Harlow is 70: Val’s first visit to Harlow

Dorringtons

OVER the last few months, the Harlow U3A Creative Writing class has been writing a number of essays on Harlow.

The essays reflect upon a number of aspects of life in Harlow.

All the essays in ‘From Pram Town to Sculpture Town” will be placed in the Harvey Centre Time Capsule.

My First Visit to Harlow: Val Caldwell

I first visited Harlow when I was seventeen. I was then a Post Office telephonist and used to come to Harlow as a relief when the exchange here needed cover, usually for holidays or sickness.

I came from King’s Lynn exchange, which was a training centre. King’s Lynn is a very old town so coming to such a new town as Harlow was unusual for me. Everything seemed to be built in rectangles compared with the narrow winding streets and old buildings in King’s Lynn. The exchange was situated near the Stow and there was even a tower block, the Lawns, nearby. I found the London accents strange too after those in Norfolk.

I was amazed to see that there was an indoor swimming pool in Harlow, I had never seen one before. Lo and behold a club too, then called The Birdcage. This was a modern idea to me as King’s Lynn had only recently had a coffee bar where young people congregated.

As my work was based at The Stow I lodged with a family in Pittmans Field; a warm and friendly family whom I kept in touch with for many years.

I can’t mention The Stow without mentioning Dorrington’s baker shop, whose wide range of cakes I sampled daily.

I had never expected to return to Harlow, but ten years later my husband, who was a teacher, saw there were vacancies in Harlow and a flat was available. Guess where? We are near to the Stow.

We have lived in Harlow ever since.

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