Visitors e-mails 2010



From Shamus Kenny.................Highams Park........................24th December 2010

I've just spent a very pleasant time looking at your wonderful website. A fine body of work and set out in a very interesting and informative way. Well done!
I'm afraid I can't add any interesting stories as I'm a relatively new (1987) resident of Highams Park - though I do regularly explore the borough by bicycle.
I just wanted to write to say thank you and to encourage you to keep up the excellent work.

Regards (and Merry Christmas)

Thanks for these words of encouragement Shamus. [Richard]

From Alan Thompsom...............North Norfolk........................12th December 2010


Hi Richard,

Here are some memories from the school I attended between 1953 and 1959. I hope it is of some use.

School days, school days, dear old golden rule days!

Who said: “Schooldays are the best days of your life?” I’d like to meet that person face-to-face as the adage was oft quoted during my tender years. I have never agreed with that statement and still don’t. Neither did my Mum who told me that she always “hated school”. Although not particularly academic, she was always commended for her neat writing, a gift she possessed until she died, her needlework, and embroidery.

I started school in the September of 1953 at the Infants school attached to Higham Hill Junior Mixed School, which at that time stood at the corner of St Andrews Road and Sunderland Road backing a light industrial estate. The Infants block was built in 1897 and was typical of school buildings of that by-gone era with tall windows. One of the turrets at the school gate still exists at the time of writing although the school was pulled down at the end of the 1960s to make way for an office development. A new school – Edward Redhead, named after the former Walthamstow MP - was opened in Higham Hill Road, which in the 1950s had been wasteland between blocks of houses and a tin hut, which was used for cubs and other church activities. Mum took me to school with Betty downstairs and told me that I evidently said on the first day, “It’s raining Mum, let’s go home and come back another day”. My wish was not granted, upon entering the school hall, the Headmistress Miss Peterkin clapped her hands for the attention of the gathered mothers and their offspring and registered us in the main hall of the infant’s school.

Eventually we were led to classrooms and I don’t remember much of what we were put to that day, just that I didn’t want to be there and go home. There was always a mustiness of a smell in the main corridors. Sort of lead pencil-ish mixed with rubber plimsolls.

As “dinnertime” came, I took it upon myself to walk home alone – the first time I had ever done so and actually crossed the main Higham Hill Road unassisted to make the last few yards up Claremont Road. When I knocked at the door Mum answered and to this day I still remember the look of sheer surprise and horror that I had come home as I was supposed to stay for school dinner. Well, nobody told me – or perhaps I just wasn’t listening (again). After telling me in no uncertain terms that I was supposed to stay, she escorted me back where I did have my school dinner – ham as I recall.

The headmistress said she didn’t know how I got out, as to be fair, supervision was strict in those days. Harry Houdini would have had a job!

We were given small bottles of milk to drink just before playtime in the morning and usually took a chocolate biscuit with us to eat at playtime, eating in the classroom at milk-break appeared to be at the discretion of the teacher. Once I was given a severe telling off by one supply teacher in the juniors whereas others didn’t appear to mind. Always on hand was a lady to bandage cuts and crazes. Her name was Mrs Davis a no-nonsense yet kindly woman with grey hair and she wore glasses but you knew you could always go to her in times of trouble.

We were taught to read and write first – arithmetic came later. Our first teacher was Miss Goddard and usually we would have blackboard-slates in front of us and we would draw or copy with chalk what the teacher had written down on the main blackboard. Occasionally, we would draw on paper or paint until someone knocked the water over – and it usually happened at least once during a lesson, or we would use wax crayons and that smell I can still recall to this day.

Six months later we moved into Mrs Pat Nelson’s class. It was she who probably taught me to read and write. She had a set of pink cards with letters and a drawing on one side and on the reverse a simple lower-case letter. We would recite the cards a-for-apple, b-for-ball, c-for car, q-for-queen and so on. Evidently one time I was reciting a-for-Alan as I walked back to my desk to which Mrs Nelson retorted, “a-for –Alan - sit down!”

We also learnt to read the Dick and Dora books; I believe in some schools it was John and Janet. But we had Dick and Dora with their mother and father. We would have a book card, which the teacher would mark out telling us which page we could progress to next.

When we had finished a book three or four of us would go to the headmistress’s study to read a passage or two and we would receive a sweet as a special reward from Miss Peterkin’s sweet tin…but only one.

Later we learnt to chant the times tables, as I recall we got up to the four times table in the infants. Once two-is two, two two’s a four, three twos a six….

If we had done well in lessons we would be given a star next to our name on the wall chart containing all class names. And if we received a gold star, then that was the ultimate accolade as to our academic capabilities.

