Registered Charity No. 1067131 No. 2182
Do you have memories of life in 20th century
Beddington, Carshalton, Carshalton Beeches, Cheam,
If you are able to send us some pictures to illustrate your reminiscences we would be delighted!!
High Street |
Carshalton on the Hill |
Carshalton and Sutton |
Carshalton on the Hill
Coronation Day, Morden
Reading other contributions on your website, especially that of Paul Williams, has stirred many old memories. My childhood home was in Pine Ridge, not far away from Paul’s, and I remember the shops in Stanley and Stanley Park Roads to which he and others refer.
To begin at the beginning, I was born in 1943 in a nursing home in Cedar Road, Sutton. My parents were then living at 23 Anglesey Gardens and that was the first home I remember. The house belonged to my maiden aunt and her companion, but they had been evacuated to Pembrokeshire with the children from the primary school in Rotherhithe where they taught (their most famous pupil was Tommy Steele). Perhaps to prevent the house from being requisitioned, they offered it to my parents who had been bombed out of their flat in Lewin Road, Streatham. Not that Anglesey Gardens was immune from bombing raids. I have an old newspaper cutting showing the devastation caused when a bomb (possibly a V1) landed up the road and blew the fronts out of most of the houses!
After the war there was a severe shortage of housing and we were lucky to find a new home at 37 Pine Ridge, immediately opposite Cranfield Road East. I remember my father taking me for a walk (possible in my pushchair) and when we came to Pine Ridge there was a large muddy space between numbers 33 and 39. An elderly labourer called Mr Knight was there, completely on his own, digging foundations. My father asked him what he was doing and he explained that the plot had been bought by his employer who intended to build a house for his daughter and her husband. My father contacted the boss and suggested that there was ample room for two houses and offered to buy the second one which the builder then agreed to construct.
The two houses were small and sturdily, but unimaginatively constructed. They were flat roofed bungalows with only two bedrooms, hard composition floors and tiny kitchens with external larders (no fridges in those days!) I used to enjoy being taken up to the roof where I could survey the surrounding neighbourhood from what seemed to me to be a vast height! About ten years later we had an upper floor and a tile hung roof added and so, shortly afterwards, did our neighbours at number 35, who were now the Robsons. Bernard Robson was in the police force and subsequently became a member of the glamorous (notorious?) Flying Squad. He was caught up in some of the scandals about police methods in the late 1960s, but he was always a good neighbour to us and took a kindly interest in me as I grew to manhood.
Right opposite us, in the house on the upper or southern corner of Cranfield Road East, lived the Chicks who had three or four sons. The youngest, Tony, was my age and we used to play together. On some occasions in the summer all the boys would stage a cricket match in the road. There was not a lot of traffic, although occasionally play would have to be halted so that a vehicle could pass.
Unlike many people at that time, we always had a car – first a pre-war model and in 1954 our first new car, a gleaming dark red (but somewhat cumbersome) Vauxhall Velox. My mother did not drive, so it was used by my father to convey himself every day to the car park in Shotfield Road, near to Wallington station from where he took the train to London. My mother did all the shopping on foot. Without a fridge, she needed to buy fresh produce several times a week at the local shops or, once a week, in Wallington. She would take several shopping bags, hessian ones into which greengrocers would tip loose vegetables after weighing them or open mesh string bags which could be balled up when empty and carried in one’s pockets. There were no plastic bags of course, but the grocer (Barter’s in Stanley Park Road, next to the off licence) would measure out sugar and tea and other commodities into paper bags. You had to queue up and wait to be served in all the shops. Supermarkets did not come in until the Fifties.
Just round the corner from us, at the top of Stanley Road, there was a pair of shops. I was not much interested in the wool and sewing shop, but the other one was the sweet shop run by Mrs Streatfield, where I would spend my pocket money and where I would be sent to buy my mother’s cigarettes. I don’t suppose that it was entirely legal, even then, to sell cigarettes to children (other than the sugary, white and red sweet cigarettes), but Mrs Streatfield knew who I was and would always check that “they’re for your Mummy, aren’t they?”
Further down Stanley Road was the parade of half a dozen shops, to which Paul Williams has referred. The cobbler was Mr Barrett and the newsagents was called Newlands. I used to buy my copy of “Lion” comic there every week and after I had read it I would swop it for the “Eagle” with my friend Michael Key who lived in Stanley Square. All these Stanley place names were of course a reference to the lands once belonging to the Earls of Derby who had been the owners of The Oaks, after which the famous horse race was named (in earlier times the Stanleys had stayed there before going up to Epsom Downs for the races).
Next door to the greengrocer’s in Stanley Road was the house and wood yard of Mr Bill Vinn, a carpenter who did a number of jobs for us in Pine Ridge. There were even more shops in Stanley Park Road, at the foot of Stanley Road. Like others, I remember Mr Payne’s bicycle and toy shop. There was a Post Office run by Mr and Mrs Harvey, whose daughter Pamela was the local beauty queen and a chemist shop in which one of the assistants, rudely known behind his back as “Willy Whiskers”, had a spectacularly luxuriant moustache. There were two ironmongers, two grocers, a newsagent/tobacconist and The Gem, a sweet shop strategically placed next to the school and one of the entrances to the recreation ground (“The Rec”). In The Gem, for something like a penny or tuppence, you could buy refreshing cordials after thirsty games in the school playground or on the Council playing field (where one had to keep an eye open for the approach of the park keeper, Mr Skinner, who always seemed to be irate about something we were doing).
On the corner of Anglesey Gardens and Stanley Park Road was the Branch Library in a 1930’s art deco house with curved metal window frames. The children’s section was upstairs and it was there that I developed my taste for fiction (Enid Blyton, Just William and Biggles featuring prominently).
Mother later acquired a wicker basket on wheels for weekly treks to Wallington to the bank or one of the bigger shops. The shops would seem very old-fashioned today. There was Wise’s, a music shop where I bought 78rpm records in the Fifties. You had to order some of the more popular records (Lonny Donegan was a particular favourite of mine) and wait for them to come in because they sold out quickly and the shop didn’t carry a great stock. Sheet music was probably a more important line for them at the time. There were two small self-service shops (little bigger than what we would today call a convenience store), the Payantake and the Co-op, with its fascinating system of overhead wires to convey the money to and from the cashier sitting behind a barred grill. There was a Woolworth’s and a gentleman’s outfitter called Cladish’s (now in the hands of Mr King who had started out as old Mr Cladish’s shop assistant). My mother liked to buy my clothes there because they had a reputation for quality. But I thought their stock was old-fashioned and wanted jeans and brightly coloured sweaters of which Mr King clearly did not approve!
Very occasionally we would take the trolley bus from Boundary Corner and travel to one of the department stores, like Shinner’s, in Sutton. Even more occasionally we would go to Croydon, where the old trams still ran.
We could also obtain fresh vegetables and fruit from the smallholdings, some of which had shops. The smells of manure and the squeals of pigs would reach us down in Pine Ridge. One of the smallholders, Mr Millson, came round once a week, selling produce from the back of a lorry. We would sometimes take Sunday afternoon walks across the smallholdings to the Oaks Park. Close to the house was an ancient oak tree with enormous branches, held together with chains. It was a favourite climbing tree for us children!
We had bread and milk deliveries and sometimes, during the holidays the United Dairies milkman would let me help him, taking the bottles up and down the driveways further along Pine Ridge and then sitting beside him on the cart as he whipped up the horse and we trotted back down to my house. The coal lorry, the rag and bone man’s cart and the Corona soft drinks lorry were other familiar sights in our street.
