A History of Preston in Hertfordshire
Margaret Meadows’ news cuttings re: Preston 1948 - 1978
In August 2011, I received the following email, ‘Hello. I have a scrapbook that my mother Margaret
Meadows compiled over the years of events in Preston from around 1948. My father Jack was
also a well known figure in Preston on the parish council and St Martins church. If any of this is of
use for the site please let me know and I will help all I can. Many thanks Peter Meadows’.
I travelled to Peter’s home at Pirton, Herts and photographed the scrapbook. Its contents have
been gradually added to this website. I now add more, which feature village life over thirty years.
If you have any cuttings or photographs of Preston, please let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org
A Sparkling Record Cleaner Dot Bailey (shown above left) followed in her mother’s footsteps when
she took a job at Princess Helena College (PHC) in Preston. And between them, mother and
daughter have clocked up more than sixty years of stalwart service with the girls school.
Dot who lives at Chequers Lane, Preston has just received a sparkling gold watch to mark her official
retirement, although she will continue to work the occasional day for the school when she is needed.
The presentation was made to Dot by the chairman of PHC’s board of governors, Mary Beattie, and
there were tributes to the work of Dot and her mother. School bursar, Helen Sharpe, said, ‘Mrs Bailey
and her mother have had a long and very loyal association with the school and we are grateful for
their work over the years.
Dot’s mother, Agnes Dobbs, lived at Back Lane, Preston until her death some years ago’.
By 1964, Percy and Dorothy (shown above right) were living at 14 Chequers Lane, Preston, just
before the Swedish Houses.)
(Note: Dorothy (Dot’s) parents were Arthur (born 1890, Kings Walden)
Dobbs and Agnes Dorothy (nee Ansell, born Stevenage) who married at
Kings Walden in 1919. They lived at 2 Holly Cottages, Back Lane, Preston
from around 1925. Arthur was a cowman. The couple had two children.
Arthur died in 1957 and was buried at St Martins, Preston on 1 April.
Dorothy married Percy Bailey at St Martins, Preston in 1946:
Dorothy (Dot) Bailey, nee Dobbs
(Edward) Morris Sunderland (1911 - 1989)
MORRIS TRIBUTE AS DANCER DIES
Nationally-known morris dance enthusiast, Morris Sunderland (78), of Park Lane, Henlow was a
stalwart of the Offley morris men.
He was Squire of the Morris Ring from 1974 to 1976 and was Grand Master of the Fools Union. As
the traditional Fool he also danced with the Three Shires and Bedford morris men.
He died as Letchworth morris men, with whom he learned the art as a twelve-year-old boy, danced
under his bedroom window. His widow, Barbara, told the Herald and Post, ‘It was wonderful. It was
marvellous, and it was what he wanted’.
The recently-revived Letchworth morris men made a special trip to St John’s Care Home near Sandy
where Mr Sunderland was a patient. He had been suffering from leukaemia.
A former pupil of Norton School, Letchworth, Mr Sunderland worked as a carpenter before training as
a teacher. He served with the Royal Signals and later the 6th Airbourne Division during the
1939-1945 war before resuming his teaching career.
The funeral is at St Peters RC Church, Biggleswade at 2 pm. on Tuesday. Later, his family plan to
scatter his ashes at Fools Corner, Thaxted where two other famous morris Fools are buried. Mrs
Sunderland said they would be holding a morris gathering at Thaxted as a celebration of her
‘Much-loved character - Morris Sunderland on one of his last public
appearances at the Ideas Fair in March.’
The Sunderland family of The Wilderness, Butchers Lane, Preston are featured in two articles on this
website: The Book - The Conscientious Objectors Wife and The Sunderlands of The Wilderness.
Morris’ parents bought The Wilderness in 1934 and he was there two years later as he was involved
in a careless driving case at the top of Preston Hill. He married Olive Joan Winfield at St Martin’s,
Preston in 1940:
Morris’ wife, Olive Joan’s, ashes were scattered at St Martins on 7 December 1991, yet the news
reporter referred to Morris’ partner as ‘Barbara’. Evidently Morris and Olive had divorced and Morris
married Barbara M Martin at Biggleswade, Beds in 1977.
Rachel Woodhams wins the pancake dash around Preston Green c1980
‘Off to a flying start: Competitors in the Preston village pancake race start the long haul round the
village green. The winner, Rachel Woodhams, is pictured second right’.