It’s amazing to think that such as our imagination was, we played “he” or games in the playground that would entail one person “not being it” as they were counted out. While chanting a rhyme - it would go something like: -

My little ship

Sails on the water

Like a cup and saucer


The one counting would point to each individual as they were counted out. Probably the last person to be counted would be “he” who would have to give you a few seconds to run elsewhere in the playground. If you were caught by “he” you would then be “he”. There were also cowboys and Indians and we boys always wanted to be Roy Rogers. The one who couldn’t be him had many a sulk. Funnily enough many years later I actually saw Roy Rogers and his wife Dale Evans at the ATV studios at Borehamwood during a recording of the Muppets. And after years of seeing him in films singing songs about the old west and TV shows, there he was, as ordinary as the next man.

The girls also had their skipping ropes and from an early age many of them could skip very well and occasionally two girls would skip in the same rope chanting some rhyme like “The farmer wants a wife….” Or skipping cross-handed.

Invariably a game would be someone’s and the usual question was who’s game is it? If you were part of that set then you were in. Otherwise go and find someone else’s game.

The desks were flat tabletops, which were strategically placed so there would be six of us sitting around the rectangle. Two of my earliest friends then were Kenny Weeks and John Hammond. Ken was excellent at reading. In a later class he went passed me in the reading tests and by the end of the term was well ahead. He later went to Technical College in Walthamstow. John and I on the other hand remained in more or less the same classes right the way through to late 1959.

There were three main teachers we had between 1953 and 1955 – Miss Goddard, Mrs Nelson and Mrs Etheridge. On reflection Miss Goddard was probably only in her 20s but at that time didn’t everyone who was bigger look old?

Discipline in the classroom even at infants age was strict. It was not uncommon for a child – usually boys - to be slapped on the back of the legs. I escaped that until junior’s school but some kids seemed to make a habit of getting a dose of corporal punishment. Whether it actually did any good to perpetual offenders is a matter of conjecture but I have to say if one classmate received a slap, seldom did they go back for a second helping.

The toilet block I remember was a small out-house and rather smelly. Inside the boys loo there was the usual gutter and four cubicles. One of the boys Raymond Quinton, would stand at the end of the aisle separating the four cubicles and pointing his necessary towards the gutter for a distance of several feet would yell out – “Look out kids, here comes a big piss”.

We also used to receive visits from a nurse from the local health authority to make sure we didn’t have head-lice. These ladies were sometimes referred to, rather unkindly, as the “Nitty-Nora”. My Mum was once asked to go and see the headmistress and when she arrived Miss Peterkin, began, “Mrs Thompson I don’t know how to tell you this..” Mum immediately flew into a panic thinking I had had an accident. Miss P went on: “But we think your Alan has a ‘dirty head’”. There’s a euphemism, if ever I heard one! I suppose it sounded better than “Ere mate’ve got fleas!” Mum took me to Beards chemist in Higham Hill Road and was given some treatment for head-lice. However, it transpired that it wasn’t head lice at all, but the Amami setting lotion my Mum used to put on my hair to keep it stuck down. I never liked wearing that stuff, but I didn’t have much say in the matter. And I still don’t like grease on my hair.

As we moved into the juniors there were 600 children in the school at that time with an estimated 500 in the infants. Every face was white as multiculturalism was yet to happen.

My Dad knew the headmaster of the school until 1953, Mr Bunting but he’d said that he would have retired by the time I started.

Our first morning in September 1955 was in one of two main halls the school had. Mr Vivian – a tall dark man with glasses - the headmaster stood on the platform at one end and read out our names and asked us to put up our hands if we heard our name. Having been duly identified we made our way to a classroom at the opposite end of the hall. Our first teacher in “Class 16” C stream (A and B above us) was Miss Betty or Barbara Fulcher. She was probably only in her 20s but one thing we learnt very quickly was that she had a short fuse and it was not a good idea to upset her in any way. I did once after some months and received a single slap on the back of the legs as I returned to my desk. I was lucky; other boys in the class would receive up to five heavy slaps. Two of the boys Brian Towell and Raymond Quinton, whom I knew from Infants school, were smacked almost every day.

To be fair, she did congratulate me on my manners on one occasion.

One irony to this class, was the fact that one of the girls, I later married – Wendy Wright, who like me, was aged just seven. There were – as Miss Fulcher put it once – “three foolish girls in this class”, Annette Church, Jennifer Bishop and Wendy Wright who kept the class laughing for most of the school year. Everything was a giggle. Wendy even thought it funny when our Scottish geography teacher Mr Fleming slapped one of the boys John Blowes on his backside. Wendy repeated the double slap on the empty seat next to her before being engulfed in a fit of giggles! I doubt that master Blowes found it quite so amusing.

