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Memories

Do you have memories of life in 20th century Beddington, Carshalton, Carshalton Beeches, Cheam, Hackbridge, North Cheam, St. Helier, Sutton or Wallington that you would be happy to remember with us?
Send us an email by clicking
HERE to share your reminiscences of life in the borough in the 1900s.
Old photographs you would be happy for us to show would be very welcome.

Carshalton | Carshalton High Street | Carshalton and Sutton | Carshalton on the Hill | Coronation Day, Morden | Early years in Carshalton
Oaks Park | Stanley Road | Travel | Wallington County Grammar School for Girls | Windborough Road

A FEW MEMORIES OF 1928 – 1939
Gwyneth Warnes (28th March 2014)

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 as a young lad

Alan Hare writes (28th January 2013)

Memories Of Carshalton High Street

Westcroft House
billiard room

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.

Traditional Express Dairy
horse and cart

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!

Carshalton High Street 1969

I also recall having a friend who lived in one of a group of tiny houses in Church Hill, next to
All Saints church. They did not have electricity so they had to go to the local garage and charge
the "accumulator" for their radio.

Ellis Blacksmiths

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?


All pictures are Copyright © Alan Hare


Helene Anderson writes (27th August 2012)

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.

Milk was delivered by Express Dairy, the milkman's name was Morris (or Maurice). I remember the depot in Shorts Road. It wasn't very big. Next it was Unigate that delivered our milk, Dennis was the name of one of the Milkman (one did the weekdays, another did Sundays).

West Street Lane, Carshalton

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.

Mrs Davy was the secretary at the infants’ school. Mrs Newell was the secretary at the junior school.

The internet is wonderful. For years I have remembered Cuisenaire being used at school (infants) to help us count. Now I find they are actually called Cuisenaire Rods. Each rod was a different colour according to length in cm. White 1, Red 2, Light Green 3, Lavender 4, Yellow 5, Dark Green 6, Black 7, Brown 8, Blue 9, Orange 10.

A natural progress after that was to St Mary's Junior School, Shorts Road. When I was in the borough only a few weeks ago I was amazed to find the same crossing lady is still there from the 1960s! In the junior school there were two classes for each year, Junior 1 and Junior 2 occupied the older buildings and Junior 3 and Junior 4 were in the more modern buildings. For class 3 it was some sort of prefabricated building, quite big, and airy. For class 4 a smaller structure made of wood. In the summer on nice days for the lunchtime break we would be taken to the field by the infants’ school. The lunchtime break started at 12h00. There were three sittings – at 12h00, 12h30 and 13h00. I think the worse memory of school is the school milk, in the bottles of one third of a pint I think. Left out in the sun ready for us to have at the 10h30 break or 'playtime'. Oh, and school dinners . . . . .

High Street, Sutton

Sutton High Street looking north

Sutton Arcade

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 few years.

Another regular 'pram' trip was to get the orange juice. I think this was at a building in Festival Walk, just off West Street. Plus the clinic in Rochester Road, Carshalton.

A favourite past time in the summer was going to feed the ducks at The Grove, goodness, how many children must have done that through the years. There was a shop in North Street, just by the road that leads to Carshalton station. A sweet shop then that I believe had a hatch, a small glass serving hole where you could by your ice creams and lollies without going into the shop.

The Grove House, Carshalton

The Grove, Carshalton

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.

I now look back trips to Carshalton library with great happiness, in the autumn it was best. Such a small library and now I think of it a cosy. Oddly don't have many memories of it in the summer but the autumn, falling leaves, dark evenings, brilliant. The borough has done well with libraries, later went to Sutton library (even went to evening classes run by SCOLA!) and then later I often went to Wallington library. For the evening classes, well, the first thing that attracted me was the chance to learn German, which I did. Three years of evening classes for that. Later I learnt French at evening classes at Sutton Manor and at Wallington Girls High Schools.

Most of my memories seem to be based around the autumn, the winter and when people ask me about London here I always say they must see London in the rain, it is special.  Another autumn memory is the 5th November. I think initially we used to have a few fireworks at home but then later we started going to the display at Carshalton Park. Friend of our parents came down from the Isle of Dogs (E14) for the day. The displays were brilliant and with hot dogs and such trimmings it was a great evening out.

Coach & Horses, Carshalton

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.

Sutton Station

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 portion.