In the Forties and perhaps into the early Fifties the country was short of most materials and very little was wasted. We had regular salvage collections of old textiles and waste paper and, chained to the trees on the grass verges, there were “pig bins” into which we were encouraged to deposit our food waste. This was taken away and converted into swill to feed animals.
From the ages of five to eleven I attended the infants and junior schools in Stanley Park Road. After being taken along by my mother on my first day it was always a matter of self-respect that we children walked to school unaccompanied by parents. My route took me up Cranfield Road, down Stanley Road as far as the clinic, along the footpath by the playground to the allotments and then down Fir Tree Grove. Normally there was a group of us and on occasion we got up to mischief, such as scrumping apples from the trees in the grounds of the small church in Fir Tree Grove.
There were four classes in the infants’ school, all presided over by elderly (or so they seemed) ladies with the exception of the reception class under the supervision of the appropriately named Miss Young (who promptly went off and got married): a collection was taken and we bought her a suitcase as a leaving present!). The classes were crowded. I think the minimum class size during my time there was probably 48. But the education, certainly for fortunate middle class children like me, was excellent. I eventually passed the Eleven Plus with flying colours and won a county scholarship to KCS Wimbledon to which I commuted by train every day from Carshalton Beeches station.
I suppose we would nowadays consider that Stanley Park Road was a “rough school”. Certainly the pupils came from a wide range of backgrounds and some of the neighbourhood housing, propped up by wooden beams, was definitely sub-standard. Discipline had to be strict and slapped legs or a clip round the ear were fairly commonplace. With such large classes it was important to keep order. The Head teacher had a cane. In the junior school this was Mr Quick (whose name rhymed with stick!). He was a heavy smoker and eventually had to have a lung removed. But the cane was kept more in reserve, as a final sanction, than anything else. I only saw it in use on a single occasion.
Socially diverse, we were ethnically homogenous. The Dixon family, who lived in Windborough Road and were Anglo-Indian, may have been the sole exception. There were three children, two girls who did well at school and their younger brother Chris, who was the local tearaway (he was quite decent to me, but terrorised many others in the neighbourhood). The Dixons had a claim to celebrity because they had taken in the Webbs when the latter family returned virtually penniless to the UK around the time of Indian independence. It must have been quite a crowd in the modest semi-detached house. However, young Harry Webb (subsequently known as (Sir) Cliff Richard) was unhappy at Stanley Park Road School and had moved on by the time I went there.
I can remember the day when the first pair of black children arrived at the school. Mr Quick had thought it necessary to warn us all at morning assembly that they were joining us, that they were no different from any other pupil and that we were not to stare at them!
This reminiscence would not be complete without mention of Queen Mary’s Hospital for Children, the grounds of which backed on to the gardens of the houses across the road and further up Pine Ridge from us. In the 1960s I worked there as a porter during several school or university holidays, the last time when I was between jobs in 1966. A strict class structure operated there and the nurses were strongly discouraged from associating with the porters and other unqualified staff. We nevertheless had a good time, driving round the grounds in dilapidated old vans and lorries, delivering supplies to the single story wards, waving to the children and the young women who were caring for them. Conditions were pretty primitive by the standards of today, especially as regards hygiene. I was given a dusty blue jacket to wear, but this was seldom changed or washed and the pockets were torn. One of the duties, when one was assigned to “dirty van”, involved collecting bags of dirty laundry from outside the wards. Some of this consisted of soiled nappies soaked in Lysol. The bags were heavy and had to be manhandled bodily. Sometimes a nappy would fall out and have to be retrieved. But I don’t recall being offered any kind of protective clothing, not even a pair of gloves!
Much of the time I was in the open air and, even if most of the nurses were “off limits”, there were always the younger female domestics (many of them Irish or Italian) with whom one might try to secure a date. I enjoyed the work. For me it was a source of pocket money. But for the permanent staff, there were families to support and the wages were not princely. One veteran porter, called Les Cheeseman, would take home little more than eight pounds a week. Even in the early Sixties this was hardly a living wage. But Les had brought up his son, of whom he was inordinately proud, and put him through dental school. Now in practice locally, the younger Cheeseman bought his father every Christmas a season ticket for Arsenal, the one luxury which Les really appreciated!
In the 40’s and 50’s we had a good sense of community spirit. The neighbours and the parents of the schoolchildren got together to organise street parties to celebrate the Coronation in 1953. But in the 60’s I began to move away, first to university and then to work overseas. After I married in 1970, I came back and bought a flat in a brand new block at the top of Woodcote Road in Wallington. During the three years we lived there, we saw virtually all the big houses in the road pulled down so that more apartment blocks could be built. Our family doctor continued to operate his surgery single handedly from his house in Shirley Road across from where my wife and I now lived. My wife sat there for a whole morning after she went into labour with our first child, before being taken down to the War Memorial Hospital to give birth. Not long afterwards, the doctor moved to a purpose built group practice, as the character of Woodcote Road changed completely.
My parents continued to live in Pine Ridge until the mid-1970s and I would still visit from time to time. Since then I have lived in seven different countries and am now resident, as are all my children, in the north of England. The world has shrunk and we have absorbed more change than I could ever have imagined possible when I began life in Carshalton!
All pictures are Copyright © Bernard Everett
My family and I moved to Wallington (in Surrey) on 1st November 1928: - My father an LCC Headmaster, my brother Vivian – born in 1913, my mother and me - born on 7th September 1917.
We arrived from Roehampton to Clapham Junction to change to a train to Waddon, and found dozens of youngsters with collection boxes and “Penny for the Guy” written on bits of cardboard sitting around in hope. It was near 5th November.
In 1928, an animal also had to have a ticket to travel, the cost was worked out in weight. Dad had Dinkie, our grey and white rabbit, in a basket in one hand and a goldfish bowl full of water in the other. He put the basket on the weighing machine – and many of the youngsters got on too. The chap at the booking office was surprised to see that he was supposed to give us.....to read the whole article and see the pictures click HERE
Alan Hare writes (28th January 2013)
Memories Of Carshalton High Street
In the early 1940's I lived in the the Westcroft house billiard room annexe with my family, which in around 1935-40 was converted by the council for domestic use. My earliest vague memory is laying in my cot in our Anderson shelter with about a foot of water beneath me. It was towards the end of the Second World War and we had an Anderson shelter in our garden. The house has since had the glass tower removed, But when we lived there all the heat in the winter used to go straight up and out through the glass roof! I remember the bomb shelter that was by the front of our house near the pavement to the high street and just opposite "hazels" garage, There was also a public bomb shelter just outside our garden next to the bowling green.
My father was a conductor on the 654 trolleybus route that went from Bushy Green in Sutton to Crystal Palace. I have many memories of going back and forth on the upper deck. In about 1950 my father worked for the express dairy in Shorts Road using a horse and cart. Bessie was the name of his regular horse and Smokey was his standby one. I remember delivering milk to "Ellis" the blacksmiths in Carshalton High Street in about 1948 and being fascinated by the huge open furnace. The blacksmith would hammer away on the anvil creating a sound I can still hear. After my father had stopped using the horse and carts he used an electric cart, the type that you walked in front of!
I also recall having a friend who
lived in one of a group of tiny houses in Church Hill,
The only lights they had, of course, were gas ones. Hazel garage's petrol pumps used to swing out to the road on what I would call gantries or stanchion (pictured left). How things have changed!
Its rather sad that the old Ellis
shed/building is decaying so fast (pictured right). Is
there anything that can be done? I think it would be a
good idea to have this old blacksmiths as a museum?
I remember so many things from Sutton that I don't
really know where to start. I suppose my earliest memory
(or one of them) goes back to when I was three years
old, in St Helier Hospital for tonsillitis. I remember
the surgeons name still, Mr Black. Every day (I think I
was in for a week) I got from my Mum and Dad a post card
with a character called 'Teddy Edward' on.
