The Passing Of The Years

A Memory of Ashtead

I was born in my parents' house in The Mead, off Skinners Lane, in 1935. A year later my father became the proprietor of Ashtead Squash Rackets & Tennis Club. It was built by my grandfather, Edgar Littlewood, who built many large properties in Ashtead from the turn of the century, and who lived at Littlewoods, Ottways Lane, next door to the two public swimming pools he owned. In 1940, my father (a territorial), was called up; our house, St. Winnow, was let to the Hawes family, whose daughter, Beryl, was a childhood friend. My mother and I moved into the Squash Club, which my mother ran for the duration of the War. My childhood memories are vivid, life at the Club in school holidays (I was away at boarding school in term time), running wild in Ashtead woods, collecting butterflies with my friends, particularly Richard Merrit who lived with his parents, Jessie and Cecil, at Little Orchard, opposite the Club in Skinners Lane. The Street with its shops, Venus & Spong, the electrical shop, Gadsbys the Grocers and the pubs which of course I could not enter. The Leg of Mutton & Cauliflower, The Brewery Inn, Mr Richards the watchmaker, Westminster Bank where both my grandparents and my father banked. The cycle shop up towards the Brifex factory.
Ashtead Cricket Club in Woodfield Lane, where in, I think 1946, I obtained in one memorable day, the autographs of both the great Jack Hobbs and Alec Bedser.
About five years ago, on a visit to the UK from my home in Spain, my daughter took me to see the Club again. We were royally entertained to lunch afterwards at my grandfather's old house by the couple who bought the house after his death in 1961, and who have lived there ever since. Alas the swimming pools were no more, long ago filled in and built upon. Gone too were the great old elm trees which back in the 1940's were such a feature of the large garden. Ah, so many memories of long summer evenings, my old grandfather showing me his flowers, his vegetables, his workshop, (he was a very skilled cabinet maker). I was a little boy then; alas now a 78 year old whose joints are failing, but I have so many happy memories of a childhood spent in Ashtead.

A memory shared by Jeremy Littlewood , on Jul 10th, 2013.

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