Visitors e-mails 2009
From Barbara Warren................Victoria.......Australia............23rd December 2009
Just visited the Walthamstow site again, and see my original email of 2002 is still there. Read through all the emails and enjoyed the wonderful memories - amazing how Strutts and Manzies Pie shop seem to be the constant places that most expats from Walthamstow remember. Me too!
Len Hall put me on to your site years back and I am so glad he did. We still email regularly, he from Perth in WA and me in country Victoria. I noticed one name as I scrolled through - Ed Day in New Zealand, when he wrote in 2006. I remember him well, as we were in the same class.
I saw the addition of St.Saviour's Church among the updates and went to that site, as my Sister was married there. As happens, my life changed when my husband died in May 2007. I sold our house and moved from the outer Melbourne suburbs to country Victoria, closer to my youngest son and family. This is a medium size country town, and I love it. Fortunately we were not in the line of the horrendous bushfires that raged through Victoria last February. We hope that this summer stays fire safe.
Would like to say thank you again for such a wonderful website - means a lot to us far from home.
Have a very merry Christmas Richard, and a happy, healthy, safe and prosperous New Year. If anyone remembers me from Markhouse Road Sec. Mod., would love to hear from them. I was there from 1948 to August 1951.
Barbara Warren (nee Coveney).
If you wish to contact Barbara, please email me and I'll pass on your message.
Having read Tony's email, especially regarding the Locomotives
that he photographed in the middle East, I asked him he'd like me to put
some on this website.
From Tony Johnson..................Sydney..........Australia.......14th December 2009
To see some of Tony's photos, CLICK HERE
From Tony Johnson..................Sydney..........Australia.......25th November 2009
Richard, just found your site.
I can remember well the evening St Saviours Church burnt.
I progressed to Markhouse Road School 1948-1952, my classes 1P (Miss Paddock), 2H (Mr Henderson), 3T (Miss Townsend) and 4P (Miss Paddock). Mr Malyon was the Technical Drawing Master, Mr Muddyman Sports Master. Mr Oldfield retired at the end of my first year he taught maths to my brother Peter 4 years earlier. Mr Easton was the Head Master.
I see earlier email on the site from
Barbara Warren (nee Coveney), from another Google search I was able to
contact her, she was a year ahead of me but I could recognise her from
a photo, she is living in Victoria. Also Len Hall who left school two
years ahead of me, can't remember Len. I suspect there was a guy in his
year called Tony Brinley. Friends in my period would have been Eddie Wild,
Robert Brown, John Merritt, Robert Stephenson, Peter Pellett, Tony Blaxall,
Vic Fitzpatrick, all come to mind.
From John Dunn (My big brother)..................Cranham...Essex.......14th October 2009
Looking through your site again I noticed the mail from Janie Reeves. I don't know if you can still contact her but she refers to watching a group called the "LEROYS". This was a 4 pce group, all attending Markhouse Road school when it was formed. There was Roy Prentice, Lenny Brooks ( Where their name came from LE ROY) and the then young Micky Sturgess. I'm affraid the forth members name escapes me.
You can see the group in a film called
Every Days a Holiday along with Freddie and the Dreamers, Mike Sarne,
the Baker Twins etc etc.
From Terry Brown ....................Bundaberg Queensland Australia.........18th September 2009
I've received an email from Valerie's husband Terry asking :-
Where are they now?
If you have any answers, you can email Terry at email@example.com
From Valerie Brown (nee Coates)............Bundaberg Queensland Australia.........15th September 2009
Thanks for the lovely memories evoked
from your website.
Can any of your readers recognise anyone in this photo of the Joseph Barrett School Soccer Team of 1947-8?
Click HERE for photo
Our family lived at 10A Maynard Road from the end of the war and was one of a long terrace of mid-Victorian brick houses, three up, two down, with a tiny pocket-handkerchief front garden whose border railings had been removed during the war. I was nine years old when we returned to the smoky grey bricks and cement of Walthamstow from the green fields and fresh air of Barby in Warwickshire where we were evacuated for the duration of the war.