For school I started at St Marys
Infants School, West street, Carshalton - in
Miss Quick's class, (she went on to be headmistress). I
remember the three playground ladies at lunchtime, Mrs
Henry, Mrs White and Mrs Black. The alleyway by the
school smelled of catkins in the autumn. If I get the
same smell now I am transported back to infants’ school.
I would love to go back to that school and find out what
books we were reading, am not too sure what we used to
learn to read, there was Book 1, Book 2 Book 3 and Book
4. Wow, the pride when one finished one book and went
onto the next. It was about a family, not Peter and Jane
or Janet and John, but another book. The school was much
smaller at the time, the main building as seen from West
Street today. There was another building the rear of
the school, a sort of prefabricated basic building, used
as the canteen for a while I think. This was demolished
and I think two new class rooms were built in the
1960s. Due to there being fewer buildings than today
the playing field was larger. I remember the Christmas
parties in the infants’ school, we, the children, would
take food and one day just before Christmas we'd have a
party. Each class I think doing its own thing. If on the
train passing by I still look at the school with great
fondness. I am not 100% (perhaps 95% sure?) but we did
have some school books with LCC as at that time Sutton
had left Surrey and want then part of London (even
though the LCC officially no longer existed ). I'm sure
there must have been an interim period when LCC things
were still used in the time of the GLC.
Fond memories of High Street, Sutton. Mum had a pram and
on this pram was one of those chairs to put toddlers on,
I sat on this while my sister was in the pram (Coach
Built Prams had them I think). We walked everywhere, Dad
didn't have a car until the early sixties I think,
perhaps 61 or 62, and I remember him setting off each
morning to cycle to work in Brixton. On rare occasions
later, having walked up the High Street we'd get a taxi
home if there was a lot of shopping to carry, I was born
during the 'reign' of the FX4 but there were still a lot
of FX3 taxis about, dark rear window, open luggage
platform (there are a lot of things I have looked up in
recent years based on my memories to check what was
what). Lilly & Skinner had a roundabout or similar
inside it I'm sure to keep children amused. The Brixton
branch had more but (I'll explain Brixton later) . . .
. Oh, the lift man at Shinner's scared me (mind you so
did the park keeper at Brockwell Park!). London
Palladium was a treat, the Pantomime. By this time Dad
was working at Balham, he would drive and park outside
where he worked and we'd get the tube from Clapham South
to Oxford Circus. That was so special. We did that for a
During the school holidays Mum would take us out, to
museums and things. First the bus to Morden and then the
Northern Line to where ever. The 157, it chugged
everywhere, it always seem to be under strain except
when heading north on St Helier Avenue. I remember the
Monument clearly; I only got halfway up that, I was
petrified. One thing I do remember on buses and on
trains are the bulbs that gave off a gently light, a
sort of yellow light, nothing like the fluorescent
lights to day on buses and trains.
Our maternal grandparents lived in Brixton so some of my memories are based in Brixton. I just recall green trains! Our Grandmother would take us from Carshalton to Streatham by train then we'd get the bus to Brixton Water Lane. I'm sure that the signs on the bridges in North Street and West Street Carshalton said "Southern Electric" or similar, they were green also. Then the trains were blue, then grey and blue then . . . . I'd rather try and forget Connex! I'm sure most people would. Anyway, the trip without grandmother now a days doesn't sound much but then it was so exciting. We'd see our Grandfather in his shop on Brixton Hill, back to our Grandparents flat for fish fingers chips and peas and then Dad would pick us up in the evening.
Ah, I remember one year during our holiday on the Isle
of Wight we had to come back to Sutton for a cousins
wedding, just for the weekend so we came back by train,
brilliant! Boat to Portsmouth and then the express train
to Sutton from Portsmouth Harbour, well, I say express,
Portsmouth and Southsea, Fratton, Havant, Emsworth,
Southbourne, Bosham, Chichester Barnham where it joined
with the Bognor portion (that intrigued Dad I think).
Headcode 40 to Victoria. Complete with buffet car, such
style! The buffet car was always in the Bognor Regis
HELPED RE-FORM THE “ROBINS”
Then there was the reformation of Carshalton Athletic
Football Club as a senior team.
Someone has taken the time and trouble to do a most
comprehensive family tree with four main branches (Ardingly,
Buxted, Framfield and Mayfield) of the family going back
centuries. These four main branches \ families have
never strayed far from the south east, main haunts being
Sussex, Surrey and London.
Red Rover Tickets on the buses in the 1970s, brilliant!
Days out with friends in school holidays. I think the
first time we tried it we got as far as Brixton, next
Oxford Street was the place to be, gosh, must have been
about fourteen then? I remember one time I got the train
to Victoria, can't remember why, and at the tube station
(Victoria) asked for a map. "How much?" I asked. "Fwee"
said the woman behind the window. I duly put three pence
on the silver dish. "Nah" she said "fwee" - "that is
fwee" I replied, I counted out the money, "one two fwee".
"Nah" she said again "fwee, costs nuffink".
I think in many parts Sutton had a functional style of
architecture for its municipal buildings, nothing out of
the ordinary, at least at the time though now one might
say it is ashamed that so many are gone as there are few
examples left of 'ordinary' architecture. Would be
curious to learn when the fire station in Throwley Way
The first supermarket that I remember was in Carshalton,
Victor Value, later bought out by Tescos I believe.
STANLEY ROAD, CARSHALTON
We had the butchers next to the Ede’s greengrocers from
1961-1965 when we left for Australia. We returned in
2010 and our shop and Ede’s are now offices, and the
other four look awful. Even back in 1965 it was evident
small shops were on the way out. Graham Ede was eight
when we emigrated, and lived with his mum and paternal
grandmother over the shop.
LONG TO REIGN OVER US... CORONATION DAY, MORDEN, 2nd JUNE 1953
St Helier district youngsters, all teeth and smiles,
dress to impress in their costumes of red, white and
blue for a coronation party in 1953. This particular jolly, one of many
across the streets of Merton and Morden, took place at
the church hall (these days better known as the Wyvern
Youth Centre) in Arras Avenue, off St Helier Avenue.
This particular trip down Memory Lane is
submitted by Chrissie Murray, the ‘Dolly in a Box’,
This particular jolly, one of many
across the streets of Merton and Morden, took place at
the church hall (these days better known as the Wyvern
Youth Centre) in Arras Avenue, off St Helier Avenue.
This particular trip down Memory Lane is
submitted by Chrissie Murray, the ‘Dolly in a Box’,
Text and photographs © Chrissie Murray
CARSHALTON AND LOCAL MEMORIES
I was born on 2nd July 1950 at 5 Smallholdings, Little Woodcote Estate, in Carshalton, the roads now being known as the “Telegraph Track”. The house, which is still there today, is a short distance up from the Woodmansterne Road entrance to the Oaks Park. Some years ago, my late Mother told me that I was a “home birth”. As a family we lived with my grandparents, my granddad growing flowers. These houses, of quite distinctive character, were built for veterans of the First World War, of which my grandfather, Harry Robinson, was one. I think they were owned by Surrey County Council. Carshalton, of course was an Urban District within that County until the formation of the London Borough of Sutton. My father, an orphan, came from Yorkshire, whilst my mother’s family were from Croydon, my nanny’s maiden name being Potter. It was the Second World War, which brought my parents together. One of my mother’s sisters (she had two sisters and two brothers) had been evacuated to South Wales, where she later made her family home. My mother, Isabella (Bella) Robinson, met my father to be, Thomas (Billy) Parkin, who was wearing army uniform, on a train and the rest, as they say, is history. They were married immediately after the cessation of the war at the former George Street Congregational Church in Croydon. Living on the Smallholdings, as we always knew them, meant that we had a life of fresh air – as my mother recalled. I was always out in the garden. After all, what entertainment was there indoors – no television, no telephone or videos and only the occasional listening to my grandparents’ wireless. My father would make a “soap box cart” for us to ride on along the driveway. The Oaks Park was a short walk down the road so the love of the countryside started at a very tender age.
