Community focus: Welham Green and Colney Heath

PUBLISHED: 12:24 24 August 2011 | UPDATED: 19:53 20 February 2013

Stone plinth marking the spot where balloonist Vincenzo landed

Stone plinth marking the spot where balloonist Vincenzo landed

From an historic link to a balloon flight to a strong sense of community, Welham Green and Colney Heath, both just south of Hatfield, have a lot to shout about...

French connections

In 1982 the Colney Heath/Boissy-sous-St-Yon Twinning Association was formed to foster links between the Hertfordshire village and the two French villages of Boissy-sous-St-Yon and St Yon, which lie 20 miles south of Paris.

Ed Pizzey, who moved to Colney Heath with his wife Sandy in 1971, is chairman of the association and the couple have been involved since the twinning was forged 29 years ago. My wife went on the first trip to Boissy, he explains, and the following year her host family came to us. Every year there is a weekend visit, either to England or France, and we always stay with the same host family, who we have now known for 12 years.

Asked what he enjoys most about belonging to the association, Ed says, There are two sides to it the social side in England, with a number of events through the year such as quizzes and darts nights, and its also nice to have French friends who have a different outlook on life.

There are currently about 30 families actively involved with The Colney Heath/Boissy-sous-St-Yon Twinning Association. We are always keen to have new members, says Ed, who describes Colney Heath as well defined as a village.

Ed explains that becoming a member of the association provides a good opportunity for people to get to know France much better than you can as a tourist, and that there is no need to worry if you cannot speak French.

As it was Colney Heaths turn to play host to its French visitors in May this year, next year there will be a trip to Boissy-sous-St-Yon.

For more information about the association, visit

Social life

AT the heart of village life in Welham Green is the North Mymms Youth and Community Centre in Station Road, which opened in 1975 as a venue for local organisations to use.

The centre was paid for after many years of fundraising, which started in the 1960s after a number of residents and the then vicar of North Mymms, the Rev Barry Tunstall, set up a committee of volunteers.

The centre, which still runs as a registered charity with a voluntary management committee made up of villagers, is home to a youth club, a nursery school and a number of privately-run classes such as judo.

Ann Matthews has been on the centres management committee for more than 30 years and explains, The committee helps to run the centre and, although we get some help from county, we hold events to raise funds to keep the centre running, such as jumble sales and quiz nights. A fundraising jumble sale will be held at the centre between 10am and noon on September 3.

Speaking about Welham Green itself, Ann says, It used to be a tiny village and now its expanded. I have seen so many changes but I wouldnt want to move away. I think it has a good sense of community and, if you like village life, its the ideal sort of life.

Childrens care

TREASURE Tots Pre-school in Colney Heath was established in 2004 and is run by Colney Heath Parish Council.

The community pre-school has six staff and, with the capacity to cater for 34 children aged two to five, currently has 26 children on its books. We cater for local people and we have been steadily increasing numbers, explains the clerk of the parish council and the treasurer of the pre-school.

The outside play area overlooks a 70-acre common, which is part of the Watling Chase Community Forest an area of 72 square miles in South Hertfordshire and North London, which is one of 12 community forests in England and was set up in 1991.

Colney Heath has about 3500 residents, a village hall, a football club and a number of pubs, explains the clerk. Its made up of several little pockets and it has very much a village feel to it.

Famous for.

PERHAPS Welham Green is most famous for being the first landing point for balloonist Vincenzo Lunardi in 1784, when he made history with the first hot air balloon flight in England.

In the centre of the village, at the junction of Huggins Lane and Parsonage Lane, there is a stone plinth which marks the landing spot, now known as Balloon Corner.

The text on the plinth reads, Having handed out a cat and dog, the partners of his flight from London, he re-ascended and continued north eastward. However, it is now known that the dog actually continued the journey with Lunardi. Apparently, Lunardi landed prematurely to hand over the cat, which was travel sick, to be cared for by a local woman, before continuing his trip and landing in a field in Standon Green End, north of Ware.

As well as Balloon Corner, the flight is also documented with the naming of Vincenzo Close in the village.

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