Maynard Road was a long street reaching from Beulah Road through to Shernhall Street with an alleyway running parallel to Beulah Road from Orford Road almost down to Grove Road. Near the top of Maynard Road, next to the alleyway, was a wood-yard. Opposite our house was a row of almshouses. Our main grocer was Nelson Pearce's in a small parade of shops just round the corner in Beulah Rd. Mr. Pearce always wore a white apron, even when he swept the pavement in front of his shop. We had to be registered with him during rationing. Opposite was a fish and chip shop and a favourite treat for tea was a tuppenny bag of chips shared between three of us, of course.
Halfway down Maynard was another alley leading through to Shernhall Street via Maynard Road School. Opposite the alley was a short street through to Barclay Road with an off-license on the corner. Mr. Robinson the Chimney Sweep lived around there and went to work with his brushes strapped to his bicycle. (I believe he cleaned windows too, in the summer).
The only shops I recall in Maynard were almost opposite the school alley. It was here that I had to take the accumulator from the wireless set to be recharged. Another of the shops was very small and had pinball and bagatelle machines, for which you used tokens. The shop sold groceries, sweets and cakes and if you won on the machines your prize would be a cake with lots of shredded coconut on top. Right opposite, at the entrance of the alleyway was the "Penny drinks" shop that sold sweets, tobacco and fizzy drinks from a big machine. The shopkeeper first put a coloured flavoured tablet into a glass and then topped it up with fizzy water. Naturally, it cost a penny. Sweets were loose in large jars on shelves behind the counter and the whole shop smelled of tobacco and all kinds of confectionery lemon sherbet dabs, pear-drops, clove sticks and during those dark days of sweet-rationing we would buy locusts and Spanish wood, liquorice sticks and dates from Iraq.
My aunt and uncle, the Willards lived next door at No. 8. Uncle Perce had been the curator of the Vestry Road museum for some time. Lucy was a school dinner-lady and they had two sons Clifford and Peter. Clifford was in the Grenadier Guards and Peter married and later lived with his family further down Maynard Rd. Aunt Lucy had put in a good word for us to the landlord and my family moved there after VE Day, but Victory in Japan had yet to be won before WW2 ended
The housing situation was desperate then and the little house was already part occupied by an elderly lady, Miss Coppinger. She had the two upstairs back bedrooms and every morning she would come downstairs through our living room to empty her slop bucket in the outside lavatory and return with a large white enamel jug of fresh cold water from our scullery tap. We came to regard her being there as an intrusion. When she died a neighbour came in to lay her out and put pennies on her eyes. Although she lived very frugally, they found 1400 pounds stg. in notes tucked away in a cupboard, which went to a nephew who never visited her. Dad sealed her rooms and lit a sulphur candle to fumigate them before redecorating them as our bedrooms. By this time Mum and Dad had become owners of the house when the landlord put it on the market.
Kind regards and encouragement,
From Norman Paulding.............Chelmsford....Essex.........14th June 2009
Morning Richard - Having browsed through the "memories"of Walthamstow I can tell you that Dicky Bird Ice Cream was in fact made at the factory of Shales in Shernall Street- I went to St. Georges School at the back of Shales's and I can remember the school getting free Ice Cream in the Summer - towards the latter part of the War- not all the time though.
We were fire bombed out in 1943 in Hale End Road and all of us finisihed up in the Connaught Hosp. My Mum carried the Scars of the Burns until she died.
I still have some problems with this on my forhead now, plus on legs from phosphorus burns during that period.
I still see a mate of mine from those days and he still remembers our house like a blazing torch My Dad had bad burns to his Hands and Arms.
He was also attacked by the Luftwaffe
whilst driving his 47 bus (out of Dalston garage) through Lewisham High
From Eddie Wybrow...............Bournemouth........Dorset.............19th February 2009
SOMEONE MIGHT BE INTERESTED
Hi Richard, I was directed to your sight by Len Hall in Perth W.A. I have enjoyed every bit of it and thought I might write a few lines, if that is alright with you. I arrived in this world on Saturday 27th June 1931 at 18, Kingsland Road Shoreditch. My dads parents lived in Waterson Street, lots of tiny houses (all gone now) so it would seem from Google Earth. From there we arrived at 35,Baronet Road Tottenham, where my sister Audrey was born in September 1933, and looking at a London map, I realize now why my dad liked the Spurs, the ground wasnt that far away. My memory tells me that auntie Ivy, one of my mothers sisters lived there as well. My next recollection is of living in Lea Bridge Road Leyton. Dont know the number but obviously another flat.
