Daddies Sockets, Dickies Sockets!

The latest memories will be added in GREEN for easier identification.

I was born at 74 Theydon Street Walthamstow on August 7th 1946 to Mr. Alfred Herbert Dunn and Mrs. Florence Mary (nee Arnold) and Christened Richard. I have an elder brother John who was born in 1943. (I later discovered that had either of us been girls, we would have been called Maureen).

John and myself in back garden of 74 Theydon Street approx 1948

Although Christened Richard, most of the time I was called Dick. If ever I was called Richard, then I knew I was in trouble.

Theydon Street is on the boundary of Walthamstow and Leyton off Markhouse Road. It is one of many streets in Walthamstow that were owned by Warner Estates Ltd. of Hawarden Road. The whole area in this Southwest corner of Walthamstow, and some in Leyton consisted of properties called maisonettes or "half houses". Two completely separate dwellings, one up and one down (ours was down) with their own front and back doors, but sharing a garden. Above us lived Mr. George Williams (a local milkman) and his wife Violet. Vi used to do machining to earn a few extra coppers, and when she started her sewing machine, the noise in our back room was extremely loud. Mum would then declare "There goes old Vi on her donkey!" I hasten to add that this was said with affection rather than annoyance.
An incident, which Mum would recall to me, happened during war. The air raid siren sounded and on the way down to the air raid shelter, as she passed upstairs' back door, she heard George shouting "Help Me. I can't get out!" So she opened their back door and there was Uncle George standing near the bottom of the back stairs at an angle of some 45 degrees, arms waving like a thing possessed shouting "I can't move. Why can't I move?" When mum investigated further, she discovered that the braces of his trousers were caught round the banister knob at the top of the stairs and he was more or less suspended by them. He walked backwards up the stairs, released himself and they made their way to the shelter none the worse for wear.

At the back of the house were allotments which were flanked by St. Saviour's Church and school to the East, Verulam Avenue and Tudor Court to the North, and the "Dagenham Brook" (affectionately known as "The Ditch" , as it was, and probably still is, unbelievably smelly). I can now confirm that it is still very smelly! To the West, on the opposite bank of the ditch are the back gardens of Markmanor Avenue.

The allotments were to become a favourite adventure playground for most of the children in Theydon Street.

My earliest recollection (being about four years old) is waking up feeling unwell. Evidently I had wandered into the living room saying, "I feel funny", and promptly fainted smashing the single bar electric fire with my head, and setting fire to my hair. All much to the dismay of my mother who managed to put me out in seconds by rubbing my hair with a towel. (Today, I wonder if this is why I am follicly challenged!!)

When I about six I remember tinkering on Grandma Arnold's piano at 1A Sybourn Street. (Grandma Arnold was my maternal Grandmother whom John and I called "Bammy"). Mum walked in and asked if it had been me playing. I remember replying, "Yes" but thinking it rather an odd question, as I was the only one in the front room at the time. I discovered years later that she was amazed by the fact that I was actually playing the Andy Pandy theme more or less in tune.

Major discovery Number one, I have an ear for music.

I often wondered where my musicality originated. I later discovered that my paternal grandmother (Nanny Wright) accompanied silent movies on the piano at the "Savoy" on the Corner of Church Road and Lea Bridge Road. Nanny Wright had re-married, as my dad's dad died when he was quite young. I never knew either Grandfather John Arnold or step Gradfather William Wright.
Nanny lived at 218 Markhouse Road Walthamstow. This was just round the corner at the top of Theydon Street and was an upstairs Warner's maisonette. Funnily enough, this address was to play a future roll in the history of the Dunn family. Nanny Wright passed away in November 1949 when I was three.

This photo is nearing 100 years old.
From left to right are My Dad Alfred Herbert Dunn, His Father Alfred Henry Dunn, His Mother Charlotte Dunn (nee Thomkins) (later to become Wright when she re-married) and his sister Ivy Dunn.
William Wright
Dad's Step Father
Charlotte Wright.
Dad's Mother.
Jane Arnold.
Mum's Mother.
John Arnold
Mum's Father

My Aunt Ivy (dad's sister, who incidently was married to my mum's brother Uncle John) was a superb pianist. Aunty Ivy and Uncle John also lived in yet another Warner's maisonette at 42 Hitcham Road. Although this was actually in Leyton, it had an E17 postcode. Behind the back gardens of the even numbers in Hitcham Road was Liden's Furniture factory of Lea Bridge Road where Uncle John worked. Ivy and John Arnold had a daughter named Betty who is about 9 years older than my brother John. In 1949 my cousin Betty met Ron Cantwell (Who incidently, you'll never guess, lived in a Warners maisonette at 17 Clementina Road Leyton).

