History in Kent => Life Writing => Topic started by: TonyYoung on April 25, 2014, 06:24:26

Title: Growing up on the High Street
Post by: TonyYoung on April 25, 2014, 06:24:26
I thought I might enter the life history writer's guild, if that's okay? Don't worry Filmer, I will pass the next few past to you for censorship!!!

Part One - Very Early Memories

I was born in the upstairs front bedroom of a house in Nightingale Road, Dover at 1:20 am on 19th September 1950.  I was told all about it later in life (of course) by various Aunts who were in attendance to my Mum. My ‘Aunt’ Mue hopped on her push bike at the time and cycled down to Dover Engineering Works, to tell my Dad he had a son.
‘Aunt’ Mue in italics as she was originally married to my mother’s brother Claude, who was killed in 1945. Mue later married another good friend of my Dad’s, so they were ‘Aunty Mue and Uncle John’ despite no real family relationship – but lots more of them and my cousin and ‘sort-of-cousin’ later.

My earliest memory is from August  1953 – dated because I can remember my Dad lifting me up to look through the window of the Whitfield Hospital ward to see my new baby sister and my Mum. Matrons did not allow young kids into hospitals back then!  I also remember quite vividly around the same time sitting in a large room looking at a Mobil Pegasus sign leaning on a wall next to a fireplace and Dad telling me this would be our new home. At the time we lived in Chatham, having left Dover in late 1952, but in September 1953 we moved into 117 High Street, Sittingbourne – with the large room from which the Pegasus had been removed. The ‘flat’, as it was always called, was two stories above the Hawksfield Coal (who also sold Mobil Oils – hence Pegasus) offices with a kitchen out back on the ground floor – outside toilet in the ‘huge’ walled garden (at least it always seemed huge) – and a cellar!  An absolute playground for young kids – alright, maybe not for me in 1953, but as I started going to school and getting schoolmates – it was a wonderland of cupboards, hidey-holes and passages indoors, and huge trees to climb in the garden – not to mention walls to climb over and explore the rear sections of neighbouring shops.  More of that later.

Growing up is a bit hazy in my memory but I remember Aunty Dot (Mum’s sister) and Uncle George used to visit regularly from Dover and every year for about three years they took me to Butlin’s – twice to Skegness and once to Filey – not many memories of that – don’t even remember the journeys – I think George worked on the railway so got concessional fares. One memory, I even have a photo of it, was having a huge bird sitting on my shoulder – it was a Cockatoo, and it’s head looked over the top of mine. I do have some autograph books back at my Mum’s in Sittingbourne with several autographs from the Redcoats at the Butlins’ camps – I will look them out next time I go to the UK. Dot and George used to take me back to Dover regularly as well where they lived in Ruskin Terrace on the Buckland prefab estate. Uncle George had the keys for the children’s playground there so I was always treated well by the other kids as he threatened to lock the swings and roundabouts up if anything happened to me.

I also found out (much later) that Uncle George’s visits to Sittingbourne used to coincide with tools going missing from the workshop dad had set up in the cellar. That was why Dad often used to drive down to Dover in the Morris 8 when he knew George was on shift, and the tools were repatriated back to Sittingbourne!

When in Dover I also met ‘Aunty’ Renee and her two daughters – Renee was some number cousin of my Grandmother (Mum’s side) and lived in Glenfield Road – for the first time I remember they had something that I really wanted – a Kaleidoscope. Wonderful – three-D images of all sorts of stuff – Fairy Tales, places to visit – I eventually got one (and still have it) – with picture disks of places in Vancouver, Canada (another Aunt and Uncle emigrated there in the late 50’s), Mickey Mouse stories – amazing!

Anyway, back home at 117 life went on around Dad working for Seeboard (office just across the road on the corner of Crescent Street), and Mum working as secretary for Mr Scott, the manager of Hawksfields in Sittingbourne (Mum walked into the job as she got the house rental agreement from Peter Hawksfield who she used to be secretary for in Dover –not what you know, but who!!)
Part two will describe life in a multistorey playground, coming to grips with ‘new’ technology and starting school (If anyone is interested)
Title: Re: Growing up on the High Street
Post by: oobydooby on April 25, 2014, 10:59:17
I am sure there will be interest in your story.  I am looking forward to the next episode.  Keep 'em coming say I. :)
Title: Re: Growing up on the High Street
Post by: Lyn L on April 25, 2014, 13:05:08
Yes please TonyYoung  :)
I'm an avid fan of ALL these wonderful Life Stories  :)
Title: Re: Growing up on the High Street
Post by: filmer01 on April 25, 2014, 17:21:14
Carry on mate, I'll be hiding behind the sofa for the later episodes - any similarity between me and any hooligans mentioned will of course be totally accidental, honest  :) :)
Title: Re: Growing up on the High Street
Post by: oobydooby on April 25, 2014, 17:24:58
Carry on mate, I'll be hiding behind the sofa for the later episodes - any similarity between me and any hooligans mentioned will of course be totally accidental, honest  :) :)

Hmm. The plot thickens!
Title: Re: Growing up on the High Street
Post by: TonyYoung on April 26, 2014, 09:33:25
Part 2 – the ‘flat’
Calling the residence above Hawksfield’s Offices at 117 High Street Sittingbourne a flat is a complete misnomer.

