Hill End Stories

Sheltered Housing in Harpenden

By Betty Turner

Emergency Call-out

Working as Warden in Sheltered Housing in Harpenden, I was called out to one of my residents on a regular basis. This lady would, at certain times of the year, take off all her day clothes, put on her nighty, and stand out on her balcony just waiting nervously for the firemen to come to set her alight.

I would then call her doctor, who would call for an ambulance to bring her to Hill End, where she would stay for a length of time receiving treatment until she was well, and safe enough to come home to her flat at Breadcroft.

This event used to happen frequently, mostly at special times of the year, when the same pattern repeated itself. She seemed to have something in her past, which she believed she was going to be punished for when she seemed to get low.

Hill End

She was very secretive about the whole thing, of her past, but very frightened, and resigned at these times to what she considered her punishment. After she was admitted, I would visit a couple of times a week, and notice a gradual improvement, and have meetings with her doctors and carers, until she was well enough to come home.

I was also a friend of the legendary priest Father John Woolley, who brought comfort to many at Hill End in the 80s and 90s.

This page was added on 26/11/2009.

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  • Born in September 1942 when I was 2 I fell onto the ‘live’ rail of the District Line which ran at the bottom of our garden between Plaistow and Upton Park stations.
    My father ,who managed to save me, took me to the local doctor and I was admitted to St. Mary’s Hospital Plaistow. From there I was to taken to a hospital in St. Albans, which I believe to be Hill End , where I spent 18months receiving skins grafts on my face, hand and Leg. I cannot remeber anything of my stay, only that there were lots of burned airman being treated and I spent much of my stay on some form plastic tent to prevent infection.
    Nothing was really explained to me and it is only in recent years that I have come to realize that this was pre. NHS and I wondered if my parents had to pay for treatment or if it was free due to my young age. I would love to know if there any admission records from that time.
    The accident defined my life because I was encouraged to play the piano in order to stretch my burned hand and I became a musician ,playing and teaching the piano up to the present day.

    By George Edward Larkey (16/07/2020)
  • I spent 2 long periods in Hill end hospital ( then a part of Barts hospital ) in 1947 To 1949, having 2 bone graft operations carried out by Surgeon Mr Chris Coltart from Barts. Always treated with great care by everyone, can still remember it quite clearly.

    By Ray Seymour (15/10/2018)