Anyway I have finally got to Arlesey Lake.
Arlesey LakeArlesey lake was an old clay pit situated on Etonbury farm at the Church end of Arlesey,
originally dug out by hand for the lovely clay to make bricks, it was a superb place to visit for local walkers
and anglers alike.It was roughly oval in shape with crystal clear water. At the end of the lake
where the house was, there were old tree stumps sticking out of the water, this area
was known as “the logs”. It was a deep pit containing many species of fish, carp, tench,
bream and big eels lived in there. Good perch were in there along with one or two
large European catfish (Wels). The lake first came to prominence in the angling world in the
decade after the second world war. In those days the lake was very deep, through Karl Franklin’s research I’ve found it may have been up to 55 feet in places, taking up an area of around 15 acres. Sadly, Arlesey lake is not what it was, having been filled in to the extent
that it unrecognisable as the beautiful water Karl first fished as a 9 year old child in the 1970’s
Pete” Joker “Neal’s House then the Crees lived there.
This was house was built by Eastmans Brick Company , for the pitt manager. It was a Lake by the time I was born. I was left with my Nan and Granddad in the school holidays when my mum went to work at the Spirella in Letchworth. That is how I first went up the Lake with Granddad taking his dog Bob for a walk There were brick tunnels up there that the kids used to play in . I am a bit claustrophobic so I didn’t go in . I did go in the tunnel under the Silo up Jubilee Crescent when there was ammunition to be had. I hope this ammunition had been made safe. That’s why it used to be shipped to the Old Cement Works . I don’t remember seeing many fishermen at the Lake during the week in those days. They probably only had 2 weeks paid holiday in the summer in the late 50′s (paid holiday only started in the thirties). I remember Granddad encouraging Bob to go into the Lake .I think that’s is how they used to wash their dogs in those times . When Bob came out he was bleeding , we reckon a Pike had had a go at him. Lionel Walker owned the fields around the Lake , but he never did anything with the Lake.
Karl tells me this is all that is left of the lake and its now only four feet deep.Photos taken from google earth .I see a second house near Dove lakehouse.It has been demolished now.But to be fair the photos were taken 2009 so they are 4 years out of date.
When I went round the block from St Peters Ave with Granddad first we came to The Labour Exchange next to The Steam Engine , then Roberts the Jewelers/Watch repairer , then Lattimers/shop/ Blands coal merchants turned left into Stotfold Road and got his pension from the Stotfold road Post Office. Carried on walking across the House Lane Junction. He then had his hair cut at Rainbows on the corner , before buying some fags at the Coop before getting home to a brew. I saw Fred Vass today he is in his eighties , he told me when he was a boy he remembered a bloke from Hitchin drowning in Arlesey lake and drivers had to be called in to retrieve the body.
I read whilst doing my research That Mrs Kneads used to keep pigs up the Lake before Pete Joker.She was friends with my nan Polly Allen who lived at No2 St peters. I remember as a boy she lived in the house next to Timberlakes ,where the little detached bungalow is now . After she died her house was knocked down before it had been cleared out .In the garden there was A BIG METAL CHEST with old 78 records in and an old gramophone player.They had a bonfire in the garden burning all her clothes and wooden furniture.Shame I suppose she didn’t have any family .I picked up some more info today , I was reminded of the Baliff Pete Joker , and his mum. He and his mum were real characters , they used to go round on a horse and cart from house to house collecting old food for his pigs in the 50′s and sixties . They lived in the house up the lake , which had no electricity , so they tied a rope from the house to the outside toilet so they could find their way in the dark. I think Pete finished his days selling newspapers in Hitchin. Cree rented the house off of Lionel Walker and did it all up , and took over as Baliff . he I believe was the first one to stop people walking round the lake. One of the baliffs had a L/Rover defender pick up with no exhaust and is recorded in local newspapers for causing quite a disturbance getting drunk and a group of them charged round the lake in his noisy motor shooting rabbits and anything that moved. Even while there was night fishing going on ,jinxie’s umbrella got peppered one night as he was behind where he was shooting. Its why the baliff banned night fishing on the lake.
A couple of my uncles after drinking in the Old Oak pub one night , thought dumping a three wheeler car in the Lake to get rid of it , sounded a good idea.So after their session they went back to 2, St Peters Ave and pushed it all the way up to the lake, and then into it. I think uncle George and uncle Jim had some accomplices Mick Allen.Maybe I am guessing Dixie .The Doodlebug had a motorbike engine in it. A BSA 650 cc , uncle Jim I am told swapped this one for his motorbike and sidecar engine.They filled the doodle bug up with heavy rubbish , and three of them pushed it into the lake with young Mick steering it. Instead of sinking it floated around for ages.They hand to paddle in, wind down the windows, and open the doors before it started going down .The next day one of the anglers reported seeing a car in the Lake and the police had to investigate. It was a costly mistake for uncle George to make after drinking and in the cold light of day.The police prosecuted him for fly tipping and made him pay for the salvage and transportation charges!
Aunty June Allen who lived down the Rally when it was first built( end of the fifties 59?)
Councillor David Beatham and wife Penny the ones who had the Lake filled in.And had a demolition order put on the second house he had built up the Lake.
.Planning permission had been turned down repeatedly for the Beatham’s to build a house up the lake.In another ground-breaking move, the house’s architectural significance led to it being one of the first houses in the country to be granted planning permission through special dispensation in 1999 under the auspices of PPG7 — a government initiative to promote the design and construction of exemplary country houses. Surely this was to improve the looks of the village then he sold the house before it was built and almost completely filled in the lake .That seems criminal to me , then Arlesey Councillor Beatham built another house up there without planning permission.Mid Beds put a demolition order on it , Beatham took them to the high court and lost the case.He then sold up and moved.I contacted Penny Beatham on facebook and asked her to give her side of the story , but she didn’t respond.
It must b gut wrenching tho to go thro all the emotions of a build , and the stress ,after having 3 extensions done , and extortionate expense.Always a lot more than you have budgeted for , then to have to lay out more money to have it demolished. I am not completely heartless , BUT AGREED WITH CENTRAL BEDS! IT HAD TO BE DEMOLISHED