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 firstname.lastname@example.org
Today we are beginning our list of some of the 'Most Missed' buildings in our area, in no particular order. We are adding them one by one, week by week, and would love to have your feedback on our Facebook, Instagram and Twitter pages. What are your memories? Which is your 'Most Missed'? What iconic building have we forgotten? Let us know on
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THE VILLAGE HALL
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.
Just installed in the Museum is our new touch-screen display featuring many photos of Borehamwood and Elstree. Swipe through and see if you can find yourself in the group shots of schools and businesses from the last 60-odd years of life in the area. See the local landmarks that have disppeared or are just hanging on, and events you will remember. And don't forget our current Exhibition Off The Rails - The Line That Never Was while you're in the Musuem. Looking foward to seeing you.
Here's a couple of examples :
Just a few days now to Christmas week when our current Holby City Exhibition will be coming to an end. This is your last chance to find out the answers to all those questions about the show you always wanted to ask.
And don't forget that Holby City itself will coming to an end in the new year. So this is another last chance to see behind the scenes and remember all the great characters and situations you've grown to love over the last 20 years.
In addition it's the last chance to get your local Christmas cards. Local scenes, some painted, some photographs - all very Christmassy. So pop into the Museum to get your traditional, non-digital, Christmas cards, support your Museum and only 50 pence each.
We're looking for volunteers to help us run the Museum.
Any one can do it!
Please pop in for a chat or drop us a line to INFO
See our new video HERE
The Gate Studios c.1928
Opened in 1928, the studios were in use until the early 1950s, after which the building was occupied by Harkness Screens Ltd for the production of cinema screens, until 2003 when the studios were earmarked to be demolished to make way for 133 new homes.
Protests against the demolition of the studios building came from an unexpected quarter. The ghost of a man wearing 1920s clothing was seen by workers at the studios and looked like he was guarding something.
The figure was described as a smart, tall, bearded man in his forties to fifties, dressed in a white shirt and black trousers. A cold blast of air accompanied his appearance.
He was seen on several occasions, once in a corridor wearing a long jacket where he was described by the witness as ‘just fading away’.
One morning in 2003, a maintenance engineer at the studios saw a shadowy figure out of the corner of his eye. He was working on the floor, looking up at the cinema screen and saw the figure walk up the gangway and go behind some piles of foam. When no one emerged, he went to investigate but no one was there.
Perhaps you can tell us more about the ghosts of the former studios and whether they wander the site of the new housing development?
1953 Coronation display by Gate Studios on waste ground in Shenley Road
Halloween Ghost Stories : Who is the Ghost at Stirling Corner?
Vic Rowntree shared this tale. He remembers his father returning home from a late shift as a bar steward, very shaken up. His father worked at the Kings Arms at Stirling Corner. On this particular night he walked home along his regular route by the service road next to the A1 Barnet by-pass. When he arrived home, pale and shocked, all he would say is that he had seen a ghost. That same month, a local newspaper published an article asking if there was a ghost at Stirling Corner.
A resident of one of the nearby cottages reported hearing a strange noise outside his home and on investigation, found a woman standing smiling beside a derelict shed. He looked around to see if anyone else was nearby and when he turned back, she had vanished.
Perhaps someone out there can tell us more!
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!
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.
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.
Here are a few of our Lockdown Photos from around Borehamwood. If you have any unusual ones, please add them to our Facebook page!