We had some good holidays. One big adventure was going to Guernsey. Getting a lift to Waterloo, then by train to Weymouth Quay and the boat to Guernsey. Three hour train journey finish with the train travelling along the roads in Weymouth.

I had my first trip abroad courtesy of the London Borough of Sutton, an exchange trip to Minden in (then) West Germany.

Our (paternal) Grandfather was very much a local man with an interest in the area. He was one of those responsible for the reforming of Carshalton Athletic FC after the First World War. Part of his obituary reads;

HELPED RE-FORM THE “ROBINS”

Then there was the reformation of Carshalton Athletic Football Club as a senior team.
This proved a long and costly process and occupied the whole of the period between the two world wars,
the second of which almost defeated local footballers of this cherished ambition.
Mr. ***** was treasurer throughout the whole of the period
and was one of those who put quite a lot of money as well as of effort into the project

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.

Dad played cricket for Surrey Grove Cricket Club, based in Poulter Park. Summer Sunday afternoons spent watching cricket, the occasional away match. I remember the pavilion there, tea at half time (does one have half time in cricket?). The smell of tobacco lingers in my mind, a certain type of tobacco, pipe tobacco? Only a couple of days ago I passed someone smoking and the smell hit me, it was the same as at cricket that many years ago. Just for a few seconds I was back in Poulter Park with Mum, Dad and my sister for a cricket match, 1967 all over again.

I think I remember the overhead cables for the trolleybuses in Westmead Road (though not sure), but not the trolley buses. I wonder if the cables were left for a short while after the trolleybuses were withdrawn?

Throwley Way, Sutton

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 time 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".

Often went to the Granada cinema to see films, Mum would take us to see the latest Disney film - though I think mum was a bit disappointed when Jungle Book came out (1967) it was shown at the Curzon in Cheam Road, the Granada was a better cinema. I have been a fan of George Sanders (Shere Khan) ever since though. I think by then the Curzon had been turned into a cinema with three screens (Studio 1 2 3). The exception being 'Lawrence of Arabia' – the Odeon Leicester Square for that one when it was released.

Coopers on Wrythe Green, gosh, everyone (most?) must remember Coopers, the brothers and the two big dogs there. Not far from Coopers along Wrythe Lane was the gasometer where Mr Plumpton had his scrap yard. Now on the site is Plumpton Way.

Sutton Civic Centre

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 closed though.

I learnt to swim at Sutton baths, it was freezing! ! ! ! There was a woman there on Sunday mornings (who I would say was an old woman, but when one is only about six or seven even someone of thirty might seem to be getting on so perhaps she wasn't so old, just older than me) who helped children learn to swim.  Epsom baths was better, then they built Morden bath, that was smart. Fish and chips on the way home on a Saturday if we went swimming, the fish and chip shop in Westmead Road, Gildos it was called. Italians. I couldn't see over the counter, fish and chip shops always seem to have high counters. One of the mysteries of childhood was 'what on earth happens the other side of the fish and chip shop counter?'. I would stand next to Dad as he bought four portions of chips and whatever, Dad always had Cod Roe. Mum and my sister plaice (or perhaps cod) and me Rock. The woman in the shop called every one Mike, I'm sure if Queen Victoria had walked in for a Saveloy and chips with a wally she also would been called 'Mike'. The sad part is that when one grows up and is able to see over the counter one is perhaps a little disappointed. There is no sudden revelation though, one doesn't grow 30 centimetres in a week and is suddenly able to see over the counter, one grows slowly, sees the other side bit by bit.

Someone told me there are no fresh fish shops in the borough now. Nicholson's in Manor Road Wallington having closed. I remember there being fish shops at the bottom (northern end) of High Street, Sutton, I think at the northern end of King William Street, Carshalton (or Green Wrythe Lane). Wrythe Lane, in the parade of shops between the hospital and the roundabout at Rose Hill. Now I suppose people just buy their fish at the supermarket but I for one thoroughly enjoyed gong to Nicholson's in Manor Road. I was spoilt in a way. Later I lived in Wallington and had around the corner Nicholson's and a fish and chip shop on Manor Road.

One year (in the seventies) I helped do the scenery for the local pantomime at the Charles Cryer Theatre. It was built at Oaks Park, in a building there. The guy in charge of the scenery was called Eddie, I think he worked doing the scenery for an opera.

Westcroft Leisure Centre, Carshalton

The first supermarket that I remember was in Carshalton, Victor Value, later bought out by Tescos I believe.

