Below is an amazing recollection of Blackheath at the end of, and just after World War 2. Please click on the post to read the full piece.
It was written by Bob Land, who now lives in The Netherlands, but found this site, and (luckily for all of us) was willing to share his memories. I think it’s great, and I urge you all to read it, especially to visualise the antics of the milk carts. It makes picking up half a pint of semi-skimmed in Shepherd Foods seem incredibly dull in comparison. Now, if we could only reinstate the bakery and the toy shop…
Recollections/memories of Blackheath 1944-1958
By Bob Land
I was born in 1939, so my recollection of the war years are very limited.
One night looking out of the front bedroom window I saw a doodle bug passing overhead, on its way towards London, with its typical spluttering sound and flames coming out of the rear exhaust.
One day, around about midday, we were at school (All Saint’s), and there was a huge explosion, all the windows at the rear of the school fell out of their frames, I am led to believe, that this was the result of the flying bomb, which had a direct hit on the Weslyan Church in Blackheath Grove, although it is doubtful, that this was the cause.
On another occasion, towards the end of the war, there had been extensive damage to a few shops in Tranquil Vale, and having taken my Grandmother’s broom, I helped the Fire Brigade sweep up the glass which was lying on the pavement from all the shattered shop windows. I can still recall the smell of charred timbers, iodine and broken plaster board.
We spent many, many nights in the air-raid shelter in the garden, during the Blitz and later on with the V1 and V2 rockets
Just after the war, the summer of 1945 I was still at All Saint’s, we used to have “lessons” in the mornings, and in the afternoon we were put into bunk beds, to rest, presumably to catch up on all the sleep we had lost during the Blitz.
There were a flight of steps next to the school at the bottom of Blackheath Vale which led up onto the Heath, adjacent to the Hare & Billet Pond, we used to sometimes as a class go up these steps and play on the grass.
I remember there being some toys, pedal cars and the like, the older pupils used to push us toddlers around in them.
Winter in Blackheath
In those days, after the war, the winters always seemed to be harsh.
Walking across the heath on the narrow path from Tranquil Vale to Blackheath Vale, sometimes the snowdrifts used to be more than knee high.
We used to go tobogganing in Greenwich Park, going at breakneck speed from the heights of General Wolfe’s Statue all the way downhill to the Naval College, then trudge all the way back up with the sledge in tow, to start all over again.
At the end of the afternoon, the long trek back home, across the Heath, the sun setting fast now, a huge red ball on the horizon, the temperature plummeting even further. Wet shoes and clothes, tired, but eagerly looking forward to tea, tobogganing gave a young lad a healthy appetite, in those days.
We also used to make “slides” when the Hare & Billet Pond was frozen, running down the embankment as fast as we could, once we reached the edge of pond, jumping onto the ice, placing both feet squarely in front of each other, and then “slide” across the Pond, in an endeavour to reach the other side.
Christmas in those days, was also a joy, the windows of Raggety Anne’s Toy Shop, in Osborne Place were like a magnet.
Spring in Blackheath
There used to be a large wooded area between Paragon Place and Pond Road, and on the other side of Pond Road was marshland. This was a delightful area for adventurous young boys, from playing Cowboys and Indians in the woods, to bird and nature spotting and catching newts in the marshes .
As Spring progressed, so an air of anticipation grew, the Easter Fair was on its way to Blackheath, at last the first few trailers and caravans arrived, and then it became a hive of activity, all the sideshows and main attractions seemed to be erected at breakneck speed. At last, it was open, music blaring and lights blazing and masses of people milling around.
Summer in Blackheath
A delightful time of the year to be in Blackheath.
Thinking of it now, it seemed to be a time of never ending sunshine, the delightful smell of fresh mown grass after the Park’s Attendants had cut the grass with their tractor mowers all over the Heath.
Sitting on the grass, on a hot summers day, watching the then numerous skylarks hovering and twittering, before they dived earthwards, a wonderful sight.
On one day in the week, in the morning, we used to run up to Mrs. Coultate’s Newsagents Shop in Tranquil Vale (the little shop next to the Three Tuns Pub) to buy the Beano and Dandy comics, and then sit on a friend’s steps outside his house in Collins Street and read them. We often used to play Monopoly on the same steps, in the warm summer air.
On Sundays, the Princess of Wales Pond was a favourite, high powered model speedboats were raced there.
In those early days after the war, on very warm sunny afternoons, the Village seemed to be in “siesta” mode, there were very very few cars about and even even less people on the streets. In fact it was so quiet that if you stood on the forecourt of the The Crown Public House, or on the opposite side of the road, in front of the Corner Book Shop, and looked toward All Saint’s Parish Hall, you could not only see the house-martins flying to and from the nests under the eaves, you could hear them as well.
And on not so hot days, during the school summer holidays, we used to play football on the heath, with two coats spread out as goalposts… and cricket, with bat, ball and three stumps!
When it got dark, we all used to sit on the wooden seat at the top of Tranquil Vale, chin-wagging until it was time to go home.
Autumn in Blackheath
It seemed that there was often mist or fog in early Autumn, some days the visibility was only a couple of yards, and it was so quiet, that you could often hear the foghorns of the tugs on the River Thames!
November was a notorious time for pea soup fogs, sometimes the visibility was a couple of yards , quite often the buses had to be led from the Village, across the heath, to the Royal Standard, by someone walking slowly in front of the bus, sometimes they started off with one bus, and by the time they were halfway across the heath, they had two or three in tow.
There used to be a large orchard where the John Ball School now stands, so this was a favourite place to go in late autumn, “scrumping” for apples, often being chased out of the orchard by the irate owners.
Late autumn was the time for gathering chestnuts and even more fun, “conkers” (wild chestnuts), soaking them overnight in vinegar, running a hole through them with a meat skewer and then threading a sturdy length of string through them and then to battle! It all seems pretty primitive now in these days of computer games and iPods.
Also in November, the excitement of Guy Fawkes Day, the bonfire was on the stretch of heath in front of the Royal Parade, later it moved to a piece of waste ground next to the Express Dairy in Wemyss Road.
There were many children with a Guy Fawkes Dummy out on the streets, apparently the best (and most lucrative) place to be was outside the railway station during the early evening rush hour.
Other moments or recollections
In those early years after the war, the Army sometimes camped on the heath, on exercise. There was always an atmosphere of axle-grease, oil and impregnated tents, the soldiers used to ask us for our old comics, I suppose those men were really just like us, very young boys at heart.
One traumatic moment was an accident with an Express Dairy milk float in the yard at Wemyss Road. Apparently the horse reared and bolted in the yard with the float in tow, and then the horse jumped over the low rear wall at the back of the yard, which was a sheer drop down onto the bomb dump where the Wesleyan Church had been. The float had not gone over the wall, but the horse had, and it was dangling in its reins and harnesses… We saw the vet climb up a very long ladder, presumably to put the horse to sleep. We did not stay to watch this!
With regard to the Express Dairy Yard, in Wemyss Road, when you walked past it there was always a very pungent odour of horses, milk and straw. A more pleasant odour was that of fresh baked bread at the rear of Jobbins the Bakers in Bennett Park.
Another extraordinary sight, was the horse drawn Express Dairy milk float, negotiating the very short steep hill between Collins Street and South Vale. The milkman used to get the horse into a canter halfway along Collins Street, take a very sharp right turn at the end and gallop up the short hill into South Vale, all accompanied by a cacophony of clattering of horses hooves on the road, the Milkman shouting encouragement to the horse and cracking his whip, together with the din of shaking milk bottles and crates on the float, this was all repeated a few yards later up the short steep hill from South Vale to Tranquil Vale. An amazing sight and sound.
Most of us did paper rounds, a couple of us worked for Mrs. Coultate, and a couple for another small newsagents in Montpelier Vale, but the creme de la creme were the lads who worked for W.H. Smiths at the railway station, they all had “company bicycles” – they were all painted red and had double pannier bags! We had to use our own bikes and were given shoulder satchels .
In the early 1950’s a coffee-bar opened at the top of Tranquil Vale. It was next door to the Corner Book Shop. It had a juke-box and a regular clientele, and nothing ever happened there, but if you thought to yourself “I won’t go this evening,” you did anyway, because you were afraid you might miss something. But you never did…
Further down from the Coffee-Bar there was a restaurant named “El-Sombrero” (we called it “The Hat”). They served delicious omelets.
I left Blackheath in 1958. I have been back a couple of times since then, and standing in the Village, looking all around me and then casting my mind back to those early years, it gave me a sense of satisfaction to have spent such a happy carefree childhood in such a pleasant place.
If you enjoyed this, can I again recommend reading “Blackheath Village and Environs” by Neil Rhind.
Volume 1 is in print, available from The Bookshop on the Heath, or from Amazon.
Volume 2 is out of print, but can still be found second hand.
Photo based on this modern photo by littlestar19
295 responses to “Memories of Blackheath 1944-1958”
I had two great aunts who lived in Blackheath. Last name Edwards. One aunt was Anne, Ann or Annie. Not sure if the other one was Elizabeth. Both never married and lived together. I think they lived there from at least 1900 to 1980. My family would like to know more about them, since we never had the chance to meet them before they died. From what i understand they owned some sort of bake/food company. If anyone can recall them, let me know. Thank you so much
What a wonderful reminiscence. I fondly remember many of the shops Bob wrote about, Raggedy Ann’s, Coultates and Jobbins. He missed Reeves and Jones though which was the most marvellous old school habberdashers where you could buy a yard of elastic for french skipping or any amounts of ribbon / buttons / fabrics etc. The other gem was Florians an Italian deli which now exists in the form of Genaro’s in Lewis Grove, Lewisham – the only thing that will lure me down to Lewisham shopping these days!
I’ll have to give Genaro’s a try. Lewisham has plenty of hidden gems, like the TFC I mentioned the other day!
Dear Lucy, You mention Florians delicatessen shop in the Village as being Italian. It was run by my father and was the first Polish Delicatessen in the area. He first opened in the late 1960ies in small premises in Cresswell Park, and then moved next door to what was the Nat West bank on the corner of Cresswell Park and Blackheath Village. He retired in the mid 1980ies. The shop is now an Italian restaurant.
My stepfather , Henryk was Polish and he used to go into Florians quite a bit.
Hi David – Yes, and minnowing in the pond! Catching them in a one ounce tobacco tin ….. at the shop by the pond I once stole a chew while the chap’s back was turned, then felt so guilty, I put it back! The American bubble gum sweets – Bazooka Joe, and Flags of the World cards. (Have I got the right pond there?)
My mother used to make papier mache animals and glove puppets, kindly sold by Raggedy Ann’s. (See Lucy’s post) My friend and I tried to put on a Punch and Judy show at All Saint’s but we didn’t realise till we actually started. that we hadn’t prepared a script…… it was so humiliating, the audience left muttering “rubbish.”
Just up the hill on the corner, was a hall where I did ballet for a short time. I was a “sheep” not an agile “goat” – it was a bit early for the invention of child psychology and positive affirmation!
I was a bit of a monster at school, and once Mr Rhodes upbraided me in front of the whole school for one of my crimes, saying “There are women, and there are ladies… you will not be a lady!” Unfortunately this statement struck me as silly, as coming from a vibrantly socialist family, the last thing I wanted to be was a lady. My heroes were Pippi Longstocking and Just William! I was kept in the school on sports day as a punishment, but I hated sport so that was OK! Except when my mum found out.
My lifelong love of music I’m sure came from the hymns we had to sing at school…… “To be a Pilgrim” etc.
Nice set of memories
“at the shop by the pond ”
Can’t recall that , where was it exactly ?
This just about describes my childhood in Blackheath, my mum (Sheila Forge) and Liz Anne Bawden ran the Blackheath film society in the hall.
I am not too computer ‘savvy’ so hope that you will get this OK?
My name is Jennifer Fowler nee Bunn.
I too was born in1939 and lived in Kidbrooke.
We were evacuated some of the time during the war years. My sisters Ann and Elisabeth probably have many more stories that they remember.
I remember so many fun times in Blackheath when a child.
The toy shop, bakery, and we used to attend Miss Barton’s ballet school, later another one opposite by the bakery.
Remember the pond so well with the little sailing boats and also going for the tadpoles in the ‘swamp’! I loved Blackheath Village.
Later I attended Kidbrooke Comprehensive School for girls and we attended St. James Church. My sister was married in the Catholic Church in Blackheath. I left the UK in 1961 to come the USA where I live now in WA state.
Thank You for bringing back such fond memories.
Hi Jennifer you won’t know me but I was born in 1942 went to all saints school when I was around 5. I lived at holly hedge bungalows. The thing I remember in the village was the sweet shop where a man owned it. Quite essentric I imagine. He had heaps of clocks all around the shop. We used to get pen north of sweets there when our parents could afford it. I have lived in Australia since 1957. Pearl fitzsimmons nee hall ottaway
Hello Jennifer. Glad you enjoyed it, nice to hear from someone from my generation.
In looking up Raggedey Ann’s toy shop I found this blog. It brings back memories of childhood in Blackheath, from 1949 (my birthdate) to the end of 1957 when my family immigrated to Canada.
The toy shop was a favourite place where my older brother David and I stopped regularly on our way home from school. The ballet school I remember was Miss Stowe’s, in the village. We also skated/slid on the pond and watch the sail boats in warm weather. The times when the circus came and pitched their tent on the heath were memorable. Our father ran the Greenwich Chest clinic on Maize Hill, so we often went to the observatory and rowed boats in Greewich Park.
I missed a couple of others as well, Fenners the Greengrocers, Ebenezer Smith , the undertakers, Butcher Curnows , photo shop, Webb’s Bicyle shop, Hinds Department Store some others I see them in my mind, but I can’t recall their names.
Where were Florians and Reeves and Jones situated ?
Ebenezer Smith really does sound like a very appropriate name for an undertakers! By the way, I think nearly 600 people have seen your post so far :)
Ian Webb, whose father owned Webb’s Bicycle Shop, was a school friend and we both went to John Ball primary school. I was living in Hollyhedge House at the time and remember the prefabs before they were eventually pulled down. Your site has certainly reawakened many happy childhood memories of living on the heath.
I have just come acros this site and pleasently suprised to find my name and my father’s shop mentioned.
I am Ian Webb and my father owned Webb’s cycle shop from just after War. Sadly he died several years ago but only this afternoon I was talking to my Mother (aged 91) about when Dad opened the shop. It was bomb damaged and he had to repair it and I believe it was the Earl of Dartmouth who owned lots of the Blackheath properties who let it before Dad purchased it.
I was born in 1949 and went to John Ball school and every day went to the shop and got my bus fare home and most days went straight over the road (and hopefully out of sight) and spent it on an ice cream cornet from Sears?.
I worked on a Saturday when I was 14 in Lovibonds off licence which was in Royal Parade.
I have lots of lovely memories of Blackheath.
Delighted to learn that you’re still in the land of the living!
Do you remember that bike ride you took me on? You said we were going to Shoreham to go fishing!..You had a lightweight alloy racing bike and I had an old army surplus commando bike that weighed a ton and folded in half!
20 miles or so later we ended up in a village called Shoreham, not Shoreham by the Sea…just a measley river and no fishing!
My memory isn’t what it was! I do remember cycling to Shoreham (fishing in a private section behind a wall comes to mind). Did you live in the Army barracks?
Yes, the army barracks (TA LAA) you are thinking of were in same enclosure as Hollyhedge House.
I think your bike at the time (1960?) was a Dawes?….very lightweight and expensive at the time…I seem to remember you were quite small and wore round blue wire glasses…..at school for some unknown reason we were chosen a couple of times to go on stage and improvise a ventroliquist and dummy act……you were the dummy!
i know it’s been ages but I remember Webbs so well. Douglas to be precise was a friend of my dad’s we went there every weekend to buy stuff for bikes and cars. I still have a set of wooden drawers from when he shut the shop down. He was related to the Coppings family who I also know. Douglas kept my birthday bike at his shop when i was 9 yrs old and i was sent to get something only to discover it was a ruse for me to find my new bike, i will never forget his smiling face and his engineers coat. I still repair cars and bikes to this day it rubbed off on me big time !
I must have been at John Ball School at the same time as you
My teachers were Mrs. Bowes Smith and Mrs Curley . Mr. Beale
used to take some of our lessons.
I was at John Ball until 1975 MRs Beer i recall and an Indian teacher who’s name i seem to think was Chipatti but I fear this may have been why i was unpopular :) with them all.
Hi Bob sorry I only just saw your comment – the shop was on the opposite corner from the pub. So on the same block, on the left. Unless I have hallucinated it of course. Memories get mixed up I’m afraid, and sometimes even with dreams! I don’t think I’m crazy, but then crazy people never do! HA AH BW Helen
Thanks for the reply, but which pub?
Hi Bob I have read your memories I lived at hollyhedge bungalows for maybe a few years. It must have been maybe around 1949 I would have been about seven. I always remember I used to go buy sweets at a shop in the village where there was just one man and he seemed a little essentric to my young mind. He had all types of clocks around the inside of the shop. I would go and get a penny worth of sweets in a bag and there always seemed to be such a big bag. I also went to All saints school and walked over Greenwich Park. I can remember when a pond was all iced over and we used to skate on it in our school shoes. I can also remember a fair that was on the Green. I would so like for someone to remember the sweet shop. When I was reading Jobbins sounded familiar? Thanks for the memories. Regards Pearly
Hi Pearl, I remember a couple of sweet shops in the Village, but not this one. Jobbins was the bakers, opposite the Railway Station.
Florians was at the top of the village across the road from Fenners, it might have been a later addition though, possibly early 70’s. Reeves and Jones was in the big shop next door to Butcher Curnow on Tranquil Vale.
Do you also remember the little dark pipe shop in the middle of the village? I remember buying pipe cleaners in there to make little men with!
Where was the pipe shop? We need more pipe shops and fewer estate agents!
The tiny little shop next to the florists was the pipe shop it has the tiny stairwell in front of it, i remember Coultate’s very well and was a paperboy for the newsagents based in the station.
You are right Florians is much later than 1958, apparently Reeves and Jones opened in 1959 !
Can you be a bit more explicit on the pipe shop , I don’t recall it , but maybe I could look it up somewhere.
I have one correction, Ebenezer Smith was not an undertaker but an upholsterer, but his shop did look like an undertakers.
I remember one of the men working in Florian’s had a numbered tattoo on his arm.
There was also Madeleine Moore’s shop up near the heath….She sold milk and ice lollies.
Mrs Coultate’s son was called Frankie and opened his own newsagent over the road.
Mrs Coultate had two sons – Frank and another one. Does anyone remember his name?
I done a paper round there for about 2 years,
the only people I saw in the shop were, Mr. & Mrs. Coultate and sometimes their young son
Done a quick check on the Free BMD on internet, the Coultates had three children, Frank born 1930 , Eric born 1931 ( never knew, or saw him) and Kenneth born 1945 ( he was often in the shop , with his mother , after school).
