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#161 [url]

Feb 16 13 7:52 PM

Thanks for the info, photo updated.


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#162 [url]

Feb 16 13 8:39 PM

     Hi Philip,
                 I went to the village school in Harpenden and i know we used to go swimming
                 but i cannot for the life of me remember Harpenden swimming baths.
                 I do remember the water was fffreezing.
                 Also being on stage at the Westminster hall London when i was about 7 great
                 fun what memories.


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#163 [url]

Feb 16 13 10:18 PM

Hi Bri,
I also went to the Church Green School in Harpenden.  We went to the Kimpton swimming pool by bus.  This was the late '40s.  Huge excitement for me if it was a sunny day--otherwise cancelled of course.  An outdoor pool, and as you say, fffrrreeezing, in any weather!

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#164 [url]

Feb 16 13 11:20 PM

By the mid 1960s Harpenden had its own pool, if you carried up the road from Church Green, it was built on part of the Rothampstead estate, I think it survived until the 1990s, it was open air.
I also was taken to the Kempton pool, that had a small slide, more fun.


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#165 [url]

Feb 18 13 12:34 PM

Hi Bri and Shelagh yes i   also attended the Church Green School until we were moved too the New School in Batford Pickford Hill, yes and i think the swimming pool in Kimton was the only one in the Harpenden area until as Phillip has mentioned they built the one in Rothamstead happy days best regards Bertie B.

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#166 [url]

Feb 18 13 12:47 PM

Hi there Margo just a quick message to see how you are and have you managed to get onto the private site yet it would be great too hear from you again hope that you are keeping well  best regards Bertie B.t

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#167 [url]

Feb 21 13 9:50 PM

Action desk

Joan and Frank going through her records. Joan and Frank going through her records

Joan's story

Joan, now aged 84, was placed for adoption through NCH in 1927 and has accessed her adoption and birth records held in their archive.


Joan was born in June 1923. She was placed for adoption in 1927 through NCH (known as “The National Children’s Home and Orphanage” at the time). It was only a year ago that Joan felt the time was right to access her records. Fortunately, NCH, one of the oldest adoption agencies, had a good record of Joan’s placement and her subsequent life.

Joan’s NCH file, amazingly intact, tells us only a little of her birth family and her life with them. Registered at birth with the name Mildred, we know that she was born in Otley, Yorkshire, in June 1923 where her mother, Martha, living away from home, was a domestic servant. Martha had already had one child “out of wedlock”. Joan’s father was not named, but we know that by the time that Martha’s family helped place Joan for adoption through NCH, Martha was back living with her parents and her son in Kippax, Yorkshire. Joan’s birth grandfather was a miner, as were two of her birth uncles.  A third birth uncle, Harold, was killed in action in The Somme in 1916 at the age of 21 years.

Joan appears to have been “boarded out” with a Mrs. Harris in the village.

Joan's birth parents. Joan's birth parents.
We do not know if this was a relative or a friend. Martha received only half pay of nine shillings per week from the National Health Insurance Scheme, still known as “The Lloyd George Insurance Scheme” after it’s founder, clearly not enough to keep her first child and now Joan. Martha was described as having been an invalid for the last three years. Martha’s step-brother Granville, related by her mother’s earlier marriage, now took up Joan’s case.

Granville was a member of the Weslyan Methodist Society and an authorised occasional Preacher. As a Methodist he would have known of the work of The National Children’s Home.
It was Granville who completed the application form for admission of Joan to The National Children’s Home,  for adoption. He bluntly responded to the question of Martha’s character with a simple “Rather bad”, but described Joan’s life thus far as a “tradjedy” (sic).

Meanwhile, Joan’s adoptive parents, Horace and Kathleen were members of the Congregation Church, where Horace was a Life Deacon. They were living in Sittingbourne, Kent, and had applied to The National Children’s Home to adopt a girl, aged between three and four years of age “whose parents are both dead, if possible. Otherwise, one who came to the home through the death of the mother”.  Kathleen felt that she could not manage a baby. From the brief information they were given of Joan, Horace and Kathleen said “Yes” to Joan’s placement with them. They were sent a tiny snip of a photograph of Joan holding a teddy bear.

Kathleen and Horace had a seaside holiday planned for mid-July 1927 and encouraged by the idea that a holiday would take her mind off the ordeal of being placed for adoption, they asked for an early placement of Joan. Within a few weeks, Joan was on her way by train from Yorkshire accompanied by one of the NCH ordained “Sisters” and another child. After a few days en route in one of the NCH homes in Harpenden, Hertfordshire, Joan arrived at Sittingbourne station at 5-50pm on 21st July 1927, escorted by a Sister Bertha.