On another occasion, Wendy found talking to the person next to her or looking out of the window infinitely preferable and more interesting than paying attention to the teacher. Miss Fulcher was about to deliver a verse of “I had a little donkey…” and with eyes transfixed over the top of the book at Wendy, she began: “I had a little…. Wendy Wright…!” Well if nothing else we did learn how to have a laugh in that class – providing we didn’t upset the teacher. On one occasion there was so much noise going on that she shouted crossly “Class 16 will you shut-up!!” Whether we did or not, I can’t remember.

Wendy and I remained in that class for a year and on one occasion, I fell over in the playground, grazing my knee, not seriously, but I did cut myself. Wendy gave me her handkerchief to bandage it first. I don’t think I ever returned the handkerchief but many years later in 1997, I bought another one and when I next saw Wendy’s Mum and Dad I handed it to her Mum saying “Sorry for the delay!”

There was always country dancing on a Monday afternoon in one of the halls. We would learn traditional English dancing starting with the shoe-maker, then sides together left, sides together right…. we later progressed to the Cumberland reel and other dances that our grandparents probably did in their schooldays. The boys would have to put shorts and slippers on, the girls would usually tuck their blouses or shirts into their blue knickers.

The class of 55 picture which was published in the Waltham Forest Guardian in 1996 helped me find Wendy after some 40 years when some of us met for a school reunion at Stansted Airport. Also in that class were Susan Wafer a left-handed particularly bright girl keen to learn and she went on to “A class” before leaving for senior school as we all did in 1959. I am certain she did well in a profession or career.

There was Brenda Smith who later suffered eye problems in adulthood, Jeffrey Beard, whose mother my Mum knew, Linda Mumford a neighbour of Ken Weeks, who did not go on to have a very happy life, Anne Webb a particularly tall girl whom I met many years later as a receptionist at a large dental practice in Walthamstow, and John Wass whom I met some 12 years later in Ilford which is another story which I’ll come to later.

In 1956, it was time to move into our new second year classes after taking an end of term test. Our next teacher was Mrs Lilian Turrell, again she was a disciplinarian but could also be very kindly. The one thing that baffled me at the age of eight was why all of us boys had to do needlework but we did and I eventually learnt the stitches. My early attempts probably had Mrs Turrell in stitches!

It was not unusual at this time to have to go to alternative classes if our own teacher was away. One of the best classes to go to was Mr Kane who would take us for handicraft class normally. But he did have a certain way with children and could hold a class in check. In fact, when reprimanding one of the girls in our class in the first year, Maureen Watson, a particularly nervous girl, she retorted: “I’m gonna tell my mum of you”. Mr Kane with raised eyebrows over his golden-rimmed glasses replied: “You mind I don’t tell my mother of you!” To which the whole class descended into rapturous laughter.

The morning always started off with assembly and in the first and second years, we would have to share the Hymnbooks between two or three of us. The books themselves had a dark red cover, which in most cases was almost falling away from the spine and the pages well thumbed. By the second year a new batch of hymn books in smart blue covers were delivered with the same hymns but different numbers in the book. Christian worship and Scripture were an integral part of our learning process. It’s a pity that later radical thinking in education did not hold religion in such high esteem.

It could be argued that more wars are fought in the name of religion than anything else but then again those who perpetrate it distort the real meaning. I may not be a good Christian but at least it gave me grounding for life that I could base my own beliefs and standards on.

Will we ever forget the Hymns we sang – Praise my soul the King of Heaven; Let us with a gladsome mind; He who would valiant be; Jesus good above all other and the mammoth All things bright and beautiful for which the opening verse, which was printed in italics, would also be the chorus.

Opening verses of the Hymns would be with the music and the words broken to make it easier to sing the inflections:

Let us with a glad-some mind

Praise the Lord for He is kind

For Hi-is mercy’s ay endure

Ev-er faith-full, ever sure

We also sometimes sang traditional English songs. These were part of our national heritage not like “all this pop music”. Words in pop music, we were told were senseless. Therefore, I could never understand why we subjected to one nautical song I recall quite clearly with a chorus that went;


you most done

so clear the track

let the bullgine run!

Answers please - on a postcard.

About seven months in to the second year, we had a change in teacher. We understood that Mrs Turrell was not well although she did return to take another class in the early summer. We then had a Miss Gatland, who could also be quite fierce when she chose to be. As the summer of 1957 approached our thoughts were turned to our next year - the third. This time we were told that they didn’t know who our teacher was but upon arriving back at school in the September, we were introduced to Miss Freda Griffiths, a short and thick-set welsh lady probably in her 30s.

I got on quite well in her class coming third in the end of term exam in 1958. She brought in a point scoring system divided up into four teams of which I was captain of one. If a transgression of some sort was found out, it was usually minus five to whoever had done it, therefore damaging the team’s efforts to become top team of the week. In this way the team would probably have a go at whoever did it – and it worked. Good work was praised with more points. She was not a strict disciplinarian, but you knew who was in charge!

