Memories of A R Titford

Part 5: Family Religions, Traditions and Ceremonial Outings

St. Francis Church
Hertfordshire Archives and Local Studies
The White Bridge Opening Ceremony
Hertfordshire Archives and Local Studies

Baptism

There were various churches being built for different denominations, but there was no Anglican church, only St. Francis Hall on the corner of Parkway and Church Road. Some years later a church was built and joined to the hall. For some reason I was christened in, I think, the Meeting Room, by the Revd Walter E. Hardcastle in December 1924, when I was seven and a half. I remember holding a silver dish with holy water in it, handed to me to hold by the Vicar, who then proceeded to sprinkle the waters over me during the baptism ceremony. I don’t know why I wasn’t christened shortly after my birth in London, but probably it had something to do with the fact that my paternal grandfather was a Unitarian, and my mother’s father a Wesleyan Methodist, both non-conformists. As I was going away to a Church of England boarding school and the headmaster was the Reverend Cecil Grant, the rules probably required all new pupils to have been baptised in the Established Church, before joining as a pupil of the school.

A New Car Every Year

About this time, my father bought his first new car, an Austin 12 open tourer, with a canvas roof and folding screens at the back, to shield the passengers. But as many of the roads, even the main roads, were compacted earth, before the days of tarmac, we frequently arrived at our destination covered with dust. My mother used to drive, but one day, when she came home from the golf club, she misjudged the width between the gateposts and succeeded in demolishing the right hand post! It was some time before she decided to drive again. After this my father bought Ford saloon cars from a dealer in Hatfield. They were always black I remember, following Henry Ford’s dictum, ‘you can have any colour you like as long as it is black’. The company had a special arrangement for changing your car for a new one each year. The arrangement stopped after a few years, as it was costing the Ford Motor Company too much money, although an excellent scheme for the buyer.

The White Bridge Foundation Stone

One major public event I attended with my father was the laying of the foundation stone for White Bridge, over the railway line to Luton. It led to an area called Sherrards Wood, a part of it being developed for residential housing. The ceremony took place at an early hour of the morning on 3rd November 1925. Maybe that was one of the events that inspired me to become a civil engineer. The bridge is still in use today, at the start of Digswell Road. Before the bridge was built there were level crossing gates. The other event was the construction of the new railway station on the main line from King’s Cross. Work started in 1925 and was completed in October 1926 when it was officially opened by Neville Chamberlain M.P. The first Station Master was Mr. J.F. House, who was said to keep the place in pristine order! People living on the east side of the line, in the Peartree area, had to wait 10 years, till 1936, for an entrance to the station on that side of the tracks.

This page was added on 18/08/2010.

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