A couple of things stay in mind, thats walking to Capworth Road School there and back on my own.(must have been about 4-5 I reckon).The other outstanding memory is watching coaches driving into their depot on the other side of the road. My young mind always wondered how did they drive in through a small opening without crashing! Its taken a few lines but we are now moving forward the next port of call was to 29 Sutherland Road E17, a whole house to live in! There were 26 houses in all with the other side more modern, and some were probably owned rather than rented. The road wasn't tarmaced and wouldnt be made up until after the war. It wasnt nice to walk down when wet and the road carried on with the left hand side empty until you reached the bend, and then there was quite a large wood factory that produced lots of different mouldings.
After that there were about 3 single story factories with the last building making lemonade-R Whites (I think). I dont think we were there very long before factories started to be built, until they reached the part where the ground sloped quite steeply, leaving us kids with a playground suitable for building dens and sliding down the slope on any bit of metal we could find! Right on the bend before the wood factory a family lived there in two large buildings. I dont think they were brick, there was also a gypsy caravan parked there fascinating to go into. These were the Smith family with about 4 children and a big dog called Bruce! I seemed to get on with the family very well and could drop in when I liked. Mr Smith often came down the road with Bruce following, he would always have a chat and was a nice old chap. am wandering already-back to 29.
School had to be sorted out and not too far away was St. Andrews Junior. I think most of the children enjoyed themselves until I suppose came the Sunday we were listening to the radio with my dads brother Charlie and his wife, when the words" We are at war with Germany" - that as everybody should know was September 3rd 1939. Being children it didnt affect us very much but the adults took it a lot more seriously, probably having evacuation on their minds even then.
The authorities had been arranging it for some time so I do not think it was very long before an 8 year old and his 6 year old sister was put on buses to Blackhorse Road station on our ultimate journey to Rushden in Northamptonshire. Herded into a place of reception-I say that with tongue in cheek it was really like a cattle auction! Ill have that one- are those two together?" until in the end you end up in somebodys house. It was another Smith family. The best part was there was a tannery nearby-alright for playing in- I still like the smell of leather.
The house was in Station Road and was only a short walk before you could stand on the bridge above the tracks, and let the smoke go all over you-steam trains what a joy! We must have stunk to high heaven! I loved it then and still have a fondness for steam trains now. I dont think we were there long, a few months probably. Time enough for my sister to have a tooth out whilst screaming the whole school down! The only other thing of merit was having our photograph taken in a local studio of which I still have a framed copy in my hallway.
In spite of the steam trains I was happy to be home again and in my own school. All was still quiet in London which was why I suppose we were allowed home. As 1940 went slowly by it was time to change school that summer , me going to Blackhorse Road Junior school. I would have been 9.In the meantime I was getting to play with the local children that were still about Ivor Morgan lived a couple of doors away he was I believe a couple of years older. Further down Terry Playle and also Jackie Chant lived. On the other side of the road there was Brian Perry, Harry Hopwood and Ronnie Russ .We all played together at various times, opposite our house was Stirling Road ( also unmade).There wasnt a proper road until you reached the older houses, and at the side the big gate into Wells toy factory. There was also a branch of W. Brittains next door. Friends up here were Roy Snowdon and Bobby Ellis. My sisters school friend was June Jarvis, and a few doors away lived Joan Wildman. As the year progressed we had the Dunkirk evacuation, and it wasnt long before the Battle of Britain and the London Blitz started.
The silly thing is this never worried me, I just took it in my stride, what shelter are we going in tonight? We didnt have one of our own, we always found a local one, didnt see Dad, he was fire watching, thats what he said. Anyway School the following day, on our way there was shrapnel collecting time. The really terrible night was when the Docks were hit, and fire turned the sky red. We did not seem to do to badly in E.17, which is until you look at a book called The War over Walthamstow. The two centre pages have a map of the Borough, and you would be surprised at the amount of Bombs, Doodle Bugs, and Rockets etc that landed on us.
