Wednesday 19 June 2013

Tis (obviously) the climate for sharing memories

There is a growing Facebook group called “Grew up in St Albans, Cottonmill and St Julian’s Estates 1955-1978” and loads of people are posting memories of Sopwell and from many other wards in St Albans. Some members are from really faraway places such as Cornwall. I like to think that our work collecting memories has inspired the group’s creator to set this up.

Many of the photos posted are already in our book and many of the “do you remembers” can be answered by reading our book, although this is not often pointed out, unfortunately. So, part of me is disappointed that my Sopwell Project page on Facebook has only 30 odd members and this one has over 500! On the other hand, it is a really good site to collect stories and identify people to interview.

I have found a photo of the prefabs in Lee Lane – neither Lee lane nor the prefabs exist any longer – and a lovely photo of the railway crossing before the land above it was developed. I am seeking permission to use them of course, although no-one on the site appears to be taking too much notice of the big (c)! I have also made contact with a lady who lived in Mandeville Children’s Home, another building which has disappeared. She has agreed to share her memories.

Earlier this week, I gave a short presentation at St Peter’s Primary School assembly to tell the children about some of the history of the area surrounding their school. 

I explained how we got the name "Sopwell", all about the Nunnery and Sir Richard Lee, about swimming in the river Ver years ago, how the river has changed over the years and about the river industry (mills and watercress). 

And I asked for their help to collect more memories. I asked them to talk to their parents and grandparents about what they remember. They appeared to be interested, which was gratifying. My contact at the school has said that they will get the children to start interviewing their parents from September and that the whole school will be involved in local history and helping us in the project in the Spring Term. This is just what we want!

Finally, we have also had some oral history training this week, so interviewing will commence shortly.

Sandy Norman


  1. hi,my name is Jayne Anderson,i grew up in Mandeville childrens home in the 70s,thin u spoke with my sis,donna worsdale,have lots good memories,of cottonill,sopwell.

  2. I hope you can share them with me Jayne - and Donna. If you want to, you can leave a message and contact details on and I will contact you. Sandy

  3. Hi Sandy, Suzy Edwards here. Long time since we saw each other .. you are Jo Jo and Barnaby's mum, aren't you?! I will send you my contacts on email. I'd love to contribute to the project. Kevin reckons he's too young to remember, but I bet it would all come flooding out, he has a mind like an encylopedia.

  4. Holyrood crescent residents have a fb page and after our successful jubillee party last year we are holding a picnic/barbecue on the green this sunday at 1pm,fire brigade yet again will pop along,so any former residents welcome