A kids life in Cecil Road

Philip Wright The Pit Horns Mill Ca 1958
Philip Wright
Morgans Walk School photo taken about 1958 Philip Wright & Harold Wright
Philip Wright
Philip Wright 6th birthday party 1960
Philip Wright

All the kids, not just from Horns Mill, but more from Cecil Road will remember the great experiences we had playing on an area of open land called, “The Pit”. This lay on the Western side of the houses and borderer the railway line, “Hertford North” to London. Over the Pit there were two very large and high earth mounds, the largest was known as the big mountain and the smaller known as the small mountain, this as you may imagine, was a child’s paradise. An extremely large place separated by these two mountains.

Re-enactments from all cowboy and Indian encounters, and also those from the 2nd World War, along with all manner of “Goodies against Baddies”, or two teams were formed and one team would go onto the big mountain and the other to the small mountain, then we would shoot mud balls at each other from the ends of sticks so as to make the mud balls fly further. Often, a number of us kids would go camping between the small mountain and the fence in front of the railway lines, and we used to have some great fun, believe me.

Then between the two mountains there was a flat area which first held a kids playground, swings, sea-saw, roundabout, slide, etc. but by my time in the Pit, this was in bad disrepair, so we kids made our own entertainment. This was to prove very popular with the organisational skills of Mrs Medland, who lived on the corner of Cecil Road & Purkiss Road, No.76 I think. Mrs Medland got all us kids together and run some very interesting ideas by us, and then it was agreed, we would start by clearing the long grass and brambles from the flat area of the Pit and make that area a football pitch and a cricket pitch too. It took a lot of hard work and a lot of sweat, but eventually, we got the area as we liked it.

It was only a matter of time that cricket matches were arranged between Horns Mill and Hertford Heath & then the return match was played. Would you believe it, us kids had to walk from Horns Mill to Hertford Heath and back with all the equipment. On occasions, I would climb to the top of the small mountain and watch the trains come through and sometimes I saw the “MALLARD” come through too, and it looked very modern and posh.

The period approaching Bonfire night was also very exciting as all us kids would beg steal or borrow all manner of wheeled contrivances, then a group of kids with each of the barrows would push it along knocking on all the doors asking for any old furniture, mattresses, paper, etc. and take any orders to return when a wardrobe would be ready for collection. All the carts and barrows met over the Pit and sorted out the stuff for the bonfire. The big lads did all the building and some of the little ones were used to get inside and pack the bonfire out with newspaper and the like. The night of the 5th of November was always a spectacular night for us kids as we would invite the whole of the street and Horns Mill along to the bonfire, then at the prescribed time the fire would be lit, the fireworks set of by all the family groups, and when the fire had died down people would toss in potatoes either in silver foil of just caked in mud to bake for a while. All good fun really.

We also made great use of “Granny Walkers Wood”, never knew why it was called that, but never mind.  “Granny Walkers Wood” is situated about 300 Yards South of the Horns Mill estate, on the Western side of Brickendon Lane. Known to the kids as Grannies, we would ride our bikes round the wall of death as we called it, It was supposedly a crater left by an exploding WWII bomb. We would also construct camps with interwoven wooden branches, all woven together, we would construct the 4 walls, and the roof. With the roof, we would make it strong and well interwoven with smaller branches. Erect the 4 walls and tie them together, then place on the roof, cover the roof with plastic and then lay on cut turves to hold down the plastic and assist in camouflaging the roof. When properly constructed, one could walk away about 50 paces, turn and look back and have difficulty in spotting the camp.

When I look back and reminisce about all the things us kids got up to we had fun, self made fun, trying not to annoy anyone. Such as the street games we used to play, many of those games I can close my eyes and remember how to play them, but the names of most of the games have been lost to me through the annals of time and a weaker memory. We would have running competitions to see who could run the fastest circuit round the estate, (As it was one large loop). Sometimes two lads who argued that one was faster than the other were given the definitive test. They were stood back to back and the starter would say GO, the two would run the circuit in opposing directions, with the winner being the first to touch the starter. We also played Ting-Tang Tommy, Ginger knock and run, (Great fun but naughty), Woggle, we would organise our own mini Olympics. We all knew when it was time to go in of an evening as our mums would call from the front doors, then in, bath, get your stuff ready for next day school, and bed.

The adults too organised things like I remember that they had organised a bike ride to a place where there was a mass of Blackberries growing. Mums and dads would pile the kids on their bikes, buckets and all and off we set to the Blackberry picking place. What a great time that was too. The adults would lift us kids up high to get the highest or furthest and biggest blackberries, and us kids loved it. We picked so many Blackberries that the buckets were full and us kids ended up totally purple and blue, and as we had eaten so many of the Blackberries, many of the kids had bad stomachs the next day.    Ahhhhh, Happy days!

This page was added on 03/01/2019.

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  • Obviously a completely different time and experience but I also grew up in Cecil Road in the maisonettes. Very good memories. We moved in in 1998. The area was hard to get used to at first being outsiders but some of the people there where very friendly and would really help out if needed (milk, sugar, cigarettes mostly) we had the ice cream man come round each day and everyone would run down or send their kids down for tobacco 😂. You could talk to neighbours from the balcony and knock on friends to come out and play at the park. Which had 2 playgrounds (the big playground and the little playground), we would play 40/40 home and try get back to the little playground without being caught. The two shops: Macs and Mace? (It’s been years). The Herts Horns was the local pub and the mayor at the time Russel, used to go in for his whisky. We had the “clothes line area” which was unused for a long time til a family used it for plants and when World Cup was on, laid an extension lead down with a tv to watch. The best bit of the park was the hill called “the mega drop” you’d run down it as fast as you could and see who was quickest. The community centre got built at some point but wasn’t used much to memory. There was an entrance to the woods right at the back which went to Bayford house. On the way there was a swing made of blue rope we all played on till it got ridiculously dangerous and broke away.

