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Help solve mystery of nine

REGULAR Nostalgia reader Mike Neighbour, from Littlehampton in West Sussex, wrote to say: "This should get the historians rummaging around in their archives. In the Fleetville area there are several references to the number nine. The number occasionally refers to the name of a field, but only in one of those cases is the name the same as its size in acres as recorded in the tithe records of the 1830s.

"At what is now The Crown public house was the turnpike chain bar. Adjacent were about three acres apiece, to the south of Hatfield Road and on the corner with Camp Lane (now Camp Road). They had previously been called Lucerne Field and Nine Field. Here was Ninedells Nursery, but where the number nine came from is mysterious, for it has nothing to do with its size.

"It was owned by Thomas Kinder, along with an adjacent unnamed field (which was nine acres in size), and all three fields were sold soon after 1880. The two smaller fields became the Cavendish estate and the larger one was purchased by the corporation of for use as a cemetery, which, together with various additional holdings, became about 16 acres.

"Oral evidence also suggests an area called Ninefields, or The Nine Fields, to the north of what is now Brampton Road. There was certainly a field between what is now Park Avenue and Clarence Road, and another called Marston Nine Acre Field, where Fleetville Infant School and the recreation ground is now. These names all appear on the tithe map.

"Another interesting site is the New Zealand nursery. This plot, thought to be on the north-east corner of the Smallford crossroads junction, is first mentioned in 1871. I am not certain of the origin, but it may have some connection with the names of some of the houses in Hatfield Road between Ashley Road and Sutton Road, some of which have a distinct New Zealand feel to them (Waipira, Waratah, Auckland, etc.). In 1871 John Walton was the nurseryman. There may have been a contrary location, but the censuses consistently place the nursery next to properties known to have been in this hamlet, although some no longer exist.

"In the 1898 OS map there was a nursery with the same name in Hatfield Road between Upper Lattimore Road and Beaconsfield Road. Today Loreto College occupies the site, together with the properties formerly on either side of the nursery. Since there is no second reference to a New Zealand Nursery in any census, it seems strange that the entries would have consistently placed it so far out of sequence. A logical explanation might be that the New Zealand Nursery established itself at Smallford some time before 1871, but between 1892 and 1898 the business moved to the city plot quite the opposite to most similar businesses, which relocate outwards as town land prices increase.

"If the Smallford location for the New Zealand Nursery is correct, the location is now known as Ninefields Nursery. Very confusing!"

MR Brian Kennedy from Watford wrote requesting information about Ringway Road in Park Street. He is producing a short, illustrated history of the self-build bungalows (numbers two to 28) in the Ringway Road, which were built between 1952 and 1955 by The Mutual Housing Association. His father, now deceased, was a member of the association, and he would like to trace other members and descendants of the chairman, Mr Tim Brady, and the landowner Mr Dick Brinsden.

He can be contacted by letter at 4 Kilby Close, Watford, WD25 9FJ, or by email at .

Mr Ken Butcher from Nuns Lane, , telephoned in response to last week's question from Paul Collins about the late George Best's appearance at Clarence Park in 1989? He said: "Best played the first half and then came out after half time on a stretcher. There was a big cheer and then he got up and started running around as normal.

"What was lovely was that there was a penalty and it was between Kevin Keegan and George Best as to who was going to take it. In the end they picked a young boy out of the crowd to take the shot. Bob Wilson was in goal and the young lad scored, so Keegan took off his shirt and gave it to him. It was brilliant, I should think any boy nowadays would love that. Graeme Souness was there too, he had just had a heart operation so he couldn't play but he was sitting in the stands and signing autographs. It was a great day."


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