Stuart Delvin - Historian
I was born at St. Mary’s Paddington and spent my first ten years in Hendon, before moving to the Sussex coast, where I attended Brighton, Hove & Sussex Grammar School shortly before it was abolished.
I graduated from University College London in 1970, and then had a spell working in the heat of the outback in Western Australia as an exploration geologist.
I returned to England in November 1972 and answered a flat share advertisement in the Evening Standard which led to my moving to Radcliffe Road.
In the tropical summer of 1976 I moved into my own small two bed roomed flat in Fernleigh Road at what was then the princely cost of £10,000.
Yasmin joined me in December 1981 after we married, our reception being at Firs Hall. By 1986 we had outgrown the flat, but we weren’t prepared to take on more borrowing than we could sensibly afford, so we moved to a house in Enfield, and have remained there ever since, though thanks to all the papers I have now accumulated on Winchmore Hill we are bursting at the seams once again!
Since returning from Australia I have worked in various office jobs, and was fortunate to be able to take advantage of an offer of voluntary redundancy linked to early retirement from The Royal Mail.
Because I don’t drive a car I have been able to survive on the small occupational pension, though I have retained my membership of the Chartered Management Institute ‘just in case’.
When I was young I was very keen on football, and was an avid Spurs supporter, but for various reasons I completely lost interest about twenty years ago. However, I have retained my youthful interest in the music of the 1960s, and still like the Beatles, Kinks, Shadows, Fairport Convention, and various other acts.
Having mastered the same three guitar chords as Status Quo, though with somewhat less success, I have written numerous songs, including one called Miss Cresswell’s Winchmore Hill for the DVD mentioned later.
If you disregard the short period of excitement working in the Australian bush when young, my life has been very mundane, and not worthy of much further comment, so I’d like to go on and tell you about why I am featured on this website – my books on the area.
I had no interest in local history when I moved to Winchmore Hill as a young man in 1972. In the late ‘70s I attended Geoffrey Heney’s local history classes on one evening a week, but it wasn’t until I had obtained the 1982 reprint of Henrietta Cresswell’s Memories of a Lost Village that my imagination was properly fired.
There I was sitting in the suburbia of Fernleigh Road, but only a century before I would have been amongst the open fields of a ‘remote’ Middlesex village. About this time I also read a then recent reprint of Recollections of Old Enfield, originally published early that century.
It occurred to me that someone should collect a similar set of reminiscences of Winchmore Hill whilst there were still inhabitants who remembered the old village.
Whilst collecting those accounts I realised that my own knowledge of the area didn’t allow me to properly appreciate what I was being told, so I researched Winchmore Hill’s history from previous publications and library source material.
The results of all this work (undertaken, incidentally, whilst still in full time employment) were presented in A History of Winchmore Hill, in 1989, and Winchmore Hill Lives (A Collection of Recollections) in 1991, both published through Regency Press. Fortunately both titles sold out their contracted print runs.
As there were no companies willing to take the risk of publishing something further on such a small area, I decided to self publish in future.
I accumulated a large collection of photographs, partly due to the kindness of Aaron Gransby in 1999, when, as editor, he allowed me to copy whatever I wanted from The Enfield Gazette’s archives, and so I decided to follow Alan Dumayne’s lead. Alan published collections of old photographs in two books in the 1990s – on the Borough of Southgate and the Borough of Enfield, into which Southgate assimilated in 1965.
I called this A Look at Old Winchmore Hill, and fortunately this proved popular with the public, so that in 2004 I was able to produce More Winchmore Hill Lives, because there were still people around with an interesting story to tell about the area with an historical slant. Those accounts, incidentally, included one from Yasmin and her nursing days at Highlands Hospital.
I also produced three 6” x 4” colour postcards of local views.
In between those two local soft backs I brought out The Lion Who Couldn’t Roar and A Small Tribute to The World Trade Center and New York City.
The first of these, co-authored with Yasmin, is a small booklet for all age groups who retain a childish outlook on life.
The second was a written and pictorial look at my mother’s home city in the wake of the terrorist outrage. It contains numerous photographs I took of the city when visiting her whilst the twin towers were still standing, including views from the observation deck which are like looking down onto the city from an aircraft.
I anticipated great general demand for this booklet, which turned out to be a big miscalculation!
Not to be deterred, I made use of the fact that I had taken early retirement and thus had the time to research in detail at not only our excellent local history unit, but also the large libraries in London, which include such gems as minutes of old Church Hill Quaker meetings and the now defunct Edmonton Manor, which, Winchmore Hill was part of for centuries.
That culminated in my most ambitious work, Winchmore Hill Village 1780 – 1830, published in late 2009, which I hope has significantly extended the public’s knowledge.
The above are of course what I have done in the past. What of the future?
In the coming months I expect to publish a new book - Winchmore Hill People and Pictures.
This consists of two written sections. The first section consists of yet more ‘oral histories’ of local people, a few of whom were born nearly a century ago! The second section contains my write ups of famous people who have graced the area, taken from other sources and assembled here under one cover for the first time.
They are as diverse as the singer Sir Cliff Richard and the brewer Sir William Paulin.
Sandwiched between these written sets of accounts are about a hundred further visuals of the area from my now quite extensive collection.
The second project is a DVD I am working on with Hugh Humphrey, whose brainchild it is.
We will celebrate the 2012 centenary of the publication of Miss Cresswell’s classic Winchmore Hill: Memories of a Lost Village. This will tie in with Hugh’s reprinting of the book, and the June festival centred on The Green.
In the DVD we will be looking back at Henrietta’s village of the 1860s, as well as celebrating life in the somewhat different Winchmore Hill of today, featuring members of the community in local schools, churches, pubs and societies.
If you would like to contribute I’m sure Hugh would be happy to consider your suggestion(s).
I do hope you will support us by buying the film when it emerges in 2012.
It goes without saying that I hope you will continue to buy my books, listed elsewhere on this site. I receive no sponsorship or grants, my publications are funded entirely from my own pocket, and it is only by selling them that I am able to recoup my costs (and perhaps even make a small profit), so that I can continue with my work.
To those of you who have purchased my publications in the past – thank you. I hope you enjoyed them.