If you have any short stories, and photos relating to your memories of Camberwell or surrounding areas and would like to add to this website, please email me at –

A FAMILY HOME  by Beryl Chandler

When researching family history quite suddenly you can come across something which really resonates with you and is surprising as well.My parents lived in the same little cottage in East Dulwich for over twenty-five years, having moved there just after World War Two. John, my brother, was born there. It was the home we grew up in.

The back bedroom window overlooked our small back yard, and slightly lower were the back gardens of the houses in Colwell Road. This road was a few yards down the main road and the first turning you came to if you turned left out of our gate. The gardens we could actually see into were probably those belonging to numbers three and five.

On Christmas Day 1873 my Great, Great Grandfather’s niece, Emily Noble, married Francis Paul, a Shoe Maker. The wedding took place at St. John’s Church, Walworth. The couple began their married life in Reynolds Road, Peckham, moving to Oglander Road, East Dulwich, when they started their family

Their family continued to grow so they moved to number 6 Colwell Road (off of Lordship Lane), where they had a workroom and a shop where they could sell the shoes and boots that they made. Francis taught Emily his craft, which stood her in good stead after his death in 1909.

By the 1890’s three of their daughters, Frances, Maud and Annie were Dressmakers and another, Clara was a Presser and Packer. They all worked for Mr Thomas Pottle, a clothing specialist who had his own premises next door at number 4 Colwell Road, In1902 Maud married Andrew Brown and they set up home at number 2 Colwell Road, in 1903 Clara married Charles Cade and they moved into number 3 on the opposite side of the road.

Frances and Annie both married in 1906. Annie and her husband, a Mathematical Instrument Maker moved to Adys Road, but Frances married Mr Pottle so of course lived at number four. So there they all were making their livings by their crafts and they were by no means the first of the family to do so.
Tambour Lace

My Great, Great, Great Grandfather, Henry, in the 1830’s and 40’s had worked as a Silk Velvet Weaver and his wife Sarah had been a Tambour Lace Maker
Nearly a hundred years later two of their Great, Great, Granddaughters, my mother Violet and her cousin Rhoda were both superb dressmakers, Rhoda making my mother’s wedding dress from scratch after seeing it displayed in one of London’s top stores, and my mother making all her own clothes from lingerie to coats. However now, these crafts, although extremely useful were hobbies.

After 1911 the years leading up to World War I and the war years shattered the Colwell Road families, as it did many others. Thomas Pottle died on a Flanders field. However their time there is part of the rich tapestry of life in East Dulwich, and literally just a stone’s throw from the little house we grew up in.

A Family Home – copyright Beryl Chandler 2014

Kings College Hospital

ILilian James 1911

Lilian James 1911

In 2013 Kings College Hospital celebrated one hundred years on the present site.  My grandfather Ernest Noble had a cousin who had nursed there for many years.

Her name was Lilian.  My great grandfather, Henry Charles, had two sisters, the elder born in 1858 and the younger in 1863.

The family lived in Southwark, in Waterloo Road at the time of Harriet’s birth and in Church Street Lambeth by the time Alice was born.

Harriet married Joseph James in 1881 and her eldest daughter was born the same year.  Lilian was her second child, born in 1884.  Harriet and her husband went on to have five more children.

When Lilian was eleven, just a few days after her birthday, her mother died.  Within six months Lilian’s father had married his sister-in-law Alice. The Marriage Act of 1836 had made this kind of union unlawful and it would not be until the passing of the Deceased Wife’s Sister’s Act of 1907 that this would change.  It would seem that these marriages occurred quite often but the authorities did nothing about them.

Lilian’s father and stepmother/aunt went to live in Cambridgeshire and some of the first family went with them.

The Kings College School of Nursing was established in 1885 and by 1901 Lilian was doing her training.

The 1911 census shows her working at Kings College Hospital on their original site in Portugal Street.

Lilian knew that nurses were supposed not to marry although some did and kept it secret.  The nurses lived in hospital accommodation and were responsible to the Matron, not just for their standard of work, but also for their personal cleanliness and the suitability of their off duty attire, and the hours that they could keep.

Lilian nursed throughout world war one having made the move with the hospital to the Denmark Hill site.

In 1920 she decided to go to Canada to see one of her sisters who had emigrated. The records show that Lilian was a Nursing Sister and that she intended to live and work in Canada; however by 1921 she was back in England.  At the end of June that year she married.  Her husband was a widower with two young sons.  He was a Master Baker with his own company.

Lilian gave birth to two daughters during the next three years. In 1937 Lilian died leaving her husband a widower for a second time and again left with two young children.

Kings College Hospital – copyright Beryl Chandler 2014

Childhood Memories

I remember sitting on the long wooden form just like the other children, grasping my slate and chalk and trying to get on with the task in hand.  I was chewing on my knitted string cleaning cloth. I could taste the chalk dust. I was concentrating and chewing and pulling and out came one of my bottom teeth.  This was the beginning of 1946 and also the beginning of my schooling and I was a new pupil at Dulwich Infants.  I was anxious and sad.  The war was over, the father I did not really know had come home, we had moved to this place called Dulwich, away from my beloved Nanna and now I was here in this place called school with a lot of strangers.

