Transcript Detail

View print layout
Transcript TitleAndrews, Giles - Summer Party Talk (O2011.9)
IntervieweeGiles Andrews
InterviewerGiles Andrews
Transcriber byMarilyn Taylor


Hertford Oral History Group

Recording no: O 2011.9

Interviewee: Giles Andrews (talk at group summer party, 2011)

Date: 4th Sept 2011

Venue: North Road Hertford

Interviewers: Peter Ruffles (PR) introduces and Jane Sartin (JS) thanks

Transcriber: Marilyn Taylor

************** unclear recording

[discussion] untranscribed material

NOTE: Peter Ruffles proof read the transcript and asks – Does this clinch the Har’ford v Hartford argument. Giles is unfailingly "Har’ford"

PR. It should be a welcome from our host David Lloyd. Giles his cousin is here David may return home before we leave so that’s just a maybe. I have been praying for rain (group laughter) ****** but one of the advantages of being in the snug is that we will be able to listen to Giles more comfortably and easily I think inside than we would have done had we been sporting ourselves in the lovely garden, but I am glad many of you have been just to get your bearings and find out where this lovely house is and I think it is in a part of town where most of us haven’t ventured because most of us of a certain age were the roaming classes and covered most of the terrain including those gravel pits around the edge of the town but this little bit probably wasn’t where we ever came, so it a special, nice, thing for us to come. I must say a big thank you to you all. You are only tokens because we can only invite a small number of people from our list of people who have made this valuable contribution to the archive which is a great joy because it increases in value. Everything we popped into the archive in 1990 somehow seems even more valuable to us now in 2011 than it did at the time we popped it in. Those of you who, like Guy Horlock, has just had his contribution recorded, in 30 years time it will be of greater value than now although at the moment it has been of considerable value talking about our staple industry malting processes. So thank you for being this year’s token. You may not be invited next year. It is not because you misbehaved at all (laughter over Peters words) Joy did come last year and she is here again but we generally tend to ring the changes and if you want someone just to pay your respects to and bow steeply towards before you leave it’s Hazel Suckling. We always have to say that because there is Hazel in her armchair buried in the rubble when the doodlebug fell on Millbridge, so that…


Hazel: I think I am the only one alive ******* that night

PR: Yes Hazel was on watch

Hazel: I was a messenger, then

PR: Messenger, looking out for enemy aircraft

Hazel: Good job the siren didn’t go or one of us would have been up on the roof

PR: Yes 2 girls Hazel was quite young on duty, had there been a warning one of the either Hazel or Eve Hart would have been up on the roof

Bill Taylor: I’m glad you’ve said that because I went down there that morning to give people cups of tea……………..

Hazel: Yes the Salvation Army were the first people there; you were St John, next.

Bill Taylor: People have always said there was no warning and I always thought it was a V bomber rather than a doodle bug ……because there was no warning………sorry Peter!

PR: No no absolutely right. Just our cup of tea isn’t it. So I am going to ask Giles just to talk about his family fairly briefly and you can go and listen to a longer version if you are a friend of Hertford Museum

Giles: or anyone can go

PR: or anyone can go at the Museum soon, Giles will tell you when but the Andrews family, I mustn’t say anything really that he is going to say. The two main things I suppose from the public point of view, that they were very philanthropic. The Museum is because of their generosity and that was continued until, where’s Colin?, on to I don’t know where he is Colin Harris (behind you), until very recently, chairman of the trustees of the museum carrying forward the Andrews spirit and the really big and wonderful thing was the donation of and the setting up of the building to house the collection that the Andrews family had already begun to make at the turn of the century until the 1920’s, and Folly island. I have brought for you, to take away Giles, a transcript of one of our tapes, because we have talked to people who lived on Folly island as a community and one John Rist recorded some years ago. He is in his mid 80’s now, the youngest member of a large family of Folly island residents and just reading that transcript through this morning as I have done, I have realise how lucky we were to catch those because he talks really about the inside world of life on Folly island, what it was like to be part of a large family, whose mother having given birth to twins of which he was one, died before they were 3, so he was bought up, as many of the children have been in that circumstance, by an older sibling and father and that transcript just isn’t our world today. He knew when he was giving us this message that it wasn’t the present world but we have moved on nearly 20 years since he recorded and the difference is something we seem to know and are aware of but reading it and hearing it directly from someone who recorded ………I have said enough but Giles……..

