From Brenda Conway................Queensland
Australia.........26 December 2004
I have enjoyed browsing through your website........I
was born at 117, Winns Avenue, Walthamstow in 1945......next door to Freeman's
the off License........it was a maisonette, we had the downstairs one
and the folk who lived above us were Mr and Mrs Peachy...we shared the
back garden but Mr Peachy had a shed on his half and used to sit in there
for hours banging his hammer on a piece of wood whilst reading to get
away from his wife I think......she was always yelling at him.........my
name then was Brenda Ann Birchall, my 'Father' worked for Hitchmans Dairies
as a Driver and would stop off at the house to leave a couple of pints
of Gold Top....I went to Winns Avenue Infants School, Headmistress Miss
Sarson and I remember the Headmistress of the Junior School Miss Hurry..........revolting
school dinners, Tapioca pudding with Jam which I was made to eat regardless
of how cold and conjealed it got... I think it was one shilling a week
for school dinners..Lloyds Park, the playground, the Umbrella swing, the
rocking horse and the Slide........I recall the Prefab houses down one
end of the park and how I was not allowed to play with a girl called Joan
Able who lived there as this was not considered 'proper'. I had two half
brothers, John and Michael Denton, both older than me.....There are two
teachers that I remember well, Miss Reynolds and Mr.J.Horner....I remember
class mates Norma Fox and Maureen Day who I think lived in Carr Road,
right at the end.
I remember a building that burned down that was in the fields opposite
the playground equipment in Lloyds park. I think we went there sometimes
with the school........I recall seeing Tommy Steele in Half a Sixpence
at the Pavilion........my childhood was a particularly unpleasant one
and I am in the middle of writing about my life as a child and the time
since then,if anyone remembers me I would dearly love to hear from them..........I
know little about my childhood as in school details and such........I
now live in Queensland, Australia.
Regards Brenda Conway ( nee Birchall)
From Tony Freshwater...........Wellington
New Zealand..........13th October 2004
Whatt a nice web site. Though born
in Plaistow, I was brought up at 64 Brettenhan Rd (after Jerry bombed
us out twice over nearer the docks) from about the age of 2 or 3 (born
17/08/1938). My Mum and Dad were married at St Mary's. My Dad's Mum lived
in that house to the left of the "Ancient Houses" in your photo
(the one with the Georgian columns) Her name was Martin then.
I was in the Walthamstow Sea Cadets from age 14 to 19+ when I went into
the Royal Navy for my national Service and then on to the Merchant navy
as we were want to do in those days. I've been here for 42 yrs, having
brought a dredger out from Glasgow and not bothering to go back (except
for numerous visits over the yrs) My Mum's dead now, so the call is not
as strong as it once was. We had good times "over the Park",
in the forest, scrumping lovely pears from an orchard that used to be
alongside where the "Guardian" used to be in Forest Rd, down
from Thorpe Coombe where my brother was born in 1948. GREAT dances at
the Assembly Hall where the Master of Ceremonies ALWAYS wore white tie,
tails and white gloves and was quite a dancer. We used to go to ballroom
practice over by old Walthamstow 7 days a week and twice on Saturdays
when the big "hop" was on. Fights aplenty, usually with the
Clapton boys....vicious bunch, but us Sea Cadets were just as hard!!!
Drinks at the Bell half time, tho the "Brooke" as our favourite
as the "Guvner" did keep his IPA a bit well. My mate who came
over with me lived in The Drive. All his but his family was posher than
mine !!!! (name of Walters...his Dad Wally was our Sea Cadet C.O., dead
What can I say about the High St !! My Mum used to take me to the gods
at The Palace and I remember Jane the stripper I think she was (cartoon
character fm The Mirror) and the velvet ropes that were an integral part
of any theatre then. The saspirella man. One visit home I bought 4 bottles
and brought them back with me. I have NEVER been able to find one of it's
equal. Cant remember the Jewish tailor nearby but we gave him the elbow
early in the piece as we found another great tailor. I remember the night
Jerry bombed the Palace. It looked like it was in our back yard and lit
up the sky. Mum calmly went down to get her washing in cos of the soot!!!!!!!!
In later years it was an interesting "monkey parade" and there
were a few pubs we used too. Rossi's ice-cream. Kiwi i/cream is great
but not a patch on Rossis and they dont do the little swirl like Rossis.
