Woolwich & Districts
Those Were The Days
I was born in 1971 (one of the last of
the flower children!!) in Woolwich at The British Mothers and
Babies Hospital on a hot summer’s evening. I grew
up an only child and lived at various addresses throughout the
Plumstead area, starting with 70A Griffin Road until I was about
two years old, I think. We then moved to 6 St Margaret's
Grove.... wow, did that place have such a huge garden, or so
I thought when I was small. Big enough for my swing anyway........that’s
where my memories begin. I used to play with the girl
upstairs from me, usually on the Common opposite, or we would
sometimes escape through the hole in the fence at the bottom
of our shared garden to play on the swings at the back, next
to the flats. I remember long summers, hazy days, mud
pies, knock down ginger, chopper bike rides with the boy at
the bottom of the road, eating cooking apples from my garden
that used to make me feel sick, dressing up in my mum's clothes
and smearing all her make up across my face (sorry mum!!), camping
trips in the orchards of Kent, firework night with the jumping
jacks and rockets and of course the seven foot guy that my mum,
dad and I used to take a week to make. Then up to Bexleyheath
station for 'penny for the guy'. Oh yes...and how could
I possibly forget.... sledge rides on the Common and my very
first kiss in 'our den' with the boy from the pub at the top
of the road!!!
it was on to 36 Church Manorway, Abbeywood (although really
classed as Plumstead as it was just off of the High Street and
Wickham Lane). It was a lovely little bungalow.... detached
and with lattice light windows. It’s changed so
much now. Anyway, I remember building an igloo one winter, with
my mum, in the back garden, out of ice, it was so cold.
In the summer I used to create my own little assault course,
which was always fun if not a bit on the dangerous side really. Oh,
and I was in the Girls’ Brigade up at the Evangelical
Church on the Common and Sunday School at St Nicolas Church.
I lived at Church Manorway until I was sixteen years old,
when finally we moved to 228b Lakedale Road.
By this time I had joined the Army Cadets, 108 Signals of Watling
Street, Bexleyheath and was really enjoying having plenty of
adventures, which would later create some of the best and fondest
memories of my growing up.
Other memories...the old playgrounds, the umbrella (or witches
hat), the horse (the one that if you sat at the front and went
hell for leather and if you didn't time it right, it would knock
your teeth out, or, sitting at the back you would be flung off)
and of course the slides, swings and seesaw. Bring back
our old rides!!! They were fun, even though there was
risk involved. Climbing trees.... yes, I was a bit of a tomboy.
I certainly had my moments!! Woolwich Ferry and trips to
Southend on Sea, Hastings and Ramsgate and our family holidays....
schools.... South Rise, Plumcroft, Timbercroft, Greenwich Park,
Welling Central and finally Plumstead Manor.
Nan.... oh my Nan, Hilda Dartnall. * She lived at 85 Flaxton
Road (she was there from 1954), used to ride on her motorbike
and was park keeper at Swingate Lane playing fields for many
years. Does anyone remember her? She was a very
independent and forthright lady, never was shy in giving her
opinion, but a very kind woman who would help anyone in need.
She worked at the Arsenal in the war years and was a dispatch
now live in Scotland...up in the Highlands and have done now
for four and a half years. I am a mum myself now and bringing
up my son who is eleven years old.
I miss Plumstead. I miss the 'old' Plumstead, the one
of yesteryear. The one of my childhood, where time seemed
to last forever. It was a blissful time of innocence, freedom,
laughter, morals, love and yes, happiness. I visit Plumstead
usually a couple of times a year and it saddens me to see how
much it has changed. 'Progress’ they call it.
Nah...Nothing that changes that much can ever be called 'progress'. I
will always have a very special place in my heart for my 'home'
and no matter where I go or how much it changes, my memories
will always stay the same.
I wouldn't give to have the chance for one last time, go back
to one day in my childhood and experience again those glorious
(Candy) Tracey McFarlane (nee Smith) 2007
full name was Hilda Mary Major-Dartnall.