Memories of Coldfall Wood

Here are some lovely comments sent to us via our website – thank you!

If you would like to share your memories, we would love to hear from you.

I’m pleased to tell you that I, my husband and dog paid a visit to Coldfall Woods last week and all enjoyed our visit.

I was amazed that although it must be almost 45 years since I last regularly walked around in the woods that I remembered almost every part of the area, as if it were yesterday. The only things that had changed – apart from the height of the trees which now appear enormous! – were the bridges and walkway that have been erected, and the birdlife as I honestly cannot ever remember seeing crow’s in the woods and definately no parakeets back in the day. Lovers lawn appeared much less open than years ago, but lovers lane was less overgrown, as I remember it, however as stipulated on the information posters it would appear that some woodland management will be carried out to re-establish it back to its former state.

The only ‘blot on the landscape’ for me – and I appreciate that in this modern age things have to be this way for security reasons – was the perimeter fencing around Coldfall Primary School, as in the days of my childhood there was a rustic wood fence which ran the whole length of the school land and included a wooden gate which on the occasion of very hot days would allow us as a group of schoolchildren to have the occasional lesson with our teacher in one of the gladed area’s within the woods. Its just a shame that the choice of barrier had to be concrete and the awful blue railings. At least that is the only area affected as the original railings and the main gate with the ‘Coldfall Woods’ sign look much more attractive and inviting.

We also thought all the information posters were very helpful and were a great testament to all the hard work and enthusiasm that the band of willing helpers must put in to keep the area so natural and unspoilt. It was also amazing to see how many other people were around in the woods when we visited – considering it was a weekday morning – I honestly don’t think in all the years I regularly spent time there I ever encountered as many people in the same period of time. Again it must be a sound testimony that others find the experience a safe and enjoyable one, as in this day and age we all need quiet and pleasant spaces to relax and ensure inner peace.

We certainly will be back to visit again in the future. Well done to the avid team who keep the woods looking so good.

Jenny Morris

Dear Friends of Coldfall Wood,

What an absolute delight it was to discover your wonderful website and valuable organisation, dedicated to the preservation and enhancement of a unique and valuable piece of woodland that was for many years a significant part of my childhood. My maternal Grandfather, Edward Hipwell ‘Ned’ was head keeper of the wood for a number of decades from the 1940’s to the 1970’s and for all that time lived with my grandmother in ‘The Lodge’ deep down in the woods below Creighton Avenue.

I spent many a weekend running wild in the woods, as children were able to do in the 1960’s and 70’s. It was always a mystery to me, even as a child, how a dusty busy capital city such as London could offer such a tranquil and rural oasis, where, even outside of the wood, the pavements were pink and the people so polite.

I have many memories of my frequent visits not least of which was the incredibly steep path that led from the black gates fronting Creighton Avenue vertically down to the house and I recall opening the gate at the bottom and bravely riding the scooter at breakneck speed down the vast approach, through the gate, across the rear of the house and the greenhouse and out the other side, through the security gate and into the wood, beyond the public toilet block, finally coming to rest alongside a stream. I used to have timed races with my cousin to see which of us was faster.

Often, at dusk, I’d accompany my Grandfather with a large bunch of keys and help ring the bell and then lock up the Woods for the night. My overriding memory was the smell of the damp wood that mercilessly percolated The Lodge such that everything smelt and felt damp in their little house. Condensation would pour down the satin walls of the kitchen as my Grandmother prepared the Sunday roast, and I was often tearful of the suffering of both my Grandparents in that cold damp abode which affected their severe arthritis as they advanced in age, but at the same time it was, for them, a piece of Ireland from whence they came and for us a happy home filled with love and laughter and a lot of Irish music and dancing.

There were occasions when, as children, we’d be invited by the owner of the neighbouring property, one elderly but erudite ‘Mr Spring’, to visit his garden and be introduced to his wonderful flowers and trees and we’d hunt for the wildlife which had made a home in his garden. Yet it was those playful afternoons of utter freedom, left alone in Coldfall Wood to investigate nature, as a child ought to be able to do that stays with me forever. Climbing trees was a favourite pastime of mine, as was floating paper boats on the fast-flowing stream. Memories…

Coldfall Wood was a significant part of my early life and I am delighted to see it is well preserved and much improved.

Thank you.

Mrs Frances Wilshere

19 Replies to “Memories of Coldfall Wood”

  1. I have only just stumbled upon your website and reading the previous story by Mrs Frances Wilshere about the enjoyable times she spent running freely around Coldfall Woods, I felt I just ought to add my comments too! As a child growing up on the local estate (I attended Coldfall Infants & Junior School and William Grimshaw Secondary Modern between the years 1957 – 1968) my sister, friends and myself spent so many happy hours playing in the wood and learning about nature. I always had a yearning to live in the country and felt very close to nature having such wonderful provision on my doorstep and as per the previous comments it was safe to stay for hours enjoying the peace and quiet within such a green and pleasant area. Together with my husband I have recently been planning a trip down ‘memory lane’ back to Muswell Hill to visit my old haunts, but had wondered how Coldfall Wood would look now – I’m so pleased that other people are enjoying its delights and that a dedicated group of people are looking after its wonderful attributes for others to continue enjoying such lovely surroundings in such a busy area of London.

    Jenny Morris

  2. Does anyone remember Miss Evans in the Juniors of Coldfall
    school in the 60’s, Jenny Morris whats your maiden name? send me an email please I ‘d love to chat to people from the old days
    I lived on the Estate to

    1. I remember Miss Evans! a tall, thin old school ma’am type with a bun? am I right?
      i pulled her desk drawer out and she fell over poor thing,
      i also went to the old infants then juniors after that Sir William Grimshaw, one of my brothers went to Tetherdown Grammer School (Nigel Luke), my other brothers went to SWG, Ricky, David, John Withall, we lived at no 3 Hill Rd, played in the woods and the park but the woods were where we had the most fun.
      I was searching for old school photos and came across this site, does anyone remember me?