The building also included Ash’s the Stationer supply shop at 115 but we only occupied the section at 117. At the top of the ‘flat’ (two storeys up was a passage with a door (that was ALWAYS locked – despite my attempts to pick or unscrew the lock, or the hinges). The passage obviously passed into the building part above Ash’s and I sometimes wondered if the house was at one time a rather grand establishment with upstairs being the quarters for household staff. Has anyone any ideas about that?

The garden also seemed to indicate a rather posh layout, outside was on three levels – level 1 immediately behind the ground floor rooms (and above the glasslight in the ground going down to the cellar), level 2 was about 4 feet from the back of the house with two steps up and stretching back a good 12-15 feet, a path on the right following the wall of the kitchen lead to the outside (and only) toilet. If my memory serves well, the next level was separated from level 2 by a tall privet hedge on a bank about three feet above level 2.  Access was by three rather wide ornamental concrete steps at the right hand end – always thought they looked a bit ‘posh’. Level three then went back a good 20-25 feet. This was all walled in with the walls curving up alongside the step up from level 2 to 3. Level 3 also had 3 pear trees trained along the left (East) wall, a large apple tree at the centre rear and a large pear tree just past the three steps up. The 3 (east) trees produced what I now think must have been Bartletts as they always ended up a nice juicy yellow/brown colour. The apples were always nice and red but the other pear tree produced monster pears that were far too big for the hands of a 5-6 year old, they were always green and never seemed to ripen.

I will describe entering the house from the front door:

The main door was top half glass and opened into a small entrance hall, on the left was the entrance to the Coal Office and in front a solid door with two frosted glass panels and the word PRIVATE in big black letters. Entering here you went into a long passageway with one small step up about halfway along (maybe 8-10 feet), on the left as you stepped up was a door leading down to the cellars. Carrying on the passage opened out with two steps up to a hall about twice the width of the passage. Immediately on the left was a staircase going up and back, at the bottom of the stairs on the left was the door into the rear of the Coal Offices, and then a bit further along a storage space in two sections (top and bottom) squeezed the hallway back to another doorway. This lead into a passage to the left that went out to level 1 of the garden, and a door straight ahead into the kitchen.
The kitchen was for us and had a large Aga type oven/stove in the fireplace at the rear centre, at the rear left was a large sink which also passed as a bath for myself and my sister for quite a few years. It could be embarrassing as there was a small window at the top of the wall above the sink looking out to the garden, this window was just outside the toilet and because the garden level was higher than the floor of the kitchen, people could look in.

Now, go back to the stairs going up from the wider passage, they lead up with a twist to the left at the top onto a small stairwell. Going up on the left are four stairs leading to a small room overlooking the kitchen roof - this was initially my bedroom. To the right a single step takes you up to another passage leading off to the right. Immediately on the left is a wall with a stained glass window set in it about 7 feet up. The window swivels on a centre pin and opens over the roof of the next door shop – a ladies lingerie store. I often wondered about that too, why a stained glass window? Unfortunately youth was not that inquisitive and I never did find out its origin and it was lost when the building was demolished.
In front of you now is another door opening up to another staircase, turn right and along the passage on the left are to more door, one that of a cupboard under the just mentioned stairs, the next leading into a front room overlooking the High Street, there as also a large ‘walk in robe’ in the left corner at the front. This room was Mum and Dads bedroom. At the end of the passage another door opened up a long storeroom going back to the wall separating us from next door. To the right of this three steps lead up to ‘the large room’ which became our living room. Two windows looked out to the garden (one overlooked the kitchen roof).

Finally to the last floor. Up the staircase past the stained glass window, the stairs looped back on themselves 180deg and opened onto the passage with the locked door. To the left though was another room rather like Mum and Dad’s bedroom, with a single window over the High Street and a store in the corner big enough for a small car! This room was to become my bedroom after my sister moved into the smaller downstairs room. This also became the model railway room, the airfix aircraft display from the ceiling and the store a part time chemistry lab – but that was after I started school. One last thing was the hatch into the roof just outside this room’s  door – another exciting place to go!

Any architect reading this may have worked out the house was lopsided, from the garden side there were only two floors, but from the High Street three floors were visible. Another huh?? What??

I might call it a day for now – but can you imagine the fun and games for kids in such a large and split up building!!  I must admit to being very sad when we left in 1965, but I did have 12 great years there.