Frank Sr. died in 1960 and mrs Coultate died in 1990
I remember Frank well. I liked in Baizdon Road and went to John Ball school. Frank Coultate used to call me Kim Novak and I called him Frank Sinatra! I lived there from birth in 1956 til I was 10.
Madeleine Moore started off as a Florist.
You are right , Frank Coultate , has his own newsagents across the road, I think his shop prior to that, was an Off Licence.
Pingback: A teaspoon of Blackheath, and an open mind « The Blackheath Bugle
Well done, Bob. We had some super times in and around the village, didn’t we? Anybody remember the name of the coffee shop at the top of Tranquil Vale?
Bob has since found out that the coffee shop was called The Rendezvous. Anyone else remember the rum ba bas? They were fabulous.
I remember The Rendezvous very well,as a border at Christ’s College Between 1954 & 1959, if you had behaved yourself during the school week, you were allowed out between 2.00 & 4.00. so some of made for the cafe,pocket money being only 2/- per week we could only afford to buy a cup of tea and wait for somebody to put 6d in the juke box to listen to Guy Mitchell, Of cause there was the chance of meeting a local which was in the backs of our minds! Happy Days.
I too was a boarder 1955-60. I guess not so many left from that era. Well certainly they were different days – some happy sure. Did you have that old dear Mr Carbasse with his singular method of control? Except in the table tennis room as I remember
You mention in your article about the explosion blowing out the windows at All Saints School in Blackheath Vale.
I was born in 1938 and was in the school when it happened. A few of us were showered in glass particles ( my hair was covered in a sort of glass powder. The explosion was, in fact, the V2 that landed in Wemyss Road destroying a few houses and 3/4 of the Wesleyan Church.
I lived in Wemyss Road at no.21 and we suffered roof and wall damage and all the windows blew in. My Father and Mother were at home and I remember my Mother coming to the school to see if I was OK and taking me to my Great Aunt who lived by The Sun in the Sands.
I am not sure about this, at first I thought that it was the V2 which demolished the Wesleyan Church and a few houses, but it is really too far away from All Saint’s School, plus the fact that the school is below the level of the Heath, I don’t think that the resulting shock waves from the exploding V2 would have dipped down into Blackheath Vale.
I have another theory, Neil Rhind writes in his book “Blackheath Village and Environs”, that :
Talbot Houses are in Duke Humphrey Road, these houses were on the right of the entrance to Blackheath Vale.
This seems a more likely and feasible reason that the windows blew out in the school.
or not ?
Hi Bob. At my age and with a scanty memory I seem to remember that V1 hit the houses on the left of Blackheath Vale flattening them and severely damaging Talbot Houses. After the clear up we used to play on the engine section of the doodlebug which at been left at the site. V1 flying bombs stopped by Sept 1944. The V2 offensive started in Sept 1944. I wish I could remember the date of the Wemyss Road V2 but it was certainly the day I got covered in glass and my Mother picked me up. I remember she was covered in soot and dust
The date of the V2 hitting Wemyss Road was 8th March 1945. I was born at 6 Wyatt House in 1965. I have lived in Blackheath ever since.
Hi. It was 7 St Germans Place which was about 40 yards from the crater that got virtually demolished by a V1 doodlebug on Wednesday 5th July 1944. My father was staying with the Donovans at 7 St Germans Place when it got hit. His diary also notes on Thursday 20th July that from 11pm to 6am there were V1s almost every 10 minutes.I wonder if offical records back his observations up.
My scanty memory, thought that is was the wreck of a car, but you could be right. Also in the vicinty of the engine, there were a few steps leading down to a small cellar of one of the bombed out houses. On one particular day, we found the cellar stacked out with bandages and pill boxes etc etc etc, so we cycled down to Lee Green and reported it to the police at the Police Station there. If any action was taken, I can’t remember.
Niel Rhind states in his book, that the V2
hit the Church and surrounding area on the 8th. March 1945.
Regards the ” bomb dump ” in Blackheath Vale , I remember that as well, do you remember seeing a ” cave ” in the sand , about half up the sheer wall on the Heath side of the Vale, we used to venture into it, but did not dare to go more than one or yards inside, afraid that the roof of the cave might collapse .
I do remember the sand cave. It was actually at ground level. It went in about 20 ft. (give or take because I was little at the time!) and then turned back on itself a few feet away. I seem to remember that you carried on and came out allongside the entrance but memories are hazy now. I do remember Miss Collins (the head mistress of All Saints school) telling us that it was a dangerous place.
Another memory was at a school service in All Saints church. I think I was about 8yrs. Father Green was giving a talk about God making the world and Adam & Eve. I remember putting up my hand and asking who made God. I was told not to be silly and sit down! Afterwards Father Green suggested I join the choir and learn about God through singing. I did and have been a chorister for quite a few years of my life.
I am now pretty convinced that the July 1944 V1 caused the All Saint’s School windows
The V2 in March 1945, at the Wemyss Road area, it is just to far away from the school
to have caused any damage, I have seen an aerial photo of the damage caused by the V2, all the damage is contained in the area Wemyss Road, Blackheath Grove , Montpelier Vale and a little bit of Tranquil Vale.
Perhaps these is someone else living in Blackheath
who can throw some more light on this subject.
A bomb (not sure if V2?) landed opposite my Dad’s house (near beckenham) and nearly killed him. At the time he was meant to be hiding under the kitchen table with his mum but went to look out the window at the wrong time.
The explosion caused him to be covered in glass and spent many months in hospital. Even today he still has glass in his forehead.
After that incident he went to stay with a family Brixham in Devon.
Well Bob I coudn.t wait to look at your website. It was truly wonderful to read your comments and other peoples comments about Blackheath. I used to deliver papers for Coultates. I remember on fridays the bag was so heavy I could barely lift it. I used to go to the Rendezvous Cafe in the late 50’s and early 60’s. I was a Mod and had my Lambretta scooter all decked out. I dont think anyone mentioned Sainsburys in the village. I can always remember my mother going there to pick up her cheese and other items. Then we would go to the butchers and then next door to the green grocers, cant remember the names. There was also an off licence across from the church. Again I remember the Dairy, because as a youngster I would be there very early to meet the milkman and help him deliver the milk. I remember the horse eating the hedge at st Germans place where I lived in a prefab. I went to Blackheath and Kidbrooke school. We had a private boys school in my street called Christs College, we would play in the bombed houses in St Germans Place. Those same houses now are worth millions of pounds. When I left school I worked as an apprentice draughtsman on the Isle of Dogs. I used to cycle across the Heath through Greenwich Park and the through the foot tunnel to Millwall. I did go back a few years ago, first time back there since 1959. It has changed completely. My mother used to clean the house of the Managing Director of Siemans who lived in St. Germans Place. I remember sometimes his chauffeur would take me to school in the Rover.
I lived in the prefabs , No 22 Hollyhedge Bungalows. The chauffeur’s name was Burt Eade, they lived in the prefab next to us. His son Fraser was my best mate, as was Philip. There were three of us, me, Patrick Frawley / Fraser Eade and Philip White. I remember winning the egg and spoon race in the territorial army barracks in 1953 , a party for the queen.
I won a bag of marbles for that. Racing down Granville hill on a book and skate. Catching sticklebacks at the Hare and Billet pub and skating on the pond next to Greenwich park. Going to the sand pits at the bottom of Pagoda Gardens, swinging right out on a rope hung from a tree with a sheer drop. So dangerous on reflection. Walking to Pets Corner in Catford. We had so much freedom in those days, at the week end we would go out in the morning and would not come back till late. Such fond memories. My three sons have had a very sheltered upbringing by comparison. These days I spend half my time in China on business, my second home, keeps me young.
Thank you for sending in your memoirs.
Your name does ring a bell with me, do you
remember a guy named Kenneth Tucker, he also
lived in those prefabs.
I think the greengrocer you mentioned is Fennett ?
The butcher I cannot remember either.
Sainsbury’s was I believe next door to Jobbins the bakers on the corner of Bennett Park ???
Hi Bob. I cannot believe you mentioned Ken Tucker, he lived in the prefab in front of me. My prefab backed on to the heath, Kens front was in St. Germans Place. Ken was one of my very best friends, I havn’t seen him in over 35 years. I believe he was a fireman. We both went to Poplar Technical College. My wife was at Wimbledon about 20 years ago, and she heard this voice that she recognised and low and behold it was Ken Tucker in his firemans uniform. At that time Wimbledon were hiring firemen as commissionairs. Tell me how you know Ken Tucker.
Please e-mail me at my private email address, which is :
rgland (at sign) home (dot ) nl
because other people on this list, might not be interested in our reminiscing over the old days in Blackheath.
I too worked for mrs coultate and I knew both her sons who both opened shops. I also worked on saturdays at Fenners. In my lunchtime I would walk the boxer dog
of madeline from the flower shop at the top of the village.
Cullens was another shop and also Mr fenners sister had a teashop not far away. I wnnt to John ball primary and in later years I was a sea cadet at greenwich .one of my childhood memories is of going through greenwich tunnel to the isle of dogs public park and at 1 pm we used to watch free films on a screen in the back of a lorry whilst seated on the ground. I left to be an army apprentice and my parents moved out of london in 1967. I was born in forest hill in a house with no electricity in 1949 and moved to blackheath in 1954 to lawn terrace
If you were born in 1949 and went to John Ball school you might remember my stepbrother Alan Kaszubowski
Hi Trevor, I too grew up in Blackheath., sang at St. margarets Church., became good friends with Charlie Plumb, who lived close to Lawn terrace., perhaps you are related.–I have Lived in the U.S..A. for the past 50 years.
I have forgotten how to write and post comments on this site?
I did not realize it was still running? Hoping this might get on your site?
Anyway, I used to live in Kidbrooke, born 1939, until I left to live in the USA
in 1961. (Cailifornia and now Washington state).
I attended Sherington Rd School in Charlton and then Charlton Central, finally Kidbrooke Comprehensive School.
I loved Blackheath Village and myself and family have wonderful memories
of our growing years there. Remember the Roxy, the Pub, Ortons grocery store as so many have commented on. Then the lovely Blackheath! We used to walk through Morden College grounds to the heath and village.
The Pond, tadpole hunting the fair on the heath, so many lovely memories, and so many more to be told. I also took ballet lessons there and remember
the bakery and Catholic church.
We had a friend who lived with his parents at The Paragon, his name was Colin Campbell if anyone might have known him at all?
Not sure if this will get anywhere or just get lost in cyber space, so will end for now.
Thanks for all the lovely memories.
Jennifer BUNN Fowler.
During 1953-1956 I variously lodged with Mr Gumbleton at 173 Shooters Hill Road, Mrs Gilbert at 3 Begbie Road, and Mrs Joslin at 11 Glenluce Road.
I was a regular attender at St. John’s church, being a sidesman for a short while. Also at St. John’s I was a member of the 20-plus group that met at the Memorial Hall after evening service. At this or another meeting place in Vicarage Avenue, meetings would be disturbed by the trains running underground.
The ‘Roxy’ and ‘Gaumont’ cinemas I remember going to.
I used to cycle to and from the Docks on the north River bank, along comparatively quiet roads, and race lorries through the Tunnels. It was something of a slog cycling up the hill in Greenwich Park, even in low gear.
In early 1956 I moved across the River to Barking, and the rest of my life. Sadly I have not been back to Blackheath since, and wonder what happened to all the nice people I met during my pleasant time there, including the above, and Shirley Flew at 139 Old Dover Road, and Monica Williams at 12 Shooters Hill Road.
My great grandparents lived in Shooters Hill and latterly Point Hill, my great grandfather Cecil was the local copper and his “rounds” used to take in all the pubs including the one on the heath wending his way round to the Standard and back home to an ear-bashing after a quick snooze in the park, apparently my late great grandmother had a bit of a reputation as a bit of a tyrant but I remember her fondly and she used to tell me stories of the area and the navy.
Hi Bob, Great to read your memories of Blackheath, although ypou left just a year after my being born in Wemyss road in 1957 it seems much the same as I remember my early years there. I went to John Ball primary school and spent many hours just sitting and watching the old steam engines shunting rolling stock around the shunting yard beside Blackheath station instead of paying attention to my lessons ! My elder brother and I and also a couple of friends also had paper rounds with Mrs Coultate, I also remeber her son Frank who opened a shop almost opposite her shop. I was also friendly with a family,(I forget their name now) who ran an Off License next to his shop, which used to be an Undertaker’s. Some of us also had Saturday jobs with the milkmen from the Express Dairy in Wemyss road. Much later I worked with Holmes Plating in Blackheath Grove which was based near the far end on the right next to the railway line. It was mostly below street level and I was told that it used to be a theatre and an Ice Rink, although I have never found anything on this on my searches on the net. Would love to know more on this building. Lloyd
Hi. I remember you from John Ball school, didn’t you have a brother Rene and sister Sue? I’m still in touch with Sue. We reconnected in Amsterdam where I lived for 30 years. I had a brother, Steve. It’s been great reading all the comments here. I have such great memories! Kym.
Does anyone know the history of 1 Lawn Terrace which is now Locale Restaurant? I heard it used to be a toothpaste factory?
Checked in Neil Rhind’s Blackheath Village & Environs, no mention of a toothpaste factory, seemed all to be domestic servants cottages.
Don’t know where i heard that from. It must have been something individual as it’s a stand alone building and quite large. The houses next door to it and further down probably would have been domestic servants cottages like you said.
I shall inquire further.
Maybe it’s the taste of the food? I’ve only eaten there once, but toothpaste would have been preferable to the meal I had…
Zing! I used to work there and (for two months back in 2006) and as well as the food being sub standard they stole all of our tips. I hope they leave the village.
Lloyd Rich said ” Holmes Plating in Blackheath Grove … I was told that it used to be a theatre and an Ice Rink”
Neil Rhind’s books say there was a skating rink in Blackheath Grove, on the site of the Royal Mail sorting office, and (I think — haven’t got Neil’s books by me at the moment) before the railway was built. So a long time ago as the line is about 160 years old.
In Neil’s book he states ” it was a roller skating rink , on a narrow stretch
of land , between The Grove and the Railway Line, after it was demolished
it became Homes Plating Works and the Post Office Sorting Centre”
I must admit, I thought it was a roller skating rink, not an ice rink.
Thanks to all of you above for the info on the old Holmes Plating site, I had heard that it was a theatre/skating rink but was not sure if it was a rooler or ice rink. Did not know it wa also on the old post office depot aswell, although it would make sense as a rink would need to be a fairly large building. I will have to get Neil Rhinds book, would love to find out the dates of this and Holmes’s buildings. I was told that the Holmes building was actualy part of the Rink/theatre, and of what I can remeber from working in there I could quite easily see a theatre being in there.
Highly recommend his book(s). The main one (light green) is usually for sale in the Bookshop on the Heath. The yellow one is out of print, and more expensive, but I picked a copy up in the Cancer Research shop once! More info here.
I think the Bugle and fans need to persuade Neil to get the book reissued.
I have read the forgoing with great interest searching for Holmes Plating Ltd the reason being my dad worked at Holmes 1930/39 as a silver finisher I worked there as a metal polisher around the 50’s. Reading the comments it triggered some distant memories perhaps some one can jog them even further. All Saint’s school I have this thought that I attended that school which would have been 1936/8 is there a way of checking this, regarding the V2 damage were children injured killed? Like some readers I also went through the begining of the blitz I lived on Glengall Terrace off the Old Kent Road I only went down the Anderson twice dank dirty musty ,with damp matresses Uk!! I was lucky enough to be evacuated to Daventry Northants for 4.5 years
I now reside in California as I have for the past 31 years
David an ex Brit
Blackheath Grove was named The Avenue prior to 1947. The basement of the former gentleman’s club at 13/14 was converted into an air raid shelter in 1940. You can still see the wartime “3” and the cast iron stairs leading to the entrance. As such it would probably have been the emergency shelter for Holmes employees as it could easily have held 50 and is well protected by high blast walls which are still standing. Can anyone out there remember this building pre 1960?
re air raid shelter for holmes plating workers .
when raids got worse a concrete shelter was built, but old tight jolly
jack holmes did like us useing it because to stop work cost him money so
he bought us all tin hats so we could carry on working during the raids
My forebears lived in Glengall Terrace but long before you did prior to the Blitz. I now reside in Australia but before selling my house and leaving SE London I made a point of visiting Glengall Terrace to see the house which miractulously survived the end of terrace destruction when the V2 hit Waite Street. Do you recall which number in Glengall Terrace?
There is one thing I do remember, when you came within a few yards,
in the vicinty of the Works, there was always an acrid chemical smell in the air, I often wondered what is was like for the people working inside .
The smell you refer to was nitric acid used for cleaning brass and gave out clouds of yellow fumes, sometimes a train had to stop after leaving the station and they would have got a good wiff. But to get some in eye was terrible, the only way to remove it was to get a mate to get a mouthfull of water and spit in your eye,
I worked for Holmes Plating from 1972 until 1974 then again in around 76/77. It was a smelly place to work in but you got used to it, it was worse in the Summer due to a lot of hot water tanks in which to rinse work off . But we also had a lot of protective clothing,gloves,wellies and rubber aprons, towear and this could get very uncomfortable in the Summer months. But I did enjoy the work, it was very interesting to learn the process of Electro Plating, I spent most of my time working in the guilding shop where specialised work was carried out using Gold ,Silver and Platinum plating. There was a very friendly crowd of staff and management working their during my stints there. There was also a man involved in a famous murder case working there while I was there who actualy committed suicide in the works using Cyanide.
What wonderful memories!
I moved to Blackheath in 1950 and attended All Saint’s School for a few months before going to Catford Central School. (catching a 75 bus outside Sainsburys for the journey). My Father was the Station Master at Greenwich Station and we lived in the flat above Blackheath Station. There was a small green gate between the butchers shop (Tuckers?) and, I think a florists shop. This gateway led down some steps to the front door of the flat. Because of our name our mail was often wrongly delivered over the road to the departmental store.
I remember most of the shops mentioned by others. In addition there was a philatelist’s shop where I spent much of my pocket money at the time. There was a barbers shop in the maze of houses behind Royal Parade, here many of the engine drivers used to go for a haircut. I remember talking with them about the performance of the various classes of loco working the rolling stock out of the yards. In Royal Parade there was an electricians Schofields, I played with Rene and Philip Schofield who also also went to All Saints School. Was there not a British Restaurant somewhere at the top village that served economic mid-day meals?
With others we used to tramp the heath after the fair looking for copper coins that had been dropped. Another way of making money was to collect soda siphons for The Victoria Wine Company shop? which was opposite Hinds store.