In September 1957 my Dad bought a television from Plesseys for my Mum’s 35th birthday. It was a Defiant 17-inch with a green screen and a 12-channel selector. Of course at that time there was only BBC and ITV London that could be received but it did open up a new vista for me, not only where entertainment was concerned, but also education. Any time I was not well I would watch the schools broadcast in the afternoon. Both channels had a complement of schools programming.

At school we relied on the schools radio broadcast from the BBC Home Service. There were three huge yellow radios with a built-in speaker one each in both of the halls and one in a classroom, which we used, in the fourth year. Our teacher in the fourth year was a Mr Gerald Finlay, a kindly man with curly hair but who could also be very strict. I respected him because he was understanding and would try and bring out the best efforts in the pupil.

I was always allowed to act; the class loved it because I made them laugh. I remember Kenny Everett saying in his autobiography, if you make people laugh at school – you’re less likely to get hit! One playlet we did was me playing the farmer with either Maureen Watson or Pauline Underwood as my wife. With what I thought was a gift for farce, I turned it into a bit of a comedy in the third year and something similar in the fourth.

Miss Griffiths did say to me on one occasion, you should be going on the stage. Perhaps that did have some bearing on what came in later life.

There were some male teachers at the school: Mr King, a second Mr King, Mr Swan Mr Pettifer who seldom smiled, Mr Wood, Mr Fleming, Mr Richards and Mr Finlay, the latter of whom taught us in the fourth year. Two elderly women, both spinsters who had taught some of our class’s parents, remained at the school until about 1958. They were Miss Steadley a portly lady with a bun of grey hair and Miss Archer a taller woman with grey hair and whiskers on her chin to match. Miss Steadly was a music teacher – sometimes referred to as “Miss Deadly” – and although I wasn’t in her regular class I heard that she seemed to enjoy bending naughty boys over the piano stall for a dose of the discipline that was common in those days. I have to say that she could also be quite amusing!

That last year in the fourth form I suppose was among the more enjoyable school days. Mr Finlay was a good teacher but woe betide anyone who slacked in his class. He too could be amusing, and I don’t doubt a teacher needs a good sense of humour. On one occasion Maureen Watson told him that I had moaned at her….to which he replied: “You’re enough to make anybody moan”. But did reprimand me for whatever I had said. But at least with him if anything was said, it was finished with, he never bore a grudge. Later in the 60s he went on to become headmaster of Maynard Road primary school. I last saw him there on a visit around 1974 and spoke over the phone in 2003.

There was always a sports day each year with the 100 yards flat race, the hoops and the sack race – the easiest way was to put your feet in the corner and run – if you could without falling over. Sports days were held at a field on Billet Road and at least it was an afternoon off lessons. I was never a keen sportsman but I did enjoy some and on one occasion actually got to play Centre Forward in a football match scoring a goal during a sports period. It may not sound much, but for a 10-year-old boy of my physique, it was like winning the lottery.

On another occasion, my Dad and I went with my class and Mr Finlay to see the England v West Germany boys match at Wembley. Mum had come down to the school on St Andrews Road to see us on the coach. She was going off to the hardware shop to buy some paraffin for the heater at home. While there it appeared someone couldn’t go and there was a spare ticket. Mr Finlay offered it to my Mum who was standing on the pavement with cream paraffin can in hand.

“What can I do with this?” she asked. It was put into the boot of a teacher, Mr Richard’s car until we returned. So off we trundled to Wembley to see the match. Mum said she had enjoyed it but confessed that on one occasion she may have been cheering the wrong side!!

All the best



Walthamstow was built up as a light industrial town from the early part of the century. Its transport system had been developed as the town expanded and the population rose. Electric Trams operated by the local councils were in evidence throughout the borough in the 1930s with one major route, the 99, connecting Chingford Mount to the Dock areas. Another, the 57 linked the same route to Leyton then on towards Hackney, Shoreditch and Liverpool Street Station.

During the time I personally remember there were seven main trolleybus routes, which criss-crossed through the borough with twin overhead wiring.

Route 557 replaced the 57 tram running from Chingford Mount to Liverpool Street Station, the 623 from Manor House to Woodford (Napier Arms), 625 Wood Green to Woodford (Napier Arms) with an extension weekday rush hours from Wood Green to Winchmore Hill and there was also another extension to Enfield Town although this service only ran to and from the Wood Green area.

Route 685 ran from the Crooked Billet to Canning Town over a former tram route. The route had been extended from Gloucester Road to cover the remainder of Billet Road, the one and a half miles to the Crooked Billet.

Weekday rush hours and Sunday afternoons it was extended from Canning Town to Silvertown Station and there was also a short working route that ran Monday-Friday rush hours to North Woolwich (Free ferry) from the West Ham area. From Walthamstow – Crooked Billet it also had two short workings one to Lea Bridge Road the other on to Downsell Road just beyond Leyton underground station.

