As writer and author Mary Forsyth bids farewell to Watford to move to Bedfordshire, I know I am one of very many who applaud her for her prodigious and earnest contributions over the years to the area’s fascinating local history.

I first met Mary many years ago when she crossed paths with my late father, Ted Parrish, who had been actively documenting the history of Watford, Bushey and Oxhey in print and film since the 1960s.

They both gave their time and significant energies to ensuring that local residents from past years, former businesses, now-demolished historic buildings and noteworthy events, all of which shaped the area’s history, were meticulously researched and recorded for the benefit of present and future generations.

When another local historian, Bob Nunn, who was well known for ‘The Book of Watford’ and ‘The Book of Watford II’, launched his book ‘Watford Past’ at Watford Museum in October 1999, two-and-a-half years after my father’s death, Mary was invited, as was another dedicated local historian, George Lorimer.

Mary’s imminent departure from Watford seems an appropriate time to submit my photo, taken at Bob Nunn’s book launch of Bob, Mary and George. Capturing three local historians together in Watford Museum was an opportunity not to be missed. Mary is the sole survivor of the worthy threesome.

I’d like to celebrate our local historians, past and present, and thank Mary, as I know others would, for her impressive contributions to the area’s historical records and wish her and her husband happiness in the next chapter of their lives.

Local history research into our yesterdays is vital. It gives today’s residents an appreciation of who and what went before which, in turn, leads to a better understanding of life in the present day.

Ted and Peggy Parrish

Ted and Peggy Parrish

My father’s own research melded with his personal memories of growing up in Watford, the first of which, at four years of age, was seeing Watford Mill in Lower High Street in December 1924, the day after it had been devastated by fire.

He was the main textual contributor to Bob Nunn’s ‘The Book of Watford’, author of numerous ‘Hertfordshire Countryside’ magazine articles, a frequent writer to the Watford Observer and producer of unique award-winning sound films over the decades that documented the many changes in Watford, Bushey and Oxhey.

His 96 nostalgic local history articles under the title ‘Ted Parrish Remembers’ appeared in the ‘Evening Post-Echo’ in 1982 and 1983. I published them in a book – ‘Echoes of Old Watford, Bushey & Oxhey’ ( – which is in stock at Bushey Museum.

I am currently working on a companion volume, ‘Two Lives, Two World Wars’, which explores my father’s and grandfather’s lives and unique war experiences in the RAF and the Army respectively, with Watford, Bushey and Oxhey taking to the stage once again.