Our new home was off of Lordship Lane.  The cottage was on the end of a row of four.  There were two rooms downstairs, a living room and a ‘best’ room.  Upstairs were two bedrooms.  No kitchen, bathroom or inside lavatory.  At least the latter was attached to the back of the building so we did not have to walk to the bottom of the garden or across a back yard. The living room was a reasonable size.  There was an under stairs alcove, the part with the lower ceiling was a cupboard with a sunken floor and the part of the alcove with the higher ceiling housed a shallow brown stone sink.  The copper boiler was built next to that.  To heat the water for washing clothes you had to build a fire under the copper.  My mother was having none of that so my father knocked the copper down and put a drainer over the space.  He had the gas board install an Ascot water heater on the wall above the drainer.  The gas stove was also in this alcove. My parents put up a full length curtain that could be pulled round the alcove to afford some privacy when washing.  The black range on the other side of the room stayed in place for rather longer but that eventually gave way to a gas fire.

Although the walk to school seemed quite long to my little legs, in the summer I enjoyed it.  We would walk along Townley Road past Alleyn’s school playing fields and round into Carlton Avenue, up the rise to the church and down the other side to the village.

That autumn my brother was born.  The small bedroom was mine so he slept in his cot in my parent’s bedroom.  There was a fire place in each bedroom, but I can only remember there being a fire in either room during someone’s illness.  There was a gas ring in the main bedroom.  My mother would take a small saucepan of water and a bottle for my brother’s feed, up to bed with her.  By the time came for his next feed the water in the pan would be solid, and my brother would be blue from the cold, literally, because he always kicked his blankets off during the night.  This was the winter of 1946/7.

No double glazed windows, no loft insulation, and in our house no electricity, the only spark we had was my father, he was an electrician!  He would put a little oil lamp under the water pipe in the outside loo to stop it from freezing.  This worked but of course it made no difference to the lavatory seat so it was our rear ends that froze.   The lamp did provide some light so there is always a bright side.  Ice on the inside of the windows; and icicles, nearly as long as my arms, hanging from the roof greeted us every morning.

School was warm because each classroom had a large coal heater in it, black like our range with huge guards round them.  After intense cold and snow and ice came the spring with high winds and floods, the melt water which came down the Lordship Lane hill stole up our long front gardens and then into the house.  Fortunately there was only enough of it to rise the few inches to come over the step and into the hall, never quite reaching the living room or front room.

At last the summer arrived.  The sun shone, the Alleyn’s boys wore their blue corn flowers on Founder’s Day and the School Army Cadets got their field guns out and oh what a racket they made.

It would soon be my seventh birthday, but my mother had to go into hospital at Charing Cross for a thyroid operation. Children were not allowed in the Surgical Wards, but Matron made it a special treat for me to visit my mother on my birthday.  Nana came to look after us whilst mummy was in hospital and away in Seaford convalescing. As my brother was so young, our Auntie Vi came over from Tooting each day to help Nana.

I was getting excited, the summer holidays would soon be here, and sometime in the new school year I would leave the Infants and enter the Dulwich Hamlet Junior School, new experiences and new horizons and independence of thought and action lay ahead, along with some success and trouble.  I would also find that the limitations of my home were not all bad and that new inventions would give us some labour saving devices.

Starting in the Junior School was quite a culture shock.  There were two entrances, one for boys and one for girls.  The classrooms looked large and the hall seemed huge.  There were two playground areas, girls and boys being segregated.  We now had desks and paper and pencils, pens and ink.  The greatest joy for me was the books; I was already an avid reader.  At home Enid Blyton, Milly Molly Mandy, Aesop’s Fables, Grimm’s Fairy Tales, The Arabian Nights were all eagerly devoured.  When reading I entered the magical world of imagination and to gain my attention my mother would throw a wet cloth at me.  Out in the playground there were seasons for the different activities, skipping and ‘Higher and Higher’ (a kind of high jump game using a skipping rope, which Health & Safety would never allow now); Five Stones and Two Balls, Tag and ‘What’s the time Mr Wolf’.

Up until this time my mother had always walked me to school, she would get provisions at the Grocers in the village and then go home.  Now she had to bring my brother in his pram and was finding the two round trips a day time consuming and tiring.  She decided that from now on I was old enough to make my way by myself.  This was such exhilarating freedom.  I could now explore the other roads that we usually passed by.  Could I still get to school if I went up Dovercourt Road?  I tried walking through the park on the way home.  These excursions made me late for school in the mornings and late home in the afternoons so I decided that I would pursue them at the weekends.