Its sister route the 687 ran daily from the Crooked Billet to the Docks. This route had previously been tram route 87 which ran from Leyton (Bakers Arms) to the Docks. When trolleybuses were introduced in the 1936-37 era, it had been re-routed through Leyton on to the Crooked Billet following route 685.

If either route was running late towards Walthamstow, they would be terminated at Sinnott Road using a battery operation when the trolley booms were disengaged from the twin overhead wiring.

The 697 commenced in 1937 when trolleybuses were introduced on the Chingford Mount to Docks routings. Tram route 99 became trolleybus route 699 in 1937 and the two routes remained very much in parallel only separating in the Plaistow area before making their way to the Royal Victoria and Albert Docks. Services on all of these routes were frequent, never more than a few minutes wait at the bus stop.

Two more trolleybus routes “scraped” into the borough at the Waterworks Corner – the 555 was diverted on Sundays from Leyton (Bakers Arms) through Whipps Cross on to Woodford (Napier Arms). The 581 ran daily to the same terminus where both routes met the 623 and the 625 in the greenery of Woodford. Both the 555 and the 581 ran back to Bloomsbury – the 555 via Shoreditch Church and the Clerkenwell Road and the 581 via Dalston and Islington.

London Transport motorbus operations comprised five main routes 34,35, 38, 41 and 144 with two Sunday workings - the 35A during the summer and the 84.

Route 34 ran weekdays from the Crooked Billet to Arnos Grove station or on to Barnet Church. It also had an offshoot route the 34B that ran from the Crooked Billet to Brimsdown Power Station Monday-Friday rush hours. On Sundays route 84 which had been extended from its weekday terminus at Arnos Grove station, would run from the Crooked Billet on the 20 plus miles to St Albans.

Route 35 ran from Chingford Hatch through the affluent area of Walthamstow, Highams Park, on to Leyton then on the London leg through to Clapham Common (Old Town) in South London. A sister route 35A also ran over the same route on Summer Sundays but parting company in Chingford to terminate at the Royal Forest Hotel by Chingford Plains.

Route 38 connected Chingford (Royal Forest Hotel), Walthamstow and Leyton with the West End terminating at Victoria Station. On summer Sundays it was extended to Epping Forest (Wake Arms) from Chingford. Many years later it was cut back to Leyton and in the 1990s cut back again to Clapton although the remainder of the route remains much the same. Sister route 38A ran from Loughton scraping the borough at the Waterworks Corner and joining the 38 at the Bakers Arms. Apart from a slight rerouting in the late 50s replacing trolleybus route 581 in the Hackney area, it followed the 38 to Victoria. Many years later, the 38A was withdrawn altogether.

Route 41 during normal hours ran from Highgate - Archway Station to Tottenham Hale. It was extended Monday-Friday rush hours through Walthamstow to South Woodford, Gants Hill and on to Ilford Station. This route at that time was the only one to operate RTW buses in the area. They were eight foot wide giving a wider gangway on upper and lower decks. With the trolleybus conversion programme in the early 1960s, it was completely rerouted through Walthamstow to Leyton and Stratford weekdays.

Route 144 ran from Turnpike Lane Station through Edmonton past the Crooked Billet junction on to the Waterworks Corner where it followed the 41 to Ilford Station and ran every day.

There were two Eastern National routes – the 251 ran from Wood Green to Southend via Forest Road on a daily basis every 15 minutes. It had limited stops in Walthamstow viz: Standard Junction, Palmeston Junction, Bell Corner, Wood Street and the Waterworks Corner. The 322 ran from North London to Braintree via Dunmow but this service was irregular and again with limited stops.

There was one Green Line route – the 718 that ran single deck (RF) coaches. This route ran from Windsor through the West End, to Walthamstow and on to Epping. In the mid 1950s the service was extended to Harlow New Town. It ran every half hour and at weekends would be packed with passengers.

There was no Walthamstow Central Station in those days although the idea for the Victoria Line had been mooted in the 50s. The first leg was not opened until 1969 when it ran as far as Finsbury Park, later extended to Victoria and later still to Brixton. Nearest Underground station in the 1950s was Leyton on the Central Line. This station was on the surface and northbound continued on the surface to its destination at Epping with its northern branch on to Ongar. The Hainault branch had three stations “underground”. There was another short-working branch from Woodford to Hainault via Roding Valley, Chigwell and Grange Farm. Much of the surface track on the main line had previously been British Railways and electrified to connect the Central Line to Liverpool Street, after the war. A tunnel had been bored between Leyton and Stratford towards the City and West End – it took a mere 61 seconds to go through.