After reading that it sounds very like an old DOS based computer game called Adventure - I almost expected to see the word 'Plughh'
Title: Re: Growing up on the High Street
Post by: Minsterboy on April 26, 2014, 10:12:10
What an amazing account of what does look like it was originally one large and posh house. It's always frustrating with older age and greater hindsight how much potential history we were experiencing when much younger, something that we had no interest in learning about at the time. I go mad at times thinking about the long-gone places that I lived amid and the questions that I never asked.
I guess that you could find out about the place by looking at the Census's up to 1911, or Kelly's Directories.
Title: Re: Growing up on the High Street
Post by: TonyYoung on April 27, 2014, 09:36:31
I found this information from the Sittingbourne, Milton, and District Directory 1908/09:

Registrar of Births and Deaths: Mr. William Tress Jackson,
117, High Street, Sittingbourne
Deputy Registrar of Births and Deaths:
Mr. Philip H. Bishop, 117, High Street, Sittingbourne
Gore Court Cricket Club
Hon. Secretary, Mr. R. S. Jackson, junior, 117, High Street, Sittingbourne

Which seems to indicate that the Births and Deaths office was there, and the Jackson family lived there. Still searching for clarification
Title: Re: Growing up on the High Street
Post by: filmer01 on April 27, 2014, 14:48:14
A bit of Census snooping.....

Working backwards

117 High Street
William Tress Jackson, 63, Single - Auctioneer, Valuer & Estate Agent (born Newington)

Living with him is his sister-in-law Anne (Meaden?), 59, Single born in Ireland
A female guest, also single and 59, a Professor of music & language (from Sittingbourne??!!)
Two sisters I would guess, Hilda Hales, 25, Cook, & Mary Hales, 19, Housemaid.

Richard Stephen Jackson, 30, Single - Valuer, was a visitor at 42 High Street

Philip Henry Bishop, 46, Married, one child and a general servant, Auctioneers Clerk, lived at 88 West Street, about where Sittingbourne Service Station is now.

115 High Street
Cecil George Ash, 30, Married, Bookseller & Stationer lived with his wife and 3 children.

The parish boudary stops there, all this lot are in Holy Trinity, it then changes to St Michaels.

Interestingly, the house sizes are given in the 1911 Census

115               4 Rooms
117             11 Rooms
119             20 Rooms
121               8 Rooms - also called The Cedars
123             12 Rooms - also called The Lawn

Looks like 117 had expanded over 115


117 High Street

William T Jackson, Head, 53, Single - Auctioneer & Valuer
Richard S Jackson, his Nephew, 20, Single - Auctioneers Clerk
Anne (Meaden?), single, 48, Housekeeper - From Ireland (anyone else getting a little suspicious here??)
Also a 36 year old single Cook, and 20 year old general servant

115A High Street

Shows as uninhabited, tick is in the column "In occupation" infers that the occupants were simply away on that day

115 High Street

Thomas Ash, 56, Married, Bookseller & Stationer (shopkeeper added later)
Sarah his wife, 54 & Cecil their son 20, Bookseller's Assistant


117 High Street

Harriet Jackson, Widow, 75, Head - Living on own means
William T Jackson, son, single, 43 - Auctioneer, Valuer & Estate agent
Anna Meaden, Companion, single, 39 - Ladies Companion (it says in Occupation - just in case you were thinking otherwise)
Also a 26 year old general servant

115A High Street

William Saddleton, Married, 36 - Bootmaker & Leather seller
Also his wife, 3 children (9,3 & 1) and a lodger - 19year old Butcher Arthur Millen

115 High Street

Thomas Ash, 47, Married - Bookseller
No mention of his wife
Three sons, Albert 14, Cecil 11, Roland 7 - all scholars
Also Georgina Luguiens(spell?) 22 year old single neice from Paris, France


117 High Street

Harriet Jackson, Widow, 65 - Anniutant
Arthur Jackson, Son, Single, 29 - Auctioneer
Also an 18 year old general servant

115 High Street

Henry Hinge, 42 - Grocer & Tobacconist
Along with his wife Mary, 36 and 10 children (18,16,14,13,11,9,6,3,2,8 mnths)


117 High Street

John Jackson, 55 - Registrar of Births & Deaths
Harriet his wife, and 4 children (23,22,20,19)
Also an 18 year old general servant

115 High Street

Osmond Reynolds, 35 - Silversmith
Maria, his wife, 33
Also Rachel Hills, 13 - Domestic servant

The trail goes cold at this point as the Jacksons are shown as living at Ivy House in the 1861 Census, can't be far away, but the "Volunteer" is between them and the Police Station, so more Ufton Lane I would suggest.

In 1851 they were in Newington where all their children had been born. However the detail on the early returns is poor, and road names missing let alone house names!

John Jackson signed both the 1851 and 1861 census books covering where he lived, as the Registrar.

Hope you find that interesting

Title: Re: Growing up on the High Street
Post by: TonyYoung on April 28, 2014, 02:22:24
Thanks for that Filmer, the Jackson's were there for a long time then, and so were the Ash family, I suspect the stationers had not changed much since the early 1900s. When we were in 117 Ash's had old wooden floors, always a bit dusty, huge (to a 5 year old) counters, beautiful timber with glass tops and pens of all sort - mostly nibs and even quills I remember. As for the assortment of inks, just about every colour - I always bought my ink for my fountain pen (a present when I started at Borden) and Mr Ash gave me a discount!

Shelves full of different parchments and paper - real sizes like foolscap, and so on - not this weird A2 B4 C3 stuff!!!!

