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

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!

A Virtual Festival Literay Event

Monday 29 June 2020

As part of this year's reduced Elstree & Borehamwood Town Festival we present for you a Virtual Literary Event featuring among others Tony McHale (Actor, writer, Producer, Director); Alexander S. Bermange (Composer and Lyricist) and Paul Welsh (Film Historian and Author) as well as members of our own "Writers in the Wood", Lorraine Reed, Rosemary Wiseman and Steven Pemberton. Please click here to see the Event on YouTube.

Hollywood In Hertfordshire

Friday 22 May 2020

Local film historian Paul Welsh has written his next book!  50 years since the sudden closure of MGM British Studios, Paul shares stories and photos from the wonder years when the Elstree Way site was world-famous and played host to some of Hollywood's biggest names. As well as the stars, there are stories from behind the scenes, sharing the experiences of the local men and women from Elstree and Borehamwood's film families. You can find out more and order the book by clicking here.

Do you have any Lockdown Photos?

Wednesday 13 May 2020

Here are a few of our Lockdown Photos from around Borehamwood.  If you have any unusual ones, please add them to our Facebook page!

VE DAY : Friday 8 May 2020

Thursday 7 May 2020

Please see the video here for more details

Lest we Forget

In line with government guidelines, Studios Rotary Club are pleased to announce that they will run a virtual Celebration on Friday May 8th .

·      2.45pm Town Mayor, Cllr Simon Rubner, Cllr.Morris Bright Leader of Hertsmere Borough Council, will give a message to Town residents: Anthony Wass, Royal British Legion Exhortation, Studios Rotary Club President Nick Male  will introduce the rest of the programme; 

·      2.55pm Andrew Grady will play “The Last Post” on his cornet from his back garden.  He will join 1000 players across the Nation;

·      3.00 pm George MacGregor will play on his bagpipes ‘The Battles Over’  also, from his back garden. This was a piece specially commissioned for 2018 celebrating the end of WW1. A specially commissioned piece of music.’VE75’. will be played by a1000 pipers across the nation;

·      The Nation will be invited to ring out the Bells of Peace;

Historical Things To Do Today

Tuesday 28 April 2020

Bit fed up with all this?  Then have a bit of History to get you through the day with a couple of suggestions from our Volunteers :

Matt says check out the Herts At War website here and the associated videos on YouTube here.

"The Herts at War Project looks at the history of Hertfordshire in the First World War.  It aims to commemorate those who fought, died and survived.  It also aims to give perspective to the war, and to inform more about the Home Front.  Through doing so, the project interacts with the descendants of those who served, and educates the population of Hertfordshire, about the county’s role in the Great War."

And if you prefer to look underground try your hand at a free Archeology Course recommended by Helen here. It is free – ignore the pay screen!


Volunteers’ Stories Two : Ruth Stratton

Monday 27 April 2020

Our favourite Hertsmere person is looking after us and other vulnerable residents during the Museum lockdown.
From Saturday’s Borehamwood Times :

“Museums Officer Ruth Stratton is still providing what support she can to the borough's museums and assisting them with their online content.  She said: ‘My day job involves working with the borough’s four volunteer-run museums. Many of the volunteers are elderly and live alone and need support during these difficult times.

‘For me, helping the vulnerable residents by offering to deliver their shopping and keeping in touch to make sure they are doing OK, is a small way to give something back to our residents.’ “

Our picture shows Ruth with the Museum Van.

Mary Hanson

Sunday 19 April 2020

Mary was a founder member of the Borehamwood History Society, along with Alan and Ann Lawrence, and its first Chair. This became the Elstree & Borehamwood Museum where Mary became a valued volunteer, and gave her the opportunity for regaling of anyone who would listen to her historical reminiscences. Mary wrote a very informative booklet “The Birth of All Saints' Parish, Boreham Wood” which incorporated much historical information about the whole area and is available from the Museum website.

Mary is remembered by many local residents as the proprietor (along with her brother) of Hansons “sweet shop and tea room” located where Starbucks now is in Shenley Road. This was featured in the Museum Exhibition in 2017, Down The Shops.  However Mary was tirelessly active in the community as a Rotarian and St. Albans Abby Guide in addition to her work in the Museum and attendances at All Saints Church.

Mary never married but was a great dog lover, taking her Labradors for regular walks over Woodcock Hill, a local cause of which she was a great supporter. Originally living over the shop, she moved to Tennison Avenue when the shop closed and spent her final years in the Radley Care Home.

Mary will be remembered with great affection and respect, and for a long time, by those of us who knew her. May she rest in peace.

