From South Shields to WGC

Guarding Digswell viaduct

Creswick Court 1937

Robyn came to WGC in the early 1940s. She donated this Memory to the Welwyn Garden Heritage Trust in August 2009.

The audio clip records how the family came to move here from the North East of England.

Robyn felt that the town was very much divided in two by the railway line “I lived on the East side and if you were coming over we called it “going over the other side”.”

She recalled an incident during the War that happened to her cousin’s husband Vivien Jones “he was a Welshman and he was in Dad’s Army, and one night his sergeant came for him and said they were going down to guard the viaduct, against the German hoards and invaders. He had a rifle, which his mother didn’t know he had and which he had to keep hidden under his bed. His father did know he had it. So the two of them went down to the viaduct, because of the German hoards. I think Viv was only 16 or 17, when this chap turned to him and said “Right, I’ll see you in the morning cos I’m on shift work over at Shredded Wheat. Cheerio!” And there was this 16, 17 year old boy, on his own, with a rifle, guarding the viaduct against the might of the Wehrmacht! Absolutely true story. Real Dad’s Army Stuff!”

Robyn also remembered the GPs who worked in the town. “Oh, Dr Dick! He was the Parkway practice and the Hallgrove practice, and he had a practice in Broadwater Road which was literally round the corner from us in Creswick Court, and you could go to the doctors at any time. And you could ring them up and they would come in their pyjamas, so unlike today. I had pushed some red cellophane paper right up my nose. I can remember, because he was the first doctor in that practice, being taken there, because my mother didn’t know what the problem was, and him pulling it out.  And there was a dispensary in the surgery as well, in the one in Broadwater Road. We also at one time lived in Blackthorn Road and round the corner in Heronswood Road lived Dr Cotter, who was another very well known doctor and such a lovely, lovely man. And my mother said ‘go round and ask Dr Cotter’ something or another, and you’d go and Mrs Cotter would open the door and the children would be there with sandwiches and things, and he would just come out, round the corner to you, if you needed him. It was quite amazing. All the doctors did that – they were so accessible in those days…”

This page was added on 06/08/2011.

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  • Has anyone got any more details on Dr Cotter and his grade 2 listed building on the Howlands House site please?

    By Carolyn Harrington (17/06/2020)