Community History Palmers Green

A military tattoo

Tomorrow Monday 4 August we are being asked to switch out our lights at 10pm and light a single candle to mark one hundred years since the start of the First World War. I hope that it will be successful. I don’t think war should be glorified but 16 million people lost their lives and 20 million more were wounded. Those who survived saw Britain and our wider world change forever. What exactly should we remember, if not that?

As time moves on, of course, our perceptions of the past and our relationship with it change, but for as long as I can remember in my own life, the events of the First World War have been writ large in my understanding of our history. It’s not history in the Tudors-and-Stuarts sense, but much much closer, something that people I knew experienced at first hand.

Reg Beard in Palestine
(C) Den Beard. Reg Beard is the second from the left

My granddad, Reg Beard, was in Palestine and Egypt during the First World War. He’d been a traction engine driver, and in 1914 was one of the few people who could drive; he probably had a good understanding of how machines worked too, so though we aren’t sure when, he was sent to work on the Palestine railway.

We never knew much about what he experienced there: partly because we never sat him down to ask, but also because a lot of people returning from war simply didn’t talk about those things, though he did used to say that in Palestine you could pick oranges from the trees and they were the best he had ever tasted.

My father often says “That’s in the past now, move on”. Perhaps that is what my granddad thought too. I do remember though, that there was a tattoo on granddad’s forearm. I asked him about it once and he said it was because he had “been a naughty boy”. For years after, I thought tattoos must be a kind of punishment. I think now that perhaps he got it in Palestine. Or Egypt. Or, perhaps more likely, Chelmsford.

To see the impact of the war on Palmers Green, you need only visit the Garden of Remembrance, tucked away at the Powys Lane/Broomfield Avenue end of Broomfield Park. It’s a lovely, peaceful area with a pergola, formal gardens and a simple memorial to those lost in two world wars. 530 names are listed in the 1914-18 conflict, including many family names that are still familiar in the area today.

Some surnames are listed again and again. In the second world war this is often due to civilian casualties of bombing, but in the First World War it more likely tells the story of families hit by loss again and again as one by one their sons went to war, often willingly with best foot forward and even lying about their age to be able to take part. In his book Akenfield, Ronald Blythe tells us that many a lad who went to war actually grew a few inches taller on war rations, such was the diet of the farm labouring poor.

The story of the coming of war to Palmers Green as depicted in local paper The Recorder makes surprising reading now, knowing what we do. In the issue at the end of July there is no sense of what lay ahead and stories are of alterations to the town hall, liberal fetes and scarlet fever scares. By October, the Recorder was publishing lists of people who had joined up and the new rifle range at Broomfield Park, which had only been established a few weeks before but had 800 members and was getting through over 1000 rounds of ammunition daily. The Recorder itself did not make it though the war. It stopped suddenly in 1917.

There is one more sign of the changes World War One brought to Palmers Green. The expansion that had begun only 10 or 15 years before came to a halt. Some roads were stopped in their tracks, and there are tales that some houses started before the war went though it without roofs. It’s one of the reasons why you will see different house styles in one street, and pre war motifs appearing in post WWI houses.

But this article is for my granddad, who survived the war with hat at a cocky angle, became the father of my uncle Reg and my dad Dennis – and chose to live his life in the present, and not tell the tale.

  • Enfield will commemorate the centenary of the start of World War One (WW1) in 1914 with an event at Broomfield Park’s War Memorial on Monday August 4.Community leaders including the Leader of Enfield Council, Cllr Doug Taylor, Cabinet Member for Community Organisations, Cllr Yasemin Brett, the mayors of Enfield’s twin towns of Courbevoie and Gladbeck Serges Deses Maison and Ulrich Roland, as well as veterans from the armed forces and members of the public will attend the event from 2pm. The event will feature speeches, poetry readings and musical performances of songs from the period, along with ceremonial wreath laying and the unveiling of a special memorial plaque arranged by the Friends of Broomfield Park.
Art and Culture Community History Palmers Green Planning and open spaces Uncategorized

£4 million bid to restore Broomfield House

Following our story a few weeks ago, Enfield Council has now formally announced its intention to submit a £4million bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund to save Broomfield House.

Cllr Del Goddard, Cabinet Member for Regeneration said in a press release on Enfield Council’s website on Monday, “A tremendous amount of effort has gone into producing this HLF bid, particularly from the Broomfield Trust and Friends, but it has been worth it because working together we have produced an exciting vision that we think can work in practice.”

The house has been derelict too long, say the Broomfield House Trust and the Friends of Broomfield Park, who have been working together on the bid with Enfield.

“The current plans represent a real opportunity to save one of Palmers Green’s few remaining heritage properties, and restore it as a much needed community asset for the enjoyment of future generations. Many people have already expressed a wish to become actively involved with the project, and the approach to the HLF is taking this into account.