If on the way home I saw the boys playing cricket on the pitch nearest our house then I would go up stairs to my parent’s room and watch the game out of the bedroom window.  This was the beginning of a life- long love of the sport. Later as teenagers my friend and I would spend many a day during the long summer holidays at the Oval ground watching Surrey County team play.  Cricket was another thing that got me into trouble at school.  In the summer the boys often chalked wickets on the far wall of their playground and played a game of cricket during the lunch hour.  I joined in, breaking the rules segregating girls and boys and although I was told off about it I continued to transgress.  One afternoon Mademoiselle caught me and reported me and this time I was caned.

There was not enough room in the hall for us to all have our dinner there so the classes took it in turns to go ‘out to lunch’.  We would crocodile our way along to Half Moon Lane and the Pub. There was an out building rather like a barn and we would have our meal in the upstairs room.  Memory can be rather selective so whether this is entirely accurate I don’t know.

In the spring the school celebrated May Day.  We would have a May Queen with her attendants and a May Pole.  The May Queen usually arrived to the strains of the Crown Imperial march.  There would be other entertainment; I remember that one such occasion was the first time that I sang a solo in front of an audience.  On this special day our headmistress would wear a long black lace dress and put her cigarette in a holder.

Spring was also the time for the beautiful rhododendrons to bloom in the park, I always went to see them.  There was a secret place in one of the areas; if you crawled through a small gap in the bush you entered a clearing in the middle of several of the bushes.  The ground beneath was peaty and soft and the blossoms met overhead in a cathedral dome like way.  It was a quiet peaceful place to read, draw or just chew on a liquorice stick bought at the village tuck shop and day dream.

In the school holidays my friend and I would rise early and walk for miles. Sometimes around the village, I was interested in all the different styles of houses and some roads were really lovely. Eastlands Crescent with its almond trees in full bloom was one of my favourites.  If we were feeling really energetic we would walk through the village and up to Crystal Palace. Sometimes we would walk along Townley Road, across East Dulwich Grove and down Green Lane.  This was an unmade road which went right through to near Red Post Hill; on the right were the remains of the Bessemer Grange estate.

By now I was old enough to be given chores and sent out to do some of the shopping.  On the corner of Colwell Road was an Iron Mongers shop.  He sold candles and matches and gas mantles and block salt and draught vinegar.  I would take an empty bottle with me to bring back a pint of the liquid, a mouthful of which I would always take before getting home.

Down by Pellet Road was a small terrace of shops one of which supplied and recycled accumulators. These were large glass batteries about the size of a preserving jar, and we used two of these to power our radio.  Later on we would rent a radio from British Relay, cable radio if you like.

As far as housework was concerned it was a case of broom and pan and carpet sweeper and beater.  The rugs used to be hung over the line in the back yard and beaten hard to get all the dust out, usually all over me, funny we never had any allergies.  Mum still had to do all the washing by hand, we would pull the sheets hard after wringing them out and folding them then put them through the large mangle in the shed, then hang them out to blow.  When we first moved to the little house the only irons we had were flat irons which had to be heated on the gas stove, but some years later someone invented a gas iron.  You attached it to the gas supply by a flexible tube which took the gas to downward facing jets which when lit heated the sole plate of the iron, the beauty of it being that it was shiny and clean and the heat could be regulated by turning the gas up or down.  Before anyone else had dimmer switches for their lights I could turn the light in my room up or down as I fancied.  Then one day my father came home with a vacuum cleaner which worked by friction, at last we had some mod cons even if they were so different to other peoples.

Having a bath was still a huge job, get the tin bath in from the shed, fill with hot water, place the clothes airer round the bath and hang with towels to afford some privacy, undress and climb in.  When you were finished start the job of emptying the bath, my father used a short rubber tube and started the flow rather like using a pipette.  Trouble was we had to open the back door and put one end of the tube out to the drain.  In winter if you have just bathed this is a bit chilly. When I was older we stopped this practice and would go down to the baths at Dulwich Baths.  I can’t remember how much it cost to hire a bath, but it was much better that all that old rigmarole at home.

I was nearing the end of my time at Dulwich Hamlet.  Last thing in the afternoon our teacher would read to us, playing all the characters, it was like a serial. On Friday the last part would always end on a cliff hanger and a horde of children would descend on the Dulwich Library wanting to take the book out to find out what happened next. The Little White Horse and The Secret Garden were two of the books introduced to us in this way.

Saturday mornings would find me with friends at the Odeon cinema at Goose Green queuing up to get in to Saturday Morning Pictures. After the show we would perhaps pay a visit to the shops in North Cross Road.  One was an outfitters and haberdashery, the lady who worked there fascinated me; she wore a lot of make-up, huge ear-rings and had the longest reddest finger nails I had ever seen.

Other times we would walk up Dog Kennel Hill and along Denmark Hill to Ruskin Park, when we did this we always came back home on the tram.  Coming down Dog Kennel Hill seated on the horse shoe seat up stairs, the tram swaying from side to side and us sliding round the seat from one side to the other.

The most enduring ‘picture’ in my memory of those years is of the view out of our front bedroom window, across the school playing fields to St Barnabas church on the crest of the hill.  When I heard the news on the television of the fire which destroyed so much of the church I felt as if someone had stolen something from me.  Later I read about the rebuild and my husband and I decided to come up for a visit to see the new church.  It is beautiful, with the lovely rich brown wood inside and the glass spire outside.  In the exhibition in the foyer we enjoyed reading about the way the church had been rebuilt after the fire.