Making lightweight balsa wood boats that skiffed across the Prince of Wales pond come to mind. I had a freind Micheal Jones who lived in a “posh” house next to the Hare and Billet pond, his father had a super prewar Talbot 75 motor car. Few people had cars then, and a ride was a special treat.
The name Kenneth Tucker rings a bell, others that I remember from All Saint’s are Ronnie Charlesworth, Ann?Blackman, Derek Pegram and Eric Fouce?
In 1953 my Father gained promotion and we moved to live in the flat over Catford Bridge Station, so I slowly lost touch with Blackheath.
I have only just started “silver surfing” and Blackheathbugle is a super find – thank you.
Other memories on trawling the grey matter. There was a secondhand bookshop on the end of Royal Parade. The massive fire seen for miles around when the Greenwich Council wood-store on the edge of the heath by Maze Hill burnt down. The teacher (Mr Rhodes?) who purchased a smart brown Harris Tweed suit just before joining All Saints. He was embarrassed to find when he joined the school it was identical with those warn by the rangers who looked after the heath. Also the large cylindrical cast iron fire in the room that housed the top class in the school which glowed red hot at times.
This, I am sure is more than enough!
My father Keith Watson was a relief signalman along that line down as far as Gravesend and Cuxton as well as crossing keeper at Charlton Lane for a while from the early to mid fifties once he passed out from a box boy, he was one of the first to arrive at the disaster at St Johns Wood and was arrested for hitting people who were robbing corpses but never charged, it haunted him for many years.
My late grandfather Bob (Walter) Watson was apparently well known as much as his father Cecil the policeman was around Blackheath, I remember going into many of the shops in the village with him as a kid in the early 70’s and everyone seemed to know him
Cecil and his wife owned quite a few properties at the top most part of point hill and I understand the Luftwaffe did much to reduce their portfolio during WWII
I remember well the night of Lewisham train crash, Dec. 4th 1957. It was an awful night, the thick smog caused the driver of Battle of Britain class loco “Spitfire” to run the red signal at St. John’s Station. My father was on duty that night at Ladywell Station, a short distance from the crash site, to where many “walking wounded” passengers made their way after the crash.
Doubtless our fathers knew each other from the nature of their occupations.
I do hope that this is not too far removed from the Blackheath thread.
David, have a look on Google street view. you can see the village florists next door to a butchers shop, there is a small alleyway between them, no green door though, and no sign of a flat, nor above the Railway Station. Good hunting!!!
Thanks for taking such an interest. On street view the gateway between the butchers and the florists is now black, with a white notice on it. The whole thing being obstructed by the florists rack of plants. If you, in the 50s, went through the gate there was an alleyway for some yards between the shops. You then entered the garden of Station House, then on the right there was a flight of steps down to platform level where the waiting rooms, loos etc were. At the back of these facilities there was a front door into the hallway of the station house. On entering this there was a staircase that led up to the flat that was above the facilities of the “up” platform of the station. It was a very spacious dwelling. Some of the rooms looked out above the platform and you could look down on the passengers waiting on the platform below.
Looking at street view there are clearly now large trees in what was the garden
and the chimneys of the flat can be seen above and behind the florists shop. The satellite view shows both the trees and the apex and ridges of the roof above the flat.
Does the email address that you gave Norman in 2009 still hold? I might have some photos somewhere I can scan in for you.
Yes , I still have the same email address.
The talk of the Express Dairy stirred memories for me – we moved into a new house in The Keep in 1958 when I was a baby. Aged about 2, I suppose, I followed the milkman, Mr Palmer, around and he told me stories about delivering milk in a horsedrawn carriage of some kind to the big house which was there before Span built The Keep.
Raggitty Anne’s was where Oddbins is now. I worked Saturdays at Florian’s slicing salami when I was about 15 or 16, so around 1973/4. Florian’s Polish mother and aunt ran the place. There was a Scandinavian shop just up the hill where the bathroom shop is now. Remember the original Cave Austin? Some kind of grocery shop, I think. Hext, Fenners and maybe the butcher are still around and the same 50 years on – or have I forgotten some?
If you go onto Google, type Express Dairy Horse Drawn Milk Float in the search box and then click the photos box, there is a black and white photo of a milk float.
Hi All, I noticed on reading some of the latest threads that a couple of people, David and Ian, mentioned the dreadful train crash at St Johns in December 1957. Just to let you know that there is a book available on this disaster, I have recently read it and it covers the accident from all angles. It is called St John’s Lewisham 50 Years on, Restoring the traffic by Peter Tatlow and published by The Oakwood Press. Very sad but very interesting read.
Having just discovered this marvellous site I revel in the memories of Blackheath. Mine go back to the early ’30s, through the war and in adult life.
I recently published my memoirs ‘Chronicles of a Timid Lover’, for family and friends.
In that I refer to the Mitchell Farm opposite St. James’ church, where we played in the pigeon loft. From the basement window of our flat in Kidbrooke Park Road I often saw ‘Old Mitchell’ walking past our house leading one of the magnificent Shire horses, Mick or Toby, to the farrier.
I loved watching the farrier at work. I can still recall the clangs of hammer on anvil and the acrid odour of red hot horseshoes burning into the bony hoof. Fascinating!
I wonder if you have any reader who remembers that smithy. I’m fairly sure it was on the corner of Old Dover Road and Sunfields Place, although my older brother, Frank (just turned 89) thinks it was Bowater Place. Who is right?
BB has promised to include extracts from my memoirs soon. I hope they will stir pleasant days in and around Blackheath.
Looking forward to reading your Blackheath Memoirs.
Just reading your great article. My name is Linda Faulkner the daughter of Daisy Faulkner (Mitchell) of Express Dairy Farm Kidbrooke back then. Mum was so excited when I read what you had said out to her. If you would like to email: firstname.lastname@example.org we would love to hear from you.
I grew up in Blackheath in the 1940s 1950s I left in 1958, Reeves and Jones used to be in Delacourt Road before it moved to Blackheath Village. I still miss Blackheath it will always be my home.
Please don’t let themchange it.
Hi Stanley, I lived near to Bowater place in the 1940s 1950s,
at the corners of Bowater Place is The British Oak public house and the opposite corner was a chimney sweep, at the corners of Sunfield place were a private, Drakes newsagents and at the rear Gilberts builders yard in my time the opposite corner was a ‘bomb site’ so it seems that the ‘smithy’ could have been there and you are right. I also remember the shire horses I think at that time they were taken to somewhere near Lnagton way.
Just seen your comment about the smithy on the corner of Sunfields Place and Old Dover Road. I lived in Sunfields Place before it was demolished on 30th November 1944 by a V2 rocket and the smithy’s name was Mr McKechnie. Pat Clegg
My grandfather talked about the smithy as he used to get parts made up for his Austin 7 there until he had to go to someone in Westerham who could continue the work, he kept that car going well into the early 70’s when he changed it for a 2 litre Triumph Vitesse.
Hi! Can anyone remember the Pre-Fabricated housing that was built after the War. I lived there as baby and moved when I was about 5 years old. I know I started school at All saints in 1950 and moved about 1951. I went to look for them in 2006 and no one could tell me were they would have been. My address was 70 Hollyhedge Bungalows Blackheath se3 I hope someone can help me. Vanessa kells.
Holly Hedge Bungalows were apparently on the Wat Tyler Road .
Thank you again Bob.
I have looked Wat Tyler Road up on Google and I did go that way, and properly walk on that road , because I did say to my husband I had a feeling that’s were the prefabs might have been. It’s funny how even though I was only 5 year’s old when we left Blackheath thing’s stayed in my mind all these years later. I am so happy to have finally found out where they were.
Hi, Vanessa, My Family and I lived at I think it was No.9 Hollyhedge Bunglows and they were all on the piece of land surrounded by St Austell Road, Mounts Pond Road, Wat Tyler Road & Hare & Billet Road. You can see Hollyhedge House on Google Earth and what we used to call “the dips” which was a sloping green area where we used to play. I think we moved there after you left around 1953. I have a photo of me and my Sister taken there in the snow. Its published in the group “Growing up in Blackheath & Greenwich in the 1950’s & 60’s” on Facebook.
Hi, I used to live in Hollyhedge House when all the prefabs were still around.
The”Dips” you refer to we called “The Big Dips” and we used to slide down them on pieces of polished hardboard in the summer. They were called the “Big Dips” to distinguish them from the “Little Dips” which were over by the side of Greenwich Park where we used to ride our bikes.
Hello Brenda and Vanessa,
St. Germans Place, Blackheath on Google,then click on PICTURES
you should find a photo of a painting, right at the beginning ,click on the painting, it should bring up two paintings, one of the prefabs in St. Germans Place, the other I think are the Hollyhedge ones ‘Good luck
Does anyone remember the old Riding School at the corner of what Is Baisdon Road? I remember the building being there in a dilapidated state
in the early 50’s.
hello, my name is Irene i lived at Number 29 Hollyhedge Bulgalows in the early 50s where my family and myself lived there untill 1960. Myself and my brother attended John Ball School. I would love to hear from anybody who lived at the bungalows of that time.
I left a message a few days ago – 10 Feb 2013.
I was born at Hollyhedge bungalows in 1958. My mother is Pam and her mother and father were Ada and Arthur.
Does anyone know why there was some kind of track (cinder?) on the area of heath near the Rangers Lodge? My dad, rather misguidedly, I think, took me there to practice my bike riding skills (more like grazed leg skills!)
Scroll back to 2 postings, one from David Hinds , December 25, 2011
and one from myself, December 26 , 2011. We spoke about the cinder Cycle Speedway Track.
Hi, my name is adrian ,was your brothers name Jeffrey, I have a two brothers Kevin and Patrick we lived at number 22 hollyhedge bungalows
I think I was at John Ball School the same time as you
What was you and your brother’s surname
I must add this is a great site. I have been looking for something like this for a long time. It bring’s back great memoiries.Thank you to everyone that comments It’s wonderful !!!!!!!!!
The one’s I remember were on the grass side of the Heath, along the length of St. Germans Place.
‘Thank you’ Bob.
I will google the map of Blackheath again and try and pick up St Germans Place.
I now live in Australia and have done since 1957 I was ten year’s old when my parent’s migrated here.
I have photo’s of my sister and I taken outside the bungalow we lived in and when Icome to England in 2006 I tried to find out where they would have been built but no one could help me. So Thank you again.
Your excellent running history of Blackheath prompts me to wonder if I might add a few memories of the area, as a child, from 1925 to the war years, then as an adult commuting daily to the City of London via Blackheath Station.
My autobiography CHRONICLES OF A TIMID LOVER (a limited self-published edition) recounts several aspects of life which may enlarge on the interesting stories provided by your readers.
Central to my vivid memories are the Mitchell’s farm next to St. James Church; the macabre alley behind the church to the Heath; playing in and around the ponds; the rise and fall of THE ROXY cinema; bonfire nights and fairs in the ex-quarry pits before they were filled with bomb-damage rubble; carol singing to raise pennies for the gas meter; being arrested as a 7y.o. member of a sweet stealing gang; those huge steam locomotives thundering in and out of the station before electric trains took away the drama; hot days watching cricket and tobogganing on snow slopes in Greenwich Park; schooldays at Blackheath & Kidbrooke C of E in Old Dover Rd; The Rectory Field in it’s heydays of the Blackheath rugby club and riveting cricket battles between Kent and Surrey…and a host of others.
But, where to start? My memoirs as written are too long to quote but perhaps one or two of the above items would be of particular interest.
Hi Bob, have just checked out Google Earth and found St German’s Place. Can’t believe it is the only part of blackheath I didn’t go and look at! Does anyone know what year the prefab’s were pulled down.
Apparently there were also Prefabs in The Wat Tyler Road, near to Hollyhedge House, hence the name of your bungalows.
Please have a look at the these two websites :
Thank you Bob.
I have looked up these websites “Great ” Thank you! Brings back a lot of memories. That’s definitely where Holly hedge Bungalows were. I remember saying to my husband when I went looking for them that’s where I thought they would have been, it just felt right. To think I would have walked on the spot I had walk to school 55years ago at the time I was in England. It makes me feel so much better that my trip was not in vain. It had been on my mind for all those years and I needed to find out were I grow up and were my life began. I just love this site keep up the good work. Regards Vanessa Kells
Were you able to access the two websites ( please see below)
Readers who enjoyed the movies at THE ROXY CINEMA, in Old Dover Road, might like to know what a 9y.o. boy felt at the birth of a palace of dreams and drama. Here is his story.
Extract from CHRONICLES OF A TIMID LOVER : Chapter 7
Our lives brightened in 1934 when we read a notice fixed to a wall opposite The Royal Standard pub, where the Old Dover Road meets Charlton Road;
The ROXY CINEMA will be
built on this site
We had never seen a picture show but older mates, who had been taken by parents to silent movies, gave us some idea of what to expect. The new entertainment sounded much more exciting than the magic lantern slide lectures about African villages we endured at school, when denied football afternoons because of bad weather.
In the following months we made regular jaunts past the site to inspect progress. We counted almost every brick laid and urged the builders to hurry as the bright modern cinema house emerged from demolition rubble.
Local newspaper stories fuelled mounting excitement up to the opening date. We learned that the architect was a Mr Bertie Crewe; that 1,300 tip-up seats (750 downstairs and 550 in the balcony) awaited paying bottoms; that a grand Werlitzer organ, imported from America, would accompany singing audiences with glorious notes from dozens of pipes.
On The Big Opening Day, 11 February 1935, hundreds of excited people milled around the swanky front entrance of our posh new cinema. I was nine years old and joined a long queue, stretching from the main doors in Old Dover Road, around a corner and along the whole length of the building to the car park at the rear.
The moment I crossed the threshold I stepped into another world. I gawped at the palatial décor – bright cream walls, sparkling chandeliers, and scarlet deep pile carpets in the foyer which led up wide stairs to the balcony. Graciously draped long burgundy-red velvet curtains heightened the warm luxurious atmosphere.
A buzz of excited anticipation echoed around the crowded hall. Inside, the auditorium was a blaze of red from the comfortable plush seats and ceiling-to-stage curtains.
I rushed to claim a place in the middle of the front row and when the curtains slid open I stared up at the huge white screen. This was to be my canvas for spectacular animated pictures; my portal to a completely new world – for a lifetime.
Until that day my knowledge of what went on outside my tiny cocoon of existence had been limited to crackled voices and music heard over a battery powered wireless set; a boys comic or two; a few vague references in family conversation to wars, famine, and disasters, which seemed serious but were beyond my comprehension.
My front row view obliterated the packed audience behind me and allowed for deep concentration. It was just me, the screen and my imagination – nothing and nobody else. My mind was empty but willing and anxious to discover new sights and sounds; to absorb layers of knowledge of the outside world. My heart was open for strange emotions sharpened by virtual involvement inside plots of intrigue, violence, tenderness, love. I was ready to absorb anything and everything displayed on that huge white canvas.
In a semi-crouching position, with feet on the seat, arms hugging my legs and chin resting on bare knees, I was drawn like Alice into Wonderland and hovered in another universe. From the opening bars of popular music and the first appearance of twenty-feet high moving, talking, singing characters, I was hooked.
For four years, until we moved away from Kidbrooke, The Roxy was a vital part of my life. I learned much about the outside world; what was considered right and wrong; a range of characters and situations I may have to face in adulthood. I felt the early growth of deep emotions in response to people and circumstance.
The Roxy became an ABC cinema in 1963; closed February 1974, and was reduced to demolition rubble in April 1981. As I write it is a modern Marks & Spencers store.
A sad ending to a glorious era.
re.article on holmes plating co.the vale blackheath village i started work there in 1941 at the age of 14 till i was called up in1944 the working conditions were appalling wages was 4p an hour wqrking with all known acids and poisons,no protected clothing just a pair of wooden clogs.
not many in the village knew it was a war factory doing parts for aircraft
and other goverment work.
if the v2 had landed a bit futher up the road there would have been many
casualty. i remember seeing the pilot of the plane that droped the bomb
that killed all the kids at sandhurst school as it passed over blackheath
in our dinner break. lots more stories if you are interested.reg counsell
in my 85 year now but still lots more about blackheath after the war
My father was in “digs with Mrs Donovan at 7 St Germans Place “and notes in his diary Wed 5th July 1944. Fine Day. Pilotless planes raid all day. Blown up. Lucky to be alive. In air raid cellar about 40 yards from crater.”
Hi Reg, Great to read your memories of working in Holmes plating, it sounds like it was a terrible place back then, it was only a little better when I worked there in the early 1970’s, although we did have some protective clothing, not that it was much help against acid running down your arms etc ! It was a very hot dirty place in the summer months too. Very interesting to read that it was doing it’s part in the war effort too, I never knew that, although of course I do know that many such companies did such work during the war period. I used to live in the next road up, Wemyss road at number 10, I was not born until 1957 in the house, but do know that numbers 1 to 9 were destroyed in the bombing of Blackheath and the side of number 10 still shows the scars today where the side wall had to be rebuilt. Again I thank you very much indeed for sharing your story of working at Holmes plating, and would be intersted in hearing more about the place if you know anything about the history of the building etc. Thanks Lloyd
HI, my mum lived with my grandparents in Paragon Place. I have such fond memories of visiting my nan and granddad there and used to stay with them over the school holidays (in the 70’s) I have a particular memory of the Toy Shop in the Village, with the rag dolls suspended from the ceiling. I always wished I could own one of these lovely dolls. Then one lovely day, I travelled up from Kent to see my nan and granddad, I walked into their front room to be greeted by one of the very dolls that I had admired so much!!! I still have Raggerty Anne and cherish her and the fond memories of those days.
My mum, now in her 70’s, will love this site. I will be passing on the details so she can have a wander down Memory Lane!
i was living in 20 blackheath Grove from 1940 to 1949 ,my name was Marg Kitching, remember both the doodle bug, and the V2 falling, l was 10 tyears older than you, but still write to a good friend Chris Rutherford who lived in Weymyss Road,and went to the same school as you, you may know her l remember Jobbins, and our grocer was called The Bacon shop, so many good memories,, and often wonder where all my old friends are, Bernard Swann, for one, Marion Phillips, another,
I used to be friends with Paul Rutherford, Christine’s younger brother.
Paul became very famous, he was the leading avant-garde trombonist in the
UK, unfortunately , he passed away a couple of years ago. You can find a lot about him on the internet.
lIt was sad Paul dying, so talented, l keep in touch with Chris, she was friends with my younger sister Pauline, but as l am on the internet we correspond all the time, she sent me a great book by niel Rhind, its so interesting,l live in w Australia now, so does Pauline,
me being older remember the bombing,l worked in a shop called The New Argosy, at the time.
What was the new argosy shop I don’t remember it… Jack
I lived in Ryculff Square from 1953 -1968.