“If the HLF bid is successful and we are able to deliver the House restoration, then we would want to turn our attention to a Parks for People bid to improve the Park at some point in the future ”

If you are interested in hearing more about the plans, a reminder that the next open meeting of the Friends of Broomfield Park is on Wednesday 17 October at the Ruth Winston Centre. The meeting starts at 7.30.


Community Food Palmers Green Planning and open spaces Uncategorized

Home grown fun!

Broomfield Community Orchard’s Summer Picnic this year included a scarecrow, apple bobbing, local honey, a tug o’ war and country dancing.

Up for some home grown country style fun? The next Community Orchard event is Apple Day, 2-5 on 21 October. For more information about the orchard, visit

The fantastic summer picnic scarecrow. Image: Broomfield Community Orchard


Community Food Palmers Green Planning and open spaces Uncategorized

Council opens door for new community cafe in Broomfield Park

The realisation of plans to create a new community café in Broomfield Park is one step closer.

A first sketch of how the new cafe will look (image by kind permission of The Palmers Greenery)

Last week Enfield Council placed an advert in local press inviting expressions of interest for the provision of a ‘Community Facility’ in the park. Meanwhile an architects drawing of how the new café might look has been unveiled by the Palmers Greenery team.

Enfield’s advert paves the way for the Palmers Greenery group to make a formal application to open a new café in the park and is an important milestone in a community project initiated and led by local Palmers Green residents in association with the Friends of Broomfield Park.

Over the last year, the Palmers Greenery team has been working to develop a business plan, engage with local stakeholders, and establish a positive working relationship with London Borough of Enfield. Importantly, they have also been able to secure the ring fencing of £35,000 to cover start-up costs from the Enfield Residents Priority Fund.

The intention is that the Palmers Greenery will be child-friendly and serve affordable, healthy and, where possible, locally sourced food. All surplus generated by the Palmers Greenery will be re-invested directly back into Broomfield Park for park enhancing purposes.

“We welcome LBE’s willingness to embrace new ways of working collaboratively with the community”, says Sarah Cotton of the Palmers Greenery team.

“This project is a real opportunity for LBE to demonstrate that it is listening and responding to local people. We will be working very hard over the next few months to ensure our submission is as robust as possible.”

If you have any specific expertise that you think will be helpful to the Palmers Greenery team as they put the final tweaks to the business plan, please get in touch .


Community History Planning and open spaces

Have your say in the future of Broomfield House

Broomfield House at the turn of the century Image: The Broomfield House Trust/Friends of Broomfield Park

Could change finally be in the air in the chequered fortunes of Broomfield House?

The Broomfield House Trust and Friends of Broomfield Park have announced they are working on a new proposal with Enfield Council to secure financial support from the UK Heritage Lottery Fund, the aim, to restore the House for community purposes. The plans include restoration of the house to its nineteenth century appearance, without the mock Tudor facade added in the 1930s. The intention is to then follow up with a further, second bid, to the Parks for People Lottery Fund, to revitalise the Stable Yard and Baroque Gardens.

The announcement signals a change in direction from Enfield Council, who had previously proposed financing plans for the house and park through housing development. Housing proposal plans displayed on the side of the house have recently been taken down.

The next open meeting of the Friends of Broomfield Park will be on Wednesday 17th October at the Ruth Winston Centre. In the meantime, local residents are being asked to complete a short survey about their usage of the park, and how they would like the house to be developed and used.

So…what facilities would you like to see at Broomfield House ? some performance space? learning facilities? function rooms? A café? a small cinema? Click on the link to have your say, give your support and contribute to a brighter future for Palmers Green’s historic heart.


Art and Culture Community Music Palmers Green Sport

Get ready for the Palmers Green Festival!

The Palmers Green Festival is just a week away and the festival website is now live for you to plan your day.

Running from 12-7 on Sunday 2 September in Broomfield Park, the festival aims to offer something for everyone – food, music, dancing, crafts……. and our very own community games.

The aim of the Community Games is to bring the inspiration of London 2012 to Palmers Green –activities will include a chance to climb the world’s tallest climbing wall, 7 hours of nonstop dancing and dance lessons, children’s 5 a side football, girls rugby, tennis lessons and bowls. Many of the local sports groups will be welcoming new members – there is more information on how to get involved on the website.

If you don’t fancy getting hot and sweaty, there will be music from 20 performers during the day, including rock, folk, indie, Americana, rap and hard groove. Live performances will also be streamed on Tropical FM at (so being on holiday is no excuse!).

Funds raised by the festival will go to the on-going work of the Friends of Broomfield House and the new Improvement Opportunity Fund, which aims to help local people develop projects which will benefit the community (see last week’s post).

The organising committee have put a huge amount of work into the event. All they need now is for you to go along and make it all worthwhile!

Visit the Palmers Green Festival Website at