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Author Topic: Pee Cee's World  (Read 126525 times)

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Offline peterchall

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Re: Pee Cee's World
« Reply #36 on: January 28, 2014, 16:14:12 »
Part 3

And so to Sheerness Gun Wharf 1937-38.

First to set the scene.
The dividing wall with the Dockyard runs up and left from the bottom-right corner of the photo. Our bungalow is ringed at bottom-right.  Garrison Point Fort is at the top and the ‘dock’ at the left is the ‘Camber’ The building at the right, marked with a ‘X’, has a special significance.


This oblique photo shows the site more clearly, but our bungalow is barely visible, or is not there.


The far end of the large L-shaped building is behind my Grandmother in this photo, and the near end of it is on the left.


The building with special significance is on the right in this photo.


So what was its significance?  In October 2009 there was an item on local TV about scorpions in Sheerness Docks which gave the impression that they were a new discovery, whereas I knew there were scorpions in those buildings when I lived there. I surfed for information about how to put them right and came across KHF. There were questions being asked about Chatham Gun Wharf to which I had some answers, so I registered. Those scorpions have got a lot to answer for – it’s their fault I joined KHF.

That L-shaped building was full of trench making material – duck-boards, props, sand-bags, etc – all ready to re-fight WW1. It also contained dad’s office in which was a TELEPHONE with a little generator which had to be wound by hand to call the operator, but since the only other person we knew with a telephone was my policeman uncle at Eccles, its private use to us was rather limited. Because he was the only WD employee it was more accurate to call dad the ‘Resident Caretaker’ than the ‘Resident Foreman’.

However he did have work to do because kept in the Camber were:
•   A steam tug used as a ferry to Port Victoria and to tow targets for the guns on the fort.
•   A Customs launch, taking Customs Officers out to search ships.
•   A couple of RAF Range Safety Launches, for the bombing and gunnery ranges associated with Eastchurch RAF station
•   A Pilot Cutter for Medway and Swale Pilots
•   For some of the time, a private cabin cruiser belonging to an Air Commodore (Probably some sort of fiddle)

The building next to the fort – behind my grandmother and the resident moggie in the photos - was used partly as a billet for the crews of the RAF launches and partly as some sort of workshop, probably for the garrison Works Department. There was a lathe in there and dad got someone to make something for him. I can’t remember what it was but it was heavy and dad dropped it on his toe and was working in one shoe and one slipper for a few days – since it was a ‘rabbit’ job I suppose the purists would say it was due justice!

The bungalow end of the building on the right contained a laundry room with a brick-built, coal-fired copper – like the one in Queen Street, illustrated in an earlier post - and a sink. The scorpions lived in the back wall of that and part of the rest of the building and, possibly because they lived mostly in the dark and ran for the nearest crack in the wall when the light was put on, they were white.

The bungalow had those luxuries that we had enjoyed in army MQs and missed in Longley Road – electricity and an indoor toilet, but we were once again without a garden. On the other hand we did have the whole of the Gun Wharf to ourselves, plus access to the beach round the fort, and it was in complete safety that I learnt to ride a bike.

I went to the primary school on The Broadway, somewhere near the church, and for part of the time I was allowed to walk to/from school alone – I could walk along the sea front all the way from the school to some steps that came down into Garrison Road near the fort. At other times dad took me to/from school on his bike – we had an altercation with a copper one day who stopped us and said it was illegal to carry me on the crossbar of the bike, until dad showed him I was sitting on a properly fitted saddle; the thoughts of me sitting directly astride that crossbar make me wince! But there was a close call one day when the Colonel i/c the Garrison visited when dad had only just got back from the school-run. For a while I got a lift to school with the milkman on his horse drawn float on the way back to the dairy, but the horse would never hurry and I was often late, so had to give that up.

There was an Officers’ Mess across the road from the Gun Wharf, near the fort, but whether army or navy, I can’t say; but if they had a ‘do’ on the Gun Wharf became a car park and it was then that I first saw posh ladies in long ball gowns. Dad’s ‘civvy’ rank entitled him to use the nearby NCO’s mess, which became our ‘local’. But again I can’t remember if it was army Sergeants’ Mess or navy Petty Officers’ Mess. There was a small naval barracks along Garrison Road (HMS Wildfire), but I don’t remember what army units were stationed there, or even an army barracks – could they have been combined messes?

