London Childhood Memories

I was born in Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire in 1942

I'm told that most maternity cases were sent to hospitals outside London, due to the bombing and to leave London hospitals free for emergency cases.

No brothers or sisters but I was never lonely as a child. I always had things to amuse and interest me and there were the cats for company.

11 Woodberry Grove and My Childhood.


This is a photo of 11 Woodberry Grove, taken before the Second World War.

Our flat.

We lived in the basement. Once this was the working area for the servants. It would have been the kitchen, scullery, and common eating room for the servants.

Years before the house had been slowly converted to rooms and flats for letting.

Our basement flat consisted of a main "sitting" room where we ate, sat by the fire, read and listened to the wireless. In 1955 we got a rented TV. Next to this was the kitchen. A long narrow room where Mum would cook and do the washing in the biggest "butler’s" sink I have, to this day, ever seen. The kitchen back door led out to the outside toilet and into the garden.

There was a passage that led to the bedroom. This had once been the room where the laundry was done in the old days. It was cold and damp. I slept in there during the night, Dad, on night work, during the day. Mum slept in the Put-U-Up in the sitting room. Though when I was young and it was cold, Mum would bring me into the warm bed. There was another room that was a coal cellar that Dad converted, in about 1949, to a bathroom.

The flat held terror for me in that if the lights were switched on suddenly at night the floor would be covered with beetles. Big, shiny, black scuttling things that would dart for cover. Dad would put various powders down to deter or kill them but nothing worked, they’d still be there, waiting to come out at night. I still have a fear of them to this day.

The bedroom that dad converted from the old scullery is still fresh in my mind. Dad was very good at building work and could turn his hand to many trades, you had to be in those days. He converted the coal cellar into a bathroom. The rooms were always damp and cold so we sometimes had some kind of heater on. One of the heaters was a "Valor" paraffin heater in the bathroom. For a short while we used an electric fire with a round copper bowl. Mum told me that one night I sleep walked and peed on the fire! One of the stories mum used to love to tell!


Dad, Mum and me in the pedal car that Dad built in his pare time.

The only other heating we had in the flat was the coal fire in the sitting room. In the evening we sat around it to keep warm. One side of you would be frozen and the other side roasted. Dad often felled trees in the neighbourhood, so we usually had a supply of logs. The coal was kept in a coal bunker in the garden we also had some in the coal cellar. I always found it exciting when the coal man came to deliver a load. Some coal merchants used steam driven lorries, which I loved to look at.

The garden and shed.

The enormous back garden was my playground and I knew every inch of it. To this day I can recall its minute details.

The garden was always tidy but Dad was not a gardener and hated mowing the large lawn with the push mower. There was a big shed cum-workshop at the end of the garden that Dad enlarged. Dad did a lot of work there and kept his tools, timber, plumbing materials, electrical cable and spares in there. He never threw anything away; "It will come in handy," he’d say. All building materials were hard to come by during the war. He did a lot of plumbing and electrical work for people to earn a bit of extra cash

I learnt to do things with my hands by just watching him.

Dad and me - summer 1944.

In the shed I had my own bench where I would wire up bulbs and bells to batteries and do all sorts of experiments. I would take things apart to see how they worked then put them back together. It was great fun to be with Dad in the shed on hot summer days. The shed had a smell all of its own. The cats would come into the shed and sleep.

At some time the big shed disappeared. I don’t know if he sold it or it was damaged, but I know he must have missed it.

He built me a small shed at the end of the garden, possibly to compensate for the loss of the big one. In there I kept my growing collection of electrical things, toy guns, real ones, bits of anti-aircraft shell fuses, shrapnel, live German incendiary bombs and this is where I did experiments with my many chemistry sets.

The cellar

The cellar was actually up three steps from our basement flat and was divided into three rooms, connected by a corridor. All the walls were whitewashed.

Straight ahead was Dad’s workshop. Bench, tools and dozens of tins of nails and screws. This is where our coal for the fire was kept, our only method of heating.

I had my own bench in there too.

The next room was not used very often and just had one or two bits of furniture in it. During the war it had been sporadically used for an air-raid shelter.

The room on the left was full of Mr Addison’s stored furniture. He was the landlord. There were bentwood rocking chairs, heavy carved oak chairs and tables all very old fashioned then. What fascinated me was the wooden box containing the croquet set. Coloured balls, mallets. How I would have to take it into the garden.

The landlord burnt all this when the house was emptied in 1958.

Early memories.

