Arlesey Pitts , the Sandies , and the Blue Pond.


 The Mill Pitts

Arlesey Mill Pits Wall

Arlesey Mill Pits bridge
Sand was dug out of this pit and a convoy of  lorries took it to Henlow Aggregates were it was sorted and refined. The lorry drivers used to take us kids to the Sand works on the main road to Henlow and back for a ride . I remember getting thrown all over the place on the very rough tracks. Old man Carlisle would soon come and chase you off of the Sandies if you strayed off the footpath  . But we still used to swim in there when we could get away will it. The kids used to say that he shot at us in the late 50’s early sixties , but I’m not sure about that . Ducks and Coots used to nest there on the little sandy islands.The Sandies was situated after the second Mill pitts bridge as if you were walking towards Henlow Camp.It is all filled in now. I was told that the Sandies was actually brimming with fish in the 70’s when some locals stocked it with fish.
Arlesey Pitts . or the Blue and the Green Lagoon.


Green Lagoon

arlesey pitt before it filled with water


blue lagoon blue lagoon2


Internet grab for Andy Blue Lagoon, Arlesey, Beds

I have a whole blogg on Arlesey Cement Works which is integral to the Blue Lagoon and the Green Pit. This company made these pits by digging out trucks of clay with a steam excavator , then cable pulling them down to the Cement Works. My great Granddad big Jim Allen , my grandad Herbert Allen , and Great Uncle Ranjisinghi Allen worked there until it closed in the 30’s.My Aunty Jean Allen (Hazel) Crawley used to ride up to the Blue Lagoon on the empty clay trucks after taking Ranji his lunch down the Cement works. I recently interviewed her when I was writing a blogg about Great Uncle Ranji Allen. She told some great stories about the Sunday Angel weekday devil.Fred Vass also told me if there was an empty Cement Works truck left on the tracks , the local boys used to take turns riding in it while the others pushed it up and down the tracks to Arlesey Pitt. The clay was dug out of the green Pitt by hand and they were lots of Arlesey  Pitt workers locked in the Picking position unable to straighten their backs.When I was a boy loads of village people used to swim in there. I swam across at least half a dozen times. There used to be a really warm section of water and it was lovely swimming in that , then you would come across an ice cold section , I think this could have caused much stronger swimmers than me to be drowned up there. I only used to almost float then hardly use any energy at all to propel myself across when it was dead calm on red hot days. I used to get a mate to come across with me on my lilo incase I got cramp. Loads of Young Americans from Chicksands used to swim up there. They arrived in the MGB sports car with loads of cans of beer. They threw the beer in the Pit to keep cool the stripped off and started swimming. We were too young to drink in those days 1967.
Portland Silo , Old Cement Works
During war the site  which included the Old Cement Works was used for munitions  Storage and an Italian Prisoner of War Camp.This included an Old Silo , and when the old silo was finally dismantled for development the bomb disposal squad was called in to make the area safe. I think the railway Lines between Hitchin and Arlesey  Counties was shut for days. The ordinance was taken to the Lagoons to destroy and frequent explosions could be heard from the village. It took three months to make the area safe. The site was developed for industrial units and was called the Portland Industrial Estate. The area where the silo stood has since been renamed The Crossways Estate.During the War the Army used the Pitt as a firing range. Targets were put on rafts in the water.

Arlesey blue lagoon jib smoking chimney

The wife Carol Lombari
The Blue Pond
This was really good for fishing , even I used to be able to pull fish out of there. This was situated in the middle of the village over the tip and when you got to the brickyard you went down the track to the left of it , parallel to the Railway lines. It had some steep banks and I remember a young girl sliding in , she went under 3 times before an older boy Jim Bowskill (JUBILEE CRESCENT)held the other end of his fishing rod over her. She managed to grab it , and they pulled her out. I don’t know if she ever told her mum how she got wet. I’m sure I used to go potato picking with my mum in the fields around there. Course this is filled in as well now. I remember Don Clegg “Tuby” being the tractor driver. When I John Hayes was a lad Tubby Cleg used to work for Farmer Webb,John used to work in the farm with Dennis Hughes on Saturdays and Tubby used to let them  plough with the tractor. They also used to clean out the pigs and go muck spreading as well. The farmer that had these fields could have been Lionel Walker , Jim Webb or Wilson. There were loads of farmers in those days. I have another blogg about working on the land in Arlesey from the 40’s onwards.

2 thoughts on “Arlesey Pitts , the Sandies , and the Blue Pond.

  1. Hi Clive, Great bit of local history, I remember all of the places you have mentioned including the silo, I use to go down there with the Sharman’s John & Peter and our goal was to climb the middle peak and onto the cut off internal metal ladder and onto the top. We borrowed a builders ladder (one of Mr Judges I think) and one of us climbed up to the bottom of the cut off metal ladder and tied them together, this was done while balancing on top of the middle peak with the rest of the gang hanging on to the ladder, we all made it to the top that day. We returned the ladder under cover of darkness but were never lucky to get another one again.

    I also remember with great fondness working on Saturday’s down at Old Farmer Webb’s farm (he was getting really old by then), like in your blog Tubby use to let Dennis and I do a bit of ploughing and also the muck spreading, we also use to do the potato picking, loading the sacks onto the trailer then into the old barn at the farm. We would then bag them up on the scales load them onto old Farmer Webb’s brown Austin truck and we would sell them door to door around the local villages on the Saturday’s as well, at the end of the day’s work after we had tided up we would knock on his back door for our pay, he would give each of us a little brown envelope pay-packet with all of out jobs done, with how much we had earned. we were rich for a day or so.

    I saved most of my money so that I could travel to Ostend in Belgium on Whitson week with a football team with my old school chum Sid Page and others in the village, I use to visit a house down near to Cuthbert’s the hairdresser in the high street ( I can’t remember their names, two Brothers) I then got a morning and evening paper round at Thorpe’s in the high street for the weeks spending money, I also marked up all of the comic’s for the next weeks paperboys to deliver, I got to read all of them before any of the village kids did on delivery day.

    We were living in Lymans road up the top and I can remember the really bad winter snow we had in 1962 – 63 we were able to walk on top of the snow drifts all the way to Etonbury School boy was it really cold then. My Uncle Bernard Kitchener had a contract with the council to grit the roads with his lorry and when he was out gritting he use to come through the village the policy then was to only grit the main road, on these trips he would always call at our house for a cup of tea from Mum, funny that Lymans road was never snow bound for long!!!!!!!

    Ahhhh Happy Days


  2. There is a whole lot more on all these lakes Clive and one day I will write a piece on my knowledge of all the lakes in Arlesey, but in particular Arlesey lake as I pretty much spent more of my time there than in my mum and dads house during my childhood and certainly early adult life. Peter “Joker” Neal, was indeed the bailiff at Arlesey lake and they lived in squaller at that house. I am not sure they even had sewers as the stream that ran through at the side of the house was quite discoloured with the distinctive orange look. Hitchin and District Angling association had the fishing rights to Arlesey lake for most of the time and after Peter Neal left they held an annual fishing match in his honour for all his work. The Peter Neal Cup. The Cree’s did in fact renovate the old house and there is still lots of resentment from the anglers who fished there, over his interference and ridiculous behaviour there, after Lionel Walker died. Both of those brothers came close to assasination, I can tell you. That tosser that built that so called grand design monstrosity, also made life difficult not to mention assasinating Arlesey’s most beautiful asset, the magnificent, drop dead gorgeous Arlesey Lake. Where’s a gun when you need one. John Allen.


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