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!”