Woolwich & Districts
Up In The Prefab Village On Winn's Common.
Biddle remembers the folk of the prafabs
was good growing up in the prefabs on Winn's Common. I am now
58 *(2005). My brother Joey and I (that's us in the picture)
lived at 46 Winn's Common, by the bus stop where the 53 bus
used to stop, before going down King's Highway to Plumstead
and Dennis Gates, Barry Smith, Joey and myself, Kathleen
Faithfull and my dad Joe.
were the first prefab in our turning; (they had no names) it
was a strange shape. Straight for about four prefabs and ballooned
out with a grass circle in the middle, it then narrowed and
went straight again to the road called Winn's Common Road (although
I was never aware it had a name at all). All the prefabs had
their own gardens. Ours had a corrugated iron shed which coal
was kept in (an old Anderson
air raid shelter). We had a pull-down table in the small
kitchen; on winter mornings the oven rings were on full and
our clothes would be placed around to warm them. We would eat
our breakfast sitting round the oven. We had a bathroom but
when it was very cold we bathed in a tin bath in front of the
was a church hall right at the top of Lakedale Road, at an odd
sort of angle (*The Ascension Hall, long demolished). The paddling
pool is still there, but the sand has been replaced with volleyball.
We used to jump from one concrete block to the next and spent
many happy hours every summer there.
Gillmore in a school play.
door to us were Esme and George Smith with their children; Ena,
Barry and Pam. Our back garden met with Roy and Eve Gillmore's;
they lived at number 61 with their children Barry and Jennifer
(who were born there).
all moved to Kingsdale Road when the prefabs were pulled down
in 1958. We became lifetime friends and Barry and his wife Maureen
went on to become my daughter's godparents.
The housing estate where we moved to in Kingsdale Road was originally
the land which was Clubbies Pig Farm.
met up again with three old friends who lived in the prefabs,
via the *'Friends Reunited' web site; Malcolm Freeman who lived
at number 103, Lynda Martin and Helen Holt.
such as Pat and Lance Spencer lived in our section of the street
with their children; Johnny, and his two sisters, whose names
escape me now. They were the ‘Del Boy’ family of
the time. (Aunty) Pat had jet-black hair; I never saw her without
her makeup. Long, long finger nails (real). A very glamorous
lady who used to tell us children very scary stories about witches
and frighten us to death. Lance was tall and blonde. He used
to get up to all sorts and always had something which “fell
off the back of a lorry.” There was also Mr and Mrs Abbott
and their daughter Valerie. Mr. Abbott was a postman. Maggie
and George Gardner lived opposite from them. Well known in the
area, the Gardner family were also a “character family”.
They had Ronnie and Jean..
Aunt Liz and Uncle George Knowles lived in the next alleyway
to us at No. 24. They had two daughters, Pam and Carol. Carol
and husband Ray had a sweet shop in Wickham Lane in the 1970s/80s.
In fact, the shop belonged to my Uncle and Aunt before them,
George and Doll Biddle. When I was a child Mrs Sargent owned
remember the knifegrinder man coming round on his bike with
a box on the front calling out “Bring out your knives.”
Also the winkle and shrimp man. We always had winkles and shrimps
for tea on Sunday. High days and holidays were when my uncles
and aunts would come for Sunday Lunch and/or tea. They lived
in Camberwell (where my mother came from). My nan moved from
there to Wickham Lane when my mum was about 14. (My granddad
was a Black Cab taxi driver from Camberwell. (He died of shrapnel
wounds he received in World War 1, in June 1947, when I was
a day old.) Every Sunday we either went out to tea or had visitors
coming. We were all very family orientated in those days. My
brother and I went to Sunday school at the Evangelist Church
in Plumstead Common Road, near the Woodman Pub. I was in the
Junos and my brother the Cubs. You had to go to Sunday school
my aunt and uncle were over one weekend from Debden in Essex
(where they had moved from Camberwell), with my cousins Harry
and John, we went up to the woods past the football pitch and
John fell down a bank and landed in the back garden of a house
in Wickham Lane. A man came out to him who had first aid knowledge
and called an ambulance. John had broken his leg. The kafuffle
that it caused. We all got the blame! He was in St.