However we were not confined to home, far from it. My first school was in Woodmansterne and my brother Norman and I walked there in all weathers (I recall the heavy snowfalls we used to get), taking the path alongside the Oaks Park and then along Carshalton Road – the education authorities provided an escort for a group of us from the Smallholdings. There used to be a small shop up to the crossroads and turning right. It was owned by a Mrs. Lane and I recall my brother and I walking there one day to find that she had sadly died. “Bunny”, I think he was called, ran the cycle shop in Ross Parade and his family lived on the Smallholdings. He told me that he often used to carry my nanny’s bag from Boundary Corner, where she would have alighted from the trolleybus. If you look at the names on the Smallholdings today (2008) there are still a number of families who have been living there for generations. I lived in the family home from July 1950 until 1959, when my granddad retired and moved to Croydon Lane in Banstead. We could no longer live there as a family, so we were put on the council waiting list for a council house. We moved to temporary accommodation, provided by Surrey County Council, firstly near Witley, secondly in a prefab in Kingston and then to a house called “Oakdene” in Denmark Road, in Carshalton which, I believe, is now the site of the Council offices. Later that year we were fortunate to move into a house in Stanhope Road, Carshalton-On-The-Hill, an area known as “Little Jerusalem”. The large houses in nearby Stanley Road were built as hotels on the assumption that Carshalton Beeches Railway Station would in fact have been nearer than it is!!
What else do I recall about life on the Smallholdings? The milkman came with a horse and cart and as far as I recall he delivered on a Sunday as well and I remember wonderful tasting bottled orange juice. We had blackberries at the far end of the land behind the house and this must have led to my continuing to pick blackberries in the autumns nowadays. The land backed onto the old Queen Mary’s Hospital. We would use Carshalton Beeches Station for train trips to the seaside and life has turned full circle, as for the past eight years I have been working at the station selling tickets for rail travel. But my greatest public transport memories are of the 654 trolleybus route, which was to finish in March 1959 – as I write these notes it is almost fifty years since motorbuses took over, at the start of the London trolleybus conversion programme, which culminated at Fulwell depot in 1962. We travelled most weekends to Croydon, on Saturdays to the shops – Surrey Street market was a favourite; my father got his haircut in a row of shops which were demolished long ago and which were passed by the 630 trolleybus route – Croydon Tramlink now operates where the rows of shops used to be, on both sides of the road, leading to the old Pitlake Bridge; and finally my Dad bought our first television at the Reeves store in 1959. On Sundays, Mum, my brother Norman and I took the trolleybus to Reeves Corner and walked to the George Street Congregational Church, where I was christened – this church building is no longer there. We would go to London at Christmas time and visit Selfridges to see Father Christmas and “Uncle Holly” (remember him?); we would take the 234 (double deck RT bus) or 234A (single deck RF with a conductor) to Purley to see the latest Norman Wisdom film and we might take an RF on the 213 from Beeches Avenue to the Downs at Belmont, for walks across the chalk hills. Rather than carrying a pushchair on to a bus, my Mum had two friends on the walk to the bus stops, where she could leave the pushchair to be picked up later. In the fifties, after leaving the top of Boundary Road and entering the Telegraph Track, it was possible to see the radar devices from the relatively nearby Croydon Airport. One final thing I recall – a fowl pest outbreak on nearby farms, when I saw chickens being thrown onto the fires. At the time we had recently bought some young chicks, but they were kept well clear of any visitors!! Talking of animals, the Crusaders Hall at Boundary Corner has been the venue for Missionary Mart auction sales for very many years. It must have been towards the end of 1958 that we went to an auction and bought a rabbit for five shillings – we named him Timothy.
I recall going just once to Saturday morning pictures at the Odeon in Wallington (now the “Whispering Moon” Wetherspoons pub); however Norman and I were regulars at Sutton Granada, taking the trolleybus from Boundary Corner into Sutton. For 6d (that’s two and a half pence in today’s money) we had a full morning’s entertainment. There were a couple of cartoons; a short film (maybe from the Children’s Film Foundation, possibly a documentary); a full length feature film and of course the weekly serial – it would finish with such a cliff hanger that you would want to return “same time, same place, next week”. There was pre-film entertainment, with the organ, which rose from beneath the floor, with some singing, including “We’re one for all, and all for one, the Sutton Grenadiers”. That was part of growing up in the fifties and sixties – going out for entertainment and mixing with other people. If the film broke, everyone would stamp their feet and I recall children occasionally letting off stink bombs; however as the cinema, in Carshalton Road, was opposite the Police Station, this wasn’t too much of a problem!! At Christmas and on your birthday there was a voucher for free admission and some free refreshments – those were the days indeed!!
The Stanhope Road Years
When we first moved to Stanhope Road there were some corner shops just a short distance away, separated by a coal yard (which was subsequently turned over to flats) – one of these sold fish and chips. There were also corner shops in Stanley Road and on the corner of Stanhope Road and a larger number in nearby Stanley Park Road – my mother liked to buy ham from Abbots on the corner of Stanley Road. All the corner shops have gone – but in those days there were no supermarkets and few people had cars. The nearest telephone was in Stanley Road – it was to be over twenty years before we first had one at home. We had an open fire, which would also heat water, in a big “copper” and with little or no other heating in the house, the family grouped together in the living room and of course we sat down at the table to take meals together – a far cry from the takeaway meals of 2008!! My father always used to count the bags of coal when they were delivered!! Gas for cooking was paid for my meter – so the gasman would come periodically to empty it. We also had the Corona man, delivering a range of soft drinks, including “dandelion and burdock”. I would cycle a great deal, not just to school, but for leisure and once went to Guildford and on another occasion to Shepherds Bush – I didn’t tell my parents”. My father, who worked as a gardener at St. Helier Hospital (he cycled to and from work) grew fruit and vegetables in the back garden and had some very tall sunflowers!! Whilst he was still alive I used to walk alongside the Oaks Park to my granddad’s home in Croydon Lane in Banstead. My grandparents are buried in the Parish Church in Banstead and my parents at Bandon Hill.
When I was living temporarily in Denmark Road, I went to Camden Road School. It is interesting that some 40 years later I should run Scout meetings in the school hall, when I was Scout Leader with 6th Carshalton. In 1961 I went to senior school – Carshalton West, at Wrythe Green, where the boys were downstairs and the girls upstairs (the girls now have the full school). In 1963 we combined with Tweedale and the new school was in Winchcombe Road. I took the 157 bus to school, in the days when there was a conductor. When I travelled to Carshalton West, I found I could save an old halfpenny, by alighting at Carshalton Station and walking the rest of the way. But then this was worthwhile for a penny lolly at Coopers at Wrythe Green. Rather than having school meals I would often go to Rose Hill to a café, or others in Ruskin Road or at Wallington Green, or I would have fish and chips at Rose Hill.
Scouting was part of my life from 1958 until about 2005. I joined the 10th Wallington (Holmwood) Boy Scout Group in the Wolf Cubs at the age of eight – meetings were held in Holmwood Hall. I continued as a Scout and Senior Scout and then became a leader and I held a warrant for some 36 years. During my Scout leadership, having left the 8th Wallington (the 10th had merged with the 8th in 1968) I moved to 1st Belmont and subsequently 6th Carshalton. My first Summer Camp was near Tenterden in Kent – in those days we would hire a removal lorry (often Humphreys from Cranfield Road in Carshalton) – the camping gear would be loaded and the Scouts would sit on top – health and safety wasn’t an issue in those days. In 1964 we went to the Lake District by steam train. Throughout my time in Scouting I travelled widely, not only camping but also youth hostelling trips, taking the boys to every corner of England, Wales and Scotland, including the Isle of Skye. Nearer to home we held some camps in the Oaks Park and at Coulsdon, sometimes taking trek carts across the Smallholdings.