I suppose it was after that raid, that the cry went up to get the children out of London again, it did not take long to get the gasmasks in their boxes, feel them on our shoulders, and to be sitting on another train. Nobody knew where we were going, not that it would have meant much anyway, and we arrived in the same County as before, but this time in a lovely village called Flore. We assembled in a hall in the middle of the village, being looked over by various people, this time Audrey and myself were separated, she went a little way from the hall, Green I think was the name of the people. I on the other hand, went to the other end of the village, heading towards the A5 and Weedon. This was Hillside Road.
The lady wasnt very old, and had a young son probably why she picked me out they had a lovely house, standing in its own ground, Tennis court, and a big Orchard. I had entered the World of the Finnemore family, her husband worked in Northhampton, in the shoe industry of course. He must have had a good position, had his own car and could also get petrol. He didnt seem too bad, but I was way out of my depth, through my mind the question was how long are you going to last here? It depends, how long before the novelty wears off it couldnt have been for the money. I was taken to Church on Sundays, which was completely alien to me. The school we went to was a typical village one, I enjoyed every minute there, even if it was a long walk there and back. But all the fields, trees to climb, haystacks to play in, providing you did not get caught.
When we walked to the top of Hillside Road, the houses finished and there were fields either side, at the end was a large gate across the entrance to a farm, a big barn , on the side of the road, we played in there whether we had permission is beyond my memory. Also plenty of fields to wander through, and animals to enjoy, I was in my element, as the song says What a Wonderful World. Our parents would turn up now and again, I expect they struggled to find the money, very little about in those days, even so a much better environment.
Sometime later I caught Measles, and was confined to bed for three weeks, I remember finding it hard to walk at first, legs were like jelly, didnt take long to recover. Im not sure how long I lasted after that, but found myself in the middle of the village, at the Swanns house it was old, and the people were like those I had been brought up with and it was straight down to the school. The garden seemed to go on for ever, with chickens running around and laying eggs wherever it took their fancy, I loved collecting the eggs, and in the morning going back to the house, the smell of Bacon, Eggs, and fried bread all at the same time, complete Heaven. Trying to remember how long one stayed in the different places, after all these years is very difficult, but enjoyed my stay there, and when our parents turned up and said "You're going home", it was quick goodbyes and on the train again. Back to Blackhorse Road school until we reached eleven, unfortunately I couldnt take the exam for grammar school. No way could my parents afford to buy the school uniform, the part is I know it would have been within my grasp to have passed it, going by my regular results during the school terms, I could possibly have made much more of my life, its too late now.
Next school was at the top of Higham Hill Road, and the name was William Elliot Whittingham, it looked a nice and had its own sports field behind the school, luxury indeed. So this was Senior School, we were taught every thing from woodwork, to music. With some teachers capable of teaching many different subjects, not like todays breed if they manage one subject, they think they are Gods gift. The children seem to have grown more responsible, very little bullying, lets face it work would be here in three years, no staying at school until you were adult, and still be as thick as three planks.
The main teacher, for English was Mr Baker, after reading some of this I should have taken more notice of him, but the main man was Mr Watts, even his name was enough to put the fear into the pupils, especially those who were going into his class, he knew that the control was in his hands. Not like today, if you say boo to them your likely to be accused of assault. I think well put that down to crowd who call themselves, do-gooders, not exactly what I call them. I digress when we arrived in Mr Watts class we soon learnt the way he taught us, I thought he was brilliant, even so I had my share of six of the best, sadly lacking today. I still managed to get away with my cheeky things. This teacher took us PT in the hall, also Boxing, in the field, it could be Football, Cricket, Rounders, and also Athletics in class it would be History, Maths, Geography, and Music, this from a man who had probably came out of retirement, because of the War. This was our life until we left, I nearly forgot he also took us Swimming, we used to walk from our school to the top of the High Street, and back again, quite a distance, but at least I learnt to swim.
