Barnehurst Where I Grew Up

A Memory of Barnehurst

I lived in Mayplace Road East - firstly at no. 332 (from the age of 4) and then (after returning from living in Essex for a couple of years), at no. 310. Both these houses were more or less opposite to the Manor House and the delights of the golf course where we wandered for hours finding stray golf balls and birds nests! I recall the ruins of what we thought was a wonderful old castle - I have never found out what it really was.
I had been born in March 1949 at my auntie's house in Manor Road, which although just round the corner was actually Crayford. My parents had left the area when they married in 1946 as my father was then to work at Huyton, just outside Liverpool. But my mum was so home-sick and the Xmas before I was born they went down to stay with her sister and mum never returned to the North. Dad sold the house and they bought a house a few doors down from my grandparents in Rydal Drive, Bexleyheath. I hasten to add that I now live in Cumbria, as does my mum who is now 88, and I'm married to a Scouser who mum thinks the world of!
My other memories of Barnehurst are: Martins Grove swimming pool on long hot summer days and having to walk through the freezing cold disinfectant foot pool on the way in, an elasticated swim suit with little pink roses buds on and the "big" boys trying to push you in. Going to the fish and chip shop on the parade with dad and being allowed to sneak a couple of chips out of the paper on the way home. Fish and chips were a real treat back then. Falling head over heels in love with a boy called David Durrant who lived near the shops, think I was about 12 then! I used to watch him walk along Mayplace Road and then duck down at my bedroom window! Blackberrying across the road in the disused tennis courts then taking all the fruit back to my friend's mum who made it into bramble jelly. Waiting at the end of the road from the station for my dad to appear round the corner then walking hand in hand back home with him after he'd come from working in London each day. Then the time when I too started that journey each day, running home on Fridays to watch Ready Steady Go on TV!
I remember dad taking me to Dr. Reverson's house to have injections and always being given a Callard and Bowser butterscotch after the big event. I had been delivered by Dr. and what a lovely and clever man he was.
I went to Mayplace Road infants and junior school then to Iron Mill Lane school. I can't recall many names of the teachers although I think the head master at Mayplace was Mr. Jackways, he used to get the bus from opposite our house. I remember morning assemblies were held in a wooden building and there were what seemed to be the remains of buildings close by - maybe bomb damage. "Onward Christian Soldiers" was our favourite hymn! At Christmas there was always big party, my mum used to make jellies in those waxes dishes. My friend Christine's mum always provided a huge Christmas tree. We cut paper snowflakes to decorate the windows. In one class, can't recall which year, the teacher used to call out sums at the end of the day. You had to shout out the answer and then you could leave - I was nearly always one of the last as I was useless at sums!
Then there was Shenstone - rolling down the hill till you were so dizzy you couldn't stand, finding conkers, and sitting for hours with your "bestest" friend on the tree near the top of the park that was like a boat. We had such imagination! My auntie now lives across the road at the bottom, in sheltered housing and was 93 last week. When we visit I go for a wander round Shenstone - such happy memories and none of them cost a penny. Talking of pennies, there were Lucky Dip bags from the Top Shop, those flying saucers filled with sherbert, pink shrimps and choc ices with orange icecream in the middle or a tub with a little wooden spoon. So much to spend your pocket money on! Oh! and frozen orange Jublies which lasted for hours!
I remember swatting for exams in the library at Barnehurst and having to be as quiet as a mouse whereas now children run round our library! There was a wool shop where my mum used to visit and I recall the owner telling her that her little girl couldn't possibly want a cardigan knitted from mauve wool - it was only worn for mourning!
I have such happy memories of Barnehurst tied in with the same of Crayford and Bexleyheath. We we were such lucky children, unlike today we could play out for hours, wander in the parks and woods to our hearts content. Oh that my 2 little grand-daughters could experience the same things as we did. To this day I love fresh air and the open country side, my worst nightmare is the thought of living in a city.
Although I have lived in Cumbria since 1971 my heart will always belong to Kent.
Shirley Chamberlain (nee Wright)

Comments & feedback

Thu Jul 17th 2014, at 1:49 pm

janicephillips commented:

Shirley, all your comments ring true, you had the same life I did, Martens Grove swimming pool, Mayplace School - Mr Jakeways was my headmaster and I had Mr Cohen and I can't remember the mans name, always snappily dressed and wearing a suit, it will come to me! I lived in Oakwood Drive and only steps away from the park, we had such a lovely childhood with the swimming pool and the park. I agree I wish my grandchildren had the same but it's not to be I'm afraid!

Shenstone Park - we used to bring tea trays and shoot down the really steep bit under the conker trees, those were the days eh?!!

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