Blog

Welcome to the Elstree & Borehamwood Museum blog.

This blog is about all those happenings inside and outside the Museum that have caught our attention.

From events and exhibitions, to new discoveries in the collections, to news and views.

Any comments and items to go here please contact Simon on info@elstree-museum.org.uk

Object of the Week: C is for Clay Pipes

Tuesday 19 January 2021

Whilst the Museum is closed and our collections unable to be seen by visitors, we have created a weekly virtual museum with an Object of the Week feature from our collections.

Object of the Week:  C is for Clay Pipes

 The Museum collection contains a number of Clay Pipes which were discovered in Scratchwood forest, which is now a large area of woodland alongside the A1 bordering Barnet.

We have little information about the pipes or how they came to be in Scratchwood. 

Scratchwood itself was part of the once great Middlesex Forest and this ancient woodland has areas which it’s believed grew up at the end of the last Ice Age.

Parts of the woodland were once hay meadows, growing food for the large horse population of London.  In 1866, Scratchwood and Moat Mount were part of a large private estate which was used for sport and rearing game.

Clay smoking pipes were first used in Britain in the 16th century following the importation of tobacco from the Americas. Early pipes tend to have small bowls as tobacco was relatively expensive at the period.

Around the mid 18th Century, Snuff taking in the upper classes became popular and smoking was discouraged because of health risks. Clay pipes came back into fashion again in the 19th Century and designers from around the globe were competing for attention in a huge world market. This was reflected in the artistic designs produced, using every aspect of life as inspiration, such as plants, animals, birds, Coats of Arms, Royal events, names of Inns, Masonic symbolism, sporting events, advertising, heads of celebrities and even characters from mythology.


Object of the Week : B is for Boreham Wood Football Club

Tuesday 12 January 2021

Whilst the Museum is closed and our collections unable to be seen by visitors, we have created a weekly virtual museum with an Object of the Week feature from our collections.

Object of the Week : B is for Boreham Wood Football Club

We realise that B could stand for anything Borehamwood related, but as we have quite a number of items relating to Boreham Wood Football Club in the Museum’s collection, we decided this would be this week’s feature.

Boreham Wood FC, better known as ‘The Wood’, was formed in 1948 from an amalgamation of Borehamwood Rovers and Royal Retournez.  They began playing in the Mid Herts League and are currently members of the National League, the fifth tier of English Football.  In 2018 the Club celebrated its 70th anniversary by an appearance at Wembley and beating a Football League Club for the first time in the FA Cup, defeating Blackpool 2-1 at home in the first round.

The Club initially played at Eldon Avenue until moving to Meadow Park in 1963 where they have remained.

A full history of the Club can be found on its website: https://www.borehamwoodfootballclub.co.uk

Here you can see just some of the items the Museum holds in the collection:

A Boreham Wood Football Club Tie

Boreham Wood Youth Football League Fawcett Trophy

Big Match Trophy Cup, presented by London Weekend Television.

We also have a large archive of photographs of players past and present and articles relating to the Club - here's a team from the past!


Object of the Week : A is for Aldenham Bus Works

Monday 4 January 2021

Whilst the Museum is closed and our collections unable to be seen by visitors, we have created a weekly virtual museum with an Object of the Week feature from our collections.

Object of the Week : A is for Aldenham Bus Works

Aldenham Bus Overhaul Works was situated in Elstree on land now occupied by Centennial Business Park.  The site had originally been acquired for the Northern Line extension to Bushey Heath, as part of the 1930s New Works Programme to link up all Underground trains and overground bus passenger services from London and surrounding areas.  This Underground extension will be the subject of a new temporary exhibition in the Museum sometime later this year.

Construction of the railway extension was underway and a tube depot was partially complete when World War II broke out.  The works were stopped and the site taken over for use as an aircraft factory.  When the War ended, the railway extension work was not restarted and the plan was dropped in September 1949.

