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Two Reminiscences

Kes Grant, born 1965

As children, the Slade Ravine was known to us as Dragon's Dell. I was a bit of an urchin and on one occasion crawled along the inflow pipe with a young boy. He turned back after a bit but I continued on as far as the pedestrian crossing at Greenslade School, where the pipe splits and there's a ladder to the drain cover. My sister and friends tried to pull the cover up to let me out, while I pushed from the inside. But they dropped it, nearly severing my sister's finger. I had to crawl all the way back again on all fours. It was pitch dark, with only glints from the rats' eyes lighting the way. My sister and I told our parents that she had slipped on glass.

Fred Strong, born 1929

The evening of May 8th 1945, the end of the war, saw merriment and dancing around the corner of The Ship public house. Complete strangers hugged each other and danced to accordions. There was lots of drinking and high spirits, but no brawls. Not far away, opposite The Star, there were bombed houses but this was a time for celebration.

As children we'd get taken out on Sundays. We walked, as we couldn't afford buses. We'd come up Lakedale Road, down Swingate Lane, Eddison Road (then fields) and Wickham Street to Fanny on the Hill, which in those days was an old wooden shack half way down the hill. Then we'd go on down the hill to Wickham Lane, then on to Plumstead High Street till we reached home in Barth Road.

Another route was up Lakedale Road to the Boating Lake on Winn's Common, where we'd spend an afternoon with Dad. He'd wear his Sunday suit, which my mother would have just redeemed from Pritchard's pawn shop at the top of Kentmere Road. On one occasion a child fell into the lake, and Dad jumped into the lake to save him, in his Sunday suit, which caused great distress because my mother couldn't pawn it on Monday, but had to get it cleaned instead.

Buses stopped and turned round at the Woodman pub, and as children we would hop on the back of a bus while the driver and conductor were at the Ravine Café and take the used tickets from the box and make concertinas from them. We used to have competitions amongst ourselves to see who could make the longest."

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