I trust the house description matches your memories - you spent a lot of time there.
Title: Re: Growing up on the High Street
Post by: TonyYoung on April 28, 2014, 08:38:59
Part 3 – up to infant school

A lot of the memories up to leaving infant school seem to merge so sequences are probably wrong here.
My sister moved into the small bedroom with me when she was about 2years old, after sleeping in a cot in Mum and Dads room. Dad had bought an old bunk bed – all metal frames, metal spring bases and good fun, until I fell off the top bunk to see my sister and suffered a greenstick fracture of my left forearm (they don’t call them greenstick anymore do they?). I remember it hurt like hell and the plaster cast was heavy.  Dad decided it was time for me to move upstairs to my own bedroom at the top of the house – as close to heaven as I could get.

I do remember being taken to school in September 1956 by my mum, and happily saying goodbye, and off to a new adventure. The next day Dad took me and I was in tears for ages! Go figure as a 5 (nearly 6 year old) year old?

After a while, when they were sure I knew the way home, I was allowed to go by myself. It was great, along the High Street to West Street, past the lingerie shop, Davis’s veg shop and sweet shop/newsagent, then the grand Post Office building, the Cedar’s club, the Baptist Church, taking time to look behind to see the Fire Engines at the Fire Station, then past (or rather nip in to) the sweet shop next to Scoone’s motor bikes, the lady in the sweet shop took a shine to me and I received lots of little extras, like cardboard cutout aircraft of BEA and BOAC with a small hole in the tip of one wing, insert a piece of string and whizz them around your head. Great fun! Also, does anyone remember the cardboard disks, generally with serrated outer rim, two holes near the centre, insert string as a loop, twist the disk on the two lines of string and keep pulling the looped ends – the disk spun forever and made an horrendous sound.
Anyway, off to school past the Police Station – very carefully cross Park Road. Then past the chemist, another couple of shops then across William St. and past CP Studios Cameras. Then take the high path past the pub, or the low path opposite Pullen’s garage. Finally past the convent and carefully across Ufton Lane, turn left – do not be tempted by Barnes model shop or Barr’s Sweet Shop, get to school – okay along Ufton Lane past the hall where dancing classes were held (uggh – wouldn’t catch me in there).

Then into the school yard – all tarmac and brick, not a blade of grass, or the hint of any plants anywhere. Outside toilet blocks, boys at the North end, girls at the South. Cricket stumps painted on the back playground wall.
 I have to say that I thought the teachers were wonderful, I do not have bad memories of any. Miss Easton was headmistress and a Miss Underwood was involved there as well. The only teacher I remember the name of was a Miss Davies – and I fell in love!

Anyway, now I was meeting other kids and making friends. When some of the boys worked out where I lived, visits were common as the back garden was great and on Sundays we could scale the walls and see what we could find in the back yards of the neighbouring shops. Not a lot of stuff but an adventure!

Some school mates became quite useful, Paul Davis’ mum and dad ran the veg and newsagents just along from 117, Mick Pack’s dad was my dad’s (and my) barber/haircuts across the road in Berry Street and Chris Barr’s dad ran the tobacconist/sweet shop at the bottom of Hollybank Hill.

And of course there were girls….. all very confusing.

Walking to and from school became more of an adventure as I discovered other routes and alleyways, and even into Albany Road Rec to collect conkers in the season. Grand times, but sadly not many school memories except they did teach me to read, write and how to use numbers.

At home life was good. Most of our meals were in the kitchen, it was a long way up to the living room carrying dishes. There was breakfast, lunch and tea – none of this fancy ‘dinner’ stuff. Breakfast in winter was nearly always Scott’s Porridge Oats, but a comination of eggs, bacon, sausages in summer. Lunch was often Shepherd’s Pie and vegetables, tea was sandwiches and sometimes cakes.
On Sunday, though, roast lunch was in the living room, listening to the radio – 2-way family favourites followed by two half hour comedy shows, such as The Clitheroe Kid, The Navy Lark, Hancock’s Half Hour, Beyond our Ken, Round the Horne and many others, wonderful British Comedy and all on the BBC Light Programme. The afternoon radio carried on to Pick of the Pops, followed by the George Mitchell Minstrels who I think translated to TV as The Black and White Minstrels – I may well be wrong in that assumption.

All this was on the Columbia radiogram which Long, Short and Medium wave and a big drawer in the front to play 78rpm records, with a spindle to mount multiple records on.  (See below)

We got a television when I was about 5, BBC only, of course, and a heavy glass lens full of water to sit on the 8inch screen to make it look like a 10 inch screen! – wish I’d kept an eye on that lens, they are worth quite a bit now, I hear.
TV shows during the week closed at three pm after Watch with Mother on Monday, Andy Pandy on Tuesday, Flowerpot Men on Wednesday, Rag,Tag and Bobtail Thursday and the Woodentops (with the BIGGEST spotty dog in the world) on Friday.

The news then started the evening programs at 6pm.

TV shows I remember were Champion the Wonder Horse and Circus Boy.