I remember the bombsite where the Span flats were built at the corner of
Pond Road and South Row. We called this the Top Field and spent countless days setting up camps in the dank cellars. Another bomb site was the old Riding School on the corner of Baisdon Road and Elliot Place. I shudder to think of the times when we youngsters would walk across rotten beams about 10 foot from the ground. No PC in those days.
I used to go down to the Express Dairy stables and the milkmen would let us go in and feed the horses. On the corner of Wemyss Road and Montpelier Vale there was a newsagent/sweet shop. The owner was called ‘Titch’ and he had a light green Alvis sports car. Our little gang used to drool over it but , unlike some modern youths we would never dream of scratching it. Opposite this shop was Webbs the bike shop which I used quite a bit until I found Youngs in Lee High Road where I bought my first racing bike.
I had fond memories of John Ball School.
I also remember the Day family who lived above the post office. They bred Pyrrenean Mountain dogs, and at one time had 7 of these huge dogs.
I remember the village library opening in Tranquil Passage and the smell of the new books. Opposite the library was a small shoe repair shop which used to sell shoe polish and leather goods.
There was also a small sweet shop on the library side just past Brigade Square and I vaguely recall a barber’s shop almost opposite this shop which was one of those ‘Short back and sides’, Dennis Compton poster on the wall advertising Brylcreem and although I never heard it myself , I am sure that the old phrase ‘ Would sir like anything for the weekend’ was in use.
I remember old Madeleine Moore, she was a lovely character.
I used to frequent the Rendezvous cafe and around 1957 you would see many an old motorbke like a Vincent outside. I played Elvis Presley’s All Shook up on the Juke Box continuously and nobody seemed to mind.
Among the shops I remember in Royal Parade were a motorcycle shop which only had one motorbike on display as the window was so small. This was a Panther and it had a sidecar. There was also a TV/radio shop.
I was in the 11th Lewisham North Scouts and we met in the Parish Hall opposite the Crown pub. This hall had a strange smell of polish. I used to love the Church Parade but never got the honour of holding the flag which I coveted.
I did a paper round for Smiths in the evenings and another one in the mornings for the chap who used to sell papers outside the station. One day his father didn’t turn up for work so he sent me to knock for him. There was no reply and it turned out that he had died.
Another recollection was watching the steam trains shunting in the small siderails at Blackheath station.You could see this from the windows of John Ball school.
I have plenty more memories but I think I should take a rest for now.
I had a Saturday job in Jobbin’s Bakery and remember the distinctive smell of fresh bread and cakes which were full of fresh cream. Manageress at the time was a lovely lady named Launa and another lady I remember very well was a lady named Lou who taught me all I needed to know to work in a bakery, I do believe she lived in Bennett Park. I really enjoyed going into work even though it was for one day a week. I made lots of friends with people who lived in the village and visited our bakery regularly, chats over coffee in our small but, very quaint coffee area was a lovely meeting place.
I often wonder where these people are now or if any one remembers me !!!! I was sixteen at the time and I’m now 49 years old and still living in Blackheath. if any one knows please don’t hesitate to get in touch with me
E-mail : email@example.com
I wondered if you knew any more information about the Express Dairy Horse Drawn Milk Float in Blackheath because, my mum’s dad ( Harry Rowe ) looked after the horses in the stables. If anyone as any photos or information or perhaps they knew Harry Rowe? I would be over the moon to know, please don’t hesitate to get in contact.
Hi Carol, Just stumbled on this site. Replying to Bob Rowlands posting, I lived at 5 Dartmouth Row as a 5 year old in 1954 – above a green grocers. I remember his anger when the Express Dairy horse mounted the pavement and ate the entire top layer of apples from the fruit on display!!
Sorry I don’t have any more info or photos, but if you
go to GOOGLE, type in the search box , Express Dairy Horse Drawn Float
and then when the page(s) appear click on PICTURES, you should find some, scattered around, I have just been on the web, and have just seen a few.
Thank you for your quick reply and my I had a great time looking through many pictures which I found very interesting of Express Dairy Milk Floats. But, unfortunately I didn’t see any information regarding my mum’s dad ( Harry Rowe ) or the stables. I will keep on searching, thanks again.
Where the Clarendon Hotel is today there were also 2 other hotels.One was called The Regency. Does anyone remember the name of the third hotel?
Hi Rowland, I saw your question the other day on here and could not remember the name of the third hotel, I tried hard to think but it just would not come to me. Later that same evening I was checking through some old bus photos I have and just by chance I found one of a bus going past that very same hotel, it’s name was Heathview Hotel. Not sure if it is still called that or not, will look next time I am over that way again.
Please email me the photos if you can! blackheathbugle at gmail.com
Thank you so much.
The Heathview Hotel. Great!
I am so relieved as I used to live at the back of those hotels and my dentist was only a few doors down from The Princess of Wales pub
Just sent the photo I mentioned in my last comment. Lloyd Rich
Just emailed the photo I mentioned in my last comment regarding the hotels on Blackheath. Lloyd Rich
Thanks so much for the photo Lloyd. It certainly brought back some
. hi Lloyd re memories of holmes plating co.
during the war the factory had a glass roof which was painted black and
when working nightshift during air raids sharpnel fell on the roof and we
had to climb up there an stick paper over the holes to stop light getting
out, i don’t think heath and safety would allow this today.
around 1940-41 most of the men had been called up so boys and girls
as young 14 and15 were working there, i have a photo i took on the heath
near the army camp in 1941, allso one of holmes plating darts team
which played for the princess of wales pub which was our local.in the 1950s
please can you let me know how i can post them on the site.
all; the best from reg counsell
Hi Reg, Sounds like a very tricky job having to black out the roof windows in Holmes, must have been a nightmare of a job to do, what with all those pipes everywhere, and the tanks full of various acids and chemicals underneath you. I have to say I loved working there and found it very interesting, I went on to work on my own in a plating shop with a plastics company specialising in repairing plastic moulds with Hard Chrome, moulds would wear down or get damaged so I would rebuild them with chrome and then the parts were machined down to the correct shape and size. If you have the photos on your computer, just email them to firstname.lastname@example.org they should then appear on here, that is all I done to add the bus photo on here. Good Luck and look forward to seeing them on here. Lloyd Rich
Hi Rowland, I lived just behind the hotels too, in Wemyss road and I also shared the same dentist as yourself ! Glad you saw the photo. Lloyd
Thanks for the reply. I have horrible recollections of being gassed and the awful smell of the rubber as you went off into a coma for a few minutes. As
a matter of interest do you remember the name of the newsagents/confectioners run by Tich on the corner of Wemyss Road opposite Webbs bicycle shop?
Hi Rowland, I am not 100% sure , but I think their name was Sewell or Sewers, I remember the old Alvis he had, I think it started as a green one,metalic if I remember correctly, then later he had it resprayed metalic red, a nice dark red, he certainly loved that car. My dad got on very well with him, we lived at number 10 Wemyss road, the first house next to the flats with bomb damage scars down the side wall. Lloyd Rich
You are absolutely right. It was an almost peppermint green metallic colour.
I know where you lived. I believe the flats were for policemen. My scoutmaster was a sergeant in the police and he lived in one of those flats. If I recall correctly there used to be a beaten track down the side of the flats which enabled one to get to the Post Office. Roly Evans
“… do you remember the name of the newsagents/confectioners run by Tich on the corner of Wemyss Road opposite Webbs bicycle shop?”
I seem to recall that THE (or at least A) proprietor of that corner newsagents shop belonged to a wonderfully zany group of pals from this area who called themselves The Unpredictables.
The Unpredictables got up to all sorts of lunatic and sometimes hair-raising stunts (swimming the Thames at Greenwich was one) with the two-fold aim of raising money for good causes AND having a damned good time.
Their “leader” ran a dry rot preservation company in this area, as I remember – somebody called Brian, I think.
The Unpredictables at one stage had based themselves at the Constitutional Club at Lee Green. But they had to go after a Sunday newspaper reporter writing a story about the group challenged them there and then to live up to their name and do something unpredictable.
They gleefully obliged, stripping off to pose bare-bummed for a photograph in the car park outside the club.
The picture of them in the buff, backs to camera, duly appeared in the paper that Sunday – with the sign “Lee Green Constitutional Club” appearing prominently in the background above them.
It was all too much for the club management. It ruled The Unpredictables and their picture had brought the Lee Green club, which was allied to the Conservative Party, into national disrepute and told them they had to go and not come back.
Whether or not the proprietor of the newsagents shop on the corner of Wemyss Road was involved in that particular Unpredictables stunt I can’t recall. But it’s the same Lee Green club, now long closed, that’s currently under renovation for private housing.
HI Lloyd hope the photos arive most of lads came blackheath or lewisham
many of them have sadley passed on by now. but somebody might
recognize them,i see you done hard chrome plating i did this before i
was called up in 1944,parts of the cannon gun on spitfires had to be
hard chromed because of wear.thats all fof now reg
just checked e mails and photos returned e mail not known reg
New thread, I have just found entering “Blackheath” on The British Pathe site a clip, among several related to the subject, one of a Penny Farthing cycle ride from Westminster to Blackheath in 1945. There are some interesting frames near the Prince of Wales pond where the ride ends. One of my interests is cycling history, does anyone remember this ride/race?
Thanks Lloyd for printing photos I hope someone can remember some of them. Some more memories of the village before i get to old to remember them, finlays tobaco shop on the left handside coming into the village,[ is it still there] we use to buy our tobaco there loose from jars and weighed on scales, rose the barmaid in the railway pub, during the war cigaretes were in short supply the little shop in front of the railway station the lady would let us buy 5 woodbines which she got from under the counter and put them in a sweet bag. The scandal of the white girlfrom blacheath who married the black african chief seretise kmama she worked in jobbings the bakers for a while. After I left the army I went back to holmes plating courted a girl who lived in collins street for 2 years many happy memories partys in a big house in bennet park. Then in the 60s took a job at edward evans which once
You remembered my mom’s name, but not mine, and you went out with me for two years. You were also saving to buy me an engagement ring.
Hi Reg, Just came across the site looking for something else. I am the daughter of Rose from the Railway Tavern. The girl that you were courting for two years. Do you remember my name?
Opps something gone wrong continue from last post:
Called hinds a large store at the top of the hill as a tally man on the knocker. Although i did not live at blackheath i have many fond memories hope this all makes sense because i do ramble on all the best from reg P.S I now live in Folkestone
What a great website! Reading these comments really takes me back to the days when the village was more than just a collection of estate agents and pretentious eating houses.
I remember the shops in Tranquil Passage:Poffrey’s and Wheeler’s. They were the Sainbury’s and Tesco’s of their time. Mr Poffrey had lost a hand at some time in his past. He wore a leather glove to cover the stump. His shop, like the other grocer shops, smelled of bacon, cheese and biscuits.
Everything was sold loose. The sugar was weighed and put into blue paper bags. Butter was chopped and patted with wooden spatulas. Our mother favoured Mrs Wheeler. She had an account at her shop. This meant that food was bought ‘on tick’ and paid for at the end of the week. My brother, Len, tried to get some sweets using this facility, but Mrs Wheeler was wise to his tricks.
Sears was another favourite, a sweet shop where ice cream was made on the premises. I fyou arrived early you had to wait for the process to take place. The Sears were very nice people. They let my brother, Paul, have a box of chocolates on ‘hire purchase’. He was buying them as a birthday present for me, but didn’t have the necessary cash at the time.
Blackheath Bacon Shop was was owned by two two men who were ‘the only gays in the village’. Also very nice people who liked to play tennis in the park.
Jobbins the bakers, Fenners the greengrocers, Butcher Curnows the chemist and photographers; all part of our childhood- gone but not forgotten.
Bob’s account of tobogganing down the hill from the General Wolfe statue to the Naval College brought back happy memories although he would have had to crash through the Maritime Museum before he reached the college. I was born in Roan Street, Greenwich in 1940 and my father ran the shellfish stall, in King William Walk, on Sundays. My mother had an allotment in Greenwich Park during the war and she used to grow fabulous tomatoes and lupins and other veg. It was my older sister’s job to follow the milkman and coalmans’ carts to collect the manure dropped by their horses for use on the allotment.
Sand used to be deposited by the side of the river, next to the pier and, on sunny days, we would go there with a picnic and make sand castles, just as if we were at the seaside. Happy days!
Does anyone remember the bird in the cage automaton in Hinds? You put a penny in and he sang and moved. I wonder where that is now – must be worth a small fortune. How about the circus train which used to come to Blackheath Station and we could volunteer to walk animals across the Heath to the big top? Would we be allowed to do this today? The old fashioned milliners – two elderly ladies with a window full of hats? I remember taking my little brother to the barbers where the Woolwich Building society was opened eventually (up two or three steps) near Butcher Curnow. There was a very imposing receptionist with her hair in a bun who told me very severely that I couldn’t go in with him, it was men only! I remember the stamp and coin shop nearby. Who remembers the allotments on Blackheath? And the Nissen huts? I still have a scar on my knee from tripping over the barbed wire – and this was AFTER the war! As a child, I walked across the middle of each pond on Blackheath – yuk!
I haven’t seen any mention yet of the shop “The New Argosy” at the top of the village just down from Coultates. It sold lovely china and glass etc. I worked there as a Saturday girl for a short time in the fifties and was warned by the other Saturday girl never to go into the stock room with the owner! I always managed to avoid it! I believe the new owner in later years hung himself in that same stock room?
The New Argosy was owned by my great aunt Hilda Colman with her husband Fred. I guess you were warned against Uncle Fred! He came from Lambeth/Bermondsey. Aunty Hilda was from Cudham in Kent. They had met through the Labour Party in Bermondsey. Uncle Fred had been a CO in WW1. In WW2 they gave the shop window over to the Peace Pledge Union, but that didn’t stop the Luftwaffe from bombing it. They sold up and retired to Storrington in Sussex in the early 1960s. Uncle Fred died in 1968, Aunty Hilda lived to 93 and died in 1991. I have some of the unsold stock from the shop.
I particularly remember the Rowland Hidler Kent scene framed prints and Tretchikoff’s Blue Lady displayed in your shop.
Hi Gerald – yes I remember now his name was Fred. I never met Hilda- presumably she didn’t work in the shop on a Saturday. I was only fifteen then and adored the shop – they had such good taste and had such lovely things in there. I even loved dusting it all! Interesting that it has gone back to selling stuff for the home although not in the same way. I went in there a couple of years ago on a flying visit to Blackheath and was very nostalgic!
My parent’s bought me my first new bicycle at your Father’s
shop in 1952, still remember it, it was a Hercules Sports model, colour blue,
drop down handlebars and derailleur gears, and I clocked up a lot of miles on it . We often, during the school summer holidays , on the spur of the moment,
whilst lazing about in the sun on the Heath, suddenly decide to go to Chislehurst or Keston Ponds, Eynsford or even Biggin Hill, which wasn’t really a big deal in those days, being young a having a Hercules Sports Bike !!!
If I remember it rightly, the bike cost £ 12 15s 0d, and standing next to it in the showroom was a Green Raleigh Countryman, a heavy duty bike, brakes and dynamo were built into the wheel hubs, and this machine cost £ 24 0s 0d.
This does not sound like a lot of money today, but way back then it was.
In the early 1950s the LCC provided a cinder bicycle speedway track on the heath. My memory of it is that it was away from the village on the Greenwich Park side of the heath. I have just noticed that on http://www.cyclespeedwayhistory.org.uk there is mention of a team that used the track the “Blackheath Aces”, there is a list of riders together with a photograph of some of the team. Does anyone remember the track or any of the riders?
Yes, I remember it well, it was situated on the grass ,opposite the wall
which runs along Greenwich Park, between Charlton Way and Prince Charles Road , a very short distance from the War Memorial or Kiosk.
It was enclosed within a cheap wood stick fence, it had , as you say a cinder track, it had all the way round two circles of I believe old Fire Brigade hoses, which had been filled with sand or earth and painted white.
I never saw any of the so called riders, but we sometimes used it ourselves, we used modified bikes, i.e. they had very wide flat handlebars,
no brakes , mudguards etc etc, and special tyres, these were probably the forerunners of what you see on mountain or ATB bikes today. We did not
have protective clothing or helmets , like the riders, so our mothers’s were
not very amused when we arrived home, with scuffed shoes and dusty
trousers. That’s all I know about it.
What a wonderfully nostalgic site. I lived in Blackheath from 1954 to 1964, 20, Blackheath Grove (aready mentioned prevously), I think the house was divided into two flats and subsequently moved to No.16 after a fire at No.20.
Rowland has recalled his time with the11th Lewisham North Scout Troop. I remember that all of the Scoutmasters were police officers and what’s more as Troop Leader, I did carry the flag at Church Parades! Great memories of the times camping with the scouts.
I was one of the ‘Creme de la Creme’ who worked as a paper boy for W.H.Smith at the railway station. I had the village round and recollect meeting up with Billy Lewis who delivered papers on the same round for Coultates and sharing the papers between ourselves so that one of us would deliver papers to one half of the Village and the other to the rest of the round. Saturday morning after being paid we would make our way to the bakers and buy their stale ‘Dunkies’ (doughnuts) for 1d each and a few of the paper boys would gather at one of the homes for a Dunkie breakfast! I seem to recollect that I used to deliver newspapers to Roger Moore and Dorothy Squires who lived at The Keep which was off Blackheath Park.
I also bought a new bicycle from the ‘Bike Shop’ after saving my hard earned wages from Smiths, £12 as I recollect and decided to try it out at ‘The Dips’, result….two buckled wheels!
Mention of Sears the sweet shop, I recall being able to buy a glass of lemonade and topped with ice cream there, for 1d.
I mustn’t go on but one last story….As I recall it, at No 22, Blackheath Grove lived the Harpley family, three brothers and a sister and Patricia had been born during a V2 air raid and had been christened Patricia Doodlebug Harpley!
Sweet fond memories and so many more!
I hope you are well. It was lovely to read your account of old times.
I remember coming round to your house for tea and sometimes for breakfast when I used to come and meet you before going to school. Your brother Derek, and your mum and dad (Solly?) are very clear in my memory. I saw Billy Lewis about 25 years ago . He moved to Bristol and started a motor car sales business and I believe he became quite successful. I remember his sister Barbara very well ( as I recall she was very pretty).I remember Glenda Jackson living in the village. I remember the Dips well and like you I ruined my bicycle wheels there. Do you remember Mr. Hancock and Mrs Curley at John Ball School. I remember Mr. Beale giving me a serious good hiding – imagine that today especially in a primary school! It didn’t do me any harm though, I probably deserved it. Cheryl Lovelace has been in touch recently – Google her. What a clever girl she was and is a very eminent professor now.
Anyway, once again it’s nice to recall old times.
I had a couple of senior moments when replying to you. Your brother was not Derek but Geoff. Also it was not Mr.Hancock but Mr. Hitchcock.