Ron was in the R.A.F. and occasionally when an aeroplane would fly over particulaly low, John and I would be encouraged to 'Wave to Ron in his plane'. Ahhh.

At the Lea Bridge Road end of Hitcham Road were a few prefabs that were built after a bomb had destroyed the original buildings. These have since been demolished and replaced with modern housing.

My next memory was starting (or rather not starting) school at Thomas Gamuel Infants in Gamuel Road. I remember being taken by my mother and as we rounded the corner from Boundary Road into Gamuel Road I walked smack into a lamp-post! However I did start school the next day and all went well until my mum came to pick me up at lunchtime, and I cried because I wanted to stay to school dinners.
When we got back to school in the afternoon, we had to have an afternoon sleep on little green canvas beds. I remember being asked to select an animal sticker to stick on the end of the bed so that I knew it was mine. For some obscure reason, I chose a newt!

This is me about the time of Thomas Gamuel Infants.
Those trousers and braces were hand knitted in RED wool!

After that things are bit hazy. That is until the day that I was falsely accused by a fellow pupil of damaging a reading book. The teacher (I shan't mention her name) did no more than remove the stick from a small flag and caned me across the hand with it. My mum wondered why I didn't want to go back after that, until eventually I told her what happened. I believe the teacher was dismissed, as I never saw her again, and I never spoke to the pupil who accused me again either.

Odd things that I remember, like the little oblong books with squared paper in which to do "sums".
Oh yes, of course, the great big floor-standing radio in the hall, and all sitting round it in anticipation of "Listen with Mother".

The rest of the time at Gamuel infants was OK.

There are two parks in Walthamstow that played a large part in my childhood. St. James's Park in Essex Road, and Queens Park (the smaller and nearer of the two.) situated between Queens Road and Longfellow Road. Opposite the Longfellow Road entrance was Thomas Gamuel Junior School. When I was about six, John took me to Queens Park to play as we often did and I took it into my head to climb the railings that separated the park from some allotments in Queens Road. Unfortunately I was unaware of the barbed wire along the top, and I slipped and caught my face in it. John wasn't sure what to do, but took me to the park keeper "Parky", blood pouring down my face. Parky suggested that he took me home and "get it seen to"! I suppose I should have had stitches but didn't, and you can still see a faint scar from the corner of my mouth to my right eye.

There was no bathroom at Theydon Street at this time. Every night before we went to bed mum would sit us one at a time on towels that were placed on the dining table with a bowl of hot water and wash us down with a flannel and soap. I remember John used to hide under the table and keep me guessing where he would pop his head out from next and say, "BOO". Ah, little things!

We used to have to be in bed by six o'clock. There was a mail plane that flew overhead about that time and mum told us that it was Father Christmas checking up on all the children to make sure that they were tucked in. If they weren't, no presents! Well this worked really well. However, one evening, John was a bit late and heard the plane coming. He ran down the passage and gashed his leg open on the pedal of his bike that was there.

On my seventh birthday I remember standing on a chair to look at the calendar and shouting with excitement, "Look mummy, I'm seven on the Seventh! Can I got to bed at 7 o'clock now?" I also remember the answer. "NO!"

On light summer evenings while laying in bed in broad daylight it would be really horrible listening to older children still playing out. However, on certain evenings when the wind was in the right direction, I would lay there listening to a clanking sound wafting through the air on the summer breeze. This was another type of music to my ears. When would I get to see what was creating this wonderful and mysterious sound?

If you'd like to press the play button, you could hear the sound now!