Giles: Well you have said it all!



It is lovely to be here. Hertford has always been very important I mean we lived in Horsham but my father was looking after the Folly, The Thornton Investment Company and then I took over from him for 3 years right at the end before we sold it which I have to say in my mind was quite a lot of sadness actually. Ok tax and all that business but it was sad and in fact the other day I went down and some of our tenants were still there on their protected tenancies. Mr Jones with his Rottweiler in 15 The Folly I was terrified calling and he came up from the bottom actually and then Melvyn Jones in 46 Thornton Street whose family have been there since 1901 so it was very much a community on its own there and wonderful think I would say I was more interested in it from the, well I don’t know from getting involved from, it sounds a bit, from the community point of view rather than the business point of view actually. Ok you have to be sensible on the business side but it was special and one Giles Andrews summer party talk, sensed this very much there, so sadness. How to…….. The family have been here since 1654 they were puritans they were builders, they came from Plymouth and I think, unless Jean (Riddell) corrects me otherwise, Jean is my Guru here.

They settled in 25 Castle Street where we lived until 1971 until Gascoyne Way cut through the garden ……..I know we love Gascoyne Way but it only left 10 feet behind the house which was very sad. And it was really the building that went right the way through there were two things. Peter has already mentioned the philanthropic and the religious side, they were a religious family probably slightly on the puritan side and they were builders and with builders later on it became materials, gravel, barges on the Folly and the Lea navigation there as well, and so what I thought I might do it’s a bit disjoined, is just go through some of the stories basically because there you get this established family 25 Castle Street over 350 years.

Obviously certain characteristics if you like and interesting incidents came out of that. The first one which was handed down through the nursery, my Gt Gt Uncle recalled this was that Abraham Andrews in about 1768 was appalled by the town’s reception for Mr Colley who had become a Methodist and tried to preach in the market place and he got hell from people here. Abraham was so convinced by his coolness that he became a Methodist. Very strong, friend of John Wesley and John Wesley came here 5 times. John Wesley was not impressed in fact when he came he said "I preach" this is 1778 "I preach at Hertford at noon to 50 or 60 dull creatures" laughter "that poor desolate Hertford and they heard with something like seriousness" Well that went on and when he preached the next time he preached over the family wood yard. Do you know that pathway the dividing line between Castle Street going through to Gascoyne Way between 25 and 29 well that was the original wood shed and the wood saw pits. John preached there but Martha his, Abraham’s wife; C of E did not like it so she got the sons to pull the plank away while he was preaching, into the saw pit. And that, I think, was a well attested sort of family story. Abraham actually took that further and later he just left the family and went to America to convert the Red Indians …….. where he died.

The business went on he left it to his 6th son interestingly not the elder son, the elder son actually died a very mysterious death I was asking before about Waterford and what that was and he want to the marsh there to measure some timber with his gun, dead, died, killed so whether he tripped over the gun or something like that.

So the business went on I think there were 3 good business people in our family with due respect to the ancestors who are listening to me, sorry don’t pass this on the heavenly hosts please. There was Samuel 1 the first half of the 19th century there was his son Samuel 2; and then there was the person who you may have heard of who was one of the co founders of the Museum William Frampton Andrews. They were the ones who really got the business going, actually.

Samuel 1 if you like building, carpentry, a lot of work for the council. What did he do? He actually had to make the gallows the whipping post, the stocks and the coffins for people who had been executed. He did other things as well. He also went into agriculture and in fact after the Napoleonic wars lack of demand for cereal and things, building supplies, it went really down for the company but he managed to get it round and he actually put an ad in the local newspaper if anybody owes me any debts let me know. Imagine that now with BT **deal with their small contactors **** laughter over his words. ….anyway it shows his good honest spirit doesn’t it really. So good old Samuel 1. Rather sad story his eldest daughter went down to Weymouth to visit members of the family there and I have got it, we have got her diary there 1817 "took walk on sands and saw the Duke of Wellington riding in his military dress Giles Andrews summer party talk, with his star on his breast" She came back but very sadly walked past the house where somebody was dying, very strong smell and caught typhoid. Died aged 16, and that really caused sadness in the family and we have got it in the family tree about the sadness that involved for the eldest daughter Martha.

