We moved there from Maidstone when I was six or seven, which
would have been 1949/50. My parents shared a house with my grandmother
but my grandmother decided to sell up and move in with her sister
and we were virtually made homeless. Dad decided we would move
to Plumstead as he had been born there in Villas Road.
Thus I moved from a nice 1930's semi in Maidstone with an indoor
bathroom to a run down shop that had been a rag and bone shop
in Hartville Road owned by Mr and Mrs Petkin. Mrs Petkin then
lived at number 3 with her daughter after we moved in. We had
an outside toilet and a concrete back yard and a Kitchener coal
oven in the living room. Every Victorian kitchen had one and
in Victorian days. They had to be black leaded. It warmed the
room when you cooked on it. Ours was taken out and replaced
by a gas stove.
Mum and dad worked hard and turned it into Bell's cafe. It
should have been Bills's cafe but the signwriter got it wrong
and it was never corrected. Hartville Road was like Coronation
Street and the cafe was like the Rovers Return. There was a
grocery shop run by two brothers at the other end. Across the
way in White Hart Lane was another grocers owned by Mr and Mrs
I had been educated at a private school in Maidstone but due
to our circumstances I was sent to Conway Road Primary School.
My first memory in class 4A is of Marilyn Attwood sitting on
her desk with an Oxo tin in her hands which contained her National
Savings stamps. We are still friends to this day. Our teacher
was Mrs Crouch who wore bright red lipstick.
Photo: Janet Fagg. (Click on photo for a larger view)
Next year I was in class 3A with Mr Mockeridge. We were aware
even in those days of our innocence that there was "something
going on" with him and Miss Weekes. They later married
after we had left that school. At the end of the year the top
ten pupils were put in to class 1A for two years, skipping 2A.
I was the tenth child and the nine in front of me were all boys.
I sat at the back of the class with Brian Moore and was told
to come and sit at the front with Marilyn Attwood (who had skipped
3A and then done class 2a and now, two years on, into class
1A like me). We had Mr Jenkins for two years and he must have
had a summer house at Whitstable because I saw him there once
or twice in the 1960's.
Marilyn and I used to spend school holidays either on Plumstead
Common or going across the ferry at Woolwich to play on the
swings in the park at North Woolwich.
I remember going to the Salvation Army in Glenside with Wendy
Beckford and Joan Salter and we had some lovely outings from
there. We also went on both the Radical and Maybloom club outings.
My parents decided to close the cafe. I think mum got fed up doing
all the cooking and I remember her saying all dad did was lean
on the counter and serve cups of tea! So they decided to close
the shop and work elsewhere.
After they closed the cafe dad went to Kidbrooke to work for GPO
Telephones (now BT).in Kidbrooke, near Blackheath. and mum worked
at the bedding shop called 'Friendly Rest' in Plumstead High Street.
Janet Fagg (nee Beal) her mother and workers
at Friendley Rest factory
I remember going once a week to Plumstead Baths as we had no
bath at home until I was fifteen and one was put in the kitchen.
Mum got all the food for the cafe from the Co op in Lakedale
Road and we did so well out of the tin checks that I was clothed
from the dividend payouts.
After I left Conway Road School Marilyn and I went to Aske's
at New Cross, getting the 177 daily from the bottom of Gallossan
Road. On the return journey we used to get off in the High Street
and, depending on the season, either got two cakes each from
the cake shop or 3d of chips from the fish and chip shop. We
used to eat these on the seats outside the Civil Defence Hut
by the Cinema.
As a child I remember Saturday morning pictures, the smell
of the books in Plumstead Library, playing in the street, watching
the lads who came into the cafe go off to do National Service
and later on coming back men.
I remember our neighbours at number 3 were Mrs Reid and her
mother Mrs Petkin, at number 7 was the Evan's family, and number
10 was Pat Jordan.
Mum used to get the bread for the cafe from the RACS and I
have a photo of me on the horse drawn vehicle with the baker.
Some of our customers in the cafe in those days were men from
the Water Board and the ladies from the flock factory in White
Hart Lane. I remember walking our chow chow dog along the sewer
bank which ran behind our houses. Our street was pulled down
in the 60's and Glenside Road no longer seems to be on the map.
I remember children taking accumulators to the bagwash shop
in the street behind Hartville Road and having to come home
in dreadful pea souper fogs in the winter. I remember having
to assemble in the school hall on February 5th 1952 to have
Mr Bull, the Headmaster, tell us the King had passed away. He
was buried on my birthday, Feb 15th, I could not understand
at the time why I was not allowed to have a birthday party!