There were two British Railways commuter Lines – first the Kentish Town line which ran through North London to Walthamstow (Blackhorse Road) and on to Barking and then the Dock areas of South Essex or to Southend Central and Shoeburyness. The second commuter line ran from Chingford to Liverpool Street. There were four stations in Walthamstow, Hoe Street, later to become the Victoria Line terminus “Walthamstow Central”, Walthamstow, Blackhorse Road and St James Street. The Liverpool Street route connected with the electrified commuter routes to Essex and express routes to East Anglia from Liverpool Street

These trains were steam powered and whose carriages were usually of the individual slam door variety.

To venture to the seaside, if you didn’t have a car like us, you would probably take a train, or as we did, the coach. There was one company, Thorpe Coaches, in nearby Hamilton Road who did some trips but invariably it would be the larger companies that would take you to the coast for a holiday. There were two coach depots in Lea Bridge Road and a pick-up point at Manbey Park Road near Maryland Station in Stratford. George Ewer Coaches had made a bid for Thorpe’s in the mid 50s but they had resisted any take over. Ewers by the end of the 50s owned Grey Green Coaches of Stamford Hill and South London-based Orange Luxury Coaches. One of their pick up points for south coast destinations was Manor House LT station.


From David Hollings......................Canvey Island.................25th November 2010

Hello Richard

My Name is David Hollings. I was born in Verulam Avenue in 1944 and went to school in Gamuel Rd Infants as you did. I later moved to Butterfields near between Whipps Cross and the Bakers Arms where I lived until moving to Canvey Island at the age of 14.

The purpose of my writing to you is to ask if any of your readers has any information about a bakery in Hoe Street which I believe was called "Holdstocks".

They had 3 shops around the town as far as I can remember. The Hoe street branch which was a few doors down from the Granada Cinema going towards the Bell Corner. Another one near the top of the High street and one in Forest Road between the Standard and the Palmerston.

They were fairly significant in that they used horse drawn carts for their deliveries into the late 50's and early 60's.

I, in fact worked for them as a delivery boy for a couple of years before moving away. The guy I worked for was Terry Worth and he had a brother called Laurie who also worked for the same business.

It was recently that I had a conversation with a retired farmer about how horses were used aound towns for transport which has sparked my memories of these couple of years. As I have no photos of any of the horses or fellow workers I was wondering if you or any of your readers can help me?

I went to school at Maynard Rd Junior School and Joseph Barrett Senior School which was later renamed Warwick Secondary School for Boys. I was very friendly with the following lads. Frank Cahill, Peter Underwood, Roger Gallant,Tommy Braham,Tony Wiley and Patrick Hornby. They were all from the area around Butterfields where I lived.
I do have a school photograph from my short time at Gamuel Road Infants School where I knew a Jill Perry and a boy called Derek. I will try to get my son to scan it and send it to you, it would have been taken about 1949/50.

I was fascinated by all the Photographs on your website the then and now were especially interesting as my Dad was a trolley bus driver for many years based at Walthamstow Depot.

Many thanks

Dave Hollings

If anyone has any information about Holdstocks Bakery, please email me and I will pass if on to Dave.




From Duncan Monte......................Netherlands................23rd September 2010

Just wanted to say thank you for a trip down ‘memory lane’. I myself was born in 1970 and lived in Highams Park and then Leyton and spent much of my youth in and around Woodford/Chingford/Leyton. I am now working in the Netherlands and was just thinking of the ‘old days’ and was pleasantly surprised to find your website. I think my father and mother will remember some of the much older pictures more than myself, but it always amazes me how places change over, what is, a relatively short period of time. I will definitely pass on the website to my father who will be just as interested as I was/am.

Thanks again for all your hard work,
All the best,
Duncan Monte


From Mike Shann.......................Barnet Herts.................23rd August 2010


This may be of interest.

My father, John (Ron) Henry Shann, was a foreman at Temple Mills for about 30 years. He died in 1986 at the age of 65, two weeks after his 65th birthday, so must have spent most of the early years at Temple Mill after it was 'reborn' in the 1950's.

During that period the yard was used for everything and anything, as you would expect but one of the regular users was a circus. I believe this circus was Billy Smart's but am not 100% certain. My father helped unload, and load, all types of animals and was given free tickets to a show. The show in question was being shown on TV and I made my one and only appearance on 'the box'. It must have been early in the 1960's.
I have a vague recollection that the circus always set-up the 'Big Top' on Wanstead Flats.

Also in the early 1960's (I believe it was at this time) was a Royal visit to Temple Mills by the Queen. Someone may be able to confirm the date. My father was given the honour of unfurling the Royal Standard as the Queen stepped from the Royal limo. He was very proud of his contribution that day.

Hope this is of some interest to you.
Mick Shann


From Graham Coult.................................................3rd August 2010

Dear Richard,
I'm sure somebody has already told you this, but just in case, the photographs on your mystery pictures page depict West Hoathly on the Bluebell Railway. The tracks were taken up and the station demolished but the Bluebell Railway subsequently relaid the tracks and reopened the line through to Kingscote (though they did not re-open West Hoathly station).

