Norman Tucker (1914-2012)

by janet on 9 December 2011 · 22 comments

Norman Henry Tucker (born 17th December 1914) took part in the Walkern Memories: 935 Years project and exhibition, having his memories of Walkern recorded by Janet Woodall and his photo taken by local photographer Rod Shone, on 6 November 2006 [with additional material by Norman Tucker, 2008]. This transcription first appeared in the July/August 2008 issue of the Walkern Journal. Norman passed away just short of his 98th birthday on 14th November 2012.

“I don?t know if I qualify for this as I am not a local, but I have to admit I have been here quite a long while now. It was in 1940 when my mother was visiting my brother (who had bought Chancy Hall the previous year) that our house in London was bombed in an air raid. My father, who?d been on Home Guard duty that night, came to Walkern and rented the top floor, and subsequentely the whole, of the Laurels.

I came to Walkern after the war in 1945, during which time I drove an ambulance for the London Civil Defence, to join my brother in what turned out to be an ill fated venture into market gardening.

Our main crop at that time was chicory which required quite a bit of intensive work because it was grown in trenches with a fire at each end. We used to go to Cannings wood yard with a horse and cart to get sawdust to keep the fires going for 24 hours a day. Fortunately we managed to find a wholesaler in Covent Garden by the name of Tucker, so we had boxes suitably inscribed to leave about the village at various advantage points, making it look like we were much bigger than we were ? quite an advert if you didn?t know the difference!

We also kept about 200 rabbits. Food was rationed, as were clothes and household goods, but no coupons were needed for game, and our rabbits were sold at Hitchin Cattle Market on a Tuesday.

A friend of my father told me you needed sufficient capital to see you over three bad years, and we fell short of that! Unfortunately, owing to a trade agreement between the UK and the Belgian government, they started importing chicory during our second year of effort, and we got about a quarter of the price we had in the first year, and that really was the nail in the coffin as far as we were concerned, and we didn?t progress further than 2 years. Where the old greenhouses are in Froghall Lane, we had that field.

I went to work for the Hertfordshire Agricultural Committee. Half of Box Wood was cleared and used for agriculture during the war. Dig for victory. Everything was ploughed up then, even land that wasn?t really fit for arable land. My job was as a labour officer side of it, finding work for the local Land Army and POWs.

When the Herts Agricultural Committee disbanded, which was when the POWs were repatriated, and the Land army was dissolved, I went to work for an engineering firm and joined their First Aid team as I was quite interested in that having been an ambulance driver for the London Civil Defence during the war. I subsequently joined the St John?s Ambulance Brigade and served in that for about 20 years

When I married in 1948 we started in a cottage in Froghall Lane where the rent was 50p a week and where there was no water or electrics. The stand tap was in the bank opposite, and when I approached the landlord about installing electricity, he agreed to it but only down stairs! He said ?you don?t need electrics to go to bed, a candle will do?. The loo was a chemical closet in the barn. I can remember saving up ration coupons to get lino on the bedroom floor ? we were really living it up!

When my father died my mother moved to where I was and we moved next door into a pair of cottages converted into one by the local builder Bert Carter and his son Tim. This went with 1/3 acre of garden, and by then we had electricity and sewers installed. Some years later I was able to buy this for

{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

Joan Shepherd July 20, 2020 at 5:09 pm

Hi Martin Tucker

I went to St Francis with your sisters, in particular, Cecily and I remember you going to Australia.

I would love to get in touch with Cecily again and, maybe you can get in touch.

What happened to Monica and Angela?


Just Joan


Jane Worledge January 21, 2016 at 7:43 am

I am wondering if anyone remembers Elizabeth Tucker (nee Walton) who was the wife of Norman’s brother Leslie. I understand she died in 2007. I am doing some research for a family member in Australia and memories of her life would be much appreciated. I’d also like to know where she was born if possible, maybe one of the northern counties?
Many thanks,


Joan Shepherd July 20, 2020 at 5:30 pm

Yes I do remember her as I was great friends of with Cecily and stayed many times at Chancey Hall round about 1956 – 1965 ish.

Any news or contact info on Cecily, Angela or Monica would be great. I remember brother, Martin emigrated to Australia mid 1965.

Elizabeth always made me feel very welcome but I don’t know anything about her background.


Joan Gentle nee Shepherd


Janet Bennett September 20, 2015 at 9:45 pm

Sadly my mother Joyce Tucker, wife of Norman, passed away on Friday night Sept 18th 2015, after a short illness, having achieved her 93rd birthday a week earlier. Feeling sad that the last link with walkern is now broken I logged back onto this site and was surprised to see postings from so many names I remember well from the White’s home for children at Box Wood back when I was at Walkern School. Maxine Vince, Patsy Nimmo, Corinne Kelly, Elsworth Sperry and the Ogunty brothers. You all had to walk to school from Box Wood, and I often wondered why when the kids at Clay End and Bassus Green had the ‘brake’ to bring them to school. Its funny you cant remember the names of so many people you meet down the years, but can remember the names and every face of those kids you went to school with. I expect many of you will be grandparents by now, as I am, but seeing those names I became 8 or 9 again! Regards, Janet nee Tucker (in Ireland)


Stephen Jackman October 2, 2018 at 10:44 pm

Hi Janet -were you at Walkern School in the late 1960’s with your cousin Clare?


lynn bull June 16, 2015 at 10:45 pm

thank you for doing your best for me Maxine never did hear from patsy never mind
kind regards lynn


Corrinne Ruckley Nee Kelly June 20, 2015 at 2:19 pm

Hi Lynn

Was just thinking about Boxwood Children’s Home today, have no idea why after all these years and saw that the bungalow is up for sale, then saw your comments. I was at Boxwood, I shared a bedroom with Patsy and Maxine, Linda Payne and Barbara Johnson shared the other room, don’t remember anyone called Rita.