  3. Reading this small collection of memories reminds me of the time my maternal grandfather was the school keeper at either coldfall school or Grimshaw (for the life of me I cannot remember, but it was certainly one or the other, or both) approximately from the mid ’50s to mid ’60s. His name was Bill Dyson and I recall that he and his wife lived on the school grounds, or immediately adjacent, as we used to walk around the school grounds prior to locking up for the night.

  4. I have wonderful memories of Coldfsll woods as I lived opposite in Ringwood Avenue , some one mentioned the glades and that brought back my visits to the woods , I was at school at WG from 1957 till I left at 16 , Philip Start

  5. My wife Brenda Acaster nee Duke remembered Coldfall woods her great Grandfather was a keeper/Gardner there. Anybody who remembers Breda please give me a email. Brenda DUKE 1942 -2014 Thanks Tony.

    1. I lived in Marriot Road from 1953 to 1967 and went to Coldfall Primary school and William Grimshaw. I spent a lot of happy times in Coldfall woods, must come back to visit again soon.

  6. I lived at 19,Hill Road from 1940 until about 1948 when we moved to Springfield Avenue, next to Ally Pally.
    I attended Coldfall School untill 1945 when I passed the 11 plus and went to Tolly grammar.
    Coldfall Woods played a major roll in our young lives. My friends and I spent virtually all day there, chasing round as cowboys and indians. Building dams in the streams was also one of our main occupations. Allowing the water to build up behind our clay structures and then finally knocking the clay wall aside and following the resulting flood through the woods.
    During the war the woods were used by the army,on occasions, for field exercises, and us kids thought this was great fun and we were tolerated quite well by the soldiers. We also used to hunt for the German “Butterfly” anti-personnel bombs, thank goodness we never found any! In those days everybody knew everybody else on the estate, and I had some good friends who all enjoyed our woods. My particular plymate was Derek Williams who lived at the top of Steeds Road. We had our special “camp” in the woods and spent endless hours plying there. In the winter there were steep places within the woods where our homemade taboggans were put to good use.
    Although I now live in the West Midlands, i still visit our beloved woods when i come down to see my 2 sons who live and work in London.

  7. I lived on Coldfall Estate between 1953 and 1967 and went to Coldfall Junior School and Willy Grimshaw. It would be be nice to meet up with people again from that period. I already have regular contact with one person who lives near me in Bedfordshire. but would be nice to meet a few more old school friends. Thanks to my Sister we had a reunion at Coldfall Junior about 3 years ago.

  8. Hello

    I went to Willy Grimms in 1962..not my best memories in life . I found the woods dark and a bit scary with a terrible toilet block on the right as you went in ! I lived in Tetherdown and was around when the school amalgamated with Tollington.

  9. I think the teacher described above is Miss Dodds, who always taught the oldest juniors. She had a bun and always wore suits with a peplum, from a bygone age! She retired half way though my final year (64-65), and was replaced by a lovely lady who treated us as much more grown up and took us on a memorable trip to Rye and Winchelsea. I also remember Coldfall Woods with great affection too – shame today’s kids probably don’t have the freedom we had to roam, build dens etc. In later years I discovered I knew more about nature than many country children, because we were surrounded on the Coldfall Estate by such great woods and parks.

  10. I have so many happy memories of Coldfall Woods. I lived in Coldfall Avenue and went to Coldfall school in the 1940’s and then onto William Grimshaw. So many carefree weekends and School holidays playing in the woods. I remember at one time there some sort of dump along side the woods. It was a no go area but some boys did venture in looking for treasure. At the bottom of the playground of Coldfall School there was a place we called dingily-dell where we made a camp a bottle of water and a jam buttie and we’d be in heaven. I can never remember any vandalism. In later years my husband and I would walk our dog
    round the woods asking her to be good and not to chase the squirrels. These happy memories of Coldfall
    Woods brings a smile to my heart.

  11. I attended Coldfall school 1948 to 1954 Head Master Mr Jagger. Teachers Mr Roe (spelling?) Miss Barker. Teachers and pupils, so many in my mind’s eye but forgotten in name. Let me see…School fellows; Michael Dovey, ‘Ossie’ Austen, Maidment, Davies. The ‘Home Boys’ at the end of Coldfall avenue who attended the school. The ice lolly van at the school gates. School milk in crates. School dinners. The ‘House’ you were assigned to. Frobisher, Raleigh, Hudson (was it!). Who else can remember those days? And of course the natural world of the woods on the school perimeter.

  12. All of our family went to Coldfall school, and Evie and Christina went to both William Grimshaw and Creighton School, as it was then known. My sister, Evie Jeronymides died on 2nd May 2017 from Cancer.
    She was looking for old friends from school last Summer, but Friends Reunited had already closed and I have only just found this site, that mentions Coldfall and Willie Grim.

    Evie’s funeral is tomorrow at St. Pancras and Islington Cemetary, in Islington burial Chapell at 10.00 am.
    We enjoyed and walks in Highgate Woods, a very pretty wood, it is too.
    Evie’s wake is in Colney Hatch Lane, what used to be our family home.
    All the best to you all.

    Anna Jeronymides


    1. I read through this site with my own memories, then seeing the last post…Bless you. x
      I was 32 Hill road then moved to 17 Steeds.
      Wish you all well.
      I loved those woods. Right on our doorstep. Great days.

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