But, at seven thirty it was off to bed – so good night for now
Title: Re: Growing up on the High Street
Post by: Minsterboy on April 28, 2014, 10:01:13
Wow, although I'm a bit ahead of you in age and coming from Sheerness, I'm loving your memories. The simple food, the radio and then TV programmes, the adventures on the walks to school, such valuable memories that I remember well.
Not going to school until c.5yrs was/is how it should be, none of this going to school/nursery at 2yrs as it is now - they'll have teachers waiting in the maternity wards soon!
As for allowing such a young child to walk to school on their own these days and learn about how to get to and from home and negotiate the hazards on the way - that rarely happens.

Carry on, I'm thoroughly enjoying it, the Life Stories on here have been a revelation.
Title: Re: Growing up on the High Street
Post by: peterchall on April 28, 2014, 11:56:49
A lot of the memories up to leaving infant school seem to merge so sequences are probably wrong here.
One of the problems I found in writing my story was being able to remember WHAT happened but not WHEN. Many times I have got something ready to post then another thought has intruded to make me sit back and say ‘hang on, that can’t  have  happened then’. But no matter – the main thing is the memory of the events, even if the timing is not quite right.

I think you are right in your assumption about the Black and White Minstrels, one of the most popular shows of the times. It would be banned as racist today, of course.

Your list of TV shows brings back so many memories, not of my childhood, but of my children’s’ childhood.

Great stuff – keep it coming :)
Title: Re: Growing up on the High Street
Post by: ann on April 28, 2014, 12:06:47
Loving your recall. Whilst I too am slightly older than you, the tv. programmes, radio etc are all so familiar and are bringing back really happy family memories.  I too had a greenstick fracture when I was almost 3, what would they call it now anyone?
Title: Re: Growing up on the High Street
Post by: Sentinel S4 on April 28, 2014, 12:17:39
I too had a greenstick fracture when I was almost 3, what would they call it now anyone?

Probably neglect or abuse....... I too greensticked my left arm when I was four.

Title: Re: Growing up on the High Street
Post by: Lyn L on April 28, 2014, 12:41:27
I think they are still called Greenstick fractures. If you look at a medical site, they are only on soft bones and called that because it's a bend and partial break of bone, easily healing.
Bet they still hurt though  :)
Title: Re: Growing up on the High Street
Post by: ann on April 28, 2014, 13:09:25
  Probably neglect or abuse....... I too greensticked my left arm when I was four  S4. 
Sadly you might be right S4.  Not sure about quick to heal though.  Mine was my femur and I was in traction and in hospital for many, many weeks. Had to learn to walk again, and go for hospital checkups where they measured my leg to make sure it was growing properly.
(sorry going off topic).
Title: Re: Growing up on the High Street
Post by: Bryn Clinch on April 28, 2014, 19:50:35
Looking forward to your next post TonyYoung, we went to the same schools. Happy days at Ufton Lane school, but I was there a few years before you when the Headmistress was Miss Coombs, who scared the life out of us. I remember Miss Underdown (not Underwood) very well and also Miss Easton.

Miss Underdown`s classroom, early 1900s.

Neither my wife nor I can recall Davis`s shop. Was it near Hogwoods the bakers or Holbrooks (famous for their crab sandwiches)? The pub was the Volunteer(s); the chemist, Drabbles; Barr`s sweet shop was previously the Arethusa (Arthur Edmonds).
Title: Re: Growing up on the High Street
Post by: YoungNan on May 01, 2014, 18:55:44

TV shows during the week closed at three pm after Watch with Mother on Monday, Andy Pandy on Tuesday, Flowerpot Men on Wednesday, Rag,Tag and Bobtail Thursday and the Woodentops (with the BIGGEST spotty dog in the world) on Friday.

Loving the story so far Tony, but as The Woodentops was my favourite as a child have to say it was the Biggest Spotty Dog you ever did see.        :)   :) 
Title: Re: Growing up on the High Street
Post by: TonyYoung on May 13, 2014, 09:18:29
Thanks YoungNan I stand corrected. Rag,Tag and Bobtail were my favourites and I always had an interest in wildlife - probably why I run the local wildlife rescue group out here in N. Queensland.

I have found some more background on 117 from Kelly's 1934. Phillip H. Bishop was registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages then - following on from the Jacksons. My mother also thinks that Honeyball and Son (Coal Merchants) may have been there at some time as their ornate door sign was in the cellar when we moved in. I have found them at 27 High Street and also a Honeyball Walk in Teynham. Does anyone else have any more information?

Mother also told me my sister was born at Buckland Hospital and not Whitfield as I said in my Part 1.

Hopefully I can get this posted this time - I tried last night but something glitched and I lost the minor corrections I had made after reading the preview.

so here goes.....

Part 4 – late 1950s

The early fifties in the High Street really revolved around ‘the flat’, simply because I was too young to be allowed out into the streets. Starting school allowed a whole new area to explore. The High Street in Sittingbourne back then was very busy and well used (unlike today)

Parking was on alternate sides of the street on alternate days, and signs were changed each morning to let drivers know. Wednesday was early closing day and just about nothing was open on Sunday.