For many years, following the amalgamation of the 8th and 10th I could (and indeed have) written a book on Scouting!! For many years I ran the Scout meetings in the Stafford Road hall at Christ Church in Wallington, now occupied by the Sainsbury’s supermarket. We had bi-monthly church parades there too, whilst jumble sales and Fayres were a regular feature.
The Church Years
Since attending Wolf Cub church parades, I have been involved at Wallington’s United Reformed Church, on the corner of Stanley Park Road and Holmwood Gardens, and have been a member for many years. I also attended parades at Christ Church in Wallington and recall the halls, with the cellars. It is interesting to note that when, many years ago, the local council wished to widen the road, by taking church land, it was agreed that if they built a wall then this could go ahead. The trams had recently been withdrawn, so the granite setts between the tram lines were taken up and used to make the wall – I have one as a souvenir!!
I have always maintained an interest in public transport, particularly the local trolleybuses and buses and their routes. I recall many bus routes which no longer operate in this part of London and the vehicles which have long since disappeared from public service. As the conductor operated buses gradually disappeared, I took photographs of the last journeys, sometimes with the crew posing in front of them. For example I have some lovely flash pictures taken at the Wallington Belmont Road terminus (this was the main bus terminal point from the north when it was a low bridge at Wallington Station) of the last crew buses on routes 115 and 115A (worked by buses from Thornton Heath Garage). During the long hot summer of 1976 I photographed the last RF single deck buses on routes 80 and 80A out of Sutton Garage. When the last 154 bus ran via Ruskin Road and Park Lane (the roads covered earlier by both trams and trolleybuses) I photographed the last one (DMS type) driven by Johnny Gardener, who had started as a trolleybus driver in 1959. The following morning, 23rd April 1977, I rode and photographed the first 154 bus on its new route via Carshalton Beeches and the full length of Stanley Park Road. There are many memories I have of the local buses, far too numerous to mention here.
there are the local trains. I recall the semaphore signal gantry at
Sutton; the signal box at Wallington just before it was being
demolished; the sidings at Wallington, where some trains started in the
very early mornings. Then there were the fast trains from Victoria to
the coast, which called at Sutton and overtook stopping trains at Cheam
(which explains why the two platforms are so far apart); there were
through tracks. I have many railway tickets, both day and seasons which
I was issued with over the years. At
Carshalton Beeches Station, where I spent almost ten years selling
tickets until I took early retirement from the railways in January 2010,
there were regular platform staff and I remember one, known as Taffy,
who said he used to walk from Wallington, where he lived, along the
track to get to work. The barrier was manned until the last train. With
the introduction of Oyster Cards, ticket gates have been introduced at
this station and thus, once again, staff are available throughout the
traffic hours. I am fortunate that because I was employed by British
Rail before the privatisation of the railway network, I have retained my
travel concessions, which enable me to continue to enjoy travel
ECHOES OF MY PAST
I was born in Carshalton on the Hill in September 1946 in the front bedroom of 74 Stanley Road. This was where my maternal Grandmother and Grandfather lived and where I was to live for more than twenty years. It was a 1930s built council house and well constructed. It had a ground-floor bathroom accessed via the kitchen but had no form of heating and was pretty-well unusable in cold winters, which were typical in the late 40s and 50s. The WC was also on the ground floor but access was via the back door, across an open archway that led into the garden. This open doorway eventually was fitted with a door but the council left a 1 foot gap at the bottom and the curved arch above was also left open. Its insulation value was non-existent! In the winter a tiny paraffin lamp about 6 inches tall was left burning in the toilet all night to try to ward off frozen pipes.
The house had gas lights installed in the kitchen, living room and the three bedrooms. These were most welcome. They provided a small measure of warmth in the bedrooms in winter when mine would be lit for an hour before bedtime and were invaluable during the many power cuts experienced in the post war years. There were no power points and apart from one 2amp socket used for the wartime ‘Utility’ radio there was no provision for any electrical appliances or standard lamps.
The only source of real warmth was the living room coal fire, which also provided hot water by means of a small back boiler behind the grate. That fire was much loved as the hearth and a toasting fork provided, toast, crumpets and chestnuts; all beyond the capabilities of the four legged Stoves cooker and the ridiculously poor gas pressure that supplied it. There were two other small fireplaces in the main bedrooms but there was never enough coal to use them. We got used to thick ice inside the windows.
Irons were heated on the cooker burners, although I recall seeing an unused gas iron that ran off a poker point. When appliances like a vacuum cleaner (an old Canadian Fillery I think it was called), electric iron and hairdryer came along, they were all fitted with a bayonet plug to connect to a light fitting. No earthing at all!
After I was born, my Grandfather, Charles Moore, who had fought with the ‘Buffs’ regiment in the First World War and was Air Raid Warden at The Mount in the second, fell victim to lung cancer and died after a long struggle in the War Memorial Hospital by Carshalton Park when I was two. Sadly, I have no memories of him although I am told he played with me a lot. Nor do I have any recollection of holding up two fingers to Winston Churchill from my push-chair when he visited Croydon (so I am told).
When gas pressure allowed we could use a gas copper to heat water for washing clothes. Rinsing was done in the Butlers sink and laundry was finished off on the great cast iron mangle that sat outside the back door – next to the two zinc baths that were used for bathing in front of the living room fire in winter.
Our coal store was a redundant Anderson Shelter and deliveries by black faced coalmen wearing their distinctive head-ware were all watched closely during deliveries as there were many tales of short deliveries! There was a small coal depot in Stanhope Road with high walls, behind our house.
Gas was the fuel for street lighting too. The warm mellow light these provided was quite adequate and there was no glare to hide the stars on a clear night. Some were lit manually such as at railway stations and private roads but ours had permanent small wind-proof pilots and were operated by long running clockwork motors that turned them on and off. They were well maintained and adjusted. They weren’t bad either on the long foggy nights that always seemed to follow Guy Fawkes night and the celebrations that everyone seemed to participate in.
Much more enjoyment was had from simple events such as the London to Brighton veteran car run or the University Boat Race, when small favours such as plastic oars were abundant in every newsagent, each sporting a ribbon in your choice of the dark and light blue of Oxford & Cambridge. Sporting events, local and national were enthusiastically followed and there was a strong sense of national pride that emerged after the weariness of the long years of war and hardship. Records achieved, for example, in aviation and athletics were lauded and cynicism was quite uncommon. Newspapers were generally regarded as trustworthy and responsible, placing emphasis on real news. I particularly recall headlines in the Daily Sketch and Sunday Express reporting on the death of Queen Mary and Joseph Stalin, the ascent of Everest and the Coronation; also, the national concern for the fate of the captain of The Flying Enterprise, a small freighter that had listed badly after a storm in the Atlantic. After days of struggling towards safety the list got worse but the captain refused to leave. He was joined by a brave reporter from the Express. They were rescued just before the Flying Enterprise sank.
The Coronation was a unique event, especially for a six year old going on seven. Apart from the excitement of the fancy dress costumes and the abundance of cakes and other treats, I don’t think I have ever seen such real enjoyment in the community since.
We were very well served by abundant local shops. Within a few paces across the road in front of our house we had a shoe repair shop with belt driven machinery. The noise of the equipment emanated from the doorway, as did the heavy odour of adhesive. I can’t remember the purpose of shop to the right. I vaguely recall the windows being obscured by brown paper.