Then in one of those circles of circumstance which life sometimes throws up I recognised the name of the building company responsible for the re-build, it was the firm established in the 1700’s in the town which has now been my home for the past forty eight years.

Childhood Memoriescopyright Beryl Chandler 2014

Link to some fantastic memories at Dulwich on View




14 Responses to Memories

  1. Hi.
    If you click on my computedshorty user name, a local website will display.
    called Nunhead on the Rye.
    There might be something of interest there.

  2. Computedshorty says:

    Stories about other street parties in ED from 1945.
    Lordship Lane residents did not hold street parties in Lordship Lane because the trams ran there and far too much traffic, one that was held was in Milo Road, ( this road is now gated no through ).
    The occasion was the end of the Second World War, the street party was given for the children of Lordship Lane and those of adjoining roads, as the children of Lordship Lane played in these roads and made their friends who lived there.
    This party was called the V.E. Party commemorating Victory over Europe.
    We were dressed in our Sunday best, not that many had a best just the best of what we had, many wearing pullovers that had been knitted by mum from old woollen garments unpicked and using the wool again and many colours to make it large enough to fit.
    We could not buy shoes as they were rationed many still wore Wellington Boots or Plimsoles. ( P.T. Shoes )
    Food Rationing was still in force food and sugar for the cakes was given by the mothers who cooked all the cakes, made the jellies and sandwiches containing the precious delicacies that had been kept for such a day, the mothers who organised the whole party, folding tables were got from the Church on the corner of Goodrich Road the church Benches were very heavy but sat many children who looked dwarfed sitting on them. There were two large iced cakes fairy cakes currant cakes, buns. Apples and pears fruit that grew in local gardens. Needless to say there had not as yet been any Bananas, oranges or other imported fruit available.
    When most of the food had been eaten the tables were moved to the pavement and the remainder of the food for snacks.
    Games were played such as musical chairs, a wind up gramophone had been brought and the needle of the pick up gently put onto the record to be lifted and the music stop when we all had to find a seat to sit on, each time a chair was removed until the winner got seated on the last chair.
    We tried to dance the Okey Kokey and the Lambeth Walk, we all formed up in a long row side by side, you put your left foot in your left foot out, twist around and shake it all about, lots of running forward and back and getting tangled up, we enjoyed it, the mums were crying to see their kids happy and safe after all that had happened
    In the evening the mums danced to the music, some of the dads were home but had only their uniform to wear, many dads were still away in the forces.
    Our party was at the Beauval Road end of Milo Road I have found a Photo.
    It is really hard to realise that some those children my friend’s and family are now deceased, as it was sixty eight years ago.

  3. Computedshorty says:

    The clothes we wore.

    Why did a mans three piece suit change to two?
    the waistcoat is not now available, even to you.
    The waist of the trousers is three inches lower,
    the bottoms are not as wide and much narrower.

    No row of pearl fly bottoms is just a plastic zip.
    the turn ups have had the chop, we have lost a bit.
    A time had the drainpipe trousers, a bit restricting,
    now ragged Jean’s look much more lived in.

    No pairs of buttons around the waist to fix the braces,
    or loops on the pants to keep them up in places.
    Never see those three quarter length Plus Fours,
    or those Fair Isle knee socks the choice was yours.

    The detachable shirt collar held by a stud at the back,
    then the front stud, it took a time but soon got the knack.
    The Bow tie no longer tied around, but a clip held in place,
    your tie might be a Winsor Knot a Kipper or Shoe lace.

    Gone are the suits with overlapping double breasted,
    stripped to the waist now nobody is String Vested.
    The silk cravat no longer worn around as a necklet,
    no triangle of handkerchief on show in top pocket.

    No Brothel Creeper Shoes with inch thick crepe soles,
    those brogue white shoes with thousands of holes.
    Worn shoes that have steel Blakey studs front and back.
    no Toe saver boots with a shiny bright metal toe cap.

    The Trilby hat is no longer seen on the mans head,
    or the pointed night cap worn while sleeping in bed,
    The conical Paper Hat scholars wore as a Dunce,
    wore it while standing in a corner only the once.

  4. Computedshorty says:

    What was to be seen.

    Looking along the road in the thirties there were no cars or very few so the road had nothing at the curbs only the horse drawn milk cart, delivering to the step wide necked bottles in a hand held galvanised wire basket that held about a dozen bottles of
    various sizes from a half pint, a pint or the quart (2 pints), or the bakers cart no cut bread the choice was the crusty bloomer the cottage loaf that was a large circular disc with a smaller disc on top the tin loaf that was an oblong square one, the sticks and rolls. We could not resist asking mum if we could have the fist cut of the hot loaf we called it the Nobly no scrape of margarine just ate it as it was. Children were allowed to play in the road in back streets even young ones giving no concern to their mothers for their safety.
    Those houses that opened direct from the pavement, had a large Portland light grey stone step, this was scrubbed clean daily by the mothers it was not unusual to see most scrubbing at the same time, they all wore the floral Pinafore tied around the waist and had a turban or scarf folded on their head.
    Prams were put out on the pavement for the occupant to get the air, if it rained the rain hood would be put up and an apron fitted by elastic fasteners that covered the legs, if one mum saw that it was raining she would put all the prams hoods up.