Sorry old buddy.
Senior moments! Your memory is in remarkable fettle after almost 50 years!
Do you remember the lad who was the son of the owner or manager of The Regency Hotel, could have been Ian or something similar or am I confusing myself with Ian Long who lived over the Post Office in Blackheath Grove?.
He along with myself, the aforementioned Billy Lewis and the Hines brothers, Peter and Colin, used to trawl through the Village going into shops buying sweets, cakes, cigarettes and even into Raggety Anne’s to buy fireworks for Bonfire Night, in fact anything that took our fancy and asking the shopkeeper to ‘Put it on the Regency bill’!
I never did know if he had his father’s permission!!
Previous post talked of the ‘ice sliding’ across the ponds on the Heath brings to mind the occasion when we were out sliding on the pond alongside The Princess of Wales, the longest slide being the winner! Peter Hines took a long run from the banks and launched himself onto the ice only to disappear under it, fortunately reappearing almost immediately!
The ‘camps’ that we built for ourselves that get a fond mention from you, there’s numerous stories to be told of those self-built constructions that we played in, that can wait for another day.
Health and Safety, what was that?
I did attempt to contact you a while back but I’m not sure that I pushed all the right buttons or flicked the appropriate levers!
My email Address is email@example.com
Keep in touch.
My email is firstname.lastname@example.org
The Regency Hotel lad was Ted White and I recall that when they organised a sort of gardening club for us kids at John Ball School that Ted arrived with state of the art equipment, stainless steel shears , forks,sivs and spades while we had to make do with sharing what the school provided which was invariably rusty or made of rotting wood. Needless to say these were all on the Regency bill.
Do you remember the Dinky Toy racing cars we used to race on the little slope by the big playground. I remember the Maserati, Bristol Cooper,& Ferrari particularly well. The games of football on concrete weren’t much fun if you were goalkeeper, and I remember a boy called Rice who thought nothing of diving full stretch to save a goal whatever the weather or whatever the outcome of crashing onto the hard surface.
Then there were the fantastic Cavalry and Indian ‘playfights’ when about 15 boys would strip to the waist and paint their bodies and faces with powder paint and come running down the slope on the Baisdon Road flats side of the playground into the main playground where another bunch of boys would form a ‘square’ firing imaginary rifles at them. The hardest bit was admitting that you had been ‘shot’ and on several occasions a little punchup would occur over a dispute on whether you were ‘dead’ or not.
I remember Mrs.Curley well, a great teacher. She could make a story sound so fascinating that every one of us was enthralled by what she was reading, one in particular was ‘The Secret Garden’.
Well, I had better close for now . All the best
…it’s great to hear that someone else has memories of playing with toy racing cars on that slope in John Ball…I had a Vanwall Dinky car but I covetted the Masseratti more..the car that went the furthest won(!)….I don’t remember “Cavalry & Indian ” fights but I do remember “British Bulldog” in the playgroun,d which of course would not be allowed today because it is considered “too dangerous”…whatever happened to Maypole dancing?….
I envy you the Vanwall. Of course I forgot the Alfa Romeo. Most of my Dinky Toy racing cars ended up with the tyres missing in the end. How I wish that I had kept them in good nick together with the boxes.
Did you collect cigarette cards and flick them up the wall in the playground ?
Thanks Rowland, of course it was Ted White. Now that the memory has been jogged, the garden tools that he turned up to school on that day were the envy of us all!
In fact, his ability to shop at most of the Village shops, on credit and on ‘The Regency bill’, was a marvel. No surprise that we all wanted to be his friend!!
The camp beds in the classroom for our midday nap and hoping to land the bed next to Cheryl is another recollection!!!
My favourite part of the school, the school library, in the entrance hall if memory serves me right, Famous Five, Secret Seven, Billy Bunter, all books which stirred the imagination of a young boy seeking adventures.
On a more sombre note, does anybody remember having to stand in the playground, in line, in silence at 9am on the day that Ruth Ellis was executed!
That event, on that day have always stayed with me!
I remember the Ruth Ellis incident very well indeed and like you that event will always stay etched in my mind.. I mentioned this to a teacher at John Ball School about 20 years ago and she looked horrified.
With regard to the beds in the classroom I recall that it was a choice of getting near Cheryl or Francis Moro.
I recall an incident when Stanley Marsh, who lived in the prefabs in Pond Road, and I helped ourselves to some ‘fireworks’ which the caretaker Mr. Burdett had been keeping in store for the school firework display.
Unfortunately these were a bit more powerful than the normal everyday fireworks and there was a bit of a fuss at the time over their disappearance. However, sometime after the firework display, in early December , Stanley decided to let them off. He and two other kids were temporarily hospitalized and the police were involved.
I remember coming home from Chiesman’s store with my mum having seen Father Christmas, when the police apprehended me and I was taken to Mr.Burdetts house at the corner of the school in Collins Street and made to confess to my sin. Needless to say I got a severe telling off from the policemen and, when I got home I felt the full brunt of my dad’s rather horny hands on my backside. After a brief spell of rehabillitation I decided to stay on the right side of the law in the future. The school never got involved as I think that the police and Mr.Burdett could see the fear in my eyes as I left his house in order to go home to my fate, and they must have taken pity on me.
Does anybody remember the craze of collecting matchbox tops. This became very competitive and was taken to a ridiculous level when Raggity Ann’s started selling packs of replica printed versions. My neighbour David Tadd, who went on to be a very important figure in the Forensic department at New Scotland Yard and masterminded the identification of all British naturals in the Tsunami disaster and was very important in solving so many major criminal and terrorist activities had the best collection of genuine tops.
If you google David Tadd you will see what a great contribution he made to our society.
Bye for now.
What a shocking story. I’d never read about Ruth Ellis before. There’s a good Wikipedia page about it here.
Does anyone remember the ‘Green Man’ pub at the top of Blackheath Hill
Henry Cooper and Jim Wicks his manager used this as a base when he was in training for a fight.
….The Green Man pub at the top of Blackheath Hill had a Judo club in the basement…somewhere I still have my club membership card and photos of my time there…Aerial Bombshell fireworks!…I still have a scar in my hand where the pointed plastic base penetrated when it exploded ….we used to fire them at each other whilst riding our bikes(!)…..the flats on right hand side half way down Blackheath Hill were also police flats….I think making Airfix planes and hanging them from cotton on bedroom ceilings must have been endemic at that time…all my friends did it….does anyone remember playing around the Pagoda, there was a small block of flats with a lift in it which was very new and inviting?…
Rowland, your memory is par excellence. Francis Moro, Stanley Marsh, David Tadd are all names that had been erased from my memory…..until now, all flooding back.
Regarding fireworks, were you part of the ‘Firework Battle’ which took place on Baizdon Road around the beginning of November one year? Some of the lads had ‘Air bombs’, a three or five pronged firework which emitted explosive projectiles, strapped to their midriffs, the remainder of us having bangers and other explosive type fireworksI
When confronted by the lads living in Baizdon Road, one of them known as ‘Ginger’, at a pre-arranged time who were also ‘armed’ to the teeth, a full-scale battle ensued. The amazing outcome was that I don’t recall any injuries just plenty of smoke and noise!!
‘Butch’ Lockley was in the vanguard, all four foot nothing of him!
My brother also had an experience with fireworks. As you rightly said, the flats linking the bottom of Blackheath Grove and Wemyss Road were accomodation for serving Police officers and their families, funnily enough in those days known as the Police Flats!
My brother Geoff, a real mischief maker in his youth removed a cap from the petrol tank of one of the cars owned by a resident, no locking caps in those days, and threw a firework in the tank! Result, one blazing car and one very irate car owning copper!
Cars were thin on the ground in the 50’s and early 60’s, we were able to play football and cricket in Blackheath Grove with no cars parked along the road. The wicket for the cricket was one of the brick gateposts which stood at the end of the road, gardens were ‘6 and out’ as were any balls hit into the grounds of Holmes Plating. You quickly learnt to play cover drives and other ground strokes which kept the ball on the tarmac and racing down the Grove!.
Rowland, can I put your memory to the test…….Edward Evans? Was it a furnishing store or the name of the son of the owner. I’ve googled the location and a Costcutter store now stands on the site.
Quite right, Glenda Jackson did live in the Village and it wasn’t too unusual a sight to see Manfred Mann in the local shops in the early 60’s.
I received a school prize one year, a book signed and presented by the local M.P. Christopher Chataway.
My mum used to work as the Hoffman presser for ‘Clobber’ owned by Jeff Banks who was married to Sandy Shaw at the time. This was at the side of the railway bridge.
Was the store called ‘Edgar Evans’?
I remember ‘Butch’ very well . Other names that come to mind are Ray Gibson (I think he got an OBE in later life), Terry Beckett, Melvin Mantle,
Bruce Watson, Chris Spencer .There was a lad called Guy Littler who lived in the big house in Pond Road next to the church and also David King who lived in the Coach House at the back of his house.
It was very nice for a council house boy to enjoy the surroundings of a rich environment as I was often invited to their houses for tea and to play in the garden. They were really nice people and , as I was a great fan of Just William at the time it was the nearest I got to the real thing.
I wasn’t in that particular firework incident but I do remember the bonfire gatherings on the corner of Baisdon Road. One of the boys from the flats was called Jimmy Ellis (maybe Elliot?) and along the road was where Michael Bing lived.
When I started secondary school I was on an 89 bus and there was a commotion between the bus conductor and a passenger regarding smoking on the lower deck. This ended with the man leaving the bus. I was told that it was Brendan Behan.
I used to make Airfix warplanes and became accidentally rather fond of the smell of the glue, but was not aware that in the future this woud become a youthful pastime. I used to use drawing pins to hang them on my bedroom ceiling but my brother decided to shoot them all down with his airgun.
Bye for now.
Rowland, a few recognisable names there.
Michael Bing, Mervyn Mantle, a little older than us by a year or two and a bit of a bully in those days I recall. I’d better add ‘allegedly’! Ray Gibson who I was particularly chummy with for some time, Chris Spencer another familiar name and Stanley Marsh, always biting his tongue!
The Lockleys, Butch and his elder brother Dave. Lived in Lawn Terrace, never did know why ‘Butch’!
What do you remember of Paul Lobb???
Do you recollect any of the annual Scout camps that we went on…Acrise, near Folkestone and there was another in Gloucestershire and many to Downe in Kent for the weekend. I can remember having to clear a couple of inches of snow to allow us to pitch our tents on one weekend camp at Downe!
I vividly recall the time that Billy Lewis and myself had to complete a 24 hour hike as part of our Queen Scout badge. Setting off in the morning and hiking 20+ miles, we spent the night, having made a bivouac out of a large bush, in St Radigunds Abbey, a mediaeval ruin with bats flying around all night! We failed to return to the campsite at the designated time (24 hours after setting off) and the Scoutmasters, all Police Officers, called in their Kent colleagues to search for us. We arrived back at the campsite 12 hours later having got ourselves hopelessly lost!
That’s enough remimiscing for now.
Just stumbled on this site – what a fantastic read!!
I well remember the Green Man Pub, I lived at 5 |Dartmouth Row, just behind where the pub was, until 1955 when my parents moved to Charlton.
It was above a green grocers and corner store. I was at All Saints school from 1952 ’till 1959. One of the funnier moments I remember as a 5 year old was the Express Dairy horse stopping outside the grocers, mounting the pavement ithe the milk float and demolishing the top layer of best cox’s apples from the green grocers store ( he had deliberatly put the best apples on the top of his display!) He shouted word that I didn’t understand at the time.
My rcollection of Blackheath and All saints School was that it was a great place to grow up in
Also recollect your comment about matchbox label collecting – circa 1954. I remember this also extended to cigarrette packet collecting – not that we smoked, as 7 year olds!
Does anyone remember more about All Saints school between 1952 and 1959? I remember the head teachers name was Miss D Knott.
The time period is spot on Ken.
I remember your school in Blackheath Vale. It’s still there I believe.
Did you know a boy called Mervyn Mantle who lived in the row of houses between Camden Row and Tranquil Vale facing the heath. I believe he went to your school. Did you have blue jackets with gold lettering on the breast pockets?
I sure did know Mervyn. Memory of his name came flooding back though I can’t remember what he looked like. I was five when I went to All Saints in 1952. To save you working it out I’m now 64!! Also other names – Phillip Schofield whose dad had an Electrical shop facing the heath: Ian Harris who lived at 10 Camden Row. I grew up at 5 Dartmouth Row, near the top of Blackheath Hill. thats how I remember the Green Man pub mentioned on an earlier thread on this site. Also remember going across the heath for school lunches, firstly at the Parish hall where Camden Row faces the heath and later at John Ball school.
The jackets were blue; the lettering was ASB in white/silver on the breast pockets and caps.
I was at All Saints from 1953 to 1960 ( I think!) I still have the prizes I won most years, all signed by Miss Knott! Then I went on to the Roan School, along with my friends, the Staleys from The Orchard, Ian Harris from Camden row, Kenneth Adams and others, I still have a few photos from school. We lived in Lee Park but moved away to the South Coast in 1962/3 over that awful winter. I still remember the snow starting on Boxing Day at our aunties house in Bennet Park. My grandmother and her husband lived in Colonnade House, long before I was born, she died in 1948 the year i was born. Blackest day of my life, the day we left! One shop I haven’t heard mentioned was Cave Austin? They used to deliver “The Order” every week in a big soap powder box. We lived near the coal and transport yard run by mr Falce, who everyone called “Nelson” as he wore an eyepatch!
Hi David I hope this works – I changed ISP – anyway I wanted to ask you if I could see the All Saints C of E photos you mentioned – I would be very interested to see them! My email is email@example.com … Wasn’t Miss Knott the head before Mr Rhodes? I remember Andrew Staley vividly… I used to love fighting and hanging with the boys generally.
Hello Ken, you aren’t Kenneth Adams are you? Ian Harris, Peter and Andrew Staley and I were all great friends, flying planes on the Heath, boats on the Prince of Wales pond ( Colonnade House opposite was my grandmothers home from 1912 to 1948) an I remember a Kenneth Adams, big lad, who came I think from over by the Standard was one of us. We all went on to the Roan school, then my family moved down to the South Coast ( Blackest day of my life!) in Christmas 1962. Funnily enough, my sister-in-law has just moved to Charlton so I do go back now and again although we now live in France. I loved living in Blackheath!
Thanks once again Rowland, Edgar Evans, I was close!
The Green Man, I remember the pub’s name, but couldn’t place it on a map at that time. Just found out that it was demolished in 1972 to make way for a block of flats!
Your mention of boxing, the annual fair which would pitch up on the Heath every year, maybe it was every Bank Holiday, had a boxing booth which invited the local lads to win a few quid if they were able to go three rounds with one of the fairground pugilists. I think it cost around a ‘tanner’ to watch a couple of fights in the large tent and even us young’uns were able to gain admission.
Not so easy to get in to see the ‘strip shows’ that travelled with the fair though. Naked ladies, well topless anyway, in various scenes, the curtain coming down between each scene to allow for a ‘costume change’ and a change of backdrop!
In those days the law allowed topless poses although the ‘artistes’ were forbidden to make any movement.
I may have been only 12 or 13 at the time but one scene that I do remember was Cleopatra’s Boudoir, the snake remains forever etched in my memory!
If you’re wondering how a young whippersnapper was able to see such sights, a couple of us crawled under the fringes of the tent ‘cos they wouldn’t let us in the front!
I have a feeling that Ray Gibson was with me at the time as we were close chums for a couple of years.
Rowland, can you dredge that remarkable memory that you possess and recall the lad who lived in Talbot Place?.
Lived in a fine Georgian house and an only child, I well remember his parents going away for the day and myself, Billy Lewis and the Hines boys making ourselves at home in the basement of the house partaking of the Haig Dimple whiskey! Must have been 12 or 13 years old at the time!
The only lad I remember who lived on the heath in a big Georgian house was Terry Beckett ( but I think he lived over near Blackheath Hill). But he had about 5 siblings as I recall. He was known as ‘Tubby’ in those days but he went on to be a superfit, personal trainer. Nice to hear mention of ‘Banjo’ Hines and his bruv. Two of the nicest people you could ever meet. I have fond memories of them living in South Vale Road almost next to John Ball School. Billy Lewis lived opposite but further up the road.
I was at All Saints school in the mid 1950’s. I remember a lad; I think his name was Timothy Hyde, who lived in the big house at Talbot Place. It backed on to the school. Is this the time period you are thinking of?
Did you go to secondary school in the Blackheath area?
No. in 1959 I went to Woolwich Polytechnic secondary school. its strange but my recollections of my years in Blackheath are much more vivid than my secondary school years. Dicovering this website the other day made the memories flood back.Blackheath in those days was a great place to grow up in. I remember most summers, the heath going brown.
We moved to Blackheath in 1954 after 7 or 8 ‘moves’ to different parts of London in the first 8 years of my life, dropping anchor in rented accomadation in the Village after years of ducking and diving to avoid the Court Bailiffs and other debtors that my father had swindled and ‘chiselled’! The time period matches that you mention and the name Tim Hyde sounds a little familiar but I’m sure it wasn’t his house in which we ‘imbibed’.
After digging deep into my memory I seem to think that the lad who lived at Talbot Place, his name was David.
D’youknow, I can’t remember All Saints School at all, I thought that John Ball was the only Primary School in Blackheath!
Pretty parochial, us Villagers in those days!
I have just got back from visiting my little brother (half-brother actually Alan Kaszubowsk) who remembers coming to your house on the way to school.
He remembers how cosy it was in your place because of the paraffin heaters. My mum and dad used to go to work early and although we did not have central heating we were not allowed to put the fire on as times were a bit hard in those days , and also there was always the possibiility that we would leave it on all day so it was a real pleasure to come to your place for a warm up and to meet you so we then all went to school together.
He also recalls passing the Blackheath High School for Girls in Wemyss Road and straining our necks trying to look into their changing rooms which were below ground.
Do you ever remember a big Irishman who wore a huge overcoat and a rugby helmet in the winter who used to be a lodger in one of the houses near the police flats?
I don’t know how I became anonymous but the posting about how cosy your place was came from me.