    By Marinda (31/10/2023)
  • I well remember the football games in Cecil Road. The usual format of either two coats or two jumpers strategesticaly placed on the road for the goalposts. Approximately every 30 minutes, a cry of “Car!” would interrupt the game, whilst we all stood back on the kerbs, to allow it to proceed on it’s way. Bigger games of more lads were either played on the Purkiss Road Green, or Cut Corners, on the opposite side of the river Lea, adjacent to Hertford Town Football Club. Games often lasting 3 hours or more, or untill we could run no more!! If you went home and it wasn’t a meal time, nor raining, your mother would often send you out again, to go and play. Many back doors were left open or unlocked, so mum’s didn’t have to get up or stop their housework when you called around to see a friend. You simply walked in and made your presence known and always received a cheery welcome. Far less stress those days, with older children self policing and looking after the younger ones. Some great ingredients for a period piece 🎥 film, on this site.

    By Brian Jennings (34, Cecil Road) 26/04/53 (15/04/2023)
  • I’m sure when we were younger, someone told us there used to be an old lady that lived in the woods, and used to collect and sell apples! Apparently Her name was Mrs Walker? I think they renamed her Granny Walker! Not sure how true it was, or whether it’s just been a story passed down, but that’s where we were told the name came from! So that’s why we always referred to them as Granny Walkers woods

    By Annabelle (06/03/2021)
  • About 8 years ago I was working in a school in Newquay in Cornwall. A young English teacher sat next to me in the staff room on the last day of term and asked what I would be doing during the Easter holidays. I told her I was going to visit my parents in Hertfordshire. ‘Where in Herts?’ She asked.
    ‘In Hertford’
    ‘Were you Simon Balle or Sele School?’ I was shocked!
    ‘Simon Balle of course!’
    ‘Me too!’
    I said,
    ‘I was a Morgan’s Walker.’
    ‘Me too.’
    She lived in Cecil road as a child, I can’t think what number but it was right at the top towards the black bridge. Small world!

    By Nick Martin (12/08/2020)
  • We moved to 42 Cecil Road in 1947 or 1948. I remember the pit very well. One game not mentioned here is bows and arrows. There was a competition to see who could fire an arrow the furthest from the top of the mount. Jim Bilton (No. 40) won as he made a very large bow which he fired by lying on his back and using both feet to support the bow whilst pulling the string back with both hands. Do you remember the number of wild strawberries there were near the railway? As for Granny Walkers, it was called that even then. We moved out in 1954. Happy childhood days indeed.

    By John Weeks (03/04/2020)
  • Does anyone know why it was called Granny Walkers? Have researched everywhere but no answer. Have a family connection to the area and elderly relatives would love the answer to this

    By Sandra Davis (18/01/2020)
  • Brilliant…I remember all of what’s gone before.
    I grew up in Hornsmill…Purkiss Road to be precise.
    I remember the fields at the back of our house when all the draw had been cut playing with the bails climbing them making dens with them too..
    I also remember Charles and Diana’s wedding and the koala club (I think that’s what it was called) arranging all of the long tables on the green and having jelly and sandwiches followed by a Punch and Judy show on the lay-by by the police houses, and the decorate a paper plates competition.
    Also the street party for the Golden Jubilee and me having to ride on the camel as none of the ladies of the committee wanted to.
    Playing British bulldog on the green..walking the poles across the ditch and going through the tunnel from the ditch to Granny walkers as a dare.
    Making go-carts and riding skateboards in the summer holidays and going to Hartham swimming for the whole day with a breadbag of ham and jam sandwiches…😋 Which were always squashed, warm and a little wet but we’re so welcomed after swimming all day and playing on the grass hill to dry off before the long walk home.
    Happy simple childhood days.

    By Barbara Hares (18/10/2019)
  • I moved out in 1986 Granny Walkers & the wall of death on motorbikes plus the black bridge at the top end of Cecil road. I do seem to remember there is a war memorial just into the woods the other side of the railway bridge as you start walking towards Bayford, with a sea mine very close to it.

    By Dameon Kitchen (10/10/2019)
  • We lived in Hornsmill until 1952, then moved to Broad Green, Bayford. I loved Granny Walkers. Our den was right near the road, next to a stream which ran across the road into a concrete gulley. Our den was also made of woven walls and was very strong. we even built little fires. I am now 79, and 10 years ago my husband and I visited Hertfford. We went into the wood, and there were some boys riding their bikes in the big dip. I asked “What’s the name of this wood? “Granny Walker’s was the reply. I was so delighted to hear it said again! Speaking of the railway line, we used to toboggan down the bank. Often the run wasn’t quite long enough, and we’d hit the fence at the bottom. We used to use large poles and vault over the concrete gulley, near where the flooding water which ran down Brickendon Lane flowed. When I say we, all the kids used to play together. Like the previous writer said……….Happy, happy days.

    By Sylvia Bazell. (nee Norwood) (28/03/2019)