Leisure => General Leisure => Topic started by: jpdeejay on August 29, 2012, 13:30:54

Title: Growing up and socialising in Kent
Post by: jpdeejay on August 29, 2012, 13:30:54
Hi all,

I am trying to gain an understanding of where people socialised in Kent when growing up....... I would be keen to hear of any memories from all eras.

I myself am in my mid thirties and grew up visiting many Kent pubs and nightclubs both as a DJ and also as a customer, the 90s were a great time for nightclubs (and also a lot cheaper than prices nowadays, I can remember going to a regular 70p a pint night!!).

Are any of you able to share memories of what you did to socialise when growing up, where did you go, Pubs? Nightclubs? Dances? Cinema??  What were the places like and what were the prices like compared to these days, believe it or not some nightclubs now charge almost £5.00 for a bottle of beer, how does this compare to years gone by???

Cheers

JP
Title: Re: Growing up and socialising in Kent
Post by: cliveh on August 29, 2012, 16:45:54
That's a 'big' topic jpdeejay!

In my teenage years in the 1970's I lived in Dunton Green, nr. Sevenoaks. Early times were spent at various village hall discos but later on mostly in pubs. I actually worked behind a bar for 5 years from when I was 18. I remember in 1974 when the beer went up in price it made a light & bitter easy to remember - the bottle light ale was 11p and the half of bitter 9p so the L & B was 20p! - Happy Days!  :)

cliveh

Title: Re: Growing up and socialising in Kent
Post by: JohnWalker on August 29, 2012, 17:53:15
My teens were in the 60's and spent most evening in Canterbury.  Being a biker automatically made me a 'Rocker'.  There were three main coffee bars in Canterbury High Street.  Rockers used the room upststairs in the Black Poodle, the Mods used the Cherry Pie just down the road.  In between was Acaris which was neutral ground.

On Tuesdays, we had the Rendevous Club in Orange Street.  Lads round the outside drinking Coca Cola and girls dancing in the middle round their handbags.  Good 60's hits being played all evening.  A few scuffles which were usually outside.

We didn't bother too much with pubs in those days and seemed to have just as much fun without alcohol.

A serious motorcycle accident put an end to my Rocker days and I moved over to 4 wheels.  Still love to look at bikes though.

JohnWalker
ps. Plenty more stories of those days if anyone interest - some cannot be told to protect the guilty  :)
Title: Re: Growing up and socialising in Kent
Post by: Minsterboy on August 29, 2012, 18:59:58
Like John, my teenage years were in the 60's and although I was never out of work, most of the free time that myself and three friends had between March and October, was spent either hitch-hiking around the S.East and to London in particular. All we took was a sleeping bag and a guitar and slept rough for a week or two. We met some great and interesting people, went to some great folk clubs in London and became very familiar with London's parks after dark, as we slept under the bushes there. Back in Sheerness, we tended to go out Friday night, drink in one or two favourite pubs and then sleep rough in tents, not going home until late Sunday night. During the day at the weekend we tended to hang out in a cafe in Sheerness, in Russell Street, called Den's cafe after the owner, which made little money because our scruffy appearance in there all the time, hardly attracted any other trade. It was the closest that we could get to being out and out beatnik/hippies and we all had long hair and beards and many girlfriends, it being the liberated, free and easy 60's.

Beer was 1/11 in old money, in my case stout and mild, and by the time we went home on Sunday night almost all our wages had been spent, I simply saved five threepences in order to buy the Dailor Mirror each day at 3d a time.
Title: Re: Growing up and socialising in Kent
Post by: ann on August 29, 2012, 20:04:15
My teen years were the early 60's.  Friday nights at Strood Youth Club, and one other night a week at Strood Workmans Club in Cuxton Road - both were the dance nights.  Other meeting places were the coffee bars, Casa Ventana in Rochester, Bunnys in Strood and The Parlour, Lower Road, Chatham.  Sunday afternoons would often be spent over at Rochester in the Castle Gardens - many happy memories from time spent there.
Title: Re: Growing up and socialising in Kent
Post by: jpdeejay on August 29, 2012, 20:39:14
Thank you all for your comments, John I would love to hear more stories please!!!!

What quite interests me is the price of going out in years gone by vs the price of going out today, how does it compare cost wise, I would say a night out on the town could cost between £50 - £100 a night if having a "good drink" - did you get as little for your money back then?????

Does anybody have any pictures of venues that were visited???

JP
Title: Re: Growing up and socialising in Kent
Post by: peterchall on August 29, 2012, 21:22:20
In the early 1970’s the Duke of York at Shorne was my recovery stop on the way home after a hard day’s work, and I remember the shock of a pint of Guinness going into double figures - 10p. It was about then that we also had the shock of the £1000 Mini.

About 1935-36 my Dad used to say that a man should always carry a piece of string, a penknife and 4d. I can’t remember what the string and knife were for, but the 4d was for a pint of beer. He used to go out each Friday night with my Grand-dad (his father-in-law) with a shilling each, which presumably bought them 3 pints each.

When he was landlord of the Forester’s Arms at Rochester (1946-1954), a 20 minute game of bar-billiards cost 6d – even he and I had to pay that because there was no other way to operate the table, which was emptied at intervals by its owner in the same way that gaming machines are now.

I think a wartime packet of Smiths Crisps cost 2d
Title: Re: Growing up and socialising in Kent
Post by: IanDB on August 29, 2012, 21:47:26
My teens were in the 60's ................. Being a biker automatically made me a 'Rocker'. 

Me too. I lived in Broadstairs during my teenage years, but my social life was centred around bikes and biker haunts. The Mods and Rockers time in Margate has been vastly overplayed but there were some interesting times. I met like minded souls at a coffee bar in Birchington and The Trapezium Café in Sandwich. We rode in groups to places further afield like the Sunshine Café in Folkestone and the Top Hat in Dover.

I joined the Ashford Aces Motorcycle Club and the famous 59 Club in London (still a member today) in 1964 and started riding to the Ace Café on the North Circular Road for weekend visits. Biker cafés like Johnsons near Brands Hatch, The Nightingale and The Saltbox near Biggin Hill were visited usually on the way back from London.

Dreamland amusement park at Margate accounted for a lot of leisure time, with the occasional visit to the ballroom if a decent band were on. You have to remember that the way we dressed in leather jackets and jeans meant that entry to many establishments was denied us.

In later teenage years and early twenties, when longer term friendships had been established, I started to socialise in licensed premises like the Bricklayers Arms in Shepherdswell. After starting work at Chislet Colliery and later transferring to Betteshanger Colliery my social life centred around the welfare clubs associated with the collieries.

Throughout all this time my favourite cinema was the Plaza in Margate and I started going there when I discovered that I could easily get in underage to see X rated films, particularly the Hammer Horror films. I can no longer recollect the price of a pint or cost of a cinema ticket, but petrol for the bike cost 3/9d (19 pence) a gallon.
Title: Re: Growing up and socialising in Kent
Post by: StuarttheGrant on August 30, 2012, 00:58:55
 Hi Guys, I rcall the Dover Rockers meeting at the "Top Hat". then burning off to Sandwich or Folkestone. They were good days as I recall lots of bikes Dolly birds and many other things. Stuart....
Title: Re: Growing up and socialising in Kent
Post by: Sentinel S4 on August 30, 2012, 04:18:10
For me it was the 1980's. I was an inpoverished, me not the people I worked for, Gents Hairdresser's Apprentice. I was earning all of £21 a week in the third year (1984). I could only just afford to run a motor bike for work with one night a week out with my mates. We used to visit many of the pubs in the Canterbury area, the Bat and Ball being a favorite. I can't remember the price of a pint, about 50p I think, but I do remember filling up my bike (a Honda 125 Super Dream) for 75p. Mum took a third of my wage for house keeping and the rest went on the HP, Insurance and Tax. We did used to play Bar Billiards a lot and I remember it being 40p for 20 mins and the near riot when it went up to 50p. That all came to a shuddering end when I met the Girl I was to marry, 25 years this year and still going strong, as I lost interest in going to the pub and eventually the bikes went as well. No regrets though.

S4.
Title: Re: Growing up and socialising in Kent
Post by: Minsterboy on August 30, 2012, 07:27:01
To answer Jpdeejay,

I recall in the mid to late 1960's a pint of beer in a pub cost around 1/11d, almost 2 shiilings. There were 20 shillings to a pound and so if you wanted to you could drink ten pints for a pound, which I would of done easily over a weekend.
Until around 1972 I was only taking home £9-£11 pound a week and so after paying housekeeping to my mother and my HP bills, most of my remaining pittance went on beer.
The most interesting thing was the fact that in 1972, I became a stevedore in Sheerness Docks and my wage jumped overnight from £9 a week to over £100 a week, which allowed me to get a mortgage and a car and so still ended up with little in my pocket.

Title: Re: Growing up and socialising in Kent
Post by: jpdeejay on August 30, 2012, 08:13:36
So glad that I started this thread now, thank you for your replies this is truly fascinating, please keep your memories coming........

I love the thought of drinking 10 pints for a pound!!!!
Title: Re: Growing up and socialising in Kent
Post by: Minsterboy on August 30, 2012, 10:21:24
It always appealed to me until I tried it one Friday night and spent the rest of the weekend in bed. I spaced it out over the weekend after that.

I don't recall much lager being drunk in those days either, it was mainly Bitter, Light and Bitter, Mild, Brown and Mild or in my case, Stout and Mild. Eventually I discovered Double Diamond and enjoyed that for many years until settling down with Real Ales.
I don't think Double Diamond exists these days and rarely do you see Watney`s or Truman`s ales, if at all.
Title: Re: Growing up and socialising in Kent
Post by: Minsterboy on August 30, 2012, 10:30:50
One other piece of entertainment that I recall from those days usually happened at the annual Sheerness Carnival. There used to be a coffee bar in Sheerness High Street called Morelli's, alongside the old Woolworths. That was the hang-out of Sheppey's Mods, whereas us hippy types and some Rockers used Den's cafe in Russell Street opposite. Both groups stood on opposite sides of the road and as a carnival float went by and obscured us, we would throw half house bricks etc, over the float to rain down on the Mods. The next float would see most of it come back in our direction with occasional injuries on both sides. Eventually this would result in the inevitable mass punch up on one side of the road - all good but painful fun at the time and then we'd all go off to watch the after carnival fireworks.
Title: Re: Growing up and socialising in Kent
Post by: IanDB on August 30, 2012, 10:47:43
I've discovered how much I was earning in the period from 1963 to 1973, when I would have been aged 16 to 26. My earnings would have directly influenced the level of spending on social activities. Up until '64 I was earning close to £7 per week at an engineering company in Broadstairs. From '64 until '66 I earned about £32 per month as a Cartographical Draughtsman Surveyor with the Ordnance Survey. From '66 to '73 I was earning between £37 and £72 per week depending on overtime and shift allowances as a collier down the Kent pits. I did whatever overtime was going to boost earnings and if you actually attended for the basic 5 day week a bonus shift was paid as well. This was an incentive to try and reduce absenteeism which was particularly bad on Monday morning shifts and Friday afternoon and night shifts.
I was relatively well off as a miner and I guess I socialised as and when I felt like it as well as buying a first car and securing a mortgage on my first house. All good going for someone just into their twenties I suppose and much easier than for someone of the same age today.
Title: Re: Growing up and socialising in Kent
Post by: smiler on August 30, 2012, 10:49:50
Recall in the late 70s you could easily go to a dart match have 5/6 pints buy one for opponent if losing buy 1/2 oz bacca and still have change from £2.In 1974 I used the Marlborough Head on Frindsbury Hill, every lunch hour 2 pints of light mild 1/2 oz bacca exactly 50p. I came out of the pub trade in July 89. I refused to sell headbanging lagers so my dearest pint then was Fosters at £1.
Title: Re: Growing up and socialising in Kent
Post by: Minsterboy on August 30, 2012, 10:56:24
Well you did better than me Ian. My first job after leaving school in the summer of 1962 was as a milk roundsboy helping an established milkman. I earned around £2 - £3 a week then.
Title: Re: Growing up and socialising in Kent
Post by: Ron Stilwell on August 30, 2013, 16:08:54
Transferred from the Vyes topic, from the 40's and 50's

Part one:

We moved from Rydens Way, Woking to ‘Park View’, Tyndale Park, Herne Bay in 1946.  There was a rumour that mum and dad had won enough to leave Woking and buy a much bigger and more expensive house in Herne Bay but, in actual fact, the only winning of any size was on the 1948 Grand National when Dad backed the winner – ‘Sheila’s Cottage’ and won just over £16.00!  Certainly not enough to buy a house even in those days!
The move to Herne Bay and buying Tyndale Park was because Mum and Dad had decided to try opening up a guesthouse after a holiday in Hastings with a landlady called Mrs Goodchild.  Having been in service themselves, they were struck by how bad the service was and decided they could do better.  For instance at Mrs Goodchilds the breakfast ALWAYS consisted of porridge and one sardine!  After the first mornings breakfast, the family went down to the beach, and Jane was immediately sick.  After that it was agreed that Jane would swap her porridge with dad in return for his sardine.  As a little boy I got a slightly different menu but in the whole two weeks we were there I only got one egg.  As I had my own ration book this was unfair and very much frowned upon by the family.  Another oddity of Mrs Goodchild was the imposition of fines for late attendance at meal times.  At least once when we had missed a bus a one-penny per person fine was levied.
Our new house, ‘Park View’, Tyndale Park was a very large detached house (now divided into two), with a big front door that led into a room-sized entrance hall, complete with fireplace and a staircase that ran along the back wall.  From the dining room at the rear of the house, French windows led out to a huge sloping garden that was reached by a set of stone steps.  To the left of the garden was an orchard that was populated with chickens and ducks.  There were two sheds in the main garden and a pen that housed two turkeys.  Up the hill, behind the house was a huge scrub-covered field in which an ancient water tower stood. It was in that wasteland that I first began to practise wanderlust.  I have no idea how many times I escaped into the field only to be brought back home complaining bitterly.  (aged about six)

Photo is of the Tyndale Park property after it was turned into two houses.
Title: Re: Growing up and socialising in Kent
Post by: Signals99 on August 30, 2013, 17:23:22
Ron
That Mrs Goodchild sounds unbelievable. I don't think she would last long today. Any idea how much that house cost your parents, not being nosy but your dad must have had a fair wage to get a mortgage, or did he rent it?


Title: Re: Growing up and socialising in Kent
Post by: Ron Stilwell on August 30, 2013, 17:34:49
Ron
That mrs Goodchild sounds unbelievable ?i don't think she would last long today.Any idea how much that house cost your parents,not being nosy but your dad must have had a fair wage to get a mortgage,or did he rent it.
They bought it, but don't have any idea of how much.  I was very small.
Thinking about it.  The previous house in Woking was quite big, and probably fetched much more being closer to London, so that may have helped a lot.
Title: Re: Growing up and socialising in Kent
Post by: Ron Stilwell on August 31, 2013, 10:09:08
Part two:

(a couple of notes as this section is well into my notes of the period, unfortunately my first years were in Woking, which doesn't fit into the forum.  Jane is my older sister, Gertie is my adopted mother)

One day the next-door neighbour called in a panic to warn us that the turkeys had escaped and were wandering down the middle of the road!  Perhaps they were trying to reach the poultry farm, which was in a dip on the opposite side of the road.
Dad called out to Jane to help, but she ran off and hid, leaving dad to try to gather in the errant birds by himself.
We, like so many, had a big vegetable patch and lots of poultry and rabbits as it was about the only way to get enough food with rationing still quite very bad.  If you had the space, that was the done thing during the war, and we had several families of evacuees in Woking, so it was essential to have the garden producing as much as possible.
Once we moved to Tyndale Park is was even more essential as mum wanted to make sure that there was plenty of food for the many visitors which she hoped would visit the guest house.  Obviously, the visitors would bring their ration books with them, but that amount wasn't enough provide really good meals.
I had my own poultry related incident in Tyndale Park.  I had spotted some world-shattering event with the chickens, (probably an egg) and had gone racing down the garden to tell mum.  I tripped on the steps and fell flat on my face, causing a really nasty gash across the bridge of my nose.
I was picked up and dumped on the draining board to make sure that I didn’t bleed over the posher parts of the house.  I hated being up there anyway, because I used to be bathed sitting in the kitchen sink, and I always associated it with the discomfort of getting soap in my eyes when my hair was washed.  I, of course, was properly hamming it up, wailing that I was going to die.  In the end I was carted off to the Cottage Hospital for stitches.
Once we got back from the hospital I was given a book that mother had put aside for my birthday, and Jane was detailed to read it to me to keep me quiet.  Ironically, considering my swollen nose, the book was Pinocchio!
I cannot remember if any ‘First Aid’ was used while I was sitting on the draining board, but one of the favourite ‘cures’ in the medicine cupboard was a bottle of ‘Smelling Salts’.  This consisted of yellowish crystals in a bottle with a glass stopper.  The crystals were sulphate of potash, covered in what was called Sal Volatile, but was in fact liquid ammonia.  The bottle would be stuck under your nose, and the appalling odour was supposed to bring you around from a faint.
Title: Re: Growing up and socialising in Kent
Post by: Ron Stilwell on August 31, 2013, 10:54:38
Part two and a bit :)

Unfortunately, all that was done in the Cottage Hospital was sowing up the gash in my nose, and no follow-up work was done.  What was not realised at the time was that my nasal channel had been severed, and from that time, and for the rest of my life I have been unable to smell anything at all, not even my own feet!  I have no idea whether the problem would have been found if it had happened in later years, but although I did not realise it at the time it had a great effect.  The really bizarre part is that I had no memory of smells after that date, with no idea how good or bad things smell.  I can stand in smoke from a bonfire and have no idea if it is there apart from sight.  I can't smell cooking, and this affects taste as well.  It seems as though I just have a few taste buds, bitter and sweet, but not much else.  And of course, I can't smell gas or anything noxious like that which can make life quite interesting!  In later years I was in a flat in Margate, and woke up in the morning and went down from the third floor bedroom to the second floor for breakfast.  Halfway down the stairs I could see smoke, and by the time I reached the first floor and looked down to the front door I could see that it was coming from the downstairs flat.  I went down with one of those old brass trichloroethylene fire extinguishers to see what I could do.  I hammered on their front door, but there was no answer, so I kicked the door open and found the lady living there, unfortunately too late. 
Title: Re: Growing up and socialising in Kent
Post by: Rochester-bred on August 31, 2013, 12:04:14
Ron Stilwell, Thank you so much for sharing that, its so interesting to hear how people grew up in the past.
Title: Re: Growing up and socialising in Kent
Post by: Ron Stilwell on August 31, 2013, 12:19:28
Ron Stilwell, Thank you so much for sharing that, its so interesting to hear how people grew up in the past.
Plenty more to come. 
Title: Re: Growing up and socialising in Kent
Post by: busyglen on August 31, 2013, 14:52:28
Great stuff! :)
Title: Re: Growing up and socialising in Kent
Post by: Ron Stilwell on August 31, 2013, 18:19:59
Part three:

The real problem with Tyndale Park was that in the opinion of various members of the family, Gertie had ‘Ideas above her station’.  At the end of every season dad had to decorate the entire premises and there was much refurbishment (new sheets, curtains etc. had to be purchased).  Mum had a real penchant for ‘keeping up with the Jones’s', but she seemed hopeless with money and because of all the renovations they started each year almost penniless.  It seems that the house was just too big a drain on Mum and Dad’s resources and so they decided to move to a house just down the road in Mickleburgh Hill.
100 Mickleburgh Hill was a fairly ordinary semi-detached on the corner of Tyndale Park.  Considering that there were only three bedrooms one wonders how we managed to fit all the guests into the rooms.  There were four of us in the family, and at times there were as many as five or six adult visitors.  Although it sounds odd, some of the visitors would sleep at other houses up and down the street, coming down to us for breakfast and evening meals, and I suppose mum would pay something to the residents of the other houses for the use of their rooms.
 I don’t remember much of the house except that my room had a good view of the main road and I spent many hours competing with my sister taking car numbers.  Jane had to be different, of course, and decided to collect numbers in sequence, for example, starting with a registration number like XKT 1, and working up, a number at a time.  The catch was, they had to be in order, so if she saw an ‘8’ she could only use it if she was already up to ‘7’.  As I recall, she had reached the number ‘26’ by the time we left Mickleburgh Hill.
It did have a huge garden at the side.  After we left this was sold and has now been built on.  I also watched with interest as the vacant plot on the opposite corner of Tyndale Park was taken over by builders.  I remember sitting at my bedroom window being amazed by the speed with which the new house appeared on the land.
Title: Re: Growing up and socialising in Kent
Post by: Ron Stilwell on September 01, 2013, 10:13:29
Part four:

I began my school life at the age of five in Gundolf House Private School, which was on the corner of Tyndale Park.  It was only a tiny little school with about fifty children, two teachers, a nurse and a head mistress.  Although I wasn’t there very long the private school environment had a long lasting effect on me, particularly a love of books.  Only one lasting memory comes down from my time there and that was my first contact with a school bully.  In such a small school this affected everybody and we all decided to do something about it.  I remember virtually the whole school surrounding the offending pupil in the grounds one day and threatening him.  The bullying stopped!
I went there with my best friend, Ian Bingham.  My parents had been friends with the Binghams for years, since they lived near each other in Woking.  It may have been the fact that the Binghams had moved to Herne Bay to open a dairy in William Street that made up my family’s mind to move to Herne Bay. The guesthouse business continued to Mickleburgh Hill, Herne Bay, and finally to Waverley Road, Westbrook.
It was in Herne Bay that I remember mother becoming quite heavily involved with the Town’s Women’s Guild.  Being still very young I was dragged along to some of the meetings, and I even had to play as her partner in Whist Drives.  Being no more than seven years old, I had no real idea of how to play and I had to be helped by our opponents.
That wasn’t the end of my social calendar.  Mother also got involved in various plays that were put on, and I would have to go along to watch.  I remember one production when mum played a police inspector in an Agatha Christie ‘who-dunnit’.
More daunting events were the tea dances that were held at the Central Bandstand on Herne Bay sea front.  The Bandstand was built in 1924, and fully enclosed in 1934, with glazed sides to protect against the wind, a promenade deck looking out over the sea and a stage at one end.
The Bandstand houses a number of attractions, including Punch and Judy shows and Magicians, and live bands, both military and civilian.  The tea dances were very popular, but were terrifying occasions for me because of the remote chance that I might have to dance with a girl!  As it was, it was bad enough having to dance with my sister!  The only dances I was even slightly at ease with were the Hokey Kokey and the Conga.  If at all possible I would slip outside to play on the cannon around the clock tower.
Title: Re: Growing up and socialising in Kent
Post by: ann on September 01, 2013, 11:06:07
Enjoying your new thread.

Mention of Town Womens Guild brought back memories.  My mother too became heavily involved in the 'Ladies Guild' during the 50's.  Cannot remember going to any of the meetings, but do remember the Concerts put on each Christmas.  Mum was in the 'concert party' as it was called, but she was always a bag of nerves before each show.  It was compulsory for dad and I to attend, (even relatives from Essex came)  and I recall dad was even roped in to being 'on the door' some evenings.

Keep them coming.
Title: Re: Growing up and socialising in Kent
Post by: Ron Stilwell on September 02, 2013, 00:26:00
Part five:

(At about this time Jane decided to become Jayne.)
Once we moved to Herne Bay we would spend quite a bit of time down on the beach, though I was never very keen on the pebble beach there.  Unfortunately, we did not have proper bathing costumes, but instead had to wear hand-knitted ones, which became very heavy once they got wet and ended up around our ankles!
On one occasion I can remember that we went along the coast to Reculver, and part of the way there we came across a very rusty and derelict tank.  It was obviously part of the coastal defences and hadn’t yet been removed.  I had a great time clambering over it until I was called away by mum and dad.  As far as I can remember, it was a Lee Grant Tank, but I am not certain of this.
Gertie was always knitting something, but apart from the swimming costumes I can’t remember any other products from that endeavour.  Gertie and Jayne also employed the services of a dressmaker who was a little old lady who lived in Herne Bay.   Jayne particularly remembers a nightie, which was green with frills.  Gertie’s mother, Grandma Hughes was staying in the house at the time, and when Jayne tried on the new nightie Granny told her it would ‘Give her ideas!’
Gertie firmly believed that if you went to Grammar school you had to stay until you were eighteen.  On the day that she discovered that you could leave at sixteen, she caught the bus to Canterbury, and a second bus to Simon Langton School.  She walked right in to see the head and demanded to take Jayne home.  Jayne was called from class and Gertie took her out of school immediately.  Gertie found work for her straight away in Lefevre in Canterbury.
One of the trips down to the beach was to watch the King’s Cup Race on June 20, 1953. We went along the cliffs towards Reculver and sat there with a picnic.  The event was started by the overflight of one of the biggest aircraft in the world at that time - the Bristol Brabazon.
The Brabazon was an enormous aircraft for the time and with eight engines it flew successfully but it never entered airline service as it was considered grossly underpowered and carried too few passengers.  This was one of its last ever flights because in October 1953, after less than 400 hours flying time, the first prototype was broken up.
After the Brabazon went through, lots of small aircraft came along the coast from the direction of London and heading East.  They were all shapes and sizes and flying at different heights and speeds.  They seemed to take ages to pass by.  There were three qualifying races, each for three laps around the 10-mile course.  The 12 finalists flew six laps, with Pat Fillingham winning in a deHavilland Chipmunk at 142 mph.  W.P. Bowles was second in a Miles Messenger at 133 mph, and D.R. Robertson was third at 115 mph in a deHavilland Moth Minor.

