I spent the first eighteen years of my life in Welwyn Garden City, firstly in Leigh Common, then Great Ley. I was born in 1947, and my first memories are of going to the Woodhall shops with Mum. At that time they finished by the co-op, and there was a small field just beyond, up to the start of Ludwick Way. The main shop was a WGC Company Store, and you were served at a wooden counter. It later become “Fine Fare”. There was a small sweet shop called MacConachie’s, and a chemist, Johns and Kelynack’s complete with large glass bottle filled with coloured water in the windows. The hairdresser was “Marguerite” but always called “Daisy’s”! The area opposite Ludwick Way, to the side of the Gooseacre green, was still rough ground, with sandhills. Later it was where a health clinic, library and Penticostal Church were built. I went to Ludwick School, where my teacher was Miss MacKelvie, and then on to Peartree School.
I have very clear memories of the Coronation celebrations in 1953. We had a street party, which due to the bad weather was held in the old wooden Congregational Church Hall, on the corner of Woodhall and Peartree Lanes. We also had a fancy dress competition, won by someone dressed as Gordon Richards, the jockey who had just won the Derby, complete with small wooden horse. Lots of the houses had decorations, we had a crown with flags on either side, set on our bay window roof.
On Saturdays we would get the bus from Woodhall into the town centre. I remember some shops clearly. Munts was where you went to buy bicycles and toys, and it had a smell all its own – rubbery. Cresta had a very posh shop on the corner of the Welwyn Department Store, and there was a nice shop selling fabrics and patterns on Howardsgate, plus Simmons for delicious cakes.
There were still quite few original Hatfield Hyde houses left, including rows of cottages opposite the Peartree public house, and further along near St Mary Magdalene Church, plus the “Beehive”, and the A1 Dairy at the top of Homestead Lane.
I could go on for much longer, if anyone is interested!