of my memories, and that's the toilets. I know that if I shut my eyes and block out my ears, I can almost get that whiff once again. It isn't because it smelled bad, but perhaps, yes, because it was rather strong. Then the bathroom, a smell coming from the soaps which were in there, and perhaps some disused brushes? Monsieur Père's lathing foam? (I remember looking with a certain awe to the old-fashioned manual razor, and telling myself it was heavy, that you might easily get hurt with it). The front room where lots of unused furniture stood and shone back at you: what used to be the smell? I'm sure there was one, and very clear. Perhaps the wood, or the paneling which had its distinctive scent. Or the varnish used to give the furniture its specific shine. When you opened little bedside furniture, they had a strong scent of medecine mixed with wood. The large cupboard on the left also smelled of oak or whichever wood it was made of. In the back room, where we were placed when we were younger (older, I was given Mum's little room), there was also a special scent, perhaps that of the sheets, and the chest of drawers under the window. By the way, does someone reading this remember that under a corner of the paper (a newspaper page I think) covering the bottom of the first drawer, we had written things like "I woz ere" with dates of successive visits??

    In Auntie Olive's house, my most vivid memory with respect to smells is that of her downstairs front room, and I know that, pushing the door, I would go in there especially for that. It smelled so incredible! Probably the stuff used to polish the furniture, but there was a pungency which amazed me. It was as if it positively inhabited the empty place. Somehow this room was always bathed in light coming through the white curtains, and the clock on the mantlepiece, which occasionally chimed its Big Ben chime, was the king on its throne. In the kitchen, the larder was also quite an interesting place, a mixture of varied smell of which I remember the smell of breadloaves and the mustiness of an enclosed space. Finally you can check here the discussion about the smells of the box room upstairs (it's in the comments section!).

    Another smell which I've referred to elsewhere is that creosote smell which was associated to Auntie Olive's shed in the garden:

    9DR Smells

    Funny that I used to like the whiff coming from it, perhaps because it was so distinctive. It gave the wood a kind of roughness, certainly the tar which was spread on it and protected it from the rain and sunlight.


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  • Testimonies from outside the family

    A Hazelwood Lane school performance in 1966

    A few weeks ago, I had told you that there were people on this FB page who mentioned Auntie Olive in her capacity of Headmistress of Hazelwood Lane Infants school, and I have written to them to let me know exactly what they had to say, so below you'll find their answers! Thanks to them, we are allowed to get an outsider's echo of how she was looked upon when working, what sort of person she was considered to be, her appearance. It isn't much really, but I found these testimonies touching, almost as if I'd seen a little movie where you could suddenly see her come alive. What's quite interesting for me is to discover the rather negative image which, on the whole, comes out of these exchanges! I'll let you judge.

    First, the FB conversations where AO is mentioned: this is a great post from Elizabeth Thomas:

    For the interest of Peter Berry and others who remember Hazlewood Lane School. This is from an email from my Auntie Renee.

    "I really did hate Hazlewood Lane school. It seems in my memory that every morning in assembly a boy had to go up onto the platform and be caned by the headmistress, Miss Hughes. I don’t think it happened every day, or that it was the same boy, but I was only five and it must have impressed me. Also, Miss Hughes would say “good morning, children”, and we had to reply “good morning, Miss Hughes” and she would reply crossly “I am not your shoes – say it again, properly”. Then I had to go away for about a year because of the bombs, and after that I went into the “big” school, where I was a year behind everybody else with the lessons - but that’s another story and I must stop now but will tell you more if you wish, some other time..."

    This extra for Peter Berry:
    I fully agree about the teachers being old – and obviously of the “old school”. I must have started in the “Infants” school – probably 1942 when I would have been five and Miss Hughes was he Headmistress. (She seemed v old then, but I think she continued for quite a while after I was there).

    "Very old", she says! In another post Mitchell Wells mentions how old he thinks Auntie Olive looked:

    I started at Hazelwood in 1965 and I do remember that Mrs Hughes was the headmistress. She looked about 90. Then she was replaced by Mrs Cannon around 1967.

    This person (Lindsay Atkinson) remembers, perhaps wrongly, that Auntie Olive used to give out sweets:

    Miss Hughes used to give little tiny boiled sweets out if there was a birthday in the class.

    Perhaps wrongly, because Elizabeth declares that:

    My Auntie says when she was there Miss Hughes never gave out sweets!

    And then Lindsay admits that:

    Maybe it wasn't Miss Hughes! It was whoever took the first class - reception as it would be called now. She was a nice lady, whoever she was!