Aldenham Bus Works opened in 1956 to support the existing Chiswick Bus Works with overhauling of body and chassis structures.  The site became well known and featured in films such as Overhaul, a British Transport film in 1957 documenting the work taking place.  In 1962, the opening scene of Cliff Richard’s bus centric musical film Summer Holiday was filmed at the Aldenham Works. 

Financial pressures led to a decision to discontinue the practice of completely overhauling a bus every four to five years.  This and the private sector looking to take over London Transport as a bus operator, led to the inevitable closure of the Aldenham Works in November 1986.

The Museum collection includes this souvenir magazine and many photographs.  The Overhaul film can be found on YouTube here.


Merry Christmas To All Our Friends

Wednesday 16 December 2020

Merry Christmas to all our friends in Boreham Wood and Elstree, and we will see you in the New Year.
Thanks for visiting the blog this year, it's much appreciated!


Object Of The Week : ZYX is for Zoot At The LYnX

Monday 23 November 2020

Whilst the Museum is closed and our collections unable to be seen by visitors, we have created a weekly virtual museum with an Object of the Week feature from our collections.

Object of the Week : ZYX is for Zoot At The LYnX

The Lynx Club in Maxwell Park is probably the only 60s club whose premises still exist in the same place.  The same buildings which were once the main youth club and teenage social centre of Boreham Wood, now house the Maxwell Park Community Centre. Many a 60s club has gone the way of time and the bulldozer, but we still have our part of the history of pop music on display.

Our collection is full of images, concert adverts and newspaper articles of artists who played at the Lynx – artists just starting out on their careers and who would go onto have huge hits and become household names. From The Who, to Eric Clapton, to Elton John, to Rod Stewart, to Fleetwood Mac – they all were starting out on the ‘circuit’ of which The Lynx Club was a part. And they left memories behind of course for those boomer kids who can now say ‘I saw them before they were famous’. 

Local musicians had a place to play as support bands, and there were many acts such as Zoot Money, Geno Washington, Amen Corner, etc. who were never to become ‘household’ names, but who created lasting impressions through their music.  Although the club was to become the Links in late 65, promoters were still using it for gigs well into the 70s. 

But it’s for sweaty, noisy, thrilling musical nights that The Lynx will be remembered.

Photo of Eric Clapton & John Mayall's Bluesbreakers by permission of Keth Turner


Object Of The Week : Y is for Yavneh College

Monday 16 November 2020

Whilst the Museum is closed and our collections unable to be seen by visitors, we have created a weekly virtual museum with an Object of the Week feature from our collections.

Object of the Week :  Y is for Yavneh College

Borehamwood’s only Jewish state school opened in 2006 on the site of the former Hillside School in Hillside Avenue.  It took seven years to get the project off the ground, and a further five years until a sixth form was opened.  The secondary school has a synagogue on site as well as sporting facilities and a large assembly hall.

In 2014, the Museum hosted a temporary exhibition commemorating 75 years of Hillside School, which had closed in 2000.  This was in conjunction with former Head Master Keith Newsome.  In our collection we have a variety of Hillside items such as log book, photographs, school production memorabilia and an LP of Hillside Band Music.

The school had a dramatic start.  It was due to open as a new centre for secondary education on 4th September 1939, but when War was declared on the previous day, the school’s governor’s followed instructions from the government and did not proceed with the opening.  The school fully opened on 20th November 1939; 81 years ago this week.  The school’s first days were eventful, not only due to Wartime measures, but also due to a large piece of plaster falling from the roof of the new Assembly Hall.

On October 21st 1940, the Log Book (see photo) records that the local gunfire and proximity of enemy planes prevented the dismissal of children until the All Clear was sounded at 1.15pm.  That same day, more disruption occurred when a second alert sounded at 1.45 and the All Clear at 3.45.  The Afternoon Session had to be cancelled and all children dismissed.

In the 1960s, the school witnessed a major change in the education system when the school leaving age rose from 14 to 16.  For this, the school needed a new building and in 1966 a ‘RoSLA’ (Rising of School Leaving Age) Unit was built on the front lawns.