Hi Gerry, I was born in number 10 Wemyss road and cn also recal trying to look through the changing rooms of Blackheath High School for Girls ! The very tall Irish man you mentioned was a lodger in our house, my father used to let rooms to various lodgers and I can remember a few of them, some of them being quite odd characters, the tall Irish man we all new as just Big John, he was very very quiet and hardly spoke at all in the years I knew him, I know he used to leave very early to go to work and return in the evenings and these were the only times you heard or saw him. My mother remembers that one day she was hoovering his room when she saw a large lump of mud on a window ledge, she just picked it up and threw it away, later that day on his return from work he went mad , asking my mum what she had done with the Shamrock his mother had sent over from Ireland ! I think he sadly passed away at work in the very late sixties. Lloyd Rich
hi ken my name is pearl fitzsimmons known at all saints as Pearl Hall. I migrated to Australia in 1957 with my family. I was born in 1942 so would have been at all saints in 1947. I used to live at hollyhedge bungalows and walk over the Heath to all saints school. I remember in the little village a sweet shop on a corner and he had heaps of old clocks on the walls all around. We used to love going in and getting our penny worth of sweet which was a large bag. To me the owner was essentric but it is indelibly in my memory and have never been able to get it out. It is so good being able to read about Blackheath and seeing the school photo for the first time in over 60 years. There must have been a lake on the Heath because it used to ice over and we went skating around on it?
Wow, this has certainly bought back memories. I was born in Wyatt House, Wemyss Road (it was Police flats then, my father being in the Met) in 1960. I attended All Saint’s School which meant a walk over the heath, and indeed remember my hair catching fire in All Saint’s Church when we were attending as a school, all carrying candles. The first thing I knew about it was my teacher Mrs. White hitting me over the head to put the flames out, no harm done by either blows or flames! I remember playing on the bomb-site behind the flats with my older brother and friends, going to Tich’s newsagents, admiring the fabulous toys in Raggety Anne’s window and actually getting a toy robot one birthday. We moved in 1967 to Bexleyheath.
Hallo Paul, I’ve only just discovered this brilliant site as well and of course it was Wyatt House, the name had slipped from my memory.
I was, for a short while, a choir boy at All Saint’s Church, we would receive 1/6d, looks odd written that way, (one shilling and sixpence)a week which I thought were chorister’s wages. I found out a few weeks later that the ‘wages’ were in fact a payment to my Mother for the washing and ironing of my surplice!
Talking of choirboys, do you remember David ‘Bibby’ Lowe who used to live in the prefabs at St.German’s Place. He was a wonderful singer and got all the solo parts at the various school shows. If you remember he had black hair with a middle parting and waves that his mum used to keep in place with Amami waveset. If you touched his hair it felt like a set of bedsprings.
Another boy from John Ball who comes to mind was David Alt. He was a big lad our Dave and you didn’t mess with him in a hurry.
An incident that also springs to mind was when the headmaster, Mr. Hitchcock, allegedly caught somebody called John Craker (?) being cruel to an animal or a bird (?) and, in front of the whole school, on the stage in the main hall ,slapped him several times around the face. It is amazing to think what went on in Primary Schools in those days. The PC brigade would have a fit if this happened now.
The Parish Hall that you mention was also the Boy Scout meeting place being the H.Q. for the 11th Lewisham North Troop. I can remeber the games that we played in the hall, British Bulldog and other rough and tumble games that young lads thrived on!
It appears to be a private house these days!
The scoutmaster lived in the police flats as I recall. Was his name Ken Thomas? And was his assistant who lived in your road called Derek? (not sure about that one)
I remember when we came out of the Scouts Hall that on the opposite side of the road the bikers used to congregate inside and outside the Rendezvous cafe.
Good evening Rowland,
The name Ken Thomas does ring a bell and I think that the fellow who lived in Blackheath Grove was Derek Pritchard, he was a Rover Scout and lived in the flat above ours with his mother Flo and his sister Maureen. I think that he was the only Rover in the troop and as such was acting as a Scoutmaster.
When you think back to our Scouting days, we carried sheath knives on our belts, the longer the knife the more proud of it we were and smaller knives in the top of our socks and alongside those, a 6 foot stave. What would happen if caught with ‘weapons’ such as those these days.
Can you remember the Scout uniform, in particular the shorts and the b rimmed hats that we wore so proudly.
I really appreciate the effect that my time in the Scouts has had, I’ve no doubt that it has provided me with a perspective on life that would never had been if not for the discipline, respect and values that the organisation had taught me.
The Rendezvous Coffee Bar was a biker’s hangout and I can remember the first Betting Shop opening up alongside it when they were first legalised in 1961. I used to take my Grandad’s 7/- bet up there every Saturday and although I was only 15 years old (had to be 18 by law), I had no problems in getting the clerk to accept it!
Keep on posting,
Yes Gerry, I remember Derek living above you , big muscly bloke , used to be a keen cyclist.
I can remember the scout uniform well, the wide-brimmed hat, yellow scarf, armful of badges, armed to the teeth..I was a seconder in Kestrel patrol and I have particular fond memories of cooking in the bit of green alongside the Parish Hall where we burnt pastry ‘twists’ and baked potatoes. I made my own woggle from a bit of bone with the marrow cut out and varnished it, but the damn thing kept slipping and falling off.
The trips to Downe and Cowden (near Penshurst Place) were great fun. I remember winding up Derek Pritchard about something and he dipped me in a cowpat so put my soiled shirt in his sleeping bag. He then climbed a huge tree and tied the shirt round the top branch. I think its probably still there..
You mentioned that you used to know Philip Schofield. Did he have an older brother called Peter? I remember that a Peter whose dad owned a shop along the Parade went to Scouts at the same time as me.
The name Peter Schofield certainly does ring a bell. I vaugely remember he was in the year above Philip at All Saints. Philip was in my year (1952 – 1959) The shop definitly was an electrical appliance shop.
In the late 50’s my mum used to do a bit of cleaning for James Callaghan (later to become Prime Minister). I got quite friendly with his son Michael (who went to St.Dunstans in Catford from memory) and I remember Audrey, Margaret Callaghan and her boyfriend /fiance Peter Jay at that time. I used to play in their garden quite frequently. I recall attending a Labour gathering at the Parish Hall which they hosted and there was one part of the hall which was called Nye’s Nook after Aneurin Bevan. I had no political leanings at that time and was merely there for the pop and the grub. I think Barbara Lewis (Bill’s sister) was there at the time with her current beau.
I mentioned David ‘Bibby’ Lowe in an earlier posting who was a good singer.
I might have got his first name wrong – it may have been André.
Forgot to mention that Jim Callaghan lived in Montpelier Row in a modern span-type house. This backed onto Paragon Place and , before I knew the Callaghans our little gang used to nip over his garden wall and ‘scrump’ apples from his tree. Jim was al right but scrumping was a dodgy business at that time. If caught you may well have got a cuff round the ear , and some householders had some pretty ferocious dogs.
Good day Rowland,
Before becoming Troop Leader I was Patrol Leader of the Kestrel Patrol and you were my Seconder! I think that being undeservedly made Troop Leader, there were many in the troop that would have done a better job, remains a mystery to me, to this very day!
I still have a photograph of myself, in uniform sporting the three stripes on the shirt pocket!
I also remember well the ‘twists’ and ‘dampers’ that we made, flour and water kneaded into a dough, twisted around a green twig and burnt to a cinder! I really can’t think of anything more inedible!!!
Do you remember the weekend camp, I think to Downe, where we were spending an evening in a hut with the Scoutmasters telling a ghost story, pitch black outside, the lights in the hut were low and the storyteller creating an eerie and frightening atmosphere when a blackened face appeared at the window, outside of the hut scratching at the glass! A really terrifying experience for a bunch of kids!
Andre Lowe was the name ‘cos at the time I never could figure out if he was English or French but I also vaguely recollect the name David ‘Bibby’ Lowe as well! Were there two Lowes?
Billy’s sister Barbara was a bit of a looker, wasn’t she, never short of admirers!
Didn’t know about Jim Callaghan living in Blackheath at the time but ‘scrumping’ was a regular activity! There was a small orchard right at the end of Blackheath Grove just beyond one of the sites of one of our ‘camps’. The camp was behind a brick fuel store with the orchard over the barbed wire wall behind it. Apples and pears in season and I don’t ever recollect being caught!
I was a little befuddled with the ‘Anonymous’ post, trhat’s cleared that up!
I don’t know if you’ve missed one of my replies, on Saturday replying to a post of yours on the 11th January, I asked what you remember about Paul Lobb, not easy to forget!!!!
Keep on posting,
Have a great day,
It’s funny you mention Paul Lobb. I do not remember him at John Ball but there was a lad about 3 years older than me at my secondary school with the name Lobb who was a big bully. He got his in the end from one of the good guys though.
Paul Lobb wasn’t with us at John Ball but in the Scouts. He was a ‘big lad’ of that there was no doubt!
I’ve just realised that back in those days we had no telephone in the house, friends would come ‘knocking’ for us. “Are you coming out to play?”. Not a great deal on TV either after Childrens Hour, did rather enjoy The Cisco Kid, Robin Hood, Rin Tin Tin, Billy Bunter and Ivanhoe though!
We used to play a good deal of the time on the ‘Bomb Site’ at the end of Blackheath Grove and at one time we constructed a ‘camp’ out of planks, bricks and something which resembled Tarmac sheeting! We also built a small watch tower hut on top of the construction to enable ‘Butch’ Lockley to act as sentry! God knows who we expected to attack us!
We also found at another time, a large hole behind The Blackheath Art Club at the far end of Bennett Park although I seem to recall that it was a manufacturing building at the time.The hole was 6-7feet deep and approximately 8 feet square, we laid planks across the hole embedding them in the side, tarmac sheeting over the planks and a covering of turf to conceal the camp. We left a flap of turf in one corner to enable entry and exit! I’ve no memory how we were able to lay our hands on all of that building material but it seemed to come easily!
One of the ‘gang’ was Hazel Vining, a bit of a tomgirl who lived in Bennett Park and whose mother had seen us head off in that direction, she came in search of Hazel and when we heard the mother calling we kept totally silent in the camp waiting for her to leave. After a couple of minutes and all seemed quiet, Butch popped his head out of the entry hole only to find Hazel’s mother still there and looking straight at him. I can’t imagine what was going through Mrs Vining’s mind when she saw a head coming out of the ground but she sure took off down the road in a hell of a state! Hazel was never allowed out to play with us again after that incident!
Enough remimiscences for the time being.
I liked those TV programmes as well. Other favourites of mine were Sword of Freedom ( especially Adrienne Corri), The Grey Ghost ( about a Confederate cavalry officer), and of course the 6-5 special and Juke Box Jury on Saturdays. I can still remember Terry Dene, Marty Wilde, Vince Eager, Cuddly Dudley, Dicky Pride and of course Cliff Richards, Don Lang and his Frantic Five and the John Barry Seven. Great days!
Talking of music , we had a Skiffle group on Ryculff Square led by John Dwyer ( who went on to take his own life a few years later). We had a tea chest for a bass and I played washboard. I was so bad that I got the sack and Philip Martin ended up with the job.
Do you remember Derek Blunden ( a really good footballer) who was a friend of Ray Gibson?( Ray’s brothers were Tony (Tich) and Michael).
Going back to our cave dwelling days we used to make camps in the Top Fields next to the Paragon which contained the ruins and cellars of older demolished houses. They eventually built Span flats on them. I have never liked them and I think they are a blight on their lovely surroundings.
Why couldn’ t they have built something more in keeping with the character of the area? Ta ta for now.
Do you remember the New Argosy shop in Montpelier Vale which sold objets d’art and prints etc., I loved that shop in the winter especially round Christmas when the frost would gather round the ‘Georgian’ wooden windows giving a real ‘festive feel’. I particularly remember the print of Tretchikoff’s ‘Blue Lady’, the picture of a Chinese girl. It hung in a prominent position in the shop for ages and I was fascinated by it.
There also used to be a greengrocers next to Tich’s newsagents , called Reddens ( they took it over in the late 50’s as I recall)
The Roxy cinema was another of our haunts. I loved Saturday morning pictures and still remember most of the words of the song we had to sing.
I sometimes went to the Gaumont at Lewisham especially in the winter because you could get hot chestnuts from a vendor in the street who roasted them on a brazier. Also you could go round the back of the Gaumont to Botti’s cafe for a nice hot cup of tea and a pie with brown sauce.
When I got older the Roxy and the Rex (fleapit) at Lewisham were the venues for my early attempts at being a Romeo. It was all very uncomfortable and fairly innocent and rebuffs came with the territory.
Sunday afternoons in the Roxy were not so pleasant as the place was full of teddy boys and rockers and the ushers were quite often put under pressure by the more unruly section of this crowd.
Good day Rowland,
Top Fields….Did they have a row of brick arched and vaulted ruinous buildings? They seem to strike a memory chord!
Mention of Marty Wilde, when he was a young plain Reg Smith in the mid 50’s, he would practise guitar and singing in the back room of the fish and chip shop my parents ran in Woolwich Road, Charlton, his parents were fed up with the ‘racket’ at home!.
The Gaumont or was it the Odeon in Lewisham was a regular Saturday morning event. ‘The Minors of the ABC’. ‘We’re all pals together’!
I became a monitor there when I was 14 or 15, having to keep the younger kids under control Once the lights went down for any length of time t’was the opportunity for the monitors of both sexes to have a snog!!
The Beatles, Dave Clark 5, Hollies, Kinks and the Stones and many more of the top acts of the day played there.
I went to the Roxy and the Rex a few times.
It was just a few yards from the Roxy where John McVicar was arrested after one of his escapes from prison. He was holed up in a flat on Stratheden Parade opposite the Royal Standard.
When in my teens, I spent most of my mispent time in Lewisham, Bon’s cafe, slap bang next door to the Gaumont, was the favourite meeting place during the day, The Anchor pub just under the bridge or The Roebuck, where you had to descend to the basement level, in the evenings.
Your mention of Reddens the greengrocers in the Village reminds me of a fellow I knew in Lewisham around 1964. There was a fellow whose surname was Redden and went by the name of ‘Ginger’ who had a greengrocers stall in Lewisham Market which used to be in the High Street in those days. We had a bit of a fall-out over a young lady that I had on my arm at the time, he having taken a fancy to her. Not the most pleasant of people!
Any relation I wonder!
I do remember the New Argosy shop, at that age I didn’t appreciate the finer things of life so it sort of passed me by!
Yes, they were the Top Fields. The Gaumont was the Odeon but I never could work out when the name changed and then changed back?
I was a monitor too. I remember the liitle liaisons very well. You are right about the Reddens , they had stalls on Lewisham market and Ginger was one of them. You were very brave standing up to him. I know the flat that John McVicar was in when he was caught. It was above a parade of shops.
When I go to Blackheath now it resembles Hampstead with all its swish restaurants etc.. It’s as though it has had a facelift. That’s progress I suppose, but I kind of liked the slightly dilapidated grandeur of the old Blackheath . I prefer a bike shop to an estate agents or swish restaurant.
Ginger Redden, a little foolish to face up to him but the young lady’s honour and safety was at stake! In those days I’m convinced that there was a little more derring-do and chivalry than exists in current times.
You’re dead right about Blackheath Village these days, so much more up-market than the Village we lived in.
I have taken the current lady in my life to London on a number of occasions to see the sights! We’ve always stayed at The Clarendon and on many evenings we’ve strolled into the Village to enable me to reminisce and wallow in nostalgia. Save for the buildings, there aren’t too many memories for me to get excited about.
There were no take-aways in the Village in the 50’s except for the Fish and Chip shop and I don’t recollect, although I’m probably mistaken, a cafe except for the Rendezvous!
I still attempt to conjure up the fading memories of the 1950’s but it’s a different environment to that in which we grew up in. As you said, that’s progress I suppose but I bet the kids in the Village don’t have as much fun as we did in those ‘Heath and Safety’ legislation free days, when we had to create our own amusements and recreation!
Do you remember Bob-a Job week? Knocking on doors and prepared to take any job on for a shilling! When the job was completed, the ‘bob’ handed over and the card filled in we gave them a gummed window sticker with a tick on it to indicate to any other Scouts that the house had been ‘done’! We almost always got a little extra from the householder.
The only other cafe in the village I can remember was the Heath Cafe by Tranquil Passage. My mum would very occasionally give me a couple of bob for pie and chips in the school holidays as she was at work, and I remember there were cinema posters on hoardings outside it.
Health and Safety? What with bows and arrows where the arrow head was a lethal sharpened object like a metal stylus from a radiogram held to the green stick with plasticine. Airguns. Crumbs, we would have armed police and helicopters out if we tried that today.
Bob -a- Job weeek -was the ticket yellow with red lettering ? Yes, the householders were, in the main, quite nice and generous.
Good luck old buddy
Hallo again Rowland,
Here’s a couple of activities that we got up to in the Village back in the 50’s which may be still in your recollections.
First off, a little filching of the components, namely a length of wooden plank, two smaller pieces of wood a little length of rope and the wheels from a pushchair or similar and with a few nails it didn’t tke very long to build a SOAP BOX CART! Didn’t have too much trouble in finding these things, bomb sites were a good source of rubbish!
The fun to be had with those vehicles surely exceeded most things we got up to!
We would take turns in driving the cart or pushing it and then after building up a head of steam, leaping on to the back! Even better if you could find an incline to save on the energy to push it.
The end of Southvale Road alongside John Ball School leading down to Baizdon Road was fairly good for a run! Didn’t worry too much about cars in those days as there weren’t that many around and as long as you had a lookout at the bottom of the run, t’was not too dangerous unless of course the brakes failed!!!
Another recollection was of the traditional ‘Penny for the Guy’, leading up to Bonfire Night, regularly making an effigy of Guy Fawkes with whatever we could lay our hands on, old clothes filled with anything that would bulk it out. affix a mask and hat and guaranteed to earn a few bob! Our favourite pitch was outside Blackheath Station.
One year stands out, that when Billy Lewis built a ‘Guy’, stood around 6’6″ high and had eyes that lit up (battery operated). We ‘pitched’ up outside the Station in the evenings after school to catch the commuters from London who mostly came out of the Station from the same exit and the Guy was made to flash his eyes whenever a copper or two went into the hat!
Billy had the bulk of the ‘earnings’, rightly so!
I can’t help but feel that we wouldn’t have lasted too long outside the Station these days, some do-gooder no doubt reporting us to the authorities.
In those days the ‘grown-ups’ let us kids be kids!!
In the 50’s , used to do a lot of roller skating in the Village, down from the Corner Bookshop to the railings at the junction of Tranquil Vale and Montpelier Vale, weaving in and out between the shoppers, who didn’t appreciate it at all.
I remember one day, skating down the hill , from South Vale Road to Collins Street, I had just started rolling , in the middle of the road, when the
milkman with his horse and cart came thundering round the corner from Collins Street, I just managed to swerve to the left , a few yards in front of the galloping horse, never skated there again, I must have had a guardian angel on that day.
I remember well the Express Dairy milkman driving horse and cart through the streets.
I worked as a milkmans lad for a short while, on a Saturday morning before getting a paper round which was seven mornings a week and consequently more wages, 12/6d a week! Cash in hand too!!! By that time though, the motorized milk float had been introduced.
I think that all of the milkmen in those days had a youngster helping them on a Saturday.
