Growing Up In Barking

A Memory of Barking

I was born in Williams ward in Upney in 1957. We lived on Thames View in a small flat near the top end of Bastable Avenue. We then moved to Bredo House – I will always remember the flat, it had a downstairs and a staircase up to the 2 bedrooms, bathroom and toilet. There was a door at the top of the stairs leading onto a landing where the laundry was hung on washing lines. I remember many a happy day playing on the landing with the other children that lived on our floor. Shelley, Kim and Clifford Boddy who lived next door – Shelly was my best friend, there was Janet and Roy Clissold and
Stephen Stuchfield. We used go over the field behind us and wander right down towards the Thames – past the old conveyor belts that were there. We used to catch butterflies, tiddlers and caterpillars with a net that was bought from the ‘small shops’ in Chelmer Crescent and put them in jam jars with a piece of grass for the caterpillars and butterlies to eat!!!! (The ‘Big Shops’ were at the other end of Thames View in Farr Avenue). We always came back smelly and dirty but we had such good fun and it was as safe as houses.
I also remember there was a mini shop and ice cream van that used to come round and all the kids used to shout up to their parents to throw money down for sweets or ice cream. I remember scrabbling around for the coins my mum threw out of the window.
Bredo House used to have lock up sheds on the ground floor of the block and on Bonfire Night all the parents in the flats used to collect money weekly and we used to have a party. Tables were laid up with food and fizzy pop (from the Corona delivery man - I always remember the lovely taste of cream soda). We used to have a big bonfire which we all helped to build and we used to have great fun making guys for burning on our bonfire and used to fight for a position over by the bus stop to collect money towards our fireworks.
Christmas was the same; a party was laid on down by the sheds, and all the children used to get a present.
My mum used to take it in turns to clean both landings and out by the lifts and the stairs. It was always spotlessly clean and all the rubbish used to be put down a chute.
It was a perfect example of a community working together and everyone helped each other out. I doubt it is like that now. It is a shame as Barking used to be a lovely place to live.
We then moved from Bredo House to the new estate on Castle Green. I attended Erkenwald Comprehensive (which has since been knocked down). Most of the people we knew in Bredo moved out but we still kept in touch for a while.
The house in Maplestead Road was great, it meant my sister and I had our own bedroom.
We made new friends and neighbours and my mum and dad still live there and there are 3 sets of neighbours still there from when they first moved in.
When I married my husband and I bought a house in Sandringham Road, we had 18 happy years there, but the area started to change and not for the better I am sorry to say and it was with great regret we finally moved out to The Isle of Thanet in preparation for our retirement, as we could see no future in staying in Barking.
I haven’t been back to Thames View in a long while but I understand that Bredo House has been demolished. Obviously I still visit my parents in Castle Green.
Over the years it has been a great sadness to see old buildings and shops disappear in Barking and be replaced with eyesore buildings and ‘toot’ shops.
I cannot believe the amount of pubs that have closed down and been demolished, along with the swimming pool and lovely Barking Odeon. That was such a lovely old building, and we spent many a happy Saturday morning there.

A memory shared by Janine Barber , on Aug 22nd, 2013.

Comments & feedback

Fri Jun 26th 2015, at 1:22 pm

Paul Smith commented:

Hi Janine,
You have brought back such fond memories, has i was born in Upney in 1956 and moved on to the estate
when i was 4 in crouch avenue just in front off the 4 big tower blocks as we called them i belief Bredo hse was one of them. the small shops were near us so used them most of the time to buy 6 pennys worth of sweets also got the coach to school from there and also were we would site our guys about a week before bonfire night.
i used to love the Red Mini shop would by football cards with a pink flat bubble gum inside.
In the summer we would go over the marshes and cut down Bull rushes and dye then alsorts of colours and take them around the streets a sell them, surprised ourselves how many we sold, we sued to make rafts for the dithes and the reseviors great days of fun that seemed to linger and linger now time passes so quickly.
Thanks for your memories would like to hear if you have anymore as i have.

Mon Jun 29th 2015, at 7:35 pm

aitchjayes commented:

I was also born in Upney (1953) think it was Harvey Ward and we moved from Strathfield Gardens opposite Barking Park to a new 3 bed house in Maybury Avenue also on Thames View in 1955. I well remember walking down to the Thames and playing in and around the old air raid shelters there. I went to the infant school on the estate and then on to Ripple Junior aged 7-11 and we used to walk there (on our own - no parents) and back through the horrible tunnel under the A13. Then onto Erkenwald 1964-69. Remember the shops in Farr Avenue and we felt safe all the time, playing out all the time til all hours. Have driven through the estate a few times and it has fallen into a state of disrepair, the people don't seem to have the same respect as our parents did, looking after the gardens etc.

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