Born in the Town Hall

On Christmas Day we received a lovely comment on the site from Betty Wright nee Walton, who told us that she was born in the Town Hall and lived there for the first 24 years of her life!

Southgate Town Hall from the New River December 2012 Image Sue Beard

I was born in the Town Hall on 26th September 1927, and lived there with my parents and four brothers and two sisters until 1951. Dad was in the Southgate Fire Brigade (2nd Officer George Walton) so was my brother Jack. Dad was also the Mace Bearer for the Mayor of Southgate. We had a wonderful life in the Town Hall, being the envy of all our friends because of the space we had to ‘play in’…..yes, even the Mayors Parlour ! I am very glad it has been cleaned and updated and is being made use of, instead of just falling apart with age and neglect. I hope I have the opportunity to see it in all it’s glory one day.

We asked her if she could tell us more, and thankfully she has been kind enough to do so. Betty writes absolutely beautifully, so we will just reprint her email in full.

We lived in the basement of the Town Hall, which sounds pretty horrific, but believe me it was kept spotless and highly polished, thanks to our Mum. We had a large living room in the front, a kitchen, bathroom, two toilets, a washing room where Mum had her washing machine (a real luxury in those days) and eventually four bedrooms. Rather crowded by today’s standards but we considered ourselves well off.

We had the run of the New River Bank……my youngest sister and I actually played in a converted fever ambulance…..dating back probably 50 years.We made curtains and made it look like a caravan…..oh what wonderful days they were.

During the War, our parents wanted my sister and I to be evacuated, but I begged not to be sent away…….it was much more exciting with everything going on in the Town Hall. I remember people coming to view bodies of people killed in air raids (the mortuary was behind the Town Hall, next to the Fire Station). I used to charge my friends a halfpenny to look through the mortuary window which was frosted, but you could see the outline of a ‘body’…..and red rubber gloves on the windowsill which were much more scary !

I went to St Angela’s Convent, purely because it was across the road, and Mum would know we were alright after an air raid. I remember the bombs which dropped in Green Lanes (a bomb carriage was blown off and all the bombs came down in one go), and Pitman’s College was hit and one of my friends killed and another lost a leg. The station on Alderman’s Hill was also bombed.

The house on the corner of Oakthorpe Road was hit by a bomb (where our Doctor lived)….and I remember going to view the damage to hear someone say “Oh that was meant for the Town Hall”.

In one of the statements I read on ‘your site’ someone saying “The Town Hall is in the grounds of the Library”……..believe me, the Library came very much later….I was about 13…when I applied to join the Library. I was asked my name and address and of course said Town Hall, Palmers Green, N.13 to which the assistant said “Oh don’t be so silly, I mean your address….not the address of the library” !!! I was nasty enough to enjoy insisting that the Town Hall WAS my address.

Another time I was stopped in the street and asked for my Identity card and when I produced it to the policeman he said “Oh are you a refugee?”. So my address caused quite a lot of queries.

What a wonderful story – I hope that Betty will tell us more about her memories of the area. Meanwhile, Betty wonders if there are still people who remember the Waltons and the wonderful parties in the Town Hall.  If you do, or know someone who might, please get in touch!

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6 Responses to Born in the Town Hall

  1. Joe Studman says:

    What a lovely story. Is the Town hall being cleaned and updated or is that only for filming purposes. Does Betty have any more PG stories?

  2. Dan Maier says:

    fascinating to hear this and thank you Sue for being the catalyst 🙂

  3. Diane says:

    What a lovely story,I would love to hear more stories.

  4. Christine Ryland says:

    Does Betty remember the name of the doctor whose house received a bomb (on the corner of Oakthorpe Road) as she mentions in her recollection? Christine Ryland

  5. Betty Wright (nee Walton) says:

    A late reply because I have only just picked up the comments on my story. I do not remember the name of the Doctor who was bombed. Our Doctor was a Dr Woodcock who lived near St John’s Church, Green Lanes. Incidentally, I shall be very disappointed if I don’t get to see the inside of the Town Hall before it is converted into flats. There can’t be many people who were actually born in a Town Hall and stayed until they married and moved away !

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