My earliest memories are muddled but I can clearly remember lying in my cot and hearing - Boom, Boom, Boom - some distance away. This may have been bombing or the anti-aircraft guns in Finsbury Park.
I always had a little paraffin night light on in my bedroom as I was afraid of the dark.

War memories.

During the war an incendiary bomb fell on the roof of the house and did some damage and various windows were blown in by bomb blast. The most serious must have been the blast damage from the V2 rocket that fell in Green Lanes and "just missed the water-works" as Mum used to say. She told me that it blew the front doors down and did a lot of blast damage and I was blown the length of the kitchen by the blast. This must have been in late 1944 or very early '45.

Sun Ray treatment

During the war all children were provided with bottles of Ministry of Food bottles of cod liver oil and orange juice. They also were able to get ultra-violet ray treatment – sun ray treatment as Mum called it. She used to take me to a hall across Clissold Park to a hall for my treatment. There we would sit around in a circle on a mat facing the uv lamp. We just wore our pants and also a pair of little dark glass goggles to protect our eyes. The memorable thing was the ozone" smell given off by the lamp. It was on one of these visits on a dark and dreary night that I saw a road mender’s red lamp thrown in a big puddle. I wanted to take it home but Mum wouldn’t let me pick it up. I was bitterly disappointed. Mum used to feed me with other healthy products then available, "Virol" and "Radio Malt", they were delicious!

Manor House.

That was the name of the nearest tube station and the big pub on the corner of Green Lanes and Seven Sisters Road. There were often quite brutal and bloody fights there late at night. I often saw blood and broken glass on the pavement in the morning when I went to fetch the newspaper. On Thursday nights there used to be Greyhound Racing down the road at Harringay Stadium. It drew tremendous crowds who would pour out of the underground station at 5 or 6 o’clock and pour back later, about 10 o’clock. The were all men and seemed to be dressed alike in raincoats and caps or trilby hats. They all carried a newspaper or the programme, called the "Altcar", I think.
I remember it as a surreal image, these silent masses trudging on their way in the gloom of the gaslights, on foggy evenings.

People in the house.

On the ground floor lived old Mrs Addison, the landlord’s mother. She was a nice very old lady. She died in the back bedroom in the late 40’s and I can remember peeping around the door and seeing her lying there. The grown-ups were too busy to notice me. This was the first dead person I saw.

The landlord, Mr Addison who was always known as "Mr Dan" stored his spare furniture in our cellar. He drove a big black pre-war Austin saloon car, in those days very unusual. In the back of the car was a milk churn, where he would put the rent money. He was a very tall, gaunt man with quite long white hair and always wore a brown trilby hat.

I can’t remember the families that occupied the house during the war but they used to come down to our basement flat to shelter during air raids. Mum used to talk about "The Padley’s" who came from the North of England and I don’t think she ever liked anyone from "up north" ever since!

On the second floor lived Mrs Metz, an old Irish widowed lady that Mum was very friendly with. Mrs Metz was very thin, wore small wire framed spectacles and seemed always to wear a black straw hat, even in the house. Mum would often go up in the evening and have a chat, cigarette and drink tea. I would always go with her but I took no part in their conversation. Her husband had fought for the White Russians in the 1917 Russian Revolution and was never heard of again.

On the same floor, at the back lived Miss Webb. A short, plump kindly old lady, a retired teacher. She had a piano in one of her rooms and gave me a few lessons, but probably seeing that I had not a glimmer of talent gave it up as a lost cause.

In the early 50’s a Dutch man, Mr van Dyke, and his English wife came to live in the attic. It was like a breath of fresh air sweeping through the house, they were young - all the other tenants were so old! Shortly after the moved in Mrs van Dyke had a baby girl. He was a nice man with a big moustache and wonderful rich Dutch accent. He was a pastry chef at on of the big hotels in the West-End. He had many tales about the war. The only one I remember now is how, to avoid being sent to Germany as forced labour he hid under the floor. The Germans caught him. And interrogated him. He wouldn’t tell them where others were hidden so they stood him up against a wall in front of a firing squad. The officer gave the command to fire and click - the rifles weren’t loaded! They did this several times after interrogation. He was sent to prison.

I liked Mr van Dyke, he was always very friendly and frequently made us cakes. A luxury as rationing was still in force.

The most memorable cake he made was for a 5th November Guy Fawkes bonfire party. I’d never seen such a fantastic thing. It was chocolate Guy Fawkes!

There was another flat below the attic and a slim, tall woman lived there. But I can’t picture her face and she kept herself very much to herself.