The business then went to the son Samuel 2 we are now in about the 1850’s. He was helped getting on with the business because he was called up for the military here and apparently if you nominated a substitute you got off it. So he……..did anybody know that? And then he could go on with the business, if you didn’t get a substitute you paid £15 and you had to go to the County Hall here and show your substitute. There was more speculation, now so they had a brickworks for example on Camp Hill they were gradually buying up the Folly Island and the land there till they owned it all plus on the right side near Bircherley Green those were all wharfs up there, and they bought all those, timber, grain. It was the commercial hub of Hertford at that stage, very very busy indeed. There is a nice little verse at the time which was written

In barges which go down in shoals

( to London)

And in return they bring up coals

In which the people likewise deal

Almost as much as malt and meal


So the family really benefited. From the mid 19th century it was a very prosperous time and this place was a very prosperous place with the river as well. They had apparently at that stage about 100 workmen working in the woodshed. There was a lovely story, the children there, their playroom was in the up floor of the woodshed where all the tools were and the lathes and things so no question about safety they had to climb up a chicken ladder to get up there but I suppose it was one way of getting them interested in the business, wasn’t it a little bit. I have got some photographs here, thanks to the museum the first one , just pass them round, you have got 25 Castle Street with the original wood shed in about 1920 something like that. There was the wood yard and the family group (pictures are passed round) and to show so the other thing is that Sam 2 had a wonderful wife you sometimes think that mid Victorian women, put upon, did nothing, poured out tea, she was an archaeologist, she was a geologist, she was a numismologist as well. She was extremely…….., very capable and she kept the company accounts and she bore 11 children.

(Group gasps)

Very sadly she died prematurely during the birth of number 12.

There is a lovely thing we have got a tomb here in All Saints Churchyard and I have been talking to a friendly councillor* about possible restoration of that, its under the yew trees and there is a lovely description of this Samuel when he died and he describes his first wife as "the most beloved" the second wife as "beloved" and the third one as "widow"

* Transcribers Note Cllr Matthew McCormick


They went down in order according to the………..

Another lovely story which is about the Thornton family, they married into the Thornton’s and I have got the name of Thornton so I really am tied in to Hertford. The Thornton family who lived in London thought they wouldn’t marry into trade into the Andrews because one of the Thornton’s was a Baron under King John but actually as business people the Thornton’s were a bit …….well………one of them got the contract to supply Wellington with shoes and as one of the family said they hadn’t a clue what they were about and then forage in the peninsula war and to show their initiative they had to cross a boundary, frontier …how could they do it? They put the son and the father in barrels on a mule and drove the mule across getting over customs and excise.

Anyway it turned out that the Thornton’s really had to come to the Andrews for money at the end because they really were getting a bit pushed, so it turned round just a little bit.

So we have now got to the founders of the Hertford Museum, Robert Thornton and William Franklin and to show, I say this with some slightly sort of boasting in a sense, you have got a picture of the group of four brothers here in incidentally and someone here quite rightly said one of the brothers became a Bishop in Japan, Hokkaido. Thanks to him I have got this excellent family tree. We have got Robert in the middle with his beard and he is on the picture on the museum booklet. William was 3 times Mayor of Hertford he really went into the civic thing. Robert was more of an antiquarian and archaeologist and really got the collection of the museum as well. But to show their business they advertised in 1863

R T and W F Andrews,

Timber, bark, deal, slate and coal merchants.

House, land and timber surveyors.

Barge owners, brick makers and slaters

Carpenters, builders and undertakers

That’s all they did


So they were linking the things, the built you house then had to insure it and then when you died in it they buried you. So they were a very enterprising family. As Peter said they were the ones that developed the Folly, really as houses for workers. I have to say the houses are pretty basic actually. I had to look after some of them, well they were all right. the ones in St Alban’s were really a bit…………….anyway. As Rosemary Bennett said in her book at least they provided houses for people at reasonable rents for before any of the local authority housing I think had come on the spot, if Jean will correct me if I am right about that. So they were good people

Ann-Marie Parker: Where were the ones in St Albans?

