Can anybody help with information, memories or photos of a former children's home in Epping New Road, in Buckhurst Hill?
I spent part of my childhood in a children's home on Epping New Road (number 8?) in Buckhurst Hill. My name is Michael O'Brien, also known at one time as Reginald Downham. I am desperately trying to track down any photos, memories or history of the home, and would very much like to make contact with anyone else who was there at the same time. I remember the following information about it:
I am now 65, and am living in Australia, and I need 'closure', as they say today, on a chequered childhood. From 1951 until 1956 I lived in a children's home in Epping New Road, Buckhurst Hill, which was known by various names, including 'Hazeldene', and 'Violet Ayres Lodge'. My daughter Jasmine was nursing in Britain recently but was unable to locate the building. From my memory I recall that the home, possibly a Georgian-type mansion, sat at the edge of a forest lane. I remember Knighton forest which was alongside a junior school I attended, and a church (St John's?) which we attended. Several other children at the home whom I remember fondly (and virtually were my family) were: Alan & Terry Wilbourne, Peter Arnold, Moira Bromwich, Colin Box and Jane Williams. How often I have wondered about them all!
The home was set in what seemed several acres. The front garden was totally surrounded in rhododendrons that to a child were enormous. At the rear was an open grass area leading through to an orchard. How I remember the boys and I at night climbing down and up the drainpipe to go scrumping. Once we were caught and were made to eat the apple cores for breakfast by 'Auntie' Emily who ran the place with an iron (and sometimes cruel) fist! To the side of the building ran a lane - Beech Lane? It ran into forest where I remember paper chases, treasure hunts and dragging big logs for bonfire night. Did it lead to the River Roding? Or to Chingford, or perhaps Chigwell? The others and I walked miles through there and I even remember where the Gypsies used to camp.
I seem to remember that we attended a junior school which opened up to Knighton Pond - is this right? It was great to walk out of the gate into more forest - I bet the developers have changed that too, now. Also down that lane I remember seeing a lot of dumped stuff - from the war? I do remember a number of water craft with 'US Navy' or similar on the sides of the craft.
I sang in the choir at St John's Church and attended Cubs. Oh, I have so many memories! I love Australia, obviously, but if someone mentions England then my heart and mind immediately turn fondly to the only link I have ... Buckhurst Hill. What wouldn't I give to find even one of my 'family friends', or even a photograph of the home!
Added by the Frith Memory Archivist on behalf of Michael O'Brien, also known as Reginald Alan Downham.
A memory shared byon Feb 3rd, 2010.
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