To most people Hayes Town is the pedestrianised area stretching from the Station to Coldharbour Lane.
However, the original Hayes Town was actually the stretch of Church Road between the Royal Oak and St.Mary's Church even though it has been many years since it has been known as such, during the 50's and 60's there were still several businesses operating there.
My mother for example would on many occasions send me to George Wardlaw’s grocers shop, which was actually one of the houses on the bend at No.229 on the west side of the road. He was a helpful man and would always inquire after the family, he later moved across the road to the corner of Hemmen Lane, to the shop which had previously been a butchers which had its own slaughterhouse at the rear.
Although no longer used as such the building still survives, as does the shop which is now used as flats. It still retains many of its original characteristics such as the large push-up windows, tiled surrounds and even the meat hanging rails outside. The stone plate high up on the gable names this block as “Drayton House”.
During the 1950's a bullock escaped from here while awaiting its fate, and was eventually re-captured in the vicinity of Printing House Lane. Many neighbours including us kids turned out to watch the poor creature being brought back along Church Road tethered to the back of a truck.
The building which is now the St. John Ambulance office was also a grocers called Wistowe Stores, at one time I believe George Wardlaw ran this as well, as he did have relatives connected with other firms along here.
I do know at one time the proprietors were a family by the name of Harris who also owned the hairdressers which used to be down an alleyway at the back, where many a time I had been taken for a short back and sides.
The hairdressers finally closed at the back and was re-opened as a greengrocers run by the Hepplethwaite family, one of whom lived across the road in Church Green, however by 1971 the proprietors were a family by the name of Hayton. Wistowe Stores had obviously taken its name from Wistowe House, to the rear of which was a dance school run by Mr.Ernie Fripp, my late sister had attended this school for some time and attained many medals and trophies for ballroom dancing.
As you enter the rear of Wistowe House at no;136 stood F.N.Willet Ltd; crankshaft grinders and reborers, however by the early 70's this had become Leemark Engineering,and if one looks down between the buildings today you can still see the large black doors of this firm.
Between here and No.128 there is a block of houses built in 1915 which still retain their original character, following these at no;126 was A.W.Seth.Ltd; who were radio and electrical engineers, bearing in mind most of the radios then were not the hi-tech stereo systems like we have today. This firm had also changed by 1971 becoming A. L. Judd Electrical Ltd; there is however no trace of this now as the whole site has been replaced by the new development named Chapel Court.
1d Arrowroot biscuits
Coming to the end of this side of the road of the former town Nos. 116 and 118 were originally two houses but were later converted into one to create the Fountain Guest House on the corner of St. Mary's Road.
On the opposite side of the road stands the Royal Oak (now derelict Ed.) next to Hayes Football Ground. As youngsters we used to scout around collecting discarded beer bottles for the 1d deposit, and if we were lucky the quart bottles with the screw top (they had to have the top with them) which would fetch 2d. We would then return them to the off-licence in the ”Oak” and very often sit outside eating a 1d Arrowroot biscuit which were always kept in a jar on the counter.
Most bottles then had a deposit on them including Coke and of course Corona, the Corona man used to call around every week as well as the baker and the milkman. Sometimes our search for bottles took us down the alleyway known as Frankie’s Alley, which ran to the back of Longmead Road right the way through to Coldharbour Lane crossing several other roads on the way, there has been talk of closing part of this off recently following residents concerns regarding safety.(It has now been closed Ed.)
On the west side of Church Road next to Freemans Lane stood several interesting buildings the first of which No. 209 was in the 1960's owned by Mr .A Reynolds and Red-Ways Car Hire operated from here. Next door at No.211 lived Katie Hunt who I believe was a relative of Seth Hunt, By the 1970's however Nos. 209/211 had become a plant supply company.
Near to here I think it may have been No.213 was a house with the unusual name of “Gezirah Farm”, this house had a considerable-sized smallholding at the rear which backed onto the park before it was enlarged. It was occupied by a father and son and although their surname escapes me at the moment I do remember the son’s name was John and he was a Co-Op milkman, and his father was a postman.
Apart from the ducks and geese always wandering around there were quite extensive battery hen houses and deep litter houses, which on several occasions I had helped clean out - not a very pleasant job I can tell you. John was also a
keen stock-car driver having built his cars in the yard here, his father on the other hand was a notable rabbit breeder and I can recall row upon row of hutches some in tiers four high. The smallholding eventually disappeared when the park was enlarged,and Lych Gate Walk was built.
Hayes Fire Station
Just past here stood the building which caused much controversy a few years ago, known as “Cobweb Cottage”, this small cottage thought to be part of the chapel house was a quaint little house which was pulled-down without it seems any thought for its conservation interest. The space next to this of course was the site of the Hayes Town Chapel which was demolished in 1959 when the new chapel was built opposite the Royal Oak. I remember this occasion like it was yesterday, the demolition men had a huge bonfire going which many of us went to watch One of our neighbours even scrounged some of the magnificent timber beams from the workmen for a garage he was building at home, all this timber had been earmarked for the bonfire. Passing here recently I noticed someone has designed a unique reminder in the form of a raised wall flower bed with narrow strips of neat grass in the shape of a cross.
