Neighbourhood Watch: Distraction burglaries in East Herts

Police are urging homeowners to remain vigilant following distraction burglaries in East Herts in recent days.There have been two incidents reported to police since Saturday, December 2, occurring in Ware and Buntingford.

On both occasions, a man knocked at the door and claimed he was there to deal with a problem with the victim’s water supply. He then instructed the victims to repeatedly turn their kitchen taps on and off. While they were doing so, the man searched the properties and stole cash from within.

Both victims were aged in their 90s.

The incidents are currently being linked by police and enquiries are being carried out by Hertfordshire Constabulary’s Operation Manhunt unit, a specialist team which investigates distraction burglary and other crimes which target the elderly and vulnerable.

The suspect is described as a white man, aged between 25 and 40 years old, of slim build and wearing a hat.

Detective Sergeant Jon Leak said: “Bogus callers are very persuasive and plausible and we are calling upon residents, their families, friends and carers to be aware of these callers and take precautions against them.

“If you haven’t already pre-arranged an appointment, our advice would be not to open the door to anyone. If you are expecting someone, it’s a good idea to agree on a password which can be given on arrival, to help verify if a caller is genuine. Always ask for identification and if you have any doubts, contact the company in question to be sure a caller is who they say they are before you let them in.

“Although distraction burglaries account for a small proportion of burglaries in Hertfordshire, we want to remind people of the importance of only allowing people in when they are entirely convinced that they are who they say they are. If you aren’t sure, don’t open the door.”

Anyone who has been approached in similar circumstances is asked to contact police via the non-emergency number 101.

Information provided by Terry Morris, Watch Liaison Officer – Neighbourhood Watch

If you have any questions or would like to contact the police regarding this message, please email or call: 01707 355815

Village Store owner passes away

Martin, the owner of the village store in Puckeridge sadly died suddenly this week.

For many many years Martin provided an important service to the people of Puckeridge and indeed surrounding villages. Providing extra help to those less active Martin had a heart of gold and was already ready to greet one and all with a friendly smile.

Martin was the heart of the village and a true gent, loved by everyone and will be greatly missed.


Many thanks


Kerry Freshwater

Sponsored Walk for Bridget

As the day dawned on Sunday 24th July, we just hoped the weather would be kind to us; we need not have worried.  What a beautiful day, just right for walking.

I raised the idea for a sponsored walk in October 2010 and by February 2011 we had permission from the relevant authorities to go ahead.  We had approval from the local council, the environment people, and the police.  We were restricted in where we could walk, they would only let us have a guided walk but we were pleased with their response and advice.

There was still a great deal to do before we could go ahead and notify our members of the event.  At this point it was decided to organise a sub-committee made up of myself, Emma, Natasha and Marilyn.  We agreed to hold the meetings at a place that, travel wise, would be convenient for all of us and agreed on the Fox & Duck in Stotfold (of course we weren’t swayed by the availability of a bite to eat and a little light refreshment).We agreed to turn the event into a social gathering by offering a reasonably priced burger or veggie lunch with sundry salad bowls.  We hoped the result would be that some of our newer members will now be able to put faces to names.Our next task was to source advertising from local newspapers or village mags., hopefully at a ‘bargain basement’ cost!  We had an excellent response from Herts Mercury, Hormead Newsletter and Baldock Mail, all of whom asked us to submit an article to avoid any cost.  This led to a small local news station asking me if I would ‘go on air’ (be interviewed) and explain the whys and wherefores of the charity.Our flyers were then designed and printed, as were the sponsor forms.  The documents were posted to our members and all we had to do was to wait, and wait, and wait.  After a slow start the forms started to be returned and by the day of the event we were delighted to have registered 40 walkers.  There were then another ten who registered on the day.As part of the approvals the Countryside Officer needed to check our route a few days before the event.  I met up with him a week before and we walked the route together.  He was very pleased to pass us but insisted that nettles close to the path in a wooded copse were cut back before the day.  So out I went with Jill and Marilyn on the Friday morning and whilst they nailed in the way-markers I cut down the nettles.

Sunday morning, with the sun shining, our walkers gathered in the paddock for a photo session with their dogs.  Some of the walkers asked if they could walk a RATS dog and we were pleased to oblige, as were the dogs, all on their best behaviour.  A long train of 50 walkers left Highfield for their 3 mile walk in the beautiful countryside around the kennels.  With temperatures in the low twenties water was on hand for anyone requiring it (including dogs).

