Knella Road Memories

"It was all open fields."

Knella Road c1938
Shirley's father job went after the death of Birkin but he then found work in the film studios.

This memory was donated by Shirley A to the Welwyn Garden Heritage Trust in November 2009.

Shirley’s parents moved to Welwyn Garden City in 1932 initially to enable her father to work for Sir Henry Birkin who helped them to find digs before they moved to a house in Knella Road.

The following excerpt from her interview transcript and the audio clip include some war time memories.

“…during the war years we had my father’s mother from London living with us and an aunt and uncle and one niece came at weekends so some time there were four of us in one bedroom and in the air-raids my mother would bring a mattress downstairs – so that’s when I used to go under the kitchen table – my brother would sleep through it all – we couldn’t raise him.

I can remember going down just past the Beehive when it was just a country lane with the Beehive Pub there. We used to go blackberrying. I used to love going mushrooming down a hill at the bottom of Knella Road. It was all open fields.

When we moved in here there were no flats. There were open fields and you can imagine when they built them we wanted to knock them down.

I have seen it grow when all those years back my parents and the different societies and clubs – through ICI I played badminton and belonged to a dancing group, philately – drama and got into all those things and up until 18 months ago I was still playing badminton.

I can remember going from Knella Road again there was a little walk through Shortlands Green – there was a little green there and an old man called ‘Cary’ had a bike and he used to do films shows and sell sweets and he had a three wheeled bike and there was a little sweet shop down there. There was so much countryside around and you just went to the top of Knella Road where this little shop was. There was all open fields. Arkley House was there, I always thought it was very posh with it chandelier in the main entrance. I remember Shredded Wheat had a big archway when you entered.

When I joined ICI it was mostly all huts. There were only about two brick buildings. They were just starting to do the research laboratories. We were all in these huts. Couples used to go and canoodle at the back!”

This page was added on 18/06/2011.

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  • I used to live at numbr twenty in the 80’s, looking back I can’t believe how big the gadens were!
    Somebody asked about the where the name Knella came from – it’s Middle English ‘knelle’ for hill, I did used to complain about walking back up Ludwick way from school, mountainous 🙂

    By David (17/02/2024)
  • P.S. Hi. I believe Shirley (in the first comment) must have meant to say Barclay (not Arkley) House which stood near the end of Knella Road and had a beautiful chandelier and grand winding staircase behind a very grand all glass entrance…which was very impressive. I had a happy time working there making corsets when I left school.

    By Christine Winnan (24/02/2021)
  • Hi Christine, Thank you for your comments. It was actually Barcley Corsets. One of those names that can be spelled many ways. Type BARCLEY CORSETS into the search on this website for an article on the factory. It was demolished in 2000.

    By Darren Harte (25/02/2021)
  • I was born in 52 in 1957. We moved a few years later to 46, on the corner with Ludwick Way. I moved to Hatfield in the late 70’s. I’m still in WGC.

    By Chris Price (19/02/2021)
  • I remember all the little network of shortcuts joining up and interconnecting Knella Rd, Salisbury Road, Shortlands Green and Cranbourne Gardens and through the little courts Longmore Gardens, Barnard Green, and St Audrey’s Green and Salisbury Gardens…and also the wooded Spinney off Ludwick way where I lived and which took me through to Salisbury Gardens and St Audreys Green and out virtually opposite the entranceway to Blackthorn School. I also remember the guy mentioned…..we used to call him ‘old Cary’ but I don’t think he was really that old…. his tricycle used to have a tray on it with sweets on so of course we would pester mother for a penny or tuppence or threepence and she would say oh you don’t want sweets from him they’ll be all dirty….probably in the hope we’d stop pestering her for money !

    By Christine Winnan (18/02/2021)
  • Re my comment (question) about the origin of the name Knella, I have now seen an old 1899 map of the area and there is a wooded area called Knella Row near where the road would eventually be built.

    By David Miller (05/05/2020)
  • Does anyone know the origin of the name Knella?

    By David Miller (27/04/2020)
  • I moved to 88 Knella road- after being on a waiting list – with my wife Victoria, in 1966. I was 20, she was 19. We had 3 children there. I was working at ICI (Plastics Division) until we left in 1972 to Melbourne Australia. 

    By Barry Aarons (28/04/2016)
  • I lived in Knella Road,Welwyn Garden City from 1930 until I married in 1953  My wife Nina is also a WGC Girl, who I have known since our schooldays. We moved to Potters bar after our marriage but now live at Wimborne, Dorset. 

    By Basil J Renshaw (11/06/2015)
  • We lived at 67 Knella Road in the 1960s, and I lived there when I got married in 1964.

    By Wendy Johnson (31/03/2015)
  • I lived at 273 Knella Road with my nan and glad our neighbour was non other than Sir Nickolas Faldo, naf as we called him cos his initials were N A F, Nick Alexander Faldo

    By Tony Richmond (04/10/2013)