Giles: Prospect Road yes. So housing there, they gave up the wood business there for the very simple reason, you know the bridge on the Folly Island to The Barge pub, nobody would alter it so the bend was too much for the timber carts to go round. Also the railway, coming, as well. So wharf the barge business really diminished a bit and they retired in about 1896 they sold off the Priory Wharf and Jewson’s the timber merchants have that now so at least it is going on there. 1918 William Frampton died and the properties to the east of the Folly were sold by his family and we carried on looking after the properties in Thornton Street, Old Hall Street, Frampton Street, The Folly on the west side and that went on basically through my father until I had to look after it. With Martin; and David who is coming very soon. So I think really I am not going to say too much more. People say what about the sort of the nasty side of the family (laughter) the stories. Is this still recording?

Honestly I don’t know too many there was a rumour about somebody we left his family and fled to Dublin and when he has spent his money came back shamed face with his wife but we don’t know who that was basically and nobody seems to have gone to jail at all. They were never really interested in politics although they broke the Liberal majority here in about 1866 I think in the election. So I think there is that really basically unless you want to ask any questions.

Discussion with the group follows which I have done my best to transcribe

Maureen Davis: Why were the houses down the Folly, Thornton Street in particular had some larger houses………

Giles: Yes I know 3 bedroom ones to the two bedroom ones, I thing Robert RT actually designed it that way. I mean the ones on the left the odd numbers were built first in about 1870 the other ones were built later. They have still got coal holes in them by the way

Maureen Davis: Yes

Giles: Haven’t they going down there. In 1904 they moved the loos from the outside up to the back door and my father Leslie had the very big job of actually putting in bathrooms and I think electricity as well I mean that was up to about 19 ?.............before then?

Maureen Davis: I don’t remember them without electricity

Giles: No Ok right Ok no but bathrooms inside

Maureen Davis: I didn’t actually live there but my aunts

Giles: Who was that?

Maureen Davis: My aunt was Mrs Wright

Giles: Yes

Maureen Davis: Who lived in what number Thornton Street about 40

Giles: Mrs, Miss, I have got the last rent list here just to check on people (laughter) 40 was Miss Kier

Maureen Davis: yes it was probably before that

Giles: Right Ok

Maureen Davis: there was one in 32 that was before that as well

Giles: That was the Phypers? …….No

Maureen Davis: I had another aunt lived … 8 Thornton Street……………but that was earlier still

Giles: Didn’t have them that was William Frampton’s. I mean RT my Great Grandfather when they got rid of the wood business they had an insurance business a 96 Fore Street which is now the beauty salon or something, I looked the other day (laughter) very appropriate. He used to go round the Folly I have heard this from people, Chris Quarry who is still in Hertford and she helps at Hertford museum he used to go round and didn’t like the hopscotch and chalk marks on the pavement and tried to make the children take them off, imagine the reaction now and so he was quite strict and my father I thought we were really rather easy going really, any satellite dishes had to be round the back. And the colour of the front doors had to be moderately matching, not too garish; we had one tenant who definitely objected to that I remember. An interesting point at the other end of Thornton Street near the bridge we had to do some underpinning because the old family Wharf came towards Thornton Street.

Maureen Davis: The Phypers you were talking about

Giles: The Phypers

Maureen Davis: Was a policeman

Giles: Really

Maureen Davis: It was a police house

Giles: was it?

Maureen Davis: Yes it was a proper police house in the Folly

Giles: Right Ok

: Maureen Davis I had an aunt in no14 The Folly, Peel was the name Mr and Mrs Peel.

Giles: That was the other side of the road I am afraid it wasn’t ours that was William Frampton’s

Lots of laughter over talking

Maureen Davis: Presumably Frampton Street wasn’t your then?

Giles: Yes it was, but one side of it was, (to the left) that was the name of a family that they had married into William Frampton so they just bought the family name in William Frampton Andrews. What was I going to say something else came to mind, it’s gone, oh gosh.

Maureen Davis: Were you about when the built the bailey bridge across the river

Giles: No, that was always a problem. My father was very well I though really bright about this actually.****** because the Bailey bridge was there during the war and then it rotted and there were just the timber, the girders.

Maureen Davis: Yes that’s right

Giles: Chris Quarry remembers walking over them

Maureen Davis: We used to have fun on them.