For some years whilst at Grammar School, I used to put the barrows out
for the stall-holders. Earned more than my poor ol Dad. Sat evening, take
in the barrows and then home on the bike, change into me clobber (had
had a bath previously cos we'd been "modernised " by then) and
rush down to Chingford Rd to catch the bus the the Drill Hall in Chingford.
Cant remember the name of the pub. Charington Hse...good IPA.(not the
Albert, the other way)
Lloyds Park. Every kid should have such a place to grow alongside. Shooting
the rats in the moat with our catapaults, getting stuck in the mud after
the war when they demolished the air raid shelters (we never used them
!!) and b4 the swings it was a quagmire.
Well, I could go on all day and you certainly have me in very nostalgic
mood. Last time I was there(1997) I visited Brettenham Rd but as Mum was
then in sheltered accom back in her old manor (Docklands, she was a Custom
'Ahse girl) all I could do was get my brother (lives in Chelmsford) to
photograph me with 64 in the background both in B/Rd and in the Park.
Never did feel like I'd been "home" that trip !! Luckily my
2 sons experienced 64 before Mum moved out so that pleases me immensely.
So, there you have it . A few recollection from an old Walthamstow lad
(Johnny Burgess ex Dave Clark 5 was a neighbour and I loved it when "E17"
made the big time) I havent even touched on my mates, several of whom
are now STGP millionaires. Enjoyed talking "at" you. Kind regards
and have a decent pint of IPA for me.....
From Kara Graham.............14th
I am trying to trace anyone who knew anyone by
the name of Ludkins.
My Grandfather was born in Walthamstow - John Ludkins,
he married Rosina Edwards also
born in Walthamstow.
The Ludkins apparently ran a coal merchants between
1920 and 1940.
Do you know of anyone who may be able to give me
more info on this family.
I have placed this
email here in the hope that someone out there can help Kara.
From Pete Richardson.............Leytonstone...........14th
What a great site, especially the
stuff about Markhouse Rd. school. I briefly attended there in 1964, don't
have too many memories about it but I do remember a few things.
I remember the sweet shop behind the
school, and was there one on Markhouse Road?
Going to the Granada Cinema, especially
the Saturday morning kids stuff (the Granadiers I think?).
I had a Saturday job at Glady's the
florist by the station, and going to the chippies for saveloys which was
just up the road.
I used to live in Hove avenue. There
used to be comic exchange shop just round the road from Hove Avenue (Selborne
I remember the No.38 bus route. Used
to go on it lots.
Sorry this is all jumbled up somewhat
but I was pleasantly suprised to see the photos!
Did there used to be a schools dentists
the town hall?
( My reply re: dentist "Ah
the Town Hall Dentist. I was trying to forget about that! The horrible
smell of rubber gas masks, and the rubber wedge to keep your mouth open.
The "nice" nurse who would say after the treatment "Run
along to the sink dear and rinse your mouth out, and be sick for me"
Best wishes, and keep up the good
work, thanks again,
From Ted Price .......Nashville Tennessee................7th
I would like to thank you for the website
and what it has been able to give some of your cousins in the US.
I have been trying to find some information
on the family of Charles Henry and Ellen Ball Barrell. The only thing
I could learn was the village. So from Villages.com I found Walthamstow.
I have been able to show the website to the grandchildren and they are
very encouraged to continue the search. The father in his US Army paperwork
said he was born in Walthamstow and came to the US in 1930. If some of
your readers may know of the parents of Leonard Henry Barrell our immigrant,
I would appreciate being able to contact the family. I am to understand
that Charles Henry Barrell did work for the Royal Mail...The grand children
are happy to see the home of their father and appreciate what you have
made available to the world.
Thank you and appreciate if you could pass this along.
From Peter Brook.......Yorkshire................11th
I was doing a little research into Walthamstow and found your very interesting
pages. Although I am not from that part of England my friend upstairs
in the block of flats where I live is. He lived in Albion Road , Wyatts
lane but moved to Yorkshire during the war and has never returned but
often speaks about the area although he was only a lad at the time. He
is 72 now. Interestingly, his sister Betty has still a hint of london
accent although she lives in Bradford .
Thanks for the pages I will see that
Robert gets to see them.