Title: Re: Growing up and socialising in Kent
Post by: Signals99 on September 02, 2013, 10:31:25
Hi Ron,
Wow! That's some costume, can I get one? xxxl please  :)
Title: Re: Growing up and socialising in Kent
Post by: Ron Stilwell on September 02, 2013, 10:32:42
Hi Ron,
Wow!thats some costume ,can I get one? xxxl please  :)
rotter! :)

You can see from the look on my face that I'm pleased to be wearing it!

By the way, I think it was about the last time anyone saw the Brabazon
Title: Re: Growing up and socialising in Kent
Post by: Lyn L on September 02, 2013, 11:23:16
Great reading RS, please keep them coming  :)

(Love the costume too  :) ) and remember them well.
Title: Re: Growing up and socialising in Kent
Post by: Ron Stilwell on September 02, 2013, 17:00:41
Part six:

Another day out somewhere down on the south coast brought me into contact with the Supermarine S6 which was a float-plane designed by R.J.Mitchell that won the Schneider Trophy in 1929.  The Schneider Trophy was the premier air speed contest in the 1920's and it helped accelerate the development of aircraft between the wars. The British Supermarine S6 proved unbeatable and in 1931 won the trophy outright.
When I saw it in about 1949 I was really excited because it was from this aircraft that the Supermarine Spitfire was developed.  The Trophy competitions ran from 1913 - 1931 with the final races taking place over the Solent using a diamond shaped circuit that overflew Portsmouth sea front.  It seemed really odd to see it tied up alongside a harbour pier.  This beautiful floatplane is now in the Southampton Aviation Museum.
In 1950, Jayne entered the ‘Miss Herne Bay’ beauty contest at the Kings Hall, Herne Bay.  She was placed second, and so became Maid of Honour to the Carnival Queen.  Miss Herne Bay and her two Maid’s of Honour had to go to the different carnivals around the area, and hey would lead the carnival on a float in the Herne Bay, Canterbury, and Margate Carnivals.

Unfortunately, the family was about to move again out of Herne Bay, and this made it impossible for Jayne to carry out her Maid of Honour duties.  We moved from Herne Bay to Westbrook, Margate in early spring 1951.  Our new house was a very nice semi-detached house at 23 Waverley Road.  On one side of us at No. 25 was a widow who, to be honest, was a little strange.  On the other side at 21 lived the Miss Caves, a pair of spinster sisters who were delightful people.  When I think back to those days, I realise that they should have been given medals for living next to me!
They had a fascinating front garden with a series of ponds with running water down the side of the path.  I used to look over the wall coveting this piece of gardening architecture.  I very soon found a way through into their garden from the back of our tool shed.  This allowed me to creep around the bottom of their garden, completely out of sight.  They never used to venture that far down from the house so I was never discovered.  There were plenty of fruit trees down there and so I spent a lot of time scrumping.  Right at the end of their garden was a very large shed with one side glazed like a greenhouse.  It was easy to get inside, as the whole thing was nearly rotten.  It was obvious that no one had been in there for years and it contained box after dusty box of wire-framed spectacles.  I often wonder if their father had been an optician and this was his workshop.

Title: Re: Growing up and socialising in Kent
Post by: smiler on September 03, 2013, 09:10:44
Very interesting Ron Stilwell followed through this and Vyes, you started it all off at a very young age, so have you got an extremely good memory or did you keep diaries from an early age?
Title: Re: Growing up and socialising in Kent
Post by: Ron Stilwell on September 03, 2013, 11:04:30
Very interesting Ron Stilwell followed through this and Vyes, you started it all off at a very young age, so have you got an extremely good memory or did you keep diaries from an early age?

Not a bad memory Smiler, at least as regards 'things long gone', but a lot of the information came from chats with the family, where we sat down and talked things through.  I started writing down these memories in 1990, after I had a bad experience with pneumonia, and felt my children would like to know some of it.  I had been doing family history research for about 20 years, and always felt that it would have been good if they had written a few things down.  My sister and I started (she is 9 years older) writing notes down and then compared them over lots of coffee.  There was input from other people as well, and the end result, after you verbally talk it through is that you remember much more.  My earliest memory was of a V1 that landed near us in Woking, but there is the problem - I don't know if it's my memory or something that I heard repeated as a child, as of course it was.
Title: Re: Growing up and socialising in Kent
Post by: Ron Stilwell on September 03, 2013, 11:32:02
Part seven:

Meal times could be a bit of an ordeal on occasions.  When she felt like it, Gertie would criticise the speed that I was eating, insisting that I chew each mouthful at least 16 times.  Sometimes, when I was less keen on the meal I would start picking at my food and I would be told that I had to sit there until I’d cleared my plate, no matter how long it took.  That episode certainly had an effect on me, as I am still in the habit of polishing my plate clean!
Because of the guest house, my dad's gardening, and the rabbits and poultry, there was not much of a shortage of food, even with rationing, we still took advantage of the cod-liver oil and malt that was made available for small children.  I was not at all keen on the cod-liver oil, but at least the malt made it more palatable.
I spent many happy hours down in our tool shed with hammer, saw and screwdriver.  One of the first things I made was a multi-storey mouse house.  I started off with a large brown male called Hovis and a couple of white females.  There was plenty of room for expansion in their new home so I was quite pleased when the first young came along.  With mice, of course, it’s only about six weeks before the babies are ready for breeding and so pretty soon my mouse palace had deteriorated into a crowded ghetto.  I remember counting fifty at one time!  Hovis knew what to do, however, and commenced to eat his way through the excess population!  I learnt a lot in that episode.
Title: Re: Growing up and socialising in Kent
Post by: Ron Stilwell on September 04, 2013, 12:17:23
Part eight:

At about that time I went through a phase of making dens at the bottom of the garden. Nothing was safe, nailed down or not I would purloin anything for use in my construction plans.  Hidden behind the sweet peas and the broad bean tunnels and amongst the trees I would cobble together old doors, planks and corrugated iron to make a suitable den.  One thing that had to be included was a maze-like entrance.  I had soon realised that if I put a couple of tight bends at the front mum couldn’t see if I was in there and certainly couldn’t get in to check.  Furnishings included an orange box for a table, cuttings from the 'Eagle' on the wall and a biscuit tin for food supplies.
One of the items I had tucked away in my hide were a few blankets to fashion a simple bunk.  These were Utility blankets, rather rough, and of a creamy texture, with a utility emblem on the label.  Utility textiles were produced to aid the economy and help the war effort and although not actually being of military manufacture it was arguably getting close to a 'civilian uniform'.  Utility Clothing was introduced towards the end of 1941 by the British government with several purposes in mind.  Raw materials (cloth, wool, leather etc.) were in short supply and had to be conserved. Manufactures needed to become more efficient in their working practices (Much of the skilled labour had left to fight). Clothing prices (which were increasing) needed to be kept down so that the civilian population could afford clothing of a reasonable quality.  The Utility Clothing Scheme in the large part succeeded in these aims. Utility clothing was stamped or labelled with a utility mark (CC41), the two C's looking more like 'Pac Man' figures than letters, in an effort possibly to hide its true meaning i.e. Civilian Clothing 1941.
The government took control of the import and manufacture of raw materials and supplied cloth etc. to manufactures.  Manufactures were encouraged to produce a limited range of garments and therefore produce longer runs of garments using this 'Utility' material. This obviously increased efficiency while reducing the choice available.  The style of garments produced was also subject to 'austerity' regulations, which restricted how much cloth was used. For example, pockets were restricted, a maximum length for men's shirts was introduced and a ban on turn-ups for men's trousers caused much heated debate.
Utility clothing was also subject to price regulations.  Profits were restricted for both manufactures and retailers, which resulted in Utility clothing being significantly cheaper than non-utility clothing when first introduced. This together with the initial dislike by some retailers of reduced profits may have given utility clothing its bad name.  Although initially there was a great deal of hostility directed at Utility clothing by the general public this reduced as more of the clothing reached the shops.  The public was surprised to discover that the clothing varied in style & colour and was generally hard wearing and good quality.  The utility scheme was later to include furniture as well some other items and continued past the war until it was finally withdrawn in 1952.
Title: Re: Growing up and socialising in Kent
Post by: Ron Stilwell on September 05, 2013, 12:21:25
Part nine:

Soon after we moved to Westbrook a red-letter day arrived!  Sweet rationing finished on the 4th of February 1953.  It had stopped in the April of 1949 but the demand was so high it was re-introduced in the July.   Up until that time we were limited to two ounces per person per week.  So one day in February mum and dad said we were going out for a treat.  We walked down into Westbrook, into the sweet shop and mum said I could have anything I wanted!  I remember standing there in amazement at the thought!
Another of my favourite shops at the time was the post office, which doubled as a toyshop.  I would spend ages staring into the glass display case near the entrance.  This was filled mainly with Britain’s toys, farm animals and such, but my centre of attention was on the toy soldiers, planes and tanks.
After school and at weekends I would often be found down on the green with a few of the other local kids.  This green had big patches of shrubs on each of the corners and beside the path that crossed through the middle.  We soon discovered that there were tunnels through the undergrowth and they made wonderful hiding places.  Many Cops and Robbers, and Cowboy and Indian games were played out on the green in the early fifties.  It was also a great place to hide from mum and dad if the need arose!
Winters were extremely cold in the forties and fifties, and deep snow was not at all unusual, in fact it seemed as though it never ever failed to snow heavily every winter.  It was during these severe winters that we made our snowmen and rolled up giant snowballs on the green.  Some of the bigger boys and dads made the most enormous snowballs rolling them to and fro across the green picking up layers of snow and leaving wide tracks of exposed grass wherever they had been.  I loved the snow and was always out in it as soon as I could, but of course my fingers and toes would soon freeze up and I would go back indoors and endure the pain as the feeling came back into them.  I never learned and I was back outside as soon as I could manage it.
Once I got a little bit older I ventured a further away from home in the winter’s snows.  My friends and I used to go to Barnes Bridge in Westgate where we would use tin trays as sledges to slide down the snow covered embankment.  We would stare with envy at the posh boys who had proper custom-made sledges!  At home I was given the job of sweeping the snow from the path and clearing the pavement.  I was also talked into doing the neighbour’s path as well.
Title: Re: Growing up and socialising in Kent
Post by: Ron Stilwell on September 06, 2013, 20:03:32
Part ten:

Our bedrooms were always unheated, with draughty windows, and certainly no double-glazing.  You could often see your breath condensing in the air, even in the house, and the inside of the windows would regularly be coated with frost crystals.
In the coldest part of the winter hot water bottles were essential for comfort.  Rubber ones were okay, but eventually perished and began leaking, and so stone or porcelain ones were preferred.  The problem was that it was easy to burn your feet on them, and so they were usually wrapped in a towel or put into a custom-made knitted sock.
One of the highlights of the winter was the coal fire.  The fire was one of dad’s specialities, or at least he thought so.  First he would clear out yesterday’s ashes from under the grate, although as I got older I would be allowed to do that part.  He would select the best bits of coal, kindling wood and newspaper, and then carefully arrange them on the grate in the fire place. He would lay down balls of rolled up newspaper, then a lattice work of kindling wood over that, and finally carefully arranged coals on top.   He would then light the newspaper in several places and then cover the fire place with a fire guard that had newspaper over it to stop the draught getting through.  This would be to ensure that air could only get through from underneath the grate and this would get a roaring fire going as the air blasted through from beneath.  Quite often this method would back-fire as the heat would ignite the newspaper on the fire guard and a few dramatic moments followed as dad tried to put the flames out.
I would sit cross-legged on the rug and watch the fire with fascination, imagining all kinds of patterns, shapes and figures in the flames and in the glowing soot in the chimney.
Title: Re: Growing up and socialising in Kent
Post by: Ron Stilwell on September 07, 2013, 10:34:53
Part eleven:

Meccano was one of my favourite toys.  In those days it was real metal with brass nuts and bolts and you felt that you could make anything with it - well, almost anything.  One thing that always rankled was that I was never able to build the marvellous constructions that were shown on the box art.  One of these was a big travelling crane that was larger than the boy operating it!
In the early 1950’s they began to remove the old tramlines from Canterbury Road and from the railway bridge just down the road.
I was too young to remember the trams in Margate  but this was enough to interest me.  Following the tramlines along Canterbury Road led me to the old terminus shed just at the junction with King George V Avenue.  That Westbrook Tram Shed still existed in 2005 on the Canterbury Road.  (Unfortunately, after I wrote this passage it was demolished.  I cannot believe that the tram shed was not listed.  How many of these now exist?  A house now stands on the site.)
I never saw real trams running but I did ride on the trolley buses in London before they were scrapped.
Another thing that I remember from those early trips to London was being in a real London smog.  It was just as bad as they were reputed to be.  We were in a shop doorway with absolutely no idea of which way to go, although of course mum and dad still argued about which was the right direction.  It was so thick that we couldn’t even see the road from the doorway.
One memory of those trips out is that dad always wore a hat, in fact at that time it seemed as though everybody wore hats.  Men wore caps, trilbys or bowlers, although dad only ever wore a trilby.  He blamed the fact that he was going bald on the wearing of hats and helmets, especially his tin hat and helmet from the police force and the Pith Helmet or Topi he wore whilst in North Africa, Turkey, and India.  What little hair he did have was wiry, curly and red, and unlike me, who used Brylcreem to flatten mine down, Harry plastered his hair down with ordinary soap.  For work he would wear shirts with detachable collars, which had to be boiled or bleached, heavily starched, and then attached to the shirt with collar studs.
My wanderings covered just about the whole of Thanet and its surrounding by the time I was ten years old.  There was just no way to keep me indoors.  One place I discovered was Tivoli Dyke.  The dyke was part of an old stream that used to run down through the Dreamland magic garden and out into the sea in about the position now occupied by Dreamland Cinema.  The remains of Tivoli Dykes was a piece of wasteland to the rear of Margate town and ran alongside the embankment of the light railway that ran from Margate to Ramsgate.  The line was closed a long time ago but the first part of the track was still used by shunting engines from the goods yard.   We used to be able to see engines going to and fro across the bridges over Tivoli Road and Salmestone Rise.  It is a pity that it was felt necessary in the latter part of the twentieth century to remove the bridge structures.  If they had been left intact it would have maintained a wildlife corridor through the outskirts of the town and also make is possible to have a pleasant footpath along the old railway line.  Below the railway embankment was a muddy dyke that used to run out towards Margate harbour.  Messing about here was always fun, but on one occasion we found a treasure!  We discovered a number of heavy lead accumulator batteries.  As keen scavengers we were keen to get these home so we went down with an old toy bricks trolley and loaded them aboard.  It was a long way back home, under a narrow bridge that used to come out on Tivoli Park Avenue, then across Hartsdown Park but we were determined.  Unfortunately the batteries were not properly loaded and one of them fell off catching me on the backs of both heels and tearing the skin quite badly.  Ouch!
Title: Re: Growing up and socialising in Kent
Post by: Signals99 on September 07, 2013, 19:16:31
Ron Stilwell ,
Meccano was a favourite of mine, I still have one of those strange cranked spanners that came with them. Do you remember them?
Title: Re: Growing up and socialising in Kent
Post by: Ron Stilwell on September 07, 2013, 19:39:31
Looks like the auto-correct was at work there!
Title: Re: Growing up and socialising in Kent
Post by: Lyn L on September 07, 2013, 20:34:17
RS you must be about the same age as my two brothers, they had Meccano sets too, only I wasn't allowed anywhere near them. I think they could easily have fitted into your 'gang'  although the family were living in London then. Mum always used to say they'd probably have joined the Kray Twins gang with the tricks they got up to, if they hadn't all moved to Ramsgate before they got the chance.  :)
Title: Re: Growing up and socialising in Kent
Post by: Ron Stilwell on September 07, 2013, 20:47:09
Funny, I never thought of myself as a gang leader, more a Lord Fauntleroy! :)
Title: Re: Growing up and socialising in Kent
Post by: Ron Stilwell on September 08, 2013, 01:10:28
Part twelve:

The station at the Margate end of this Tivoli railway track was situated on the present site of ‘Dreamland’.  By the 1860’s the station had closed and the site was bought by Lord George Sanger, who converted the station into the ‘Hall By The Sea’, a music and dance hall.  Behind the hall he built a zoo and a pleasure gardens, and over a period of years, amusement rides and a skating rink were installed.
After the end of the First World War, John Henry Iles purchased the site, and built the Scenic Railway, as well as many other rides, including a Helter Skelter, River Caves, The Caterpillar, and a Lunar Ball.  He also installed a miniature railway that ran throughout the park.
It was at this time that the name was changed to ‘Dreamland’ copying a famous theme park in Coney Island, New York.
By the fifties, Dreamland could expect over 30,000 people a day in the summer months, using the numerous side shows, rides, cinema, railway and gardens.
The Miniature Railway was on 15 inch gauge and ran round the park for a total of just over an eighth of a mile.  There was quite a respectable station on the east side of the park with two lines running into a raised platform area.
The track ran south under a bridge and then alongside the outer wall of the park, past the backs of the houses in Belgrave Road.  It then swung round to the right and passed under a red and white lattice footbridge, entering the Magic Garden.
There were lots of coloured lights, statues, a folly-like ruin of a contrived ‘Margate Abbey’, Teepees and totem poles, and at various times, zoo animals.
The Railway had at least three locomotives, a 4-4-2 ‘Prince of Wales’ steam locomotive, a Barnes Atlantic steam locomotive, named ‘Billie’ and a petrol locomotive.  ‘Billie was built in 1927 and is now resting at the yard of Preston Steam Services, Preston, Canterbury and hopefully awaiting renovation.  The petrol locomotive was a 4-4-0 Petrol Locomotive built in 1939 by RH Morse.  It is now being renovated on the Vale of Evesham Railway.  The driver for most of the 50’s and 60’s was the late Ted Cuckney.
Title: Re: Growing up and socialising in Kent
Post by: Signals99 on September 08, 2013, 13:22:13
RS did the Medway Queen call at Margate? I know she went to Southend and a few other places.
Title: Re: Growing up and socialising in Kent
Post by: Bryn Clinch on September 08, 2013, 15:42:42
Strood, Chatham, Sheerness, Herne Bay, Margate, Southend and Clacton. I remember going to Southend from Chatham and Strood back in the 50s and remember Dad saying to me "any minute now", and sure enough there was a sudden `swell` and she started lurching about a bit. Something to do with the meeting of `currents`.
Title: Re: Growing up and socialising in Kent
Post by: peterchall on September 08, 2013, 16:58:46
There was/is a very strong eddy off Garrison Point at Sheerness when the water flow is at its fastest, about mid-point of a rising and falling tide, caused by the very sharp turn as the stream enters/leaves the Medway. As recounted in the topic ‘Sheerness Gun Wharf’, as a 9 year-old I spent a lot of time out in the 20ft(?) pilot cutter based there and remember it as a feature that carried us off course rather than ‘rocking the boat’ – it was necessary to hold the rudder well over to maintain a straight course.

A regular Sunday morning trip in the cutter was to take ‘unofficial’ supplies (newspapers and stuff that presumably the crew had to buy themselves) out to the Nore Lightship and I remember being alongside on one occasion when one them called out to ‘Uncle Joe’ – the boatman who had taken me under his wing – “Look out, there’s a destroyer going past like a b****y racehorse”, and few seconds later we were hit by its swell. Not only me as a 9 year-old, but ‘Uncle Joe’ – an old sea salt if ever there was one – got quite a fright, and the 'boy racer’ attitude of RN destroyer captains in general got a verbal berating from ‘Uncle Joe’!

The reward for taking the goods out to lightship was to come back with a load of fish. It was then that I learnt that a skate has big hooks on its back that could be quite dicey if a still alive one flapped its wings!
Title: Re: Growing up and socialising in Kent
Post by: Ron Stilwell on September 08, 2013, 18:42:13
RS did the Medway Queen call at Margate? I know she went to Southend and a few other places.

Yes, she did.  She wasn't a regular visitor, just an occasional trip.  I will be doing my 'End of the Pier' days in a later posting.
Title: Re: Growing up and socialising in Kent
Post by: Ron Stilwell on September 08, 2013, 18:46:51
Part Thirteen:

I joined the Ramsgate Leigh Model Engineering Club at Effingham Street, Ramsgate.  It was situated in an old fire station, next door to the present Fire Station in Effingham Street.  It wasn’t quite what I expected as most of the members were engineers, rather than model railway enthusiasts.  They were rather elderly gentlemen, working on half-finished live-steam locomotives, probably around 5” gauge.  I seem to remember that most of their work was with the tea urn!  The heavy engineering was carried out on the ground floor, but there was an OO gauge layout on the first floor.  I didn’t think it was a terribly good model railway, using a lot of the tin-plate Hornby track which was very non-scale and had a third rail in the centre for electrical pickup.  I expect they were using this type of track as well as proper scale track so that members could bring along their own rolling stock.  They were also experimenting with TT and N gauge.
After I had moved to Charing, the Club moved to St Ethelberts School for a while, and eventually moved to Crampton Tower, Broadstairs.  They are now operating the live-steam railway at Ellington Park, Ramsgate.
The Club went on various coach trips, but by far the most interesting was to Leigh-Pemberton’s estate. Robert 'Robin' Leigh-Pemberton was a former lawyer, banker and governor of the Bank of England, and his Torry Hill Estate was in a Victorian style with his own personal cricket ground and the only private Eton Fives court in the country.
The Club visited Lord Kingsdown's estate to see the miniature railway that was built at Torry Hill by Leigh-Pemberton’s father in the 1930’s.
At least two miles of nine inch gauge track wound its way around the woods following earlier Victorian carriage drive routes.  It was a dream railway for small boys, with engine and rolling stock sheds, embankments and cuttings, sections of double track, a long curving tunnel, a ten arch viaduct running past a lower level track and a turntable.  Most of the rolling stock was quite simple, being basic seats on a flat bed, although there are a few closed in carriages built for very small children.  The engines, however were quite wonderful, the most impressive being a shining GWR King Class live-steam locomotive.
The railway is not open to the public, but only to members of the various Model Railway and Model Engineering Societies so I felt quite privileged to have seen it.  Most people I am sure don’t know of its existence.
Title: Re: Growing up and socialising in Kent
Post by: JohnWalker on September 08, 2013, 19:16:01
I found your account of the Torry Hill railway very interesting Ron and found this link to a visit made there.  Lots of photos - amazing!

JW

http://www.cdmes.org/page14.html (http://www.cdmes.org/page14.html)
Title: Re: Growing up and socialising in Kent
Post by: Ron Stilwell on September 08, 2013, 19:37:03
Yes, that's the place.  The viaduct and the engines are particularly good.  There is also quite a long tunnel.
Title: Re: Growing up and socialising in Kent
Post by: JohnWalker on September 08, 2013, 19:54:29
Seems it's not actually in the grounds of the house.  It's hidden in woods S.E. of the house.  I can see some of the track in gaps on G.E.

I get the impression that it might be slowly falling into disrepair - hope not.

It appears that it is only open the groups - perhaps some of the railway enthusiasts on the forum could arrange a visit if it is still running.

I'm pushing this thread a bit off topic (sorry Ron) so perhaps a new topic should be started.

JW
Title: Re: Growing up and socialising in Kent
Post by: Ron Stilwell on September 08, 2013, 19:59:47
Yes, it's always been only groups, but as far as I can remember they are invited, and not easy to get on the list.  There are few visits as far as I know.
Title: Re: Growing up and socialising in Kent
Post by: Bryn Clinch on September 08, 2013, 20:47:36
I first found this railway when I was a young lad looking for blackberries. It was a very long time ago, probably just after WWII. My neighbour and I stumbled over the track which, if I remember correctly, was very overgrown. We followed it through the woods and discovered a tunnel which was partially blocked with all sorts of obstacles. Later that day we returned with torches and fought our way through the tunnel and eventually saw daylight and were amazed to see two (?) engine sheds and, if I remember correctly, a big house also the fantastic viaduct, a wonderful sight for a couple of young lads following quite some time battling our way through a long, dark tunnel. Realising we were probably trespassing, we beat a hasty retreat through the tunnel and I haven`t seen the railway since, although many years later I did return to the woods, but there were notices regarding traps. `Discretion being the better part of valour` I again beat a hasty retreat. I met Lord Kingsdown a few weeks ago and, at the time, it didn`t occur to me to ask him about the railway - well, you don`t meet a Lord of the Realm everyday and ask about his railway.
It wasn`t until I joined the Forum that I discovered that my Dad`s old steam lorry, which I thought had been scrapped, had been bought by Sentinel S4`s father and spent the rest of it`s days with the Torry Hill Railway on Lord Kingsdown`s Estate or very nearby. I have no idea if the railway is still running but I`m sure SentinelS4 will know.


http://www.kenthistoryforum.co.uk/index.php?topic=8280.msg67881#msg67881

 
Title: Re: Growing up and socialising in Kent
Post by: peterchall on September 08, 2013, 21:31:51
Isn’t it amazing how mention of something triggers a memory and then that memory triggers another. The taking of stuff out to the Nore Lightship, described in my previous post (Reply#47), is true. I think it was some sort of ‘fiddle’, but assume ‘Uncle Joe’ is immune from prosecution now, so no harm in mentioning it.