There is nothing recorded of Joan’s last days with her birth family in Kippax, and she can recall nothing herself. Who said “Goodbye” and how? Perhaps Joan travelled with the Teddy we see in the photograph. Joan can remember nothing of the journey down or her brief stay in Harpenden. However, she can recall her first few days with her adoptive parents on holiday in Littlehampton. She never shed a tear after her arrival until she and her new family left to go on holiday, believing that she was being sent back home! Photographs on file show her with her new parents happily paddling in the sea.

Joan's adoptive mother. Joan's adoptive mother.

Fortunately for Joan her adoptive parents took to her instantly. Who knows where she may have ended up had they not done taken to her. Rather poignantly the NCH application form completed be her step-uncle asked the question
“Is the child’s parent or guardian willing for her to be sent to Canada when she leaves the (NCH) Home?”  Granville had responded “Yes”. From its early days The National Children’s Home, like other emigrant societies at the time, (twenty five of them at one point), had been sending “emigrant” children from England to Canada where it had established an outpost Home from which children were placed with Canadian families, usually in rural communities. By the beginning of the 20th Century, however, the great wave of emigration to Canada had ceased and by 1924 only children of the working age of 14 years or older could be sent to Canada.

Joan, therefore, had nothing to fear of emigration to Canada, though in 1927, eighty years ago, her journey south to Kent was nevertheless a risky one. There do not appear to have been any contingency plans and had she been sent back by Horace and Kathleen she would almost certainly have spent more time in one of the NCH homes. She may never have found another adoptive family.

After the holiday in Littlehampton, Joan settled well into her adoptive home and within a few months, after a kafuffle whilst the court and NCH unscrambled the mysteries of the new Adoption Act of 1926, Joan was duly adopted on
31st January 1928. The Adoption Act 1926 was still in its infancy. Before that Act “adoptions” were largely unregulated and usually reserved for the very rich, whilst a variety of other arrangements, such as Guardianship, made provision for other children. Since then, over 850,000 children have been adopted in England and Wales. NCH was one of the first adoption agencies registered under the Act, whilst Local Authorities did not become adoption agencies until 1958.
Joan was the 16,155th child to be adopted in England and Wales.

However, no adoption can have been more successful than Joan’s. Joan settled quickly and happily. She led a very secure and settled life. NCH always encouraged their adopters to keep in touch with NCH headquarters and Joan’s family was no exception. Joan’s adoptive parents wrote regularly to NCH Head Office in Highbury Park, keeping NCH in touch with Joan’s progress.
In July 1938 Joan’s adoptive mother, Kathleen, wrote that Joan “often speaks of what she did when she was a “long way”, as she terms it, and can remember quite well us fetching her at the station, but she says that she never wants to go a “long way” again without her mummy and daddy, so that tells you everything” 
Kathleen added, “I often wonder if anyone enquires after her”---no-one did, or at least,  if they did it is not recorded.

Kathleen and Horace continued to write of their “girlie”, as they called Joan, right up to July 1968, sending money and a newsletter of Joan to NCH each year. Joan also wrote regularly to NCH sending gifts for other NCH children.

Joan duly went to High School, left at the age of 14 years to train as a shorthand typist at Commercial School. By November 1940 Kathleen was writing of enemy bombers flying over Sittingbourne on the way to London and of bombs dropping in Sittingbourne and of deaths, one of a two month old child. Joan was by now a Sunday School teacher and a voluntary nurse.
In October 1942 Joan writes that “owing to the war I had to register like the other girls so I decided I would do nursing”, although she was legally too young. She was based in Queen Victoria Cottage Hospital in Tonbridge, Kent, until January 1945 after which she gave up her nursing career for the care of children with a disability.

Joan feels that her adoption was all due to the hard work and good services of NCH, though she assures me that this in no way minimises the excellence of the life she had with her adoptive parents, where she says she received all the loving care any child could ask for.

Over the past year, with help from NCH and her friends, Joan has traced her birth family. After her adoption, her birth mother had gone on to marry and have other children. She has now met with her birth brothers , a birth sister, and many cousins. They knew nothing of Joan until she contacted them. She has been back to the village of her birth and to the NCH Home in Harpenden.