So the end of July arrived and it was time to leave, I dont want boast, but I finished in my usual place, top of the class, didnt get me anywhere though. So there we were big strong men of 14, what a joke out in the big wide World, at least all the Rockets etc, had stopped, but the War in the far east was still going strong, until the Americans dropped the Atomic Bomb, hostilities finished quickly after that. Before that happened I started work at Harris Lebus, a huge furniture making firm, as a 14 year old it was quite scary, the place massive, even had its own Railway siding, this wasnt to last long though.
One of our neighbours from number two Sutherland Road, came to ask if I was interested in working for him. He worked from home in the Upholstery business. It was easy to say yes. No catching the bus every morning, trying not to be late just walk across the road and into Cyril Jones garage workshop. Far better than a huge factory; a lot more interesting too. I would start stripping the old suites that arrived from customers so they could be brought up to date looking like new. Mrs. Jones used to machine the Rexine together to make the covering for the suites. The bottoms of furniture had webbing across, onto which heavy duty springs were stitched. Hessian was then pulled across and stitched to the other end of the spprings. Then came various layers of horsehair and a soft material to make it all comfortable, and a new covering on top. Finish off with studs to make it all look fancy and thats your lesson for today. W hen new furniture was made, it was picked up by a chap who had a second hand shop in Higham Hill Road, he used to arrive with a horse and cart and if I was lucky enough to go with him, he would let me drive it, up to Palmerston Road and down to Bellchambers, a furniture shop, great experience for me.
As we entered a New Year, more of the forces were being demobbed. Cyril had two brothers. Bert was an army man, and the youngest was in the Navy. Space was now of a premium, but there were a couple of old damaged (but safe) houses in Higham Street that were taken over. So the brothers came home. At least they had a job to go to. I liked the younger one so gravitated to him. A Vauxhall open back van appeared, and another chance for me to drive, when it was dark. (Dont tell anybody!)
Some time later we moved to a shop by the side of St Andrews Road school. Ideal for a café in Blackhorse Road where you could get two of drip and mug of tea. Delicious! Time was beckoning for me to move on, so I went to Holmes Bros. in Billet Road making cabinets for radios etc. The trouble here was that every bench had a pot of glue bubbling away all day. A strong smell indeed.
It is now 1947 and the year started with a cold snap that kept many factories closed, including ours, so to get around I bought myself an old pushbike. Now I was mobile. Work started again and I carried on to the middle of the year when another friend Terry Playle suggested I would be better off learning some engineering skills. So to E. N. Bray at the top of Wood Street. There, I went straight into the machine shop where I discovered Drillers, Tappers, Grinders, Capstans, and Lathes plus others. In those days not many machines had their own power but were driven by belts which were all reliant on the master drive. If that failed everything came to a standstill. There was plenty of micky taking going until it was fixed. I dont have to tell you what was being said but it was done for a laugh. Stan the man soon had them running again to ironical cheers.
As October approached Terry asked me if I was interested in working evenings with him at the Walthamstow Palace. "Let me see if I might like it first" I said. So off we go and the backstage chaps told me what had to be done. At the back of the circle is the limes (the room where the lights are to illuminate the stage). They did not have bulbs, it was operated by carbon rods. These had to be carefully trimmed to function properly. Come the first night, we had a sheet of paper with the acts on. A quick run through to see what colours were needed or if spots or any other effects were reqired. The first week was a bit scary in case you did something wrong. After all, the people on the stage were earning their living. It soon becomes clear though and then the cockiness of youth takes over. We met some of the artists, especially when they wanted something different during their act.
The days were long for us, 7-30 to 5-30. Home for a wash and a quick bite to eat then back on the bike to be ready for the 6-30 show. The second show finished about 10-30 but as we were young, I suppose we had the stamina. Also, after living through six years of war, what was an extra bit of work? It certainly wasnt the money.
When 1949 arrived I decided to pack up the evenings that Easter. That gave me some spare time before the call up letter came and a bit fresher for playing football with Leecroft Sports and Social Club. Also it meant I could watch the Speedway at Harringay on Friday evenings. Even found time to do some Cycle Speedway with the Whipps Cross Comets after meeting a nice young chap called John Brown. I really enjoyed the competition against the other teams. As you can see, there has not been much time for girls, plenty of time later.
