Birchwood Nursery

By Christine Martindale

Birchwwod Nursery 1947
Hatfield Library
The Nursery in 1943
Illustrated Magazine Aug 14 1943
The Nursery in 1997 just before demolition

This nursery was situated on the corner of Birchwood Avenue and Chelwood Avenue Birchwood, Hatfield, and may well have been set up to look after very young children during WW2, enabling women to go back into work and help with the war effort.

The “Review This Weekend”, July 24th 1987, published an interview with Jean Rawling (née Dent). Jean, who lived in Birchwood, had worked at the Nursery for most of her working life, starting in 1942 straight from school. The then opening hours were 7am-7pm and Saturday mornings. The staff were required to wear a uniform.

In 1948, the County Council took over the Nursery. The buildings, which were meant to be temporary, stayed until the 1990s. In 1991, Hertfordshire County Council applied to close the Nursery and give planning consent for residential development. But it was not until 1996 that work started on a replacement nursery situated in the grounds of Salisbury Infants and Gascoyne Cecil Junior School in Birchwood Avenue.

This page was added on 07/12/2014.

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  • My Son went to the Nursery. I was sad to see it taken down. I was trying to find out what year the coop was built. The question led me to here. I would also like to point out a relevance of History as Debbie posted a comment on 09/03/2018. Debbie points out that Jack Oldings was a Toy Factory. I seem to remember the Toy factory being Lone Star. Jack oldings was a construction Company manufacturing & importing Earthmoving equipment. I worked at the Merger between Oldings and Scottish Land Development. SLDO.

    By Adrian Chapman (30/01/2021)
  • I worked as a student at Birchwood nursery in 1967, and then worked there full time from 1968 to 1971 and then on supply several times after. The nursery school was formerly a day nursery for the workers of de-Havilland and the ammunition boxes were still in the air raid shelter (used as a toy store) for all my time there. The nursery was run by Miss Hopcraft, her deputy was Mrs Boddington and the staff included Jean Rawling, Mrs Hartland, Mrs Gregory, Mrs Nicholas and Mrs MIller/Miss Suter. The Cranbourne children went there and it was a very good place to work. I think the cook was called Mrs Notley. The school still exists, but after the old ‘temporary’ building was knocked down, it was relocated to the Gascoigne Cecil site.

    By susan wood (Lawrence) (07/12/2020)
  • I went to this nursery must of been 1973/1974, I remember the milk and a slice of bread with marmite on it and slice of apple. Quigleys was the sweet shop opposite, my mum used to take me/collect me on the back of her bike, we lived in a flat in Long Mead I remember looking out onto the rec. Seeing racing pigeons released. I went to Salisbury infant’s, Gascoigne Cecil and Onslow

    By Samantha McHugh nee Freeman (06/12/2020)
  • Hi Terry

    Did you know my brother Clive Shephard? he hardly went to school, was always bunking off as they called it back then, and would go fishing, My mum got called up by the school board about his absences, he loved to cook from a very young age and became a head chef at Hatfield House, he is in his mid 70’s now, where have those years gone? like a bullet too fast.
    My mum once needed money for dinner, she had none, so my Clive got a load of old newspapers ironed all the pages, folded them up, put them in a sack and took me to de Havilland’s AIRFIELD, and he stood outside the gates, shouting get your evening paper, sold them mainly to men getting onto the work coaches, it was only when a few suddenly realized that the newspapers were out of date and started shouting out at him, that he said RUN !!! I was horrified, but he said needs must! we will eat dinner tonight !!!
    Being poor made people do things out of desperation.
    Although he hardly ever attended school he went on to catering college, and became a wonderful chef. He met the Queen Mother whilst at Hatfield House, said she was lovely and when asked who she would like to meet, first she replied “The cleaners please”.
    He said the nicest celeb he got to talk too was David Bowie, who he found down to earth, He didn’t like Adam ant, apparently he came across as a bit of a diva
    My fav place was to lie down on the Hatfield stn railway bridge, wooden slates, and wait for the lovely steam trains to pass through, we always laughed so much, as when we got up our faces were covered in black soot lol, does anyone remember the Waderin cafe in about 1961? my mum worked there but I cant remember what road it was in her name was Peggie. I did a few months at the CORGI factory on a machine that sprayed the tiny lights onto the cars, How I wish I had had the foresight to borrow money and buy a load of them lol, would have a nice egg nest by now,
    Also does anyone remember the style? over a field there was a cottage where I would walk to, to buy some dahlias for my mum, they were in a bucket outside the cottage and an honesty jam jar, where I would leave threepence to pay for them, I cannot remember where this cottage was or the style and field any ideas? sorry this a long write up

    By Gill (27/07/2020)
  • I remember it was about 1950 when I was there, when the roof was being tarred, the smell has haunted me ever since. First day I yelled the place down until placated by a toy red fire engine on the piano. Beds were provided to sleep in afternoon but my mum took me away after a few weeks as I didn’t sleep at night. It was also a long walk from Wood Common.
    I remember the Flitney’s & fire in Talbot Rd as I lived in Chelwood, oposite Greencroft & also played with Donovan & Barry Kemp when they lived up New Estate near Redhall Drive.