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#168 [url]

Mar 1 13 6:48 PM

HI Bertie,

Good to hear from you again.  Yes I am still around, but since our last communication, I have received my files from the NCH and have been perusing them, trying to figure out why I was such a bad girl, since it seems that poor Sister Ethel had a really difficult time trying to keep me on the straight and narrow.  I apparently was not so bad at school, so was happy to read that.    The files only took about two and a half months to get to me via my councellor, which I thought was pretty good, especially since I live in the U.S. 
I do plan on trying to get to Harpenden for the reunion in July, and  since I have your contact information, via Micky Mapp, perhaps I can telephone you, and catch up a little whilst I am in the U.K.
I too went to the Church Green School, and after that Manland where I do remember going to the swimming pool at Kimpton by bus  When the weather was good, which was not too often, we were all excited about going for a swim. 
No I am not on the private site yet, since I have not been on the forum for very long.
Please keep in touch from time to time.  With best wishes, Margo

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#169 [url]

Mar 1 13 8:58 PM

Yeah, Margo!
You made it back on the forum! :-)
Honestly, I don't think we were such bad kids.  They had to find something to write about in those reports--although I do remember, when I was reading my files for the first time, that I found it rather overwhelming, and so biased towards behavioural things, rather than who we were. Well, back in our days at least. My feeling now is that most of us were very likely good kids, but coming from or in a bad situation. Or am I still living in a grand illusion?! :-)
You were lucky to get your files so quickly.  Many of us have had to wait many months!

Is it official about a reunion in Harpenden in July?

Who do you remember from the Church Green School?  I remember Mr Simpson, later succeeded by Mr Cave as headmaster; also a Mr Weber who taught us PE.  Don't remember any women teachers, funnily enough.  There surely were some!

Those bus trips to Kimpton were something, weren't they?  With our cossies and rubber caps all rolled up in one of those NCH-special thin towels! 

Look forward to seeing more of your story here, Margo.  I can very easily picture you in a Brownie uniform!   :-)

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#170 [url]

Mar 1 13 11:12 PM

Reunion 2013
As yet no date.
YWAM are not able to offer any summer dates as yet as they have not fully sorted out all their events for 2013.
There will be a reunion on the first Saturday of July at Action For Children (NCH) at their main site at Watford.
More info very soon. Postal invitations are going out at the moment.
There will be a shuttle bust from Watford Junction to the Site on the date.



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#171 [url]

Mar 2 13 3:49 PM

Hi Philip!
Many thanks for the info about the Action for Children reunion, and any info that is yet to be determined about a possible Harpenden reunion. (Wont be able to make this latter, this year--but nice to think its a possibility for all who can). 
The "shuttle bust" from Watford Junction to the site of the AFC reunion sounds interesting! ;-)  Hope everyone arrives intact!

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#172 [url]

Mar 2 13 8:17 PM

Hi Shelagh,
Yes, finally after all my fiddling around trying to get on, your info was very helpful thanks!
I guess I got the reunion info wrong, I thought I read it somewhere, but now I see it is Action for Childrens' reunion in Watford.   I think I would still like to go around the 'Oval' one more time, so hopefully I can find out from YWAM before I go to Harpenden if it will be O.K. to visit, just in case they have plans for other things going on.    I will be in the U.K.for a limited time, so want to see all I can just in case I will not be able to get back again for a while.

The comments you made re possibly being 'good kids' - cheered me up some - I was quite surprised when I read all the negative stuff written about me, I just do not remember being as bad as it all sounded.  I do admit however that there were times ..............!   However, all things considered, I do have quite happy memories of my stay there.  I do recall, however, that I was quite heartbroken when my 'aunt and uncle' decided not to visit me anymore because I was not an orphan. (I still had a mother around - though not much).   

Thanks again for your help and had to laugh at your comment re 'the shuttle bust' from Watford Junction.  Poor Philip, you do give him a hard time sometimes!!

Beswt wishes,

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#173 [url]

Mar 3 13 4:03 PM

Hi Chris!
Polly Grantham--that name does sound VERY familiar!  Can't quite put a face to the name, though.

 Amongst all of us who went to the Church Green School, I wonder if anyone has any pics from those times?  I have a newspaper clipping of the time when Mr Simpson handed over the responsibilities of headmastering us all to Mr Cave, but it's very faded, and I don't know if it will copy and paste here very well.  I might try, but first I have to find it!  And you don't know what a packrat I am...
Then there's one of those school pictures of me in my last year there.
Would love to see others from those times.  Was there ever a group picture taken of the school during those years!

Many thanks for the info, Chris.  What do you remember of Polly Grantham?

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#174 [url]

Mar 3 13 4:28 PM

Hi Margo!
Here's the address, email, and phone numbers for YWAM at Harpenden:

International Press Office – for assistance with any media inquiries.

Press Officer

Highfield OvalAmbrose LaneHarpenden, Herts AL5 4BXENGLAND, U.K.


Phone: +44 1582-463300Fax: +44 1582-463305

As far as I know, John Peachey (a very nice man) is still in charge there, and you could address enquiries or requests to him.  But Philip would probably have the latest info about that. 

 The old hospital is now their "Hospitality Guest House", and you could make arrangements to stay overnight there through the same channels, if you wanted to. Not sure if its the same people in charge of that now, but they'll let you know.  I stayed there for three nights for the 2010 reunion, and it was very nice!