I enjoyed your unusual train ride pictures.

Best wishes,


From Barry Brown....................Kent...............9th July 2010



Love the website! Well done for taking the time to build it.

Initially I was researching a model railway idea for photos of the section of Barking station where the Blackhorse Road overground station connected (before they closed the real Queen's Road and renamed Blackhorse Road).
(It is now two separate words Black Horse.) [Richard]

I was born at 208 Brettenham Road in June 1964. It's one of the block of Warner Estate maisonettes built after dear Adolf flattened a range of the original 1900s houses with an aerial mine.
At that time Walthamstow was in the County of South West Essex, and that's what my birth certificate says. When I get told of about my driving then I tell them "it's because I'm an Essex man".
My later father was an electronics engineer working for Stanwood Electrical who had the corner shop on the crossroads at the bottom of Chingford Mount Road. It was the one on the left heading down the Mount towards the Crooked Billet.
My mother worked for a while in the DECCA record factory behind the Crooked Billet before having my brother and I. Occassionally she would help out at her Aunt's transport café in Queens Rd near the coal yard.
In those days we used to walk just about everywhere and thought nothing of walking to my Uncle's doctor surgery near Chingford railway station and or down to Grandparents near St.James St railway station. If we were a bit flush that month we used the #69 bus as a treat. How many people jump in their car for this now?
Seeing the photos on the website brought it all back to me.
* Chapel End Infant & Junior schools.
* The bus garage near the swimming baths (another treat if we could afford it)
* Lloyd's Park backed onto our garden so in effect I had the whole park and the pond to play with
* The Warner Estate maintenance man pushing his handcart around the streets repairing properties and repainting houses day in - day out. You'd have thought that was a job for life in those days
* Homework done in the library at the end of Brettenham Road instead of copying it off the internet
* Walthamstow Avenue F.C.
* We used to take part in flower shows at the "Davis & Timmings Turned Screw Parts Co" in Billet Road or in the hall behind St.Johns church. Hours were spent preparing the chrysanthemum heads with cotton buds so that the reflex leaves looked even all over...
* When the wind was in the wrong direction you could smell what sweet flavourings were being made at the Bush, Boak & Allen site further down Billet Rd. Or even the paint being used to make the toys cars at the Britains factory
* Coppermill Lane was one particular haunt, remembering to duck your head as you rode a push bike through the 4 foot headroom tunnel
* My Nan's house was near Essex Rd and I used to play in the park there. The entrance gates were just to the left of the arch shown in your pictures. The access road ran down to the pavillion and playing fields behind and the dare used to be to walk across the black sewer pipe over the stream without falling into the mud. We knew to stay away from the big storm drains though! The spinney of trees next to the pavilion was great for a game of soldiers
* Testing the 4-minute warning sirens each month. Our nearest one was mounted on a huge mast at the Crooket Billet bus terminus. The one that used to be outside the pub that is now an underpass. I was only 6 at the time and thankfully never understood the problems of Cold Wars and Cuba.
* And I vaguely remember going up to the Lord Mayor's show and Oxford St shopping and seeing the last of the steam trains at Liverpool St station but I would only have been about 3 1/2 thenso it's a very vague memory.
* Apparently they used to put fog warning caps on rails in bad weather. As the train came down the line it used to alert the station master and afterwards the porter would have to go and fit a new set. Mother says you used to be able to lay in bed (Clacton Road) and hear the trains going up & down the line in the morning by the small explosions.

Well I eventually met a lady who became my wife - I moved to Kent to be with her. And the vicar who marrried us.......................grew up as a barrow boy in Selbourne Rd. It's a small world indeed.

I often felt I was born in the wrong era and would have preferred growing up in the 50s.
I returned to Walthamstow 2 summers ago for a day. On reflection I think I was right. But that could also be because I've become accustomed to a more rural lifestyle.



From Gilly Bowes...............Woodford...................8th July 2010

Hi Richard,
Just found your site - I also lived in Theydon St from 1955 until 1971.

I am trying to find out if anyone remembers the alleyway along Walthamstow High Street that had a little sort of club-house where I used to go to for ballroom dancing. It is really driving me mad, as most of my old friends from that area think I am mistaken (I am not that senile yet).
I think it was somewhere near Grubby's veg stall and Sainsburys. It was not down the allleyway with cobbled stones and the little book shop.

Help please. I love your site it brings back great memories.
Thanks for your time,

Problem Solved! It is the Buxton Club by the side of Sainsbury's. Had a reconnoitre on Saturday afternoon and found it. Gilly can now sleep at night! Click here for photo. (Richard)



From John Stott......................York......................17th May 2010

Hello there!
Thank heavens someone else remembers 'Billy Bean and his machine'..came across your site when I put Billy Bean into Google (The things that it can find!)

