Many well-known people were born in, lived in or passed through Watford, Bushey and Oxhey.

Geri Halliwell, Andrew Ridgeley, Vinnie Jones and Bradley Walsh are amongst those with local links who immediately spring to mind. But let's not forget Watford-born comedian Michael Bentine, founding member of the Goons; raconteur Cyril Fletcher, famous for his Odd Odes; and BBC television band leader Eric Robinson.

Amongst the many local groups with which my father, Ted Parrish, was involved was the Watford Council of Youth (WCY). In September 1961, he was asked to compere an evening's performance of the Temperance Seven at Watford Technical College in Hempstead Road (now Watford Campus of West Herts College). They were at the peak of their popularity and packed the hall with their unique 1920's-style jazz. I sat in the front row, with my autograph book at the ready! During the interval, my father arranged for the Mike Blake Jazzman to entertain the audience.

Watford Observer: Temperance Seven Watford ticket and autographs, 1961Temperance Seven Watford ticket and autographs, 1961

He must have impressed the WCY, as he was subsequently asked to compere rock and roll singer Terry Dene and rock band Johnny Kidd & the Pirates at what was then the small Town Hall (now Watford Colosseum). A near first for Watford in the very early 1960s occurred when my father was asked to compere the Rolling Stones; then a little-known group. Ironically, even in those pre-fame days, their fee was extraordinarily high and beyond WCY's pockets, so Watford - and my father - missed out!

Watford Observer: Johnny Kidd, c1961. Image: Watford ObserverJohnny Kidd, c1961. Image: Watford Observer

Terry Scott was born in Watford in 1927 and grew up in Tucker Street, Watford Fields, one road away from Neal Street where my father lived as a young boy. The two attended (Watford) Field Junior School and Watford Grammar School for Boys, though seven years apart. The much-loved actor and comedian starred in the popular television series Terry and June and a number of Carry On films. He was chosen to open Watford Museum at the former offices of Benskins Brewery on March 14, 1981. I remember him pulling back the curtain with a mischievous grin to reveal the brass commemorative plaque, but I can't believe that was 43 years ago!

Watford Observer: Mayor of Watford, Councillor Ray Reynolds; first Curator of Watford Museum, Helen Poole; and Terry Scott at the Museum's opening, Benskin House, March 14, 1981Mayor of Watford, Councillor Ray Reynolds; first Curator of Watford Museum, Helen Poole; and Terry Scott at the Museum's opening, Benskin House, March 14, 1981

In 2002, Sir David Attenborough, my lifelong hero, was in the Harlequin Centre (now atria) signing his new book, Life on Air: Memoirs of a Broadcaster. I couldn't miss the opportunity, so I dashed into the Harlequin after work, bought his book and joined the queue for his signature. I remember telling him how his programme Zoo Quest had enthralled me as a child, leaving me in awe of natural history and that his search for Indonesia's Komodo Dragon still resonated with me. He retorted with a smile: 'Oh, the 1950s. That makes me feel old!' My further encounters with him were in 2010 in connection with a small Jurassic fossil hunters' book that I part-wrote. He contributed a quote for the book's first edition and supplied a photo of himself holding the book which appeared in the second edition.

Bill Oddie OBE was another celebrity who spent a few hours in Watford; in Cassiobury Park to be precise. One summer weekend c1993, the actor, comedian, birder, author and former television Goodie led a walk for local children, including my three, by the canal in the park. His aim was to help them identify birds and their calls. As we wended our way past groups of trees, we were suddenly shushed when he heard the call of an uncommon bird. He really enthused the children - and the accompanying adults!

Watford Observer: Bill Oddie leading a children's birding walk in Cassiobury Park, c1993Bill Oddie leading a children's birding walk in Cassiobury Park, c1993

I remember my father pointing out character actor A. E. Matthews ('Matty') when I was a child, as we drove past him in Bushey whilst he was walking near Prospect Cottage, his home at 38 Little Bushey Lane. An elderly man wearing a hat and brown trench coat is what remains in my mind's eye. Also in Bushey, on separate occasions in the 1970s, I spotted boxer John Conteh and stage and screen actor Cyril Cusak.

In the 1960s and 1970s, film and television actor Robert Cawdron lived at 35 Bucks Avenue, Oxhey. He appeared in many films, including The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes (1970), The Shuttered Room (1967) and Saturday Night and Sunday Morning (1960). He was in Dixon of Dock Geen (Detective Inspector Cherry), Dr Who with Jon Pertwee (Taltalian) and Z Cars (Chief Inspector Dawson). On June 7, 1980, he judged the children's fancy dress competition at the Oxhey Village Environment Group (OVEG) Fayre and presented prizes to the winners.

Watford Observer: Oxhey resident Robert Cawdron presenting prizes at the OVEG Fayre, 1980Oxhey resident Robert Cawdron presenting prizes at the OVEG Fayre, 1980

During the same period and at the other end of Bucks Avenue was the home of actress Shirley Eaton and her husband, Colin Rowe. Remembered for her role as the gold-covered Bond girl, Jill Masterson, in Goldfinger, she also appeared in several Carry On and Doctor films and the television series The Saint.

  • 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 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.