Hainault Forest Website

Written, Designed and with Photographs by Brian Ecott

Social History

 Olive Galpin


Olive Galpin  2nd September 2007.

       Olive Boultwood was born in Hackney in 1929. The family moved to Leytonstone and little Olive walked with her dad all the way to Hainault Forest and back where she would go round the lake and also visit the animals. In those days boys and girls went to separate schools and Olive's school at Leytonstone was well equipped to teach her the skills of domestic science. One room was set out as a bedroom where the girls would learn to make beds, another was a dining room where they learnt to lay table. There was a kitchen to learn culinary skills and cooking, and a craft room equipped with sewing machines and looms. Olive's mum made her take piano lessons at which she became very proficient, passing a series of examinations. She was later to teach piano together with her mother.


Her father was employed at Henry Hughes factory in New North Road, Hainault, as a Scientific Instrument Maker. War came in 1939 and Leytonstone suffered much bombing and war damage. As many of Henry Hughes's workers came from Leytonstone and Stratford the firm bought houses in Dryden Close, Hainault and those adjacent in New North Road for their employees. The Boultwood family moved into one of the houses in New North Road in 1940 which was still under construction and cooking was done on a Valour paraffin stove until the electricity was connected. At 11 years old Olive had passed her scholarship exam and was hoping to go to school at Wanstead, but as the whole school had been evacuated she ended up at Fairlop Girls School in Fencepiece Road, Hainault. Due to rationing and wartime conditions lessons were poor - the able teachers were drafted into the armed services and allied professions, books, paper and materials were sparse.


Berkeley Cottage, Lambourne End.



Frank crop spraying on Harmes Farm in the sixties using a Ferguson TEF 4 cylinder diesel tractor.

It was at Fairlop School that Olive first met Frank Galpin. He spent most of his time evacuated on a farm on the shores of Ullswater in Cumberland ( now Cumbria) where he developed a passion for all things associated with the countryside - farming, hunting and shooting. He occasionally put in an appearance at Fairlop Boys School when he came home to visit the family and left school at 14. The Hainault Residents Association was formed after the war and met at Limehouse pavilion which was attached to a sports field adjacent to Penrith Road. The pavilion and sports field were later built upon forming Wickets Way and Trentbridge Close. The Residents Association held socials and dances there on Thursday nights and it was here that Olive and Frank got to know each other. They were married at All Saints Church, Chigwell Row in 1952.


Frank had a job at Mr George Smith's Harmes Farm, Lambourne End, and the couple moved to a dilapidated weather-boarded cottage known as Berkeley Cottage alongside the Beehive pub (now The Camelot). It was rat infested and took several months to get it habitable. There was no bathroom and the outside toilet was a chemical one which had to be emptied daily. There was gas lighting but no electricity until 1955. The telephone had reached the pub so a line was connected to the cottage. The cottage was known as a tied cottage meaning that it went with the farm job. Being a farm labourer was no easy task, being long hours especially at Harvest time when the cereal crops and hay were gathered. Harmes Farm was a mixed arable and cattle farm with geese and chickens. Cows were milked by hand morning and evening making it a 6  day week which included Bank Holidays and Christmas. Sunday afternoons were free as the farmer did the milking. Frank often grazed the cattle on the Common in the sixties. The 26 bus came a few times a day and terminated at the Beehive. On Sundays the 101 bus also brought people to the forest from North Woolwich. Olive and Frank were able to sell Dahlias, Sweet peas, fresh eggs and rabbits to visitors. The 150 bus was later to replace the 26 bus to  Lambourne End when the road was lowered under Hainault Station to allow double-decker buses to pass down New North Road.





Pictured left: London Transport bus (RT 4728)  Route 150 at Lambourne End outside The Camelot (The Beehive) in 1977.


Copyright JOHN PARKIN and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

From their window at Berkeley Cottage they would often see the Essex Hunt with the red-coated huntsmen and the foxhounds passing through the fields at the back of the cottage. Beagles were used for hunting hares and the huntsmen would be on foot and were dressed in bottle-green. For their children Alan and Janet Hainault Forest was just across the road and Olive would  often take them there to visit the animals and to picnic. They also spent much of their childhood on Harmes Farm. Their first school was Chigwell Road school opposite the Common and they walked to and fro each day. The cottage was in need of much structural repair by the landlord, and because of the dampness the children were often ill and eventually in 1969 the family moved to a cottage further along the road which to the delight and fascination of the children had an inside bathroom and flush toilet! Unfortunately with Frank's wages from the farm the move brought financial difficulties.




Janet in 1963 on the grassland at Foxburrows. The new surfaced path can be seen going up Cabin Hill.




Janet and Alan visit the animals 1963.

It was then that Bill Harvey, a friend of the family, who worked on the Hainault Forest Golf Course mentioned to Frank that a job was available as a tractor driver. Frank applied and was interviewed at the Greater London Council  headquarters at County Hall in London and in 1970 got the job at a higher rate of pay than he had received on the farm. He was employed to cut the grass on 50 acres, the Golf course, Foxburrows Farm and the Common which he did until he retired. For many years, until his death in 2002 he ran and maintained the local shoot which focussed primarily on reared pheasants, although pigeons, foxes and Canada geese would also be culled.

Frank with his Springer spaniels on Fifty acres which was part of Hainault Forest.