Near my home the fishmonger across the road had fresh fish delivered daily and nearby the Maypole store had fresh vegetables brought in. Along from us on our side of the street – to the east – Denny’s flower shop received fresh flowers, and almost next door to them was a grocery store, again with fresh produce – and deliveries from the Corona truck of fizzy drinks! Further to the east was a shoe shop, an estate agent and the Congregational Church. Across Central Avenue, which was just a car park then – and I think the library was on the site of the current post office –on past the Town Hall, Brenchley House and then down the hill past a furniture store where I worked in the 60’s when it was Linnett’s, The Bull Inn and yard, another couple of shops and then a fairly grand building with bay windows and a wide stairway to the entrance where the dentist was located. I guess something was where Pelosi’s milk bar was (can’t imagine that being there in the 50’s) and is now T&K's Café & Restaurant, The George pub, Mackett’s pharmacy and eventually the lane up to The Queens Cinema. Going on down were Blundells, Turvill's Toy Shop and across the road the imposing St Michael’s Church, next to which, on the corner was The Odeon cinema.
When I started at Ufton Lane school mum and dad let me go to Saturday Morning pictures, which was always a problem of choices – which cinema had the more exciting movie to see, Queens or Odeon? – or were we involved in the serial showing at one or the other – and then – did you pay thruppence to sit downstairs (and get an expensive ice cream at the interval) or a tanner to sit upstairs! So many decisions to make at that age!
Other places I would go were to the other side of the railway lines – Prince’s Street was a dirt road (where Eurolink Way - what a boring name - now goes) and went past the brickfields. I used to watch the men digging out the clay and shovelling it into the wagons that were then connected to the ropeway and dragged up a ramp and off somewhere into the brickworks.  Then carry on down to Crown Quay (Cranky) Lane and into the marshes to look for lizards and slow-worms, and, if you had a jar with you, collect tadpoles  - poor bloody things – never did get any to turn into frogs but our back garden did have a healthy lizard and slow-worm community!  I remember sneaking a lizard in a small box into a coat pocket when I and my sister when to a birthday party in Milton – it was a girl friend of my sister and so the guests were mainly girls, the boys and I decided to look at the lizard that promptly jumped out of the box in the corner of the living room – little girls screaming and running everywhere – great fun, but a bit of a whack from dad when I got home!

The other place to play at weekends was the cattle market in Bull Yard behind the Bull Inn  (sadly closed and looking bad last time I was home). The pens and holding areas were a great place for hide and seek – especially when the local copper tried to chase us away. Saturday afternoons were usually spent here until half-time at the soccer ground when it was free to get in to see Sittingbourne beaten again by some unknown town side.

When I was 8 I got a push bike – a beauty – a Hercules with a blue frame and a Hercules Jeep with three speed hub gear system. There is a picture of an 18” model here…

https://www.flickr.com/photos/mikegerrish/4031794409/in/set-72157622633388334/ (https://www.flickr.com/photos/mikegerrish/4031794409/in/set-72157622633388334/)

Dad taught me to ride it using the car park in Central Avenue. I was fine while he held the saddle but when I realized he had let go – panic and crash!! The bike gears also needed you to pedal backwards when you changed gear as everything was done inside the rear wheel hub – no multi-cog wheels with moving chains – none of that modern stuff – and I have never been able to get the hang of Derailleur gears. However, this meant I could travel further afield.

A popular place to go was Frinsted, where my Aunt Doris (Dad’s older sister) lived, married to Uncle Tom (Walter Tucker) the local Policeman. They lived in the Frinsted Police House along with my two cousins Rosemary and June and my Father’s mother – our Nan. Waaaay out in the country – well five miles from town at least.

Nan was blind having fallen of her bicycle, twice, just before or during the war and banged the back of her head. I remember Aunt Doris used to bring her to Sittingbourne shopping and Nan would sit in our kitchen and feel my sister and I all over our faces, a bit scary really. Then she would open her purse, feel the edges of coins and give us each a sixpence.

In the meantime, back in the countryside around Frinsted, I discovered foxes, moles. rabbits, hares – all sorts of flowers and plants – stinging nettles (and dock leaves), small chalk pits (which I now know to be of Roman origin), and Timbold Hill – the location of the Torry Hill Railway. Uncle Tom was a driver and I had many happy times out there when the Leigh-Pemberton family opened it up for the local kids, which happened several time a year.

Another fun place was Gleneagles Garage at Danaway – my school mate Danny lived there, his dad running the petrol station. There was a small wood (coppice) at the back of the Petrol Station that backed onto the Stockbury Golf club, I think it was the 9th hole. It was just below a rise coming from the tee so the green was hidden from the golfers teeing off and we could sneak out from the trees, pick up a ball, and be back in the trees before the golfers came over the rise. Trying to keep our laughter down while the hapless golfer hunted for his ball was great fun – and sometimes we would put all the balls in the hole – that caused a lot of discussion on the green.

The age of 8, though, meant leaving Ufton Lane and moving up a school to Barrow Grove – fortunately, everyone in my year at Ufton moved with me, including a certain filmer01, so no friends were lost.