Giles: Exactly (laughter) you could fall in

Maureen Davis: Of course we didn’t fall in

Giles: But you see the atmosphere of the Folly. It was a wonderful community I have got a transcript of Chris’s interview she did with Peter and with Jean here. It’s funny it had its own sort of atmosphere and reputation some of it actually people looked down on the Folly as sort of definitely work, then is sort of came up particularly when the roads were tarmaced, and now of course it a frightfully sort of posh posh area.

General agreement

Ann-Marie Parker: We had the children from the jail they were totally beyond the pale, Baker Street, Oak Street, Ash Street, Elm Street but the Folly children were certainly one step above ***********one couldn’t acknowledge, don’t you dare go down into the jail my Mum used to say (laughter) It was terrible (thing to tell us)

Giles: and The Folly could they go down into the Folly?

Ann-Marie Parker: I don’t think we ever did I think the nearest I ever got to The Folly was the Salvation Army little ********, what was it called the Mission Hall

Giles: We built that. RT helped to start The Ragged School


Giles: Apparently R T allowed each house one room to be wallpapered a year and so you used to take a token into the shop in Hertford so you would get one room wallpapered a year. There was something else anyway something, yes.

Roy Davis: The wood yard in Castle Street where would that have been in relation to the White Horse in castle Street.

Giles: To the left of it facing it, the White Horse pub was known as the Gladstone wasn’t it?

Ladies: No The Gladstone was a separate one altogether

Giles: Was that in Pegs Lane

Ladies: The Gladstone was knocked down to put the road through, Gascoyne Way in

Giles: Wasn’t the Gladstone on Castle Street? It was

Ladies: Yes but it was knocked down.

Giles: Right no sure, but it’s to the left of the White Horse, its still there as a pedestrian way.

Ladies: There is an underpass, where the underpass is.

Giles: That’s where the woodshed was if you look at the size of the thing (showing picture) it was fairly substantial with 100 employees

Roy Davis: for 30 years in the 20’s and 30’s my grandmother kept the White Horse

Giles: Really

Background Gentleman not clear : Yes and there used to be a wheelwrights at the back in a yard and a haulage merchant, horse and carts used to be a wheelwrights at the back used to make the wheels for all the carts for the farms around and the trap’s for Briden’s the bakers, Skinner you remember Skinner’s

Giles: right

Roy Davis not clear: Made the trap’s at the back of the White Horse

Giles: I must say I remember visiting Castle Street and the two women in the picture there the aunts, who you mentioned Edgar, Edie and Flo, I was a bit overawed actually they were spinster aunts. That was actually one, almost the story of the family David can’t even tell you about it! One of them fled and left her sister, pursuing the Archdeacon to Japan! I think they got married I am not quite sure! But anyway going to Castle Street I remember only cold meat and potatoes in their jackets on Sunday and the garden went right up to the Grammar School it was absolutely a wonderful garden right to the top. Of course Gascoyne Way which my father fought, I have to say wasn’t the only option, it going round the south of the town so no he thought that but Ernie Marples won on that one. I can see why you needed it but it was……….

Lady: It was the wrong place to put it

General agreement

Giles: It was sad about that because it was lovely. It was in that garden, I went to look at it just now, there was a yew tree where there was a school room where John Wesley came and I think it’s just north of Gascoyne Way. It’s gone anyway. What about Edgar saying ………..

Edgar Lake unclear: No I think you’ve set the scene I don’t want to interrupt and start talking about The Folly I would say about Castle Street though that garden of that house was a joy. I grew up near the Baptist Church and the school hall of the Baptist Church was taken over by the army and one story ap per po of that having taken it over there was posters all round the town saying there was going to be a dance on Saturday night in the Baptist Church Hall and the Baptists in those days were very much opposed to dancing, very much opposed to drinking and the dance was stopped and the school hall was handed over to a factory so a lot of Church activities would take place at 25 Castle Street as someone who had got the garden for garden parties and it really was a fabulous garden it had a big greenhouse with a nice vine in it and the church had the use of it because Edie Andrews had given up the Anglican thing and ……….

Giles: She went over to the Baptists.

