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Janet Fagg's (nee Beal) Memories of Plumstead.

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 Mitchell.

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!

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