It was either the Coalman or the Rag n Bone man (‘Any Old Lumber’) who was the last to use the horse and cart.
Am I imagining it when I recall the Rag n Bone man giving me a goldfish in payment for a bundle of old clothes?
We can’t forget the Ice Cream man who would ride around the streets on his bike which carried a large ice box on the front full of ice cream.and lollies!
I remember Rossi Bros ice cream van coming round to Ryculff Square. That particular company was owned by the relatives of Francis Rossi of Status Quo fame.
With regard to the school trips I am afraid I never went on any of them , firstly because I didn’t like to ask my mum and dad as they worked very hard and even though they would have moved heaven and earth to come up with the money it didn’t happen as I never told them. Also from the age of 9 I was banged up in the Miller hospital with a life threatening condition for about 6 months. I remember I was so keen on playing football that despite having a terrible raw scar I managed to get around with my leg heavily bandaged and actually got a couple of games for the Lewisham district side.
I loved the wide games . One I rememer in particular was when I first joined the Scouts and the elder lads including Peter Schofiel and John Elliot took the upper ground on a slope in Greenwich Park and we had to try to run up the hill and get past them. It was a tad rough for an 11 year old but I got a bit of cred as they said that I was a game little beggar and I was determined not to give up or show any weakness.
Way back in the Fifties we never had the financial wherewithal or the opportunity to go on family holidays but were compensated by going on Scout camps and school trips.
Were you one of those kids that went on the ‘School Journey’, as it was called in those days, to Cooden, near Bexhill when in Primary School? Seven days of fresh air, nature, sea and exciting trips to castles, battlefields, farms and other places of interest. A different world for a city-kid!
We stayed in a large house alongside which was a field of freshly-mown hay which had been left in the field. The lads formed into opposing ‘armies’ and with the hay built forts from which we were able to attack the other fort!
At Scout camps we regularly played ‘Wide Games’ which once again were the sort of games we lads loved. Teams were formed to carry out exercises which involved army type manouevres which were mainly carried out at night when dark!
We also played Wide Games across the Heath in the dark. One of the games that I recollect was of one team starting from the gates of Greenwich Park carrying a mug of ‘Heavy water’ (Orange juice in fact) which had to be transported safely across the Heath, back to Scout HQ with the minimum of spillage and avoiding contact with the opposition! A great deal of belly-crawling resulting in very muddy uniforms, but didn’t we just love it!
I’m sure that in those days there was little if any, risk-assessment having to be carried out by the teachers or Scoutmasters. We had no contact with our parents for the whole time, no telephone at home anyway.
I lived at No 22 Hollyhedge Bungalows , well I was born there and grew up there. Wonderfull memories, like when Jack the express milkman would come up into the culdisack and my dad would send me down to get the horse manure for the garden. Us kids would some times get Jack to juggle the milk bottles waiting for him to drop one, which his did sometimes. Or winning the egg and spoon race at the garden party for the Queen correnation at the terratorial barracks, I won a bag of marbles. My older brother rolled them all down Granville Hill.
Hi, just left a comment. But must have erased it by mistake.
Would love to hear from anyone. I lived in Blackheath all my young days. I know live in Adelaide, Australia but still love hearing about Blackheath. Any replies would be great. My e-mail address is. firstname.lastname@example.org
I was born at 8 The Paragon in 1950 and my parents moved to 60 a Shooters Hill Road, where we lived until 1962. I have many fond memories to share and would love to hear from anyone who shared my childhood with me at All Saints Primary. (I was Helen Mills then)
Shooters Hill and Delacourt Road before the road works
We moved out in 1962 before our neighborhood was destroyed. My father couldn’t bear to see it.
He drank in the Sun in the Sands pub every day, and my mother did our shopping in Delacourt Road. we could get there by crossing Shooters Hill Road once, then it was safe on the pavement all the way,
Delacourt Road was a busy shopping street in the early ‘50s.
No supermarkets, (the available groceries would take up about one third of a cereal aisle today.) Just as well, because there were no cars to bring food home! My mother could only afford a day’s food at a time anyway. She carried our shopping, a simple selection of potatoes, eggs and other staples, or prammed it. Our pram was huge: waist high, four bicycle sized wheels. An old orangey bronze ten bob (50p)note bought a weekend’s shopping, with change left over.
People got about on bikes…. when one of the tenants at our house had a boyfriend with a car, my mother told me it meant he was well off. (We didn’t own a car until I was 13, when my father passed his test with great difficulty at forty.)
About halfway up Delacourt Road, was the grocer’s shop. Mr. Orton the mustached conjuror of dry goods emerged from his cave of tea chests and sacks to weigh out your tea and sugar into blue or brown paper bags with fastidious magnanimity.
At the end of Delacourt Road you turned left: the first road went down to the library; the next down to the Roxy. There were bomb sites down there, and some prefabs. I only went to the Roxy once, to see “The Two Way Stretch” with Peter Sellers. I was taken by my friend Robert Scourfield’s mum. There was a greengrocers at the junction called Kelly’s, where they shouted out lewd Cockney remarks to passers by, and a wet fish shop about half way down.
None of my primary school friends lived near me. My nearest friends were Philippa (Caroline) Evans who live across the road from me on the same side as The Avenue, and Jonathan Fry, who lived in Mycenae Road way down past the Roxy and beyond.
My neighborhood lives in my head, a series of fond pictures of particular street corners, houses, trees, and so on which appear in my dreams as they were in the fifties, with the reassuring warmth of familiarity. When visiting family in London I sometimes drive through on the road that now slashes through Shooters Hill Road – it always feels like having my internal organs pulled out!
Although I’ve said we didn’t have much cash at this time, as a kid I didn’t want for anything. Our luxuries were things like a block of ice cream for a summer weekend or chestnuts to roast at the fire in winter. Toys came mostly on birthdays or Christmas. A treat really was a treat, and special occasions were really special. I feel sorry for today’s kids, who suffer from stuff fatigue. More choice, less content. Celebrities, designer labels, fashion, media pressure, and the constant pressure to communicate when you have nothing worth saying. What’s to enjoy when it’s heaped on you from day one?
I could not agree more with the comments you have made in the final paragraph of your posting on 12th November.
Aged ten I moved to Blackheath in the year you were born.The fun and pleasure that I had flying my kite on the heath or sailing boats on the Prince of Wales pond are memories that I still treasure. Simple outdoor activities that cost very little and occupied me for hours.
Hi David I posted some more stuff here but when I clicked “post comment” it all disappeared! Maybe if I can re-remember it at some point I’ll have another go!
There has been mention of various bombs dropped during WW2 on and around the heath and village. The BOMB SIGHT web site shows the number that fell during the blitz, in the early part of the war.
A very interesting site, pity though that they have got the present day street names in the wrong area, quite a few of the Blackheath street names are being recorded as being in Hither Green !!!!!
I was living in Woolacombe Road during the war and first found shelter in the basement of the Dover Patrol before trying our luck at home with a settee placed on top of the dining room table ! We had an incendiary bomb lodged in our gutter and a land mine fell fairly close, but my main memory was of anti-aircraft gun fire and the whistle of falling bombs. As I was only 10 at the time it didn’t seem so bad !!
My Father George Penn was born in Marlborough Road Charlton. I was born in 1958 in Kirkside Road Westcombe Park, in the sweet shop of my Grandparents named Isa Penn. My grandfather Frank had a removal business near Maze Hill station and he also had a car repair garage at Delacourt Motors, Sun in the Sands. His brother Len had a motorbike shop I believe in Charlton. Can anyone remember any of these establishments from the 1950’s??
My dad got his old Norton from a place in Charlton probably was that place, he was the signalman at Charlton Lane Crossing from the late 50’s to mid sixties being put there after St Johns disaster which led to him having a complete breakdown due to the terrible carnage of that tragic event.
Poor man, he must have suffered terribly . The St.John’s disaster was a terrible , sad event.
All you lovely people that have offered up your memories and reminisces of Blackheath have given me the most enjoyable read I’ve had on the internet for sometime. Bless you all!
On the night of the St. John’s train crash I was appearing in an evening school production of Hansel and Gretel, not a starring role, merely a player, it was my first year at Eltham Green School.
After the performance that evening I had to return home in the smog, no buses were running and the walk home more than a little hazardous, visibility being down to three feet or less!
Those who are of an age will confirm the lack of visibility, both day and night, during the ‘smogs’ (derived from the words smokey fog).
Lamp post, bus stops and fellow pedestrians had to be gingerly bypassed, if you were able to spot them, taking great care not to stumble off the kerb into the road
On my way home with my mother, a route I knew well, Yorkshire Grey to Lee Green and then up the hill to the Village, we managed to lose our bearings and found ourselves some distance along Lee High Road in the direction of Lewisham.
It was an eerie experience and only when we arrived home at a very late hour did we hear of the tragic disaster at Lewisham.
There is an interesting report of the crash here………
He only ever spoke about it in any detail once and the sheer pain could be heard in his voice as he was only a young man himself not long starting on the railways as a box boy (trainee signalman), nowadays he would be treated for PTSD but back then there was nothing of the sort.
Poor man didn’t have much luck either as he was off shift when visiting my mum in Mayday hospital with a brand new me and the police had to take him away as a Hastings unit had gone off at Hither Green which he was covering as a relief signalman due to a broken rail.
That was a fair old walk from the Yorkshire up to the village, I see the pub is now a McDonalds I do remember thinking it a long walk from my great grandmothers over at Point Hill to the boating lake with my granddad and he was a real pusser Navy man and me dawdling along got on his nerves terribly :)
At the time of the Lewisham train crash my Father was the Stationmaster at Catford, Catford Bridge and Ladywell stations. I remember the night well, I travelled by train from attending college at Norwood Tech. back to Catford with several changes enroute from West Norwood. It was a very long, chaotic and sad night, leaving many people with ghastly memories.
The BoB loco “Spitfire” was rebuilt after the crash. When it came out of sheds after the rebuild it was sent to Epsom as the standby engine for a royal train. By this time my Father was Stationmaster there. During the rebuild some cotton waste had been left in with some of the boiler insulation, this caught fire and rendered the loco useless as the standby and totally spoilt the new paintwork job.
My Dad was a Police Officer in attendance at both the St. John’s and Hither Green train crashes.
Hi Trevor My ex-husband also attended the Hither Green disaster, he was a PC who joined the Met as a young cadet (16?) and it was his first serious assignment after becoming a PC.. It made a deep impression on him which troubled him all his life: he was told to walk the line and find the passengers. What an experience for a lad. He was stationed at Bow St and died in 1998.
That was my first year at Shooters Hill Grammar school. We must be the same age. I remember the smogs well. Even later I recall walking home from London Bridge and getting lost in Greenwich. It was very dangerous. What primary school did you go to?
I’ve mislaid my password and not sure how to obtain another.
T’was me that walked home from Eltham Green.
That was some trek that you undertook, London Bridge to Blackheath!
Hope all is well with you, Happy New Year, Gerry.
Hi Rowland only just spotted your post – I don’t know why I’ve appeared as Anonymous – my fault prob! My hubby was older than me – He was born in Audlem Cheshire and was a strong swimmer and was asked to be in the police water polo team. We married 1982 when I was living in SE23. I went to All Saints from 55 to 61: and I’ve yet to hear from anyone who was there with me! Perhaps I was such a little monster, they don’t want to! I did have good mates though. I was an awful tomboy, I loved fighting. Teachers were Miss Dubby, Mr Rhodes, can’t remember any more. The taste of those cod liver oil capsules with the milk – Yugh! BW Helen
My older brother, Andrew Allman, was at All Saints from 1960-1966.
I also went there, 1970-1976.
You are a bit younger than me according to those dates but did you used to go to Saturday morning pictures at the Roxy?
Dear Rowland Gosh, I’ve found someone who calls me “young!’ No, going to the pictures wasn’t part of my family’s life at all: I went there only once, when a friend and his mum took me to see The 2 way Stretch (Peter Sellers). Although I roamed all over the area by myself and with mates, curiously I never went to the pictures.
On the prefab thread, I remember there being prefabs along that piece of ground between the Roxy and Delacourt Road. There must have been a bomb hit round there, there was a crater there for ages I think after the fish shop.
My email is funkypipsatbtinternetdotcom…. not all one has to say is of general interest I feel!
My brother Alan, also attended shooters hill, with Graham gatfield-late 50s –I attended Northbrook—have lived in the U.S. since 1965, mostly CA.
My name is Ron Coombs and I was born in Dartmouth Row 1940, my brother Chris 1942.. I used to do a paper round for the local shop owned by Tom ???. My round covered Hyde Vale area. I also collected paper bills from the prefabs by the Army Barracks as we used to know them. They were along the Hare and Billet Road and Mount Ponds Road. I remember Diane Mcdougal, Shirley Eaglestone, Derek Wilkinson who lived there.
I have always felt I had about the best childhood possible. It was full of adventure playing on the bomb sites, in Greenwich Park dodging the park keepers, going through the museum on the way to Greenwich swimming baths. I went to Greenwich Central in St Catherines Grove and my brother went to Shooters Hill Grammer.
The Lewisham train crash was mentioned above.We were talking only yesterday about the concert held in the Gaumont that seemed to go on forever with artists turning up to entertain, I particularly remeber Petula Clarke and how good she was.
I culd go on. Great site
Please do go on, the more Blackheath memories, the better.
I couldn’t find any pictures on the web of the prefabs on Blackheath so have posted one of my brother sat in front of them on my site at
A friend told me about this site recently and I’ve finally managed to find it. I’m just in time it seems to be included as I was born at Hollyhedge bungalows in 1958. My blind grandfather Arthur and his wife Ada also lived in the bungalow. My cousin Kenny lived in a bungalow nearby – his Dad was Ted and he worked on the railways and seemed to mess around with TV sets (lots of old chassis and valves about his place). I cant remember the number. I will speak to my mother but I don’t remember any photos. We had a fabulous time roaming around the heath and park. We were later housed down on Lewisham road when I was 7. As a 13 yr old I was a cadet bombadier at what we called the “barracks” and attended with half a dozen friends. I returned to Blackheath 10 years ago after a period working in the US and decided I wanted the open space and leafiness. Blackheath has changed so little really, I will have to dig for some memories.
No particular thread but a couple of random memories – St Wolfran’s Hotel on the Heath was where my friend Christine Caunter lived with her mum who was housekeeper at the time. She was at All Saints with me and inspired in me my lifelong love of horses. She also told me the facts of life, which one of the houseboys had told her! Totally unrelated: does anyone remember the tramps of yesteryear? They would appear seasonally and were instantly recognised by their long coats and beards. They didn’t beg, and were always walking somewhere!
And the last bit of flotsam: my mother Ruth Mills taught needlework and art and English, first at Haberdashers Askes Girls school when I was a kid, and then many years later when she returned to S. London, she taught at the Boys’ Haberdashers…
Best wishes to all
I was at All Saints, about the same years, my brother just found another school photo which I am presumably in but i can never recognise myself and hate having my photo taken. I think I have your e-mail address and when I have scanned it in I’ll send it to you, looks about year three. Mrs Dubby was the infants from memory and Mr Rhodes took the top year before he stepped up to head after I had left?
Hi David I should love to hear from you, and see the photos – very kind of you to go to the trouble, and thanks! Please note my email address is email@example.com – you might have my old one there. I think you were in a year above me, because I’m sure Mr R was head before I left. Mrs D was cuddly and kind – I remember a slightly less motherly type, a blond lady, who took the youngest too. I also don’t like myself in photos although in the ’80s I looked Ok in them for a while.
Hello David. About All Saints Primary – Did you send me a photo? I was quite naughty at this school, and was told off in front of the whole school on one occasion. Mr Rhodes ranted away saying “There are ladies and there are women – you are not a lady!” Which even in the mid-fifties sounded politically incorrect to me and the only effect the intended put-down had was to make me feel superior and scornful! What is it about Blackheath? It was so full of magic for me as a kid. Some of my best times were with the Clark sisters, Katie and Lisa, in Eliot Vale… they were tomboys like me and we played out in the twilight on the streets. Imagine that today! I would love to say hello to them, if anyone knows them. This would be between 1956 and 1960, we would have been between 6 and 10. Anyway, I’ve wandered as usual: any class photos of All Saints 1955-1961, I would love to see! BW Helen
Hello Helen. We used to be close friends when you lived in the garden
flat in Shooter’s Hill Road. I used to love your father’s paintings and
your mother’s puppets. I was sorry when you moved to Broxbourne (?)
in Herts. and wondered how you and your brother would get on there.
I’m still in the area and concur with your memories above.
I love reading all about Blackheath and its history on here. Best place in the World in my opinion!!
I was born at 6 Wyatt House, then Police Flats, in Wemyss Road in February 1965, and lived there until my parents divorced when I was 8. My Mum and I moved over to “temporary” accommodation in Coleraine Road, and 39 years later, I’m still here!!
Hi Trevor, do you have a brother named Andy? we used to play with him as boys, my name is Lloyd Rich and my brother is Rene, we lived in number 10 the first house next to Wyatt house, I left Blackheath in 1975 Rene left in the late 80’s to Shooters hill. I now live in SW London/Surrey in Morden.
Yes, I am Andy’s little brother, and remember you and Rene well. Part of my musical education was coming round to your place with Andy to listen to the latest vibes!!
Also some great times playing football round the car park. I admittedly got battered about, being about 10 years younger than the rest of you, but it toughened me up!!
I’ve never moved away from Blackheath and am now near Westcombe Park station.
All the best,
Cheers for getting back to me Trevor, I thought it was you, I knew many kids who lived in the flats during the sixties but can only remember yours and Andy’s surname, all the others have somehow gone from my memory now ! I still get over that way quite a bit when I have the time, was only over there yesterday in fact and on looking in a shop window (the Blackheath Bookshop) I saw a painting in the window of Sears sweet shop on the corner of Wemyss road as it looked in the sixties just how we would have known it, I may even go back and buy it. Funny I went to look at the old car park maybe a year ago and saw our painted goal posts are still there after all these years ! All the best mate Lloyd
Probably a little later than these fabulous recollections but I’m recalling Royal Parade in the 1960s when my (late) uncle ran The Glass Shop at 11 Royal Parade which also sold – to my eye absolutely hideous – repro furniture and mirrors as well as being a glazier. He fitted all the lovely vitrolite interior which I believe is still there in Gambardellas at Blackheath Standard.
And two doors on, my other uncle ran The Music Shop – I only wish I had a photo of that – which was later run by a chap called Mick, I think, whatever became of him? Then a there was Kebab & Wine on one corner and that pine shop on the other with a really good Oxfam shop and a bead shop which I frequented each and every Saturday on my lunch break – I was a Saturday girl at Jobbins. Happy days indeed!