    By Terry Phillips (19/07/2020)
  • I attended the Nursery from Autumn 1957 until December 1959. At first mornings I had a green Bag on the scissors peg the afternoon kids had blue bags. The following September I went full time . Loved the caravan & the little camp beds . I had a strawberry as my peg marker & there was a strawberry on my blanket

    By Jyll Beckford (nee Marsh) (25/02/2020)
  • Hi I went to Birchwood Nursery in the early 60s. My mum had a child seat on the back of her bike and she used to cycle from Roe Hill Close to the nursery before going to work. Then my grand mother who lived in Burnside Close, used to pick me up. I don’t remember much….the building was beige and red, and I do remember the slide . Nice times.

    By David Seaton (24/10/2019)
  • Hi Debbie, yes I remember the little shop next to The Hopfields Pub, we lived in the ground floor flat in Talbot rd, next door in a council house was the family called the Flitneys one of the little kids set the house alight lol not funny but it was then as mrs flitney had all her kids line up on the path whilst she slapped each of their legs as no one would own up to who did it.
    I also remember going to sunday school in a prefab type building next to st michaels church, even went when I had chicken pox lol, loved getting my sunday biblical stamp, funny how I can remember all those things even though I was 4yrs old at nursery and only 7 -8 in Talbot rd,

    By jill (19/03/2018)
  • My goodness 1960’s I went to Birchwood Nursery school, also Cranbourne, Gascogne Cecil and Onslow. Opposite the nursery there was a shop called The Cooks. I think it was a little hardware shop. I remember the Co-op and the green grocers. Drapers the sweet shop next to the alley. I used to buy black jacks, sherburt Dibdabs and Jamboree bags. Not all at once. I lived in Talbot Rd and Farm Way. I loved the park at the far end of Longmead Rd. I too used to go scrumping. Do you remember the little shop next to the Hopfields pub? I remember badly scratching my arms rescuing a doll ( which I loved ) from a thorny bush near the park and riding my bike on what we used to call the Downs near the Jack Oldings toy factory.

    By Debbie (09/03/2018)
  • I went to Birchwood Nursery around that time. I remember out teacher used to read us a story before home time. If we were quite we were allowed to stroke her Bassett hound that would sit at her feet while she read to us. Also remember triangular toast and milk in small tetrahedron shaped carton on a winters morning. My coat peg had a picture of a fish as did my camp bed. We used to have to have a nap after lunch. I never could go to sleep. My name was Debra Riley

    By Debbie Beswick (09/03/2018)
  • oops me again, Does anyone remember a little boy called Richard Thornicroft he is the only child I can remember not sure if he went to the nursery though
    I was known as Patsy. I remember the Co op abt 1960 in BIRCHWOOD AVENUE AND the lovely little greengrocers where I wld buy three pennies worth of bruised fruit for school and go next door to the sweet shop for some pink prawn sweets black jacks and fruit salads loved the smell of that sweet shop and the ting a ling of the bell on the door. we sused to play with Jacks and a little ball or do skipping or go scrumping for apples. I used to visit an old lady in her prefab and we wld sit drinking hot chocolate the Shredded Wheat factory was down the road and if I saw a dog I was so scared I would walk miles around it to get back home
    MY BROTHER USED TO SIT AT HOME WITH HIS MATE Donovan PLAYING THEIR guitars Donovan went on to become a famous folk singer and my brother a fab executive top chef. not bad for poor kids eh proud of them
    by jill

    By jill (29/08/2017)
  • I went to the nursery from 1956 until I went to cranbourne, I remember the gypsy caravan that was in the gdn and we played in it, I refused to eat my greens as they made me reach and the teacher put me in the book c00orner so I ran home! she came for me on her bicycle with a basket on the front, I hid under my mums bed ! I also remember the canvas beds and stickers on the clothes pegs like a ship or umbrella always loved the gypsy caravan so my husband built me one .
    my mum did a moonlight flit from Hatfield and we all ended up in Brighton we lived in Talbot rd and also Aldykes and Corner fields, I played a lot in the REC
    I also remember the sunday school was next door to st michaels church jill nee shephard

    By jill (29/08/2017)
  • I went here before Cranbourne. I remember little beds with covers with pictures. My favourite bed had the anchor.

    By Heather Saxby (21/06/2017)
  • I went to this nursery in 1964 before starting at Cranborne infants. I remember the wooden slide; we used to hide underneath it. Think the Sunday school was held here too? On your birthday, they brought out a wooden board with candles on for you to blow out.

    By Trudi Obee (05/07/2012) (05/07/2012)