I discovered electricity at a very early age. Somewhere in the garden I had found a large metal staple and it was just the right size to fit into a five-amp two-pin socket. I suppose what happened next could only be due to my musicality and impeccable timing. Dad was up a ladder painting the passage and was cutting-in round the fuse box. It was at this moment I made three monumental discoveries; (1) The staple fitted the socket: (2) Electricity had power, and (3) It hurt. I just remember an almighty flash and I was thrown across the front room. In the passage my dad had involuntarily painted a beautiful arc on the wall as he took the short cut to the floor as the fuse blew in his right ear! When dad had sufficiently recovered, he came rushing in to see what had happened. There was I cowering in a heap on the opposite wall with my hair standing on end. He tried to pick me up, but I was still charged with electricity. He ran out, found some newspapers and wrapped me in them, took me into the garden and stuck my fingers in the ground. Evidently my hair fell back to my head, and all was well.
After a few days my Uncle John arrived with a big switchboard that he had made for me. It had all sorts of sockets and lights and switches, and above all it all worked from batteries. If ever I went near the mains again, mum or dad would point firstly to the mains and say "Daddies Sockets" then point to my switchboard and say "Dickies Sockets". That seemed to do the trick. Well, for a while anyway!

Major discovery number two, I have an avid interest in all things electrical.

In 1951 my Uncle John was on his way home on his moterbike and pulled up at a junction in Dalston. Behind him was a lorry that failed to stop, ran into the back of him and broke his neck. He was taken to a hospital in Blackheath where he was in traction for nearly six months. I can't possibly imagine what that must have been like, but it was that, or wear a plaster collar for the rest of his life.
He was awarded compensation and kindly bought us a television set with some of the money. It was a twelve-inch Ferguson. I still have one of the original knobs of this set! I just can't part with it. How sad is that?

The programmes that stick in my mind are "Muffin the Mule" with Annette Mills, "Whirligig", with Mister Turnip and Humphrey Lestocq, and "Billy Bean". (Is there anyone else on this planet that remembers Billy Bean except me and my brother John?)
The opening song was: -

"Billy Bean built a machine
To see what it could do.
He built it out of sticks and stones
And nuts and bolts and glue."

Then there was "Watch with Mother" at about four in the afternoon.

Monday "Picture Book" with Patricia Driscoll
Tuesday "Andy Pandy"
Wednesday "Bill & Ben" they were the best!
Thursday "Rag, Tag & Bobtail
Friday "The Woodentops"

On one birthday, (I can't remember which) I received a Hornby Tinplate train set. Now I was in heaven! It was 'O' gauge, and had an oval of track, a clockwork engine and a couple of coaches. It seemed that I preferred to push the coaches round by hand than just watch the engine do it.
The Christmas after this, I had been given a lot more track with points and some goods trucks. Was this the beginnings of understanding those noises that I heard when lying in bed on those balmy evenings?

By now I was at Thomas Gamuel Junior School. I don't really remember much about these years at school, except that I didn't like Mr. Russell with his very round face and ruddy complexion and ginger moustache. There was also Mr. Malyon and although I remember him at Gamuel (I spelt Straight wrongly and he made me write it out fifty times correctly), he played a much more important roll in my life later in my life.
There was also Mr. Childs the headmaster. If you didn't like sport, then watch out! I didn't like sport. So I watched out! (More on that issue later.)


This is me at
Thomas Gamuel Junior School. Probably 2nd year

We were given swimming lessons at Walthamstow baths. They were situated next to the Central Library in the High Street where the 'square' is now by Selborne Walk. We were taken by either one of two old motor coaches. One had a flat front and hard wooden seats. The other had a bonnet, and padded leather seats and gave a far more comfortable ride. I used to watch in anticipation to see which one would turn the corner. Flat front, or bonnet!
Walthamstow baths were not very big, and the changing rooms were cubicles all around the pool. If you left any clothing on the floor, then they would be soaked by the time you got back.
There was an attendant who used to roll his own cigarettes, and it was that smell mixed with the smell of chlorine that always sticks in my mind. That smell was Walthamstow baths.
For the cost of one (old) penny you could get some Brylcream from a vending machine to put on your hair.

As I mentioned earlier, sport is not my forte. For example, my only ever swimming certificate was awarded for coming LAST in the "walking the width" race. Just about sums it up really!

Dad in back garden of
74 Theydon Street approx 1965

Dad was a bus driver at Leyton Garage and drove mainly the route 35 from Highams Park station to Clapham Common. Bus routes used to be lengthy in those days. Later he was transferred to the 38's from The Royal Forest Hotel in Chingford to Victoria Station. I know that occasionally he was put onto the 38A's and it was not unknown for him to go the wrong way at Clapton Pond! He had a clippy called "Lottie". A clippie is a nickname for a lady bus conductor. Anyway, the thing I always remember about Lottie was her beret. There was a circle of holes around it where she used a hatpin. I was always amazed that the centre never dropped out! Another story dad told me was the day he forgot to change the destination blind from Victoria to Chingford and a man got on thinking it was destined for Victoria. When he found out that he was going the wrong way, he jumped off, and ran round the front to dad and shouted "You've got Victoria on the front" to which my dad replied "It's got Beecham's Pills on the side mate, but I don't take 'em!"