A string of German incendiary bombs had been dropped over our area and collected several of the unexploded ones. They became part of my growing collection that I kept in the shed. One of the bombs had lain in the allotment at the bottom of the garden for a couple of years. I reckoned that if nobody wanted it, then it was mine. I added it to my lethal collection of bits of shrapnel, shell fuses, bullets and war-like items they today they would evacuate the street for!

Bedtime

The sleeping arrangements were a bit complicated. Dad always worked on the night shift so he slept in the only bedroom during the day. He went to bed about 10 or 11 o’clock in the morning and got up at 5 o’clock. Thursday night was his regular night off, so he would go to bed at 8 o’clock and get up early, about 2. Mum would always wake him with a cup of tea and a biscuit. The he would have a cigarette. This is the only time he smoked a cigarette. Usually he smoked a pipe. On rare occasions a cigar.

Mum liked to sleep in the living room because it was warmer. So, when I was small, I would be put to bed in the bedroom, with my night-light. When mum decided to go to bed, usually quite late, she would make up the "Put-U-Up" folding double bed and carry me in to the cosy warmth of the living room. The cats slept on and under the bed.
 

Holidays.
These were few. For a couple of days we would go to either Bognor Regis or Brighton on the south coast.


These photos of me with Mum and Dad were taken by a beach photographer on the pavement by the pier at Bognor Regis c1946.

Auntie Biddy moved to Saltdean - just west of Brighton so we stayed in a bed and breakfast place in Brighton and visited her during the day.
 

Our Woodberry Grove Neighbours.

Mr and Mrs Mead and Doreen at number 5 Woodberry Grove.

The Biggs down the road that changed their name from Buggs.

Across the road lived Terry Dovey.

Chris, tall and fair, one of the older boys in the gang lived at number 10 Woodberry Grove.

Gordon Fry lived behind the Manor House parade of shops. He had pin-up books.

Malcolm down the road. His father had a car and I go and would watch children’s television. We sat in front of the television from 5 minutes to five when the clock was shown on the screen. This was long before the Coronation when many people bought televisions.

Next door to us at number 13 Woodberry Grove on the ground floor lived the Hartnett’s. I was friends with ginger haired "Buddy", the same age as me. His father was very argumentative and on occasion quite violent. He and Dad had several noisy arguments over the garden wall. One day Dad was down the garden and heard whimpering coming from their shed. He got over the fence and listened at the door. Under the door he could see the nose of a puppy in some distress. So he broke open the door and brought the puppy into our flat. Mr Hartnett and Dad had a stand up row about this. They had bought the puppy but because it made a mess on the floor he had locked it in the shed. We kept the puppy for a few days then Auntie Biddy gave it a home. It lived to a ripe old age and was Auntie Biddy’s "baby". All its life it was fed with a spoon! It always had a bald patch on the end of its nose where it had tried to burrow out under the door of the shed.

Next door at number 9 Woodberry Grove lived a family with two teenage boys who were always doing interesting things. One day they brought home a BSA motorbike and sidecar. I have this vivid memory of them tinkering with it and trying to get it to run. As I looked through the knot-hole in the fence I could see them "tickling" or flooding the carburettor to get it to start. They had an air-pistol, a Webley, and would shoot at tin cans at the end of the garden. Another interesting thing I saw them make was to put some air-gun pellets into a "Vim" scouring powder tube and shake it like maracas. They always seem to be doing interesting things.

Mr Rose, who lived at number 13 Woodberry Grove was a very old little Jewish man. He had been a diamond cutter in Hatton Garden. Mum used to take me to visit him now and then. He and Mum would sit and talk. He lived in very poor surroundings in one room. I remember the table had newspaper instead of a cloth.

At number 3 Woodberry Grove lived Jim Diamond. He was Irish and had allotments at the end of our garden. He was a big friendly giant of a man and always wore a trilby hat.

In the same house lived a family who’s name I have forgotten but I was friendly with the son Peter. I was taken one day to the London Zoo in Regents Park.

I have a couple of photos of us at the zoo. Peter on the left and me on the right.

Down the far end of Woodberry Grove on the other side, in a 20’s semi-detached house lived my friend Malcolm. The family were very prosperous and had a television long before the coronation. Malcolm and I would sit in front of the television at five minutes to five waiting for children’s TV to start at 5. The programme lasted for an hour. Malcolm's father had a car, one of the few people I knew who owned a car.

Mrs Bollar.

