Let me tell you about the village where I grew up. I have already touched on bits of it when I talked of my childhood and my school days but I want to be a little more topographical now.
Goffs Oak is an ancient village centred around the spot where three roads meet. The road from Cheshunt in the east, the road to Cuffley and Northaw to the west and the road to Hammondstreet and Newgate Street to the north. Although the village has since spread in all directions with large housing estates being built throughout the 20th century, the village started here. There was once a pond at this site and next to it the village Smithy. In my day this became the Smithy garage. They built the War Memorial here after WWI. The Co-Op was here, where I got my first Saturday job. Most importantly of all though, the police station was here which was where my grandad found himself posted in 1947 after wartime service in Tottenham. That was when the Smiths arrived in Goffs Oak.
By the time I arrived in 1963 my parents had left Goffs Oak for Bury Green then an upstairs apartment along Goffs lane and finally moving in with my nan in the Drive after grandad died. Here, at 10.30pm on 1st July, I arrived kicking and screaming; all 93/4lbs of me. And here I stayed for 36 years.
I described previously how we had our own safe playground in the cul-de-sac – sorry ‘dead-end’ in our lingo of the time – that was The Drive and how we could play further afield on the playing fields or across 20 Acres. So let us look at some of the other places we could go.
A favourite, during the holidays as it needed a bit of time, was to go down Jones Road to the ‘rough bit’. For those who don’t know the area (And you may get very bored with this post if you don’t) Jones Road starts on Cuffley Hill and for the first third of a mile is populated with nice residential properties. They also built a new primary school down here in the early 70s when we decided we didn’t want the riff-raff from that side of Cuffley Hill at Goffs Oak JMI. As I write, there is a debate going on about whether or not Woodside should be academised or not. I won’t add my twopenneth to the mix, as I am no longer a resident.
During the post war period they built a whole load of houses in roads that were fed off the side of Jones Road; Goffs Crescent and Pollards Close, Pembroke Drive, Pipers Close, Lulworth Avenue, Greenways & Moorhurst Avenue, Broadfields. They all have meaning to me. I knew someone who lived in each of them. Well, except Pipers Close. I never knew anyone in Pipers Close – funny that.
I may come back to some of the people I knew in those roads either later in this post or in another blog but meanwhile let me press on.
After Woodside school on the left (Walking away from Cuffley Hill) were some more fields. Reserved for recreation rather than crops. We rarely played over there except the occasional game of football but they were big dog walking fields for us. Then you reached Silver Street and after that Jones Road became rural. Walk another 500 yards and there was a white gate that could be closed. After that Jones Road was technically private but there was a footpath you could go down. Further still on the right was a stile. Go over here and head towards the viaduct (Go past the stile and there was a beautiful ‘Snow White cottage’ and you could go all the way through to Crews Hill. It was possible to drive through in those days. A bit rough, totally trespassing but cut a good 5 or 6 miles off your journey. What do you mean “How do I know?” But that was when I was older. 8 year old me just went as far as the viaduct and Cuffley brook where we fished for stickleback with bent dressmaker’s pins and a bit of cold beef. Never caught a thing funnily enough.
With adults, you go carry on walking and end up at the back of Cuffley Youth Centre but us kids never went any further than the cattle grid. Sometimes that was because we had our ankle stuck in the cattle grid.
Now reverse back to Silver Street. Instead on continuing up Jones Road we turn left into Silver Street. The first things you come to are the egg farm on the left and the old army camp on the right. The later was used for keeping the former’s hens in but previously had held either internees or prisoners of war (I can’t recall which without Googling). They may have been the people who built our house. It was an Airey house, a Swiss made prefab. In the loft inscribed in cement were some German names and an hourly rate of pay. The Airey houses were only supposed to last 10 years. They are still standing though we had a nightmare with it in the 90s. That’s another blog though.
Further down Silver Street and you come to the entrance to Springfields. Another Sunday afternoon dog walk for all the family. Cross the fields and you come out on Goffs Lane near the Wheelwrights. Back on Silver Street though and the next surprise is the Adath Yisroel Cemetery (Now showing on Google maps as the Silver Street Cemetery?) Some found it strange having a Jewish cemetery in the middle of the country like that but having grown up with it, it was nothing unusual to us.
The final stretch of Silver Street took you to Halstead Hill. Here were two or three big houses, one once home to Jo Douglas, the producer of 6’5 Special. Another (or was it the same one) had a collection of vintage post boxes dotted around its garden. You could see some from the road but needed to go in to see the rest. Did we? That’s for me to know and you to assume.
And now we are back at Goffs Lane and I’m tired from all this walking. At a later date I’ll tell you about the good stuff on our side of Cuffley Hill!