Delacourt Road: Great site. I remember the garage in Delacourt Road well. My Mum worked in the chemists, owned by Mr Woods I believe. I vaguely remember one of her colleagues who also worked in there circa 1964 (Patty? not sure about the name). I have a photo of the three of them somewhere just in case anyone is related to the other two women who worked there.
Delacourt Road was our local shops as we lived (1950’s to 1962) at 60a Shooters Hill Rd. There was a wonderful grocery store there, Orton’s, with a dark wooden boarded floor- it was like a cave of wonders to me as a kid, with it’s dark boarded floor and sacks of loose goods to be weighed out by Mr Orton who did this like a magician performing tricks. When I was older I would go to the newsagents on the corner and buy a Puffin book with my pocket money. I can’t remember a garage though. Once you got to the end of the street and turned left, you were in the road where the Roxy was. There was a bomb site about halfway down. There were some prefabs on the left going down to the library.
Oh Helen, just found this website and all my memories of growing up have flooded in! I lived at 53, Old Dover Road between 1957 and 1965 when we were rehoused due to the A2 being built. I was aged 2 to 10 and remember it so fondly. We lived above the Express Dairy shop and my dad was an Express Dairy milkman at the depot further up in Shooters Hill Road.Kellys on the corner of Banchory Road was where i used to play with my friend Jeffrey who was the grandson of mr and mrs Kelly, along with my other friend Alison Brown whose parents owned the sweet shop in our parade, Brownes. I remember the lovely bakers in Delacourt Road, Hemmings where mum bought our bread and sometimes as a treat, an iced bun! Between Brownes and Kellys was Morgans, a grocery shop that sold ham on the bone and other meats sliced on the big machines behind the counter and bags of sugar that were then 1 and sixpence! I used to love going there and getting my mums ‘messenges’ as the shopping was called! Also there was a pet shop called Powells with Dog biscuits in containers in front of the counter (i used to like eating them:( ! ) Then just along from there was Walshes the sweetshop run by ‘uncle Joe’ where a Mars bar used to be thrupence! He sold papers too and his son, Peter was a friend of my mum and dad. Next to Walshes was a hardware shop called Kemps i think , they sold everything and i still remember the smell of paraffin and rope! Mr Walsh and Mr Kemp used to sing ‘ All Things Bright and Beautiful’ when they were closing up at night! I can’t remember the name of the Italian cafe on the corner of Craigerne rd but they sold the best ‘Jubblies’ ever! My mum was a part time usherette at the Roxy when I was really young and then my brother and I used to go to Saturday Morning Pictures, how we loved it! My playground was the Heath, where we used to play cowboys and Indians in the Uppers and Downers as we called the bushy hilly bits at the beginning of the heath! Also Greenwich Park and Langton Way where they used to have a steam engine rally once a year. I went to Invicta infants school and then onto Sherrington Junior Girls, where the headmistress was called Miss Diffy. My other friend , from school, was called Gillian Twigg and she lived in one of the prefabs in Furzefield Rd. I thought they were very posh cos they had a bathroom and inside toilet! We had the big butler sink, tin bath and outside toilet! The bombsites further down Old Dover Road were also where we played, although looking back must have been dangerous because they always seemed full of water and rubbish! One of my earliest memories was going out to Kent on an open lorry with the Ellises up in Shooters Hill Road to go apple picking and we slept in tents i think? There used to be dog shows in the carpark of the Roxy sometimes and my mum used to get our clothes from the Red Cross shop at the Standard!
Fanny and Johnny Craddock used to live in one of the big houses in Shooters Hill Road and my dad delivered milk there, and they sometimes bough greengrocery from Kellys. When i was about 10 my friend, Alison, and I went over to the Village to the ‘Black Cat’ coffee bar and had coffee and apple strudel, we thought we were so sophisticated!
On Sundays we went to Sunday School at Sunfields and I used to sit out on our upstairs living room windowsill to watch the boysbrigade go past every Sunday too! Mum sometimes got winkles and cockles and i had to get them out with a pin when they were cooked!
One of my biggest joys was the Library in St Johns Park and I can still remember the wonderful smell of polish and wood and books! I also went to bible class in the library or a hall by it. I used to dash home from school on a Tuesday to go and pick up my ‘Diana’ from the newsagents in Delacourt Road. Oh Happy Days!!
Sorry if this is a bit of a ramble but I just wanted to get it all out. I have really enjoyed reading other peoples stories! Lesley
Great to have your memories Lesley. You were having a much fuller life than me! And your being able to recall all the shops and their names is impressive. We do share our memory of the library… it was a very special place for me too… I started walking there on my own when I was about 8 or so, sometimes I could read all my books and change them twice in one day. Just William and Pippi Longstocking were 2 of my favourites.
You mention Delacourt Motors on the Sun in the Sands roundabout. My Grandfather Frank Penn owned and worked in the garage but he died about 1955. My Grandparents also owned the sweetshop in Kirkside Road, opposite St Georges church. My Grandmother was Isa Penn. My two brothers and I were all born in the sweetshop. There were three brothers in the Penn family. Father George, then 3 sons Frank, George and Len. Also 3 girls, Lillian, Pat and Rose. The family had other business in the area, a motorbike shop maybe in Plumstead, a removal business at the bottom of Maze Hill as well as the sweetshop and garage. maybe you remember something of the family?
Just wondered if any of the contributors who have such wonderful memories of Blackheath have any recollections or memories of Morden College they could share with me thank you.
Hi If it’s of any interest, my dad taught art there for a while – it might have been evening classes, his name was William Mills.
Thank you for your comment it was really nice to read about your memory of the college. I would love to hear if any other readers may have a story they would like to recall and share about the lovely alms houses there now for over three hundred years.
Yes, I remember many times using the ‘trail’ there for a short cut to get to Blackheath from Kidbrooke where I lived. It was always a little ‘spooky’ walking through there as a child and teenager. I remember there was a little gate or turnstyle type of opening we had to go through about halfway on the trail to the Heath. I remember too always being amazed at looking at the college and thinking how lovely it looked and how old! If I remember correctly it was designed by Christopher Wren? My sisters and brothers too have fond memories of Morden and Blackheath. Fond memories for all, even though we are spread out in different places around the world now.
Jennifer Bunn Fowler.
Thank you for sharing your lovely memory of the College. I agree with you its very beautiful and your correct in thinking it was designed by Christopher Wren. I was in Blackheath just before Christmas and walked up to the College from the station. Although there was a thick fog on the heath and drifting around the College it still looked enchanting. I had the opportunity of visiting the College chapel while I was there its so serenely beautiful and really worth a visit. As a child I lived in Hanwell now I live in Manchester but very time I visit Blackheath I always appreciate just how friendly and helpful all the locals I meet are.
I just wanted to add that I was one of the many paper boys employed at one time or another by Coultate’s. I did the round in the mid to late 80s – I remember the Sun headline ‘Freddie Starr Ate My Hamster’ (which would date it to 1986). I also clearly remember the headlines reporting Wham! splitting up in the same year, which was quite a blow at the time. I was a solidly middle class kid, brought up in Camden Row and had never heard of the news of the World when I started the round. Mr Coultate’s scrawl of the paper’s title next to a certain customer looked to me like ‘Lew’s World’ and I have thought of it like that ever since. The round was pretty tough. I had to arrive at the little alleyway next to the shop some time before 7am and sort all the papers on a rickety old trestle table, then shove them in a huge bag and pedal my Raleigh Night Burner BMX from the village right up as far as Kidbrooke, via a circuitous route around the Cator Estate and various other addresses. In the winter months it was of course pitch dark and occasionally quite eerie around the quietest parts of Blackheath. My pay, I remember, was £7.50 per week, which seemed OK at the time. At Christmas, I received tips from most of the customers, usually left in an envelope attached to the front door. I can clearly recall piling up pound coins on my bedside table and have never felt richer than after a good haul of Christmas tips. I later abandoned Coultate’s for a better paid round with what was then John Menzies, which if memory serves me correctly paid about £12 a week – Coultate’s couldn’t compete with that.
Same as in my day. Mrs. Coultate didn’t pay as much as W. H. Smiths., but I liked working for her. I did a morning and an evening round, but they were confined to the Village and all the area stretching from Camden Row up to
Aberdeen Terrace , and indeed Christmas was financially a very good period. The worst part of it all was, during the winter period, trudging through the snow , pushing my bike , and as you say, having that huge bag around your neck.
What was the name of the sweet shop in Tranquil Passage just a bit further on towards the Crown and on the opposite side to the cobblers?
“Fraid not Roland, I do remember it though, often used to walk past it , on my way to my friends house in Wemyss Road. There is also no mention of it in Neil Rhind’s excellent book “Blackheath Village “.
Hi all …..Does anyone have memories they could share with me about the tea hut run by Peter Hanon (and his parents before that) for the lorry drivers it was one of the few places yu could stop on the heath with a vehicle ?
“Fraid not Roland, I do remember it though, often used to walk past it , on my way to a friends house in Wemyss Road. There is also no mention of it in Neil Rhind’s excellent book “Blackheath Village “.
What a walk through history! I went to school in St Germans place from 1956 ~ 1962 and now realise how much I missed out about the village as many called the centre area. As for the prefabs that used to line the other side of St Germans place, I would put their removal at the end of the 1950s or in the very early 1960s. I could not trace the date of the bomb that destroyed the chapel in St. Germans place though I well remember its basically four walls still standing with a roof truss or two still in place in the early 1960s along with the copper on the back end though that was ‘liberated’ at about the same time as the last of the prefabs were going.
I also remember the train crash. One of the boys I went to school with used to catch the train home but was delayed that day, he ran down to the station platform only to see the train disappearing. Then he waited for a very long time before he was told that there would be no train coming that night. The news of his near miss sobered us all up for a while.
I used to go to school by bus when I was younger, travelling from Bexleyheath first by trolley bus to Welling and then catch the 89 bus to Blackheath. During the big bus strike I had to use the train which meant a long walk from home to the station and then a walk up across the heath to school. I remember someone saw a bikini for sale in a shop window when they were still a rare sight. We were all shocked, not at the small size but at the high price which we thought represented a huge mark up from the price per yard of the fabric. Oh the innocence of youth!
I was one of those who missed the trolley buses when the were withdrawn, though of course they never went to Blackheath turning off in Welling to go to Woolwich.
The 89 used to run over Shooters Hill and I remember the day when the bus had a minor fire. It stopped, and those on the top desk heard a lot of moving about down below, then the conductor came a few stairs up and asked everyone to “please get off the bus”, then he turned and went back down and as he did so he added, “because the bus is on fire”. In fact it was a lot less dramatic than that sounds and we all stood along side looking to see the flames though the fire had gone out by then!
The road from Shooters Hill towards Blackheath had a run of hospitals starting off with the military one, the Royal Herbert, though there was the Catholic one on the top of Shooters Hill.
I left in the area1962 when my family moved to the West Country.
I have only visited the area once since then, perhaps ten or twelve years ago. Much was still as I remembered it though enough had changed to make the experience especially the road directions confusing.
What a lovely website. I lived as a boarder at Christ’s College from 1972-78 so a bit later in time than most of the other posters. Apart from the horrors of being in a boarding school (just joking, sort of) my memories of Blackheath are those of an Eden. Lovely sunny summers, tennis balls thwacking, lawn mowers and the smell of grass. Long walks to Greenwich on Sundays after church in our school uniforms (maroon blazers and gray slacks). Horrid winters when I always got the flu, every February like clockwork. Damp shoes squelching across the heath. Someone else mentioned using jackets as goalposts, so true. Sports day. Once I turned 16 we could actually go to the pub back then and I do remember drinks at the Princess and the Clarendon for darts. The pond. Wow. It all seems like yesterday. Thank you.
Yes, Anonymous, what is that Blackheath magic? For me, a child with a head full of The Treasure Seekers and The Lion The Witch and the Wardrobe, and David Davies reading The Box of Delights on the radio . …. all part of the magic for me because the big houses and gardens around me were clearly the locations for magic wardrobes and fabulous beasts.
On my chap’s 60th we did a trip crossing from Hackney via the cable car, on to the Park, and joy of joys, the teashop near General Wolfe… where my granny took me after school (All Saints) for an ice cream back in the ’50s….. Ah, nostalgia! Marcel Proust, who needs you! – we have the Bugle! Long may Blackheath keep it’s magic.
Did anyone know or remember my grandpa William Whittaker? he was a footballer at Charlton Athletic Club and played in the FA cup 1947.
Yes I remember him along with the Don Welsh sailor Brown Hobbis sam Bartram Jack Hobbins Peter Croker Duffy and Oaks Turner and a few more, in 46/47/48 I use to sell programs on match days at the bottom of Church lane by the Station, then get to watch the match Free Hobbis was
Sammys stand by goal keeper.
My dad used to own Clarks Garage in Sun Lane in the 60’s_70’s, it was a little cut through from the Sun in the Sand’s pub. We lived at 168 Shooters Hill Rd , no longer there now it’s sheltered housing. It was right next to the parade of shops. We had an off licence next door and the people who lived there were called Short and our surname was Long !! Dad used to drink in the Royal Oak Pub at the Standard. I remember going to the circus on the heath near Greenwich park many times with my twin sister Janet. I also remember attending The Pointer school for a short while. Happy days 😃
Wonderful memories …I remember the Green man pub..we used to think Manfred man lived in the big white house near to it ..the big dips as you have been calling them was daisy Dell to us…do you remember the man that used to sell monkey nuts out side the park gates to feed the squirrels ..and Rossi’s ice cream van by the Donkeys best ice cream ever ..I used to feel , sorry for those poor donkeys ..l used to go to a youth club in the village but can’t remember the name of it …
Hi; Have only just found this site, and came across it by accident while looking for something related. My parents moved into Wemyss Road after they married in 1954 and then I arrived in early 1956. We stayed there until was about 18 months.
I knew my grandfather was a milkman and then later, a grocery shop manager. My mother recalled recently that both places of work were in Blackheath village but that was all. Having read the original post in this thread I’m fairly certain it would have been Express dairies. (There is a photo, found recently, of my grandmother with others ladies, in a ‘card’ with a photo of the Express Dairies plant at Morden. The photo was taken at Blackheath & Charlton Baptist Church, where my grandparents, parents and then myself all attended.
I’m guessing that the grocery shop my grandfather managed may have been part of the Express dairy business, but as I said it’s a guess. I don’t recall anything of my time living in Wemyss Road, (no surprise given we moved when I was only 18mths) so the information here has helped enlighten and broaden my knowledge.
I went to Royal Hill Primary School in the late forties/early fifties.
Miss Broad and then Mrs Baxendale were the head teachers with Miss Stubbs, Mrs Waite and Mr Ford some of the teachers.
I have never been able to track down any of the pupils from those days.
Were YOU there then?
Hello June White, just read your post. I wonder if you recall my brother, Julian (Stephen Mills) who was there from 1961 to 1962? If I’ve got the right school – was the uniform purple and green? We both started new schools at the same time, mine was Prendergast’s girls’ school in Rushey Green. His great friend was a boy called William. BW Helen
I was born in 1939. I went to All Saints when I was four. Mrs. Dubby’s class. I remember a few names. Miss. Collins was the lead mistress. I remember Mary Wallen, Keith Borgust, Olive Lapsley, Sylvia Richards, Paul Rutherford, Glennis Herd, Dereck Pegram, Ronnie Dugan … that about it.
I lived on Bennett Park … number 12.
My father was in the ARP … he was a photographer and took photographs of “secret stuff” for the government. One night he brought home an unexploded incendiary bomb, which we kept in the basement of the house where we lived … much to my mother’s dismay. On VE night there was a huge bonfire at the top of Bennett Park, and my father brought out the bomb and put it in the fire. The darned thing blew up and the fire became a huge wave that moved down the street.
There was a Morrison air raid shelter – one of the brick jobbies … at the end of Bennett park. We used a shelter at the bottom of Bennet Park across from the United Dairies … or was in the Express Dairy … anyway, the one behind Sainsbury’s.
The houses that were flattened on Blackheath Vale left a tunnel at the bottom of the sandstone cliff, and a cave on the wall of the cliff. We used to play there. Probably very dangerous.
On Royal Parade there was Christies Tea Shop with strawberries and clotted cream. I have lived in the US since 1964, and I took my family to Blackheath a few years ago. We took a boat to Greenwich and walked up through the park and across the heath … and Christies Tea shop had become a pizza parlor!! Is nothing sacred?
I remember the cave in Blackheath Vale, it could have been quite dangerous. Paul Rutherford was a good mate of mine back in the early 1950’s’ . He became quite famous, try a Google with his name. He passed away in tragic circumstances. Derek Pegram and Ronnie Dugan I remember their names. Ronnie’s father had a car repair garage in South Vale Road, behind the The Crown Pub.
I remember the cave in Blackheath Vale , quite dangerous when I think about it now. Paul Rutherford was a very good mate of mine back in the early 1950’s. He became quite famous , try googling his name. He passed away in rather tragic circumstances. Derek Pegram I knew slightly. Ronnie Dugan’s Dad had a car repair garage in South Vale Road, just behind the Crown pub. I can’t remember there being a Dairy in Bennet Park, there was an Express Dairy in Wemyss Road. Jobbins the bakers , had their kitchen/bakery behind Sainsburys, I often used to look in there, while they were baking bread and rolls.
Your name is familiar … maybe I knew you.
Paul’s sister was Christine. As for Ronnie … a decade or two ago I went to the UK on business. I went to Blackheath to see what had changed. Pubs were the same. Banks were the same … my dad banked at Lloyd’s. Fenners was still there. I walked up Bennett Park, and was looking at #12. There was a man and woman – and a man about my age – behind the fence. I said “I used to live here.” The woman looked at me intently, and said “I know you!!! You had a sister … Judy!!” I said “yes, who are you?” And she said “I’m Mrs. Dugan.” So the younger man must have been Ronnie. Still there in Blackheath after all those years.
My mate, when I was older, was Tommy Roberts, whose father, Tom, owned the tie maker – Roberto Neckwear. I used to go to his house on Sundays and his mother, Marie, made winkle tea. Winkles, muscles and welks. Do people still have winkle teas … and jellied eels? Tubby Isaacs, the famous jellied eel stand in the city. You could order the eels, or “a pint of liquor” – which was the slimy green stuff they cooked the eels in.
Tommy became Mr. Freedom. I bumped into him in San Francisco in the 70s, when he was marketing his shoe line — green boots with red wings!!
Tommy is gone, now. He became a bit of a cult figure. He teamed up with Charlie Simpson, who used to hang around the Rendezvous. (BTW, the woman behind the counter was “Griff”.)
That is the end of my mind dump, but it would be interesting to find a few more “survivors” and piece together a good picture of Blackheath back then. There are lots of “whatever happened to old so-and-so names in my head.
How much freedom we had as kids!!! Playing in the bombed out churches, and playing on the barges on the Thames. It was a very different time.