There was a floating dock just off the dockyard that could take ships as large as a destroyer, if not larger. The largest ships that could get up river past Sheerness were cruisers, but I remember at least one visit of a battleship that moored in the river for several days, and the ceremony when it sailed – crew lined up along the rails, band on the after deck, etc – I think it was HMS Resolution. There was a RN destroyer in trouble somewhere – I think it had run aground and was either lost or in danger of being lost – we had a special service in school assembly and I first head the hymn “For those in peril on the sea”.

Incoming ships requiring Customs examination would blow Morse ‘C’ (long-short-long-short) on their sirens, and those requiring a Pilot would blow Morse ‘G’ (long-long-short, but why ‘G’ and not ‘P’?), whereupon the Pilot Cutter would take the Duty Pilot out to it, which leads us to the story of the most enjoyable part of my childhood.

To be continued…..
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Offline oobydooby

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Re: Pee Cee's World
« Reply #35 on: January 28, 2014, 13:35:59 »
With you on that JohnW, except in my case I think it was more other adults whispering about mum and another scandal.
©2014 A Hayes

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Offline JohnWalker

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Re: Pee Cee's World
« Reply #34 on: January 28, 2014, 13:31:32 »
''Children should be seen and not heard' is a phrase that comes to mind.

Spot on peterchall  :)

I use to find it quite unsettling when adults went into that secretive whisper mode.  It always seemed like something unpleasant was about to happen - or I was in trouble - yet again!
JW

Offline GP

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Re: Pee Cee's World
« Reply #33 on: January 28, 2014, 12:37:23 »
Thanks PC. I like the way you have set out your story, with paragraphs and spacing. It makes it much easier to read, than large blocks of text.

Offline peterchall

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Re: Pee Cee's World
« Reply #32 on: January 28, 2014, 11:31:02 »
''Children should be seen and not heard' is a phrase that comes to mind.
It's no use getting old if you don't get artful

Offline JohnWalker

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Re: Pee Cee's World
« Reply #31 on: January 28, 2014, 11:16:58 »
Your mention of gas meters has brought back memories of my Nan's house.  Her meter was in the hall by the front door.  There were large gaps between the floorboards and over the years a number of coins had dropped through them. Every visit to my Nan's house would find my sister and I trying to devise ways of retrieving the coins.  We tried all sorts including bent bits of wire from the garden.  We never did manage to get any through the gap but it kept us amused while the adults were in 'whisper' mode about something or other.  Children weren't included in 'grown up' conversation in those days.
JW

John38

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Re: Pee Cee's World
« Reply #30 on: January 27, 2014, 19:23:37 »
You could tell my father was a skilled engineer by the way he could remove the lead seal from its wire on the gas meter, he took out enough coins for the pub and was gone. I have an idea he could wind the meters dials back, but that might be my imagination.

Yes I only remember pennies.

I was amazed in later years to find that the POSB era was short lived. But interesting to know that grandarog remembers the term :)

chasg

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Re: Pee Cee's World
« Reply #29 on: January 27, 2014, 17:47:51 »

I certainly remember getting some of the coins back, presumably an amount depending how much was in the meter. I think mum used to put them straight back in the meter. But I can't remember their denomination. Was it just a penny, bearing in mind that this stage in my story is 1935-37?

Our gas meter was still taking pennies in the 1950s, PC. Always a shilling's worth ready on the top of the meter, with a penny 'up the spout' for instant use if the gas began to die.

Offline peterchall

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Re: Pee Cee's World
« Reply #28 on: January 27, 2014, 17:26:31 »
Do you remember the speed that the 'gas-man' counted out the coins after he had opened and emptied the meter? He placed them on the table in columns, and in the end he pushed a few piles back to the customer. My mum pocketed them before my father took them down the 'Waterman's Arms'. (Blue Town)
I certainly remember getting some of the coins back, presumably an amount depending how much was in the meter. I think mum used to put them straight back in the meter. But I can't remember their denomination. Was it just a penny, bearing in mind that this stage in my story is 1935-37?

But I don't remember any connection with the POSB in the RAF (1950-52).