From Gloria.......Ash Green, Surrey................18th
I found you web site through Friends Reunited, it was really great to
read about your life in Walthamstow but unfortunately I cant remember
very much even though I lived in 163 Boundary Road near the Cambridge
Pub from birth (born in the same house) to the age of 21yrs when I left
to get married and move to Kent my surname was Nicholls it would be good
to hear from anyone who new my family there was 10 children - 5 girls
& 5 Boys the only recollection is our neighbors Mrs Clark who had
3 children. I know I went to Gamuel Road school when i was small then
on to Capworth Street School for Girls, I also remeber my Mum and Sisters
taking me to Walthamstow Market for Pie & Mash at Menzies so it was
really great to read all your memories it stirred my imagination on finding
out about my early years.
Thanks once again & best wishes
Gloria Wetherill (re Nicholls)
From Eric.......Trowbridge Wiltshire................18th
What an interesting and nostalgia
inducing site you have. I have been researching my family history and
came across it by accident.
I lived in Beulah Road from 1946 until 1958 when I went to do my national
service and I never returned to London apart from a short spell in Canterbury
I have not been back since about 1960, but by now I doubt I'd recognise
the place having read some of your other emails.
I went to the Henry Maynard Infants then primary school and then to Joseph
Barrett in 1950. Mr Garrett was head of the primary school and A A Maxwell
was head of Joseph Barrett.
I was in the St Marys sea scout troop, (I think it was 22nd Walthamstow),
when K H Druitt was rural Dean
I remember all the Walthamstow schools being marched down to the Granada
cinema to see The Ascent of Everest. I also have vague memories of a school
trip, (also to the Granada) to see Julius Caesar with Marlon Brando as
I was at secondary school when Gypsy Rose Lee came to the Walthamstow
Palace. My parents thought it was scandalous. A few of us kids tried to
get in pretending to be 18, but they wouldn't have any of it. (kids seemed
to look like kids then)
I learned to swim in the Leyton Baths and my Mum was an usherette in the
Century cinema and also at the Ritz. When I went to the pictures I always
used to get a free ice cream.
I used to go with the school swimming in the Walthamstow baths in High
Street and I remember getting my clothes wet because of leaving them on
the floor of the changing cubicle. I also remember grazing my knees and
elbows on the bottom of the pool after diving in too steeply because the
water was quite shallow even in the deep end (about 6 foot I think).
The Brylcreem machine, if it was manipulated carefully, could give multiple
squirts if you didn't let the button right out but pushed it back in before
I used to swim in the Lido at Whipps Cross which only opened during the
summer, and I remember it as always being cold . Back then it was often
closed due to the periodic outbreaks of polio because this was in the
days before vaccination.
I have always liked reading and I had tickets for the main library in
High Street and also the branch next to Wood Street School. It was against
the rules of course. It worked out alright, but I had to be careful to
take the right book back to the right branch.
My Grandfather, (Maternal), was a gate crossing keeper at Chingford Hatch
and I spent many hours with him in the little hut there during my school
holidays. I used to ride my bicycle out there and keep him company, drinking
sweet tea made with condensed milk and watching the trains go by. He must
have walked miles, opening and closing those great big gates. I remember
that once when the crossing gate posts had been painted, ash from an engine
set one of them on fire. It burned like a giant firework.
I saw a web site containing a 1971 photo of the crossing and that old
hut and it brought a lump to my throat. It's gone now of course, but I
remember it was a dangerous place and there were several nasty accidents
there over the years.
When I see film of steam trains it recalls the smell of smoke and steam
mixed, a smell like no other. When I was small used to stand on the bridge
in Orford Road by Connaught Hospital and try to get enveloped in the cloud
of steam as the train went beneath and then move on to the tuck shop at
the St Marys end of the bridge for spanish wood or liquorice sherbet or
whatever was the favourite of the day. What an unhygienic place that would
be considered today.
My other Grandfather was an upholsterer and worked at the bus depot near
Knotts Green repairing bus seats.
When I started work I used to get the train from Hoe Street into Liverpool
Street. I think my season ticket then cost about 10 shillings a quarter
and was referred to as an apprentices ticket which I was only allowed
to use to go to and from work, not for pleasure
I recall that the train frequently failed to arrive due to breakdown of
the engine or trouble at Wood Street where the bridge was often damaged
by high vehicles trying to get under, and failing to.