    If you were lucky there was a shop on a near corner, on the corner of Pellett Road and Crystal Palace Road was a GPO Post
    Office Shop, outside was the red Pillar Box to post your letters fixed to the side was a stamp dispensing machine that when you inserted a penny the penny stamp stuck out for you to tear off, this was the type that you had to wet for it to stick on a letter or card most people just put it on their tongue to make moist.
    Not many people had a Telephone there was a Telephone Kiosk outside the Post Office Sorting Office in Sylvester Road, a red cast iron box with dozens of small glass windows, that you stood in, the door closed after you went in automatically so you could hear your connection, there was this sturdy receiver on top of the money box where you inserted two old big penny’s in the slot, when you had lifted the receiver you could dial the number you wanted if you did not know the
    number there was a shelf with four telephone books where you could look up the name to find the number, if your number
    answered you pushed a button to connect you that was button “ A”, if there was no answer you pressed button “ B ” to get your two penny’s back that dropped into a tray below. These boxes remained with no damage to the telephone the apparatus or the four books being removed. This was essential as you could dial free for emergencies on number 999.

    All the houses had open coal fires that used coal, this meant that the Coalman came along with his horse drawn cart loaded with black bitumen covered sacks this stopped the coal dust dropping if the coalman had to bring the sacks into the house.
    He would call out “ Coal Man best Derby nuts” , if stopped he would take a hundred weight sack from the cart onto his
    shoulders to tip down into a hole in that scrubbed step, that had been covered with a circular iron cover now removed showed a shute that deposited the coal to the cellar under the passage that went from the front door to steps leading down from above for the resident to go down to get the coal. Once the coalman had left that step had to be scrubbed clean again.
    All this burning of coal made a lot of smoke so that some windless days it did not rise but choked us, and the soot stuck to the inside of the chimney stack this had to be cleaned so the Chimney Sweep was called he arrived with his bundle of canes that were threaded at the ends so that they got longer when joined to reach up inside the chimney to the rooftop chimney pot,
    somebody went out to see if it came out. Yes there it was a large circular Bass broom head. The Sweep had secured a sheet to the front of the fireplace after removing the grate and tray, needless to say not all the flying soot stayed enclosed so when removing the sheet there was a mess with soot everywhere most was shovelled into sacks and taken away. He cleaned up as best he could but never up to mums standard so it was cleaned again. A funny memory was the sweep always had his trouser legs tied up just below the knee, I suppose to stop the soot getting up there.
    If there was a Marriage the sweep was always asked to come complete with his brushes for good luck.
    The road sweeper came daily pushing his barrow with two galvanised Dustbins and several large brooms held in racks and his shovel not much to sweep up but he swept each gutter never the less getting a few leaves to put in his bin, he came from Milo Road where there was a little triangular enclosed yard where a dozen sweepers left there barrows, a lorry came and they loaded their dust bins in to it.
    The Foot path was called the Pavement because it was made up with Sandstone slabs all very neat and perfectly fitted, if grass managed to grow the Road Sweeper dug it out.
    The street lamp posts got cleaned once a week, these were not very high in the back streets but those in the main road had to be higher for the buses and trams to pass underneath.
    The twin Tram tracks were in the middle of the road but at places there was not sufficient room for a car or lorry to pass between the tram and the curb.
    Because the tram came to a stop in the middle of the road you had to be weary of anything trying to pass between you and the tram. You soon learned that you never walked in front a waiting tram, or you might walk into another one coming the other way, Cyclists never got between trams, there was no room they just got squashed.
    Some horses were frightened by the noise of the trams but as they had to wear blinkers to it eyes situated in the side of the head to hide the side vision from them. Most horses never had a graze of growing grass in it life because the private owners kept them in back yards or railway arches feeding them only hay or straw mixed with oats.
    News Papers could be delivered by boys but they were very heavy considering the size that the were then printed on Broadsheet about a square metre wide and double if read open. There was the morning papers and the afternoon edition mostly about racing results, the lads did not like doing this round after school, but a few coppers in your pocket kept the Newsagents with enough boys willing to do it.
    There was other ways to earn a few pence, help the Milkman on his round, or the Baker, follow the horses to collect their dung to sell for peoples garden roses, clean neighbours windows, run errands , you were not missing much at home, as there was no wireless or television just loosing time with your mates.

    • John Chinery says:

      I remember there was a telephone kiosk outside the Crystal Palace Tavern, it had a black bakelite telephone with the push buttons A & B with Telephone Directories slotted in a small bookrack, the Coal Merchant I remember was Bicknell’s, they were just off Whatley Road, my Dad hired one of their large barrows to transport what little belongings we had when we moved into the Prefab in 1953, Dad said the rent was 10 Bob a week, equivalent to 50 pence today, unbelievable.

