Brian has kindly sent in a very detailed account of his childhood memories in Wooburn Green. All in his own words so Brian would appreciate any comments, corrections & additions as he is aware that memories can fade or get muddled over the years.
I have added a map so you visualise where Mayfield Road is as the starting point along with an old photo of Mellett’s shop, although I’m sure it’s before Brian’s time. I’m sure you will enjoy reading this & a big thanks to Brian for sharing.
The Changing Face of Wooburn Green.
A chance remark a while ago with a born and bred Wooburn Green resident, in a local shop, got us
talking about businesses that have come and gone in the village from our childhood onwards.
I was born in 1939 in Mayfield Rd and grew up there. Working from there I decided to do an anti-clockwise tour of the village.
Starting in Mayfield Rd, I lived with my parents at no 21, no numbers then, at no 11 was a grocer’s shop run by Mr and Mrs Andrews. I well remember going along with my mother to help her with her shopping. At that time most things were on ration, sugar would be weighed out from a sack into blue paper bags, bacon on the slicer, lard, butter (a luxury then) and cheese cut from blocks and wrapped in grease proof paper and biscuits weighed out as required. Very little, if any prepacked, and no plastic bags
Continuing into School Rd, on the right was then Wooburn County Boys School and infants. Mr. Turner being head of the boys school, while Mrs. Neville was head of infants. This was till 1950 when the school became Wooburn Secondary Modern (now the Meadows) and the Church (now St Pauls) school became the Primary school. Halfway along was Crocketts greengrocers yard which once was part of the Northcoft Estate but now the site of a new pair of houses.
Turning right in Wycombe Lane and toward High Wycombe direction, between the house on the corner and bus shelter was the entrance to the Tudor Furniture works. Next to that was a butchers shop run by Mr. Lipscombe and later the Coop.
Next door to the butchers stood the home of the Wilkinson family, and next door to them was the entrance to the Busy Bee garden nursery. All this disappeared with Associated Family Bakers and Vitramon in the redevelopment.
Moving further up the road is the entrance to the new Mercury Business Park. This was the entrance to what was known as the Limes. A row of Lime trees still exist and the drive led to a big house at the bottom, now since long gone. It was purchased by Mr W.H.Deane in late 40s and he moved his furniture factory to here from High Wycombe and developed the site. The late Mr & Mrs Deane sadly died in the Paris air crash in the 60s. The furniture factory, along with the Family Bakers and Vitramons were demolished to make way for the new Mercury Park development.
One event that stands out goes back to the early 1950s. Wooburn (Bucks) fire brigade had 2 engines then. The brigade were turned out to a fire at the W.H.Deane factory site. In those days (no H & S) firemen rode on the side of the engine, usually trying to kit up as they went along. As the engine turned into the Limes one fireman came off a sadly died. He was given a proper firemans funeral with the coffin carried on the fire engine through the village to the cemetery.
Moving on passed what was the Rose & Crown pub, now a cardealers, is the entrance to Travis Perkins. This site has been used for various businesses over the years.
At the corner of Glory Mill lane and Wycombe Lane is now the business of Damar Signs. This was once a bakery owned by Mr and Mrs Neath and bread baked on the premise. There were also 3 other independent bakeries in the village.
At the corner of Watery Lane the car park was once the site of home and yard of Mr Ted Witney the local coal merchant.
Next door, the first house of the pair was a drycleaners while next door was a grocers run by Mrs Allen and later Mr and Mrs Ron Lewis.
Next is Meare Estate. This was formerly Glory Mill Sports Ground. Glory Mill was the last of 6 mills in the valley to disappear.
Continuing on, the development of houses know as Hedge Lea was the site of the Barley Mow pub. The concrete sign post still stands in the hedge as a reminder.
Before reaching the viaduct on the right, where the retail and business parks are was the site of Hedge Mill.
We now cross over and start to work back on the other side toward the village.
Where a pair of houses stand, no 151/3, was the garage and business of Mr Heath Field, taxi proprietor & later became the yard and office of Mr W.R.Beeks a builder.
At 99 ? I believe there was a grocers shop at one time, but I stand corrected if not.
At 147 was a sub post office and grocers run by Mr and Mrs Carvil.
At 139. was the home and depot of Mr A.C.Carey local transport contractor.
At 97. was formerly a pub called The Royal Oak then home to a Mrs Henry, later becoming a book shop, and then a sweet shop run by a blind man and his wife before reverting to a private house.
At 53, all traces gone, was a small butchers shop run I believe, by a Mr Tarling. Next door was a large 4 bedroom house, now demolished to make way for the entrance to the new “Comptons” development.