Our dentist was a Mr Healy in Banstead Road, just by the parade of shops there. I think the house is still used as a dental surgery. The fun part of that was the toy shop just a couple of doors a long; well, we'd have to stop and look at least.  Our doctor was in Colston Avenue and I have this odd memory that each time we saw him he had a radically different hair style.

Places I went to later on . . .  in Grove Road, there was a restaurant that did hamburgers, probably it was where Orme Road is now. Have an idea it was called the 'Crazy H'. Most time was spent outside the borough though, The Kingston Mill and then Pizza Express in Kingston being an easy going convivial night out.

I left Sutton in the late 80s but by 1991 was back, ended up in Wallington. Work wise had nothing to do with Sutton, I was with the Surrey Ambulance Service in the 1980s. Later I was with the London Ambulance Service, working at Waterloo.

All pictures are Copyright
© Helene Anderson


Jean and Wally Bell write from Bribie Island, Queensland Australia (26th June 2012)

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.

We remember one family, George and Jessie Henigan, further up Stanley Road, actually came out to Sydney the year before we left Carshalton. There also used to be a man called Dudley who came in the shop regularly. He had been brain injured as a child but was really good at shopping. Funny how once you start reminiscing it stirs up the brain cells and names start flowing!

Contact the Bells by clicking HERE


 Chrissy Murray writes (8th June 2012):

LONG TO REIGN OVER US... CORONATION DAY, MORDEN, 2nd JUNE 1953

These 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.

The treat was laid on for local children (living in Arras, Rose, Ravensbury and Victory Avenues, Morden) to celebrate the crowning of Queen Elizabeth II. (At this point in the 1950s only one house in Ravensbury Avenue, no 18, actually owned a TV set on which to watch the actual event.)

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.

The winning prize was deservedly carried off by little Michael (front row), aged two, cutting a dash in the persona of fleet-footed, cup-winning football hero of the day, Stanley Matthews. Chrissie and Michael are pictured right.

Michael’s replica ‘silver trophy cup’ had been made, brilliantly, by Michael's dad, Dennis, an employee at Merton Abbey firm Corfield & Buckle, and resident of Ravensbury Avenue, from a scrapped aluminium casting that had been destined for service as an artificial limb.

As you can see from the ear-to-ear grins, everyone had a memorable day, not to mention copious amounts of cake, jelly and ginger beer. Where are they all now?


This particular trip down Memory Lane is submitted by Chrissie Murray, the ‘Dolly in a Box’, front row

Text and photographs © Chrissie Murray 2012
chrissiemurray@hotmail.com


John Parkin writes (16th July 2008):

CARSHALTON AND LOCAL MEMORIES

My early years

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.

The School Years

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. 

The Scouting Years

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!!

The Transport Interest

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.

And then 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 throughout Britain.

John's memories of local transport in Carshalton may be found
BELOW - he may be contacted by email by clicking HERE

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Paul Williams writes (12th July 2008):

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.

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Wendy Henningsson writes:

Recollections of Oaks Park and the Mansion

The first 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 cousins.

Our way led downhill as far as the farm belonging to the Oaks Mansion. Opposite the farmhouse with its imitation Tudor timbered gable, there was a brick wall surrounding the vegetable garden. The wooden door in this tall brick wall was always locked. I wondered every time I passed it, what it might look like inside that garden and imagined it well-kept, well-laid out and full of exciting things. There had to be something special in there, I thought, as it was so secret.

Only many years later, after the end of WWII when the farmhouse stood empty, did it become possible to view inside the garden. Now dilapidation and decay had set in, the door had been wrenched open, it was hanging on its hinges and spreading away in front of me was – nothing. Grass-covered mounds where seed-beds had lain, weeds, nettles and brambles had taken over. On the outside of one part of the garden wall was a track leading towards Belmont; its surface was covered with black charred rubble, looking a little like coal dust; this came from the iron furnaces when Surrey’s trees were used for fuel long ago. After passing the dip in the road on a level with the farmhouse, the road then led uphill and eventually we came to a gate leading into the Park. The gate-house, or lodge was lived in for many years by a family called Gilbert. After 1945 they started selling ice-creams from the front window of the bungalow; this was my first acquaintance with “Walls ices”.

After entering by the open gate, we walked along a curved drive; on the left were smooth lawns and a handsome cedar tree also a series of flower beds on raised stone platforms with a wall at the back and in one part was an artificial stone “grotto”, with imitation stalagmites and a small cave that I could step down into. In front of the grotto there was a round goldfish pond, but this was boarded over during the war period and I used to look at it and long for the time when there would be fish in it again. We sometimes had a picnic in this area.