Around August time a letter came telling me to go for interviews and medicals to see if I was fit and to find out which Branch of the Forces I wanted to join. I said the Royal Air Force. When my call up papers came for the 19th of October, it was for RAF Padgate. I met another chap on the station with his Father who started talking to my Dad. We said goodbye and found a seat on the train. Our Dads were still talking as we pulled away!
Padgate was to be our station for tests and to be kitted out. After a week we were on our way to RAF West Kirby. This was to be our training camp for the next eight weeks. When the train arrived at West Kirby station, we all trooped off and were told to line up and march to the camp. For those of you who might not know, the camp was the other side of Liverpool and on a clear night you could see Wales. We were soon shown to a billet and where to get your meals. You could even see the inner satisfaction when they said that this was the parade ground where your square bashing is to be done. The mate I met on the train was in the next billet, so we met up later in the canteen. The next day was spent to see how fit we were. The first thing was to race round a hangar. So like an idiot I shot away thinking "This is easy", but before we reached the two thirds stage people were going by me, as if I wasnt there. My first lesson!
Cross country running was another pleasure we were introduced to. Making sure the fields were muddy and plenty of streams to jump across. Dont have to tell you where half the chaps landed. Then, the pleasure of marching on the parade ground with constant shouting of obscenities and everyone hoping they are not going to be picked on. Next was to have us with fixed bayonets charging at a straw bale. Then the hangar where we all wore gas masks. You could not see, eyes were streaming and everyone looking for the way out, what a relief that was when the order "Remove masks" came. Firing ranges were great, until some idiot turned round and said "My rifles jammed corporal" Everybody ducked when that happened. So this was our life for the next eight weeks.
After a month we had a weekend break which was great, except when I went into a toilet took my hat off and forgot to replace it when I came out. Just moving on with mates when a car pulls up with two RAF Police inside. "Wheres your hat airman?" Only then did I realise it was still on my shoulder. It was all too sudden to think of a false name and number. "Thats me in trouble" I thought. It wasnt long after returning to camp before I was marched in to see the CO. Sentenced to a weeks jankers, polish the guardroom, peeling spuds, washing up in the tin room, no washing up liquid then, just soda, lovely.
Life carried on. Drilling, using fire
arms, kit inspections and hut inspections. They obviously loved all that.
Still, passing out parade came round and went off quite well. We were
given our postings for the New Year. My mate George and I were sent to
Leighton Buzzard as store men. This was a much better little camp, down
a country lane, and we soon settled. No more shouting and screaming.
A little way down the road was another camp where
the W.A.A.Fs were stationed although they worked, and had their meals
on the main camp. We all managed to get on with one and other.
A bit of excitement one morning, and I don't mean
when we had the chimney on fire in our billet. Oh no, this was waking
up and the chap opposite saying
The next fun and games we had were on the rifle range for a training session. After which, a little later, a group of us went to Bisley rifle range in Surrey. Everybody was under canvas, a stand pipe for water, a corrugated hut, oil drums, and a plank with holes in, for going to the toilet. It didn't take long to find out who your mates were. The next day, we were told that some of us were shooting while the rest will be in the butt's marking targets. No prizes for guessing where I went.
Life went on nice and smoothly until around July time when a couple of us were told that we were being posted to RAF Mildenhall in Suffolk. I was not a happy bunny but could find no way around it. I had some good mates and didn't want to go anywhere strange. However two of us went by lorry across country to Suffolk to find a huge camp. Along with our arrival were many others from different parts of the Country but to my horror the Yanks were turning up as well. Now I like a quiet life, so I knew that this was going to be a posting from hell. With such an influx, there wasn't room for everyone so back it was back to canvas tents again. We were shown the eating place, working place, and told to parade at eight-o-clock in the morning. Mildenhall was another camp with W.A.A.Fs but not for long! The population probably would have increased very rapidly, with all those randy yanks about.
When our time came for going into a billet we noticed that the rooms which were designed to hold a just a few people were now crammed full with two tier bunks. I grabbed a top one. I didn't fancy being almost on the floor.