    To which John Law adds:

    We had our wedding reception at the Pilgrims Rest. Miss Hughes and her brother both wore tam o' shanters they lived at the end of Derwent, number 7 I think.

    Testimonies on Olive & Cecil from outside the family

    Testimonies from outside the family

    Entering the conversation, I proceeded to post this picture of Auntie Olive (above), and this is what Sylvia said:

    Wow ... great to see this Yves. I have to say she terrified me when she was my Head mistress at Hazelwood!

    In another post she mentions that Auntie Olive retired in 1964: "the Infants Head in 1964 was Miss Hughes. She retired when we went up to the Juniors and was replaced by Miss Cannon."

    So that probably when I remember being taken to Hazelwood Lane school by her, she was probably going there as former Headmistress. In one further comment Sylvia carries on:

    Miss Hughes did indeed continue as as headmistress for many years. I started at Hazelwood Infants in 1964 and she was still there then. She retired just as I went up to the Junior School aged 7. I remember being terrified of her - when I was in what would now be called Year 1 - so around 6, we were doing handwriting and she came into the class and walked round looking at our work. She rapped me across the knuckles with a ruler for not getting my letters the correct size!! I then had to stay in at playtime and lunchtime, writing the same letters over and over again. I will never forget Miss Hughes and not for any positive reasons!

    This draws a reaction from Mitchell Wells:

    I started at Hazelwood in 1965 and I do remember that Mrs Hughes was the headmistress. She looked about 90. Then she was replaced by Mrs Cannon around 1967.

    ****************************************************************************************

    So now here are the messages I received from the people mentioned above: Here's a first message from Gill Lavelle:

    "Hello Yves! Yes I do remember your great Aunt. Miss Hughes, as we knew her, was a small person but formidable! Of course this was the view of a small child. She often, if not always, wore a black beret and a mac. She actually lived in the road I was brought up on - Derwent Road in Palmers Green. That's about it really! I remember her really well - I suppose she was the first real figure of authority I came up against! Good luck with your investigations. Gill

    Hi again. Just remembered that I was fascinated by the statue of the Virgin Mary which I think was in her upstairs window. Not something I saw in my social circle at the time! All best. Gill"

    In her message to me, Sylvia repeats part of what she said in her previous posts:

    "Hi Yves, Now got a bit more time to tell you what I remember about Miss Hughes. I started at Hazelwood Infants in 1964 when I was 5 and moved up to the Junior School at the time Miss Hughes retired. I don't remember any details of her physical appearance, although she does look familiar from your photo, other than the impression of someone very old with grey hair (I'm sure she wasn't really that old!). My first meeting with her was before I started when my Mum took me for a meeting in her room. I remember asking what the tall high chair was in the corner of the room and Miss Hughes explained that it used to be used for teachers to sit on to watch their classes. My over riding memory of Miss Hughes, unfortunately, is not a good one. One day, Miss Hughes took my class for a lesson on handwriting. We were writing "We", many times to get the sizes right. She told me my letters were not on the lines enough and to do some more. When she came back again, she was still not pleased with my work and hit me across the knuckles with her ruler. She then told me I had to stay in for morning and afternoon play and practice writing the word out again and again and to bring them to her at the end. I try to put this in the context of the times but still feel her treatment of me to be extremely harsh. I was 5 years old and always well behaved at school. I can't honestly say I remember anything else at all - I guess I managed to keep out the way!"  

    Now here's a contribution from Stanton, who in his FB post, had said: "Also went to both infants and juniors around those same dates 1953-1958, I think both head mistresses were Miss, rather than Mrs! If I remember. Miss Hughes was a funny little woman, used to wear a beret, but Miss Bellfontain was a very upright, rather well spoken lady":

    Hi Yves, incredible that your great-aunt was my first headmistress! I was only five years old when I started at Hazelwood infants’ school, and that's a long time ago now. I have read some of the other comments regarding Miss Hughes, and I can't recall her as being in any way frightening, quite the opposite really. She always seemed calm, quietly in control, and the school had a good reputation. It was always a happy atmosphere that existed then. I do remember her organising for all the school to go to the Gaumont cinema in Palmers Green to see a documentary film of the queen’s coronation, and all of us children received a commemorative mug and a souvenir book. I hope you receive some more comprehensive feedback from other former pupils. All the very best."

    Well I must say I was somewhat relieved to read this description, it made for a nice change to all the preceding negative opinions!