The next shop in the line was the all important newsagents, sweetshop and tobacconists. Here my father used to purchase single ‘7 o’clock’ brand razor blades and his packets of ‘Players Weights’. Next door at the end of the terrace was a general grocery store, at one time run by a family named Benjamin. From both shops you could buy snacks such as Lyons individual fruit pies. They were square and consisted of a rather shallow pastry case with a fruit filling (the terms pastry and fruit being rather loose) in a cardboard box. They cost 3d and the most disgusting one was apricot! When sweets came ‘off-ration’ you could have unrestricted access to joys such as Cadbury’s fudge bars, Fry’s ‘Five Boys’ chocolate sandwich bars ,Wagon Wheels (not like the miserable imitations today) with varieties that included vanilla, strawberry and butterscotch. Seemingly countless rows of large screw top jars lined the shelves. These were filled with a bewildering choice of sweets; many of which have long since vanished; liquorice, of course, All-sorts, Pipes, Comfits, Pontefract cakes, Wheels, Twists and rock-hard Bassatti . Then there were flying saucers, mallow fried eggs, honeycomb, aniseed balls, gob stoppers, penny chews imps, mushrooms, cigarettes, sherbet dabs and jaw-breaking toffees to name but a few.
Two other shops followed in the row just beyond access between the two terraces. The first was the butchers shop. Sawdust on the floor and a selection of large knives and saws behind the counter with its butchers slabs. Rows of rabbits hung in the window. Tripe, kidneys, liver and other offal all formed part of a display of meat quite uncommon in earlier austerity years. Next door was Ede’s the green grocer. They supplied all the seasonal fruit and vegetables we needed, as well as my supply of orange boxes at 3d to 6d a time that provided wood for all sorts of boyhood constructions that my imagination could conjure up.
Behind our house, next to the coal yard, two other shops plied their wares, a small general store adjacent to a fish and chip shop. The latter was strictly seasonal and opened only during the months that old potatoes were available. Next to the chip shop a small alleyway between houses led to Windborough Road. This was not a public right of way and was chained closed once a year to confirm this. The alleyway was well used but has now disappeared, along with the shops and the coal yard. From my bedroom window I could look between the buildings and with my little brass telescope I could read the clock on the control tower at Croydon Airport.
Returning to the front of the house, there were more shops further up Stanley road near Cranfield Road West, one of which was a small drapers on the opposite side of the road, set well back with its neighbour. Another ‘corner shop’ was lower down the hill at the junction of Stanhope road. Opposite the upper junction of Stanhope road stood Cooper’s a large brown general store that sold grain etc. from hoppers in front of the counter. I recall the wooden floor, rows of different sized brown paper bags ready to dispense from the large scales, with their large set of weights. The building was on a corner, curved at the doorway.
The area was a strange mixture of houses; non-local authority terraces and semis, as well as the younger council houses that made up the eastern middle of Stanley road and Stanhope road. These contrasted with buildings such as Cooper’s that were clearly much older. Our home, for example, was opposite a large old house with very wide frontage under a canopy of trees. It had a shallow U shaped drive with stone pillars at each entrance. I think its name was Stanley House, although locally it was simply known as ‘Oscars’. It had a large abandoned apple orchard at the back which invited ‘scrumping’ at the appropriate time of year. ‘Oscars’ was between the main row of shops and a very tall but tired, imposing Victorian terraced houses. They were two or three storeys high, with cellars I think. Front doors were approached up a large flight of stone door steps. At the other end of this terrace stood a large Victorian building, fairly dilapidated, that had once, the old locals said, been a substantial hotel built for those following sporting pursuits. The rooms were now used as flats. The front doors to the Phoenix, as it was known were firmly shut and access was at the rear, where there were large metal fire escapes. The main hallway and staircase to each floor was dingy and heavy with the smell of cooking. At the rear of the Phoenix was a large children’s playground with a good selection of the standard equipment local authorities provided at the time on a hard tarmac surface. A tall slide, roundabout, a long multi seat swing that you could stand up on each end and work up until nearly horizontal (exiting certainly, dangerous – very probably) and a long way from what would be acceptable today. All this and two other sets of swings, all unsupervised!
Between the Phoenix and the playground lay the wide, shallow sloping entrance to an air raid shelter which turned 90 degrees to the west and ran behind the playground. An emergency exit was provided by way of a steel ladder covered by a manhole in the grounds of the Pannett & Neaden’s ( I can’t vouch for the spelling) dried herb factory that fronted the foot path that ran between Coopers and the top of Fir Tree Grove, abutting the allotments that now grow lavender. The aroma that came from this little factory was amazing. The smell of drying mint and sage was heady and pleasant and spread all over the neighbourhood.
There was a large courtyard between Coopers and the Phoenix that gave access to the playground and the footpath to Fir Tree grove. At the rear was a wall with a small building behind. This was used in the post war period as a dispensing clinic, where mothers could collect jars of the most horrid concentrated orange liquid supplement, cod liver oil and malt extract for their children’s well being! I didn’t mind the cod liver oil that much; the malt was something of a treat but that orange!
The shops I have mentioned met most of our daily shopping needs. Milk was delivered by an immaculately turned out horse and milk float of United Dairies. Bread from the Co-op bakery was in a less shining example of a van with fading livery. It may even have been electric.
One luxury, which I think was too expensive for us to enjoy, was a regular delivery by the Corona lorry. This carried vast quantities of large glass, metal secured china-stoppered fizzy pop; Lemonade, Limeade, Orangeade, Cream Soda, Dandelion and Burdock, Cherryade, Sarsaparilla etc. Walls ice-cream was also delivered regularly for a weekend treat, Wafers, Cornets and Neapolitan bricks.
Recycling in many forms was quite the norm too. Old newspapers were used to wrap ashes from hearths and collected for potash. Food scraps went to the bin of ‘The Pig Man’ who called weekly to collect organic waste to feed the pigs at the Woodcote small-holdings. Bottles too; empty milk bottles were meticulously collected by the milkman and most beer and pop bottles had deposits levied to ensure their return.
Further down the road in Stanley Park Road, only a few minutes’ walk away, we had another array of shops. A large general store on the corner of Stanley Road, two telephone boxes with their buttons A & B and un-vandalised telephone directories, an Off-Licence run by Fuller, Smith & Turner, the Post Office, Chemist, Johnson’s the Iron Mongers, a drapers, another butchers, bakers and Sabin’s newsagents where you could buy penny lollies from the freezer with a watery chocolate or spearmint flavour. The Gem, another sweetshop and newsagent where, in the summer you could buy frozen pyramid shaped cartons of ‘Jubbly’ orange juice. A fine wet fish mongers, Payne’s, with toys in one window and bicycles in the other, rounded it all off nicely. Just as well because public transport to and from this sub village of Carshalton on the Hill was non-existent.
Where we lived was a good mile or more from Carshalton Beeches railway station and about half a mile from Boundary Corner where the 654 Trolleybus service ran (slightly longer to get a less frequent service towards Kingston on the 213 at the junction of Stanley Park Road and Staplehurst Road).Other services meant a longer walk to Carshalton High Street or Wallington. Having said this it never was an issue, walking was the order of the day then for all of us.