Mr Bollar was one of the managers at Mount Royal and he owned a couple of large Victorian
houses in Tufnel Park Road that were converted into flats and rooms for rent. Dad worked for him as general handyman, usually on a Friday, his day off. During school holidays I’d go with him. The Bollar’s were Swiss and Mrs Bollar was a great big rosy-cheeked woman and very kind to all the kids in the neighbourhood. One of her treats was to make small cakes and sweets for them. They had no children of their own but took delight in having the local kids around. She had a very broad German-Swiss accent and she always called me "Hoy". One friend I had at her house was "Shrimp" as she called him. He was one of the neighbour’s kids, I suppose.


Me and "Shrimp"

The photo above is of us in the garden with my first two wheeled bike. One night I stayed at their house and slept in my own bedroom, a luxury for me. I remember Mrs Bollar telling me to put my clothes all together on the chair so that if there was an air raid I could get my clothes on quickly. To this day I always have my clothes neatly together on a chair.

Infants School.

This was Gillispie Road Infants School. I can’t remember much except for the first day being taken there by Mum and as she left I started crying. My cousin Pam came over to me, put her arm around me and said, "Don’t worry, I’ll take care of you". She led me over to where some children were playing on the floor with coloured wooden bricks. I joined in and the tears were forgotten. But not the memory!

Junior School.

I think I went to the junior school in Blackstock Road for a time. The only teacher I can remember was Miss Fountain. She was very glamorous and wore big frilly skirts.

Then moved to the Junior school at the end of Woodberry Grove. This was not a happy time. I was bullied by Freddie Spragg and his gang. He would demand my apple or orange that Mum had given me. Sometimes he demanded money. My teacher Mr Tourel seemed to delight in hitting children.

Secondary School.

Mum and Dad did not want me to attend any of the local Secondary schools, as they were "a bit rough". They found a church school in Hackney that seemed to be suitable. Just before I started at Hackney Free and Parochial Secondary School Mum thought it would be a good idea for me to join a church choir. So I became a chorister at St Olave’s at Manor House. There I made several good friends who also were at the same school. Though I only had a mediocre voice I enjoyed the singing. Especially the psalms, that had a wonderfully complicated musical notation that I seemed to be able to read with ease. The hymns Ancient and Modern I have always liked with their robust tunes and the Victorian sentimental verse.

Bonfire night party c1954. L to r. David West, Alfie Lloyd, Mick Puddifoot in front, ?, me with Sidney the rabbit, Tony Campfield, ?.

Friends that I made at the choir were Tony Campfield and Mickey Puddifoot.

Tony lived down Green Lanes over a shop. He had a younger sister. His father told us stories of the war and when prompted would show us his commando dagger, the details I remember to this day. They had a television by the time of the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II on 2nd June 1953. We had a little party there and watched the ceremony on the television with curtains drawn. They moved to Slough about 1955 and I lost touch with Tony.

Mickey Puddifoot was the other close friend I had at the time. He was always full of fun. He lived in the big, then very tall, block of flats on the Woodberry Down Estate. His father worked for an oil company in the Far East and was seldom home. He left school after a couple of years when the family moved to Ipoh, Malaya.

As a family we did not go out much. Dad would be working nights and would work overtime too. Mum had a friend from her days working at Mount Royal before the war, Bill Miles. He was now the caretaker of a block of flats in Hackney. It was a 653 trolley bus ride to get there and quite an adventure. We passed the stocks in the churchyard of St John’s that always had a fascination for me. The ride on the bus good fun but outside was very dark and gloomy

Mum and he and his wife would sit talking and drinking tea while I was allowed to sit in his utility room and look through his bundles of "Blighty" pin up magazines.

Mount Royal.

I grew up with Mount Royal Hotel, in fact I was probably conceived there!

Dad would always work on the night shift as a Maintenance Engineer. He had been on nights since he started at the Mount Royal hotel in 1933 when it was built. When he retired in 1981, at the age of 80, he was still on the night shift.

The other visit was usually on a Sunday evening and we would go to the News Theatre at Victoria station. There was a small cinema that showed non-stop cartoons and the weekly Pathe news. It was quite cheap to go in and the programme lasted for an hour. Afterwards we would take the tube then go a see Dad at work.

We wouldn’t go into the hotel proper, all our visits were down in the bowels of the hotel. Dad would make tea in the mess room and Mum would sit and drink tea, have a cigarette and chat to the men on Dad’s shift, many she had known from her time working at the hotel.

