With my father working for Odhams (Watford) Ltd before and after the war and myself working for Odhams after the war, I will try to put a bit more meat on the bone regarding the picture of Odhams in last week’s Watford Observer.

The way the sun has cast shadows from the bushes at the forefront of the photo makes me feel the photograph of Odhams workers relaxing at an outdoor function was taken one dinner hour on the day shift in the summer time. A lot of the ladies and men are in their working attire and that also indicates it was their dinner hour. My guess is that the photo was taken during the war years (1939-45) as the men in uniform are wearing the uniform of the Home Guard.

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The building with the pitched roof to the right in the photo was our works canteen and not a pavilion as stated in the report. (Our works canteen was always known as “the cottage”.) To the left of the photo is the entry gate to our tennis courts. The bowling greens were at the other end of the tennis courts, where the clock tower stands today.

Watford Observer:

Photo A (above) shows number one and two buildings with the tennis courts and bowling green between Odhams and the A41. The photo was taken in 1952 before the clock tower was built.

Watford Observer:

Photo B (above) shows you Odhams at the time of opening in October 1936. Please note that in this photo the driveway that runs from St Albans Road to Odhams factory is still being used by shoppers at Asda. Number three building (clock tower) was built in 1953. This famous old building with its stand out feature of a clock tower was designed and modelled on Stockholm Town Hall. Whereas building one and two were of art-deco design built for Odhams in 1936 and 1939.

The gentleman that brought Odhams to North Watford was Viscount Southwood of Fernhurst, who was given the name of Julius Salter Elias at birth. He was born in Birmingham in 1873 and died at his home in Highgate in 1946. He was a good man who was renowned and famous for his widespread good reputation and his generosity, especially with children’s hospitals in London. The name of Southwood will always be remembered and revered in Watford, especially in North Watford and by myself.

Ernie MacKenzie

Gammons Lane, Watford