Memories of working at Harperbury & Shenley hospitals

By Audrey Ashby

Working and living at Harperbury Hospital (known earlier as the Middlesex Colony) in 1935, was Lesley Ashby and his wife Florence.

He was a cowman on the hospital farm, and they lived at Margaret Cottages, at the top of a long drive near the farm.

In 1936 a son, Peter, was born followed by daughter, Margaret, in 1938. By 1940, being wartime, the family moved away to Bedfordshire. After the death of Florence in 1946, Lesley returned to Harperbury Hospital as a cowman on the farm, and lived in a hospital house in Harper Lane, with his children Peter, Margaret, John and Janet.

When the farm closed, Lesley worked with patients as a gardener until 1967, when he retired.

This page was added on 11/09/2010.

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  • My mum and dad worked there up to 1979, I did a paper round at the hospital,

    By Doug mcclafferty (26/03/2018)
  • My mum and dad worked at harperbury up to 1979/remember the social club well, and swimming pool, my dad was George mcclafferty my mum was carmen, she was a domestic.

    By Doug mcclafferty (26/03/2018)
  • my name is teddy mason and i lived at no 5 margaret cottages from 1945 to 1964. i spent many hours at wild farm with a friend called john brookes and i had another friend called john ashby who lived in harper lane. where are they now?

    By e j mason (15/07/2017)
  • Hi Kat. My grandfather, David Blomfield, was born at Wild Farm in 1908 along with his younger brothers. My great grandparents, Fred & Muriel Blomfield, lived there for about 10 years before moving to Waterdale nr Watford. Hope this adds a little to the history of your home and the renovations are coming along.

    By Hugo Blomfield (04/11/2013)
  • I started student Nurse training in February 1973, from Malaysia, age just over 18. There were three intakes per year, Feb, June and Oct. I remember Mr. Thornton, Sister Bower, Sister Prescott, Mr. Jones and Mr. Hague. Male and female patients were even segregated in the cinema shows every Thursday in the De Salis Hall. Lots of functions were held in the De Salis Hall and Staff Social Club. There were the Tennis Courts and swimming pool. There were the fruit orchard and some vegetables grown near the old Hangar. I had the Nurses’ lodgings and then the Hospital House in Harper Lane. These houses were sold to the staff and some are privately owned. The Staff canteen catered for breakfast, lunch and supper. Supper tickets cost only 6 pence then. All the above are obsolete now.

    By Kim Quinton (28/03/2012)
  • I own the house called Wild Farm – which used to be the farm house. It is derelict and I am in the process of renovating it. It is VERY interesting to hear news of the farm and / or house (and hospital). It’s quite hard to acquire information about the house itself (or the old Manor that used to exist on the site). Thanks Kat

    By Kat Allen (26/03/2012)
  • My husband was born at Margaret Cottages in 1942. His father was a Herdsman, does this farm still exist? Any information about these times would be so interesting. His parents were Norman and Ivy Harris.

    By Jan Harris (15/09/2011)