In spite of him working overtime, I think we were quite poor really. I know I kept asking if I could have piano lessons, but the answer was always the same. "Not yet Dick, we cant afford it." I once took a friend home after school and asked mum if he could stay for tea. She agreed, but there was a horrified look on her face. But she managed to scrape up some bread and jam and we were quite happy with that.

Another oddity that I recall is the "Pig bin". As well as the normal dustbin in the back yard, there was also a much smaller bin with a twist-lid known as a "Pig bin". This was a very early attempt at recycling. All the waste food such as vegetable peelings, leftovers etc was placed in here and collected and as far as I can gather, was to sent to the farming industry to feed their pigs as there was shortage of feed just after the 2nd world war.

On Sundays, we usually had a roast dinner. It was also the only day of the week that we had 'afters'. John and I used to argue over who would have the pudding plate with a ring round the edge. It was known as "The Ring Plate" This went on for years, and in the end mum came up with the idea that whoever didn't have the ring plate would get the skin of the custard. And so it went on until one day to our absolute horror and astonishment, there were two identical ring plates, and we had half the skin each. Nothing to argue over! Even now we have no idea how or where she found that second ring plate.
Sunday lunches were a lot quieter after that.

After lunch was Sunday school at St. Saviours Church. This was held in the school next to the church, and it was here that I gave my first ever public performance on the piano. I was asked to play "Holy Holy Holy". All by ear of course, as I had no idea how to read music. I have never been so frightened in all my life. (Tell a lie. I was in 1979 when I found myself half way down a 3000-foot mountain in South Africa in a stationary cable car amidst a thunderstorm!) Anyway, it was all rather plonky and horrible, but I gave it a go and every one else seemed to think it was OK.
After a few weeks we actually got to go into the church. What struck me at first was the sheer size of the place but what really grabbed my attention was the music. This was the first time ever that I had heard a church organ. I fell in love with the sound straight away. It wasn't the typical loud thundering sound that most people associate with church organs, but a really sweet and gentle flute like sound. It generated nothing but calm in me. The organist at the time was Dick Lumsden.
What I didn't appreciate at the time was the fact that my parents had walked down the aisle of this very church on 17th August 1935.

Affiliated to the church was the 7th Walthamstow Cubs & Scouts. John was a member. Because we couldn't afford a proper scout shirt, mum had bought an ordinary khaki shirt with only one pocket. She cut off the tails and made a second identical pocket.
The Sunday school organised the occasional day trip to the seaside. On one particular day trip to Walton-on-the-Naze, I remember the excitement as we were waiting on St. James' Street Station. The train pulled in with an express engine and corridor coaches! Tied around John and my necks were little drawstring purses containing our pennies that mum had made from what was left over from the khaki shirt-tails. It was on this trip that I realised that I was definitely in love with trains. During the day, we arrived at the pier and to my delight there was a miniature railway running the whole length of it. We rode to the end on the little train, but I decided to walk back without telling anyone. John was worried sick as to where his little brother had gone. I, the other hand, was quite happy at the other end watching the points change, and the engine turning round. John found me eventually and all was well. On the way home I locked myself in the train toilet. Nothing was ever simple!

I must, at this point, tell you about the man who used to ride round the streets on his horse and cart. He would ring a hand bell shouting "muffins and crumpets" in the hope that you would buy some.

Well on one occasion, the Sunday school went for a special service at St. James' Church, situated where the Doctors surgery is now in St. James' Street. During the service the verger started ringing a hand bell. Well I could contain myself no longer and shouted "muffins and crumpets!" much to the dismay of my brother. I wasn't caught, and we both had the giggles after that. We still chuckle over it now, and if ever I hear a hand bell…….

Monday was washday. There were no washing machines then, and no hot running water. Mum had what was known as a "copper" It was a basically a large gas boiler. I remember the huge gas ring under it and when mum lit it, it used to light with a great "vrrrrrrrrump" sort of sound that frightened the life out of me. She would then boil most of the washing in it. Then rinse it at the sink, using a washboard and scrubbing brush, then put it through a mangle, then hang it on the clothes line to dry in the back garden.

