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Amy Crockford MBE.  A Working Class Hero.

Amy Crockford was awarded the MBE in the 1977 new year's honours.

Amy Crockford's adventure playground was in St Neots Rd (often simply called Amy's). It was a magnet for many Harold Hill children for over 20 years. By the early nineties Amy was no longer with us and the playground was badly run-down and long unsupervised. The site was then sold off by the council to a housing assn and forty, semi detached houses for rent were built. (at that time Councils were prohibited from building new council homes by Thatcher government legislation, the only way to build new homes was via housing associations)

The money raised from the sale to the housing assn was then used to build a new playground, named after Amy, on the site next door, the old Harold Hill Football Club ground, which was no longer used formally. Another quarter of a million pounds of the money was used to build Harold Hill's first Bowls club (green and clubhouse) on the old Broxhill School site on the Noak Hill Rd.

Below a memoir by Dennis Cook, a long serving Labour Cllr representing Harold Hill on the Havering Council during the eighties and nineties and a 1956 cutting from a local newspaper in Texas USA ! discovered by Ken Hatfield.

                                                                                                                                                     Del Smith (2017)

I did not get to know Amy (opposite) until well after I was first elected to Havering Council in 1982, by then she was well into her seventies. The playground was in the neighbouring ward of Gooshays. So I only ran across her in relation to the playground after I was elected and appointed as the Leisure and Recreation representative for the Labour Group. After that she was a regular phone ringer often late at night, always fighting for the interest of the kids and the playground. When, after her death, they moved the playground to its present site, which was named after her and opened by the Mayor, there were grandparents, mothers and children present, each relating their happy memories of Amy and the playground.

Amy was large in both frame and life, she had a lovely singing voice. She was a lifetime member of the Labour Party and knew every verse of the Red Flag which we used to sing at the end of Labour Party events (happy days). Another memory I have of her is her ambushing Margret Thatcher in Amersham Road when Thatcher came to the Hill to celebrate the sale of the thousandth council house on Harold Hill (I’m not sure about the number)"

                                               Dennis Cook. 2014

 

One of the things that Amy Crockford did for the children in her charge was to have an annual pageant with a young girl being chosen as Adventure Playground Queen. This image shows Grace Davies as the APG Queen for 1958 along with her "court" among whom that year were Micky Philips, Jimmy Spicknell, David Evans and Yvonne Lingham..................................Don Tait.
Don Tate uncovered this old local newspaper cutting, It shows children on a steamroller and a tractor in the nearby Chatteris Ave playground. The play apparatus was very similar to that in Amy's adventure playground.