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Modern Living With the building of the housing estates in the past 50 years, life in Watton has changed more than it did in the previous 1000 years. Few of the people living within the village now work in the village since, with the exception of some small industrial units in Mill Lane, there are few opportunities for employment (the Holden du Cros salmon packing factory in the High Street closed in 1988 and was converted to housing in 1994). Watton is now, therefore, `commuterland' and its people travel to Stevenage, Hoddesdon and other areas of employment (including central London at a 1994 cost of £1896 per annum!). There are a number of shops in the village, but sadly the number seems to be decreasing despite the extra houses being built. However, in 1997, part of the grocery store in the High Street was opened as a separate hot food shop selling oriental and Beijing cuisine. The garage in the High Street closed in October 1999 and the site cleared for housing development. The village boasts a wide selection of facilities, including the clubs and societies listed separately at the end of this booklet; all of them welcome new members (and what better way is there for newcomers to the village to meet people). Many of these report their activities in the excellent Parish News which is distributed free each month to all houses in the village; they can alternatively be contacted through neighbours or the local shops, or through the Clerk to the Parish Council, whose name is given on the notice board on High Street, almost opposite the George & Dragon. Each year there is a highly successful Church Fête on Spring Bank Holiday Monday, but the Horticultural Society's Flower Show and Fête on the August Bank Holiday Monday has now ceased after 52 years of declining enthusiasm. Various smaller events are organised by the school, the scout and guide group and local societies.The recreation ground is used for outdoor sports
A preschool playgroup occupies a building adjacent to the old school site. Parish Council Under the Local Government Act, 1894, Watton-at-Stone was granted the right to form a Parish Council, and the first meeting was held at the Parish Room (now restored as cottages in School Lane, adjacent to the Community Hall) on Friday, 4th January 1895. Mr Abel Henry Smith was elected Chairman. At that time, the main responsibilities of the Parish Council were to see to the collection of tins in the village and to maintain the oil lamps used for street lighting. It was also the duty of the Parish Council to appoint overseers for the collection of rates in the village. The Parish Room was used bi-monthly as a Magestrates Court, and later used as a Clubroom with a snooker table. The Parish Council now meets in the Community Hall, build in 1996 by donations and a grant from the Lottery. The Parish Council has taken ownership of three major areas of land, the Sports Field, Watton Green and the Lammas. To mark the centenary, the Parish Council ran a competition to design a village motif. The winning entry was submitted by Mr Phil Berry of Hazeldell. A booklet was published with a brief history of the Village and contained many old photographs. A video was also produced containing film of the mill fire, the 1968 floods and the Community Association Silver Jubilee Fete. The upkeep of the War Memorial was invested in the Parish Council in 1935. Memories Memories abound from the older residents of the village of life before television and the ubiquitous private car. Thanks to the children of Watton School, some of these memories have been collected, and extracts are recorded here. Even so, time has moved on and some of these recollections now require further expansion. The old school [now Old School Orchard] used to have a bell on top that rang in the morning, and we buried some papers in tins for people of the future, but I believe these have been dug up again now.
The costs of reopening the station totaled £120 000, but only about £30 000 of this was paid by British Rail! Local authority funds provided £80 000 and the village contributed £8000, £4000 by way of a donation from Parish Council funds and £4000 raised by an appeal to the village and neighbouring parishes. The official opening of Watton station took place on Tuesday 15 June 1982 and was attended by Sir Peter Parker, Chairman of the British Rail Board, and representatives of local government. Parking Outside the School Gates The Governors and Teachers have become increasingly concerned over the last few months about the number of cars around the school gates at the beginning and end of the school day. As we are all aware, Rectory Lane is a narrow road and beyond the turning to Hockerill the space for manoeuvre is very limited. At present, a large number of parents are driving their children right up to the school entrance and, when two or more cars meet, the road becomes completely blocked. Cars are frequently mounting the pavement to enable them to pass each other. Nor is the school carpark large enough to allow the current volume of traffic to turn around in safety. The knock-on effect of this is that children and other pedestrians are walking in the road and dodging between the cars. This is clearly not safe. The volume of traffic also causes considerable inconvenience and difficulty to the school's neighbours. We therefore strongly urge all parents and carers to drive no closer to the school than the turning to Hockerill. 1 Watton Green 7 Glebe House 13 George and Dragon 19 Waggon and Horses 2 Watton Cottage 8 Memorial Hall 14 Lock-up 20 Broomhall Farm 3 St Andrew and St Mary 9 The Bull 15 Pump 21 Frogmore Hall 4 Watton House 10 Community Hall 16 Watton Place 22 Bardolph's Farm 5 The Chestnuts 11 School 17 Methodist Church 23 The Firs 6 Crowbury 12 Watkins Hall Farm 18 Grey House
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