But I now remember that the story of the destroyer is not quite correct. We had taken a pilot off an outbound ship and were returning to Sheerness with me at the tiller under the watchful eye of ‘Uncle Joe’, both looking ahead, when the pilot sitting and looking astern (note the nautical terms :)) saw the destroyer overtaking us. I think ‘Uncle Joe’s’’ tirade was due to the apparent practice of their captains to get in as close as possible to the port at full-speed of about 35 knts before braking by reversing engines, causing even more mayhem to the water around.

Another highlight was ‘Uncle Joe’ arranging a trip for me on a Finnish ship taking wood pulp to Ridham Docks. (I think it was he – there were 2 other boatmen, George and Ken, who took me out with them, but Joe was the boss)

The ship was anchored out in the Thames and we went out to her in the pilot cutter. I wasn’t happy about climbing the rope ladder up the ship’s side, but with pushing from below and pulling from above, I made it. Then it was refreshments in the Captain’s cabin while the pilot was briefed on the ship’s handling characteristics, up anchor and away round the Swale; the bridge was lifted for us on a signal from the ship’s siren – I was allowed to pull the chord!! – and we docked. The pilot's car was parked at Ridham (I’ve no idea how it got there), and so I was brought home. Not only was the voyage memorable, but a car ride was very rare for a working class boy in 1938 (So far as I know, my first one).

Taking pilots off outbound ships was pre-arranged, as was putting pilots aboard some inbound ones – see above. Otherwise the request for a pilot was ‘two longs and a short’ on the ship’s siren. Whether due to that, or a phone call, the duty boatman and stand-by pilot would make their way from their hut on the sea-wall near the fort to the cutter in the Gun Wharf, ‘Uncle Joe’ blowing a whistle to attract me if it was weekend, evening, or school holiday – in practice I’d probably heard the ship’s siren and beat them to the boat anyway. Sometimes Joe was able to tell me in advance what was going to happen, and I was a frequent visitor to the hut, where Joe’s knowledge of the various ships that could be seen was absorbed eagerly by me.

But from the socialising aspect, it did have its downside. Obviously the invitation to the boat trips couldn’t extend to my pals, and I tended to go for the boating rather than mixing with kids of my own age; in any case, as anyone who knows the area will realise, I was the only kid living within a long distance. So, perhaps for the sake of my social skills with my peers, it is as well that my time in Sheerness Gun Wharf was limited to about a year.

Title: Re: Growing up and socialising in Kent
Post by: peterchall on September 09, 2013, 12:18:45
Another Sheerness memory, indicative of social attitudes in my growing up days, at least at my level of society:

Stationed at Sheerness Gun Wharf was a WD steam tug used as a ferry to Port Victoria, for towing targets for the TA coast defence guns on Garrison Point Fort and for various odd jobs, such as carrying items round to a depot in Yantlett Creek.

The gunnery practice sometimes took place on Sunday afternoons, much to my dad’s disgust because his Sunday afternoon kip was sacrosanct to him.

The crew consisted of the skipper, a deck-hand, engineer (obeying telegraph instructions from the wheelhouse – there was nothing like high-tech control of the engine from there) and a stoker. Also, at times – me.

We were out on one occasion doing something that I can't remember when, for a reason I also can’t remember, the deck-hand made a comment about the “f-word davits”. It was the first time I’d heard that word and I would probably have ignored it had the skipper not jabbed his finger in my direction and said to the deck-hand “You mean ORDINARY davits”, to which the deck-hand replied “Yes, sorry skip”. The impression on me was reinforced when a similar conversation occurred later, with more emphasis by the skipper on “ordinary”

I thought this very funny and told my mum when I got home. That did it – I wasn’t going to be allowed to go out in that boat again if that was the sort of language they used!!! “Oh no”, thought I, and in defence said “But Daddy says it”, whereupon I was told in no uncertain terms that my father never used such language and I was a naughty boy for suggesting such a thing. In truth I had never heard him use the word, but since he had been a regular soldier I later realised that there was a very slim chance that he did. However, he – or any man of my acquaintance - would never have done so in front of a woman or child.

Did I ever go out in that boat again? I can’t *** remember :).
Title: Re: Growing up and socialising in Kent
Post by: peterchall on September 11, 2013, 13:09:37
Returning to the original theme of this thread – how we socialised during our teenage years – in my case they can be divided into 3 parts:
1.   From 13 to 16, when WW2 was still on and during which I left school and started work.
2.   From 16 to 18, when I was footloose and fancy free.
3.   From 17 to 21, when I was ‘hitched’ to my future wife, with an overlap in some activities.

From 13 to 16
WW2 was still on and socialising was limited to visiting/hosting school chums at home, and street yobbery during the long light summer evenings. I started work at 14+ and still kept in touch with a few school mates, getting up to much the same sort of thing. One memory is of going to Strood with mate Derek Sparks to meet a couple of girls named Isobel and Rosie – really adult stuff! It must have been late 1944, because it was dark but the blackout had been partly lifted to allow limited street lighting, and a V1 doodle-bug passed over from north-east to south-west, so must have been one of the last, air-launched out over the North Sea. Unfortunately our protective male presence didn’t impress the girls and no progress in the desired direction was made!

Apart from that it was the cinema (the ‘pictures’), of which there were 9 in the Medway Towns that I can think of off-the-cuff, and others that I can’t. Even so, the demand was such that it was not uncommon to have to queue for seats. In the early teens it was with mum, or mum and dad, later it was with mates. On one occasion a girl (Gwen) from the Art School on the upper floors of Rochester Tech School, where I was a pupil, agreed to go to the pictures with me - she didn't know, or didn't tell me, that her father would be coming as well!

Title: Re: Growing up and socialising in Kent
Post by: JohnWalker on September 11, 2013, 16:34:02
Great stuff peterchall - I don't think we're getting the full story though  :) :) :)
JW
Title: Re: Growing up and socialising in Kent
Post by: peterchall on September 11, 2013, 21:04:58
Great stuff peterchall - I don't think we're getting the full story though  :) :) :)
JW
Some of the big houses in Watts Avenue, Rochester, were requisitioned as billets for girls of the WRNS. It was on the route for Derek and me as we went from our homes in Troy Town to our stomping ground on the Back Fields. The girls sometimes sat at or leant out of upper floor window in warm weather and we 14-15 year olds used our new-found ‘birds and bees’ knowledge to chat them up, but were rather shocked to be told what could happen to us if those girls could get their hands on us. That’s the only near to juicy stuff I can remember – sorry. :) :)

In his opening post Jpdeejay asked about prices. All I can remember for certain is that the bus fare from Star Hill to the Town Hall was 1d, as was the fare from Town Hall to Jezreels, and the through fare from Star Hill to Jezreels was 1.5d. I think the single fare from Chatham to Maidstone was about 8d, and 1/- (5p) return. 6d (2.5p) for a cinema seat comes to my mind, but I can’t remember whether that would have been the price of the cheapest, dearest, or medium seats. I remember my dad saying you should always have 4d for a pint of beer, but I think that was pre-war, and beer may have been about 6d a pint in the immediate post-war period.

From Age 16 to 18
I joined the Labour Party League of Youth, which met at the local Labour Party HQ at Henderson House (now demolished) on New Road, Rochester. The L of Y was open to 15 to 21+ year olds and met each Friday evening for debates, and other activities common to any youth club. It even had its own cine-projector. At election times it meant helping at election meetings and with canvassing, stuffing posters though letter boxes, and being on the door of polling stations to ask people who they were and how they had voted as they came out (we were not allowed to speak to anyone as they went in); it was quite an amicable affair, with members of all the parties exchanging details – the idea being that at intervals a party member would come to check who had not voted by then and, according to their stated intentions during canvassing, decide if it was worth calling on them to ‘gee’ them up. Elections were taken much more seriously then than they are now, even to the extent of offering lifts to take old folks and the disabled in a car to the polling station; I drove a car (I can't remember whose) on one occasion just after I’d got my licence – but when people saw the ‘banger’ that turned up, and the callow youth driving it, I wonder how many actually voted Labour as a result. But I did once get a handshake from Arthur Bottomley, MP for Rochester from 1945, and I think its first Labour one.

Winston Churchill is reputed to have said “Anyone who is not a socialist at age 20 has no heart; anyone who is still a socialist at 40 has no brain”. So please don’t take the above as an indication of my current political views, or as a cue for a discussion on politics – it is merely intended to show what at least one teenager of the period got up to

One of the L of Y’s activities was organising dances at the Corn Exchange, Rochester, and dances meant GIRLS, except that I couldn’t dance! Hence I found myself going to Betty Linney’s Dancing School over a shop in Gillingham High Street, between Skinner Street and James Street, for 6d for a 2 hour evening. There we (about 20 people) learnt to waltz, foxtrot, quickstep and tango, to the tune of gramophone records. How much did it help me to click with the girls? Not at all, because in August 1946 I met my wife in the Castle Gardens and didn’t need to go dancing.

That leads on to Part 3 of my teenage years, to come later but, in the meantime, does anyone remember Betty Linney’s school, and which shop it was over? Does it appear in any Kelly’s? :)
Title: Re: Growing up and socialising in Kent
Post by: Signals99 on September 12, 2013, 00:03:01
Peterchall
Can you put an approximate date to your last entry? I lived in Union street and have fond memories of the WRENs quarters in a house opposite the Vines entrance. :) :)
Title: Re: Growing up and socialising in Kent
Post by: peterchall on September 12, 2013, 08:06:19
I think the WRNS were in Watts Avenue for most of the war, but judging from what we knew of the facts of life (no sex education at school in those days - or at home, for that matter!) that incident would have been 1943-1944, when I was 14-15 years old.

Actually, Derek was more outspoken than I was, and one of my fears was that he would mention such things in front of my mum!
Title: Re: Growing up and socialising in Kent
Post by: AlanH on September 12, 2013, 10:04:11
I remember Henderson House PeterC and being invited there by the father of my mate who lived just down the road from us in Baker Street, Rochester. I also remember my father going down to their place and telling them in no uncertain terms not to try brain washing his son into their stupid politics. :)
They'd also given me a black and white (that's all there was in them long gone days) picture of Arthur Bottomley and Dad tore it up in front of them.
I don't recall the dance school you went to but I went to the Victor Silvester classes over the Gaumont near Star Hill. I was a dismal failure at that and didn't bother for long.
AlanH.
Title: Re: Growing up and socialising in Kent
Post by: peterchall on September 12, 2013, 10:30:00
I now remember the Victor Sivester Dance Schools. I wonder why I went all the way to Gillingham to Betty Linney's instead of the one 5 minutes walk from me at the Gaumont. Perhaps it wasn't there in 1945-46.

I never got the hang of ballroom dancing either. It was OK if your partner had received the same lessons as you and knew the same steps, but with a strange partner that you had asked to dance with you, it couldn't be much more than a 'walk' in time with the music. Even worse was the 'Excuse Me' sessions (was that the right name?) in which, on the 'order' from the MC, you changed partners with the couple nearest to you. But then what young unattached man - or lady - went to a dance for the dancing? :)

Who remembers the 'slow, slow, quick-quick, slow' sequence of the foxtrot - or was it the quickstep?
Title: Re: Growing up and socialising in Kent
Post by: JohnWalker on September 12, 2013, 11:45:23
Regrettably, I never had dance lessons in my earlier days.  A couple of years ago I tried to learn Salsa with my wife at Stevoni's School of Dancing in Orange Street, Canterbury.  Total disaster - I'm just not made for dancing.  Mr Stevoni was getting frustrated and danced with me as his partner - him probably heading for his 80s and me heading for my 70s.  What a shame my wife didn't take a photo.  Stevoni gave up teaching shortly after that - hope I wasn't the cause.

I can still do all the basic steps - unfortunately not in time with the music!

JW
Title: Re: Growing up and socialising in Kent
Post by: peterchall on September 13, 2013, 00:25:25
Age 17-21
This stage of my teen years overlaps the previous one because, while I met my future wife, Sheila, in August 1946 at the age of 17, some of my ‘Stage 2’ activities continued until I was about 18.

To set the background to our social life I should mention that in many ways it was associated with our working lives, if only because that was now the primary source of our friends. My mate Derek, for instance, had by now become an apprentice bookbinder at Staples Press, Rochester. I had moved when my dad became landlord of the Foresters Arms pub on Maidstone Road, Rochester, so we no longer lived a few doors from each other, and lost touch. I was a motor mechanic apprentice at Car and Electrical Services on Maidstone Road, Chatham and Sheila worked in the textiles and hardware departments at Lefevres, Gillingham.

To go off topic for a moment, we heard later that Derek had married a school friend of Sheila’s who lived not far from her pre-marital home – small world

One such ‘overlap’ was going to a billiard hall in Chatham High Street, over a shop opposite the Central Hall. My companion was a fellow apprentice, Roy Pegler, and the hall was run by an old boy we called ‘Pop’. Such were our finances that at times we broke our last fag into 2 and shared it! Does anyone remember that hall, or know when it closed?

I can’t remember how long I carried on my Labour League of Youth membership, but do remember, after being asked home by Sheila, that her dad was NOT a labour voter. I don’t think he held strong enough views to have stopped us meeting, but I imagine that, for that and other reasons, my ‘Bolshie’ attitude moderated and I packed the L of Y in.

And so Sheila and I became a pair and got engaged in 1948. Our main activities were playing tennis (not at a club, but hiring Council courts), the pictures, walking, and watching TV at Sheila’s house (her dad had bought one of the first post-war sets with his demob gratuity). Our time together was reduced during term time by me going to evening classes 3 times a week, to study mechanical engineering over and above the level needed for a motor mechanic, a burden I never regretted taking on.

Our first holiday together was to stay with the family with whom Sheila had been evacuated during the war, near Swansea, in about 1948-49. Our parents needed reassurance that we would be properly chaperoned – we were. Spoilsports!

It was about that time that I bought a super-duper bike (Durielier gears, etc) for £16 on HP (or rather, my dad did and I paid him – being under 21 I couldn’t take on an HP agreement)

Popular with some of my fellow apprentices were meetings at my home. Being above a pub, beer was available, but in quantities strictly controlled by my dad. It’s strange how memories come back, and I recall Reg Irwin, Roy Pegler, Fred Ballard (who became my Best Man, as did I become his) and Eddie MacDowell meeting at intervals. Sheila was now fully accepted by all as my ‘other half’ and fitted in well.

One such meeting I will never forget. Roy had some strange interests and on this occasion suggested we should set up an Ouija board. Each letter of the alphabet was written on a piece of paper and set round the edge of the table; the gas fire was put out to lower the temperature and light reduced to a minimum by using a single candle (all essential, according to Roy). An upturned glass was put in the middle of the table and we all put a finger on it so that our fingers touched, and Roy said “Is anyone there?” Now some may scoff, and it may have been a mutual trance, but both Sheila and I swear to this day that the glass lifted off the table far enough for it to slide; whether it moved towards letters to start a message, I can’t remember, but it didn’t get far because someone said “b****r this” and put the lights on! Roy was accused of ‘fixing’ it, but none of us could explain how he could have. Rightly or wrongly, my advice is ‘Don’t try this at home’ – it’s scary!

And so we continued towards the end of our teens and into our year 20, counted as a teen year because we were officially still ‘children’ until age 21. On 25th June 1950 the North Koreans celebrated my 21st birthday by invading South Korea, and so the Korean War began. It was commonly believed to be the precursor of WW3, so we began adult life with a dark shadow hanging over us.

I finished my apprenticeship in October 1950 and did 2 years National Service in the RAF (National Service was increased from 18 months to 2 years on the outbreak of the Korean War). Sheila and I married on 5 April 1952, while I was still in the RAF, our first daughter was born in 1954 and our adult life began in earnest.

As an indication of prices, we bought our first house, a 3-bed terraced property, for £950 in 1953, sold it for £1600 and bought the one we have (a 3-bed semi) for £4500 in 1970.

To see how Sheila socialised when I was not around – I was in the RAF at the time – and for a bit of Gillingham history, go to:
Leisure>Retail> General Stores> Les Folies Lefevres
Title: Re: Growing up and socialising in Kent
Post by: ann on September 13, 2013, 11:00:25
Loving this thread.  How do you remember such details from way back peterchall, names, prices etc? I too have had experience of a ouija board and quite agree, do not meddle.
One thing that has just come to mind was that I belonged to a local 'Ban the Bomb' group back in the 60's. I think we met somewhere in Chatham, anyone else have any recollections of this?
Title: Re: Growing up and socialising in Kent
Post by: peterchall on September 14, 2013, 16:04:07
Loving this thread.  How do you remember such details from way back peterchall, names, prices etc? I too have had experience of a ouija board and quite agree, do not meddle.
One thing that has just come to mind was that I belonged to a local 'Ban the Bomb' group back in the 60's. I think we met somewhere in Chatham, anyone else have any recollections of this?
Most of my memories are qualified by expressions like “I think”, hoping that someone will confirm or correct them - or add to them :). 

Names of people are usually pretty firm but the prices are generally a hazy memory. The local bus fares are correct for the late 1940’s, because they were journeys I made every day. I think 6d for a cinema seat was for the ‘flea pit’ right down at the front of the ground floor, where you had to sit craning your head back to see the screen. Another memory is of my mother sometimes saying, when a good film was on, “we’ll treat ourselves to the one and sixies” (7.5p), but I’m not 100% sure of those figures.

A figure of 5/- (25p) has come to my mind for the cost of the return fare from Chatham to London by coach. I asked Sheila if she remembers the fare and straightway she answered “About five bob”, so that seems to be correct and confirms that great minds think alike :). Since the journey had to be pre-booked in an M&D bus office and took nearly twice as long as the train, the saving over the train fare must have been worthwhile.

To put prices into perspective, average skilled wage in those days was about 2/- (10p) per hour.

One reason for London trips was for Sheila to buy clothes in C&A’s, because they were cheaper than she could get them in Lefevres, even after staff discount. C&A later opened a branch in the Pentagon, Chatham, but I don’t think it lasted long – I wonder why, if it was so cheap.

I’ve also had a look at Gillingham High Street on Google SV to see if I could locate the entrance to Betty Linney’s Dance School, on the assumption that if we could get to the rooms over a shop during closed hours it must have been via a separate door. The only place with a separate door seems to be the betting shop on the corner of Skinner Street, but that was then a pub (British Queen?), and I don’t think it was over a pub. I KNOW it was in Gillingham High Street, but could it have been in another part to where I first thought? But it was definitely on that side, wasn’t it? I KNOW that the lady’s name was Betty (I think!), but could I have her surname wrong? Thus do doubts creep into firm 70 year old memories!  Help please, you Kelly’s owners  :)

Not really about socialising, but a memory indicative of attitudes in those days:
I often missed the last bus home after seeing Sheila home (note that I was a real gentleman :)) which meant a walk from Luton to Rochester, usually via the High Street. I would usually pass one or two separate policemen going from door to door to check that the shops were locked – hands up those who have seen that recently. On one occasion I must have called in on her after evening class because I was carrying my college books in a small attaché case and had stopped in a shop doorway to light up; on coming back into the street I was confronted by a copper who wanted to know what I was doing and what I had in the case, and asked me open it to show him. I did so without any ill-feeling because, as far as I was concerned, he was just doing his job.

Finally, Ann, thanks for the support regarding the Ouija board – I usually get queer looks when I describe that episode to people.
Regarding the meetings, I think there used to be a hall of some sort where the modern office block is in Meeting House Lane (next to Clover Street) - hence the name.
Title: Re: Growing up and socialising in Kent
Post by: Lyn L on September 14, 2013, 16:55:49
Just a short reference to C & As....

I'm sure it was in the Pentagon for a good number of years, can't remember when it opened now but was a frequent customer, until it , and the company ceased trading in this country. I've read the last UK retail store closed in 2001. I really missed it .
Title: Re: Growing up and socialising in Kent
Post by: Ron Stilwell on September 14, 2013, 18:08:22
Have been away gallivanting for a few days - back to pollute the thread!
Part fourteen:

Late one summer, a family of wasps started to become a nuisance after having made a nest in the wall of my chalet.  Dad called in the exterminator and I watched (at a distance) while he pumped some sort of noxious cocktail into the hole from which the wasps were emerging. Pronouncing ‘job done’ he left and I went in for my tea. I thought no more about the whole episode until the middle of the night.  I slept in the chalet as usual that night until I was woken up by something crawling on my arm.  When I turned on the light - horrors! - the room was full of dozy-looking wasps, unable to fly but still able to sting!  I got out of there quite fast, amazingly without getting stung.
Dad was quite a keen gardener and to keep me off his flowerbeds and vegetables he gave me my own strip of garden at the side of the path near the tool shed at the end of the garden.  I started off with things like lettuces, and I can remember returning to the plot almost every hour expecting to see some shoots.  I soon learnt, however, and I even progressed to growing Dahlia’s.  I would pull the tubers in the autumn and hang them in the roof of the shed for the winter period.
As I got older, it appeared that mother was hawking round my services as a gardener, which to be honest was stretching things a bit far!  Anyway, I took on the job of digging over next-door’s vegetable plot for which I received the princely sum of one pound.  Being the first time I made quite a good job of it, but that was a mistake as mum found me some more jobs.  I was sent round to a house in All Saint’s Avenue to do their garden. Unlike the vegetable plot I’d done, this garden was enormous and the flowerbeds and back garden were thick with weeds and grass.  I was supposed to clean it all up for thirty shillings.  This time my work was a bit more slap-dash and instead of digging over and weeding I just forked it over and buried the weeds.  I only got a pound for the job and my future contracts dried up!  That gardening episode was just about the first and last of a lifetime! 
Changes were occurring in Waverley Road.  When we first moved in I don’t think that there was a single car parked in the road.  The only car owners I remember were the Bottomleys who lived in 17 Waverley, but that was kept in a garage.  All the roads around us were the same, and I can’t remember any traffic congestion even on the main Canterbury Road.  Nearly all the men either walked to work or had bicycles.
Title: Re: Growing up and socialising in Kent
Post by: peterchall on September 14, 2013, 21:37:21
I’ve discovered that the Betty Linney Dancing School still exists, at 100A High Street, Gillingham. The ‘Subway’ restaurant is No 100, so it is presumably above that – it doesn’t look very big, but may go back for a long way. There is an alley between it and Boots next door, which would give access. So my memory was right about its name and location :)

I’m fairly sure that it was a ‘one person’ concern when I went there, and wonder if it is still a family business, or was bought out but kept the name.

Back to social habits in the time of my ‘yoof’. Among other things, I was taught that ladies should always be allowed to go first and – perhaps less commonly known today – the man should always walk on the ‘road side’ of the lady when on a pavement. As far as I can remember, we young yobs actually observed that convention. Who else remembers that?
Title: Re: Growing up and socialising in Kent
Post by: Ron Stilwell on September 15, 2013, 00:29:50
On one of my first walks with a young lady, of course I walked on the road side of the pavement.  That was fine, but I made one major error.  I had my bicycle with me, and I was pushing that along BETWEEN us!  (shakes head at myself!)
Title: Re: Growing up and socialising in Kent
Post by: peterchall on September 15, 2013, 11:10:25
But think how much more inadequate you would have felt it you hadn't had the courage to make an advance and didn't have the bike as an excuse. :)

I mentioned walking on the ‘outside’ as an example another ‘returning’ memory; it was something I did – if we crossed the road or turned to go the other way I automatically ‘changed sides’, and would have done it with any woman and not just a girl friend - my mother for instance. But don't ask me why it was considered good manners

If dance schools like Betty Linney’s still exist, what do they teach? I’m probably going to be howled down on this, but my impression is that dancing today consists of jumping up and down to flashing lights  :)
Title: Re: Growing up and socialising in Kent
Post by: Ron Stilwell on September 15, 2013, 11:19:43
There were many conventions which personally I shall still do till I pop my clogs.
Walking on the outside of the pavement.
Sleeping nearest the door.
Giving my seat up on buses etc.
Doffing my hat (if I still wore one)
Opening doors

There are probably others that I haven't thought of.....
Title: Re: Growing up and socialising in Kent
Post by: CDP on September 15, 2013, 12:26:05
And of course saying please and thank you and smiling when Aunt Maud ? came to tea
Title: Re: Growing up and socialising in Kent
Post by: smiler on September 15, 2013, 12:54:29
Same as always holding children's hands and keeping them to the inside. I was walking along Rochester Ave on Friday and for those that do not know it. its about 400 yds long and runs from the Delce to Rochester Maidstone Rd. From the Delce end there is 100 yds parking on the right, then comes 200 yds parking on the left then another 100 yds on the right making the whole Avenue one vehicles width, and always busy. As I'm walking along coming towards me are 3 children, probably 3, 4 and 5 steps and stairs as my mum used to say.Their mother was 30 yds behind pushing a pram with a baby in it, kids had no chance if suddenly running out between cars.
Title: Re: Growing up and socialising in Kent
Post by: Lyn L on September 15, 2013, 13:04:05
As you say smiler.... AND there are always cars trying to pass each other which means sometimes they go up on the pavement ! Perhaps Mums today don't see the danger ?
Title: Re: Growing up and socialising in Kent
Post by: Bryn Clinch on September 15, 2013, 14:19:13
There were many conventions which personally I shall still do till I pop my clogs.
Walking on the outside of the pavement.
Sleeping nearest the door.
Giving my seat up on buses etc.
Doffing my hat (if I still wore one)
Opening doors

There are probably others that I haven't thought of.....