Our volunteer Sid was the lead guide and Jill and Marilyn were at the rear to ensure we didn’t lose any slow-coaches.  Everyone came back saying what a lovely walk it had been and how beautiful the countryside was.We arrived back to the smell of sizzling burgers and sausages and most of us were ready for our lunch.  Everyone said how appreciative they were of our burger-master chefs Geoff and John (Speedy & Digger) who did a grand job.  We also had our famous homemade cakes for sale and a selection of our stalls selling a variety of goods and there were prizes to be won on the tombola.  We also had a special prize draw, for a child ,adult and dog, Megan won in the children’s section (a voucher for £20), George won in the adult section (a voucher for £30) and Trudy’s two Collies won in the dog section (a goody bag of treats). The treats were donated by Bronwin, and the vouchers to the value of £50 were donated by AdminRe.

I hope you all noticed the three new benches and the two small tables.  These were the result of a donation in memory of Elsie Bushell (one of our founder members) and a donation from friends of Daisy File.Small plaques will be attached when they have been engraved. We had hoped that John Bushell, Elsie’s brother, would be able to join us on the day so we could show him how we had spent their donation, but he was unable to attend.  However he is coming up to see our purchases when he is able.  I am sure that Elsie & Daisy will be looking down with pleasure at what they see.  Also yesterday we were very pleased to welcome Daisy’s son & daughter and her friend that made the donation to join us for the walk and stay and enjoy the BBQ, they sat on the bench and really enjoyed their afternoon.One of the benches and one table will be located outside the meeting area so that our volunteer walkers will have somewhere to sit whilst they relax and chat after walking the dogs.  Another of the benches has been placed alongside the training enclosure.  One of our volunteers has named this the cuddle bench as it’s where she will sit and cuddle the dogs after a long walk and feed them the odd treat or two.  The third bench has been placed further down the paddock.It was a very tiring day but the smiles on the faces of everyone told us that this was a successful day and many asked if we would be doing it again.  Let us have a rest for a few weeks before we decide.At this point I must say our thanks go to Walter and Mandy for welcoming us all to Highfields.

I would like to say a special thank you to everyone that was involved in the day, there are too many to mention but you know who you are.  Everyone worked very hard to make it the success we know it surely was.

Even before we had any of the donations back, we were given £120.00 on the day from people that could not go on the walk but wanted to attend

We are pleased to confirm that we raised a wonderful £2,481.01


High Street Schedule

We have parts of a long listing of the shops and workshops in Puckeridge High Street in the 1920’s prepared by Gordon Child.  Gordon, sadly, is no longer with us and the list needs to be brought up to date.  This is where you can help.  Can you remember the shops – and pubs and workshops and businesses – in the High Street when you were young, and can you recall when they closed?  Any information you can give would help our researchers establish one more bit of our Village History.  Gordon’s  original list will be posted here soon.

Reminiscences Mr Clayton of Thorpe House

Mr Clayton speaking with Frank Ryan.

“Well, of course, this house is in the parish of Braughing;  all this side of the High Street from the Crown & Falcon up to the White Hart is in Braughing.   There should be a triangular stone on the corner near the Crown & Falcon Inn denoting the boundary.  [This has gone and the boundary changed in 1921.]  My father lived in this house from 1870 onwards – and father occupied it as a shop for the first time as a watchmaker.  Previously it was an Inn – the White Lion.

Opposite was Taylor’s – now The Old George and on Fordham’s corner was the Rising Sun.  The shop next to Thorpe house was the Post Office and grocers from 1870 onwards.

The pavements were cobbled stones and Mr Thorpe senior used to buy old railway sleepers to make a curb in front of his shop.    I can remember the Rising Sun being burnt down – the oak beams glowed red hot  like long pieces of coal; also the place where Brycetons is there was an old cottage with some sheds which was burnt and I remember playing as a lad on the building site of the present three storey house.

The fire engine was housed in a shed alongside Arthey’s the baker.  It was hand pumped by men of the village.   In the barn of Thorpe House was stored paper from the Paper Mill at Standon and I have the original Star insurance plaque which was fixed on the wall outside.  Paper Mill closed 1851-1861 as a paper mill.   The premises were occupied by Mr Gauldie who did engineering work there afterwards.  The old wheel has now fallen to decay – but it was still working in 1903.  The mill pond was full of fish – especially ‘jacks’ – the local name for pike.