The stores section here was much larger than the one we left behind. There were even a couple of offices in a hangar and another room in the same building which had a couple of beds in. These turned out to be the sleeping quarters for guards on night duty. If anyone called for petrol, you'd issue it whatever the time was.
The next thing to get used to was B17s and other American planes such as jet fighters screaming all over the place.
After the last camp where all you saw was a pushbike (although I was very fortunate to deliver a road sign for a camp up country) and you were driven to a field with one or two buildings, with parachutes on your back and wandered over to a plane with three seats. When you were in, the pack of parachute became your seat, fitting into a metal tray. The flight was great, even having control of the joystick, kidding myself being the pilot. A fun day out and the envy of all the lad's on my return.
That was then, this is now so stop daydreaming! It took a while to get used to the new camp but when you begin to make new friends you start to feel better.
Our first weekend home saw me in trouble again!
The coach went through Walthamstow on the way home so I took the opportunity
to get off. Silly boy. When I went to London for the return journey I
saw a coach come out of a turning with Mildenhall on. Of course, my first
reaction was that I'd missed it, so I set off to the railway station where
I was told that there would be nothing until the morning. I went home
and returned the next day. As I was walking to camp, I was given a lift
in a jeep. (Another first). I booked in and was told "You will be
on a charge for being Absent Without Leave". The fact I had told
them earlier I would be late made no difference and so it was that I spent
another seven days of jankers in August, having to wear full kit including
a greatcoat and all webbing. The lads were good, helping me the best they
could, but the irony of all this is that If I had walked up the road where
coach came from, I would have seen that there were a few more coaches
from the Mildenhall firm. "Stupid boy Pike!"
After a while the BSA motor bike was replaced with a 500cc Matchless. What a lovely sound that bike made. Eventually that was sold and an engagement ring took its place. When the firm closed for the 1956 holiday, Phyllis and I married at St Luke's church in Greenleaf Road. We had the reception at Dane Court in Church Hill. My best man was Geoff Dampier, one of my RAF mates. Everyone had a good day.
By this time the firm was planning to move to another factory at Waltham Cross. I travelled backwards and forwards by bus but the novelty of this lasted only a few months and decided that I'd had enough. Ronnie Hinton (another mate of mine) suggested that I tried to get a job where he worked at Associated Fire Alarms. As I liked wiring, and they made intruder alarms, I applied and was offered a job. This was about Easter of 1957, which brings me to another memory.
Towards the end of 1956 I started to have driving
lessons with a chap who I got along OK with. However, after my second
lesson he told me that he couldn't teach anyone for a while as the government
has rationed petrol! This was due to troubles in the Suez. I already had
a date for a driving test but had to apply for another which came back
with a date for the following May.
The month of May soon came around and I was off to Leytonstone for my test. It was an interesting time and I managed to talk my way to getting a pass. Back at work, there was a nice atmosphere to work in and we had a good laugh. Just before Christmas I was struck with appendecitis and was taken to Connaught Hospital in Orford Road to have my appendix taken out. It was a small place and had a good atmosphere. It was actually an enjoyable place to be in. I believe it doesn't exist now. (The building is still there, but it's no longer a hospital. Richard) It's the same with Walthamstow Avenue F.C., why can't these people leave anything alone? The lovely old Walthamstow Palace went and took all my memories with it. I understand there are no Cinema's left in Walthamstow either.
In March 1958, I had a terrible shock when two Police Officers came to the firm, to say that my father had died suddenly at work, and I was needed at home.This was my first experience of a close family death. It was down to me to make all the arrangements for the funeral. There isn't anyone who teaches you how to deal with this, however I muddled through and a week later the funeral was held at Manor Park Cemetery. It was a very cold day with sleet and snow falling.
As for 29 Sutherland Road:- This was a rented property and mother was a sitting tenant but did not want to live there any more. This gave me the chance to buy and Phyllis said "Why not"? We were living in a couple of rooms and it would be nice to have our own place. So off we went to a Solicitors in south London to sign the papers. My mother also had to sign as she was the tenant. I think the cost was only £1250. How could I say no?