  5. computedshorty says:

    Going to the Doctors.

    If mum took me to the doctors if would be in the morning, usually because one of my older brothers had to see him, so I was trailed along also as there was nobody to look after me.
    It looked like any other house but had a couple of brass name plates fixed to the outside wall, going in there was the hallway then the front room where all those who had come to see the doctor sat, on long shiny wooden forms, mum picked up the disc from the stand that had a spike with the disc’s that were held threaded through a hole in it, on the mantel shelf that showed the number that you would be able to take your turn to see the doctor. There was not much room to sit mum got a seat but we stood by the door.
    Bill had got sores around his mouth and nose and he picked them, when we got in to see the Doctor he took one look and said Impetigo, “ two per cent copper sulphate ”, I don’t know why I kept this in my memory all these years. Keep him away from the other children and he should not go to school.
    Through a hatch in the wall mum has told the lady Bills name so his card was on the doctors desk he wrote on it, said if doesn’t get better come back in a week, get the ointment from the Receptionist.
    We waited at the hatch mum was given a small round cardboard container where the lid fitted over the top with a label on it.
    When we got home mum washed Bills face and dried it, and said only use this towel I am going to sew a tag on it for you. To know what one to use. Bill had to put up with this sticky ointment all over his face and neck, the ointment was stored in the
    Medicine cupboard fixed high up on the wall to stop us getting to it.
    We were lucky to get it from the Doctor some time we had to go to the Chemist near the Plough called Ruberus, we could see all the bottles three enormous ones stood in the window filled with something one Green one Red and one Blue.
    The large bottles that the chemist poured into smaller bottle only had corks made from dried tree bark, non were screw type, if you got Jollop because you had a cough you might get a bottle of Galloway’s cough syrup made from ginger root and sugar, this came in a brown bottle that meant that it could be taken by mouth, if they sold a mixture that could only be used on your outer body the bottle would be green, if it was not to be used by mouth it would be blue and the sides would have strips down it that a blind person could feel.
    There seemed to be ailments then that you never hear of these days, Mastoids, swelling of the ear and blocking it up, you generally got that brown ointment that smelled terrible.
    There was the Sty’s in the eyes socket big red boils, you got a little bottle of drops with a glass dropper to drop the drops in your eye, these came in a blue bottle, the dropper was separate.
    The Chemist was busy most of the time if you got a bad wood splinter some where and you could not or would not let anyone else get it out you went to the chemist, he would get it out then dose the opening with that brown stinging iodine, if it bled he would tie a cotton bandage around it, all of this had to be paid for.
    If some one got a head ache you could buy Aspro’s in a strip holding a dozen tablets these were in a folded strip just one tablet wide and a dozen long, all held in place in a waxed paper cover.
    If a person was constipated they could buy the very small packet of Exlax, a slab of nine little chocolate sections that you broke one off and run for the Toilet and stayed there for hours.
    In the war we had to have a daily tablespoon of malt extract and cod liver oil, one of my mates who lived in Goodrich Road would run out the house before he got it but his mum came out and held him ( Oh she did have big hands ) by the ear and forced it into his mouth we all cheered.
    It was possible to weigh yourself on the large stand on scales with an enormous dial where a pointer showed your weight, as there were several of us we tried to change places so another could get weighed but most often it went back to zero.
    I remember in the war we used to be rationed of sweets so we would buy Zubes a kind of throat tablet that burned your mouth, or Fisherman Friend tablets that nearly took the roof of your mouth off.
    A lot of kids got skin infections you could see their mums had put this mauve ointment on them, it stayed for days, our trousers were only short to the knee and unlined so our legs got chaffed and the inner side became very sore so we got the Vaseline ointment smarmed all up our legs.
    If you got tooth ache mum bought some oil of cloves to put on your tooth.
    Mum liked Carbolic Soap she said it was a disinfectant so kept us healthy, sometimes we had Lifeboy soap that came as two large joined soaps these got cut into smaller bars for us to wash with.
    My sisters liked to buy a semitransparent light yellow Pears Soap this bar had a recess in it so as your nearly worn out old bar the remainder could be put in there.
    The Doctors tried not to send patients to Hospital as they were full of casualties in the bombing.

    • John Chinery says:

      These memories are absolutely fantastic and takes me right back, you have recalled so many things that I remember myself, this information is priceless, thank you computedshorty

  6. computedshorty says:

    We used to drink lots of lemonade and get the two pence deposit back on the bottle.

