Oxhey Park


Introduction - by Keith and Jean Alexander, April 2010

While clearing litter from the river bank in 2003 with the Friends of Oxhey Park, we noticed a length of thin metal pipe fastened to the wall and tried to think what on earth it was for. It was old and fragile and did not hold a cable of any kind. Sections of that pipe are still in place even now.

It set us wondering about how old the park was and how it came to be as it is. What follows is a brief and patchy account of the origins and early history of Oxhey Park from 1919 to 1934. We put most of it together in a couple of months last year using the minutes of council meetings stored in Watford Town Hall. We are grateful for the help of Sandra Hancock, their custodian.

It might sound dull work, ploughing through minutes, but in fact it was absolutely fascinating. The social history of the 1920s, live, as it was happening, rolled out in front of us as we turned the pages of the old leather bound volumes. It was difficult to concentrate on Oxhey Park and the Estates Committee (where most of the relevant discussions and decisions took place) and not get caught up in, say, Watford’s contribution to National Rat Week, or the Maternal and Child Welfare Committee’s payment towards a set of dentures, or the actual design of a ‘non-parlour type house’ considered suitable for the poorer classes.

The pictures come mainly from the Watford Museum, thanks to Mary Forsyth and Sarah Priestley. We only wish we had more, but at least they give glimpses of the park’s early years. Jill Bramley made possible this printed version of what began as an illustrated talk to the Friends of Oxhey Park.

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