I am also 1946 vintage and live in York. We got our first TV set in 1956 just as ITV opened for the north of England (I remember the Mayor of Leeds standing on the Town Hall steps and switching ITV on), so guess the Billy Beans I saw were re-runs about 1956...Also remember Muffin the Mule, Mr Turnip, a hand puppet called Hank. Oh, and puppet theatre with a dragon called Pongo.

I've been searching out early ITV stuff also...The Adventures of Sir Lancelot (can still sing the opening song), The Buccaneer, The Invisible Man (1958, a favourite of mine), have found the opening theme for this on youtube, along with a whole host of other early TV you remember BBC Television Newsreel? With the words going round the aerial and that wonderful marching tune, The Girls in Grey? Well look on youtube, and into the search slot type 'BBC News and Newsreel 1954.

What about 'I Married Joan'...again early 1950s BBC...remember that? With doorbell notes at the beginning . I've been watching parts of some episodes on you tube, and they are wonderful. It all comes flooding back..
Well, I think that will do for now, just good to know I didn't imagine Billy Bean, When I've asked friends of my age no one seems to remember him - but I do, including that silly bird that laid the egg!

Best Wishes...John.

From Alex Gordon....................18th January 2010

Sitting with a friend who was born in Thorpe Coombe Hospital, lived in Chelmsford Road and attended Thomas Gamuel school Walthamstow, I fell upon your Walthamstow Memories, almost by chance. Whilst I was born at Hollybush Hill, Wanstead, just 3 houses outside the London boundary, and therefore, do not have any claim to domicile in Walthamstow, I was struck to find that we had just the slightest common ground.

In 1959, I started my working life at the Gaumont (née Savoy) Cinema, at the junction of Markhouse Road, Leabridge road, and Church road. However, by then I was already familiar with the area, and can recall the 581, 555, 557 and 661 trolleybuses running along Leabridge road: that familiarity being due to paying frequent visits to my father's garage located down the hill. Before my time, it had been the home of his private bus fleet, but nationalisation led to a change of use, and it went over to selling petrol, and repairing and servicing cars. The garage occupied the entire block of land between Flempton road and Belvedere road, and the building was reconstructed in the mid-50's to provide extra space for showrooms, parts store and a larger workshop. Eventually, the parts store was relocated into the vacated Liden Whitewood building, across Flempton road.
Several of the staff working in the garage lived locally, and I recall a father and son, named "Critchley" were living in HItcham road.

One of the customers at the garage was the Reverend Fox, and having heard that I was learning to play the organ at my school in Norfolk, allowed me to practise on the organ at the Emmanuel Church. I was told that he was a frequent customer of the Hare and Hounds immediately opposite the church, and he had at some time, made the comment that he felt it worth spending time with the sinners as well as with the good! Very conveniently, a zebra crossing was placed between them, so crossing from church to pub and back was made considerably safer!
If you were living in Hitcham road between the 1950's and mid-1960's we might well have seen each other!

Kindest Regards,
Alex Gordon

Followed by,

Of course, Walthamstow was on the shopping charts, as we bought a lot of our clothing in the High Street on Saturday afternoons. Shoes from Continental Shoe shop, and silk chokers from a stall.
I wonder if your father and mine were acquainted? My father (whose name was Alfred Sneiman, incidentally) had started by buying one bus, and then built the business up so that more staff were required, and they were all from the local area, I am sure. He called his business "Gordon Omnibus Company", and it was located at 219 Leabridge road.

After the buses were nationalised, many of his staff, went over to the new national bus company "General". Would your father, possibly have been amongst them? I did meet one such driver, when I called in at the confectionery shop at the top of the hill, more or less opposite the Gaumont, and the shop owner recognised me (I can't imagine how) and introduced himself as having worked with my father.

My friends in Hitcham road lived just along from the Emmanuel Church, and there were no houses on the other side of the road where Liden were located. However, further along the road there was a righthand bend, and as I recall, there were then houses on both sides.

Opposite the Gaumont was "Rolo for Records", then Marston and Heard, an excellent photographic shop and film processor, and then the London Coop dairy shop. A few more shops followed, but I really do not remember what they were. I do recall "Roma Cafe" on the other side of the road, next to the Westminster Bank on the corner of Markhouse Road, and have long puzzled why the light green marble facia was identical to that of the "Ferrari Cafe" at the Baker's Arms, which I understand, my father frequented, more than my mother liked!.

In answer to the query one of your contributors posed: the cinema at Chingford Mount was an Odeon, and it was equipped with BTH Supa projectors and Projectomatic control system. It was a very smart, stylish cinema as most of the original Odeons were.

Kindest Regards,