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Looking Back

2nd of February 1999

We read recently that cheaper housing is going to be provided in Chipperfield. However, this is nothing new, since this was the objective of Hugh Aronson in the early 1900s. He was responsible for the first council houses built in Chipperfield in 1911.
He was Chipperfields representative on the Hemel Hempstead Rural District Council at that time and pushed the Council into building a row of seven Council houses in Tower Hill. For those of you that remember Hugh Aronson who had the fruit farm at the rear of Boundary Cottages in the 1940s, this Hugh Aronson was his father.
The houses were known at the time as 1 to 7 Council Cottages, now known as 46 to 58 Tower Hill. My grandmother and grandfather were the first Council tenants of Chipperfield to take occupation in 1912 and probably one of the first in Hemel Hempstead Rural District Council area.
The houses had all the mod-cons of the time: a coal burning black leaded kitchen range with an oven at the side for cooking, an internal brick built copper for boiling and washing clothes, a fireplace in the bedroom and of course a sink with cold running water. Just across the footpath at the back was a large timber shed which contained the loo (a bucket under a timber bench seat) and another area to keep the coal in. No electricity or gas, of course: they arrived some years later.
Hugh Aronson, having pushed the Council into building these houses, now found it difficult to get people to take occupation, due mainly to the high rent of 4s 6d (22 l/2p) a week, so to avoid any embarrassment for himself, he talked my gran and granddad into moving in so that he could prove they were needed and were being let.
They were living in Chapel Croft paying 2s 6d (12 l/2p) a week rent at the time, so to get them to move, Hugh said he would pay the difference in rent for them of 2s a week (lop), so Sarah Daisy and George Charles Timberlake moved in with their four children to no. 1 (now 46) Tower Hill. I do not know how long this payment went on for, but it is believed to be several years, since money was very tight in those days and earnings were low, and of course this was all kept very hush-hush.
Turp Woods moved in the other end of the block into no. 7 (now 58) a month or two later, and I do not know if Hugh subsidised his rent in a similar way, but at a guess I would say he did, since the other houses remained empty for several months.
I cannot see John Nicholls having to put his hand in his pocket for any future housing projects in the village since letting wont be a problem, so there is no need to lose any sleep, John!
For those of us who take for granted hot water, flushing toilets, baths, gas cooker, electric lights, central heating, washing machines, dishwashers, hoovers, radio and television, just think what life would be like without them. Not many of us could cope for a day, let alone for years. So next time you switch on the light or turn the gas cooker on, just consider how lucky you are to be living in this era.

This page is edited by Tony

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