”A notice in Wood’s, the village shop, an abandoned chicken shed, a rickety old VW bus and a small enthusiastic band of mums and dads: these were the beginnings of the pioneering, parent-run Hartfield Playschool in 1965. Our dads cleaned and decorated the building, constructed climbing frames and tunnelled holes through hilocks…..mums collected children from outlying farms and organised a voluntary mother rota to support a paid supervisor.
Older villagers did not always understand the creative purpose of the Playschool movement. There was suspicion of “newcomers” too and some heated emotional meetings with the Parish Council.
The Playschool’s success led to the need for a new home of its own. Consequently a major fundraising drive brought such stars as Joyce Grenfell, Clement Freud, Denis Healey and Patrick Moore to Hartfield. They gave their time for a series of “Any Questions?” evenings. Concerts were held at Old Buckhurst. The Oast House in The Anchor car park became one of the first charity clothes shops in Sussex. It was thanks to the late Capt. Armstrong, that enough money was raised, eventually, to buy the derelict railway station for a sum of £2,500.00, which was triumphantly opened in 1973 by Jenny Agutter, star of The Railway Children”
The memories of Shirley Harrison, one of the founding mums.