Following the drive towards the Mansion itself you could see high laurel hedges on the one side, these hid the outhouses from view. The outhouses contained servants’ quarters and bakery. They were used as dwellings for refugee children who came to England during the civil war in Spain in 1936. Three teachers, the “Senoritas” lived with them and a committee of local people assisted with organization and planning fund-raising efforts to support them. They held displays of Basque folk-dancing amongst other events.

The Mansion was not occupied at that time; the windows were boarded up and a brick wall built outside each window, behind which it was just possible to squeeze – an ideal hiding place when we played hide-and-seek. Shortly before the whole building was demolished, I had the opportunity to look inside and remember only the round ballroom, it was beautiful with an inlaid tiled floor which looked like marble. The ceiling was painted in soft colours, but of course it was all dusty and neglected having been out of use for so many years.

The exterior of the building was red brick and with its turrets and towers looked to be an ideal setting for drama  and romance in the lives of  “lords and ladies”.

The wide lawns on the north and east side of the building were always well looked after, even in wartime. In one corner was a dead oak tree which just asked to be climbed – an easy stretch up to the first level where you could stand, and then several thick branches pointing north east, south and west. It  looked so easy. I surveyed it many a time, but courage failed. Beyond the tree there was more woodland and then an unmade-up track leading northwards to yet another gate.

On the other side of this tree-lined drive were large meadows where cowslips grew. One day when I went to look for these yellow flowers with my sister I was surprised to see bomb craters, huge mounds of white chalk had been thrown up in circles round the craters in the middle of these grassy green meadows.

Oaks Park inspired mixed feelings; on the one hand the whole layout of the park and its aspect were beautiful; there was a wonderful feeling of freedom to be able to run across the wide green lawns with the trees surrounding them. The clear fresh air of the North Downs and the quietness of the Park made it a delightful place to visit. However, because the Mansion stood empty and the out-buildings became neglected after the Basque refugees had moved away, there was also a sad and haunted atmosphere about the place. It seemed to me even more sad when I heard that the building was to be demolished – the whole character of the place was about to be changed for ever.

Wallington County Grammar School for Girls

The aerial view of the Wallington County Grammar School for girls shows the building and surroundings as my sister Marian must have seen it when she started there in 1937. At that time there were not many trees or bushes round the school grounds. When the Second World War approached, shelters were dug in the area between the small plots meant for growing vegetables and the upper playing field. The hockey field on the right of the photograph sloped even in those days – which meant hard work for the team whose goal was at the top end of the field. When Marion reached sixth form level and specialized in science subjects she had to go to the Boys’ County Grammar school elsewhere in Wallington for laboratory work. In this way her circle of friends increased and from time to time a handsome young man would appear on our doorstep ready to take her out. Mickey, Julian, David – as little sister I was very curious about these admirers.

The final examination at school was called Matriculation in those days and getting good results Marian started work straight away in a research laboratory in Croydon when she left school in 1943. Four years later and it was my turn to enter the same school. But not through the stately entrance shown in the middle of the long side of the building, pupils had to enter through the basement door which faced the hockey field. I was very proud going to school on my first day, wearing the school uniform, which was a cream coloured blouse and navy blue skirt, the tie in green and gold and blazer with a woven badge on the pocket. I had coveted the black felt hat with a brim which had belonged to my sister and at last I was allowed to wear it. Only to find that most of the other new girls were wearing navy blue berets.

I also ‘inherited’ many teachers who had taught my sister too. She had learned history with Miss Timothy, biology with Miss Moorhouse, German with Miss Theakestone and of course done gymnastics with Miss Eager. I attended the school for seven years, leaving there in 1954; it was a good school with a well-functioning building. But when it was first opened, nobody foresaw that the staff would one day all be arriving in their own cars – a car park for them would have taken a large corner off the hockey field. However I was sorry when I heard that the school had moved to new premises. 

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.

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Kay Grimwood writes:

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!

Click HERE if you are able to expand on Kay's memories for her.


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.

Audrey writes:`

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.)

John Parkin writes:

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.

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Shirley L. Thornhill (nee Headech) writes:

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.

Click HERE if you wish to contact Shirley.

Click
HERE if you are able to expand on Shirley's memories for her.

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