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Author Topic: My name is Alec. I'm a Kent lad.  (Read 16773 times)

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Re: My name is Alec. I'm a Kent lad.
« Reply #2 on: November 18, 2014, 07:49:57 »
Welcome Invicta Alec, I`m sure there are some things that have stayed the same and either way I hope you will enjoy your finding out what has changed here on the forum  :)

Offline Invicta Alec

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My name is Alec. I'm a Kent lad.
« Reply #1 on: November 17, 2014, 18:20:07 »
If you are asked "where are you from?" I suppose most people will answer with the name of the town or village they were born in. In my case I answer "Kent". Kent is my home, let me explain why, and with apologies if I ramble on too much!

My home town is Chatham. I grew up on the Wayfield Estate in the 1950s. My little world consisted of our house in Bader Crescent, Mum, Dad and three younger sisters. These were the days of National Dried Milk and four black jacks for a penny. Being a "big boy now" meant being entrusted with a small amount of money wrapped up in a paper note marked "P" for the paper shop or "C" for the chemist and being allowed on my own (probably around 5 years of age) taking the note all the way to the parade of shops on Wayfield Road. Triumphantly returning with maybe a 3d bundle of wood for the fire, a bottle of Lucozade and probably the Daily Mirror.
Schooling at Wayfield Infants and later onto Luton Junior School as my universe expanded. The bus fare from Eden Avenue to Luton Road was 2d, but the bigger boys showed me how to walk along past the top of the allotments on Street End Road past the old air raid shelters (which I was afraid of) into the top of Pheasant Road and go into the school via the forbidden gate (penalty two strokes of the cane). Teachers remembered, Miss Goad at Wayfields and from Luton, Mr. Steer, Mr Pine, Mr Stearn, Mr. Tomlin and a Welsh sadist Mr. Jones. Pick-a-back fighting, fag cards and those dreadful toilets with no roof.
Your truly passed his 11+ and mum proudly sent me off to Sir Joeseph Williamsons Mathematical School for Boys in Rochester, wearing a second hand ill fitting uniform. This was partly deliberate since it was already known our family would shortly relocate to St.Paul's Cray.

I had just two terms at the Math before we left Chatham. Dad worked for the gas board, had got himself promoted to foreman and was put in charge of the Orpington/Bromley area. Our new home was a revelation after living in a three bed semi council house. This huge ancient house stood on gas board property. It had an awful address..."The Cottage", Gasholder Station, Sevenoaks Way, St.Pauls Cray. I'd open my bedroom window and could see nothing but a huge green cannister in front of me. I could see neither over, under or around it. The house must have been all of fifty yards from this monstrosity. The house was entirely gas lit and was by now on its last legs. The ground floor was damp and we lived only on the upper floor. We stayed there for only eighteen months during which time I schooled at Bromley Grammar. Bromley was an ok school but, as young as I was, I realised that it was inferior academically to the Math. Its saving grace being it was a football rather than a rugby playing school.

Our time in St.Paul's Cray was only a stop gap while the gas board built a new house for us in Sevenoaks. We moved there in 1963, a brand new but tiny house complete once more with a gas holder just over the fence. Different green colour but even closer at about 30 yards I'd say. Not wanting to interrupt my schooling once again I was allowed to remain at Bromley and took the train to school for the next few years. Sevenoaks was a desperate place to grow up in as a teenager in the 1960s. Apart from the youth club very little else for youngsters to do. Plenty of football though and yours truly played all over the region for Sevenoaks Town. It was the town that the Swinging 60s seemed to overlook, thank goodness for transistor radios and being able to listen to the beloved Radio Caroline. Family difficulties meant I left school straight away after "O" levels and took my first job at 16 years of age. Henry Hope & Sons sold steel windows, and I was sent off on day release to the building college in Tunbridge Wells.

As an eighteen year old I moved back to Chatham and lived for three years with my grandparents. Marrying young, I purchased houses successively in Chatham, Walderslade, Cliffe Woods and then Herne Bay. During this time workplaces were in four different places in Medway,in  Ramsgate, Riverhead and  Herne Bay. Then it happened....I got marooned in Hertfordshire for twelve years and from there another three in the south west of France!

But now I'm back home. Back to my beloved Kent, Folkestone this time (well Hawkinge actually). So you see, having lived, worked or been educated all over the county, I claim to be a Kent rather than a Chatham lad. In my mind I know every corner of the place, since I've also kicked footballs or whacked golf balls all over the county too. Reality though is telling me different and its here I'd like your feedback. Being out of the county for 15 years means that I remember places as they used to be. A few examples.

I stood for five years on Bromley South railway station listening to the announcer saying, " Maidstone East, Bearsted, Lenham, Charing, Ashford, Wye, Chilham, Chartham, Canterbury West, Sturry, Chislet Colliery, GroveHFerry and Minster train on platform 4". It`s like a poem. Once learned its ingrained. When did those stations meet their end folks?

I used to be a driving instructor in Medway for more than seven years. I knew every street from Darnley Road Strood to Long Catlis Road in Parkwood. It was somewhat of a shock to find you can't drive down Railway Street any more, well at least not all the way. When did that change?

Is the parade of shops still there in Wayfields? I know the seven oaks of Sevenoaks on the Vine cricket ground were ripped up by the hurricane of '87, but do the High Street shops still close on Saturday lunch time? A bit tongue in cheek that one, but I kid you not. That was the situation in 1963. Oh, and you were not allowed to go to the cinema in that fair town on a Sunday unless accompanied by an adult in those days. Bromley Grammar school no longer exists. I wonder if they pulled down the gasworks in St.Paul's Cray? I really must do some revisiting. I have a sat nav, to counter any roads that I remember but no longer exist.

Times change, but oddly my memory of the county with a 15 year gap may just help from time to time, compared to a life long dweller who has seen things only change gradually.

Alec Ludlow.



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