The nearest cinema was the Odeon in Wallington, where I was taken to see films like The Dambusters, Titfield Thunderbolt and the Man from Laramie. The Odeon, at the corner of Ross Parade is now a pub, a long throw from when my paternal grandfather helped build the original cinema. Other delights awaited a small boy in Croydon, where you could visit a rather good zoo, complete with chimps at Kennard’s Arcade. Croydon Airport was just a bike ride away and many hours were spent looking over the gate at Mollison Drive watching the bi-plane Tiger Moths on training flights. Some learner pilots did very passable impressions of kangaroos on landing, bouncing high into the air several times before coming to an embarrassed stop. Some civil commercial services still operated such as Morton’s flights with four engine De Havilland Herons to Jersey and Rollason’s manufacturing business making their small single seat Turbulent with Volkswagen car engine. The biggest aircraft that regularly used Croydon were ex WW2 Douglas Dakotas. One would roar over our house in the early hours most nights, taking newspapers to Paris. All this disappeared, along with the Trolleybuses, steam goods trains, gas street lights and very importantly to me, The Oaks mansion in Oaks Park.
I seem to have left out so much; a myriad of days exploring the local country side. Wet days pouring over copies of Eagle, RAF Flying Review and Practical Wireless. School days, Cubs and Scouts meetings at Holmwood Hall (10th Wallington) and happy memories of 350 Squadron ATC at Beddington. Local fetes and at Queen Marys, the Carshalton Parade which started at the hospital and passed our front garden gate, the sounds of home during those years. The one o’clock hooter at Queen Mary’s hospital and the school bell ringing from the tower at Stanley Park Juniors, summoning us back for the afternoon. Old radio shows, early television and happy holidays. Real carol singers at Christmas. Bob a Job weeks, London’s bomb damage that lasted for years, fishing in Carshalton ponds, collecting conkers in the park and best of all, as a small boy, a Christmas trip to the Gamages store in Holborn to see the model railway layout and Father Christmas.
Recollections of Oaks Park and the Mansion
view I had of the tall oak trees was from a pram. Legend has it in my
family that I started crying when my mother took me for a walk to the
Oaks Park. Coming into the shade after the first part of our sunny
outing, the sight of mighty tree-trunks and branches meeting thickly
above our heads startled me. However, as I grew older, I happily went
for walks to the Park with family, friends or visiting aunts and
County Grammar School for Girls
I took the photo on the right in 1952 (I think) of my three friends sitting on one of the shelters in the school grounds. They are Pam, Pat and Moreen.
I lived at number 68 Windborough Road from
1956-1961 then moved to Stevenage. We lived next door to Dr. and Mrs. Eichwald who had grand-children who were actors Kika, Petra and Paul
Markham. I fondly remember the Gem shop and Jubilees, also the "wreck"
park. We lived with my parents and grandparents. As a treat on a
Saturday we would go to the small-holdings to see the animals. My
grandparents were Winnie and Wally Blakey and they had a son Tony as
well as my dad John. I would love to hear from anyone who remembered my
dear grandparents. Oh, and my dad told us he took Cliff Richard to
school on the back of his bike!
The following memories of local transport in the area were offered at an exhibition held at Honeywood in the summer of 2006. We thank those who wrote for the time they took to do so, and for the fascinating reminiscences they have provided. Photos Sutton Local Studies Collection: click on them to see the larger images.
A trip on the tram towards Croydon from Carshalton in about 1929
I was very excited that my baby sister and I were about to go for a ride on a tram! My parents both enjoyed travelling about as much as they could in those days, but when my father was at work mother really enjoyed taking us to places at every opportunity.
We must have walked from our house in Camden Road to Ruskin Road to catch the tram to Croydon. I was too excited about the journey to recall any detail such as tickets, the driver or the conductor but I think we went to sit upstairs so that I could have a good view as we rode along towards Croydon. I seem to recall that the seats upstairs were wooden and that one could tip the back-rest to face whichever way the tram was travelling (as they do in Blackpool still).
The motion of the tram was very unpleasant to me, and as we progressed I felt more and more ill as we had to stop and start fairly frequently for passengers to get on and off. (In later years using other modes of transport, I now know this feeling to be akin to sea-sickness, but being so young and inexperienced of boat travel I was unaware of the reason then.)
The excitement quickly wore off, so that my mother must have realised that something was wrong as I got quieter and quieter till she noticed that I was looking decidedly ill. We hastily left the tram near Croydon Airport. The journey home is a complete mystery to me. I have no recollection of it.
Later, when trolleybuses replaced the trams on this route, I went for a ride on one. Sadly I felt ill on that too. Trolleybuses would glide along and be too smooth. I hated the feeling. Many years later, when travelling in Italy, I discovered that going for a ride on a single decker bus, which was really a ‘boneshaker’, was my most enjoyable bus journey, because it didn’t glide, it wasn’t smooth and it shook me about as it bounced along!
Michael Barbour writes:
Because they were electric powered the trolleybuses were very quiet. They could get up to quite a good speed and I remember one really fast ride along the side of Figgs Marsh. In traffic, however, where they had to stop and start a lot they could be very jerky, a bit like Croydon Tramlink!
Peter Beddoe writes:
In 1956 my mother and I came over from Epsom to Sutton on the train. We then walked down Sutton High Street past the Gaumont cinema until we reached Benhill Avenue. We then walked along this road until we came to the trolleybus garage. I remember that we asked one of the mechanics in the garage whether we could go round the garage and he took us for a free conducted tour so I could take all the numbers of the trolleys in the depot. I seem to remember that there were long pits which the trolleys were parked over for inspection. We then went for a short trip on a trolleybus.
Although this is not directly related to Sutton I did go for a ride on one of the last trolleybuses on May 8th 1962. I broke my journey up to London to college at Raynes Park and caught the 604/605 to Wimbledon. Unlike the Sutton trolleys the ride was very smooth. All you felt/heard was the pneumatic air working the brakes.
Dawn Donkin writes:
From 1955 until 1959 my sister and I travelled on the trolleybus from Putney to Hammersmith (626) to attend school. I was seven years old and she was 5 years old in 1955. Mum usually did the journey to school with us for the first few years but we came back on our own.
We took great delight in standing on the corner of Hammersmith Broadway to wait for the trolleybus to slow down so that we could leap on board! – unthinkable now. They were always delayed because the trolleys came off the wires or needed to be moved so that the trolleybuses could pass one another.
(Interestingly, it would then have been possible to travel from Sutton to Hammersmith by trolleybus with just one change of trolleybus – from the 654 to the 630 at West Croydon – ed.)
I was born in July 1950 on the ‘Smallholdings’ otherwise known as ‘Telegraph track’ in Carshalton, and our family never had a car, so journeys were always made by public transport, notably trolleybus 654, boarding at the ‘Boundary Corner’ stop. Occasional journeys to Purley (maybe to see the newly released Norman Wisdom films) would be by bus route 234 (RT operated) or 234A (RF) from the Woodcote green stop, opposite what is now Wallington High School for Girls.
I was not quite nine years old when the trolleybuses finished, but I have many memories of journeys on them because, on a regular basis, we travelled on Saturday afternoons into Croydon for shopping, perhaps including Surrey Street Market and on Sunday mornings to the former George Street Congregational Church, which was subsequently demolished. We would alight at Reeves Corner and on return we would board at the stop shared with the 630 trolleybus route, which ran to ‘Near Willesden Junction’. I also recall occasional Saturday morning journeys with my older brother into Sutton for the Saturday morning pictures at the Granada. Oh happy days!!
There was one conductor who always called out “any more fairies” and I was told in later years by Johnny Gardner (then a bus driver at Sutton Garage and who had been the last person to be trained as a trolleybus driver at Carshalton) that he also used to call out “Sutton Gripes”. When someone corrected him – “The Grapes” – he retorted, “Well, have you tasted the beer?!!”.
On the day of the London closure, 8th May 1962, I was still at Carshalton County Secondary School (as I think it was then known) and I made my last journey on a London Trolleybus in service in the capital on either a 604 or 605 from Wimbledon to Raynes Park. With my brother I had taken part in a tour of much of the remaining London system a year or two previously.