Friday was bath day. We had a long thin zinc bath that hung from a nail on a fence in the back garden. This was brought indoors and placed in front of the coal fire in the back room. Mum would then fill it with hot water from the kettle and various saucepans. After the bath she would sit us on the table as in a normal washing session and dry us off. The rest of the week, the bath made a great boat in which to play.

Three types of delivery service served us in Theydon Street. There was the Co-op Baker, a coalman and "Horry" (short for Horace I suppose) the United Dairies milkman. Both the coalman and the milkman had horse drawn carts. Well, on one sunny summers day I was making a fuss of Horry's horse as I had done on many occasions, when he took it upon himself to take a bite into my chest. Well, luckily enough for me, he didn't break the skin, but I had a lovely set of teeth marks for a couple of weeks! I didn't go anywhere near him after that.

Our main form of heating was from coal fires, or as previously mentioned, an electric fire. The coalman called about once a month in the winter, and would deliver the coal in sacks, thrown over his shoulder, protected by a leather flap attached to his hat and went half-way down his back. He would come in and empty the sacks into the cupboard under the stairs. There is a unique smell to coal dust, not very pleasant on it's own, but mix it with the smell of boiling water and hot oil...............

As mentioned earlier, Mum's mum, Jane Arnold, Lived at 1A Sybourn Street. This too was a Warner's maisonette and was upstairs but unlike, the others this had an outside toilet. Now when you live upstairs, this could be a bit of a nightmare. Well, in 1955 she fell ill and couldn't stay there on her own, so she came to live with us. She had the front room. My dad had rigged up an extension speaker off the radio for her, and was massive. It must have been two feet in diameter.
I'll always remember her as a lovely frail old lady that was my Grandma. She passed away in November 1955.

I don't know what happened to all the things in Grandma's house, except the piano which now took pride and place in our front room.

In 1952/3, Warner Estates "Modernised" two properties in Hawarden Road as show flats and invited tenants and councillors to inspect them.
Just after my Grandma died in 1955, Warner's modernisation came to Theydon Street. It would mean a loss of a bedroom, but would gain a kitchen, bathroom, tiled fireplace and a solid fuel boiler for hot water. I remember little things like the gas pipe running along the passage ceiling to the living room where the cooker was temporarily situated but I don't remember the knocking out of doorways, brick dust and general building chaos!
Anyway, the thing for me was that the new door to the kitchen was a sliding door, which meant that I could play underground trains calling out "Mind the Doors", much to my parents' annoyance. Also, now that we had hot water (and a very hot house in summer months) there was no more lighting that horrible copper.

Having been modernised, Warners made a slight increase to the rent and although it wasn't much, it was enough to warrant Mother taking a part time job at the London Rubber Company along the North Circular Road. This extra income had another advantage. I had been asking my parents for years if I could have proper piano lessons. The answer was always the same. "Sorry, we can't afford it."
Well, imagine my surprise when one day on my return from school, Mum asked if I still wanted piano lessons. Without hesitation I said "Yes" and almost jumped with joy. In fact I think I did jump for joy!

My first piano teacher was Mrs. Davies who lived at 34 Springfield Road Walthamstow. I remember walking to my first piano lesson armed with a music case (the type that has one handle and metal rod that went over it) full of one pencil!
I knocked at the door and there stood a rather short rather dumpy old lady who invited me in to her front room. There, taking up most of the room was, to my eyes, a huge Grand Piano.
Now, remember that I was only nine because I later discovered that the piano was a brand new "Baby" Grand, that Mrs Davies had bought for her fortieth birthday.
I thought that I couldn't possibly play this instrument, but I did and it was the most awe inspiring thing that I'd done to date.
I can't remember anything about the lessons themselves, except that I was on cloud nine during them, and whilst practising "proper pieces". After I had been learning for few years, my favourite book that I played from was by Burgmüler. Twenty Five progressive studies opus 100. I really liked Mrs. Davies and I think she had a bit of soft spot for me.

