We need
your help!


www plumstead-stories.com

including Woolwich & Districts

Babette Meader (nee Saunders) Remembers

My father [long dead] grew up in Saunders Road in Plumstead. I have been trying to find out if there was any connection as his [and my] surname was Saunders. They were a family of tear-aways from what I can make of it. I have no data at all of any of his family, a large lump of my life has always been missing. Also my Mum worked in Woolwich Arsenal during the war. She once scaled the gates that had been locked due to a very heavy air raid. She ran all the way home to my brother [whom she adored] when we lived in the 1914 prefabs, built at the top of Knee Hill, from where I was evacuated.

My dad worked in the Abbey Wood tram depot, which I now believe is a housing estate. when, as a driver, he used to tell me tails of bicycle tires getting caught in the tram lines and the rider finished up in the depot unable to get his bike out. If goods were found on the tram they were supposed to be handed in. My Mother often sported a fancy hat that he brought home for her. He drove to the Plumstead, Woolwich and Eltham areas. He told me once, after he transferred to trolley buses, that he was driving down Powis Street, in Woolwich, and the circus was in town and they were advertising it by parading elephants down Powis Street. One of the elephants pooed and dad was right behind it in his trolley bus. Dad told us kids that he couldn't drive around it as it was so big! So they had to get a council lorry out to clear it away. My Father with his huge sense of humour came home saying, ?One elephant poo, one lorry load!? I had an aunt who lived behind the tram depot. She was a sister of my mother, their maiden name was Pettitt, I think. They all grew up in Plumstead. Their were eight girls and one son, all now of course dead. My mother's mother [my gran] was a great one for running off with half a dozen different men and then coming back. My aunt, who lived behind the tram depot, only had gas mantles for lighting. My mum and dad were married when they were quite young [it was some thing of a battle field]. Dad was in the RAF during the war, going to the D day landings as an RAF Convoy Leader. During that time my mother worked in the Arsenal making munitions. A few days after I was evacuated we had a direct hit on the wooden house at the top of Knee Hill and they were sent to a holding area and finished up in Welling, living over the top of Sidney Ross the toy shop, opposite to what used to be the Embassy Dance Hall in Welling High Street. My dad had by then transferred to Trolley buses. After coming off duty he was running for a bus to go back to Woolwich Market to get some thing and was run over and died that day at what used to be The Brooke Hospital. My mum, soon after this, remarried a man who owned the fish shop next to the Co op in Welling Hight Street. I now look after him down here in Devon. Before the war, in behind our house, at the top of Knee Hill, was what used to be called the 'Fair Field' . Fairs used to come there, with chair-a-planes and dodgems etc. but it was taken over and used by the ack ack gun units during the war.

I recall on my way to school seeing a German plane circling around Woolwich Arsenal, obviously on reconnaissance. My dad had taught me that when ever I saw a German plane I was to lay on the ground, next to a tree or a wall, but instead I ran like billy- oh to school.

We had a direct hit on our house during an air raid and my mum and brother were trapped in the air raid shelter for nine hours before they were dug out. My brother lost the hearing in one ear and mum had shrapnel in her chin and went to hospital to have it removed.

I have a feeling my Mother worked at the Goldie Leigh Hospital Homes cleaning, after she and my dad fell out. Opposite Goldie Leigh Hospital was a small hill at the bottom of Lodge Hill and the kids used to toboggan down it in the snow. I can also recall some one who hung himself in Borstal Woods from a tree. I believe my husband's father was a policeman in Woolwich Arsenal. He told me of once visiting a farm near Bostall Woods and watching them milking the cows and they aimed the milk straight at him and messed his shirt up as it turned a green colour!

Quite often we went shopping in Plumstead. I lived there for a while and can very well remember the A J S motor bikes being test driven around the streets. I was into Motorbikes in a big way myself, so seeing them was always a thrill. I worked in Plumstead, at a TV and radio repair shop, at Radalec's corner shop near the Arsenal gates, Plumstead Station bridge.


This site is © Copyright Colin Weightman 2006, All Rights Reserved.
Free web templates