Nicholas Hospital; his parents lived in Essex,
which caused huge problems in those days.
the rare occasions my mum and dad went out, when we had visitors
we went to Plumstead Common working Men's Club. Us children
could go as well, as they had a children's room with a TV and
the gardens to play in during the summer.
My mum and dad were bus conductors at Plumstead Garage, (then
in King's Highway), for many years. We went to the coast most
Sundays in the summer with Plumstead Bus Garage. They had outings
for staff and families every weekend; these were a joy, and
I often remember climbing back up King's Highway in the evening,
tired and sunburnt.
remember when my cousin Peter Hall was 21. He was in the navy
and had his 21st birthday party in our prefab. Dad took down
the wall between the living room and bedroom. On the bedroom
side were cupboards. He used to take them down and lay them
on their side and they were used as benches to sit on. Several
of Peter's sailor friends came and stayed for the weekend.
the school holidays we used to go to Sutcliffe Park to play.
We would take fish paste sandwiches and some lemonade. There
would a group of us and apart from warnings about crossing the
road, there was nothing else to worry about in those days. We
used to play in the woods by the football pitches. I remember
sleeping out in our prefab garden in a tent; my brother, Barry
Smith and myself. Mrs Smith (Esme) cooked us an egg and bacon
flan, and my dad kept coming out during the night to make sure
we were OK.
went to Purrett
Road School, which became Gallions Mount. The teacher I
remember best was Miss Branch; she married a boy from the Turrett
House, at the top of the Hill. The family were Greek Cypriots.
In fact she contacted me once, via *'Friends Reunited'. She
lives in Cyprus since she retired and is Mrs Papacaralambus.
Other popular teachers, Mr and Mrs Bannister, Mr Clark, Deputy
Head and Mr Edwards, Headteacher. There was also a very strict
red haired teacher, but he was liked by us all. (Mr Stevens?)
was a green in our street with a pig bin chained to a lamppost
and everybody used to put potato peelings and kitchen waste
into this. The seafood man used to come round on Sunday evening.
In the summer we played out all day in the street. Oh, what
our grandchildren are missing; playing in the street; being
safe! It was a wonderful life.
mum & dad, Joe & Grace Biddle, were bus conductors at
Plumstead Bus Garage, which was then at the bottom of Kings'
mum Grace used to feed the men who pulled the prefabs down.
used to spend a lot of time in our prefab; dad became quite
friendly with them. They were brothers and they came from Norfolk.
Coronation party was held on the piece of common opposite our
prefab. There was a wooden hall (Baptist Hall*) there where
I went to Junos. The tables were set out in long lines. There
were races; my brother won the sack race. There was fancy dress
for the boys and girls. I was dressed as the Queen and my brother
and cousin John Hall were pages and carried my long train.
remember the Ravine Cafe and Kibb's the Greengrocers shop. Once
I was sent to Kibb's shop for something with a ten-shilling
note and when I got there I didn't have it! It was in my hand
so I must have dropped it on the way. That was a lot of money
in those days, and I still remember how awful I felt. The shops
were where Swingate Lane met King's Highway. On the corner of
Flaxton Road was Edward's Newsagents, the same Edward's that
were off the Beresford Square. Then, a few terraced houses on,
and Kibb's, which was on the end terrace; so they covered the
side access and made it into a veggie shop. Further along on
the end was a general store/post office. (Still there today.)
afraid we were quite boring and never really got into any trouble.
I remember my mum and dad were fined once because our dog chased
a policeman on his bicycle, snapping at his feet all the way!
dad, Joe Biddle, whose family had a fish stall in the market
in Beresford Square. (See J. Biddle stall in the picture on
left, and a close up on the right) There are very few original
traders there now. Denise
Dearsley is a friend of my cousin Carol. I remember the Carpenters,
Dennards, Delieu, Dearsley, Goddard and Edwards who were all
Rosam (nee Biddle).
Kitchenham adds: At the end of Barbara (nee Biddle)
Rosams' story, she mentions the Biddle Fish Stall (which I remember)
and the Carpenters' as some of the few remaning original Traders
of Beresford Square. Mr and Mrs Carpenter were our neighbors
in High Grove and I had the opportunity to chat with them and
introduce them to our son and daughter in law when we were visiting
in 2000. That was fun.
Reunited site: www.friendsreunited.co.uk