Halcyon Days

A Memory of Barnehurst

During the Second World War a land mine fell by parachute in Courtleet Bottom, somewhere near the junction with Rydal Drive, I believe they called in the navy bomb disposable team. I went to Barnehurst School, Mrs Mumford was the head teacher. The sheltered accommodation wasn't built then, it was all overgrown. On the way home from school we had good times playing on the steep path and in the bushes (including kiss, chase, and truth, dare, promise or must!). That path was brilliant for toboggans in the winter.
My mate Chris Rainsbury's family was something to do with one of the shops, I also worked as a paper boy in the newsagents and also the other newsagent corner of Merewood Road, Mrs Clark owned it.
The car showroom at the corner of Grassmere was a petrol garage, in the mid fifties I used to get my scooter petrol there, 3/6d a gallon! I moved to Barnehurst in 1940 after being 'bombed out' from Catford SE6, we were the 'Blitz' refugees, not liked very much by the natives. Others have mentioned a 'United Dairies' shop, the only one I knew was the shop next to the Red Barn pub. My sister worked in the office of Rickett and Cockeral the coal merchants, who had a 'shop' next to Carters the butchers.
In the 'parade' across the road, the corner one was a bank! Then a bakers, then a chemist shop where the lady would weigh you for a penny on the scales where she would shift a counterweight along a bar. There was a fishmongers, then the doorway we would queue in all weathers to see the doctor who had a surgery upstairs, Doctor Morgan, lovely man - Welsh. Corner shop was a radio shop where we took our accumulators to be charged up every Saturday morning, It is an estate agents now I think? Then there was a sweet shop where we would but 10 wafers for a penny.
Above this was a gents' hairdresser's or barbers as we would call them, entrance was round the back up a rickety old wooden staircase! Homer Court didn't exist, more space for us to play.
Cross the road into Burstead Woods, through the trees to the Maternity Hospital where we would often get chased away. The large green space back of the woods which was a pitch and putt course some years ago was in my child time a deep 'hole' there was a sand 'cliff' that was back of the houses in Rydal Drive, sand martins nested there, you could see all the holes. I spoke to an old man years ago who said the 'hole' was filled in with tons of ex-military wear, who knows?
Out of interest - There is a large hole (now overgrown) on Barnehurst Golf Course behind Taunton Close, in my time behind the Barnehurst Residents Club, some 'locals' insist it is a war-time bomb crater - not so. This hole appears in ariel photographs of 1934! It's believed that sand was excavated there for either the building of Barnehurst or more likely to fill the bunkers on the course which was once an 18 hole course.

A memory shared by Bert Collins , on Mar 25th, 2010.

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