NEAME, Watford & St Albans, early 20th century

March 2002

Laura Neame of Vernon, British Colombia, Canada, writes: My ggrandfather William Walter Neame (1845 Birchington Kent- Oct 12 1928, 316 Whippendell Road Watford) was a devout Methodist. He and his family moved from Birchington Kent to Watford after 1901, and before the death of his wife Charlotte Moore (1853 Manchester- Jan 28 1910 Watford).

One of the 12 children, Stella (1896 Birchington- 1934 St Albans) had some kind of disbility that was not talked of in the family. She died as a resident of Barne's Colony,(??) in St Albans.

I suspect the family would have been closely associated with the Methodist Church on Whippendell Rd. in Watford (he was described in one family document as a minister).

I suspect that the best route to information is the Methodist Church connection. I am also trying to find out something about the Barne's Colony.

My grandmother, Florence HAYDON, was hired as a nursemaid to the family, in particular to care for Stella, around 1910, thus meeting my grandfather.

"Barnes Colony" is the Cell Barnes Colony, Colney Heath, St Albans, which until recently was a home/hospital for people with severe learning difficulties - typically Downes Syndrome, and almost certainly those with severe brain damage - perhaps caused by a difficult birth. I think it was set up early in the 20th century. I don't know what happened to the records (and there may be a hundred year embargo on any patient records - assuming they still exist) by I know that some records for the nearby Hill End Hospital were going to be deposited in HALS when it closed at about the same time. (In recent years many such institutions have been closed down - with the patients being relocated in the community - in many cases very successfully as long as there is adequate support. In some cases they found that a few of the old women had  been "locked up for life" as mentally defective for no better reason than that they had become pregnant in their teens.)

My information on 20th century Watford is not indexed - which makes a search virtually impossible. In fact the only thing I came up with in a quick search is that the Whippendell Road links back to a 14th century Whippedenfeld - which was probably from an earlier form meaning Wippa's Valley. (Street and Place Names in Watford)

Your idea of contacting the Methodist Church seems a good idea. I assume it is still there as I have found a reference to Trinity Methodist Church, Whippendell Road, Watford, phone 01923 221003, in a 1998 directory.

If you can add to the information given above tell me.

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