Edgar: and came over to the Baptist Church. Very enthusiastic as a member. My memories of that was that they were great encouragers of the young. Edie Andrews always sat near the front I think as kids we had to perform, reading or something like this and she always grabbed us afterwards with great enthusiasm. Harvest festival we always had grapes from 25 Castle Street came from the greenhouse. The other thing I remember about her was she had, we lose the old way of people behaving. When she talked she got very excited and she would giggle and talk... Now my recollection as a child is that a lot of the old people did that does anybody remember that sort of giggling and talking at the same time,(clock chimes over his speech) to me as quite a Hertford characteristic has completely gone. I was telling you earlier in the 50’s she gave the church £300 in 1950 actually which was, you know, quite a sum. £200 of it went toward building the Baptist Manse in Westfield Road and initially it was called Andrew House in tribute to her and then as we got, as time passes there are moves against the individual and we couldn’t call it Andrew House and it became the Baptist manse she was a lovely lady. Actually I have got a letter she sent me somewhere.

Giles: Have you?

Edgar: I will have to find it because she wrote to me when I was baptised and she said it really is important so…………

PR: Can I just say that we can continue to chat a little bit later, the suns come out, and it means it’s the end of our party time really. I didn’t mean to interrupt Edgar at that key moment but Jane one of our Oral History Group leaders wants to thank Giles.

Jane Sartin: Very satisfying day and endlessly fascinating the history of Hertford coming to life and that is what the Hertford Oral History group is all about, but thank you very much to Giles, it has been a fantastic afternoon and I am sure everyone would like to say than you.


PR: A final thing many of you will have a copy of this book which is now 30 years old (holds up a copy of Hertford Past and Present) it’s a treasure, Jean Riddell who is here and the publishing company Amberley Press and archive pictures from the museum means that next week we are launching its successor which is better and it’s a collaboration with ….Hertford Through Time but it’s Hertford Past and Present updates as it were but I hope that you will be thinking of who you would like to buy this for, for £15 I am sorry it is such an awfully big sum, as a Christmas present, but she, I and the chap who runs Hoddesdon, Books@Hoddesdon and formerly Books@ Hertford the three of us have collaborated in putting all the photographs and captions together so that’s the commercial, just at the end of the day.

Giles: Can I make one other commercial. I have got to give a talk at Hertford Museum to the friends on surprise surprise the Andrews family, which actually will be a little bit more historical talking in a way about the Folly I think but do please come on Tuesday 20th September at 8 o’clock. Anybody can come to that I think for the great sum, I am undercutting you, of £2 but do come it would be great to see you all there in the Andrews Room which is, I am very touched they called it. Thank you Colin! So do, I hope I can see you there, 8 o’clock 20th September.


Giles: If anyone wants to ask any more

Joy John: (faint in the background) Excuse me I have got a photograph in my .. . hanging up of my mothers family in 1901 and I think it was Frampton Street, my grandfather worked on the Railway at the North Station

Giles: Right

Joy: Because they moved here I have got a book of his, in 1901 when he went on Sunday afternoon which was a men’s meeting. My mother used to go to Miss Andrews bible classes in

Giles: in the Baptist

Joy: No in Castle Street.

Giles: In Castle Street, well Edie, would Edie have taken them?

Joy: 25 Castle Street Miss Andrews did a bible class and my mother would have been 14 then

Giles: Right, well that would be Great Aunt.

Joy: I am sure you know there is a family named Thornton living at 25 Castle Street now

Giles: Is there?

Joy: Did you not know?

Giles: No no

Joy: Oh they are great St Andrews, Jim Thornton is a preacher in St Andrews Church I am involved with St Andrews and I go to all these meetings on a Tuesday morning

Giles: In Castle Street, 25

Joy: 25 Castle Street

Giles: What’s it like inside?

Joy: Absolutely beautiful

Giles: It’s still the same isn’t it?

Joy: Oh please go and see it they would love to show you.

Giles: I would love to see it you know.

Joy: Its beautiful, its still you know, they have got a lovely dining room

Giles: Yes at the front

Joy: As you walk along the road.

Giles: Well that picture there is in the dining room I think.

Joy: Yes it is I recognise it. They are great Christians.

Giles: Right

Joy: Jim preached this morning

Giles Did he?

Joy: I remember my mother talking about Miss Andrews bible classes that was in the 1900’s she was born in 1884

Giles: Right, I am thinking about having a word with the councillors about getting the family tomb in All Saints churchyard actually repaired, because it is not in a good state