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Memories Of A Young Girl Growing Up In Plumstead

I was born in St. Nicholas Hospital, in 1954, which is now a housing estate.
I lived in Plumstead, in Marmadon Road, backing on to the railway line and the truck marshalling yard. One of my favourite memories was listening to the men as they played cricket during the hot summer months whilst they waited for the next load of trucks to come in. Waving to the train drivers was another favourite occupation (steam trains of course) and I remember getting quite excited about the advent of diesel locomotives and then, later on, electric trains. Steam trains remain my favourite to this day though.

The milk was delivered by Ted and his horse 'Wayfarer', until Ted got a pull cart and Wayfarer was put out to grass. The beer was delivered to the pub on the High Street by beautiful dray horses.

Sunday School at the Salvation Army Headquarters was another fond memory. Brownies was great too, but mainly because they had an indoor toilet which didn't have spiders that we had at home!
We bathed in the old tin bath that always hung on the wall in the garden (which fell on the cat once!).

My mum lived in Plumstead all her life and once lived next to a chip shop, which I believe was on the corner of the High Street and Barth Road. My dad was a Charlton man.
We went to school, my sister Kim and me, at Bannockburn Nursery School. (I'm the little sad faced girl in the back row, second child in, on photos left, taken around 1959 ish.)
My uncle, Arthur Smith, lived on the Common with his family and I thought them quite posh. My auntie Ruth lived in Purrott Road, by the Police Station.

I remember the 'Rest Centre' where several of my mates lived. I remember the pet shop in the High Street that sold exotic animals like monkeys (unheard of nowadays).

Woolwich market and the Ferry.

The ferry boats all had names, but they escape me now. I seem to remember John Ben was one of them. Crossing the river and looking at the magnificent engines operating was a particular treat. When we were old enough we would walk to Woolwich to save the bus fare. Then we'd cross the river on the ferry and walk or roller skate back through the tunnel.

On Saturday mornings was the pictures, bliss!
There was a shop in the market that sold eels, wriggling in tanks in the window.

I remember queuing to see 'Summer Holiday' at the ABC cinema.

The swimming baths and the museum were other places that we spent countless hours playing and exploring. Our playground consisted of Plumstead marshes, including the sewer banks. Plumstead Gardens and Bostall Woods.
Catching butterflies, running through the autumn leaves, generally with not a care in the world. All the summers were hot and sunny (weren't they?). Most of all though, I always felt safe!

After Bannockburn, I went to Abbey Wood Comprehensive for a year before we moved to Kent, when I was 12 and my sister was 10. in 1966.

I have lived in Kent ever since and although I won't say I don't enjoy my life here, it certainly doesn't hold the fond memories that I have of my old home back in Plumstead.

Lynda French. (nee Stevens)



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