Like yourself, Ron Stilwell, I remember all these niceties and still comply with them automatically. Perhaps one that you may have forgotten is removing your hat when entering another person`s home, or restaurant, etc. Seems to be somewhat forgotten these days. Even in churches it`s not unusual to see `woolly`hats and baseball caps with the wearers clutching a `mobile` in one hand and a bottle of spring water in the other. Probably not a bad thing but wasn`t part of my growing up in Kent.
Title: Re: Growing up and socialising in Kent
Post by: peterchall on September 15, 2013, 15:40:06
Sleeping nearest the door is a new one for me.

Another convention was never addressing an elder by their fore-name unless pre-fixed by “Uncle” or “Aunt”, such as my mum’s best friend being “Auntie Alice” to me.

As a college lecturer my students always called me “Sir” without being told to because it was the ‘norm’ between teacher and taught. So years later I was surprised to hear a group of secondary school pupils, during their half-day attendance at college, call their teacher “Tony”, although they called me “Sir”. During a firemen’s strike in about 1980 the army took over with their ‘Green Goddesses’ and some soldiers were billeted in a couple of classrooms at Gravesend College; I was amazed when they addressed their officer as “Jim” (or whatever it was) - the most informal we could have been in the RAF in 1950-52 would have been to call a Sergeant “Sarge”.

But old habits die hard. When I was first appointed as a lecturer a couple of my lecturers as a student became colleagues, and it was a long time before I became comfortable with calling them “Bob” and “George”

Yet, as an oldie myself now, I’m more comfortable with the District Nurses who attend me calling me “Peter” than “Mr Challis”

And so, have standards become worse than when I was young, or are things better for being less formal?
Title: Re: Growing up and socialising in Kent
Post by: Ron Stilwell on September 15, 2013, 15:43:35
That one is all about being nearest the door if a burglar comes in. 
Title: Re: Growing up and socialising in Kent
Post by: JohnWalker on September 15, 2013, 18:32:04
That one is all about being nearest the door if a burglar comes in.

OH - I thought it was so the husband didn't wake the wife when he got up to visit the lady next door  :)  (just to check she was safe of course.)

JW
Title: Re: Growing up and socialising in Kent
Post by: peterchall on September 15, 2013, 20:52:27
I’ve found some more information on Betty Linney’s and think Kyn might want it as a separate topic, so see ‘Leisure>General Leisure>Betty Linney’s Dance School’. Hoping that’s OK.
Title: Re: Growing up and socialising in Kent
Post by: Ron Stilwell on September 15, 2013, 22:06:09
Part fifteen:

Everyone hitchhiked in the 50’s; especially squaddies going home on leave, and you often saw soldiers in uniform on the road with their thumbs out.
It was all to change however as more and more people obtained motor vehicles.  The first time I noticed anything was on a Sunday evening after a hot summer weekend.  I was down on the green, probably waiting for tea.  I was amazed to see the whole of Canterbury Road was a solid traffic jam of cars, charabancs and buses, all trying to head westwards towards London.  This was the ‘day tripper’ traffic, which up until then had mostly been by train, steamship or charabanc.   More and more cars were coming on the road and double decker buses were chartered in London for the day trips.  From that time, on Sundays in the summer, there was always a queue of traffic that started at about four in the afternoon and carried on until about eight.  At teatime on a Sunday night the traffic was horrendous.
So many things about transport were changing then.   Police cars were all black, usually Wolseys, with a bell on the front together with a loudspeaker.  Then we heard that ‘American’ sirens were coming and waited for months without hearing one.  I was a bit disappointed when I heard the two-tone ‘Dah dah’ noise.  This was also about the time that the Ford Anglia ‘Panda cars’ and white Ford Zephyrs of the ‘Z cars’ era appeared.  Another disappointment there for me because many of the Thanet police cars were very nondescript blue Fords estates.
I don’t think that my dad approved of the changes in the Police Force.  More than once he would say, “That wouldn’t happen in my day.”   And on one occasion he told off a policeman for running.  “You never run.  It might panic the public.”
There were still policemen around on bicycles and thinking back it was amazing that they always seemed to be in the right place at the right time.  If I ever risked cycling down an alleyway where cycling was banned I could guarantee that our local bobby would be waiting for me at the end.  And if I were riding my bike without a bell there he would be again.  But he would only ever give me a warning and I respected him for that.
This was a time when the police had no personal radios and communication was via ‘Doctor Who’ style Police boxes, which had a blue light on top to warn patrolling bobbies that they were needed.  There was also a telephone in a box on the outside, which could be used by the public to make an emergency call to the police station.
Title: Re: Growing up and socialising in Kent
Post by: peterchall on September 16, 2013, 10:18:25
Wow, that brings back more memories, but where do I start?  :)

First the hitch-hiking. I only tried it 2 or 3 times that I remember, each time being picked up by an HGV – private car drivers weren’t a good touch in my experience, whereas a lone lorry driver might be glad of the company and usually got a cuppa bought for him by the hiker. However, the practice was not without risk for both sides.

My problem when stationed with the RAF in Shropshire was that it could take quite a time and more than one lift to get to London on a lorry limited to 20 mph. One lift I remember involved laying on top of the tarpaulined load of an open truck – the driver had a mate, so no room in the cab – not the safest way to travel and I’m not sure about the legality, even in those days (1951-52)

One of the fitters at the garage where I was apprenticed in the late 1940’s was sent to the factory to collect a car – that’s how it was done then; each car was collected individually to fulfil an order placed by someone who had obtained a permit to buy it (and had signed a covenant not to sell it for 2 years – a used car could be worth more than a new one!). Anyway, Stan was driving it back on trade plates – detachable plates with red digits on white background, allowing the vehicle to be driven unregistered and untaxed – and picked up a soldier. As in Ron’s experience, it was cue for a copper to appear and stop him, because it was illegal to carry passengers on trade plates. So Stan was prosecuted but got off because the firm’s solicitor discovered that a wartime regulation allowing service people in uniform to be carried on trade plates was still in force.

As far as I can remember, those Sunday evening traffic jams started quite suddenly and I thought they were related to the end of petrol rationing, but wartime rationing ended on the 26th May 1950, when cars were still in short supply. There was also a 5 month ration period due to the Suez crisis, ending on 14th May 1957, so perhaps it was then. (No, I didn’t remember those dates, I looked them up :)). The jams extended right through the Medway Towns from early evening on – you could walk faster than the traffic moved. We used to go to Jackson’s Fields to watch the traffic, and our eldest daughter (born 1954) was in a push-chair, so perhaps the end of the 1957 rationing was the time.

When the wartime petrol rationing ended in 1950, car owners naturally wanted to get their cars back on the road. Then it was discovered that leaving them with petrol in the tanks for up to 5 years had allowed the lighter fractions to evaporate, leaving a gunge that needed a complete strip-down and cleaning of the fuel system to clear – good for the motor trade! It was also found that leaving tyres carrying weight caused a permanent flat spot, requiring replacement of the tyre. So if you have to lay-up a car for any length of time, run the engine now and again, and jack the wheels clear of the ground.

Previous to the ‘Z-car’ TV series came the film ‘The Blue Lamp’ starring Jack Warner as ‘George Dixon’ and Dirk Bogarde as the villain who shot him. The film probably did more than anything else to bring the police into the public eye. ‘George Dixon’ miraculously came back to life for the TV series ‘Dixon of Dock Green’.

And so are our memories revived, so keep the posts coming, please folks.
Title: Re: Growing up and socialising in Kent
Post by: Ron Stilwell on September 17, 2013, 01:20:57
Great memories peterchall, helps my own recollections.

Part sixteen:

One magical place for me was Dent-de-lion.  Just on the boundary of Garlinge stood this large house and estate, although even then it was partly derelict.  I would creep in there to explore, and often scrump apples in the orchards.  One day though, I was able to get in with permission.  Out in the orchards, some ponies and the donkeys from Margate beach were being stabled, and I asked if I could help out.   
I mucked out, brushed the ponies, and even hammered a few planks onto the lean-to shelter.  One of the girls tried to teach me to ride, and I must admit to riding with great skill in a straight line - I just used to fall off whenever the animal turned a corner!
At one end of the estate, near to the main Canterbury Road was a small barn-like building, which had been abandoned.  I explored it from top to bottom, and eventually discovered a tiny gap that led up into the roof space.  I don’t think that anyone had been up inside there since it was built, and although there were a few tiles off, that just helped to let a bit of light in.  This was even better than my dens at home in the garden.  I set up my attic hideaway with a few books, candles, cushions, and the very necessary tin box for food supplies.  Often bread, butter and condensed milk!
Sadly, it wasn’t long before the donkeys moved on, the estate was sold, and a modern housing estate was built in its place, demolishing my attic hideaway.
Books were always important to me and I spent many hours reading.  I would have continued far into the night but mum would always come in to my bedroom and turn off the light.  Eventually I hit on the idea of breaking the curfew using a torch, and I would hide under the quilt with my torch and a favourite book.  Somehow, at that age, I just had to finish a book from cover to cover once I had started it.
There were always plenty of books around the house and I was also a regular visitor to the library.  I didn’t by any means appreciate all books; Treasure Island, for instance I disliked, but in contrast I really enjoyed Swiss Family Robinson.  Another favourite was the Jungle Book.
One book that had a lasting appeal was Odham’s Encyclopaedia for Children; in fact I still have it.  There was something about the illustrations and diagrams that really fired my imagination.  I would spend hours in my mind exploring the castle, the town and the village and enacting various fantasy adventures in my mind.
We had a number of Royal books about the various weddings and coronations and these also contained photographs of notable events of the Twentieth Century such as the destruction of the R101 and the fire at the Crystal Palace.
Books I would read again and again were things like ‘Wonders of the World’, ‘Wonders of Nature’, and various encyclopaedias.  I loved exploring the world through the pages of these books.
Something odd happened though.  At about the age of eight, I read H.G.Wells ‘War of the Worlds.’  It’s a great story, but I had no particular interest at that time in Science Fiction, in fact I probably hadn’t heard of the term.  Even now I remember the first chapter:    ‘No one would have believed in the last years of the nineteenth century that this world was being watched keenly and closely by intelligence’s greater than man’s....’.  Enough to frighten the average eight year old perhaps, but I was more interested in what came a little further on…
’a meteorite lay somewhere on the common between Horsell, Ottershaw, and Woking..........’
Horsell Common?  Wasn’t that just down the road from where we lived when I was young?  And the railway bridge mentioned.  That was just down the road!  Most of the books I had read up until that time were about far-away things, fairy tales and flights of fancy.  Suddenly here was a book, although still fiction, that mentioned somewhere I knew, and somewhere familiar to which Martian machines were callously laying waste!  Reading on, the coincidence became even stranger.
The pinnacle of the mosque had vanished, and the roof line of the college itself looked as if a hundred ton gun had been at work on it.’
As it climbed out of the pit, the Martian machine used its heat ray on a tall building.  That building was now called the Oriental Nursing Home and the place in which I was born! 
‘I saw the tops of the trees about the Oriental College burst into smoky red flame, and the tower of the little church beside it slide down into ruin.’
Later on in the story one of the Martian machines walks down Maybury Hill heading towards Pyrford - passing not more than a few yards from my house in Rydens Way, Woking!
From that time on, books meant something more to me.  I continued to read titles such as the ‘Famous Five’, and ‘Biggles’ etc., but I had really become most interested in Space Travel, Science and Science fiction.
Title: Re: Growing up and socialising in Kent
Post by: smiler on September 17, 2013, 08:32:04
I used to have a caravan at Harts in Leysdown in the 70s. Sunday evenings trying to get off the island was murder, chock a bloc for miles. We would usually wait and leave early Monday morning. Is it still like it in the summer now?
Title: Re: Growing up and socialising in Kent
Post by: conan on September 17, 2013, 12:45:38
Smiler, I don't know whether the jams still exist, I wouldn't have thought so with all the new roads. Living on the Island we would go on occasional Sunday trips and would be leaving the Island as the hoards were coming on and thus coming home in the evening would be passing [feeling somewhat smug] the huge jams trying to leave the place. As a family we would occasionally, around Sunday teatime, take a walk down Barton Hill Drive and watch the traffic jam. Lord, were Sundays really that boring back then.
Title: Re: Growing up and socialising in Kent
Post by: CDP on September 17, 2013, 13:29:18
Smiler, at Harts did you ever meet Arthur Thompson? ( a great friend of mine ) He was the
entertainment manager who then married the boss ?
Title: Re: Growing up and socialising in Kent
Post by: peterchall on September 17, 2013, 14:50:27
As well as the road traffic jams to the seaside, another sign of the times was the extra trains on Sundays in pre-electrification days. If I remember correctly, trains left Victoria for the Thanet towns about every 10 minutes over a couple of hour period on Sunday mornings, with a similar succession back in the evenings. Many of them were non-stop through the Medway Towns.

Regarding reading matter, much of my 'schoolboy' level of scientific and engineering knowledge was gleaned from a weekly magazine in the 1940's. I think it was called something like 'Modern Wonder'; can anyone confirm?
Title: Re: Growing up and socialising in Kent
Post by: JohnWalker on September 17, 2013, 16:39:16
Can't help you with 'Modern Wonder' peterchall but it sounds feasible - I started with The Beano and The Eagle.  loving your input on this thread - I can identify with so many of your childhood experiences - not the naughty ones of course  :)

JW
Title: Re: Growing up and socialising in Kent
Post by: ann on September 17, 2013, 19:14:24
Just got back from a week in Belgium and catching up on the reading.  Strange a couple of mentions of C & A's in Chatham.  The store is alive and well in both Belgium and at CiteEurope in France. In fact I still buy a lot of my clothes there, no idea why it closed in England.

I also remember the traffic jams of the 50's. On a Saturday mum and I would walk to Chatham from Strood as it was quicker than the bus. As you walked down the Watling Street there would be icecream vendors walking up and down selling their wares to 'fed up' travellers stuck in the jams, and on the charabancs lots of loud music and people dancing.  On a Sunday evening we would stroll down to the top of Strood Hill by the Coach and Horses and sit on the wall outside where there used to be toilets and watch all the holiday traffic going back the other way home.
Title: Re: Growing up and socialising in Kent
Post by: peterchall on September 17, 2013, 20:04:25
Probably off-topic so I’ll say no more except that there’s some interesting info on C&A here:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/C%26A

Existence of ‘Modern Wonder’ confirmed here:
http://www.google.co.uk/search?q=modern+wonder+magazine&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ei=EqA4UrOQGpKw7Abi_4CwBg&ved=0CDsQsAQ&biw=1821&bih=799&dpr=1
Just a glance shows what a gem it was for whetting a boy’s appetite to know more about how things worked. Going rate on e-bay seems to be about £18 a copy.

Those traffic jams continued right up until the first section of the M2 opened in 1963 (at that stage really only a Medway Towns by-pass). I was earning an above average income but couldn’t afford to run a car until about 1960+, so it amazed us how many people could afford to do so. The Kent coast towns must have been a great attraction for people to have put up with such aggro to get there and back, because I imagine other towns along the A2 were equally jammed.

A regular Sunday evening outing was to walk to the pub in Canal Road, Strood (now the Riverside, but a different name then) to watch the paddle steamer come in. Eldest daughter aged about 6, middle one in push chair, aged about 2, youngest yet to arrive. I can’t believe that we subjected them to all the exhaust fumes from those traffic jams, especially the one in the push chair. But that was accepted at the time and I smoked anyway.

I remember being with them on the top deck of a bus coming through Strood and as we passed the end of Canal Road, 6-year old daughter said, in a voice loud enough for the whole bus to hear, “That’s where the pub we go to is”. Oh, the shame of it. :) :)
Title: Re: Growing up and socialising in Kent
Post by: Signals99 on September 17, 2013, 20:34:58
About the time Peterchall/Ann are talking about I was a member of the St. John Ambulance Brigade. We had a hut at the top of Strood Hill next to the A2. Anyone remember it? I think a Mr Quorington was in charge. Some of the things we had to deal with were unbelievable.
Title: Re: Growing up and socialising in Kent
Post by: Ron Stilwell on September 18, 2013, 00:43:11
Part seventeen:

Saturday morning pictures were a high point of the week, but only if ‘Flash Gordon’ was on.  Cowboy series like Hopalong Cassidy or Roy Rogers I could take or leave, but Flash Gordon was a must!  The rocket ships spitting flame, Ming the Merciless, Doctor Zarkov, and Dale Arden were all meat and drink to me.  Meanwhile, back at home; I was listening to the radio all the time.  I had a little radio in my bedroom and I had many favourite programmes.  These were ‘The Navy lark’, ‘Dick Barton’, ‘Paul Temple’, but specially, ‘Journey Into Space’.  There was something about a radio programme that really hit the imagination, as you could always fill in the details in your own mind. The exploits of Jet Morgan, Mitch, Doc and Lemmy were always a talking point at school and we couldn’t wait for next week's episode.
The radio downstairs always seemed to be on, especially at meal times, and many programmes were regularly listened to. My parent’s favourites were ‘In Town Tonight’,  ‘The Billy Cotton Band Show’, ‘Worker’s Playtime’ with Wilfred Pickles, ‘Meet the Huggets’ with Jack Warner, Kathleen Harrison and Petula Clark, ‘Dixon of Dock Green’ and ‘Two-way Family Favourites’.
As a boy, like so many others, I was mad on railways, after all, it was the ‘Age of Steam’.  I don’t think that I ever wanted to be an engine driver, at least as a profession, but I would have loved to have a go.  I was fascinated by all the mechanics and paraphernalia of railways; the engine sheds, turntables, signal boxes, goods yards, the multiplicity of rolling stock; carriages, trucks and locomotives, etc., etc.  I used to cycle down to Margate Station from Waverley Road (only a few hundred yards away).  Once there the choice was legion; one day I might just stand on the road bridge on Canterbury Road and watch the trains pass underneath.  I would wait on the London side and watch an express coming down the line, then rush across the road to the other side to see it slowing down in readiness to pull up at the platform.  Then I would wait for a train leaving the station for London and the whole process would happen in reverse!  On bank holidays special trains would come down from London to a special excursion platform number 5.
On a really good day there would be a lot of toing and froing under the bridge as locomotives shunted up and down moving strings of carriages or trucks around the station.  My absolute favourite was the turntable in the station yard.
The Southern Region had an engine shed at Margate: in between the up bay platform and the five rolling stock sidings, the tracks led out to a 60 foot turntable. Flanking the pair of turntable approach lines was a water tower (to the immediate north) and a coal stage (to the immediate south).
Sometimes I would cycle right round to the rear of the station and watch the shunting and other movements from there.  On the rare occasions that I could afford the two pence cost, I would buy a platform ticket and venture onto the station itself.  Those could be frantic times.  One never really knew what was going to happen - trains would run at scheduled times but you could never be sure that a really good locomotive would not turn up at the head of the most nondescript array of carriages, and of course, there was always the possibility of a ‘Special’ from up North turning up. The favourite place to be was at the end of the platform where the locomotive would come to a halt.  We would stand there, covered in clouds of steam and grimy with soot particles, trying to catch the eye of the engine driver or even to get a look up on the footplate.

Title: Re: Growing up and socialising in Kent
Post by: AlanH on September 18, 2013, 09:37:53
‘The Billy Cotton Band Show’, ‘Worker’s Playtime’ with Wilfred Pickles, ‘Meet the Huggets’ with Jack Warner, Kathleen Harrison and Petula Clark, ‘Dixon of Dock Green’ and ‘Two-way Family Favourites’. Remember Wilfreds cry of "Give him the money Barney"?
I remember us sitting in the lounge listening to all these programmes. Brings back so many memories.
And those huge traffic jams along the A2 past Jacksons Rec and down Star Hill and through Strood. I woke a lorry driver one day just before Star Hill as he'd fallen asleep and nothing could see past him....he awoke with a start and roared off with a big wave.
It used to be something to do to go and watch the traffic and then suddenly it was gone when the M2 opened in about 1962. I was a key witness to the very first road death which happened just below Fort Borstal on a Sunday afternoon when the hordes were rushing back from the coast. Surviving driver got 18 months for his bad riving which killed his mate.
Keep those memories coming.
AlanH.

Title: Re: Growing up and socialising in Kent
Post by: peterchall on September 18, 2013, 11:23:29
Ah, those radio programmes but…..ahem….’Dixon of Dock Green’ was a TV series. :) :) 

A classic radio programme was ITMA (It's That Man Again), starring Tommy Handley. Who remembers the catchphrases?:
“Can I do you now sir?” spoken by Mrs. Mopp as she came in to clean the office.
“I don’t mind if I do”, spoken by Colonel Chinstrap whenever a drink was in the offing.
"Don't forget the diver", spoken by the diver who popped up whenever something was being given away.
“I’m going down now”, followed by bubbling noises, spoken by the diver when he'd got whatever was going.
“I go, I come back”, spoken by someone with a foreign accent.
“It’s being so cheerful that keeps me going”, spoken by a lady named Mona Lott.
“After you Claude – No, after you Cecil”, spoken by a dithering couple who never reached a decision.
“I’ll have to ask me dad”, spoken by another old ditherer who could never decide anything for himself
“But I’m all right now”, spoken by Hattie Jaques’s character after describing a difficulty she had been involved in.
“TTFN” (Ta ta for now), spoken by anyone in the cast on their departure.

All those phrases became part of our everyday vocabulary during WW2, and I think some of them are still used.

Then there was Herr Fumf, the German spy – or fifth (fumf in German) columnist who was always trying to wreck things.

Another wartime programme was ‘Much Binding in the Marsh’, set in a fictional  RAF station, and was a skit on RAF life – and service life in general
Title: Re: Growing up and socialising in Kent
Post by: busyglen on September 18, 2013, 15:41:55
Oh my goodness....I remember all of those!!  That certainly makes me feel old now. I used to love `Journey into Space' as it seemed so eerie, and occasionally I got a bit frightened when my imagination got the better of me. :)
Title: Re: Growing up and socialising in Kent
Post by: Bryn Clinch on September 18, 2013, 18:31:43
peterchall, I can just remember all the characters that you mentioned. Ali Oop ("I go, I come back"), Colonel Chinstrap ("I don`t mind if I do"), both played by Jack Train who, I believe, also played a couple of the other characters. Thanks for reminding me of the characters which I nearlyforgotten. Can`t quite remember when ITMA came on the Light Programme but I think it was midday on Saturday. Billy Cotton, midday on Sunday and Dick Barton at 6.45 p.m. weekdays, I think. Times were a bit austere in those days but were happy ones. I often wonder what the Tommy Handley`s of yesteryear would think of the `alternative` comics of today.
Title: Re: Growing up and socialising in Kent
Post by: peterchall on September 18, 2013, 19:54:18
Even now, if either Sheila or I are having a moan, the other will sometimes say "it's being so cheerful that keeps you going, isn't it?", and "c'mon, don't forget the diver!" if feeling left out of things. I wonder how many young people use ITMA phrases today without knowing where they came from.

Billy Cotton's catchphrase was 'wakey-wakey'. Didn't it become a Saturday evening TV show? Billy Cotton also made a small name for himself as a racing driver

Yes, 'Dick Barton, Special Agent', to give it its full title, was on every weekday evening from 6:45 to 7:00 pm. It came over in a fashion that enabled you to visualise what was happening - brilliant script writing. I can't now remember exactly who he worked for, but he was a  genius, a sort of early radio version of James Bond. I believe that the slot was taken over by 'The Archers'.

A feature of any 'Picture House' (the cinema underneath the 'Empire Theatre' at Chatham) programme was the serial. Usually only 15 minutes long, each episode left the hero/heroine in such danger than one had to go back the following week to see how he/she escaped. The escape was usually so unlikely that it raised groans of "Oh, no!!!" from the audience; but it didn't stop us from getting 'hooked' again at the end of that week's episode. After about 12 weeks a serial had run its course and ended in victory over the baddies, but to ensure you went back the following week, the first episode of a new serial would be shown in the same programme. It may be an exaggeration to say that, such was the drawing power of the serial, that it didn't matter about the quality of the other films being shown, but I imagine that was the idea behind the practice.

Title: Re: Growing up and socialising in Kent
Post by: Ron Stilwell on September 18, 2013, 22:31:49
Peterchall, yes, you're right.  We got our first TV in 1951 and that was one of the highlights on it.  The way policemen should be.
Busyglen, Journey Into Space was brilliant.  I've found all the series on CD.  Still listen to them now, and I have converted my son.  He can repeat virtually every word.  One thing that is sad, David Jacobs has only recently died, and he played so many parts in those episodes.
Those a highlights for me - Journey Into Space, and the original Flash Gordan.
Title: Re: Growing up and socialising in Kent
Post by: peterchall on September 18, 2013, 23:36:19
Ron Stilwell, I hope this doesn’t seem as if I’m playing a game of ‘my memories are better than yours’, but it’s just that mention of one thing generates memories of another. :) :)

Thus your mention of having a TV in 1951 has reminded me that my then future father-in-law had one of the first post-war ones in about 1948-49 (I think previously mentioned in this thread). At that time there was only one channel, broadcasting from about 7 to 11 pm. While I think a conventional ‘celluloid’ film could be shown, there was no means of direct recording and certainly no live outside broadcasts. Hence most programmes were live from the studio and little different from watching a show on stage.