In most villages in the past or even today have their characters. At no. 45. Wycombe Lane lived a guy called Fred Watts. Apparently, he had been affected by the war and appeared a scary person but was harmless. I suppose like all kids we used to call out to him, just to see his reaction, but was never any trouble. Any day you could see a large union jack hanging out of an upstairs window, and being a former military man you could often hear him drilling his lovely ginger cat. Sadly he lost his life as the result of a fire in his home.
At no 35 was the business of a Mr Collett, a boot and shoe repairer.
The double fronted “Sapphire gown shop” was a grocery and millinery shop run by Mr & Mrs Humphrey, later run by Mr & Mrs Lawford and later till it closed by Mr & Mrs Timberlake, and next door set back, was the village Post Office run by Mr & Mrs Pedley. In those days it was a collection, sorting and delivery office as well as counter service. Post would come out from High Wycombe to be sorted and delivered by the resident postmen/women. If you posted mail in the village it was collected and sorted and went out from there. No travelling half way round the country like it is today.
The village bakery was owned and run by Mr & Mrs Edgar Mellett, and like as today bread was baked on the premises and delivered by Mr Mellett himself. As well as bread and cakes they sold sweets and confectionary. One binding memory takes me back to when sweets were still on ration. The government announced that sweets were coming off ration. The day arrived and in no time there wasn’t a sweet to be had anywhere. So the government put sweets back on ration to allow stocks to be built up then after a while, without warning, said sweets were no longer on ration.
Mr Mellett was well known for his lardy cake, as the saying goes, one to kill for. Haven’t found one to match since.
The house which is now an estate agents was once the home of Alderman Healey.J.P. and Mrs Healey.
Next door, now a coffee shop, was, prior to redevelopment, Crocketts, the green grocers.
Next, the restraunt was originally a double fronted butchers shop owned and run by Mr & Mrs Cannon. Mr Cannon had his own abattoir at the rear of the premises.
The fish and chip shop, also owned by Mr Cannon was the former business run by Mr Beeson a boot and shoe repairer. Mr Beeson a little short grey haired man who could be seen sitting by his shop window going about his business surrounded by cages of canaries both inside and out, always could be heard whistling away.
What is now a boutique was formerly and open passage way where Mr Cannon took delivery for his abattoir, till he finished the abattoir and had the space closed in to create new shop space.
The chemist was a sweet shop owned and run by a Mr & Mrs Laurie Pigdon. They also sold stationery and confectionary? Again when sweets were still on ration after the war, they used to open for 2 hours on a Sunday afternoon, the start of a new week for rationing. A favourite sweet purchased was a Mars bar. We would take it home and mother would cut it into 4 pieces. As there was 4 of us (2 boys & 2 Girls), the boys would have the end bits one week while the girls the next as the end pieces had “more” chocolate. Seems silly now but it was regarded as a treat.
The next block was a redevelopement in the 1970,s from a private house, shop and store belonging to Mr Newman.
Either side of the Red Lion public house is a small house, the one next to Tesco is now part of the Red Lion pub while the other is a private residence. Next to that one was a Blacksmiths shop. The “stable” door infill is visible from the outside while the forge etc is now incorporated within the pub.
Going a little further up White Pit Lane is a new development called Old Station Way. As the name suggests, was the site of the GWR station which closed in 1970. The goods yard sidings used to be quite a busy place at times, with parcels traffic, coal for the local merchants, wood pulp and coal for Glory Mill. The station was used in the filming of the Norman Wisdom film, The Square Peg. While on the subject of films, the Green and Holtspur Lane was used in the opening sequences of one of the doctors films.
On the other side of White Pit Lane below the station area was the yards of Mr Baker coal Merchant and next to him was Mr Slades scrap yard. This was all cleared for the new residential development.
At 35 The Green, Chester Cottage was for sometime the local office of the Registrar for births, marriages and deaths.
Next door but one, sometime during his broadcasting career lived Michael Aspel and his family, at the time he was doing 2 way family favourites. Moving on were the shops of “Duggie” Young, newsagent and hairdresser. The shop part has now gone, but the rest remains. Once believed to be an inn and called Anchor House.
Next door was once a Temperance Hotel and later a general store run by Norman Townsend but now all gone.
Crossing the road looking toward Bourne End on the left is the Wooburn Manor Park estate on grounds of what was Wooburn House. The big house was demolished for the construction of the estate and Wooburn Manor farm is incorporated in the estate.
Coming back is the entrance to the Manor House, one time occupants were the Gilbey family of wines and spirits fame.
Between the main entrance and Western Drive stands what was once a school.
At the entrance to Western Drive there stood a pub called the Great Western which was demolished to enable the development of Western Drive.
The care home was once a post office and general stores.