When I visited the Oval last July (2012)  with Roy, and my daughter and granddaughter, it was fine that we just walked about there, and stopped off at the cafe which is now in the Block.  It's true, they had a lot of tents and stuff on the Oval in preparation for some of their own (YWAM) events, but the rest of the place was open to our wanderings, and they don't seem to mind at all, as long as you let them know you'll be there and check in at the Block office.

That happened to be a doubly interesting time for me because I also visited an old school friend for the very first time in some 58 years, having discovered she lives on Ambrose Lane! :-)

Life never ceases to amaze me!

Are or were we "bad" kids? Of course not! :-)  Well, maybe sometimes...



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#175 [url]

Mar 24 13 10:01 PM

Hi there Margo great to see you back not sure if i should say that i am pleased that you have got your files i am having a hard time believing that you were a naughty girl not the Margo that i knew as i recall you were alway in the background if there was any trouble anyway i would not  pay to much to it apparently i had my moments show me a kid who done nothing wrong.
               Anyway more importantly it would be great to meet up wheather it be at Harpenden or Watford,i will be going to the branch on the 27th and i will find out what there policy is on visiting and get back to you.
        I will be going to see Shirley over Easter i will let her no that you have beeen in touch.
Stay well best regards BertieB. 

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Posts: 1,128

#176 [url]

Mar 25 13 1:23 AM

Hi Margo,
                        I missed the letter where you said you had got your file.    I think that there is a knack to reading these.  Poor old staff had to report on each one of us regularly and it was only the bad that caused concern.  In my whole file I could only find two complimentary comments. For myself, I look at the dates of the so called bad behavior and realise that for the the bits in between I must have been good and there are a lot more of the unstated good days than the bad. Or is this just misplaced optimism?


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Posts: 1,812

#177 [url]

Mar 25 13 10:19 AM

Sister Pearl did know the word Good.
In my file regarding my health.
November 1965. General Condition: Good.
MAY 1966. General Condition: Good.
November 1966. General Condition: Good.
May 1967. General Condition: Good.
and from the Houseparent
23.11.67. General Condition: Good.

so other than the six monthly medical reports, there seems to be a lack of the word good used in my file.


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Posts: 1,812

#178 [url]

Apr 16 13 12:27 AM

Harpenden BBC Christmas.
Video recording of the 1974 edition.

The full programme is now in this video

A STOCKING FULL OF STARS 25 December 1974 · A television programme · BBC Programme Number: LON1059L · First broadcast on 1974-12-25 · Christmas entertainment direct from the National Children''s Home at Harpenden intro by Michael ASPEL & Rolf HARRIS. Incl contributions from Blue Peter, Basil Brush, & Showaddywaddy. · MICHAEL ASPEL INTV: Marjorie HINDES re Supreme Champion Of Crufts 1974 VT INSERTS: Blue Peter at Twycross Zoo - Peter PURVES, Lesley JUDD, John NOAKES (5m44s) Basil Brush - Ivan OWEN, Roy NORTH, children Andrew BAGLEY, Candida PRIOR (5m18s) EX LIB: Some Mothers Do ''Ave ''Em first tx ? (2m59s); St Bernard Burtonswood Bossy Boots ex Crufts Dog Show 10/02/74 (20s); Vision On first tx ? (5m29s) SONGS: Rolf HARRIS & children "I''d Like To Teach The World To Sing" (56s) "Houdini Hepplethwaite" (3m30s) "Little Drummer Boy" (2m17s) "Provencal Pilgrim" (2m25s) "Up A Tree" (2m23s) · SONGS CNTD: Sovereign Collection "Blue Ridge Mountain" (3m00s) children''s home choir "Carillon Carol" (3m01s) Showaddywaddy & children''s home choir "Hey Mr Christmas" (2m32s) BLUE PETER 25 September 1975 · A television programme · BBC Programme Number: LCH9145X · First broadcast on 1975-09-25 · · ITEM 01:NESSIE: John meets Mrs MATHESON, winner of Nessie, a gigantic paper mache monster. Delivered on a fire engine, she is donated to the National Children''s Home in Herpenden, Hertfordshire. (FILM 3m58s)


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#179 [url]

Apr 16 13 12:28 AM

Old Colour Film

There is an old colour film on youtube c.1950

It features Harpenden & Frodsham etc.

The quality is poor, but it is worth watching.


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Posts: 1,812

#180 [url]

Apr 17 13 7:45 PM

Aunts & Uncles.
In the mid 1960s some of the children in our flat had adoptive aunts and uncles that would take a child out for a day or a short holiday.
Some image from a film about adoptive Aunts & Uncles from the mid 1960s.
Sister Eva Brooker is the Sister in charge.
Can you put any names to faces?


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