Getting back to the modernisation programme from Warners: The hot water boiler needed to be fuelled by coke and not coal. This could be obtained from the Lea Bridge Gas Works, but you had to go and fetch it. So every so often, John would venture off on foot with an old pram chasis to which was fixed an old wooden box with our empty sacks to be filled up with coke. After a while, I asked if I could go with him. Mum agreed and off we went. Well, Lea Bridge gas works was next to Lea Bridge Station on the line to Cambridge. As we were getting closer and closer to the works, this sound that I had heard for years whilst lying in bed was getting louder and louder. I said to John "Can we go to the Station and see what's making this sound?" he agreed and off we toddled. When we arrived and looked over the bridge, I was totally in awe of what I saw. There were many little steam engines chugging about shunting of goods trucks and huge engines arriving with long trains of trucks. The sound that I'd been hearing all this time was the sound of the truck's buffers bumping into each other. What I was looking at was Temple Mills goods yard. I beleive it was the second largest marshalling yard in the country at the time. I didn't want to leave there, but we had to get back with our supply of coke. So reluctantly we returned to the gas works where our sacks of coke were filled up and weighed and we set off home. Needless to say, I accompanied John to Lea Bridge Gas Works as often as I could.

I am now at my last two years at Thomas Gamuel Junior School. Mr. Malyon has left and gone on to pastures new and Mr. Russell was still on the warpath. I remember one particular day in Mr. Russell's class: I must have been doing something wrong, as he shouted "Dunn, go and get the stick and the book."Now, for those of you who don't know the implications of these words, let me enlighten you. Basically it meant that you were in for a caning!! The stick being the cane, and the book was needed for the teacher to register your corporal punishment. Both were kept in the Headmaster's office, so you were undoubtedly going to get it in the neck from him too. Remember, Mr. Childs was rather biased towards 'sporty' pupils, and I wasn't sporty!

So quick thinking was needed on my part and as I had no shame in squirming, I squirmed. As I got to the door I put my head back round and uttered "Oh Sir"?
"What do you mean, Oh Sir"? he retorted.
In my best Oliver asking for more gruel voice I grovelled "Please forgive me?"
By now he was foaming. "Show me your work" he shouted,
So I did (what there was of it). He threw my book back at me and told me to sit down.

It is now 1956, I'm 10 years old and preparing to go to senior school. As yet, we don't know which school we would go to.
The most common secondary schools were George Gascoigne in Queens Road, Markhouse Road Secondary Modern in Markhouse Road and for the cleverer pupils there was Sir George Monoux Grammar School in Chingford Road.
I believe that one student from each junior school was given a scholarship to attend Sir George Monoux.
The selection of senior school would be determined by the 11 plus exam.
To this day I can remember two of the questions and not having a clue as to the answers!
a) What is the proper name for a pram?
b) What is the proper name for a bus?
I remember putting Pram and Bus as the answers.
Needless to say, I failed miserably which meant that I was destined for Gascoigne or Markhouse. I was hoping to go to Markhouse as my brother John was already there.

I have absolutely no recollection of leaving Gamuel Road School. Whether I was sad, happy or feeling any other emotion. I just left.

In June 1956, cousin Betty and Ron were married at the Emmanuel Church at the junction of Hitcham Road and Lea Bridge Road and set up home at 282 Old Church Road in Chingford opposite the "Green Man" pub.

After what seemed to be an eternity, I was informed of the secondary school to which I was to attend.


That was a relief as I didn't really fancy Gascoigne and as it turned out, that is where most of my class at Gamuel ended up.
Luckily, one friend of mine, Brian Foord, was also destined for Markhouse, so at least there would be one person I knew and of course brother John.
So the days of Gamuel Road were soon to be over after six years. Two in the infants, and four in the juniors. Time for a good six weeks summer holiday then off the Markhouse to see what that has in store.

So, summer holidays are here. Now, for fun stuff.

Of course, there was a jigger to build (I think they're called go-carts now?) Three of us were having a go at this. Rob Howell at 70 Theydon Street, Michael Sales at No. 56 and myself. We built it of the usual old pram wheels (or should I say perambulator, as I now know the answer to that 11-plus question!), a plank on which was placed an orange box as a seat and a piece of rope tied to the front axel to steer with. This was built under a huge oak tree in the grounds of the allotments at the back of Rob's house. It is still there and must be coming up to 150 years old now. I have been told that it is listed.