Then he would take me down more flights of stairs into the labyrinth that was the enormous Boiler Room. This is what I liked best, the visit to the boiler room, deep under the hotel. Four oil fired boilers that provided the hot water and heating for the hotel and shops above. Pressure gauges, temperature gauges, pipes, valves, switches, pumps, very hot, noisy and the smell of the heating oil. Great fun and inspiring. A look through the small window of the boiler to see the roaring inferno. The air conditioning plant had a vast room to its self. One visit it was switched off and Dad showed me the ventilating tunnel that ran under the whole block. It must have been 8 feet high and 6 feet wide and ran into the far distance. To this day I’m in awe of tunnels.

Then there would be a look at the standby generators, pumps and the spectacular art deco control panel with dozens of dials and gauges and recording charts. Readings of the instruments had to be taken every hour and recorded in a big log-book.

Mum and Dad had many friends at Mount Royal. Auntie Ella, as I called her, was a very good friend and would often come to visit. She was always very well dressed, not easy in those austere days. She married Bill Bland (Uncle Bill) who I loved to talk to. He was in the Armoured Corps during the war and had served in North Africa. His tank was blown up by a German mine and he was captured. Seriously wounded and with a broken back, he spent six months strapped to a board. The German officer, who had removed his watch, gave it back to him when he’d recovered. Bill would tell me fascinating stories of his time in the desert and he still wore the watch.

As he was very useful with his hands and always willing to help anyone he often got "perks" from the hotel. Some times he got unheard of foods. During the war Mount Royal was used by the US government as a transit camp for American officers. At the build up to D-Day the hotel was used for briefings. (Dad made some furniture from D-Day map boards!) Dad acquired a large wooden packing case that he turned into a linen chest. The packing case had been full of food that a Canadian brought over - full of tinned food. He thought we were starving.

One day Dad brought home great thick bars of chocolate used for cooking. The bars were so thick he had to hit them with the handle of the poker to break them up into bite sized pieces. It had such a strange taste, but not being used to chocolate I knew no better. It was a great treat.

The "Looney Bin".

The "Looney Bin" is what we kids called Northumberland House, built in 1822 originally as a grand house it later became a private Lunatic Asylum. Now and then I would look over the fence and watch the poor unfortunates being walked around the beautiful gardens. The place was closed in the early 50’s and became our playground. It had everything, deep cellars, padded cells, air-raid shelters, a summer house that revolved to face the sun, vast grounds that backed onto the New River. Best of all, there were no grown-up to tell you what to do!

Barnets

This was at the back of the houses down the road and was at one time an ice cream making business.


My first bike.

There were derelict pavilion and tennis courts at the back of the houses down the road (odd numbers, our side). The tennis courts had red sand on them and the bigger boys made a cycle race track here with whitened stones to mark out the oval. They also played bicycle polo there.

I always remember these big houses empty. They were our playground - a great place for Hide and Seek, Run-outs, Cowboys and Indians, Cops and Robbers.

Harringay Arena and Harringay Stadium.

The Arena is now demolished. I saw many shows there, some times I got in for nothing during the interval. I spoke to Roy Rogers while he was exercising Trigger between shows. I saw The Gene Autry Wild West Show, Horse of the Year show many times, The Tom Mix Wild West Show and of course Tom Arnold’s Circus.

North London Drapery Stores.

One of Mum’s favourite shops. I was always bored being dragged around this great big department store. The only excitement was when an assistant made a sale and the cash and the bill was put into a brass cylinder with leather padded ends and the pushed into the Lamson Tube that shot it to the cashier who stamped the bill and sent any change back in the container to the shop assistant. This system fascinated me.

Jones Brothers.

Mum’s other favourite shop in the area. But for me just as boring as The North London Drapery Stores but without the attraction of the pneumatic system.

Smith’s the Tobacconist.

Where Dad bought his pipe tobacco, "Skipper" and Mum bought her cigarettes, "Gold Flake" and where I got the newspaper, "The Star" in the evening.

Williams Brothers.

This was a grocers in Blackstock Road where Mum had an account and we were given tin tokens which could be redeemed. Known as "Divi".

Gamages.

The department store in Holborn where Dad would take me now and then, always on a Friday. He often bought tools there in the basement where the Government surplus tools were sold. Very much a treat. Usually he took me there at Christmas to see their famous model railway layout. When I was very young I met Father Christmas! Then we would always visit:-

Leather Lane Market.

Always after visiting Gamages we would look around the market.

The shops down Harringay.

