The view from the other side.1943- 1957. From an ex Roydon resident.

Stanstead abbotts Herts, was a foreign place to me, aged 9 years and living at Roydon Essex, which in 1943 was also very new to me. My family was working for Mr Frederick at Temple farm and contacts from 'over the border' were weekly from Mr Anderson who called with Hardware goods, pots, pans, candles, paraffin oil for the lamps and heating. His was a very good service, goods ordered one week would be delivered next week, another service was provided by Mr Sid Atkins, who had a chemists shop in Stanstead Abbotts, and travelled with his pony and trap to deliver prescription medicines to Roydon.


There was at this time a bus service which ran from Hertford to Epping, but not very frequently, an early bus for workers and then about 3 hours wait for the next one. An occasional treat was a ride in Mr Fredericks van when he had business to transact at Andrews the Harness maker, or Wells , Iron mongers at Ware (taking the short cut through Easneye park added to the adventure).


Another introduction to the village was occasioned by a football match organised by Mr Pearce at the village school, our team from Roydon was under the control of Mr Drake our Headmaster, at this time the football field was at the back of the Alms houses on the side of Cats Hill, off Netherfield lane, there were several challenges to be overcome, the grass was never cut and in places was up to your knees, but worst of all was the severe slope of the ground, half of the match was played uphill, and the other half down, but it gave us contact outside our little community, plus some exercise.


Another  school visit was to The Mill, where we saw the wonders of making mirrors, with the silvering process, and the frame making, but for me seeing a wood lathe being expertly operated by  Mr Southern was wonderful, he made a Diablo bobbin, while we watched fascinated. In fact it inspired me to such an extent that a lathe was the object of my desire, and saving hard for some time I did manage to aquire one. This visit was an inspiration to some of the lads, who when they left school took up employment at " Burts Factory " as it was known.


Further interest for me was fishing, and the Abbotts Angling Club was an attraction, they held  meetings at the Pied Bull, one of their members lived in Roydon, he taught me several techniques that I have never forgotten during fishing at Rye Meads.  I was fortunate enough to own a bicycle, and when parts were required Mr Frank Andrews would oblige, war time availability permitting. At this time Alf Andrews was in Egypt, serving with REME.


My next experience was to buy a motorcycle, having reached the age of 16 years, and this brought me again into contact with  the Andrews family, in particular Mr Alf { Fella} Andrews, who was a keen motorcyclist, and through the years he became my Mentor in things mechanical to do with motorcycles. The road to Stanstead Abbotts changed quite dramatically once you crossed the Railway at Roydon and entered into Hertfordshire, we always made a joke that it was to shake up your medicine. It was always a creepy ride or walk when nearing the cutting by St James church, I do remember one night walking home in the snow, about 10.30, a Stoat or some other small creature jumped down off the bank, I took off at such a pace that would have probably qualified me for the olympics, and did not stop untill I reached Roydon Station, I am sure my boots were alight.


My lasting impression of Stanstead Abbotts is of a small friendly community, and inspite of it being in another county, it proved to work out OK, as I met my wife through my connection with the Andrews family, when I married the daughter of Alf ( Fella ) Andrews.

Tom Gilby

Nov 2012