86 years Young from Harlow

John Deller

JOHN Deller, 86, was born in a farm labourer’s cottage in an agriculture area in West Essex, which we now know as Harlow. His father worked on the land and he recalls summers of the potato harvest and pea picking.

In 1935 the family moved into a council house in Potter St and he attended a local Church of England school. There was no street lighting and he and his friends played in nearby fields and swam in the local river. They went to Epping on the bus to shop.

John left school at 14 and started work with a local carpenter but at 18 he was called up for National Service and sent to Egypt and didn’t return home for several years.

Whilst away he was very excited to receive a letter from home with the news that his street now had street lighting. This was the result of the facilities and conveniences being bestowed on the New Town Of Harlow. Harlow New town is the result of plans drawn up by Sir Frederick Gibberd following the 1947 New Towns Act to relieve the overcrowding in London after the devastation of the Blitz.

John returned after his National Service to find much more opportunity. He married and was quickly given a council house in Potter St. He was pleased the housing areas were all called after the small villages that had existed before the development. The rapid building meant there was a new range of work available and John started with the council supervising building works and then became interested in civil engineering. He stayed in this role until his retirement in his 60’s.

John commented on the changes and said’ everything was better, the schools and the shops. It was nothing like the old days and the changes gave me a different kind of career, one that I couldn’t have expected in my childhood’ .

John kept the love of swimming he had embraced as a child playing in the rivers and said that the development of proper swimming pools has been one of the most exciting features.



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Trudy Harper

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