Old postcards of Watford, Bushey and Oxhey have always aroused my curiosity. As a member of the Hertfordshire Postcard Collectors Club in the 1970s, I travelled to meetings in Hatfield with the late local historian George Lorimer. We both collected postcards of the area but there was never any rivalry. Every club member knew other members’ collecting interests and we all looked out for each other while searching for our own postcards and ephemera. The good-natured Neil Jenkins organised the meetings and the inimitable Ron Griffiths single-handedly produced a regular magazine, to which members willingly contributed. I believe Ron is still a postcard dealer.

So here is a second take on some intriguing and amusing messages written on my old Bushey postcards:

A teenage Cyril Wilde wrote to his mother at Royal Terrace, Weston-super-Mare, in 1917: ‘Will you please send me a couple of cheap towels. I had two but one has been pinched so I have had to use the other all the time I have been here.’

Read more: The stories behind postcards of Bushey

The postcard is of Bushey Hall, where he was undergoing training with the Household Brigade Officer Cadet Battalion, a magnificent Victorian building tragically demolished in the mid-1950s. I discovered that Cyril joined the Somersetshire Light Infantry and survived World War One. After the war, he became an anaesthetist and married, but died during World War Two aged only 41.

On August 22, 1904, ‘D’ sent a postcard of Bushey Church to J.H. Yarr Esq. in Millom, Cumberland. Below the photograph of Bushey Church, she (I believe) wrote: ‘Where I shall be buried, I expect’. Another postcard, this time of the interior of Bushey Church, was sent to the same addressee, on which ‘D’ wrote: ‘Pelting with rain’.

Watford Observer:

Lululaund, Melbourne Road, 1904

The following day brought another postcard, this time of Sir Hubert von Herkomer’s residence, Lululaund, which stood in Melbourne Road, Bushey; another Victorian building that, apart from a fragment of the façade, was sadly demolished in 1939. This time, there was no message to Mr Yarr; it was simply signed ‘With love from D’. At the time, Jonathon Yarr was 25 years of age and a schoolmaster, later a curate. I don’t know who ‘D’ was but I hope she found some solace in her life.

The Royal Masonic School features once again, as it did in my previous article on Bushey postcards. This time Tom, a boarder, wrote to Irene Spargo in July 1907: ‘Here is a view of our school. Very imposing is it not. Managed to get very wet yesterday and I am going down again Saturday week to the Old Boys’ Reunion and cricket match. We have fine sport then.’ Another postcard of the school written by Harry to Fred Smith stated: ‘I went to see this school yesterday. It is splendid.’

In August 1907 Lizzie wrote to Miss Alltree: ‘We had a thunderstorm here last night. Bushey is very full. I hope Nell eats her dinner better than she used to’.

Watford Observer:

Clay Hill, 1905. Picture: William Coles

Charlie advised Miss Lil Eade in September 1905: ‘Frank is coming round to see me on Saturday afternoon, if fine by motor, if wet by train, so you might do the needfull [sic]’. I wonder what that might have involved. On William Coles’ postcard of Clay Hill with a horse and cart, and pedestrians with a baby in the foreground, Charlie added ‘I ride up this way home’. On a horse or in a motor, I wonder?

Watford Observer:

Black Cottage, 1907

A delightful Edwardian scene at Black Cottage, Bushey features three young girls in straw hats and white cotton smocks. On the reverse of the 1907 postcard, Jack wrote to Mrs J.J. Smith in Ramsgate: ‘Dear Mother, hope you are having a decent time. The weather here is fine. Things are going along well. Sonny knew dad at once. Do you want any plums?’ I wonder who Sonny was and whether the girls lived at Black Cottage.

Watford Observer:

Harrow Weald Road, Bushey Heath, 1912

Rose wrote in 1912 to Miss Pollard on a postcard of Harrow Weald Road, Bushey Heath: ‘Dear Frances, I hope you have not worked the other head off my scissors and left them all legs. Trusting you have plenty of work to do.’ At the time, Rose was living with Mrs Gregory at Suffolk Cottage, California, as California Lane in Bushey Heath was known in those early days.

Watford Observer:

Rebuilding of St. Peter's Church, 1912. Picture: Woolfenden

A postcard captures a moment on October 30, 1912 during the rebuilding of St Peter’s Church at Bushey Heath. The placard on the right indicates that the cost of rebuilding was £10,200 The amount collected at that time was £5,940 and £4,000 was ‘still required’.

W.J. Dickens of Ealing was the building contractor. The sender, Albert Deamer, from 15/16 Springfield, Bushey Heath, wrote to his parents on the reverse: ‘You will see that they are getting on with the church. How would you like a job up and down the ladder all day?’

I think Albert was intrigued by the unusually long ladder that can be seen reaching beyond the roof of the church. He became a wheelwright, later a coachbuilder.

Watford Observer:

Old Parish Hall, Bushey Heath, 1906

Six years previously, a postcard of the old Parish Hall in Bushey Heath was addressed to Mrs. Deamer in Harpenden; the same family. An ‘x’ indicates the hall’s ‘front gate’. On the reverse is a youngster’s message in joined-up mirror writing that reads: ‘Dear Mother, Got back safely. Rats.’ I’d like to think that it’s Rats himself who is standing at the entrance to the hall.

Lesley Dunlop is the daughter of the late Ted Parrish, a well-known local historian and documentary filmmaker. He wrote 96 nostalgic articles for the ‘Evening Post-Echo’ in 1982-83 which have since been published in ‘Echoes of Old Watford, Bushey & Oxhey’, available at www.pastdayspublishing.com and Bushey Museum. Lesley is currently working on ‘Two Lives, Two World Wars’, a companion volume that explores her father’s and grandfather’s lives and war experiences, in which Watford, Bushey and Oxhey’s history will take to the stage once again.