This message has been received from Mary’s family:

“Mary was born 15th Feb 1933. She lived all her life in Borehamwood after Bert Hanson, her father, acquired the property at 73 Shenley Road (now Starbucks). Hansons including the tea room and confectioners/newsagent became Mary’s home with her mother and father. There was ample room above the shop for living and a good sized back garden for her dogs which were a source of great companionship for much of her life. She worked with John who, after National Service, also dedicated his entire working life to the business.

After Mary’s mother died she took on the role of looking after her father as well as working tirelessly in the kitchen making the famous pastry for the sausage rolls and pasties. She was also an active Guide at St Albans Abbey for many years.

Mary was an active Aunty for John’s Children (David, Kate and Mike) and took them on many trips to London and Stratford to museums during the holidays. She certainly encouraged a love of all things historical.

Moreover, Mary followed in Bert’s footsteps through Rotary becoming a Life Member and attending lunches and meetings. One of her serious passions was travel and for many years she would visit Rotary Friends in the US as well as explore historic sites around Europe and the Middle East. Mary knew a lot about many historic topics and was a huge source of knowledge for the community as well as her family. Indeed, much of her time after the business was sold 22 years ago, was spent volunteering with the Borehamwood History Society.

She would love to see her great nieces and nephews, Kon, Yiannis, Harriett, Gemma, Arthur and Alice and was keen to keep abreast of how they were doing in their young lives.

Her extended family will miss Mary very much. We’ve been touched by the notes on social media remembering Mary and the Hansons’ shop. These notes are a wonderful source of comfort to John and his family in these difficult times. Thank you to all who have taken the time to post.“

Mary Hanson : 15/2/1933 -11/4/2020

LOCAL HISTORY TWO : April 29th 1971 is a day l will never forget!

Monday 6 April 2020

Here is Brenda Treacher’s dramatic account of a memorable day in Boreham Wood.  Brenda now runs our Friends group. Not a Friend of the Museum? Join here.

April 29th 1971 is a day l will never forget!

“I was 23 years old and working as Chief Cashier at Barclays Bank, Shenley Road, Boreham Wood. It was a job l loved, friendly customers to meet every day, supportive colleagues who often socialised together and a happy working environment, life was good. Then suddenly it all changed on 29th April 1971 the day that the bank was raided.

Every Thursday morning as regular as clockwork Securicor would turn up just before 10am to collect almost £30,000 in cash to take to Elliott's in the Elstree Way for their wages department to make up the wages for the weekly paid workers. When l saw the van pull up outside l walked through to the back of the bank to give the signal for the money to come up from the vaults, as l did so an axe came crashing through the glass pane on the door between the banking hall and the working section, the latch was opened and in came a man with a shotgun who blasted at the Chief Clerks booth and at my till where l had been standing moments ago, shot went flying everywhere.

I looked back into the banking hall and saw Mr Crump, from Elstree Rural District Council, being hit over the head with a cosh by a man with a stocking over his face. I ran like Mary Peters out to the machine room at the back of the bank shouting “Raid! Raid!”, and hid under a desk. Suddenly a large pair of boots were walking towards me, l froze thinking it was one of the robbers, but it turned out to be a Securicor guard taking cover with us. My friend who was much braver than me had a side window open looking outside to see what was happening and relaying this on the phone to the manager who was safe in his office upstairs.

The robbers took the trolley with the money on it, threw the cash into their vehicle and made off towards the Elstree Way. Everyone was very shaken, the Police came and took statements and fingerprints and a few of the younger girls were taken home to recover from the shock. However Elliott's needed their wages, so myself and another colleague went into the vaults and made up another consignment. Two hours later the bank reopened and we were back serving customers. Thursday was always a busy day with local companies collecting wages, and it was also late night opening so it was almost 7pm before we got away that day. Many of us went straight to the Queens Head at Sandridge for a drink and to calm down and take stock of our adventurous day.

There were many differing reports in local and national newspapers, not all were accurate, there were lots of rumours flying about as to who the perpetrators were, but no one was ever prosecuted for the robbery which had left so many of us a little more apprehensive on a Thursday morning at 10am. 29th April is also memorable for me in a happier way as it was my wedding day one year later.”

Reading the newspaper reports the number of robbers varied, the people attacked are different, and the effects of the violent gun shot are downplayed.  Fake News 1971 style!

Volunteers’ Stories One : Matt Caro

Monday 6 April 2020

What are the Museum Volunteers getting up to while they can’t greet you at the door, write the new Exhibition, or research in the archives?  Here is Matt to tell us what he’s been doing :

"I have signed up to be an NHS volunteer, and as well as doing that, I am completing several Open University Courses in new disciplines (Computer Science and History of Science).  I am also brushing up on my languages, making models and going for long walks."

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