My interest in trolleybuses has continued throughout my life and I visited as many provincial systems as I could before the final demise of trolleybuses in Britain in Bradford in 1972, I toured both the Reading and Bournemouth systems when preserved London trolleybus 260 operated under the wires in those towns. My first closure was the joint Manchester/Ashton systems on New Year’s Eve 1966/67 and I left school a couple of days before the end of term in 1968 to witness the end of trolleybus operation in Huddersfield. I also visited Maidstone, Derby, Walsall, Tees side and Cardiff.
In more recent years I have ventured abroad to see modern trolleybuses operating in many countries, including the Czech Republic, Greece, Hungary, Poland and Portugal.
I am a regular visitor at places in this country where preserved trolleybuses continue to operate – Sandtoft, near Doncaster; the Black Country Museum. near Dudley and the East Anglia Transport Museum at Carlton Colville, near Lowestoft. Indeed over the weekend of 10/11 September 2006 I was at Carlton Colville to witness the operation of preserved London trolleybus 1253 from the London Transport Museum collection, which was on short-term loan not having operated under power for some 40 or more years and unlikely to do so again.
My email address is appropriately Trolleybus654@aol.com.
MY EARLY YEARS IN CARSHALTON
My brother Alan and I lived at 5, Park Close, The Park Carshalton from our births to our early twenties. I was born in 1936 at the War Memorial Hospital, just around the corner from Park Close. My mother had been taken in to the hospital suffering with Scarlet Fever, and it was there that I was duly delivered. Our family had cause to use this hospital on several occasions, what with growing up accidents and to having my tonsils removed etc. My father Arthur Headech was a Handicraft Master and at this time he was teaching Woodwork and Metalwork at Carshalton West County Secondary School. My mother Rose did not go out to work although she was a trained hairdresser she stayed at home as was the case in those days to run the home and look after the family. Our home being a newly built house when my parents moved in just after they married and the first few years must have been hard for them to earn enough to pay for things for their new home in 1935 and starting a family.
Our stay at the house was short lived due to Hitler and the Second World War. In September 1940 when I had just had my fourth birthday an enemy aircraft on its way back from a raid over London and who had not dropped his last bomb decided that our front garden was a good place to jettison it. It made a twenty foot crater and blew our house and the one attached away with only part of the kitchen and back wall standing. I remember it as clearly now as I did then. We had settled down on the floor for the night in a small room downstairs with sand bags against the windows. The ‘all clear’ siren had gone and my Grandmother and baby brother went back to bed in another room. I remember a piercing whistling sound and then a blue zig-zag flash and we were all blasted into momentary unconsciousness. I heard my father calling in the darkness as I was dug out of the rubble with a few cuts and bruises. My baby brother was found lying under a ceiling that had come down with only a cut tongue. My father appeared to be unscathed, but my mother spent some time in hospital, she suffered from epileptic fits for the rest of her life due to the shock of the bombing. My grandmother did not survive. They found her the next morning among the rubble. Ironically she had come to stay with us from Ramsgate because my father thought it would be safer in Carshalton than her own home.
Just before the beginning of the war I was attending St Hilda’s School on the corner of Salisbury Road and Carshalton Park Road. My father would take me there on his way to work. After the bomb and our home destroyed I was taken by my uncle to live in the Lake District. I stayed there nearly four years. Meanwhile my father rented a house at 17 The Park for the rest of the war until our original house could be rebuilt. During a lull in the war I returned home for six months and went to Stanley Park Road School, but had to be taken back to the north because the flying bombs (doddle bugs) had started coming over. We were able to watch them flying over Croydon towards London from our front porch. The engines would cut out and Dad would say ‘some poor soul is getting it today’. After the war my brother and I went back to Stanley Park Road School. Later it was decided that I should attend St Philomena’s Convent School in Carshalton, where I liked wearing the brown blazer and the Panama hat, it was a lovely school with wonderful grounds and the lake to walk around at lunch time. The sisters were very kind and it was one of the sisters that taught me to sew, which stood me in good stead as I became a dressmaker later on. I also learned to play hockey there, but did not get as far as taking up lacrosse, because my father decided when I reached my teens that I should attend Collingwood Girls School in Wallington. My brother was already at the Collingwood Boys School in Springfield Road by this time. He left the school after the 11 plus to go to Purley Grammer School.
During my time at Collingwood I had a good friend Carol Brunker who lived in a house at Boundary Corner, we sat together in class. Her mother was a nurse and it was Carol’s ambition to follow in her mothers footsteps. I often wonder if she did and where she is now. After I left Collingwood when I was fifteen I went to the Epsom College of Arts and Crafts as I was showing some potential in my sewing and painting. I spent two years there and left with a City and Guilds certificate in Dressmaking. I then went up to London and worked for a court dressmaker in Bond Street travelling up to the West End every day from Carshalton Beeches Station.
After the war finished, a Neighbours Association was started in Carshalton. One of their activities was to produce a show in which all local children would perform at Christmas time. It was held in the Ruskin Church Hall, on the corner of Ruskin road and The Park road. I remember appearing as a toy gollywog in one show and a fairy in another. My mother took me to Wallington for a time to Hillcrest House Dance School to learn tap dancing and ballet. Later in my teens I learnt to Ballroom dance and it was there that I met my first husband. He was a keen motor cyclist as were my father and brother. Consequently I eventually obtained a motorbike of my own. A 250cc Phelon & More Panther, I spent many happy hours on it. Mother used to say she always knew who was coming up the road by the sound of the different motorbikes. During our school holidays or weekends Dad would suggest a walk to the Oaks Park while my mother had a rest in the afternoon. I remember the old mansion house with the windows all boarded up with corrugated iron. It did not keep the youngsters out as I heard from someone later that a few of them had removed an old bath and had gone sailing down the main staircase in it. I remember the smallholding houses that over looked the Oaks Park. When Dad eventually acquired a small car we used to have rides out to Box Hill, Leith Hill, Friday Street, and Abinger Hammer where you could enjoy a water cress afternoon tea.
In my early teens I learned to swim in Ramsgate when on holiday, and at home I would catch the bus and go the baths in Sutton. Also I took up ice skating and enjoyed many an evening at Streatham Ice Rink riding over from Carshalton on my motorbike. Looking back my brother and I had quite a packed childhood and teenage time with the various activities we were involved in. My brother on leaving school took up an apprenticeship with British Rail, and served his time near Southampton at the Eastleigh Locomotive works. He has worked for British Rail all his life and is now of course retired. My father went on to teach at the Wimbledon Technical College, and then in his final years at Pelham High School as Head of the Craft Department.
My brother and I are now living in Cumbria and we came down to Carshalton four years ago to walk down memory lane, we stayed in Sutton and took the train to Carshalton Beeches station and walked to our old house, then down through the Park to the High Street. Walked around the ponds and ended up at the Honeywood Museum. We were very impressed with the museum. Also the Library which had been altered inside from what I remember. A few weeks ago we paid a return visit and looked at Wallington, Collingwood Girls School had gone, but the Collingwood Boys School that Alan went to was just as it was all those years ago. We were invited inside to look around, the caretaker found some old school photographs which had my brother on. He was absolutely delighted. We walked from there back to Carshalton through the Park and we thought the ‘hogs pit’ was very untidy, could it not be made into a small lake, I suppose it will be ‘health and safety’ reasons again. Also the parade of shops opposite the park entrance I thought looked very shabby. It all wanted a coat of paint and tiding up. We noticed that the Honeywood Museum was closed and were pleased to hear that it reopens next spring after restoration.
We are hoping to come down again next year. How we both came to live in Cumbria is another story.
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