    I worked for the mentioned Company’s in the late forties, R. Whites was the cheap Lemonade, delivered on the basic yellow & green Ford vehicles.
    Rawlings however were the upper class brand with just 10 blue Bedford vehicles’ so smart and polished chrome.
    However they also owned the London Essence Company, where the product content was formulated, for their other Companies including British Wine Ltd ,and Leddicots of Southend.
    I could never taste any difference of any of the lemonade, just the label made some perhaps taste better.
    I recall that the Derby Day deliveries in bulk to the Pubs on Epsom Downs were labelled Rawlings, we also the delivered drink to the Directors home in Cobham was left in the garden summer house.
    Camberwell homed the factories, in Neate Street was Rawlings next to The London Essence with a communicating door, these backed onto the Canal, further along the road on the opposite of the road was the main R. Whites Factory.
    The Dangerous Drugs factory of The London Essence was in Glengall Road, and British Wine Factory in Albany Road.
    The Company must have been one of the larger employers in the area.
    I was a;
    “Secret Lemonade Drinker”

    “Few food and drink brands last 150 years or more, but R. White’s Lemonade belongs proudly in that elite club.
    The drink, made then as now with real lemons, was first concocted in the home of Robert and Mary White in the London district of Camberwell. Its subsequent history encapsulates the food and drink industry in this country: from home manufacture in 1845 to a serious family firm within quarter of a century; that family firm incorporating others to grow further (Robert White took over H.D. Rawlings in 1891); then entering the world of the mega-corporation with its purchase by Bass in 1980, that entity merging with the kings of the UK soft drinks market Britvic in 1986.”

    • Bill Rigby says:

      R. White’s factory along with their social club was destroyed by a landmine. It had been in Cunard Street, I worked at R. White’s and can tell you the mixture was the same for Rawling’s and R. White’s

  7. computedshorty says:

    Pre VI & VII Bombing.

    Early in the war the Blitz many bombs were dropped locally, a string of bombs were dropped in line,

    one between Landell’s Road & Crystal Palace Road,
    one between Landcroft Road & Lordship Lane,
    one in Beauval Road facing Milo Road,
    One at the bottom end of Dovercourt Road, near the School Fields.

    The one between Landcroft Road & Lordship Lane was six three story houses were bombed here, numbers 116 to 126, five were demolished soon after being bombed, leaving no 116 just a shell with a roof, then a Emergency Water Brick Water tank was built there, until after the war.

    Planning was applied to build five house’s in the place of all six, there was a reason that a Public Passageway must remain, so no 116 did not get demolished but restored to its former state.
    So just four new two story terraced houses were built with the passage between 116 and 118, this was a public Passage, it has now been incorporated with 118.
    This left no space for number 126., hence no number 126.

    So where is 126 Landcroft Road?

    It was allocated to the Knoyle Street development Deptford a continuation of Cold Blow Lane.
    It was made into a pair of Semi Detached , Numbered 82 and 84 Knoyle Street. The roof line was slightly different.

    It did get built there as I worked on it. as an Apprentice Carpenter.

  8. computedshorty says:

    After the war leisure time.
    The time of my leaving school and starting work, five and a half days a week forty four hours for £1.7. old money ( now about £1 33 new pence ).
    Having this new wealth in my pocket, or part of it as I gave mum ten bob a week keep, I had to pay fares to work, and had stoppages for my Holiday Stamp, and my Unemployment stamp, then I had to buy my tools for carpentry as you always supplied your own.
    One of my favourite pastimes was going to the pictures, at the Odeon Cinema Grove Vale, there was often a queue of patrons waiting in a line outside and going back down the alley at the side, the smartly dressed attendant would come out and count down the queue the put his arm behind those chosen to allow them to enter the cinema to find that they were now added to another queue inside, he would call out seven at nine pence those who wanted those at that price moved to the ticket office, to pass through the doors into the auditorium, to find that they were standing at the side until a seat became available.
    Most of the films were in black and white, some started to come from America these had been hand painted to each exposed plate in the film.
    The show although continuous from about two o’clock, allowed you to come in and leave at the point you had already seen the film, at the interval the main lights came on and the Organ was played, the Sales Girls stood to the side of the stage to sell ice cream in tubs with a wooden spoon in a paper wrapper, there was plenty of noise as the seats automatically forded up with a bang as people went to the toilet or bought their bits to eat.
    A performance usually started with the main film about a hour and half long, the interval then the Adverts and the Pathe News Reel showing news from around the world, then the second feature film not as long as the first one.

    I always went there with mates, so when we left about half past nine we stopped to buy fish and chips up Lordship Lane as we walked that had been cooked in Dripping a sort of lard, this gave that special flavour, as you waited for you order to be fried you could see the assistant scoop out the boiling chips into the tray to drain then the fish into the other tray, nice and brown, next the Crackling the batter that had come away from the fish and floated on the surface was scooped into another tray, you could buy this for a penny, all the counters were high so you did not see your order being wrapped but knew that News Paper’s were the first layer those old type broadsheet News Papers, some times a small piece of white paper was placed next, then your fish and, chips a Wally that was a gherkin or a boiled egg or onion added “ Salt and Vinegar ?