That is illustrated by the memory that my long-winded pre-amble has led up to – seeing a female dancer collapse. We saw people go to her aid then, after a few seconds, the screen went blank. I think it was quite some time before a verbal announcement was made that service would be resumed as soon as possible, but I don’t think there was anything until the next scheduled programme was due to begin. So there was evidently no film or other back-up alternative available – truly ‘live’ broadcasting.
Title: Re: Growing up and socialising in Kent
Post by: Ron Stilwell on September 18, 2013, 23:58:54
Ron Stilwell, I hope this doesn’t seem as if I’m playing a game of ‘my memories are better than yours’, but it’s just that mention of one thing generates memories of another. :) :)

Thus your mention of having a TV in 1951 has reminded me that my then future father-in-law had one of the first post-war ones in about 1948-49 (I think previously mentioned in this thread). At that time there was only one channel, broadcasting from about 7 to 11 pm. While I think a conventional ‘celluloid’ film could be shown, there was no means of direct recording and certainly no live outside broadcasts. Hence most programmes were live from the studio and little different from watching a show on stage.

That is illustrated by the memory that my long-winded pre-amble has led up to – seeing a female dancer collapse. We saw people go to her aid then, after a few seconds, the screen went blank. I think it was quite some time before a verbal announcement was made that service would be resumed as soon as possible, but I don’t think there was anything until the next scheduled programme was due to begin. So there was evidently no film or other back-up alternative available – truly ‘live’ broadcasting.
No, of course not.  That's hopefully why we do this, to start the dialogue about these times.  It helps me to remember more things to put down in mine that I hadn't remembered, so it's all great.
Yes, a great many times programmes would be stopped for various reasons with the 'resume as soon as possible' logo, I think sometimes it was hand written.  Sometimes it seems to have been a local transmission failure, round here by Rediffusion as far as I can remember?
Title: Re: Growing up and socialising in Kent
Post by: ann on September 19, 2013, 09:41:13
I think we must have had one of the earliest tvs.  It was a large 'piece of furniture'. Had doors in front of the screen, and underneath it I think was the mesh where I suppose the sound came from (sorry not very tech.)  I remember the fear was that the 'cathoride tube' would blow! Also any cars going by, or an electric applicance being on in the house would cause massive interference on the screen, and make it unwatchable.
I remember Dixon of Dock Green 'Evening all' and Andy Pandy and Muffin the Mule.  Another vivid memory is of the interludes between certain times.  One in particular was of a kitten playing with a ball of wool, and another of a potters wheel.
Title: Re: Growing up and socialising in Kent
Post by: Ron Stilwell on September 19, 2013, 09:48:08
Excellent Ann.  I hadn't remembered the interludes and the kitten and the potter.  A bit later I think but I was mesmerized by Jack Hargreaves and 'Out of Town' in that wonderful shed.  What a character.  And the Children's 'Hour'.  Didn't the programmes stop just after that for an hour or so for dinner?  Certainly they stopped quite early in the evening to the strains of the National Anthem.
Title: Re: Growing up and socialising in Kent
Post by: ashwood on September 19, 2013, 11:24:07
We had our first TV for the coronation, viewing a snowstorm at least two nights a week.  In between twiddling something called the vertical hold to prevent the picture spinning like a fruit machine. I believe the set and aerial cost about £100.00 My sister and I sharing the cost with our parents. Jack Hargreaves a favourite of mine. Managed to get a couple of paper backs a few years ago still a very good read.
Title: Re: Growing up and socialising in Kent
Post by: Lyn L on September 19, 2013, 11:37:43
I remember a good few of those TV programmes. I can't think when we did get our first TV, but I have found an old (very small) pic of it. It would have been around 1953/1954 as the house we lived in with the TV was in Broadstairs. I do remember watching the Quatermass Experiment, although why my parents let me, I have no idea, I was only about 8 years old :) And yes I do remember the kitten and the potter. Andy Pandy and Muffin the Mule (I even had a Pelham puppet of him). The Woodentops and Bill and Ben, and the dot on the screen when transmission closed!
It's so long since I've used photobucket that I have completely forgotten how to add any pics. But it is sitting here in my computer if anyone would like to help ? IF anyone wants to even see it  :)
Title: Re: Growing up and socialising in Kent
Post by: peterchall on September 19, 2013, 12:02:38
My father-in law’s TV looked like this:
(http://i622.photobucket.com/albums/tt309/petec-photo/TV1.jpg) (http://s622.photobucket.com/user/petec-photo/media/TV1.jpg.html)
It had a screen about 10” across.

In those days motor vehicle ignition systems were not suppressed against TV interference and considerate owners inserted a suppressor into each ignition lead. Living next to All Saint’s Hospital we got serious interference from various equipment (X-rays etc), only partly cured by inserting a ‘filter’ in the aerial lead-in. Final cure was by having cable TV.

Post-war TV began on 7th June 1946 from the Crystal Palace studios, which was also the location of the only transmitter. Not until 1949 was a land-line laid to a transmitter in Birmingham, so it was presumably some time after that before TV became available throughout the UK. A TV licence was £2

Muffin the Mule was presented by Annette Mills, sister of John Mills, and is stated in Wikipedia as starting in 1946, so it appears to have been one of the first, if not the first, children’s TV programme.

Was it Andy Pandy that began with “Are you sitting comfortably – then I’ll begin”? When my eldest daughter was about 3 (1957) we lived just round the corner from my parents-in-law and my wife used to take her there for the children’s TV. I think it was Andy Pandy that had an ending that caused her to burst into tears (daughter, that is :)), so that my mother-in-law threatened that she wouldn’t let her come to watch again.

That was my children’s social life during growing up. As far as I can remember my own from about 5-years of age until 10, when the war began, was playing with school friends at home (theirs and mine), except from a year living in Sheerness Gun-wharf (recounted in earlier posts). Radio entertainment was ‘The Ovaltinies’ on Radio Luxembourg, and ‘Toy Town’ on – where? Wartime entertainment, until I started work in 1944, was quite varied, usually with mate Derek (mentioned previously) on street yobbery during daylight hours.

But throughout that time an inviolable ‘date’ was Saturday afternoon pictures with my mum, nearly always the ‘Picture House’ after we finally settled in the Medway Towns in 1939 – hence my memory of the serial, mentioned in a recent post. We were in there on the afternoon of Saturday 7th September 1940 when we heard the sound of aircraft and gunfire – we came out to discover that we had missed one of the sights of the war, a mass formation of German bombers on the first daylight raid on London, and the opening of the blitz.

Eventually I had to break the Saturday afternoon pictures with mum by saying that I was going to the pictures with my first girl friend, Gwen. Snag was that, in the event, her father came with us :) (Also mentioned previously).

Sorry to have waffled on but, apart from the dates re TV, which I looked up, I just kept typing as fresh memories came to mind.
Title: Re: Growing up and socialising in Kent
Post by: conan on September 19, 2013, 13:43:59
Talking of interference on the television I remember that aircraft flying overhead used to make the picture go what I can only describe as wobbly. Living just across the estuary from Southend airport this was a regular occurrence especially when the carvairs used to go over. Another memory was of the picture disappearing down to a little dot before going out with a slight pop when the set was turned off.
Title: Re: Growing up and socialising in Kent
Post by: Mike S on September 19, 2013, 13:44:47
peterchall - "Are you sitting comfortably - then i'll begin" was surely the daily afternoon programme Listen with Mother, or am I having a senior moment!
Title: Re: Growing up and socialising in Kent
Post by: Ron Stilwell on September 19, 2013, 13:45:54
Yes Conan, that's another memory I had forgotten.  The TV picture disappearing as a vanishing point...... lovely.
Title: Re: Growing up and socialising in Kent
Post by: Ron Stilwell on September 19, 2013, 13:47:29
Yes, Mike S and peterchall.  What was that fluffy toy in that?  There were several characters in that.  Bill and Ben?  Little weed?  Were they from that show?
Title: Re: Growing up and socialising in Kent
Post by: peterchall on September 19, 2013, 14:21:37
Talking of interference on the television I remember that aircraft flying overhead used to make the picture go what I can only describe as wobbly.
It was noticing that interference with pre-war TV that led to the first experiments with radar

peterchall - "Are you sitting comfortably - then I'll begin" was surely the daily afternoon programme Listen with Mother, or am I having a senior moment!
No, you are right; it was me having the senior moment. I was thinking of the later 'Watch with Mother', a general TV slot consisting of a different programme each day; thus it would be 'Andy Pandy' on one day, the 'Flowerpot Men' on another, and so on

Yes, Mike S and peterchall.  What was that fluffy toy in that?  There were several characters in that.  Bill and Ben?  Little weed?  Were they from that show?
I can't think of the fluffy toy you refer to, but Bill and Ben were the Flowerpot Men and Little Weed was another character in the same programme.
Title: Re: Growing up and socialising in Kent
Post by: busyglen on September 19, 2013, 15:59:31
I don't remember when it was, but I can remember a fluffy sort of rag-doll, except it looked more like a dog (if that makes any sort of sense!) and it was a hand puppet.  Yellow I think.

Can't remember if it has been mentioned but I used to like Paul Temple as well. :)

We didn't get a TV until about 1957, and I've been wracking my brains trying to remember what it was that we were so interested in around that time.  It was a major event (not the Coronation which was 1953) possibly a catastrophe, and I think was possibly something like an earthquake?
Obviously, it made more impact when you could see something actually happening, rather than reading it in the papers.  Wish I could remember what it was!
Title: Re: Growing up and socialising in Kent
Post by: peterchall on September 19, 2013, 16:31:30
I don't remember when it was, but I can remember a fluffy sort of rag-doll, except it looked more like a dog (if that makes any sort of sense!) and it was a hand puppet.  Yellow I think.
Sooty was a hand puppet in the form of a yellow dog, but I wouldn't call him 'fluffy'. Presenter was Harry Corbett.
Title: Re: Growing up and socialising in Kent
Post by: smiler on September 19, 2013, 16:59:02
Think Sooty was a bear  :)
Title: Re: Growing up and socialising in Kent
Post by: Lyn L on September 19, 2013, 17:13:35
Oh yes, Sweep was the dog  :) :)
Title: Re: Growing up and socialising in Kent
Post by: Bryn Clinch on September 19, 2013, 17:30:15
Obviously, it made more impact when you could see something actually happening, rather than reading it in the papers.  Wish I could remember what it was!

Was it the Suez crisis, 1956/7?
Title: Re: Growing up and socialising in Kent
Post by: peterchall on September 19, 2013, 17:41:56
I've looked at 'Events in 1957' on Wikipedea, and there doesn't seem to be anything outstandingly memorable. But Anthony Eden resigned as a result of  Suez crisis on 7th January 1957, so it could have been that in 1956.

Oh yes, Sweep was the dog  :) :)
Yes, he was. But he was white and wasn't fluffy either :)

Another programme familiar to my children was 'The Magic Roundabout'. I remember Brian, the snail and Zebedee, a human sort of guy on a spring, and many others. I think the show ended with Zebedee saying "Time for bed" and springing out of the picture.

Memories of my own childhood include 'Toy Town' on the radio, as I've already mentioned, in which the characters (surprise, surprise) were all toys, but the only one I remember was Larry the Lamb.
Title: Re: Growing up and socialising in Kent
Post by: Lyn L on September 19, 2013, 18:19:17
Sweep was grey with black ears  :) and as fluffy as Sooty  :) Soo ( the Panda  ) was the white one .

The Suez crisis was one that my parents kept a close eye on as my brother was involved , but I don't remember it.
Title: Re: Growing up and socialising in Kent
Post by: Patricia on September 19, 2013, 20:11:08
http://www.whirligig-tv.co.uk/  is a  link to details about the memory lane programmes mentioned. Also many of the programmes can be heard again sometimes on Radio 4 extra,  eg Meet the Huggets, Dixon of Dock Green (radio version) The Navy Lark, Life with the Lyons, Paul Temple,  Journey into Space have all been on at various times.

Title: Re: Growing up and socialising in Kent
Post by: Bryn Clinch on September 19, 2013, 20:17:13
Memories of my own childhood include 'Toy Town' on the radio, as I've already mentioned, in which the characters (surprise, surprise) were all toys, but the only one I remember was Larry the Lamb.
Ernest the Policeman, Mr Growser the grocer and Den(n)is the Dachshund - I remember them well, never missed an episode. Came on Children`s hour about 5 o`clock and introduced by Uncle Mac (Derek McCulloch) who also played Larry the Lamb.
Title: Re: Growing up and socialising in Kent
Post by: Ron Stilwell on September 19, 2013, 20:17:51
Part eighteen:

At busy times, especially in the summer when special trains brought down hordes of day trippers, groups of small boys could be seen rushing through the subway in all directions trying to ‘bag’ each locomotive as it pulled in and out of the station.  The times when something unusual arrived, such as a GWR Castle class arriving, we would crowd the platform opposite the turntable watching the shiny green and polished brass-trimmed leviathan slowly rotate before us.  I did take train numbers but that was not really excited me.  Just standing there watching the train movements was thrilling enough.
On one ‘Red Letter Day’ the family left for a holiday with family friends, Mr and Mrs Clack, in Polperro, Cornwall.  We were booked on the ‘Cornish Riveria Express’, which was one of the most famous trains in the country.  We left on a Southern Region train pulled by a ‘Schools’ Class, arriving a couple of hours later in Charing Cross Station.  Then it was across London on the ‘Tube’ to the Great Western Region (GWR) station at Paddington.  To my instant delight I saw that the ‘Express was to be headed by not one but two Castle Class locomotives!  On the trip down, I was constantly roaming the train, looking at the restaurant car, (before being shooed out by the attendant) checking out the travel posters that were above each row of seats.  These carriage prints were very high quality watercolours of attractive scenes from all around the country.  There were usually four of these framed pictures in each compartment, painted by some of the leading watercolour artists in the country.  These marvellous paintings were repeated as pictorial posters on the railway stations, and are now very much prized as collector’s items.
I would of course have to check out the whole train, including wandering through First Class and annoying the Guard.  In between trips down the corridors back to mum and dad’s compartment for supplies of sandwiches and squash, I hung dangerously out of the window trying to catch glimpses of the locomotives as the train went round a curve - and in the process getting plenty of smoke and cinders in the eye!  The exciting part was pulling your head in just before the train passed into a tunnel or when another train flashed past in the opposite direction.     
It wasn’t entirely the excitement of the trip that kept me out of our compartment.  My mother was legendary in her ability to embarrass her children.  Mum would corner any unfortunate fellow passengers, and once she had them trapped in our railway carriage she would recount the whole of my life story down to the most excruciating details.  Then she would begin to betray all my little secrets, even down to the kind of pants I wore!  One more even more unspeakable horror that always seemed to occur when we were out was that Gertie would insist on spitting on her hankie and using it to wipe my face.
When we got to the up-grade at Newton Abbott, a diesel engine was brought in and coupled onto the train to help drag it up the incline.  I suppose you could think of it as a portent of things to come, as it wasn’t long before diesels and their electric cousins had taken over completely and my wonderful steam engines were consigned to the history books.
Before long we were pulling into Par, which was the closest station to our holiday destination.  There had been a tremendous rainstorm just before we arrived and the whole area was flooded.  Water was inches deep between the platforms and the engines generated vast clouds of steam as our train slowly ploughed through the floodwater and into the station.  Mr and Mrs Clack had driven over to meet us, and they drove us back to their home in Polperro, Cornwall, via the ferry at Fowey.  On the way we used the little roll-on roll-off ferry at Fowey, which was another first for me.

Title: Re: Growing up and socialising in Kent
Post by: smiler on September 19, 2013, 20:52:00
(http://i1018.photobucket.com/albums/af310/smiler2/kent/cornishex.jpg) (http://s1018.photobucket.com/user/smiler2/media/kent/cornishex.jpg.html)
   One of the pictures you may have seen Ron Stilwell  :)
Title: Re: Growing up and socialising in Kent
Post by: Ron Stilwell on September 19, 2013, 21:01:20
Yes, smiler, that's one of the good ones!
Title: Re: Growing up and socialising in Kent
Post by: RogerGunkel on September 20, 2013, 00:03:00
We had a tv much like the one in Peter's picture and I remember my Dad buying an 'enlarger' to stand in front of the screen. This was a thin plastic tank, with a flat back and a curved front which was filled with water. The whole thing worked as a lens enlarging the tv picture and was mounted in a wooden frame to set it at the right height.

I also remember Muffin the Mule and had a wooden toy string puppet model of Muffin. I also remember an early soap, 'The Appleyards', which I think had Peggy Mount as Mum and David Kossoff as Dad. Then of course there was 'What's My Line' and the unforgettable 'Army Game' which ran for years. I seem to recall that before the transmission finished at about 11.00pm there was always an Epilogue programme with religious content, then of course that vanishing spot and the sound of static.

On the radio of course there were so many programmes that have already been mentioned and a few that haven't such as Carroll Levis's Discoveries programme, an early talent show and forerunner of Hughie Green's Opportunity Knocks. Then there were the very early pop record programmes such as Jack Jackson's Record Show and the waiting for Radio Luxenbourg in the evening, the only way to hear lots of pop music. I well remember the Horace Bachelor adverts , with 'Keynsham, Bristol' in the address and the constant coming and going of the signal.

Summer bought trips on the Royal Daffodil and Queen of the Channel steamers from Gravesend or Tilbury to Southend Pier, followed by a ride on the electric train along the pier. There were also frequent trips on the steam train to Alhallows to paddle in the estuary mud.

Teenage years brought me to playing in my first band, with frequent support slots with all the big names of the early 60s at the Co-op hall in Harmer Street, Gravesend. I also saved up my pocket money and Summer Job work to buy a Heinkel Bubble Car on HP with help from my Dad, on my 16th birthday. That enabled me to ditch the bike for the 16 mile return journey to Hartley to see my girlfriend and go to Hartley Youth Club. I loved that bubble car and drove many thousands of miles in it.

So many great memories!

Roger
Title: Re: Growing up and socialising in Kent
Post by: peterchall on September 20, 2013, 10:50:12
LynL is having difficulty posting pictures at the moment, so I am posting this for her:
It is her first TV – she remembers watching ‘The Quartermas Experiment’ on it, so must be dated about 1953.
(http://i622.photobucket.com/albums/tt309/petec-photo/LynsTV-1.jpg) (http://s622.photobucket.com/user/petec-photo/media/LynsTV-1.jpg.html)

In an earlier post I referred to the ‘Ovaltinies’ but it should have been ‘League of Ovaltineys’, to give it its correct spelling and full name. I found this:
http://www.sterlingtimes.org/ovaltineys_rules.htm

I can’t remember much, but it was a programme where one could write in with requests and opinions. Its theme song became quite well known, and my wife thinks she still has her ‘LO’ badge somewhere.

It closed when the Germans occupied Luxembourg in 1940. Does anyone know if it re-started after the war?

Radio Luxembourg was the base for a number of other popular programmes supported by advertising, and I have vague memories of hearing some of the horrible stuff that was forced down me as a kid advertised there – ‘Syrup of Figs’ and ’Andrews Liver Salts’ come to mind. Then there was ‘Bob Martins’ pet stuff. I’m not sure if the station had a separate channel for each main European language – English, German, French, etc – or whether there was one channel devoting a bit of time to each.

Another memory is of ‘Mickey Mouse Weekly’, kept from me until Sunday afternoon because that was the time for me and mum to sit quietly together while dad had his inviolate Sunday afternoon kip. I sometimes wonder if WW1 had to stop for that on Sunday afternoons, when he was in the army.

The main characters were Mickey and Minnie Mouse, Donald and Daisy Duck, Horace the Horse, Goofy the stupid dog, and others that escape me at the moment. To this day I remember a strip where Goofy was painting a fence and was rushing to get it finished before the paint ran out, an almost empty paint pot being shown in the strip.

Yet I can’t remember what I had for breakfast yesterday :)
Title: Re: Growing up and socialising in Kent
Post by: smiler on September 20, 2013, 13:07:27
PC did you forget Pluto or did he come later  :)
Title: Re: Growing up and socialising in Kent
Post by: Lyn L on September 20, 2013, 13:11:16
Thank you PC, 
I love the lino  :) and remember the rug too. And OH that wonderful wallpaper  :)
I only have to hear something ( the Ovaltinies song in this case ) and I'm singing it to myself. I don't remember any comics apart from The Dandy and Beano , and then later having The Girl ( I think that's what it was called )  complimenting the boys Eagle . Great memories though.
Title: Re: Growing up and socialising in Kent
Post by: RogerGunkel on September 20, 2013, 14:16:02
Aah the Eagle :) I lived for Wednesdays and the Eagle, with Dan Dare and his henchman Digby and clashes with the Mekon on Venus. Then there were reports on things around the world by Max Hastings and those glorious intricate cutaway diagrams in the centre pages of various planes, cars etc.

Roger
Title: Re: Growing up and socialising in Kent
Post by: ann on September 20, 2013, 15:42:38
When did 'fitted carpets' become the norm?  I too remember we had lino (linoleum) and then mats on them.  Very cold on the feet. 
My reading was the Enid Blyton magazine, not sure if it was weekly or not.  The minute it arrived my head would be buried in it reading all the adventures of the Secret Seven and Famous Five.  I still remember one where the 5 had a tin in their 'den' with gingernut biscuits that had gone squidgy - how I wanted some too!
Once I hit my teens it was Marybella I believe.  Boys became interesting and I joined Strood Youth Club.  Friday night was music (don't think the term disco had been invented) and this was a chance to meet some boys. This was the era of Cliff Richard and The Young Ones, and I remember The Twist.  Other social activities were school dances, and of course the coffee bars.  Here one would hang out and make a cup of cappucino last for hours (if you could get away with it).  There are 3 I recall and I think they have been mentioned in their own threads. In Strood there was Bunny's, and Rochester The Parlour and the Casa Ventana (now an antique shop).
Title: Re: Growing up and socialising in Kent
Post by: peterchall on September 20, 2013, 16:07:42
PC did you forget Pluto or did he come later  :)
I had forgotten most of them, but Pluto was there from the start. A quick trawl of the net reveals Horace Horsecollar, Clarabelle Cow, and Elmer Elephant, and there were many others.

There is a vinyl LP of the Ovaltineys singing "Your Favourite Songs" on E-Bay at the moment, dated 1980, so that answers my question as to whether they re-started after the war. Does anyone know if they still exist?

Actually, we can find nearly all the answers to our questions on the net, but if we did that we wouldn't need to get into discussion on KHF and the questions wouldn't enter our heads anyway. :)
Title: Re: Growing up and socialising in Kent
Post by: Bryn Clinch on September 20, 2013, 16:19:51
Other social activities were school dances, and of course the coffee bars.  Here one would hang out and make a cup of cappucino last for hours (if you could get away with it).  There are 3 I recall and I think they have been mentioned in their own threads. In Strood there was Bunny's, and Rochester The Parlour and the Casa Ventana (now an antique shop).

I remember `The Parlour` quite well, although not a Medway Dweller, and making a cup of coffee last for ages. I`m not sure that it was called Cappucino in those days, Espresso comes to mind, but whatever, it was all `Froffy Coffee`.
Title: Re: Growing up and socialising in Kent
Post by: busyglen on September 20, 2013, 16:26:28
Here are the words to the Ovaltineys song:


We are the Ovaltineys,
Little girls and boys;
Make your requests, we'll not refuse you,
We are here just to amuse you.
Would you like a song or story,
Will you share our joys?
At games and sports we're more than keen;
No merrier children could be seen,
Because we all drink Ovaltine,
We're happy girls and boys!

Title: Re: Growing up and socialising in Kent
Post by: Ron Stilwell on September 20, 2013, 16:32:34
Aah the Eagle :) I lived for Wednesdays and the Eagle, with Dan Dare and his henchman Digby and clashes with the Mekon on Venus. Then there were reports on things around the world by Max Hastings and those glorious intricate cutaway diagrams in the centre pages of various planes, cars etc.

Roger
Yes, the Eagle was my favourite, but only for Dan Dare and the centre pages diagrams.  I have written a little about in in my tales but haven't got that far with posting it yet.
Thinking about it, there are quite a few similarities in these stories, whether it is Dan Dare, Journey Into Space and the 50's Sci-Fi films.  Always a square-jawed hero, Dan Dare, Jet Morgan, Flash Gordan, etc, A studious chap, Professor Peabody, Doc, etc, and a lovable fool, Digby, Lemmy, and people like that.  In fact, Lemmy in Journey into Space was not altogether a fool but he was treated that way, although I remember that he went to the Moon having not told his girl friend that he was going!
It was the same sort of story with the films.  Some of the events are copied from film to radio series and back, time and time again.  We knew that there would be a meteorite strike somewhere through!
Title: Re: Growing up and socialising in Kent
Post by: Ron Stilwell on September 20, 2013, 16:36:10
Incidentally, there is a radio programme of Dan Dare, which is quite good as long as you don't expect modern methods of production.  There was also a fourth serial of Journey Into Space, but it was quite late, still written by Charles Chilton, but with different actors.  I'm afraid I rather disliked that one.
Title: Re: Growing up and socialising in Kent
Post by: busyglen on September 20, 2013, 18:44:59
LynL, I used to have the Girl also, but prior to that I had the School Friend.  Did you have that?  My brothers had the Lion and the Eagle.
Title: Re: Growing up and socialising in Kent
Post by: Lyn L on September 20, 2013, 18:54:50
No Busyglen, I don't think I did  :) I used to get the Girl Annual each Christmas though. I don't know if my brothers would have had either the Lion or Eagle, there's a 10 and 12 yr gap between us, but the eldest joined the Royal Marine band when he was 14, so perhaps he had outgrown them  :) ( wouldn't have liked to show his pals ??  ) Having said that, perhaps they got their idea's from the comics .. ie: tying me up on a broomstick and carting me around like a dead animal trophy? or else tying string round my middle and making me go and retrieve things they'd pushed under the bed
 :) :) I love them really.
Title: Re: Growing up and socialising in Kent
Post by: Ron Stilwell on September 21, 2013, 00:10:35
Part nineteen:

I have passed by the details of the holiday in Cornwall as it's hardly Kent, so onwards....

