Cold Comfort & Happy Land

  • 21 Oct 2021
  • Old Roads
  • Back

In the mid-19th century popular names had a habit of sticking. 'Cold Comfort' was the name given to a group of cottages in Church Walk (later School Walk) off Tybridge Street. The name was not official but popular, and like Hungerpit Wlk, off Ombersley Road, was thought to have been due to poor soil or absence of amenities. Cold Comfort and Hungry Harbour or Hungerpit are almost as common as Love's Grove. The names were descriptive, but times change. Love's Grove, off Castle Street, is no longer suggestive of a grove or a lover's lane.

The most interesting of the popular names is 'Happy Land'. In the 1850's an enterprising Worcester family, the three Watkin's brothers, which included a solicitor, a surveyor and an auctioneer, secured for building purposes, land fronting to the Bromyard Road, which was first exploited as a sand and gravel pit. It proved so profitable as to be popularly compared with the then newly opened gold deposits in California, and was in fact called California by people in that area. Subsequently, this was changed to 'Happy Land', suggested according to tradition by the old doggerel:

                                                                          'Gornal is a happy land,                                                                                        Breaking stones and wheeling sand, Far far away'.

The name stuck and the brothers built an esate on the site. When the streets were named they were called 'Happy Land North', 'Happy Land West'  etc . No one deliberately chose it, but everyone used it. When the land became covered with houses and obtained the inevitable corner pub, its names commemorated the origin of the colony with the title, the 'Sand-pits Inn'.