Continuing on past the houses on the bend including George Wardlaw’s shop we came to H. W. Arnold motor engineer at the end of the block. Next to this and continuing around the corner into Church Green stood Hayes Fire Station, two of the buildings which faced Church Road; one of which housed the pump and the other an ambulance have long since gone when the new fire station opened in Shepiston Lane.
However, the large wooden building, which once housed the magnificent wheeled-escape with its huge cartwheels and hand cranked extension ladder, still survives and at present is used by the London Ambulance Service. Directly behind this building in the yard at the back was the drill or hose drying tower, On many occasions we would go here to watch the firemen practising their skills with nook ladders.
The area in front of the church which now forms Church Green, was also used by the fire brigade which included a line of brick garages/storerooms right in front of the church railings, facing which were some wooden huts used as recreation/canteen rooms.
To the left of the Lych Gate stood the large house and grounds of Hayes Court which backed onto the park,this was a strange shaped building and during the 60's was owned by a J. G. Harris,but we were told originally belonged to a Major Shuter. Gradually falling into disrepair it was finally demolished to make way for the present houses and the enlargement of the park.
We are now in the area which is often regarded as the centre of any community the church,St.Mary's holds many memories for me as it has been my family’s church for as long as I can remember. I was baptised here and attended the Sunday School and also at the old Dr. Triplett’s School in Church Walk. The local priest tnen was Fr. Growns who lived in Holmbury Gardens.
I think the churchyard and surrounding area was somewhat better maintained then than it appears to day. In Church Road the first house past the churchyard belonged to Dr.Smart who was our family doctor, he later moved to the New Surgery at the Warren on the Uxbridge Road. I can rember going here when I was quite young with the then common complaints such as measles,mumps and chickenpox, a little further along was another doctor by the name of Dr.Obadiah. On the opposite side of the road facing the church is the Manor House,although this now forms part of a sheltered housing complex it was in the 1960's still being used as the education offices.
On returning to the Lych Gate at the entrance to the church one could walk through the alleyway past the church where you come to a junction,to the left would take you into Church Walk past the old Dr.Tripletts School and the rows of cottages, such as Surprising Villas and Beehive Cottages not forgetting Prices general stores and post office.
Returning to the junction in the alleyway you could also carry on straight between the churchyard,where you came to an iron swing gate,passing through this you would enter what we called the cow fields for obvious reasons as they were always full of cows; I believe they belonged to Daltons Dairy. Having crossed this rather large field you would exit either opposite the Adam and Eve,or at the Grange Road end of the Uxbridge Road, again via iron swing gates.
The Grange Road end of the fields is now occupied by the Beck Theatre and Grassy Meadows. Right on the corner of Grange Road/Uxbridge Road stood the house belonging to a Dr.Elms who had been our family doctor prior to Dr.Smart Also tucked away in this somewhat quiet little corner of Hayes was the cricket club and the botanic gardens,by following another path past the cricket club one could exit at the bottom of Grange Road and continue up past the Queen's Head (now the Grange) and into Wood End Green Road,passing on the way,London House general stores,and Hayes County Grammar School,(now Hayes Manor).Besides the many shops and businesses in Hayes Town itself there were also,as there still are the wide variety which run along the Uxbridge Road,which we always called the High Road, stretching from the Grapes past Lansbury Drive and into Hayes End. Of course many of the long established firms have now gone from the area,but nevertheless it still remains a rather busy shopping parade. During the 50's and 60's there were several firms along this stretch of road who also had premises in Hayes Town such as the L.C.S., Dewhurst and Harringtons the bakers to name but three,but there were still others who retained their own individuality.
Beginning at the Grapes junction at the top of Coldharbour Lane which was widened within recent years ,on the side of the road where Pizza Hut and Sainsburys shopping centre now stands,there stood the huge building of St.Christophers Approved School. I can still see this large sprawling building with its long iron fire escapes,my parents always used to call it the Jew School,and I warned on several occasions that if I misbehaved I would end up at the naughty boys school.
One intriguing point here is that when they widened the junction,the large horse chestnut tree which originally stood just inside the fence of the school was left in situ and is now on what is the other side of the road near the public lavatories.
Directly behind these stretched the large grassed area which continued right up to Church Road,part of which consisted of the very large communal air raid shelters which had to be dug up prior to the building of the present flats. This was quite a major task and I remember during my time at Townfield School we would walk up Central Avenue in our lunch break to watch the progress,I can recall looking down one of the entrances,the iron ladders going down into the darkness,I should think to about twenty feet,and then leading off into somewhat extensive passageways.
Some of the firms along the opposite side of the road that have now gone include, Godbolds the butchers,the Craven Fish Shop Thomas Hall Toy Shop, Goodriches hardware store,Gerrards greengrocers and Knights Florist,wlio also had a shop on Hayes Station bridge and of course their large nursery at Hilliiigdon. Between Warley Road and the Adam and Eve were Bishops Food store and Nailard Bros.D.I.Y. store next to which was the greengrocers of another well known figure Alf Price.