Back in the nineteen fifties, our next holiday was to the Isle of Wight where we stayed in a self-catering flat in Ryde.  Now, a year older, I was able to get away on my own much more. At the time there was a large network of main and branch line railways on the Isle of Wight.  There was even a very popular semi-fast train, named 'The Tourist', which ran from Ventnor (Town) to Sandown, via Merstone to Newport. It then reversed and continued to Freshwater.
I purchased a week’s rail rover ticket for ten shillings and that gave me the freedom of the island.  Through my reading I knew the Isle of Wight very well and I knew where I wanted to go.  The railway modelling magazines always went into raptures about Ventnor Station and so that is where I went first.  It is a classic end of branch line station, and is cut into a hillside with the entrance to the station being through a tunnel.  I stayed there for ages, drawing and photographing all aspects of the station and its surroundings for I had long decided that I would make a scale model of it in our garden chalet.  On other days I went to Blackgang Chine and Cowes.  Once or twice I went out with mum and dad, especially on coach trips to Carisbrooke Castle, Osborne House, and the Needles.
By now mum and dad had virtually given up having visitors to stay in the summer and I moved permanently into the small front bedroom.  This left the garden chalet available for my overwhelming ambition - a proper model railway.  All that time playing about with dad’s wood-working tools now paid off, and I was able to construct quite a presentable base-board that went around three sides of the chalet. 
I even planned cutting holes in the walls, running the track outside into the garden, along bridges and back inside again - it never happened the way I wanted it of course, but it was fun designing it.  I did cut my tunnels through the shed wall and lay some track outside but I hadn’t bargained with the power of rust, and soon the out-door rails were useless.  Inside however things were going much better.  With a 2” x 1” frame covered with soft fibreboard I put together quite a pleasing model of Ventnor and part of the Isle of Wight branch-line that almost got finished..........
Trouble was, I had seen pictures of some of the fantastic railways that wind around mountains in the remoter parts of the world.  My allegiance changed in favour of continental trains and my mind was soon full of models of narrow gauge lines running through tunnels, across bridged chasms, and negotiating incredibly steep mountains.  I ripped up the track and baseboard of my Ventnor layout and started to build the Himalayas - nothing ever came of it.
What I had realised however, was that I was, if anything, more interested in the model making than the railways.  I was getting more fun out of making the buildings and scenery that I was from running the trains
Title: Re: Growing up and socialising in Kent
Post by: ann on September 21, 2013, 13:50:08
I remember `The Parlour` quite well, although not a Medway Dweller, and making a cup of coffee last for ages. I`m not sure that it was called Cappucino in those days, Espresso comes to mind, but whatever, it was all `Froffy Coffee`.
Yes you are quite correct, it was called Expresso (got confused as todays cappucino is more like what we got - all frothy)
Title: Re: Growing up and socialising in Kent
Post by: Ron Stilwell on September 21, 2013, 21:49:49
Part twenty:

I was prepared to spend any amount of time constructing things to play with.  At one time I planned an epic space war game.  I sat down with scissors, card, crayons and coloured pencils and began to design and draw two massive interstellar fleets.  I carefully drew and coloured each space ship on a rectangle of card, cut it out and bent back a flap underneath so that it would stand upright.  I literally produced hundreds.  Every piece of furniture, mantle-piece and chair in my bedroom was crowded with my creations and I was nearly ready to have the ‘mother of all battles’.  Then one day while I was at school my mother cleaned up my room and threw away all the ‘junk’!  I resented that for many, many years after.
Once or twice we took our holidays up in Sheffield, staying with Uncle George and Auntie Dollie.  Dollie was Gertie’s sister, and was a very pleasant, homely woman, and by far the nicest of the Hughes aunts and uncles.
Their house was on the hills to the south of Sheffield in a region called Greystones.  It was built on a very steep slope with even the road at a great angle.  The ground dropped away behind the house, so that although the front door was at normal level by the time you got to the rear of the property the garden was at least 10 feet lower, with the back of the house raised up so that a kind of cellar open out into the garden beneath the living room.  All kinds of things were stored in there, and when no one was looking I would be under the house ferreting around.
From the back bedroom where I slept you could look out over the city of Sheffield, but it was always covered with smoke and smog, with only the spires of the churches sticking up through the murk.  All the while I was there the smog hung in layers below us.  This was the second time that I had seen smog, but unlike the London ones that came and went, the Sheffield one seemed to be there all the time, trapped by the surrounding hills, and fed by the chimneys of the Sheffield steel industry.
I was absolutely fascinated by the Yorkshire accent, and I was subconsciously trying to copy it after only a few days there, which must have been really annoying to all those around me.
While we were in Sheffield I can only remember a few of the places that we visited, one being a park where we fed the ducks, and a coach trip we took out on the Yorkshire moors where I saw sheep roaming free on the roads for the first time.
Title: Re: Growing up and socialising in Kent
Post by: Ron Stilwell on September 22, 2013, 20:38:17
Part twenty-one:

At about that time I decided that it was time to earn some money so it was off to look for a paper round.  I went down to Snowden’s newsagents in Garlinge and got a job delivering round the Garlinge council estate.  I’m afraid it didn’t last long.  On either my first or second morning there was quite a rainstorm.  My bike blew over and the wind scattered the newspapers all the way up the street, the pouring rain making them completely unusable.  I promptly went home without telling my boss, and of course that was the end of the job!
I went to 'Big' School in 1954.  I soon found in my first year that the other boys were almost all wearing long trousers.  There I was in my short trousers and I didn’t like it.  I begged mum for some new ones but it was no-go.  Then one day I was told that we were off to the shops to buy a new suit.  I was overjoyed - for a while - the new suit turned out to be a bottle-green corduroy suit - with short trousers!  Well, there was no way that I was going to school with that on.  I started out from home at the usual time - and went in the other direction.  I was soon down at the sea front and heading for the beach.  I wandered around the Sun Deck and then down the steps to the Sun-deck pool.  This large concrete pool was often used for canoes or pedalos, but on this particular day it was un-occupied.  I knew from experience that there was plenty of animal life in the water there and so I knelt down to look for crabs and small fish.  I spent quite a while around the pool and then wandered off towards the Amusements and Dreamland.  I returned home that afternoon just in time to join the other kids getting off the buses from school.  Congratulating myself with getting away with my first days truant, I went indoors.  Then it all went wrong - Mum took one look at my suit and went mad!  I looked down and saw big white stains all over my trousers!  Suddenly I remembered the men that were working on the concrete walls of the pool.  They were Councilmen, scrubbing bleach over the concrete to remove the algae.  The bleach had got onto my new suit and removed the colour!  Mum, of course, wanted to know what had happened.
“The chemistry class!” was my inspirational reply.  “Someone dropped something on my trousers.”
That just made it worse.  “I’m phoning the school,” mum said.  “They shouldn’t let you near dangerous chemicals like that.  They’ll have to pay for a new suit!”
That put me into a panic.  If she phoned the school I really would be in trouble!  And so I had to own up to playing truant.  What the punishment was I can’t remember, but mother would not have been found wanting!  She was quite efficient with the slipper, but her favourite weapon was a flick with a wet tea towel - that stung!  Probably though, I would have been told to go to my room and wait for dad to come home.  That was the lesser of all evils, as dad would usually tell me not to do it again and leave it at that.

Title: Re: Growing up and socialising in Kent
Post by: peterchall on September 22, 2013, 21:12:06
Fannits’ – a word that I have suddenly remembered, taking me back to my junior school days. I can’t find it defined in any dictionary, but it has a definite meaning for me, related to socialising.

So far as I know, it has no rude connotations, and Ron Stilwell might have found it helpful to use on his mum.

I wonder if anyone else remembers it and, if so, what it means to you.

Title: Re: Growing up and socialising in Kent
Post by: Ron Stilwell on September 22, 2013, 21:20:18
Wasn't that an agreement to stop a fight or an argument between kids?
Title: Re: Growing up and socialising in Kent
Post by: Lyn L on September 22, 2013, 21:41:10
We used that word but pronounced it FAYNITES, (easiest spelling? ). It was always after a falling out and making friends again.
Title: Re: Growing up and socialising in Kent
Post by: JohnWalker on September 22, 2013, 22:17:50
Yes - I agree - Faynites at my Canterbury schools stood most of the time for 'truce'.  Other times it was like a 'Get Out Of Jail Free Card'.

Very useful word - I wish there was an adult version.  Anyone know one?  I'm sure there will be a well used political version!

JW
Title: Re: Growing up and socialising in Kent
Post by: Signals99 on September 23, 2013, 05:15:20
I think that the word 'quarter 'may be a type of faynites, it had the same effect during a battle.
As 'faynites' had, during a game, immediate suspension of hostilities plus immunity whilst it was invoked?
 
Title: Re: Growing up and socialising in Kent
Post by: JohnWalker on September 23, 2013, 08:55:18
And didn't we have to have our fingers crossed when we said it?  I'm sure I remember holding crossed fingers up to the 'opponent' as we said 'faynites'. Or was it that if we had our fingers crossed when we said it we could then renege on the truce?

JW
Title: Re: Growing up and socialising in Kent
Post by: peterchall on September 23, 2013, 09:54:50
Both Sheila and I remember it as ‘fannits’, but we’ve got Norf Kent accents. :)

I remember using it during games of playground ‘tag’ to indicate that you had temporarily stopped playing, but it can’t have been that simple or it could have been used just as you were about to be caught, which was why I asked the question. Sheila thinks it was something to do with an agreement but you had to have your fingers crossed to make it binding. On the other hand I vaguely remember a fuss over a newly elected MP crossing his fingers while he took the parliamentary oath.

We now remember that if our kids were arguing we would say “Oi, fannits you lot”.

Using everyone else’s pronunciation I entered ‘FAINITES’ into on-line dictionaries and, according to which dictionary, it means:
1.   A request for a truce
2.   A request for a temporary suspension from the rules
3.   A call for a game to be temporarily stopped; such as if there was a dog on a football pitch, for example.

I reckon Ron should have invoked it when his mother was about to flick the wet tea-towel. :)

Which reminds me that when I lived in Shornecliffe Barracks (1935, aged 6) I was taken to and from school by an older girl. On the way home one day I jumped up and down in a puddle and got soaked. At the door I told my mum I’d got wet by falling in a puddle, whereupon said girl told mum the truth – rotten ***!!! I got an ear wigging for fibbing, not for getting wet, and I hadn’t then heard of ‘faynits’ to come to my rescue. :)
Title: Re: Growing up and socialising in Kent
Post by: Lyn L on September 23, 2013, 10:00:07
I seem to recall we hooked our little fingers with the other person, rather than having our fingers crossed. Perhaps it varied slightly in different parts. I was living in Thanet
then  :) Was too grown up to use it when we moved to Medway ( all of 14yrs )
Title: Re: Growing up and socialising in Kent
Post by: Signals99 on September 23, 2013, 11:24:44
Yes! Now I recollect the use of crossed fingers, but what the significance or meaning was I can't remember?.All I can remember was it cut no ice in "british bulldogs". Once the onslaught started it was last man standing. The cry of' FAINiTS was met by a cynical reply and renewed brute force :)
Title: Re: Growing up and socialising in Kent
Post by: peterchall on September 23, 2013, 13:10:45
A Wikepedia entry on crossing the fingers states, among other things:
Some people, mostly children, also use the gesture to excuse their telling of a white lie……..A similar belief is that crossing one's fingers invalidates a promise being made.

We chose the first person to become ‘It’ in a game of tag by standing in a circle and one of us pointing to each in turn, to the syllables of what today would be an unacceptable poem, which ended with “….miney mo, you are IT”. Then everyone ran off and ‘It’ had to stand still for the count of 3 before starting to chase (who checked whether he/she did so?)

So a couple of questions:
1.   How is ‘It’ chosen today, if the game is still played that is?
2.   Is ‘Faynits’ still used?
Title: Re: Growing up and socialising in Kent
Post by: Lyn L on September 23, 2013, 13:18:12
I can't answer that PC, got no children at school now, far too old or still too young  :)
Title: Re: Growing up and socialising in Kent
Post by: busyglen on September 23, 2013, 16:14:45
Afraid I can't answer that either, but I must say that I haven't heard `IT' used for many years, or O U T spells `OUT'!  I guess there are more modern games played these days?  We still play I-SPY sometimes with youngsters to keep them amused.

That has reminded me of something my two younger brothers and I used to do when we were on a coach trip.  We used to write down car numbers (there weren't so many on the road in those days) which kept us occupied for quite a while!  :)
Title: Re: Growing up and socialising in Kent
Post by: Lyn L on September 23, 2013, 16:37:38
Off the subject slightly, but Busyglens remark about car numbers reminded me of when we took our eldest Grandchildren out. The game there was to make up a word from the number plates, once letters were brought in before and after numbers. It always made me laugh as my brother-in-law's spelled out SCUM  :) It saved us from " Are we there yet " Something we get again now when we take the youngest one out, she can't read yet.
Title: Re: Growing up and socialising in Kent
Post by: peterchall on September 23, 2013, 17:14:07
Which leads us on to Pub Cricket. For every pub passed runs were scored according to the number of legs or arms concerned. Thus the 'Dog and Duck' scored 6 runs, the 'Kings Arms' scored 2 runs, and so on. I can't remember how plurals, such as the 'Foresters Arms', were counted; probably the decision of the 'umpire' - mum or dad! I would have awarded runs for wheels, thus the 'Coach and Horses' got 12 runs - 4 wheels and 8 legs, leading to "s'not fair'  to be heard from the losing child on the back seat  :).

Then if a pub with Head in its name, such as 'Queens Head', was passed, you were out.
Title: Re: Growing up and socialising in Kent
Post by: ann on September 23, 2013, 17:52:01
We used to write down car numbers (there weren't so many on the road in those days) which kept us occupied for quite a while!  :)
My partner and I were playing a version of this today whilst out, spot the cars with the latest 63 number plate.  Only came across 3.
Also have played Pubs Cricket when on a particularly boring journey!! (never too old it would seem!)
Title: Re: Growing up and socialising in Kent
Post by: peterchall on September 24, 2013, 07:57:57
Snags with Pub Cricket are:
1.   It can only be played on an unfamiliar route, or the result will be known in advance
2.   There’s not enough pubs to play it today.

When coming home in the car from an outing and it was dusk and our children in the back were getting restless, Sheila would say “It’s bunnies time, girls” – the cue for a competition to be the first to spot a rabbit in the nearby fields. They sometimes remind her of that to this day.
Title: Re: Growing up and socialising in Kent
Post by: Ron Stilwell on September 24, 2013, 20:58:37
Part twenty-two:

I had a very poor record with sports at school; in fact the only event that I enjoyed at all was the cross-country run.  There were about two hundred of us in the race, and we ran a course that took us along Canterbury Road towards Birchington, turning left into Spurgeon’s Homes.  We ran through the grounds, then out along Park Road.  The route then took us along the East side of Quex Park, until markers indicated that we turned left again across the fields towards Westgate.  We passed the most enormous dung heap that had leaked a noxious brown liquid right across the track, which we splashed through quite cheerfully, carrying the smell on our plimsolls all the way down to a housing estate on the outskirts of Westgate.
The very last part of the course took us down the lane that separated the school’s playing fields from the Ursuline Convent school grounds.  This led us to the finishing line, which was right beside the back entrance to the school.  By that stage of the race, the field was well strung out, with a few boys a little way behind me, and one lad just ahead.  Determined to make a race of it, probably because there were teachers watching, I waited until there were only a few yards to go and then put on a desperate spurt, dashing past my opponent just before we crossed the finishing line.  That small victory gave me great satisfaction, putting me in 35th place out of 200.
My most lasting memory of that school was of the interior of the science lab.  It was filled with exciting things, and especially a row of locked glass cabinets filled with specimens preserved in formalin.  On the top of the cabinets were some big glass jars that contained the remains of various animals and even a human embryo!
Science was always my favourite lesson, and I used to hang around the lab after class hoping to be asked to give the teacher a helping hand.  This was a subject I could understand, and it was explaining for me the answers to so many questions that had puzzled and interested me.  We learnt about the planets and stars, about energy, about the atom and molecules, and how plants and animals were structured.  What could be better!  My reading tastes changed quite a lot.  I was still a regular visitor to the public library but now I haunted the non-fiction shelves and the reference library.  I also started to frequent second-hand book shops in search of bargains.  One of my favourites was ‘Horvaths’ in the Old Town Square in Margate.  This was a wonderful old shop of a kind that doesn’t seem to exist anymore.  It was quite a large shop that seemed to stretch back for ages, but you could never see the rear of the premises because of the piled up stock.  It was full of narrow passages lined with all manner of second-hand items, but I was really only interested in the books which took up most of the left-hand side of the shop.  Derogatively termed a ‘Junk Shop’ by my parents and most other people, ‘Horvath’s’ had a veritable storehouse of irreplaceable material.  I am sure, thinking back, that old Horvath had bought most of his book stock many years before, because so much of what was there was dated from the latter part of the nineteenth and early twentieth century’s.  What I and most other dedicated ‘book worms’ liked about this kind of shop was the chance of discovering something really special amongst the dusty shelves.  The tidy, carefully sorted shelves of a modern bookshop just don’t have the same appeal as you know that the proprietor has already found those little gems and either priced them out of your reach or passed them on to a specialist dealer.
Title: Re: Growing up and socialising in Kent
Post by: Ron Stilwell on September 27, 2013, 00:02:21
Part twenty-three:

Even at the age of twelve or thirteen I must have realised the value of older books because they were the ones I concentrated on.  By the 1950’s book publishing was going through a bad patch.  Poor quality photographs had replaced hand coloured engravings and even the quality of the paper and binding had deteriorated.  I suppose they called it modernisation - I’ll take the ‘out of date’ books any time!  In any case, a book from a hundred years ago has become a historical document.  Although perhaps no longer current thinking, a science text from the last century is a fascinating insight into the history of that branch of science, and books on natural history are almost invariably packed with tissue protected illustrations of the most exquisite quality.
One of the reasons that I liked Mr. Horvath’s shop was the pricing policy.  Nothing was marked and so you would have to take your books up to him to have them inspected.  He would examine each one carefully, looking at the title pages and leafing through each one, and then he would turn his attention to you and look you up and down.  By now you were sure he was going to ask a fiver each for them and so it always came as a shock when he handed them back and said ‘Penny each?’  I often wonder if he had a different pricing policy for people he liked or whom he thought would look after the books.  Or just maybe he thought that they were junk like everyone else!
I remember one occasion when I took my prized collection of foreign stamps along to his shop to sell.  “Why do you want to sell these?”  he asked, suggesting that because it was nearly November 5th that I wanted to buy fireworks.  “No”, I assured him, telling him that I needed the money to buy my mum a birthday present.  “Well I can only give you ten shillings - are you sure you want to sell them?”
I left the shop clutching a ten shilling note and minus a stamp collection that had taken me years to accumulate.  Five minutes later the money was spent on fireworks.
Almost an institution in the area, Mr. Horvath was always to be found in the front of the shop chatting to a continual stream of friends and acquaintances.  I would often eavesdrop on the conversations, and I can remember one particular story because he would repeat it ad infinitum.  It appears that there used to be an ice-skating rink in Dreamland that was quite popular.  You couldn’t get a pair of second-hand skates for love or money, and they would therefore command quite a high resale price.  One weekend, in 1920 Mr. Horvath believed he had a stroke of luck.  One after another, people wandered in and sold him pair after pair of ice skates.  By the end of the weekend he had acquired 20 or 30 pairs and he was already counting the profits.  Then he found out that the rink had closed!  Those pairs of skates hung from the ceiling all over the shop when I saw them in 1950, and there they remained until he retired and the shop closed down.
I found his retirement quite a sad affair.  When I found out it was going to happen I went down as often as I could, buying books as quickly as my pocket money would allow, but it was an impossible task.  There were so many books there that I wanted and not enough time or money.  What made it worse was that I found out that most of the stock went for pulping!  Right now on the shelves above me are two volumes of ‘The National Encyclopaedia’.  I have never found any more of the set but they are well worth keeping for the beautiful engravings inside.  Mr. Horvath still lived above the empty shop for quite a while, and as I passed I would see him sitting in the upstairs window gazing out over the square he had traded from for so long.
Title: Re: Growing up and socialising in Kent
Post by: Ron Stilwell on September 29, 2013, 18:18:14
Part twenty-four:

Another one of my favourite subjects was English for which my tutor was Mr Sullivan.   I loved writing stories and so I particularly enjoyed doing essays.  My problem was that I found it impossible to get my thoughts down in a couple of pages.  As soon as I saw the subject I would see it as a full-scale book and nothing Mr. Sullivan could do would stop me producing a string of unfinished work.  I feel quite sorry for him really because he really did try to help.  Mr. Sullivan’s classes were held in the school library.  At first this impressed me but I soon realised how limited the library was.  I found the same at the public library, which was, then in a nice old building in Victoria Road, Margate.  The children’s section was in a kind of low-level annex, which also served as a town museum.  I was excited by the museum exhibits but not by the books in the children’s library.  As soon as I could I was borrowing from the adult non-fiction section, which I found much more interesting.  The museum, however, could always hold my attention.  I would wander around the display cases each time I visited the library, but my favourite part of the collection was the magnificent local fossil collection that had come to the museum in the Rowe bequest. 
Dr. Rowe was born in 1858 in Margate.  Arthur Walton Rowe was a famous palaeontologist, specifically an expert on the Chalk of East Kent.  He carried out the zoning of the Cretaceous, showing that by correct fossil identification it was possible to identify time zones within the chalk strata.  He is particularly noted for his work on the Micraster genus (a heart-shaped sea urchin).  He lived at Shottendane, and died in 1926.  His house was bought by the Railway Convalescent Home in 1927.
At King Ethelbert’s school, another teacher who attracted my sympathy was Mr Mansey, the art master.    When I was at the school we had quite a few kids in the class who could draw, and there was one lad who had a real future as an artist.  Mr. Mansey was in his element, teaching the finer points of perspective and brush techniques.  It was obvious that he was a teacher who really cared about his subject.
I returned to the school many years later to meet some of the teachers I remembered and went to see Mr. Mansey.  It was quite a shock to see someone who had quite visibly shrunk mentally.  He was supervising a class of children who were making clay pigs, except that the only way that I knew that they were supposed to be pigs was when Mr. Mansey told me.   “These are the best kids in the school!” he lamented, going on to explain that he hadn’t seen anyone with any talent for years.  “I’m just riot control now,” he added unhappily.


Title: Re: Growing up and socialising in Kent
Post by: smiler on September 30, 2013, 14:34:49
Haven't played it for a long time now but one of my favourite games in the pub was cricket on the dartboard. You had any number of players, more the merrier made two teams and away you went. Toss up for choice, chalk up 11 lives then first player in batting team threw, anything scored over 40 counted as runs. Then first bowler went for wickets, outer bull (25) was 1 wicket with bullseye counting as 2, this went on till all wickets were down or batting team declared and teams changed round. Haven't seen it played for years but then again don't see much darts played in bars nowadays.
Title: Re: Growing up and socialising in Kent
Post by: peterchall on September 30, 2013, 14:58:05
Another memory resurrected :)
The advantage of darts cricket was that you could play it on your own, by throwing first as bowler then as batsman. The last time I remember playing it was in my dad's pub, when it was closed.
Title: Re: Growing up and socialising in Kent
Post by: peterchall on October 01, 2013, 08:15:40
Again one memory evokes another, so thinking of throwing things brings to mind competing for ‘fag cards’.

Each player flicked a card against a wall from about 4 feet away, and if it fell on top of another card that card was won by the player. I think just the smallest overlap was enough to win the card. Other details, such as how ‘uncovered’ cards were dealt with, or how many cards were thrown in one session, are buried in the depths of my memory. Does anyone remember?

Collecting ‘fag cards’ was a serious hobby, and I was handicapped because my dad rolled his own and cards didn’t come with tobacco – I think my main source was my maternal grand-dad, who smoked ‘ready mades’.