There was a pony called Peggy and before that was a black pony called Mary who sadly died. A scratching post was erected in the middle of the paddock with her name on. I remember bringing Peggy into the hall of the bungalow because there was a terrible storm outside. Got into so much trouble for that There was a boxer dog called Justin and a black and white cat called Whisky. There was an old gypsy caravan on the grounds and there were chickens. There was a very large fruit and veg garden. There was a huge lawn at the front of the house and I used to mow. I remember a member of staff called Frieda, she was very strict, and Utte, she was really nice. I remember Christmas where Geoff or Pa would be Father Christmas. Ma had a Hillman Car. We walked to Walkern School every day, it was a long walk. I remember a boy call Nicholas, I think there was a boy called Billy. We used to have holidays in Port Eynon.

Feel free to get in touch.




maxine holden nee vince June 22, 2015 at 6:07 pm

Hi Corrine,
How spokey is that, us both looking at the Walkern web page at the sametime? I remember sharing with you and Patsy. Patsy and I both live in Milton Keynes. I amon face book maxine holden if you want to catch up.



Corrinne Ruckley Nee Kelly June 24, 2015 at 3:02 pm

Hi Maxine

I’m afraid I am one of those rare people who is not on facebook. But if you want to e-mail me my address is, c.ruckley@ntlworld.com. I am living in Barry, Wales.




lynn bull June 23, 2015 at 11:44 pm

hi Corrine
I use to share a bedroom with Barbara and patsy was in the bedroom at the front of the bungerlow
I to live near you I now live in Bedford
do you happen to no where Barbara is
oh so you no Nicolas sheffild and and billy walker did you no alan oguntoye and steve oguntoye
there was a member of staff called Barbara most of the staff was german yes that big lawn at the front
my daughter went round there chells has changed so much its now called nobelle
when I was in care at box wood peggy was there and Justin lovely boxer
the bungerlow is still there and we went for a ride to walker as well
I am also on face book
regards lynn


lynn bull May 20, 2015 at 8:22 pm

Maxine do you no where Barbara or rita are


lynn bull May 17, 2015 at 7:26 pm

thank you for contactacking

hi Maxine
thank you for letting patsy know as of yet she has not got in touch would love to hear from her


lynn bull May 1, 2015 at 3:41 pm

hope you can help me do you remember the dog called Justin


maxine holden nee vince May 13, 2015 at 8:51 pm

Hi Lynn, yes I remember the boxer called justin. I have contacted Patsy and told her you are trying to contact her. I hope she contacts you.


lynn bull May 1, 2015 at 3:38 pm

I am so sorry to here about pa white have you got ma whites address
do you remember Barbara Johnson and a patsy nimmo and rita Baldwin and ellswoth sperry as I have been trying to get in touch for a very long time now
is it no longer a childrens home
lynn bull


lynn bull March 9, 2015 at 8:18 pm

what ever happened to the childrens home called box wood that was run by mr and mrs white I use to be in care there for two years I remember the bungerlowe in the woods and we use to play crokay and we had a house called peggy


maxine holden nee vince March 25, 2015 at 10:14 pm

Lynn, I too was in care at Boxwood. Pa (Mr White) died of a heart attack an Ma moved to Green St in the old town.


Martin Tucker December 2, 2012 at 3:16 am

Norman has recently died. He was my uncle and a good bloke. I always think of him when I hear church bells as he was a ringer for many years.I have lived in Adelaide, South Australia since 1965 but kept in touch and saw him and Joyce when I visited England. I like the web site; brings back memories.


Philip Waldock May 31, 2015 at 2:20 pm

Hi Martin,
Have just found your note on our website, I am posting this note in the hope that we can get in touch, I have continued to live in Walkern. Would love to make contact again.


Peter Canning June 12, 2015 at 10:42 am

Hi Martin

As with Philip, I have just seen your note. My Mum and her sister-in-law Betty both still live in Walkern and I am nearby,


Deborah Jones January 6, 2019 at 8:51 pm

Hi Martin,

When I visited St. Mary’ s Church at Walkern in 1996, there was an elderly gentleman who guided me around the interior of the church. He knew a lot about the history of the church. Unfortunately, he was hard of hearing, so I couldn’t converse with him well. Could Norman be that man?



Don Swain August 8, 2012 at 8:38 pm

I remember Norman as a Scout Master our group met at Walkern Old Rectory and we used outside steps to get to our meeting room. We formed a Guard of Honour when Norman married ( sorry Norman I can remember your wife but not her name nor the district in West London where you married !!
Am living in Bishops Stortford now and have lost track of Walkern somewhat although Phil & Eleanor Waldock do keep me up to date when my wife Eileen and I meet then for lunch or a round of golf with Phil.
I also receive a copy of the Walkern Journal which I find most interesting an excellent production .


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