Ian Read has written in with details of his new book about Kirby’s Luxury Coaches, which has been published by the Bushey Museum Trust.

The book covers the history of the well-known local family who ran the coach company from 1926 to 1964, and continuing under new management into the 1990s.

Mr Read said: “The end of the First World War saw the resurgence of the motor bus and charabanc operation and hundreds of small bus and coach operators embraced the improving technology, all serving their local communities with dedication.

“Many had developed from the horse-drawn cart and carriage era and their livelihoods depended upon maintaining a good reputation for service, reliability and value with local customers.

“The Kirby family of Bushey Heath was one such operator.

“It developed a cab and fly service from around 1880 and provided a first-class motor coach service from around 1926 until 1964 when the business was sold on to another local entrepreneur.

“The Kirby Group expanded dramatically, eventually to include more than 80 vehicles, until it was dissolved in the 1990s.

“This new 52-page book charts the history of the Kirby family and its bus and coach business, including the provision of a horsebus connection with local railway stations,” he said.

“It covers in detail the services provided and the vehicles operated, using first-hand knowledge of the last member of the family to be involved and anecdotes from a former driver. A full fleet list and details of road service licences are included.

“The remarkable survival in preservation of two of the business’s 1950s coaches is set out and the book includes more than 40 images, most of which have never been published before.

“The book is the latest in a series published periodically by local history custodians at Bushey Museum.”


Watford Observer: Hospital group


This picture has been sent in by Jane Harrap who wonders if any Nostalgia readers can identify the people in it.

She said: “My mother told me it was a group photo of the management board of the Watford Peace Memorial Hospital, probably during the early 1930s.

“My grandfather James Coe, known as Jim, is second from the right on the back row. He was the publican at the Hit or Miss in the Lower High Street and I would be delighted if any of the other people could be identified.

“I would also be pleased to hear from anyone whose family drank at the pub. My grandfather died in 1936 of cancer at the early age of 54 and his widow Fanny carried on the licence until she died in 1950.”




Over the past few weeks in Nostalgia, letters about an avenue of sequoia trees running from Wellington Memorial Arch in London to Apsley, the country home of the Duke of Wellington, have flooded in.

The trees were planted to commemorate the general’s death, and include one in Delrow House in Aldenham.

Angi Naylor, a regular visitor to Delrow, has written in with some new information.

She said: “On the afternoon of Friday, February 3, I, along with others, had been admiring the majestic sequoia on the main lawn at Delrow.

“Later that day I read the Nostalgia Page enquiry. There are some well-intentioned facts in this story but not necessarily in the right location.

“Following his celebrated military career Arthur Wellesley, (May 1, 1769 to September 14, 1852) the First Duke of Wellington, became prime minister.

“He chose not to live at 10 Downing Street but had his London residence at Apsley House, which is also known as ‘Number 1 London’.

“Following his death, many tributes were made to him including the building of the Wellington Arch, now slightly repositioned and minus the statute of the man himself, and the naming of the giant sequoia Wellingtonia gigantea.

“However this tribute was not without controversy. Firstly another species already held that title and secondly the Americans choose to call the species Washingtonia.

“The family home of the Wellesleys is Stratfield Saye House in Hampshire, without any links to Apsley in Hertfordshire.

“However the village of Finchampstead, a few miles west of Stratfield Saye, does have an avenue of giant sequoias fittingly called Wellingtonia Avenue and planted in honour of the duke in 1863.

“Delrow House is in the process of reviewing its guiding vision statement and as part of that process is seeking out facts about its history.

“We are assuming that Delrow’s sequoia may have been planted soon after Wellington’s death.”

Does anyone have any information about Delrow House when it was an approved school, or memories of Ann Harris setting up the Camphill College?




Debbie Higham has written in with a question about a crash that happened in South Oxhey.

She said: “I wonder if you can help me. I am looking to find out some information from your archives.

“I used to live in Ashridge Drive in South Oxhey some years ago and wanting to find out what year it was that a coach handbrake was let off by some children.

“The coach rolled backwards down Ashridge Drive and crashed into quite a few cars and also into a house. All I need is the month and year, I think it was around 1986 or 1987.”

Do you remember the incident? If so, write and tell us and we’ll pass the information onto Ms Higham through this page.



This Nostalgia column was first published in the Watford Observer on March 9, 2012. Some of the questions posed here may have been answered by our readers in subsequent columns so keep an eye on this site. All subsequent columns will be added to this section of our website over the coming weeks.

To contact Nostalgia, click here abinnie@london.newsquest.co.uk