All I can really remember is that I had a large hand-bag full of cards, including many complete sets: a set of 50 was worth much more than 50 times a single card. Eventually I grew out of such ‘childish’ activities and ditched them - what is a set of cigarette cards worth today?
Title: Re: Growing up and socialising in Kent
Post by: smiler on October 01, 2013, 09:38:50
    With the fag cards there was a variety of games to play the one pc describes was "kissems", then there was "knockemdowners" where each player leant an equal amount of cards up the wall and then took it in turns to skate a card to knock "em" down the one knocking the most down won them all. There was "fervems" which was who could skate their card the "fervest".
    We collected and played with not only fag cards but by cutting off the front and back of the cigarette packets (10s) you would get 2 fag cards to use, of course using these you would only play for other fag packet cards not the real thing. Hope this makes sense to those who never played.  :)
Title: Re: Growing up and socialising in Kent
Post by: ann on October 01, 2013, 10:00:16
I can remember the 'fag' cards. It was a game the boys played in the playground at school.  I seem to recall that there was a cycle of the games played, or seasons.  There would be 'fag' cards, then marbles, conkers etc. and each would have separate spells when they were played.  As for us girls, well I did play marbles (but not at school) and I collected and saved the pretty ones. There was skipping of course, but I don't really think we had seasonal games like the boys did, and  I remember playing fivestones (this then led on to 'jacks' in the 60's which was my daughters generation), and at junior school there was always 'kiss chase' - funny the boys were never keen on this!
Talking of 'fag cards' I remember my father had a collection of old Wills and John Player ones from when he smoked.  Not sure of value now, but certainly worth more in sets than individual cards and some sets worth a great deal more than others. Depends on the rarity of the particular set I believe.
Title: Re: Growing up and socialising in Kent
Post by: peterchall on October 01, 2013, 11:03:03
A quick net surf shows sets of cigarette cards to vary in value from about £5 to £800, and has reminded me that albums to hold complete sets were available. Can anyone remember where we got the albums from, and if they had to be paid for?
Title: Re: Growing up and socialising in Kent
Post by: Signals99 on October 01, 2013, 11:12:07
Hi, the fag card blog has opened memory's door once again. Anyone recall Turf cigarettes that had a type of card printed on the inner section. They did a series on aircraft.
A similar game was played at St Margaret's, Rochester that involved milk bottle tops (the round cardboard type with a hole in the middle) very much in the idiom of 'fag cards'.
I also had a collection of Whitbread inn signs, printed on metal; they became highly sought after, and still fetch a good price today. I sold one recently, the proceeds paid for a good niight out at an expensive venue.
So if you have any fag cards/inn signs please get them valued prior to selling them. You would be surprised, pleasantly, at their value.
Title: Re: Growing up and socialising in Kent
Post by: sheppey_bottles on October 01, 2013, 14:21:44
Although I did not go to school in Kent (but I spent most of the summer and weekends on Sheppey) I do remember the games that were played at school. Being just a little younger than some on here we used to play with Tea cards (Brooke Bond) and the main game was throwing cards, normally towards a wall, until a card landed on another, you would then win all cards on the floor. We also played penny against the wall, where you threw a penny or halfpenny and tried to get it as close to the wall as possible to win. you would do this with just one coin or best of three etc. We played Conkers of course but never saw Marbles played at our school. In the playground we used to swap tea cards to make sets up and also sold/swapped spare conkers that we had collected. Regarding the collecting of ciggie cards they are more valuable if they are NOT stuck in an album. I have a Film Stars ciggie album that is stamped Sheppey Mineral Water Co.. which I treasure. I am sure we used to buy the albums from the corner shop to put our tea cards in Peterchall. Hop scotch was another game we played.
Title: Re: Growing up and socialising in Kent
Post by: ann on October 01, 2013, 15:10:15
I also had a collection of Whitbread inn signs, printed on metal; they became highly sought after, and still fetch a good price today. I sold one recently, the proceeds paid for a good niight out at an expensive venue.

See my avatar!  Doubt it is worth a meal though.
Title: Re: Growing up and socialising in Kent
Post by: peterchall on October 01, 2013, 20:17:10
I’ve still got 16 of the Whitbread inn signs (metal) collected at the time of issue, often by cycling round Kent from pub to pub – what a pain it was having to do that. :)
There is a set of 12 for sale on the internet at the moment for £55.60, so I’m probably sitting on about £75.

The subject of cigarette cards reminds me of the ambivalent attitude we had towards smoking when I was growing up. It was generally acceptable wherever you were – in fact it was expected as a mark of ‘manhood’ (although not ‘womanhood’, because ladies smoking in public was usually frowned on!). It was as much a social nicety to offer a cigarette when being introduced to a man as it was to shake hands or to suggest a drink. I remember being sent by my grand-dad to the off-licence of the Morden Arms, Rochester, to get a packet of Woodbines for him when I was only about 7 or 8 years old; I got served so it must have been socially acceptable and legal.

On the other hand, the hazards of smoking must have been at least nodded at because cigarettes were sometimes called ‘coffin nails’ and it was unacceptable for children to smoke. A classmate at Rochester Tech School was punished – I think expelled – for smoking.

I was about 15 when I bought my first packet and my mother found them in my jacket pocket – she wasn’t in the habit of going through my pockets at that age, so I don’t know why. I was told off, not for smoking, but for trying to hide the fact that I did (“do you think we are unreasonable parents?” was mum and dad’s line). To introduce me to ‘manhood’ – or at least one aspect of it – they bought me a cigarette case. How times have changed!

Another aspect of manhood worried mum all the time; “Mind what you’re up to with the girls” was familiar advice as I went out! :)
Title: Re: Growing up and socialising in Kent
Post by: Ron Stilwell on October 01, 2013, 20:38:21
Peterchall, I think those signs are worth much more than that.

Part twenty-five:

The maths master Mr. Tuppen was nowhere near as approachable as the others, although perhaps I say that because I had problems with mathematics.  Mr. Tuppen was a man with very fixed ideas and he was not afraid to transmit his opinions to the class.  Supposedly a maths class, it was not uncommon for him to explain the finer points of politics to us.  One such occasion, which sticks in my mind, was a time when there were quite a few strikes going on.  Mr. Tuppen explained to us how anarchic strikes were.  “You will never see a teacher go on strike,” he told us confidently!
One maths lesson was completely lost when he got into an argument with a boy about his grammar.  The lad had come out with a classic double negative.  “I haven’t got none, Sir.”
“That means you have got some,” Mr Tuppen explained.  But it was no use, the boy repeating his phrase with some determination.
You could tell that Mr. Tuppen was just as determined to straighten this out and so he set out his case.  The lad however stood his ground and just wouldn’t have it.  He knew what he was saying and he wouldn’t be swayed.  They were still at it when the lesson was over and we all trooped out.
One very memorable teacher was Mr. Tullett.  He was the gardening master and looked very much the part of the weathered countryman.  He just used to potter about in the school garden attempting to teach boys to grow turnips and such like.  I was amazed to find out later that he had been promoted to headmaster!
The science laboratory was my favourite place in the whole school.  It was literally crammed with fascinating items including all kinds of creatures preserved in formaldehyde.  I seem to remember that one of those was a human foetus but I have no idea why or how it came to be there.  Now of course all this kind of thing has been cleared away in favour of modern teaching methods and requirements but I wonder if anything in the modern science classroom stimulates interest the way that ours did back in the 1950s.
The school had no swimming pool and so Mr. Cork the headmaster had arranged for us to take swimming lessons in the swimming pool of a private house in Westgate.  I was quite grateful for this, as I had nearly drowned in the sea when I was a couple of years younger.  I was down on Margate beach with some friends and was messing about on the slipway just to the left of the Sun Deck.  Somehow I slipped off and found myself in deep water.  I went down a couple of times and swallowed quite a bit of water.  It was just my luck that one of my friends who could swim noticed what was happening, dived in and pulled me out.  Anyway, when the opportunity to learn came up, I took the chance gladly.
Unfortunately the school didn’t use the pool for very long because of bad behaviour by some of the classes.  Nothing to do with me, of course!


Title: Re: Growing up and socialising in Kent
Post by: Ron Stilwell on October 03, 2013, 16:18:45
Part twenty-six:

Back at school I was having slight trouble with the choir.  I had joined mainly because there were some nice girls in it, certainly I didn’t have any singing talent or ambition.  I used to stand at the back and just make out I was singing but that didn’t last forever.  I suppose that I must have uttered a few raucous notes in an enthusiastic accident.  Anyway, Mr Hayward, the music teacher, must have smelled a rat as he told us all to line up in front of the piano and sing a few bars solo.  There I was, hanging on the end of the line hoping that time would run out, but it was no good and soon there I was, squeaking out my version of ‘Fire down below, boys’.  Mr Hayward didn’t let me get very far, and that afternoon my career with the choir was over!
In the corner of the playing field, just above the gardening area, there were some abandoned air-raid shelters.  These consisted of raised mounds with sunken entrances, and made an ideal fantasy play site for us first years.  It was about the time of the appearance of comics introducing Superman, Spiderman etc.  Superman was also on Television, with the ‘Adventures of Superman’ starring George Reeves running throughout the late 50’s.  Despite the rather over-weight super-hero, and his ill-fitting tights and costume, the series was great fun and very popular with the boys at school.  We became obsessed with the idea of super-powers, and on one bizarre occasion all the kids collected on top of the old air-raid shelters to play ‘Super Heroes’.  Each of us chose our own name, such as ‘Biscuit Man’, ‘Metal Man’, Blancmange Man’, etc. and also a special word which we used to turn on our special powers.  It must have been a rare sight to see us charging about on top of the air-raid shelters with our coats draped over our heads as mock capes and shouting all kinds of gibberish.
Another ‘mass game’ occurred spontaneously one winter after a huge snowfall.  The playing fields were deep in snow and we had a great time playing snowballs.  After a while us smaller kids realised that the oldest kids had rolled up loads of giant snowballs and were building a fort at the top of the field.  The gauntlet was down - it was the oldest kids of the school versus everyone else.  It would be a walkover as we outnumbered them four to one.  It was Rourke’s Drift, and we were the Zulus.  We all charged their fort shouting and yelling.  But we could only carry a couple of snowballs and being small we couldn’t throw them very far.  Before we got into range they were pelting us with showers of big snowballs, which of course they had stockpiled behind the walls of their redoubt.  Soon a lot of our supporters turned to run and our advantage in numbers quickly evaporated.  Those heroes foolhardy enough to press on (not me!) were captured as our foe charged out of their fort, grabbed an enemy and proceeded to fill his shirt and trousers with snow.  There was no further attempt to assail the fort!

Title: Re: Growing up and socialising in Kent
Post by: AlanH on October 05, 2013, 09:23:12
Ron's memories of being a choir boy remind me of mine as a young lad in St Margarets church choir. The organist was a chap by the name of Rogers so he was nicknamed by us as "Roy" after the comic cowboy.
I can't remember the vicars name but occasionally the Very Rev. Mortimore gave the sermon and I swear half the congregation fell asleep listening to him as his voice rose and fell as he bought down the wrath of God upon us sinners.
I was apparently one of the worst sinners as they would only pay me half of the pittance due to me for singing (if that's what I did!!!) at weddings as according to Roy Rogers I spent all my time ogling the brides so even then my mind was not on the job......or at least not on the job I was hopefully going to be paid for. :-)
AlanH.
Title: Re: Growing up and socialising in Kent
Post by: Ron Stilwell on October 07, 2013, 23:19:00
Part twenty-seven:

While the guest house was operating, during the summer months mum and dad slept downstairs in the back room and I was moved out into the garden where I slept in a ‘chalet’.  This was my mother’s description for what was little more than a garden shed.  In the earlier years before my sister got married, I slept downstairs with mum and dad and Jayne was outside in the chalet.  With only a three bed-roomed house it was obviously not possible to have many visitors staying overnight.   Our two double and one single bedrooms were hardly enough and so most of our guests were ‘farmed out’ up and down the road in various friend’s houses, just coming to our house for meals.  For this ‘luxury’ a family paid £10.00 a week for what was called half-board.  This consisted of breakfast and a two course evening meal.  (no starters in those days in our guest house).  Whatever they thought, our visitors used to come back year after year and most became great friends.  I think that it was the food that attracted them, as mother was quite a good cook.  It was fairly plain in today’s terms but there was plenty of it and it was well prepared, and mother was always concerned about presentation.
There were often little treats to be had, especially during the summer season when the guesthouse was fully booked and there was always more food about.  I especially loved being allowed to scrape out the cake-mix bowl.  There were always interesting things in the larder to be consumed, including preserves in Kilner jars on shelves at the back of the cupboard.  These contained all kinds of fruit bottled in syrup.  In those days most fruit, apart from oranges and bananas, was only available in the shops for a very short seasonal period, and the preserves allowed us to enjoy them throughout the year.  There was of course, still tinned fruit available.  As mum and dad were running a guesthouse it was economic for them to buy catering size foods and on one occasion that proved to be just too much of a temptation.  One day, when there was no one around I nipped into the larder and took out a couple of large tins of fruit.  One was fruit salad and the other was sliced peaches and they were the big A2½ size.  I went behind the settee with them and opened them both up, eating the whole tin of peaches and a bit of the fruit salad, only stopping when I felt sick.  I might have got away with it because there were always plenty of tins in the pantry but stupidly I left the tins and the spoon behind the settee!  Once caught I was hauled in front of the Gestapo, but I had invented a magnificent defence which I was sure would get me off the charge.  Of course I was found guilty and duly punished!
During the school holidays and at weekends I would have to help out, shelling peas, stringing beans and peeling potatoes.  I had to look out for peas with maggots inside and throw them out.  Usually maggoty peas floated in the water when the peas were washed in a bowl.  I would eat lots of the peas, especially the small ones which were very sweet, and I would often chew the pods of very young thin peas.  I would also eat raw broad beans, and nibble at the furry insides of the broad bean pods. I would have to top, tail and string the runner beans, but I wasn’t allowed to slice them.  Gertie was a very good cook, even if the food was a little plain by today’s standards, but as usual for the time, the vegetables were cooked for hours, and were very soft when dished up.  To retain the green colour she would add bicarbonate of soda to the saucepan.  Once the meals were ready I would have to act as waiter.  After that I would have to help June Gunner, a young girl who was employed to do the washing up.  She lived in Westfield Road with her mother and brother Keith who at the time was my best friend.

Title: Re: Growing up and socialising in Kent
Post by: ann on October 08, 2013, 10:05:51
..... shelling peas, stringing beans and peeling potatoes.  I had to look out for peas with maggots inside and throw them out.  Usually maggoty peas floated in the water when the peas were washed in a bowl.  I would eat lots of the peas, especially the small ones which were very sweet, and I would often chew the pods of very young thin peas.  I would also eat raw broad beans, and nibble at the furry insides of the broad bean pods. I would have to top, tail and string the runner beans, but I wasn’t allowed to slice them.  Gertie was a very good cook, even if the food was a little plain by today’s standards, but as usual for the time, the vegetables were cooked for hours, and were very soft when dished up.  To retain the green colour she would add bicarbonate of soda to the saucepan. 

Again memories triggered.  On Sundays my job when young and at home was to shuck the peas ready for lunch (and I used to love to eat them raw) and to top and tail and string the runner beans (dad was the only one allowed to do the slicing as no one could match him for how thin he sliced them) I was also in charge of the mint sauce.  I would be sent outside to pick it from the garden, and then pull off the leaves from the stalks and chop it up finely.  It would then be put into a small pot with vinegar and sugar! (This reminds me of dad who would put vinegar and sugar on lettuce). I can remember being told to add bicarbonate of soda to green veg. but until this post had not realised why.  I overdid it once and it came out slimey!
Title: Re: Growing up and socialising in Kent
Post by: busyglen on October 08, 2013, 11:49:37
I still add a pinch of bicarbonate of soda to green veg today.  My mother always did and I copied her.  One day I forgot and I didn't like the wishy washy colour that the greens ended up!
Title: Re: Growing up and socialising in Kent
Post by: Ron Stilwell on October 09, 2013, 00:56:33
Part twenty-eight:

One variation in diet that I enjoyed was when mum and dad were away for the day and Jayne had her chance to do the cooking.  My favourite was cheese and potato pie – probably Jayne’s choice because it was the only thing she knew how to cook! A fair bit of the equipment used in the guesthouse seems to have come into our possession in various, dubious ways.  Mum and dad were first in service to a well-to-do family in Surrey and later went to work at Poplar Schools in Hutton.
In 1836 the new Poplar Poor Law Union was formed to administer the local workhouses. Its operation was overseen by an elected Board of Guardians, and in 1906, the Poplar Guardians erected a training school for around 700 children on a 100-acre site at Hutton in Essex.  The land cost £101 an acre but lacked a water supply, drainage system and road access.
This, together with the ornate design of some of the buildings, contributed to the unusually high final cost of the project (£184,280), which was one of the last of its type to be erected.  The buildings took the form of a "cottage homes" village arranged around a large green.  Five double cottages for boys stood at the west of the green and five for girls at the east side.  In the middle of the boys' cottages stood an elaborately decorated dining hall (the girls prepared and served meals in their own cottages as part of their domestic training).
The single-storey building was surmounted by a bell tower, and a terra-cotta frieze adorned the top of the bay at the eastern side, one part depicting St Leonard — possibly a reference to St Leonard’s, Shoreditch.  Shoreditch Borough seems to have made use of the school.  The interior was equally ornate, in fact, during a House of Lords debate on 4th May, 1906, concerning the alleged extravagance of the Guardians, one speaker remarked that 'the beams in the Dining Hall would do credit to an English Cathedral.'
Forty acres of the site were used as a farm where children worked to provide much of the school's food.  Five hundred fruit trees were planted, some of which survive in the gardens of houses on Colet Road in Hutton. The school had no uniform as such.  Boys wore knickerbockers and tunics, or trousers and jackets, while the girls wore blouses with frocks, jumpers and print pinafores.  Boys were trained in small 'shops' in the trades of boot making, tailoring, carpentry, baking and gardening.  They were also encouraged to learn a musical instrument and join the school military band, which was of a high standard.  Older girls trained as domestic servants and were taught cookery, needlework and laundry skills.
On 14th May, 1919, Queen Mary and Princess Mary visited the school. They watched a physical drill by the younger children and toured classrooms and training shops before enjoying a musical performance by the school band and choirs. In 1930, control of the school passed to the London County Council. In the 1950s, the school`s farmland was sold. In the 1970s, the school was taken over by the Inner London Education Authority.  In 1974, following changes in the law relating to children in care, the school's intake fell considerably. The main school building was sold to Essex County Council for use as an adult education centre. By 1980, only 40 children were still in residence and the home was closed. All the children were placed in foster homes, with the last child leaving in March 1982.
Various pieces of china, kitchen utensils and cutlery had identifiable marks from these places!  Dad, of course, also used to work as a waiter and many useful items would arrive with the names of different hotels stamped on them.  Harry was a skilled silver-service waiter, but his preferred job was as wine waiter, which he considered to be a much higher-status occupation.  He worked at the Chez Laurie on the main road between Herne Bay and St Nicholas, and for a long time at the Beresford Hotel, Birchington.  There were also special events that were held in the Winter Gardens, Cliftonville, and at which he was usually head wine-waiter.
One of the major items in each room were large china water jug and bowl sets.  We had a number of these, enough to equip quite a few rooms.  My sister and I suspect that these came from a large house where my parents were in service, or from Poplar Schools.

Title: Re: Growing up and socialising in Kent
Post by: Ron Stilwell on October 10, 2013, 00:52:15
Part twenty-nine:

During the winter there was usually decorating to be done.  There would be no visitors, and Dad would usually be unemployed in the winter months.  They never had anyone in to do the decorating, preferring to do it themselves.  The first to be done was stripping the old wallpaper.  I would be allowed to help with this and for a while would happily soak and scrape, sometimes having the satisfaction of pulling off a big strip of paper.  I got bored with the job quite quickly though.  However it was always fun if Mum and Dad had to wallpaper the ceiling.  As far as I could see, any attempt at trying to make a long strip of wet, limp paper stick to the ceiling was sheer folly, but they were always prepared to have a go.  Out would come the paste table then, when the strip was properly pasted, dad would gather it up and climb the stepladder.  It usually went well at first, but then when dad moved along the suspended plank, smoothing it out, it would start to drop off the ceiling and hang in big sagging loops and mum would be underneath with brooms trying to hold it up.  When the inevitable happened, with the strip of paper tearing or dropping to the floor they would begin to blame each other with recriminations, the argument getting louder and louder and carrying on for ages afterwards.
Dad usually had a problem with electrics, and it didn’t help that everyone used to sit and watch him whenever he did anything like wiring up a plug.  He always used to try to follow the instructions but even so, when he put the plug in the socket and turned it on, there would be a bright flash and the lights would go out.  Perhaps he was colour blind because I noticed that he always used to wire up the earth to the live terminal.  I would never have dreamed of saying anything though - that wouldn’t have been a good idea!  I wonder how many times I heard my mother say, ‘little boys should be seen and not heard’.
At Christmas time the decorations and tree were always put up on Christmas Eve, and then it was time for Dad’s electrical genius to show once again.  The Christmas tree would be set up, dad would check out the Xmas lights and arrange them carefully around the tree.  When he switched them on the lights would fuse – every time!
Christmas was a time when dad would hang up stockings for us, and inside there would be an apple, an orange, and then strangely, a piece of paper, a stick of wood and some coal.  The idea being that we should get up early and light the fire – just his little joke!
Title: Re: Growing up and socialising in Kent
Post by: ann on October 10, 2013, 08:43:10
As usual Ron's memories have triggered mine.
'Christmas was a time when dad would hang up stockings for us, and inside there would be an apple, an orange, and then strangely, a piece of paper, a stick of wood and some coal.  The idea being that we should get up early and light the fire – just his little joke!'
I too used to get fruit, usually a tangerine or two, in my stocking, but the bit about the coal on top really struck home.  My dad used to tell me that at Xmas when he was a boy, (he had 5 siblings) whoever got a lump of coal on the top of their stocking knew it was their turn to go down and llight the fire.
I remember the wallpapering of the ceilings (and the polystyrene tiles that followed this trend).  The paper was usually heavily embossed with patterns and if there was any scraps over I would colour them in. Would sit for ages doing this. Such simple pleasures!
Title: Re: Growing up and socialising in Kent
Post by: Ron Stilwell on October 11, 2013, 10:17:06
Part thirty:

Management of the entertainment at the end of Margate Jetty was in the hands of Eric Bloom.  Eric and his wife would come down to Margate at the start of each summer season and stay at our boarding house.  He would handle the bookings of the various variety acts. 
Eric himself acted as master of ceremonies, did a mind-reading act with his wife, and also performed his own magic show for children in one of the outer kiosks.  To be honest, as a magician Eric left a lot to be desired, but everyone seemed to be entertained.  My problem was that I knew how he was doing the tricks and that spoilt it for me.  He would sit in the back yard at home and practice his magic, and I would be called in to act as his audience or helper as needed.  Sometimes Eric would attempt to show me simple tricks, but I was never able to attain the necessary ‘Sleight of Hand.’  Of course it was all trick rather than magic and I suppose it taught me to question things much more than I had before.  Perhaps I should be grateful to him; certainly I have never been able to watch a magic act in the same way since.
The mind-reading act had to be seen to be believed.  They worked it with code words, but I found it unbelievably corny.  Eric’s wife would stand on the stage wearing a blindfold, and Eric would pass round the audience asking for items to be identified.  If it was a watch he would urge her to “Hurry up, we haven’t got all day”, a wallet would be, “If you don’t get this one we won’t get paid”.  The amazing thing was that the audience didn’t seem to notice, and they always got a good reception.
The times when I went to the show the music was provided by a Ladies string quartet of violin, double bass etc., but I understand that the Gerry Allen trio played there at some time.
Most of the acts were what my mother used to call ‘Highbrow’, for instance a husband and wife act who were a singing duo and used to perform songs such as the ‘Indian Love Call’.   My parents probably regretted that I had seen this act as I would perform my own version of the song on the stairs at home.  I would stand at the top of the stairs and squeal, “When I’m calling you .......oooh....oooooh.....oooh,” then I would race down the stairs to reply,   “I will answer too .....oooh......oooooh.....ooooh.”
It must have been torture to listen to!
My sessions with Eric lead to greater things.  After a while I became a part of the act, although in a rather underhanded way.  We used to drive over to Ellington Park in Ramsgate where I would help him unload his gear onto the central bandstand, and then when he was nearly ready I would make myself scarce.
Eric would start his act with a ventriloquist’s doll with which he was quite good, even throwing his voice so that it sounded as though the trees were talking.  Then he would continue with some simple magic tricks.  This was the cue for me to join the audience.  I would sidle in at the back and wait until he was ready to ask for a helper.  Most of the kids would put up their hands to volunteer but it was always me that he picked.  Anyone else up on the stage would be almost sure to notice what was going on and spill the beans.  My Saturday trips to Ellington Park didn’t last, as Eric found a little girl to fill my shoes.
Title: Re: Growing up and socialising in Kent
Post by: busyglen on October 11, 2013, 14:27:50
You've really got the knack of telling a story.....I can hardly wait for the next episode.....you should put the episodes into book form for preservation.  :)
Title: Re: Growing up and socialising in Kent
Post by: Ron Stilwell on October 11, 2013, 15:49:13
Thanks busyglen.  I started in hospital when I had a bad case of pneumonia, and I thought it was a good idea to put memories down for my children.  Then my older sister joined in and it snow-balled.  I have trimmed it a bit for the posting here because some is family stuff, and I decided to stop at the age of 'majority' so I didn't frighten the chickens, but.... more to go yet.
Title: Re: Growing up and socialising in Kent
Post by: Lyn L on October 11, 2013, 16:02:07
Oh good  :) I'm loving the story telling. The part about you singing The Indian Love Call, had me tickled, reminded me of when I was learning to play the trumpet for The Girls Brigade band I was in. It must have been excruciating for my parents (and the neighbours when I and my friend who lived a few doors away) would both practise in our gardens !!
I also lived in a guest house RS, perhaps that's why the 'guests' stayed out longer than necessary  :)
Title: Re: Growing up and socialising in Kent
Post by: Ron Stilwell on October 13, 2013, 11:42:21
Part thirty-one:

Life on the end of the Iron Jetty was always interesting.  Each time the tripper ships such as the MV Royal Daffodil came alongside the pier the whole edifice shook and moved to and fro a good few inches!  That was because many of the iron jetty supports were rusted through just below the water line.  The service from Tower Pier to the Thames Estuary was opened in the summer of 1946 by the arrival of the Royal Eagle. Throughout the 1950s, the Company ran a three-ship service with new MV Royal Sovereign, MV Queen of the Channel and an old Royal Daffodil. With the decline in passenger numbers, especially with the loss of Margate pier the Company decided that they could not carry on.  On December 20th 1960 they announced the closure of the service and the sale of the three ships. This ended 160 years of Londoner’s sea cruises to Southend-on-Sea, Clacton, Margate, Ramsgate and the near Channel Ports.
At the end of the jetty there was a second lower deck that most people missed.  This was approached by iron stairs, which took you down beneath the main decking.  The lower deck was a maze of planked decking amongst a forest of beams and iron girders.  Apparently popular in the Victorian era it was now mostly deserted except for small boys, boatmen, and fishermen.  We would go down to catch crabs and to dodge the waves which would come splashing over the deck especially if a ship came alongside the pier.  Eventually we would have to retreat to the upper deck because the whole lower section would be flooded twice a day by the high tide.
Another favourite pastime on the jetty was a tour around the lifeboat house.  The building was about halfway along the jetty, just far enough out to make sure that there was always enough water below to float the lifeboat on any state of the tide.  The lifeboat was housed up at about the same height as the main jetty decking fully ready to slide down the slipway at any time.  Viewing was possible from two levels, either on the floor of the lifeboat house so that you could examine the hull and propeller or up on a raised platform at deck level and which allowed you to see right into the cockpit.  There were photographs of earlier lifeboats and crews around the walls, and an ornate plaque listing all the rescues that the Margate Lifeboat had carried out since the 1850’s.
Quite often when we were in Margate or down on the beach we would hear the warning maroon go off and we would race to the jetty to watch the crew run down the jetty to the lifeboat house and then see the lifeboat slide down the chute, hit the water in a tremendous shower of spray and then race away on its rescue mission.
Title: Re: Growing up and socialising in Kent
Post by: Ron Stilwell on October 13, 2013, 11:45:52
The steamers coming alongside the Iron Jetty.
Title: Re: Growing up and socialising in Kent
Post by: Ron Stilwell on October 13, 2013, 11:47:29
The Royal Sovereign
Title: Re: Growing up and socialising in Kent
Post by: Ron Stilwell on October 13, 2013, 11:49:30
Postcard showing the position of the lifeboat house.
Title: Re: Growing up and socialising in Kent
Post by: Ron Stilwell on October 15, 2013, 00:31:19
Part thirty-two:

One red-letter day was when the Royal Navy aircraft carrier HMS Ocean dropped anchor in ‘Margate Roads’. 
That was a wonderful surprise as I had an exploded diagram of the warship on my bedroom wall, which had come out of the Eagle comic.
Along with many others, I was lucky enough to go out to the carrier for a tour with the 1st Margate Lifeboys.
We went out to HMS Ocean on the Margate lifeboat although I was disappointed that we did not go down the slipway in it.  When we arrived it was tied up alongside the pier on one of the lower iron jetties that were below the main decking.
 I don’t remember much about the trip out but once up on the deck of the carrier the parked aircraft captivated me.  There were the Hawker Sea Fury jets, and my favourite, the Fairey Gannett anti-submarine aircraft.  This was a large dumpy aeroplane with a big contra-rotating propeller.
I spent quite a lot of time down on the beach in the summer holidays, usually on the main Margate beach between the Sundeck and the Clock Tower.  In those days it was quite literally a problem trying to find a bit of sand to sit down on.  It really was the classic British seaside with donkeys, knotted hankies, striped deckchairs, buckets and spades.  There was something else as well, and that was an odd kind of camaraderie that still existed then, perhaps a rollover from the war?  As an example of that, I remember one bizarre day when a few boys had started to build a sand wall to try to keep the tide back.  A few dads and uncles pitched in to help and they had soon built quite a large sand dam.  After a bit you could see groups of boys and men coming in at the sides and extending the wall east and west, all the way from the Sun Deck to the Clock Tower.  Once that had got going it wasn’t long before almost everyone on the beach was pitching in to help.  Some men (obviously local) even went scurrying off home coming back with full-size spades and shovels. The dam had built up to really impressive proportions by the time the tide reached it, in fact in some places you couldn’t see over it.  Soon, of course, the waves began to attack the wall and hordes of people were racing up and down the beach trying to repair the damage.  They kept it up for about half an hour until the sea was almost lapping the top in loads of places, then suddenly a big break occurred near to the Sun Deck end.  Water flooded through the gap breaking down the walls on either side as it went.  There was nothing anyone could do so they all stood back, some now up to their waists in seawater, watching the dam collapse.  Someone called for ‘three cheers’ and everyone on the beach joined in, finally clapping each other as they went back to their places on the beach to rest and sunbathe.  Somehow, I can’t imagine something like that happening today.     
Title: Re: Growing up and socialising in Kent
Post by: busyglen on October 15, 2013, 10:03:56
What a wonderful day that must have been!  I can't imagine that happening today, can you?  With your descriptive account I could actually picture it all....you certainly are a good storyteller Ron S.  :)
Title: Re: Growing up and socialising in Kent
Post by: chasg on October 15, 2013, 10:43:12
Somehow, I can’t imagine something like that happening today.     

Somehow, I can't imagine such inspired insanity happening anywhere but in Britain, either!  :)
Title: Re: Growing up and socialising in Kent
Post by: helcion on October 15, 2013, 11:05:56
Ron    -

Re your 'The steamers coming alongside the Iron Jetty' photos    -

In your second photo I hope that is not a breaking sea behind the crew !
Could quite ruin the trippers' day . . . . . .

I remember the lower level beneath the pierhead, the pilot boat often used to tie up there when the harbour dried out & a 'job' was in the offing.

Excellent series of memories from you  -  thanks.
Title: Re: Growing up and socialising in Kent
Post by: Ron Stilwell on October 18, 2013, 17:05:33
Part thirty-three.

The Stone Pier was another of my favourite stamping grounds.  It was really the commercial side of the harbour, and provided shelter and a safe mooring for fishing boats, pleasure craft, and as an unloading quay for a few small coasters, usually carrying coal or timber.  I loved the large cast iron cranes that rolled along embedded rails at the edge of the quay.  They were very rarely used, and were covered in rust, but I found them fascinating.
One of the high spots about a visit to the stone pier was the model railway that ran on the upper level of the pier from Droit House, known as the clock tower, and down to the lighthouse. A live-steam ‘Flying Scotsman’ type locomotive was used to haul the train.  It used to run during the summer months.
After the 1953 storm had wrecked the pier Margate, Pier & Harbour Co Ltd moved the railway onto the Iron Jetty and it was run there for about 10 years with a new D1000 Western Independence diesel locomotive built by David Curwen.  The railway was sold in 1975 and bought by a Cliftonville man called Arthur Pay.  For some years he ran it in his garden near Northdown Park, and I went on it at one of the Open Days he used to hold.  Today, the locomotive and rolling stock operates on the Royal Victoria Railway, Netley near Southampton where it has been since 2003.
Shore fishermen lined up along the raised section of the stone pier, trying to catch cod during the winter.  I did my own share of fishing on the end of the Pier, but nowhere near so successfully.  I used to sit at the foot of a set of stone steps that led down to the water just beneath the lighthouse, so I could drop my hook straight into the sea.  My fishing tackle consisted of a small rectangular wooden frame, around which the fishing line was wound.  On the end of that was a single hook, and a fishing weight that was made of lead, and resembled a grey coloured, oversize knobbly Polo mint!  I used bits of squid, mussels and worms for bait, but all I ever caught were crabs.
The lighthouse at the end of the stone pier at Margate was completely destroyed in the Great Storm of 1953.  An unfortunate combination of the storm, a northerly wind, spring tides, and a low pressure over the North Sea combined to wreak havoc along the North Kent coast. In fact although we didn’t know it then the storm was Europe wide, with over 500 people being killed in England and over a 1,000 in Holland.  I remember going down to Margate on the morning after the storm.
The whole of the Old Town was flooded with several feet of seawater and it reached right up to the Elizabethan houses in King Street.  Policemen were teamed up with harbour boatmen and punting along the flooded roads rescuing people.  Down on the sea front the whole coastline was littered with planks and debris from the pier and hundreds of shattered beach huts.
This meant a major change to Margate.  Up until this point there were so many ways for the trippers to come down to Thanet.  Special trains would run constantly down from London and even down from the north.  Coaches, or more correctly Charabancs would flood in by road along with lots of chartered red London buses.  There was also a big increase in the number of motorcars on the road and of course a great many motorcycles.  The Jetty however brought in hundreds of day-trippers and especially at the weekends, the ships would arrive with crowded decks.  The hordes of people would troop off down the jetty to join the multitudes of people flooding down the road from the railway station and coach park, all heading for Dreamland, the amusements, and to try to find a place on very crowded sands.  After the storm however this means of access was gone forever, and of course the attraction of walking the along the Jetty and the ‘End of the Pier Show’ was destroyed overnight.
In the early evening of a day in November 1964, fire swept the end of the jetty, destroying the pavilion, it was never rebuilt.  The jetty was finally destroyed in a storm in 1978.
The picture was of the harbour the day after the storm.  The lighthouse is missing and the planks came from the sun-deck and the iron jetty.  I think it was me on the left.

Title: Re: Growing up and socialising in Kent
Post by: Ron Stilwell on October 21, 2013, 20:58:08
Part thirty-four:

At home there were other changes. On the downside, Grandmother Hughes came to stay.  This did not make for happy families, as she was the most cantankerous person you could ever have the misfortune to meet.  Dad disliked her intensely and there were lots of rows in the house once she arrived.  One that I can remember was to do with the heat in the living room at the back of the house.  When we had visitors it was the only room that we could use for the family.  Grandmother insisted on having a fire lit and the windows shut even in the summer.  The heat used to hit you like a wall as you went in.  One day dad came in from work (he worked as a wine waiter in local hotels to supplement our income) and just hit the roof.  Of course it made no difference as grandmother had a skin as thick as a rhinoceros and just ignored him.
Both my sister and I would try to keep out of her way, but she would hear you no matter how quietly you tried to creep about. 
One day, Grandmother Hughes was coming in through the back door when the wind blew the door shut on her fingers.  The shock finished her off, leaving very few sad faces in our household.
Right beside the front door stood a tall mahogany hallstand, with pegs for hats, a large mirror, and down at the base there were two receptacles on either side for walking sticks and umbrellas.  They had zinc containers at the bottom to catch drips, dirt etc.  There was a covered wooden container just below the mirror for hatpins etc.
There was a giant mahogany table in the dining room covered with a heavy green table cover made of a kind of rubberised backing with a very odd fuzzy green Chenille surface. (very thick)  There was also an enormous mahogany sideboard with lots of mirrors.  There were two big oil paintings of woodland scenes, one on each side of the fireplace.  The carpet had a complicated design, which I used to use as either roads for my toy cars or as railway tracks.  Upstairs in the bedrooms each room had a marble topped washstand and on it were big bowls and jugs.  Each room had a large utility-style beds with half-round beading as decoration on the bed-posts.  This often went missing and mum suspected that it was stolen by one of our summer visitors.
The mangle stood just outside the back door.  It was very old, with rubber rollers that were massively out of shape due to extreme age and overuse.  The surface of the rollers was very hard and was covered with a crazing of minute cracks.  The mangle was on a raised concrete patio across most of the whole width of the house.  There was an outbuilding to the right that housed first a coal hole, next a room containing odds and ends, then, around the corner, an outside privy. 
Title: Re: Growing up and socialising in Kent
Post by: John38 on October 26, 2013, 16:42:17
Hi all,

I am trying to gain an understanding of where people socialised in Kent when growing up....... I would be keen to hear of any memories from all eras

I grew up in Sheerness 1942 - 1959.  In the 50s it was probably the best possible place and time for growing up (I have ever come across.) These are the venues I frequented.

3 Cinemas; 2 live theatres; 5 youth clubs; a Fairground all year with skating rink; on a Saturday night 3 dances with live bands; a cellar club (early disco); two sets of Tennis Courts; Putting greens; two swimming Pools; the Sheppey Judo Club; the 'Tanner Hop' in Queenborough on Wednesday, The Saint John's Band, the beach ..... the girls from London on holiday (who said that?) ..... not to mention Sheppey United FC !!
Title: Re: Growing up and socialising in Kent
Post by: Ron Stilwell on October 26, 2013, 20:20:28
Part thirty-five:

In June 1954 my sister got married and moved away. This meant that I was ‘promoted’ to her room, except of course, during the summer when it was needed for visitors.
In these later years we still had some ‘Theatricals’ staying during the summer seasons, but they were usually with us for only as few 1 day. Some of these acts worked in the Hippodrome in Cecil Square, Margate.  They were much more modern acts, for instance one of them was singer Mike Sarne who later on had a hit called ‘Come Outside’ with Wendy Richards.  We would usually be able to get complimentary tickets for the shows but they were not often used.  One show I remember though was the day I realised that girls were not all the horrible creatures that I thought them to be up until that time.  We had a fifteen-year-old girl staying with us who was part of a dance act.  I went along to see the show with mum and dad and there she was, in tights and stage makeup gracefully pirouetting and leaping through her dance routine.  At that moment I felt the sensation that I normally associated with stomach ache - I was thirteen and in love with an older woman and she was sleeping in MY bedroom, on MY bed, while I was stuck out in the garden shed!  Of course I never even got to talk to her properly, blushing deep red when I took in the meals at dinnertime.  Before I knew it, she was gone on to her next booking, and never to be seen again.
Of course my heart was broken and I was devastated for at least a couple of weeks.  That was until I discovered that June Gunner, my best friend’s sister and our washer-up, was also a girl! We spent quite a few happy moments when mum was out of the way snogging in my chalet.  Up until that time I was literally terrified of contact with girls in fact I had solemnly sworn that I would only get married if I didn’t have to kiss the girl!
Unfortunately, like many attractions in Margate, the Hippodrome Theatre was badly affected by the lack of summer visitors during the fifties, and it closed in October 1958.
Every year, on Armistice Day, we would make the trip up to the Cenotaph in London for dad to pay his respects to his fallen comrades from the First World War.  We always arrived early so that we could get a good position in the Mall just opposite the Cenotaph. 
Our family was always very patriotic and we would stand for the National Anthem when it was played on the TV in the living room.  We were one of the earliest in our road to have a television, my parents getting it so that they could watch the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in the comfort of our own home.  At the back of the ‘cupboard under the stairs’ was a cardboard box that contained the flags and bunting and this was brought out on every possible occasion to bedeck the house.  We were by no means the only house to do this and so on days such as the Coronation the whole road would look quite festive.
Title: Re: Growing up and socialising in Kent
Post by: Ron Stilwell on October 31, 2013, 11:59:14
Where was I?  Ah, part thirty-six:

The television introduced me to all kinds of fascinating stories, and coincided with the flood of Science Fiction tales that appeared in the 50’s.
The Quatermass Experiment was one of the first series I saw, and extremely exciting, the basic indoor sets and special effects not detracting from a well-crafted sci-fi story of rockets and alien invasion.  The subsequent Quatermass film and TV series were very poor by comparison.
A couple of years later a new television series came along called the ‘Trollenberg Terror’.  It was another alien invasion epic, this time set on a mountaintop.  Scientists and mountaineers were trapped thousands of feet up a mountain and threatened by a deadly cloud.  Besieged by the aliens in an observatory above the cable-car station, the scientists fought to survive and to save the world from invasion.  The series was all the more fascinating because it starred a young actress called Sarah Lawson who I found disturbingly attractive!
Finally the time came when I was presented with my own bicycle.  Learning to ride didn’t take very long.  One of my friends from Garlinge came over to teach me, and we began outside my house in Waverley Road.  Off I went down the hill with him behind, supporting me, and before I knew different he had let go and I was on my own.  After a few shaky moments I was away and never looked back.  Suddenly my ‘range’ increased tenfold and I began to explore the Isle of Thanet with the rest of my friends.  One of the first places we went to was Manston Aerodrome.  It was then a base for the USAF and was like a magnet to us.  We were soon able to recognise the F86 Sabre jet fighter and the big B47 bomber.  The American pilots were very much ‘cowboys of the sky’ and flew the jets with obvious exuberance.  They would take-off and land in formation and often ‘buzz’ the airfield at ground level.  Crashes were not unknown and one poor family had the misfortune to be killed when a jet, which missed the runway, destroyed their car.  The rumour amongst us boys was that they had been beheaded by the crashing jet fighter.
One spectacular sight was the take-off of fully laden B47 bombers.  In order to get off the ground safely and quickly they had rockets fitted, and when these were fired the rocket-assisted aircraft would leap into the sky accompanied by clouds of smoke and a thunderous roar.
In those days there was much more security on the base and there were many armed guards with several of the roads through the airport being closed.  All along the main roads were Ministry signs warning traffic to keep moving ‘or else!’  One of the most impressive complexes built by the Americans was the bomb and armament store.  This was situated right on the edge of the air base with all the building protected by large blast ramps and barriers.  This complex is now the home of Charles River.  It was a popular rumour amongst us boys that the 'Yanks' kept their atomic bombs in there.
During the time we were going up to the camp there was a real ‘wild west’ incident at Manston.  Without warning an armed American Serviceman, Napoleon Greene, went berserk and killed three people and seriously injured seven others before committing suicide. During the incident, Cpl R P Grayer, a twenty-two year old RAF Policeman was shot dead by Greene as he desperately tried to rescue a young girl from the mayhem. Unfortunately, the tragedy increased later when Sgt J Sutcliffe RAFP collapsed and died of a heart attack.
The American soldiers looked very different from ours; in fact their military band even had chrome-plated helmets.  They made quite a spectacle when they marched in the Margate Carnivals, although I was also very keen on the Dagenham Girl Pipers!
Title: Re: Growing up and socialising in Kent
Post by: Ron Stilwell on November 04, 2013, 14:15:03
Part thirty-seven:

Apart from the main carnival procession, many other events went on during Carnival week, but the one that really made an impression on me was a display put on in a large field in Palm Bay, by a team of visiting Cossack riders.
The field was set out very much like a chariot race arena, and in which the Cossacks demonstrated all kinds of horse-riding skills.  They rode along underneath the belly of the horse, presumably as some kind of defence tactic in battle.  They would come out in ones and twos, galloping up the field, hanging off the flank of the horse, reaching out to snatch flags from the ground, or using swords and short bows on various set up targets.
Sometimes I would cycle out to the other airport on the Island.  This was Ramsgate airport, which was a small grass strip roughly in the present location of the CO-OP Hypermarket at Westwood.  Ramsgate airport was used by De Havilland Rapide aircraft, which flew leisure flights around Thanet and East Kent.  In the summer there were booking kiosks on sea front for the pleasure trips and these would take people’s money and then bus them up to Ramsgate Airport for their flights.
Aircraft were a passion of mine and I really wanted a model aeroplane.  Imagine my excitement when Uncle Douglas  gave me a model glider.  The aeroplane was a beautifully made balsa wood and tissue paper model with about a three-foot wingspan.  It was almost as tall as I was!
Gliders are NOT the easiest type of aeroplane to fly and as usual I was too impatient.  I couldn’t wait to be taken out to a suitable flying area and so I tried launching it from the upstairs bedroom.  It wasn’t much of a flight as the glider soon lodged in a fruit tree halfway down the garden, sustaining quite a bit of damage.
I patched it up with the aid of balsa wood glue and paper patches and then started planning my next flight.  Over ambitious as always, I planned a powered flight, saving up my pocket money and buying two Jetex 50 rocket motors.  These were little metal cylinders, which were packed with a fast-burning compound that acted like a solid-fuel rocket.   I strapped these either side of the rear fuselage on a patch of asbestos and attempted a powered launch.  There were a few thrilling seconds of excitement as the plane rocketed into the sky, then the wings failed, folded back and the whole thing plummeted to earth, a flaming fireball.  I felt guilty for years after every time I met Douglas, hoping he’d never find out what I had done to his model.
Just down the road from the library was Dane Park.  For me, the special thing about it was to be found in the north-western corner.  I would enter by the western gate; turn left at the Victorian fountain, then down the path to the lake.  Once there I would head for the bridge, which was built very much in the Japanese style.  It was constructed across a small inlet of the lake, and it was here that fish would congregate, probably because they were used to being fed by people standing on the bridge.  I would hang over the side, watching the fish, and imagining great fleets of model warships navigating the lake.  I also mentally planned a network of miniature railway tracks that could run around the shore.  Sadly, economics and fanatical health and safety regulations caused it to be emptied, filled in and grassed over, although even today some of the concrete banks of the lake can be seen protruding through the turf.
Title: Re: Growing up and socialising in Kent
Post by: Ron Stilwell on November 08, 2013, 22:03:07
The Final part of this section.

In the fifties Dane Park was a wonderland for small boys, but has now become a green wilderness, apart from a particularly sterile-looking kiddies playground.  However, it was the site in the 1970’s of the first flight of my hand-built flying saucer.  This was a home built craft, made exclusively of thin card, in the classic 1950’s style.  It was composed of a circular fuselage about two feet in diameter, with a domed canopy on the top.  There were scoops all around the canopy, then the collected air was channelled down into the main body of the craft for downward thrust.  The way the scoops were arranged the air was designed to counteract the tendency of the aircraft to turn turtle when launched.  Once the flying saucer was completed I went down to Dane Park accompanied by friends and a few people who just wanted to see the thing break up.  We went to the south side of the park, on the highest point, and then launched it into the air with as much energy as possible.  It went high into the air over the park, performed a parabolic curve, diving straight into the ground, turning completely over as it did so.  The complex design was a total failure, and we went home with the bits in a carrier bag.  The whole episode was abortive but great fun.
I would go out further and further on my bike, exploring the countryside.  There was not much traffic to worry about and of course what there was didn’t travel at today’s speeds.  The other thing was the lack of fear of letting your children play outside.
One day a friend and I decided on a real expedition.  I’m sure that we didn’t warn our parents because I don’t think we had any real idea of where we were going to go.  Anyway, early one morning we set off from Waverley Road and cycled down to Birchington.  From there it was along the sea defences to Reculver.  Then it was off inland towards Canterbury, which surprisingly, didn’t seem to take too long.  Our goal there was the Cathedral.  We went in via the little Eastern garden and then explored the vast Cathedral and grounds, taking photographs.  I suppose that would have been quite far enough considering the ride back to Margate.  But no, we were full of energy and decided to push on.  So, from Canterbury it was off down the New Dover Road.  The ride wasn’t too bad; quite a straight road, and as we got near to Dover a lot of it was downhill.
Arriving in Dover was a bit of a disappointment.  Our idea of going round the castle was ruined as we had arrived too late and we now faced the prospect of riding all the way back to Margate with nothing to look forward to.  It wasn’t an easy ride as we had really exhausted ourselves on the hills around Dover.  We must have got home OK but the last I can remember was lying on the grass just outside of Sandwich with legs like lead, convinced I could go no further.

Title: Re: Growing up and socialising in Kent
Post by: AlanH on November 10, 2013, 10:11:28
Hi Ron.
Your memories of Manston reminded me of when I went to Laleham on Northdown Park Rd in the late 50s. The school used to take us for outings in an old grey coloured ambulance and one trip went past Manston deliberately and very slowly and it didn't take a couple of minutes before a jeep came rushing up behind with flashing lights and a shouted order to "Get a move on". 
Obnoxious lot and we were banned from going down to Dreamland because of the type of people we may have met. That never stopped us and I and my mates met some strange ones there at times but never Yank servicemen. :)
AlanH.

PS. We had a few altercations with the "Dane Park lot" quite often.
Title: Re: Growing up and socialising in Kent
Post by: oobydooby on December 28, 2013, 21:26:23
I have just finished reading your escapades Ron S, and noted with disappointment that your post on November 8th is the final instalment.  Thanks for the brilliant memories.

Since your adventurous tales have ended I would like to keep this thread open in a similar vein with my memories.  Unfortunately memories for me consist mainly of individually detailed incidents as I have a bad memory for people, names and streets.

Some time in the new year, happy new year to you all by the way, I hope to start with tales from my earliest memories in Rainham and Gillingham to 1955 ish, including "The amazing flying butter", "The great sweet shop raid" and "Coke in a perambulator".

I hope to follow up with my time in care at Tonbridge Wells and Manston which includes school football matches, school buses, adventures in Scouting and other amazing tales.

Then on to Herne Bay and coffee houses and my attempts (Failed) at courting before moving to Dover and the Five Alls.  Then just in case you are not yet confused enough, I will finish with my triumphant return to Gillingham where I finally decided to grow up before moving into the wilds of Hampshire.

That is as long as there are no real objections to me hijacking this thread.
Title: Re: Growing up and socialising in Kent
Post by: Ron Stilwell on December 28, 2013, 22:20:00
Please carry on Ooby :)
Title: Re: Growing up and socialising in Kent
Post by: Signals99 on December 29, 2013, 05:55:32
Hi Ron
A saga indeed, well done, thank you for that. A long story at times convoluted, but never the less interesting.