West Watford History Group

History of West Watford

Farraline House and The Owen Family

Most people in West Watford, or Watford generally, will have heard of Farraline Road. This was originally part of Wiggenhall Road until 1898 after which it was named after Farraline House.  In the 1881 census it is described as "Farraline House, Watford Field" and in the 1882 directory as "Farraline, Colney Butts" but never as Farraline House, Farraline Road (although properties are listed as being in Farraline Road from 1900). Its position is best illustrated on the map below. It stood in the triangle between Vicarage Road, Farraline Road and Wiggenhall Road, where the current "roundabout" is, Vicarage Road at that time being terraced houses. 

 

 (Map courtesy of Old Maps www.old-maps.co.uk 1877)

 

The 1881 census shows only one person resident on the night, 77 year old Letitia Gardner, described as 'domestic servant in charge of the house'. The 1882 directory lists it under a 'Miss Smith'. In 1890 and 1895 the house is listed as Farraline, Vicarage Road, then in 1899, 1902 and 1908 as Farraline, Wiggenhall Road. In 1914 and 1917 as Farraline, Vicarage Road and in 1922 as Farraline, Wiggenhall Road again. Later entries may show different postal addresses.

Reginald Owen was an architect who moved south to head the newly formed architecture department of the L.N.W.R. One of his most distinguished works was the the War Memorial at Euston Station.  He and his family moved into Farraline House in 1917. The house itself is described at that time as having a day and night nursery, both upstairs. There was a large garden and a yard with a stable and stable loft, where the children played, and other outbuildings. The family had a nurse, a cook-general and a maid, as well as a nursery nurse who accompanied the family on holiday.  Milk was delivered by "Gussy, Bang-Bang", so-called because he rode a motorbike, although the milk was delivered by horse-drawn float. Behind Farraline House was a stationers owned by a well-known amateur footballer, a sweet shop owned by a blind man - Mr Ticknel -  and, opposite, a butcher who looked after the pets when the family were on holiday; the pets including bantams, chickens, cats and a black & white border collie called 'Bob'. Reginald Owen didn't own a car, but rode a bicycle with a cane sidecar (like a bath chair) in which his wife and sometimes the children, would ride. 

Mr Owen's mother died at the house in 1920 as did his wife in 1924, after which he and his three daughters moved away, to return to Watford some years later when the daughters attended Watford Grammar School for Girls. They then lived in a large house called "Stacey's" in Harwoods Road and then in a house called "Yeoveney"  In Alexandra Road. Members of the family are buried in Vicarage Road Cemetery. 

 Farraline House was demolished in 1960. 

 

Farraline House taken between 1917 and 1918 and showing Mr Owen's wife Nellie and two of his children.

 

 References:

The family history website of James Owen - http://owen.cholerton.org/home_02.php - from which are taken the majority of family details and photograph of the house and to which we are indebted. 

Hertfordshire Genealogy website:  http://www.hertfordshire-genealogy.co.uk/data/answers/answers-2005/ans5-028-farraline.htm 

Street and Place Names in Watford - Alan W Ball