At the end of this parade and next to the Adam and Eve stood the factory of P.L.C.Engineering,who amongst other things manufactured equipment for the London Underground and steel shelving systems.This building was subsequently demolished and the Job Centre now occupies the site.
Pausing for a moment here to cross the road,on the corner of Church Road on the east side where the nursery school now is,this corner was enclosed by large hoardings,behind which was what we used to call the bomb crater. This was a huge crater which was obviously man made as it was lined in concrete,l am not quite sure what it was used for perhaps it was used for water storage during the war anyway we always had great fun running up and down this.
On returning now to the Adam and Eve,a little way past here near enough to where the present car showroom stands,stood the blacksmiths forge belonging to Salters,orice again this was a regular stopping place with my grandfather to watch the horses being shodas the horse trade gradually slowed down they still continued in buisness,only making wrought ironwork instead.
Carrying on past the next parade of shops,many of which I have already mentioned,you also had Neals leather and shoe repairs,Graingers Corn Merchants Evans and Co.pram shop,Underhills cycle shop and Southern Wools,there were several wool shops in the area as hand knitting was quite a popular pastime then.These shops were followed by yet more grocers and butchers,which brings us up to Lansbury Drive.
Just past here at no;1094 was the Express Dairy which by 1971 had become an estate agents,in fact it was only about a year ago while undergoing some refurbishment that the original Express Dairy sign above the shop was uncovered and has since been donated to their archives department.
Also on this short parade were Bellfields bakers and Leonard Beakhurst where you could buy the latest records in the charts,this shop also sold electrical goods.
The large stretch of green which runs along from here was a regular site for Billy Smarts Circus,and on several occasions we would get free admission owing to the fact that we had an uncle who had gone to school with the man himself. Opposite the green was a lovely little sweet shop known as the Nutshell,back across the road on the corner of Park Road stood the office of Nash the builders,which later became the Borough Valuer and Estate Office,this stood derelict for some time before finally being demolished and at present new buildings are being built on the site. Between here and the White Hart was Pools Dairies,while on the other side of Hayes End Road was Handy Angle Ltd.
Travelling down Hayes End Road right at the bottom near to H.J.Heinz stood Daltons Dairies an old Hayes firm who until quite recent years were still using a horse drawn float.One of my neighbours whom I mentioned earlier had been a milkman with Daltons,and when I asked him once what time he started he told me he had to start an hour earlier than his official time as he had to go out in the field and catch the horse.
While on the subject of dairies there were of course other firms in Hayes such as the Co-Op,United Dairies and Roses at Dawley.
There were many other places during the 50's where we would go looking for an adventure,or just to explorer suppose that was the natural thing we children did then,only our parents probably assumed we were up to mischief.
When I was at Minet School we had some friends who lived in Birchway,whose father worked for the railway as did most families around here as this was known as the railway estate,and I remember their back garden backed onto quite extensive orchards where many a time we would go scrumping for apples.'I'hese orchards continued on into the vast fields which were farmed by Mr.f'urser, stretching to the Uxbridge Road to the north right across to Springfield Road in the east.
This was of course before the development of Avondale Drive with its present flats and maisonettes,and also the Ilayes bypass which now slices through the middle.
Just past where Avondale Drive now begins stood Coldharbotir I'arm which was occupied by Mr.Purser,the large wooden boarded barn which backed onto the road brings back many memories,we used to sneak in here to have hay fights when the bales were stacked right up to the roof,then we would go home covered in dust and coughing.
Another favourite spot was just over Hayes Station bridge,down in the corner on the left hand side were the remains of shelters from the war,these consisted of huge flat slabs of concrete which were covered in moss and ivy. 'I'liese were subsequently removed when the Dunlopillo building was built,that also has now gone and is at present Acorn Self Storage.
Coming back over the bridge tucked between the railway the E.M.I.and the subway,there were two or three different shaped shelters with pipes sticking out of the roof these I would assume were used by the railway workers during the war,but were quite frightening for us when we used them as hideouts as they were so dark inside.Every time 1 go over the bridge I look down to see if they are still there,which they are even after all these years.
I dont know if we tend to get lazier,but nowadays we seem to make even the shortest of journey by car,when I look back and think we used to walk miles, particularly during the school holidays,mind you there were many more fields and wide open spaces then than there are now.
I can recall on a couple or occasions we would walk right up to Bedwell Gardens,on to the Moats and past Darlington Church,before the flyover and the motorway had been built.Carrying on tnrough Harlington Iligh Street past the forge and the old pond,all this way just to get a view of the aircraft taking off.'I'he airport then was a vast expanse of open space no anti terrorist screens and buildings on every square foot of land.
Nowadays 1 live in Hounslow and I either see or hear them about every three minutes.While on the subject of aircraft,during the autumn of 195'/ several of us made our way to Keith Road behind the railway to watch the first flight of the Fairey Rotodyne which lifted off from the back of the Fairey Aviation works,this was an amazing sight as at that time it was a completely new concept in aircraft technology.
I hope I have brought back a few fond memories for some people,and no doubt there is much more which I have not included ........
Note: click on any of the pictures in this article for full-size versions.