I very frequently climbed that tree, and on as many times as I climbed it, I failed to get down and had to call John to help me!! However, on one occasion I had taken a pair of binoculars with me and climbed higher that I have ever done before, and you could see for miles. Then it caught my eye. Smoke! Steam! I could see a railway that I'd not seen before ever. There were so many tracks and signals and trains. These binoculars must have been very good as I could even see the numbers on the side of the engines. In modern texting terms I thought "OMG"!! I had to find where this place was. So, full of excitement, I descended the tree and in my usual manner was unable to get myself down the last hurdle. "John", "Johhhnnn", "JOHHHHNNNNNNN" I yelled hysterically. But there was no John. He had gone out. Now I panicked. There was only one thing for it. I had to get down by myself. After what seemed an age, I eventually mustered the courage, and grabbing the lowest branch swung round and dropped to the ground. Now I know what you're expecting. I broke an arm and smashed the binoculars, but no. I survived in one piece, as did the binoculars, and I thought. "Hmm. That was easy". Now. Where is that railway?

During this summer break John played in several local football matches some of which my parents would watch. I didn't if I could help it! On one occasion there was to be a match on the playing fields at the end of Coppermill Lane. I think it must have been a final of at least a match of some importance. So it was inevitable that John wanted us all there. So we did.
As we approached the end of Coppermill Lane I noticed what looked like level crossing gates. We parked the car and got out, I noticed (from what I remember) corrugated iron changing rooms lined up along one side of the playing field.
I couldn't have cared less about the dressing rooms etc. My eye was on the level crossing. What I then realised was that this was the railway that I'd seen from the oak tree.
What I'd found was Coppermill Junction. I have no idea of the result of the football match as I was by the level crossing watching all the different trains passing. From express trains to the slowest of goods trains passing with feet of me. I was in heaven.
This place was not too far from home either, so I could cycle here and watch the trains.

My times here were very happy. Oh!, except on two occasions. Any body who knows Coppermill Lane will know that there is a very low bridge under the railway to connect to Springfield Marina and Walthamstow marshes. Well, on one visit on my bicycle, I forgot to duck! The other was when I had inadvertantly sat myself down on a red ants nest.

Opposite the crossing was a cottage which I believe was the home of the signalman and his wife. I'm sure that she was telepathic because if you put just one foot on the gates to lean over, she was there shouting. "Get off the gate sonny".
In those days, you could see all that you needed to see as British Railways kept the line side very tidy. Click HERE to see workforce!

Now days you can hardly see a thing as it all overgrown. You can see this on the "Coppermill Junction" page comparing the two video clips of Class K1 and Class 317.

We did most things that families do through the summer. No proper holiday though, we just couldn't afford it. We did however manage to have weekends away thanks to the kindness of our neighbours. Vi & George Williams (upstairs) had a chalet at Leysdown and Eileen and Reg Howell had a caravan at Maylandsea.

September was drawing near and I was starting to be a little nervous about starting a new school.

So here we are September 1957 and off I go to Markhouse.

I don't recall how I went to school. I don't think I walked with my brother, but arrive I did and I arrived at the same time as many others most of whom I didn't know. We were ushered in a side door (never to be used again without permission) close to the main road and assembled in the lower hall. There I saw Brian Foord, my old pal from Gamuel. The scene was very much like that in Harry Potter when the first year students arrived. There we all were waiting to be given our form rooms.

It turned out that Brian and I were selected to be in the same form. 1B. When we arrived at our class, our form master was waiting by the door. He saw Brian and myself and exlaimed "Oh no. Not you two again"? It was Mr. Malyon who had left Gamuel a year ealier. Actually, Mr. Malyon was a teacher here, at Markhouse, before he went Gamuel.

Now we weren't the only only newcomers to Markhouse that year. It was also the new Headmaster's first year. Mr. Leslie Smith. The previous Headmaster was a Mr. George Easton who had left for pastures new along with quite a few of the teachers.

It's time for me to recall the teachers that were there. For some, it was their first year too.

I'll go round in room number order.

Rooms 1 to 9 were upstairs which was once the Girls' section.

Rooms 10 to 18 were downstairs which were once the Boys' section.

Rooms 19 to 22 where in the infants block along with the Woodwork and Metalwork rooms which had no numbers.


Room No.
Usual Subject
Physics Lab
Form Room
Form Room
Form Room
Chemistry Lab
Form Room
Form Room
P.E. Changing Room
Form Room
Form Room
Form Room
Art Room
Form Room
Form Room
17 and 18
Domestic Science
Typing Pool
Secretarial Studies
Form Room
Drama Room
Make Sceneary/Rehearse
Annexe 1
Annexe 2


to be continued.................