1910 – Mr Clayton formed a drum and fife band for the young men of the village.  They practised once a week and played across the village at Christmas time and for celebrations –e.g coronations.   These events in the open air took place on a field belonging to New Street Farm at Standon.   They used to play at Hammonds Park, occupied by Mr Sheppard-Cross, for which they were given £3.

When I was a little boy I spent hours turning a big wheel in a shed in Taylor’s yard.   He was a rope maker and the rope used to come right across the road through our front door out through our house to the bottom of our garden.   The rope maker used to signal to me to stop winding and used to offer me a penny – always tomorrow!  This yard was at the Old George opposite our house and his name was Bob Messinger.”    [He was landlord of the Old George in 1882.]

December 1st, 1961.  Mr Clayton continues…

“Talking about the Puckeridge Fair – the last time it was held was in 1894 and my sister took me as a little lad.  There was one stall on that occasion an old woman called Mrs Tant and she sold coloured rock (sweetmeat);  before then lots of coconut stalls and booths.   It was always held in the Blue Anchor yard opposite.   This pub was owned by a man called Joselyn and he had a coal business, a hearse and one or two broughams which he used to hire out for functions.  He had two men working for him and quite a few horses.    He closed down the pub in 1919 and the Barbers, the present owners, who sell milk to the village, took it over.   The walls were blue and there was a huge lantern projecting over the front door and the pavement on a bracket.

There were two iron foundries, one was at the back of Chequers Inn [Mrs Nunn’s house.] kept by ACF Day, he made and cast plough shares.  Then his cousin set up down Park Lane.

My father used to tell us how he and the other village lads of Buntingford went to meet the first railway train when the railway was first opened.   It was a terrific event and the boys laid bets with each other as to who could run faster than the train.  Needless to say no-one was the winner.

Standon Fair was always held on April 25-26th.  There were many stalls with kerosene lights and a fun fair and great drinking in all the pubs, it was held in the main street and on the meadow opposite the butchers.  My father and I have wound the church clock at Standon for 90 years.

We used to have Sunday School week on the Park in Puckeridge – lovely horse chestnut trees and it was a favourite walk for all the village.  My mother used to refer to it as going up Ashcoates.   There was a pond at the bottom of the lane near the Hoppitts where the waggoners used to wash their carts.

Near to Cannons garage was the Bull Inn in Wigfield’s garden and a house was on the site of Cannons – it was pulled down even when in good condition.”

Mr  Clayton showed me two photos of cottages pulled down :

1. Rose Cottages: – pulled down 1904 replaced by terrace of several cottages on left hand side going towards Ware.

2. Brycetons & Reddings now – old house pulled down 1900 was Dunhams the plumbers.

“There were two forges in the village in a yard alongside the Blue Anchor next to the small sweet shop.  It was kept by Henry Barron who always struck his anvil at 6am;  every morning but Sunday.  On Sunday he was a smart man dressed in a bowler hat and gold watch chain, but he was very fond of beer and after his wife died he went to pieces and became like a tramp.  He lived in the little cottage up the Blue Anchor yard and he always made a two stroke beat on his anvil and when that was started it was time to get up.”

Reproduced with the kind permission of Frank Ryan.

HMS Puckeridge

During WWII the village was privileged to share its name with HMS Puckeridge, a Hunt Class, Type 2, Destroyer;  built by J S White at Cowes, and launched in 1941.   Sadly, she was sunk by two torpedoes from an enemy submarine, U617, in the western Mediterranean, about 40 miles west of Gibralter, on 6 September 1943 with a loss of 62 lives.  The U Boat was itself sunk by RAF action 6 days later.

The villagers raised £800,000 to provide another 4 destroyers to the war effort.

Reproduced by kind permission of Phillip Vanderwarker from Puckeridge – A Potted Collection of Historical Whimsy

On 8 September, 2003 a 60th Anniversary Commemoration Service was held to honour members of the ship’s company who lost their lives when the ship was sunk.

North East Herts MP Oliver Heald read the lesson during the service which was attended by five survivors. Members of the Royal Naval Association, British Legion and members of the Puckeridge and Standon community also attended the service conducted by Reverend David Humphrey.


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