    We strolled along unwrapping our packets, this was always awkward to get it open without loosing a few chips, our dirty fingers never got although as we picked at the chips the hot fat was now penetrating the paper, and if you looked in the dim street light your fingers were now black from the ink print that had become stuck to your chips, we all finished our chips some times there was a metal bin fixed to a lamp post where you could put your used paper, but most got thrown on the pavement.
    Now we could just about get into the Working Men Club for a drink., the doorman checked your Membership Card, and there in the bar was the usual fixed members in their usual place, staring at the bottom of the glass deciding if there was time for the last drink before getting thrown out at ten thirty.

  9. computedshorty says:

    A ride on the Tram.

    The big red double Decker Trams passed our homes front door, these bulky things always rocking,
    they threw the passengers about, even sitting on the red leather seats was something shocking.
    I had asked my mum if I could have the fare for the ride, she gave it to me she said you are growing fine,
    its time you got about a bit now, but be careful you are eight years old, and its nineteen thirty nine.

    My home was in Lordship Lane, my pal Bill lived in Goodrich Road, the tram stopped on the hill,
    we had decided we would ride down to the Street Market in East Lane, I got on and so did Bill.
    The tram descended down the hill, stopping and jolting the facing seat passengers forward,
    A tired young mother waiting there trying to fold the pushchair but it was so awkward.

    The Conductor got off and folded it down flat, then put it in the parcel place underneath the stair,
    she carried a baby in her arms and the two younger children, all sat together mum said we can share.
    The young woman, who looked worn out with the children’s constant attention and needs,
    She asked the Conductor one single and two halves to Kings College Hospital please.

    The Conductor took the six pence coin, selected and punched a hole in each ticket,
    handed them to her folded along with the six pence back secretly tucked within it.
    She looked at him, about to say that you had made a mistake, but he gave a wink,
    the elderly woman sitting facing smiled, so she also understood how we think.

    Her husband Reg. was in the army she never remembered his battalion or where he went,
    but when on leave she always knew when he said “get up them stairs” what Regi meant.
    I was obvious why this young mother was once again requiring the services of Kings,
    if you asked her of her thoughts on this she would just say its one of those things.

    The tram stops at Goose Green, a man operates the lever to direct the tram to its destination,
    shown on the front along with the stopping places shown on the side board information.
    In the middle of the road a horse drinks from the trough, just a while relieved of it load,
    the rails divide to Peckham Rye, or those Trams that terminate here in Spurling Road.

    The new Odeon Cinema, all clean and bright, for me many an hour in times to come,
    we will line up and wait our turn in the queue, I’ll go with my mates not with my mum.
    The bridge over the road at the station is so narrow, trams wait till it is clear,
    the Dog Kennel Hill is so very steep, that many on this tram worry should we fear.

    Dog Kennel Hill is the only place that there are four sets of lines, for safety sake,
    two sets up and two sets down, while one tram used one, the next tram another would take.
    The early full tram load of passengers mostly big burly men, with pockets of sandwiches.
    carrying bags, or tins of lunch, wearing donkey coats and patched working breeches.

    The tram would grunt and slowly move uphill gripping rails, getting electricity from that centre groove,
    a smell of burning as the motors strained, we hold our breath and wonder, would our guess prove.
    The tram stops sharply its blown it electric fuse, the conductor runs to the rear driver s cabin brake,
    as the tram goes backward down the hill, his additional help to the driver all the difference make.

    The tram stops just before the bend, passengers glad they had not hit the arch, the driver replaces the fuse,
    the tram once again tries to climb the hill, some of the passengers had not felt safe so refused to use.
    They walk to the top and await their transport where they climb on again, lighter it had reached the top,
    behind time now the driver races down the hill, takes the bend so fast we wonder oh will it stop.

    Kings Collage Hospital “were here luv”, the Conductor gets the pushchair and unfolds it in on the path,
    she goes off two kids in tow, one in the pushchair, one on the way, she don’t seem worried you got to laugh.
    Here we go we are on our way, an other big Odeon Cinema, and The Golden Domes, and New Grand Hall
    The Camberwell Palace Theatre so grand and so big, as time passes when we will go to visit them all.

    Camberwell Green is so congested the trams line up in the middle of the road, a shelter stands here to wait,
    some trams go left and some go straight on the lever man must know his job, if he sends one wrong we’re late.
    On now down the Walworth Road, past the Regal Cinema and the Canal, the tram rocks and sways,
    here on the left is the Gallaway’s cough mixture factory, they claim “clears you cough in a few days”.

    East Street the conductor calls out, I wonder why they call it that, we always call it East Lane well I never,
    hot chestnuts the vendor shouts, and then a stall selling Brussels sprouts, Sasparrella “Hot sasperrella”.
    A man dressed in Indian costume all feathers and beads, shouts “I gotta horse” But I cant see it, anywhere,
    we bought the old comics that we had come for, we had better go home, pleased we had not spent our fare.

  10. Elise Goodwin says:

    What a wonderful history, I really enjoyed reading it. I am a second year student at the University of Exeter. For my dissertation I am examining ” What Oral histories can tell us about the changing culture of fear”in South-East London . I wondered if somebody from the older generation would would be willing to talk to me about their memories of growing up in here ? I’d love to here some more stories!


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