There was a government surplus shop that sold electrical stuff near Bentalls the toy shop. At the back of the shop was the lending library where Dad would get his books from.

The fish shop with the overhead wires that sent the money from the counter to the lady on the cash desk.

Or CoOp number was 059657

United Daries milk float drawn by a horse. And the baker’s delivery vehicle was a battery driven cart that the salesman walked in front of and controlled it with a handle.

Steam lorry that delivered the coal.

The pig-food bins across the road by the gas lamp. The lamplighter came every evening and turned on the gas lamp. I suppose he came and turned it off in the morning, but I never saw him. There were only gas lamps in the streets in those days. The light was very white but not very powerful and so it was quite dark and gloomy at night.

Dad’s rabbits. He made an elaborate run for them, but they all died!

My miniature toy kitchen under the stairs. Little tinplate toy gas cooker and dresser. Pots and pans and battery lights.

Uncle Horace was Dads older brother. He was married to Auntie Maud and lived down in Harringay. Their daughter Joan married Stan and their daughter Pam married Ken (the cousin of Rod Stuart) and they have a daughter Julie.

Dad’s sisters.

Auntie Dolly (married Kenneth Frazer) Widowed. She lived in Canada. Her daughter Muriel came to visit us once.

Auntie Marie (married Lees James) Widowed. Lived in beautiful flat in North Ealing. One daughter Freda married and moved to Venezuela.
When we visited I was allowed to ride her bike around the paths of the estate. Her cat was named Marmalade.

Auntie Biddy and Uncle Ronald (Mitchell) looked after Granny. They lived in Queens Drive then the moved to Southgate and after Granny died in 1948 they moved to Saltdean, near Brighton on the south coast. Auntie Biddy sometimes looked after me when Mum and Dad were at work.

As they had no children Auntie Biddy always made a fuss of me and would bake my special treat, a treacle tart! One vivid memory of her is being pushed around Finsbury Park and watching the Canadian soldiers marching and singing;

"Who’s the fellow with the big red nose, hoo har, hoo har!"

Pat my first girl-friend (after Doreen) and her sister Connie. Her lurid tales of "Old (Mr) Farthing".

Marlene Chandler. I had a crush on her but never dared to speak to her.

Wendy Skinner, Roger Smith’s girl-friend, ditto.

Uncle Jimmy, Mum’s brother, came to visit now and the. He and his wife ….. and son Terry lived in Kennington. We visited several times. Another grim flat. Uncle Jimmy knew card tricks. Very tall with sandy hair.

Finsbury Park and Clissold Park were our playgrounds. We knew every inch.

The Cats.

At Woodberry Grove we had a succession of cats. Always around was Cheekie, a black Persian. As old as me, he was Dad's cat, and followed him everywhere. All were strays that we took in. They were fed on boiled fish, whiting as it was the cheapest fish available. Tinned cat food wasn't available then so dad would buy whiting from the fish shop in Harringay and it would be boiled in a big sauce-pan and left outside in a cupboard in the porch to cool. The steam would come out of the holes in the cupboard door and the cats would sit on the shelf above, savouring the smell.

When we moved from Woodberry Grove to the flat in Highbury Quadrant the cats had to be put to sleep, as the council were very strict then on not allowing pets in the flats. I think we had three cats then; Cheekie, Minnie my tabby and a black short haired cat called Mitzi. Dad arranged for the man to come round to put them to sleep. He arrived with a van and brought out metal boxes and each cat was put into each one. A lever was pulled and the cats were chloroformed. The boxes were then thrown into the back of the van. That sad memory, the sight is still vivid and makes me cry to this day.

Highbury Quadrant - The End of Childhood

Our side, the north side of Woodberry Grove, was to be demolished. It was to become part of the LCC Rowley Gardens Housing estate. So it was with mixed feelings that we moved out in March 1958. Although we were only moving a mile down the road to Highbury Quadrant Estate to an almost new council flat it felt to me like the end of childhood.

Mum never liked the new flat, though it must have been easier to manage and keep clean and for the first time she had the use of a washing machine in the communal laundry.

Dad liked it, it was clean and was easy to decorate and keep nice.

No central heating but we had an immersion heater so we had hot water on tap. The bathroom was clean and modern. We bought a refrigerator.

We had a bike shed for my new bicycle, 10/- (50p) per week from Claud Butler’s bike shop in Harringay.

I had my own bedroom, so in time I got to like 121 Highbury Quadrant.

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All pix Roy Smith

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