House no. 26 The Green was once the home of the bishop of Buckingham, while the house next door, Grove Cottage, lived a well-known broadcaster at the time, Geoffrey Wincott.
The pub, the Queen and Albert, better known to the locals as the “Steps”.
Recalling characters of the village, another one we knew as ”Grampy Sears” lived in a hut up in the fields off Windsor Hill.
The Working Mens Club has changed very little.
Another pub to close down is the Red Cow.
The Double fronted Building next to the Methodist Church was a newsagents and hairdressers run by Mr & Mrs Cyril Scott.
Next door is the ”Hawthorns” care home built on the old council depot. There was also a pub called “The Bull” run by Mr & Mrs A. Norwood, an aunt and uncle of my late father.
Crossing the road we have the doctors surgery also the local pound. Before coming total surgeries It was the home of Mr & Mrs Wotton and family. The 2 front rooms were used, one waiting room the other the surgery., and run by Dr Selbourne and his son Dr Alison Bailey.
Next door was and still is an undertakers, then owned by Mr.A.Smith but now a large concern.
Next door was a National Westminster Bank and another business. It was all demolished and redeveloped. Has been a Launderette, insurance office and Dentist at some time.
Next door the estate agents was once a general ironmongers and with 2 petrol pumps on the front.
At the rear was the “Pride of the Green” coach and lorry depot of Mr J.W.Smith, as well as 2 fire engines of the Buckinghsamshire Fire Brigade. The fire men were called out by siren on the hose tower during the day or by bell in their respective homes at night and were all retained. The fire station closed along with Chalfont St Peter station in the early 1950s. – A book on Wooburn Fire Brigade has been published by a Mr Paul Stevens.
Next door what is now Sellecks was a shop run by Mr Jasper Mellett (brother to Edgar) a radio and cycle dealer and repairer. For cycle spares he stocked every thing, from a ball bearing to a complete cycle. I bought my first cycle from him. A drop handle bar 5 speed job. He also sold and repaired wirelesses, the valve type. For those not familiar with valves they were the forerunner to the transistor. Another memory is going down to Mr Mellets with my father taking an accumulator (type of battery) to be charged. This was a glass type container and was used to power the radio.
Before we leave the “Green” just a note to say all roads off the Green are all “Lanes”!
Now into Wycombe Lane and we come to what was another pub “The Kings Arms” now the offices of Allen roofing. To the right of the pub is now the SRS factory. Prior to that it was the winter quarters for the Farr family. During the summer months toured the country with their fairground equipment. On lay over in the winter months they used to cut up and sell logs. On a cold winters frosty afternoon you could hear the band saw “singing” as they were cutting up the logs.
Attached to the pub was their bottle store and next to that was a fish and chip shop which took up almost half of Wycombe Lane. At that time the road was only wide enough for one vehicle to get through. Hard to think of that now but there was a lot less traffic. Eventually both buildings were demolished to make the road wider.
Another memory from that time was going into the fish shop for a half penny bag of “scrumps” as we called them. These were bits of batter left after the fish was fried.
Allens yard between the pub and the next “shop” was the pubs garden.
The next shop was a grocers one side and men’s outfitters the other run by Mr & Mrs Blackwell and later Mr & Mrs Lawrence, their daughter and son-in-law till it closed.
Next was another shop run by Mrs Beams and her daughter which sold ladies clothes and millinery.
Moving on to no. 50 was Mr Bill Dean a greengrocers operating out of his front room, while next door at no 48 was Mr Murrell a tailor.
The hairdressers (now) was a hardware shop run by a Miss Bates that sold paraffin oil, candles, kindling wood etc etc.
The Spar shop run by Mr & Mrs Mason was a milk and grocery store. Also had his own dairy at the rear and would bottle and deliver milk locally.
He was one of 2 dairy men in the village that bottled and delivered milk. The other was Mr Pitcher of Wooburn Manor Farm. His was delivered by Mr Reg Worcester by horse and cart while Mr Masons by Freddy Savin by hand cart.
Next door to Mr Masons was another small bakers shop and with bread baked on the premises by Mr & Mrs Oliver. While on the subject of bakers there was a 4th baker, a Mr George Howard who had his bakery behind Pound House surgery, and he delivered by horse and cart.
So, we arrive back at School Rd completing a circle of the village.
I have tried to present things as I remember them but time does tend to play tricks on the memory so it’s possible I might have added or forgot things that were or not there, so I do apologise.
Any comments, additions etc would be greatfully appreciated.
I have not included Wooburn Moor, Wooburn Commom or Wooburn Town, this could be a separate item.
A booklet entitled “A Wooburn Green Childhood” by Hetty Wingrove was published by Bourne End Residents Association in the early 1990s.
By Brian Hawes. ~ February 2018.