If you went to Hillside School or Yavneh College and wish to share your memories with us, please do get in touch: info@elstree-museum.org.uk


Object Of The Week : X Is For Xmas Decorations

Tuesday 3 November 2020

Whilst the Museum is closed and our collections unable to be seen by visitors, we have created a weekly virtual museum with an Object of the Week feature from our collections.

Object of the Week : X  Is For Xmas Decorations

We may be a little ahead of the game but this week’s object is X for Xmas Decorations.  And where was the most popular place in Borehamwood to purchase such items? In everyone’s favourite – Woolies.

Much of the history of the Woolworths has been covered previously on our Facebook page, so here we share some of your memories.

There were only two locations in Shenley Road for Woolworths.  The first started off in the row of shops between Cardinal Avenue and Whitehouse Avenue (on a site previously occupied by BBE Evans).  Local lady Brenda remembers: - “it was there in 1952 as l remember going there with my dad to buy a roll-a-ball game!”  

The second location was where Iceland stands today, until it closed on 27th December 2008.  In the Museum’s collection is the last ever Christmas catalogue produced and a selection of Christmas baubles and decorations to stir a few memories.  It had a pick ‘n’ mix counter and a child’s ride just inside the store, in the form of a pink animal that rocked back and forth.

In the 1960s, it had staff behind the individual counters rather than at one pay area.” Paul Welsh

You could buy most things for 6d and got a lot for your money.  In later years there was a record department where I bought my LPs” David Armitage

Woolies, as it was affectionally known, had island counters for different things, each island having its own till and the floor was just wooden floorboards. 

It was the place to go to for everyday items at sensible prices, from broken biscuits, pick and mix sweets to clothes, household items, records and DIY supplies.  They sold wonderful Christmas decorations - some my mum bought 60 years ago l still use every December” Brenda Treacher.

Why not share your memories and photos with us?  Contact info@elstree-museum.org.uk and we will add your contributions to this Blog.


Object Of The Week : W Is For Wellington

Tuesday 27 October 2020

Whilst the Museum is closed and our collections unable to be seen by visitors, we have created a weekly virtual museum with an Object of the Week feature from our collections.

Object of the Week : W Is For Wellington

This week we turn the spotlight on another of our much loved local establishments.  W is for Wellington Pub. 

When this pub closed in 2018, we all thought it was the end of it and a block of flats would occupy the space.  One of the Museum volunteers raced down to take some photos of the old pub interior before it disappeared for good.

These pictures have been added to our photo collection archive along with some pub memorabilia which was donated to the Museum.  Also, not long before it closed, EastEnders filmed a scene in the bar.

Happily though, the pub was refurbished and re-opened and can still be enjoyed today.  Here’s a snapshot about its past.

The building started life as a beer house named The Jolly Sailor in 1850.  It looked much like a house on the street with a porch over the front door.  Late in the 19th century it was renamed The Wellington. This may have had something to do with JBB Wellington starting up a photographic factory in Borehamwood in 1895. The building was almost totally rebuilt in 1908 with a facade that looks much like today. In the 1930s it also became known as The Wellington Hotel.  This coincided with the start of the local film industry so possibly there was a need for renting rooms.

There had been very little cosmetic change over the following years until the recent refurbishment.

Fellow W pub was the Woodcock in Croxdale Road, which was closed for good in 2006 after a troubled past.  In 2007 it was burnt down before finally being demolished and a block of flats being built onsite.


Object Of The Week : V is for Village Hall

Monday 19 October 2020

Whilst the Museum is closed and our collections unable to be seen by visitors, we have created a weekly virtual museum with an Object of the Week feature from our collections.

Object of the Week : V is for Village Hall

Housed on the site that was the much loved Village Hall, the Museum has close links with this building which played a big part in community history and local memories.  We have a collection of photos of the Village Hall on our archive database.  We always welcome more photos for our collections, so please do share if you can.