The most confusing thing about the move, though, was that we didn’t go straight to Barrow Grove. We spent the first term in cabins in Johnson Gardens. Barrow Grove was built in 1953, but the demand for school space soon outstripped its capacity. A new first year block was being built when we left Ufton and it was not finished until our second term. It is interesting to see that 60 years on the cabins are still a learning centre!

But, we were the first kids to enter the new block at Barrow Grove. My teacher was Mr Watters in the first year (1 Yellow), but wow – what a school. Huge green playing fields, a big hall where we started the day, and only went back for PE, and another large hall just for eating in – is was the Dinner Hall – for lunch?

I did discover, however, that one of the ‘Dinner Ladies’ was ‘Aunt Lily, the wife of a driver with SeeBoard and they were friends with mum and dad – she used to serve a little extra of the good stuff for me (gypsy tart being at the top of the list!!). She and ‘Uncle’ Stan lived in Kent Avenue a very short distance from the school – which was lucky for me as the school was not quite 1 mile from home and I did not qualify for a cycle stand in the school cycle shed! So I still cycled to school and left the bike in ‘Aunt’ Lily’s back yard.

During this time dad had changed the Morris 8 car for a Morris 10cwt van and we travelled a lot more in this as there was lots of room. In particular we visited ‘Aunt’ Mue and ‘Uncle’ John (cf:Part 1) now at Roughway Paper Mill near Plaxtol. ‘Uncle ‘ John and family lived in the Engineer’s House on the mill site, right next to the mill pond on the River Bourne. For myself  and my two cousins, Bob (5 years older) and Ken (1 year older) this was an amazing playground, especially as the mill was closed at weekends. The mill buildings were extensive and full of passages, pipeways and storerooms. The company (Wiggins Teape at the time) used recycled paper and the storerooms had hundreds of magazines – including something called Health and Efficiency – I suspect some members may remember that one!

There were some dangers on the site including settling ponds and one day my sister (6 or 7 at the time) slipped into one – and was rescued by Bob – the hero. The mill pond also had a resident swan couple and – my sister always seemed to be the one in trouble as on one occasion  one of the swans bit her.

We also had a homemade model yacht built by my dad which saw several cruises across the waters.

They were great times and it is sad to see that all of the mill at Roughway has apparently been demolished.

Next part will cover holidays with various family groups.
Title: Re: Growing up on the High Street
Post by: peterchall on May 13, 2014, 11:01:46
Your experience of learning to ride a bike echoes mine. Dad used to run with me, holding the saddle, then let go and stop, when I promptly fell off. The problem was eventually solved by him letting go of the saddle but still running alongside, so that I thought he was still holding on.

Title: Re: Growing up on the High Street
Post by: Lyn L on May 13, 2014, 11:31:36
Ooh snap  :) that's a pic of my first bike too, I had the blue one (girl's!!) should have been red as that was my favourite colour. I remember well, Dad running along side, and he did just what PC said, I don't remember falling off at all :)

I shall look forward to the next instalment , Thanks TonyYoung.
Title: Re: Growing up on the High Street
Post by: Minsterboy on May 13, 2014, 11:51:27
Fantastic stuff TonyYoung.
I remember the H&E magazines well. When I was around 10 or 11, I somehow found a way into the storeroom of a local newsagents next to the Mechanics Arms in Sheerness. I took several of the H & E magazines to school the next day for my friends and ended up getting the cane from my school master.
Title: Re: Growing up on the High Street
Post by: oobydooby on May 14, 2014, 09:35:08
But they were so innocent in comparison to mags of today, so I have been told. :)
Title: Re: Growing up on the High Street
Post by: Sentinel S4 on May 14, 2014, 10:12:31
I'll be around the back of the Bike Sheds during break time, tanner a look, 2 bob to buy.....................  :) :) :) :) :)

s2 (younger S4).
Title: Re: Growing up on the High Street
Post by: TonyYoung on May 31, 2014, 09:22:41
This next bit is rather disjointed, just like my memories of the time but, here goes....

Part 5 – Christmas and holidays

Our Christmas’ were always a fairly big family ‘do’. Family include ‘Aunt’ Mue and ‘Uncle’ John and cousins, Grandma Wilson, Aunty Edith (Mum’s younger sister) and Uncle Harold (apparently I was a page boy at their wedding – dressed kilt and white shirt and jacket  - I have no memory of it at all – mother’s family has Scottish ancestry via the Gunn Clan). ‘Aunt’ Renee in Dover with her daughters and, of course, Tom and Doris and my two cousins and Nan in Frinsted.

It was always at one place or another (until Edith and Harold moved to Barnstaple in Devon)

When ‘the day’ was in Sittingbourne we commandeered the back office of the Coal Offices as it was a large room, two big desks and a good view out into the back garden – and it was only a short walk from the kitchen, with no stairs in the way. It also meant we could play with our toys in the living room upstairs and be out of the way of Mums cooking and Dads doing whatever they were told!

I remember I had some great toys (‘cool would be the adjective today!) and some other may have memories of similar stuff.

