Family pay tribute to former Herts Ad switchboard operator from St Albans

Ivy Cottenden.

Ivy Cottenden. - Credit: Archant

A woman who worked as a Herts Ad telephone switchboard operator in the 1960s has died at the age of 97.

Ivy Cottenden, who died last week, was born in London on November 30, 1919. She moved to St Albans in 1928 when her father came to work for the Ancient Order of Foresters Friendly Society.

She attended Alma Road School before winning two scholarships at age 11, one to St Albans High School and one to The St Albans Central School, which no longer exists. She chose the latter and made friends who she kept in touch with for the rest of her life.

When Ivy left school she took two exams, intending to join the civil service, but instead chose to join PO Telephonists in London after seeing an advert.

She went to London on her own and started work at the Museum Exchange in Chenies Street off Tottenham Court road, before transferrin to the much smaller St Albans Exchange after a year.

In the Second World War, Ivy had to work long hours, sometimes wearing a gas mask and letting others know when there was going to be an air raid. During this time she met her future husband, Stanley Charles Cottenden, who was a telephone operator. They married in 1947 and Ivy had to leave the exchange as they did not employ married women.

When her husband died in 1965, Ivy applied to go back to the exchange but was told she would have to start from the bottom, so turned it down. She worked as a receptionist and telephonist at the Campfield Press but found it too quiet, so took a job at the Herts Advertiser in 1966 or 1967.

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She worked as a telephone switchboard operator at the paper for 15 years, a job which her family say she loved.

In her spare time, Ivy took part in evening classes including flower-arranging, dressmaking and keep fit. She also travelled to Canada, New Zealand and the USA to visit friends and relatives.

Ivy suffered a fall last week and died in Watford General Hospital from a heart attack.

Her niece Patricia Jeffcott said: “She lived a very full life all of her 97 years and was looking forward to being 98 on 30th November. Sadly this was not to be.”