    A very interesting message came from John, who's mentioned above, and who turned out to be from Tony Murphy's family: he remembers Grandpa as well!

    "Hi Yves. My memories of the Hughes age very much those of a child's perspective. My parents and my mother’s sister held them in high esteem and they were often spoken of in my childhood home, mostly in the context of their academic achievements, my Auntie Patricia Murphy, saw them more than my mum Eileen Law (nee Murphy) mainly because being a single lady my aunt had more time but also because your Grandparents encouraged her to retrain as a teacher when her own parents died, she had spent her younger adult life looking after them in their own home at 6 Amberly Rd. She did train as a teacher and went on to teach in a primary school in Enfield. For my part your Grandparents gave me the impression that they were liberal minded thinking people that were interested in a wide range of eclectic pursuits including music. Auntie Pat played the organs at St Monica's and so did your Grandfather and on one occasion when I was about 10 he showed me how the pedals and keys of the organ worked. I seem to remember that they had great language skills and that they had a connection with France but that may have been because they wore those typically French hats ! Later after I married Frances, we discovered that we had both known them, Frances through school at Hazelwood and me via St Monica's and my own Grandparents. I also knew Mr and Mrs Olivia (?) who lived within a couple of doors away in Derwent. I remember their address because I was sometimes asked to deliver items to them by Auntie Pat, papers and letters etc. They were always very pleasant and enquiring to me me as a lad and spoke to me as an equal which to me was unusual and endeared me to them. I am sorry that I cannot recall much more by way of specifics but my overall feeling is that they commanded respect in the local community quite naturally because of their easy going manner and a certain style that they projected. Thanks for the photo it brings back fond memories of youth!!"

    So, what do you think? Rather cool, no? But even if this last testimony seems to shed a more positive light on our grand-father and great-aunt, I have to be honest and say that, especially for Auntie Olive, the picture of her job as Headmistress doesn't shine a lot: perhaps this is because education in those days was more severe, and also because a lot has gone into pedagogical improvement for the younger ones. Anyway, thanks to all writers and contributors for their memories!


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  • Derwent road

    Here are some pictures and things collected in relation to the actual street as it used to be.

    Derwent road

    On the old map above, drawn before Derwent road was in existence, you can see that a rather large fish pond stood practically where DR was going to be built. And you can also see the thin line of water on the other side of that pond, along Alderman's Hill: would the Yacht pond have been built in the Park (which opened in 1903) as a kind of receptacle for the water coming from this fish pond?? The map mentions the station, which was built in 1870, so our Derwent road started its existence later!

    All this makes me wonder whether the name "Derwent road" didn't come from the more famous "Derwentwater" since our DR was built on a wet spot! At any rate Michael Harvey (who's lived in DR since 1978 and interviewed at Palmers Green Tales), while showing his collection of postcards, definitely speaks of DR starting in front of the "splash":

    Derwent road

    Here's a pic posted here, showing Derwent Road being built!

    Derwent road

    And below is the picture of 75 DR where a plane crashed back in 1912.

    De Manio's Blériot monoplane on the roof of 75 Derwent Road, Palmer's Green

    Here you'll find this comment from Newspaper "The reporter": "All ways led to Derwent Road, and the inevitable crowd gathered. I think it may be said that the majority of the inhabitants of this usually peaceful suburb felt the importance of the occasion, and I verily believe that they were even imbued with a feeling akin to pride that the first aeroplane to fall—I beg pardon, to fly—on to a house-roof should have performed that feat in their own neighbourhood."

    And here's another, more subdued comment of the adventure (source):

    The following afternoon Jean de Manio (the aviator) took off yet again, intending to fly south-west to Hendon, but the wind made him drift to the east, and he eventually found himself over Palmers Green in north London, where he once more developed engine trouble and in attempting to land in Broomfield Park he glided down on to the roof of 75 Derwent Road, causing its occupant, a Mr Andow, a postal official, who was in bed at the time, to think there had been a gas explosion. Some schoolboys, who were having tea opposite and had run out to see what was happening when they heard the crash, thought of a ladder at their school and ran off to fetch it, while de Manio calmly remained in the plane smoking a cigarette. Jack de Manio’s autobiography claims that Jim was in the plane too, but contemporary press reports don’t seem to mention this.

     

    Having got off the roof by means of the ladder, de Manio later went back up with firemen to fasten the plane securely to the roof for the night, while Mr Andow had to bed down elsewhere as petrol from the plane’s engine had leaked into his boxroom. The plane had eventually to be taken to pieces to remove it from the roof, and later that month the Royal Aero Club banned de Manio from flying in the UK until the end of the following March.