There was, of course, Meccano – never enough parts despite odd buying trips to Turvills – but started me on engineering skills.
Another was Bayko – a building kit which probably created many architects. It has been going for some 80 years now, and I loved it. Plastic bits of houses were slid between metal rods on a pre-set drilled base, the designs were amazing. Lots of fun. There is a website and a Wikipedia entry:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bayko (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bayko)and a shop on line
http://www.baykoshop.com/ (http://www.baykoshop.com/)
I also got something called (I think) Buildit which consisted of plastic sticks of various lengths that could be fitted into cog-like units (about 1” in diameter) and structural units could be built – towers, etc. I cannot find anything like it on the web (at least not so basic).
Another construction toy (maybe mum and dad wanted me to be an engineer) was a set of plastic girders with connection studs and plastic roadway sections so that bridges could be built, curved sections also made road circuits possible.
And then I got a Tri-ang electric train set!! A circular track of plastic base sections, an 0-6-0 Engine and three rolling stock including Guards van. A friend of mine in Cairns currently has the remnants of that for his sons. I shipped a whole heap of old toys over from the UK a few years ago and found out that he (and two teenage sons) were train set addicts so they got the rest of the OO-gauge stuff that had survived the years.
The most amazing toy though came in 1960, I was really impressed with Scalextric and really, really wanted a set until dad showed me the circuit that a workmate of his had – a Wrenn Formula 152 layout. This was wow, up to six independently controlled cars on two tracks, and that Christmas I got a set, and it is still in the roof of mum’s house in Sittingbourne and next time I go back to the UK it is definitely coming back here with me. There is a fascinating ‘blog’ about them here and I have the set shown in the photograph, and the Cooper and the Ferrari:
http://www.slotforum.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=50414 (http://www.slotforum.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=50414)
Sadly as the blog tells, 1:52 scale 'toys' were so obscure the business died fairly quickly.

Okay so Christmas was fun and some great toys, but holidays with family were also regular.

The Norfolk Broads were very popular and apparently I went with mum and dad and ‘Aunt’ Mue and ‘Uncle’ John, Bob and Ken on a boat named Titus in 1955. My sister was deem too young and stayed with my Gran (mum’s mother – she will come out of the woodwork shortly). I have absolutely no recollection of that holiday at all!!!  I do, however, remember 1958 (I was 8, sister was 5) The same crowd as Titus (plus my sister, my Gran and ‘Aunt’ Mue’s mum – Granny Ghee) on a ten berth cruiser called Merlin 12. It was huge! One memory is cruising through Wroxham, dad on the wheel, ‘Uncle’ John says ‘Frank are you going slow enough, there is a speed limit’, ‘Its fine John’ says dad, ‘Look behind you’ says John, dad does so to see people jumping up from riverside lawns, grabbing towels, tablecloths, plates etc. as about 6 inches of wash waved over the grass. ‘Sorry’, as we slowed down to a real crawl.
Another well recalled event was at Ludham, up one of the side rivers in the system. We had all gone ashore to visit the village, which at the time had a model village which really took my attention, ‘Time to go!!’ came the cry from all the adults. ‘Okay’, but I still had a couple of model buildings to look at, and Christine and I, of course, took our time wandering back along the path to the riverside – some interesting plants, and a lizard – look! Oh my, there was Merlin 12 vanishing down the river!. Scream and yells eventually got a chap in a small boat to chase after them and we were ‘ rescued’. Everyone had told everyone else we were down in the cabin, but to this day I suspect cousin Ken, as his comment (at 9yrs old) was ‘Damn silly Youngs’.

Other holidays were to Barnstaple in Devon and Aunty Edith and Uncle Harold and Grandma Wilson (mum’s mother – here she is). She was Grand in every sense of the word. My grandfather had died at the end of the war, killed by what was apparently the last V2 bomb of the war, in Sidcup. Gran though was into everything, Grandad had worked for the railways and Grandma has a pass which meant she travelled everywhere by train and paid next to nothing. She would come over from Devon, pick up Christine and I and on the train via Victoria, the Underground and Paddington take us to Barnstaple. I learnt how to play Cribbage and Whist on those journeys – she loved her card games. In Barnstaple we were shown where we could go (that included the café where Aunty Edith worked) and my sister and I had our first ‘Spider’. Not having a clue we ate the ice-cream and drank the fizz out of the bottle, we found out later that we should have poured the fizz in the ice-cream (ho-hum).
North Devon was a fun place with locations like Westward Ho, Saunton Sands – even more exciting when the army was running around in tanks there!

Other holidays that I have heard that I went on, but have no memory:
I was in a box on wheels behind mum and dad to the Isle of Wight – they together with Mue and John and another ‘Aunt’ Dorrie and ‘Uncle’ Pete went on Tandems to a caravan park for 10 days. I have no memory of that at all – apparently in 1953 before we left Dover! Would not see parents doing that with children these days
Dad’s trusty Morris 8 took me at 4years old and mum to Ringwood in/near to the New Forest (1year old sister was left with Grandma). Apparently the car broke down several times and a 1 week holiday ended up with two days in Ringwood – the rest of the time in laybys while Dad fixed the car.

Oh well, the next part will see me moving up though Junior School and dancing!