Schoolgirl Rachel Woodhams made a special Shrove Tuesday dash to earn herself the place of
Preston’s pancake princess!
She jumped off the school bus from Hitchin just in time to line up with the thirteen other contestants
for the mad dash round the village green. The Rev Kenneth Martin started the race with the ring of a
hand-bell. Mum’s, schoolgirls and children tore round the green in fine style, tossing pancakes as
they went and picking them off when they inevitably dropped on the road.
Rachel, a Hitchin Girls School pupil from Chequers Lane was in front for most of the race and just
beat her fellow student, Sonia Newell, also of Chequers Lane. The two fourteen-year-old girls were
closely followed by Mrs Margaret Cashin.
Rev Martin handed out the prizes: shortbread to Sonia and Mrs Cashin and a bottle of wine and the
makings of a huge batch of pancakes to Rachel. The race was the first one to be held in Preston. The
organiser, Margaret Meadows, chairman of the Village Society, said money raised will be used to help
(Note to Preston Trust: Stuck for new ideas for village entertainment?)
Preston to Have Own Community Centre?
Committee will see if old school can be converted
The little village of Preston may have its own community centre. Hertfordshire County Council have
offered the village their old school for possible conversion and at the annual parish meeting it was
decided there was sufficient interest in the project to form a steering committee (of about half a dozen).
The chairman of the Parish Council, Mr Derrick Seebohm, started the ball rolling by telling the meeting
that he thought the community centre idea offered the village ‘the chance of a lifetime’. But he agreed
that there would be many problems which the steering committee would have to iron out. Perhaps the
biggest obstacle to be faced would be the cost of running such a meeting, and from the tone of the
meeting, this point worried many people.
The County has indicated that the village could have the old school for a peppercorn rent, but the
running costs - with heating and lighting a major part - would be quite heavy.
Mrs Seebohm however thought it was an opportunity the village should snap up now, or they would
never get one again. There was nowhere at the moment where organisations could hold dances or
concerts in Preston, and as the village developed in future years, a community centre would be a great
‘In ten or fifteen years time the village will expand and require a community Centre. If we don’t provide
one here, people will go away,’ she went on, urging the meeting not to think of themselves, but of the
Mr J Raffell, a member of the Parish Council suggested the possibility of combining the new school
hall with a community centre, but this idea did not receive much support from the rest of the meeting.
The headmaster, Mr D F Orchard pointed out that at another village school where the hall was used
for outside functions, some £400 a year was spent on repairs. ‘Our hall is so nice and dances would be
bound to knock it about a bit’,
The youth club leader, Mr S Hutton, said he hoped and prayed that the community centre would be
developed because it would give the young people a chance of showing what they could do for the
village. He thought the youth club would probably make use of it three nights a week, adding that their
own finances were in a healthy position.
The meeting heard from Mr Colin Bryce of the type of grant aid the village could expect for their
project, but he explained that they would have to find at least twenty-five percent of the cost
One villager said that it would be up to everyone in Preston to pull themselves together in organising
money-raising efforts for the centre and not, as often happened, leave the work to the faithful few.
Mr A Bennett said that although he appreciated the point of having a bigger hall and better communal
facilities, he doubted the wisdom of ‘chancing it’ too much. It would be quite a good thing to examine
the project, but no more than that’, he suggested.
And the rest is history……
The clergy at St Martins, Preston
Guest of the Young Wives group was the Rev J Sturdy, who until two weeks ago was Priest-in-
charge of St Martins. Here, he’s carrying the birthday cake complete with candles, while Mrs N
Vaughan (left, of St Martins House, Kings Walden Road) and Mrs M Meadows bring in the food
The Rev R Jacoby from New York is surrounded by youngsters in the Women’s Institute Hall at
Preston. He is succeeds the Rev J Sturdy and will stay a year.
A meeting to say thank you to two sisters for their many years of service as caretakers of St Martins,
Mrs Bertha (nee Peters) Nash (shown) and Miss C Peters. Rev G N Walsh is presenting a gift on
behalf of the people of Preston and from the Vicar of Hitchin.
Bertha had also been a monitor at Preston School for ten years from 1891 to 1901. She married a
bricklayer, George William Nash, at St Martins on 4 June 1921 and the couple lived with Miss
Christabel Peters at Laburnum Lodge, Preston Green from that year.
Bertha was buried at St Martins on 26 February 1968
Photographs of Preston which haven’t been published on this website before
Preston’s shop beside the Green
The corner of the Green
Photographs around Preston from the early 1980s