My brother in law Ken came to have a look at the electrics, and suggested that we should re-wire it. That was my introduction to house wiring. Paper hanging wasn't a problem and the house was looking good in no time. My mother went to live with my sister Audrey's Mother in law who was also a widow and were company for each other for a while. The old faithful Morris went to Albert, another brother in law. I bought a Vauxhall J type from Peter Allen. It was a good solid car. Peter now lives in Canada with his wife Eileen Myers who used to live next door to Phyllis in Winns Avenue.
The rest of the Year was an anti-climax after everything that went on before.
However, one pleasure was to go to Tonbridge in Kent for weekends with my best man and his wife Doris. Sadly they are no longer with us. 1959 passed by with nothing untoward happening, but the following year my feet were getting itchy again. So I decided to try Fords in Blackhorse Road. You had to go to Dagenham for interviews and medicals. So of I went. It turned out that you worked day's one week and nights the next. Not a clever thing to do as it puts your metabolism was all over the place in no time. But the idea was to carry on, build up the Bank balance and finish when you'd had enough. That's what I did towards the end of the year.
I rang AFA and asked if I could go back. "No trouble" they said and put me into the main building. Although there, I was still working for my old section. This carried on for a few weeks until one day the Manager asked me if I would like to take over the section. A couple of the older hands had been asked but had said no. They did like to use their own staff if possible, so I suppose they thought "We'll ask Eddie. He'll be daft enough to take it". I did too! Another challenge I thought.
Come the new year, another heartache bestowed itself upon us. Phyllis's sister Gladys died from the dreaded Cancer. Then in June, her father Bill also left us. That was a sad time. However, there was some good. That was when Pete and I went to Wembley to see Walthamstow Avenue win the Amateur Cup. We had seen all the games leading to the final. A good end to the season. Phyllis and I aslo went to Scotland that Year with my sister and her husband and a good time was had by all. A really lovely country. We also starting having party's with the Hinton's and the Henderson's. We used to go to each others places. At least we were trying to enjoy ourselves.
The work carried on and I coped the best I could making sure I wasn't like the chap at Bray's. If there was a problem I dealt with it quietly. No shouting. Never could see the point of that. 1962was the year that we decided to go to Belgium and Holland with some of Phylls's family. People from work were asking "Your not going to fly are you"? My answer was that it was better than the ferry. We flew from Southend to Ostend and spent the week there in beautiful sunshine on a wonderful beach. The second week we set off to Bunde in the south of Holland, in a farmhouse type of place. This was all good for slowing down a little and the sunshine stayed with us. We hired a shooting brake for the journey there and back. It was my turn to drive the return to Ostend and we managed to get back alright and finish our holiday there but when we arrived at the airport, we found it fog bound. No planes flying at all. With some panic, we managed to get on a ferry which brought us across a fog bound Channel in pitch darkness. All you could hear was the sound of foghorns all the way back. Quite scary.
The following Year we had a break on the Isle of Wight in one of the camps there. The first night at dinner we were sitting with a couple from Tottenham. They had a car with them and we all agreed to spend the week together so we saw quite a bit of the island. On leaving we agreed to keep in touch and met up later back home.
n the meantime the word was circulating that AFA
were moving to another factory. It turned out that they were taking over
a building in Billet Road. I just carried on as usual until the move took
place.We also learnt that another firm was to join us, so it was going
to be firealarm and iIntruder alarm equipment. More staff too, that's
why we moved. Changes were taking place. Now everone was supplied with
a coat to wear - each section a different colour. If you were in the wrong
place, you stood out. It was alright for me but we had red collars so
they could keep an eye on me as well. We settled in alright and at least
I did not have to test the jobs the chaps turned out. As the time went
by, I had the job of interviewing for staff. At least I could pick and
Things moved on at a reasonable pace until the 24th of March 1965 when Martin was born. This was the time to tell the firm that I was going to leave and move away. It was much too far to commute, so it's goodbye. Finally, in 1968, we moved to Bournemouth in Dorset.
Those of you that read this little memory will have to realise that I have condensed 30 years, into these pages.
If I had gone into too much detail, Richard would
not have room on his site. Time to stop I think and hope some of you will
get some enjoyment when reading this passage of time which has gone by.