Other memories of those years are of the annual Navy Week, and Short Brothers works. In the latter case you could walk along the river front right past the factory and, if lucky, see one of the flying boats being put into or taken out of the water - it was the time of the building of the Empire Flying Boats.
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Offline grandarog

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Re: Pee Cee's World
« Reply #27 on: January 27, 2014, 15:37:14 »
Well you learn something every day on here.We never had the Post Office books. Our RAF apprentice pay was docked and the lump sum was dished out at a special Pay Parade prior to going on leave. The phrase POSBy Gitt. was still in use during my time but I had never realised how or why it had orriginated. Thanks John38 .Thats a few more memory cells in the old brain loaded up. :)

John38

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Re: Pee Cee's World
« Reply #26 on: January 27, 2014, 13:23:17 »
Do you remember the speed that the 'gas-man' counted out the coins after he had opened and emptied the meter? He placed them on the table in columns, and in the end he pushed a few piles back to the customer. My mum pocketed them before my father took them down the 'Waterman's Arms'. (Blue Town)

The Post Office Savings Book (POSB), was issued to each RAF bod, when I joined-up. There was no choice, they automatically took 10 bob out of your pay and put it in the account. Each pay day there was a queue of Airmen outside the post office to collect two brown envelopes. You put the book and the SAE in the larger envelope and off it went to Gloucester for the book to be brought up to date. A week later, when the books came back, there was a queue outside the post office to draw the 10 bob out.

A few prudent guys didn't draw it out. These were considered to be mean 'POSB gits.'  Although the title vanished over time.

Offline peterchall

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Re: Pee Cee's World
« Reply #25 on: January 27, 2014, 12:55:28 »
More memories of Longley Road days – we haven’t got to Sheerness yet!

Gas was paid for by coin-in-slot meter, so that if the money ran out and the gas was cut off we had to check that everything was re-lit or turned off when more money was put in, especially the cooker and any gas fires..

Weekly pay was in cash and mum had a box about a foot square by 2” deep, with about a dozen compartments for ‘Rent’, ‘Groceries’, ‘Milk’, etc. into which dad’s pay was religiously divided up each week. Dad’s and grandad’s Friday evenings out might have been to get a tame publican to split the notes into coins for the purpose. Not that there would have been many notes – dad’s pay as a bus conductor would have been about £2/week and grandad’s, a skilled machinist, probably a bit more. The money might have been swapped from one compartment of the box to another as necessary for minor adjustments, but one thing was for sure – the total had to do for the week.

I think Hire Purchase was a recent innovation, but probably not available to working class families – ironically, you had to have some money in order to borrow. Falling into debt was to be avoided, and if my parents wanted anything big they saved-up for it. Saving (‘putting something away for a rainy day’ was the expression) was by Post Office Savings Account, by which money could be deposited and withdrawn at any post office. Saving for Christmas was by joining a Tontine Club which many, if not all, pubs ran.

I can’t remember if I got pocket money. Probably not – I was only 8 and-a-bit when we moved to Sheerness, so as far as I went on my own was round the corner to Bob Hazelton’s house, or along to the Morden Arms to get a packet of fags for grandad from his home in Queen Street; and I actually got served!

Which evokes another memory – getting beer in an open jug from the pub off-licence (not me personally, but my parents), and peas-pudding and faggots in my grandparent’s house, bought from the shop almost opposite.

Perhaps to Sheerness next time….
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Offline Sentinel S4

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Re: Pee Cee's World
« Reply #24 on: January 26, 2014, 21:09:48 »
I know the loco PC. I always wondered how these gentlemen who had these vast garden lines between the wars managed with them.

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Offline peterchall

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Re: Pee Cee's World
« Reply #23 on: January 26, 2014, 21:05:35 »
But you couldn't play trains with it - it was controlled by rods that had to be pushed in/pulled out, sticking out of the back of the cab, one for forward/reverse and one for stop/start - I think -  almost impossible to get hold of once on the move.
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Offline Sentinel S4

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Re: Pee Cee's World
« Reply #22 on: January 26, 2014, 20:20:29 »
Ooh a Clockwork Nelson from Hornby..... Awesome, totally awesome....

S4.
A day without learning something is a day lost and my brain is hungry. Feed me please.

 

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