    This one below should be n°89 DR:

    Derwent road

    and of course this one of n°9 which everybody knows:

    Derwent road

    here's one of me - 1963?

    Derwent road

    Might as well put this one!

    Derwent road

    This one below is of 1983; but the next I'm not sure, maybe more of less the same period, but clearly not the same season.

    Derwent road

    Derwent road

    And now a few contemporary views:

    Derwent road

    Derwent road

    Derwent road

    Derwent road

    Derwent road

    Doesn't it seem to have lost some of its soul??

    Oh, and here's a fact page on the street! There you'll find the street's crime rate, house prices and much more...


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  • Some extra pictures of the Yacht or Boating pond I have collected - more of less chronologically. This first one is an aerial view:

    Broomfield Park 4

    Broomfield Park 4

    Broomfield Park 4

    Broomfield Park 4

    Broomfield Park 4 - the Yacht pond

    Broomfield Park 4-the Yacht pond

    The swan necks are gone! (this makes me doubt if the photo was taken in Broomfield park)

    Broomfield Park 4

    Broomfield Park 4-the Yacht pond

    Broomfield Park 4

    Broomfield Park 4

    Broomfield Park 4-the Yacht pond

    Broomfield Park 4

    Broomfield Park 4

    Broomfield Park 4-the Yacht pond

    Not sure the one above is BP...

    Broomfield Park 4

    I took these two (above and below) in 1975

    Broomfield Park 4

    Broomfield Park 4

    Broomfield Park 4

    Broomfield Park 4

    Broomfield Park 4

    Broomfield Park 4

    Broomfield Park 4

    Can someone tell me whether I'm wrong??! The pond seems to be gone on this aerial view, and replaced by a green expanse:

    Broomfield Park 4


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  • A Facebook treasure trove!

    Maybe some of you already know this Facebook page: Winchmore Hill and Palmers Green memories. But if you don't, and you're interested in views of what these two boroughs used to look like, the life which was lived there, say, ever since the photograph has existed, go have a look, it's absolutely great. I've spent hours looking at photos from places, people, vehicles, trades - there are pictures of posters, objects, tickets, maps, there are public events but also family things, and of course since it's a FB page, for each document you have sometimes very long and fascinating exchanges from the people who have joined the group (1400 plus), who all share their memories, sometimes correcting, often adding lost aspects of the events, their own family tidbits, or links to interesting facts to support an interpretation, etc. I cannot tell you how many things have been dug up, thousands anyway! Which is rather remarkable if you consider such a (relatively) small part of Northern London. Some people who post there have had access to sources which have never before been on the Internet, so it's fascinating. Many bygone views are compared to modern-day ones too.

    The other fascinating bit is also that I've come across the first people outside the family who were actually debating somebody we know inside the family: Auntie Olive. I've written to these people, and have already started collecting their testimonies, which I'll reserve for a future post when I have got them all. One person also knew Monsieur Père.

    So here's a collection of snapshots and things downloaded from the site (thanks all contributors!): but I'm sure the English side of the family would notice much, much more of interest than I have; being really cognizant of Palmers Green only, and, for instance, not enough of Enfield, Wood Green or Edmonton, I've certainly missed out on the interest of pictures referring to these localities. People or events mentioned in relation to these places would certainly ring bells to some of you that I myself can't hear!

    There are naturally many past-time views of Broomfield Park and what happened there (for those who know the other parks, BP is by no means the only one!):

    A Facebook treasure trove!

    A Facebook treasure trove!

    A Facebook treasure trove!

    A Facebook treasure trove!

    a lot of pictures are connected to war times:

    A Facebook treasure trove!

    A Facebook treasure trove!

    A Facebook treasure trove!

    A Facebook treasure trove!

    The picture above says ARP (air raid precautions) Staff Shelter: apparently this inscription is still visible on the wall of the London bound platform in Palmers Green train station.

    there are of course pictures of well-known buildings or locations:

    A Facebook treasure trove!

    A Facebook treasure trove!

    A Facebook treasure trove!

    Surprising vehicles or long-lost habits:

    A Facebook treasure trove!

    A Facebook treasure trove!

    A Facebook treasure trove!

    A Facebook treasure trove!

    and here are a few random others:

    A Facebook treasure trove!

    A 1912 congregation at St Monica's

    A Facebook treasure trove!

    An Evans and Davies sale in 1968

    A Facebook treasure trove!

    a 1966 Hazelwood Lane Infants School performance


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