Memories of Bryan McCoy

From left to right, Elizabeth Cannon, Celia McCoy, Judith Cannon, Bryan McCoy in the courtyard of the Gun Public House
Bryan McCoy

I have lived in Hatfield since I was 6 months old. I was in the Gun Cottage behind The Gun pub, where the Co-op furniture shop is now. The publican was Bob Cannon. The cottage was damp; we lived there till 1947. We were the first people to move into the pre-fabs in Farm Way; it was a Howard pre-fab which was a double decker.  There were only 24 double deckers. We had a very cold snowy winter in 1947 and it was very cold. We only had one fire in the house and we had to burn it all day to try to get warm. Crawford field was at the back of the house. After the harvest of the potatoes, we would go over to the field and collect the ones that had been left behind.

They started to build more pre-fabs in the 50s for the workers at de Havilland. Some of the contractors for earth moving were Marriots, who used to be in Wellfield Road.   I started work at Welwyn Builders in 1954 and stayed from September to March – just 6 months. After that I went to Lemsford Engineering, which was part of the old the Mill then. I did sheet metal work and then went on to be a welder. I left after 24 years and 3 months, when my old manager left.   I retired after 25 years at John Radcliff’s at Welwyn Garden City, where I was a welder.

The worst change to Hatfield closing the St Albans Road and building Woolco – the town has never been the same since. Tescos moved out, and all the best shops moved out as well, including Shoppers Paradise. That was also the end of Old Hatfield because the shops there closed down as the ‘new town’ became the main shopping area. Loads of house were pulled down to make way for Woolco’s.

There were no pre-fabs in Drovers Way because it was only built after the pre-fabs were knocked down and the road was re-named because Farm Way had a bad name.

We’ve lived in various places on the Birchwood Estate. There have been changes there – Lockley Crescent was built. The estate was new and a good area to live – they pulled down Crawfords farm to build it. There were 2 farms around Hatfield in the early days. Sherriffs Farm was a little way outside and there was another one near to where Asda is now.

Click this link to see Bryan’s photos of the nursery at the St John’s Ambulance Building

This page was added on 20/02/2011.

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  • FAO: Elizabeth Canham
    Can you please advise where ‘Canham’s Field’ was?
    I believe it was at the back of St.Luke’s Cemetery, but would like confirmation.

    FAO: Mick Francis
    The East India Chief was closed, I recall, either in 1961 or 1965. It became a hamily home from then on.

    By Jon Brindle (10/10/2022)
  • Can anyone confirm what year The Gun and East India Chief pubs closed?

    By Mick Francis (09/08/2017)
  • The Gun was our home until it was demolished and my father took over the Robin Hood until it too met its demise with the closing of St. Albans Road. Our last name is Canham, not Cannon

    By Elizabeth Canham (15/05/2017)
  • Talking to Jim Parker and David Willson they would completely agree with Bryan when he says that shutting the St Albans road was one of the worst things that happened to the town. David also added this information about the prefabs. He said that they were built as a slight deviation to the original plans. Originally ordinary houses were going to be built but the war intervened. After the war they was a shortage of timber from Europe, the war having stopped timber production. Plenty of timber would have been available from Canada and the USA but President Truman did not trust Prime Minister Atlee because the major part of the Labour government was made up of MPs who had been members of the British communist Party. Truman insisted that goods leaving the USA were paid for in advance. Because of these shortages the Council decided to build prefabs. The planned life was ten years but many remained for far longer.

    By Miriam Gaskin (20/02/2011)