The 'Village Hall' known as the Church Hall, was opened next to All Saints Parish Church on Friday 2nd February 1926.  The following afternoon a whist drive took place followed by a public dance with the 'Pogo' orchestra of banjo, piano, violin and cello. On Sunday the hall was welcomed for use by the Sunday school. Thus began an extension of the social life of the growing village of Borehamwood.

The prefabricated corrugated iron structure of the Hall was inspired by the social hall belonging to the Wellington and Ward photographic factory in Shenley Road (known as the Dufay Hall when that firm had the premises.) The 1920s saw the era of ‘Tin Tabernacles’ made of this metal, which resisted bending.

By 1936 arrangements were completed for the erection behind the Village Hall of the new brick built Sunday School Hall. During World War II the Village Hall, because of the central position, was requisitioned for government use. In the early War years it was an A.R.P. Post and ambulance station, also used in liaison with Police and Fire Services and local Hospitals, and with public utilities for water, gas and electricity.  From 1943 the Village Hall did service as a ‘British Restaurant’ run by the government at subsidised rates, providing lunchtime meals, (ration book free ) for one shilling. Along with these activities, on Saturday afternoons the Hall was transformed for evening dances; a welcome social event for Servicemen and women based in the area mixing with local people.

In the 1950s both the Village Hall and the Sunday school hall were being used for a great deal of community and church related activities, meetings, dances, Easter and Christmas bazaars, The May Festival, Scouts and Guides, jumble sales, plays, film shows, exhibitions, cage bird shows, garden show, whist drives, annual dinners, talks, concerts etc. An interesting record of diversity.  A weekly ‘flea’ market thrived until it closed down. Blood donation sessions were held there as well on a regular basis. In the late 1950s and early 1960s ‘Lucky’ Parkinson promoted Rock & Roll shows in The Hall, and the likes of Screaming Lord Sutch & The Savages, The Brook Brothers and Johnny Kidd & The Pirates would shake the foundations.

During the mid 1990s, a working party was set up with All Saints Church liaising with the Trustees to look into the future of the halls. One idea was to demolish the front hall, remove the wooden pews from the church and use the church space as a multi purpose facility for the community.  However, by this time the front hall had become rather dilapidated and despite a makeover it remained in a poor state. Yet the hall, being in such a central location was a much loved and missed feature of the village.

By October 2008 plans were prepared for the new community hall. This was to be a building of substance, balancing All Saints church itself, rising a storey above nearby shopping premises. The Library was to be accommodated with the inclusion of the Local museum and various meeting halls and rooms.  The multi functional community building of 96 Shenley Road opened in 2013.


Object of the Week : U for Underwear

Wednesday 7 October 2020

Whilst the Museum is closed and our collections unable to be seen by visitors, we have created a weekly virtual museum with an Object of the Week feature from our collections.

Object of the Week : U for Underwear

The Museum has a rather nice collection of lingerie produced by Keystone Knitting Mills.  As the history of Keystone has been covered previously in ‘K’, it doesn’t need repeating here.  Also, we all know what underwear is and what its functions are, so that’s probably best not repeated here either.  However, these are items of a Museum collection, so let’s look at a bit of history.

The earliest undergarment to be worn by human beings is thought to be the Loincloth and as Tarzan fans will know, sometimes in hot weather would have been the only item of ‘clothing’ to be worn.  In colder climates, the loincloth would be worn under other garments.  The fabric used for loincloths was believed to have been either wool or linen or a coarse twill. Scratchy.

As time progressed, men wore cod-pieces and ladies wore bodices which later became corsets.

By the early 20th century, textile industries like Keystones were booming.  Whalebone corsets began to be relaxed and be replaced by the liberty bodice.  Advertising for underwear first began in 1910 in the US and by the end of the decade, the requirement was for ladies to have underwear in which they could pursue sporting activities, so the bloomers were born.

In the 1930s, the girdle revived the fashion for the corset, but without the whalebone and accompanied by a brassiere and garters.

From the 1950s onwards, underwear became more of a fashion item in its own right and items such as the Wonderbra, Pantyhose (or tights), brief and boxer shorts came into production.




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