Battersea

A Memory of Battersea

I was born in 1930 in Chelsea but moved to Haines Street, Battersea (demolished to make way for New Covent Garden in the 1960's) in 1933. Moved to No.3 Sleaford Street Battersea in 1935 and went to Sleaford Street School until 1939 (Mr Hilton and Mr Baker, two teachers). First swimming lesson with school and nearly drowning in Nine Elms swimming baths; playing on the Monkey Steps in Battersea Park (glorious flower gardens), watching the athletes on running track, rowing a boat on the lake, hiring a three-wheel bike on Sunday afternoons for a penny, outside entrance to park at foot of Chelsea Bridge Road (before it became a roundabout), buying a "blackjack" (sweet) for a farthing at the stall there. Saturday mornings walking up Thessaly Road to Granada Cinema in Wandsworth Road and buying piece of mince for 1d on the way (sometimes bunking in!) Or to the Savoy (the Flea-pit), later bombed in the War. Waving off coach outings from the pub early morning and scrambling in the gutter for pennies and halfpennies thrown out of the window by the men before they drove off. Making soap boxes out of empty crates, scooters out of planks of wood and ball-bearing wheels, kites out of newspapers and pieces of cane, playing 'Cannon', 'Hot Rice', 'Knocking down Ginger', and skipping with a long piece of rope in the street. No cars in those days! Rag and bone men (Totters) on their horses and carts, India Toffee Men, street singers, Walls Ice cream sellers, pickles sellers (a man called Beetroot Joe lived in Sheepcote Lane). The chip shop close to Battersea Park Rly station (Twopennorth of fish and a ha'pence of chips, please), Scarlatti's ice cream stall near Queenstown Road (sadly many members of their family were killed during the war when a bomb fell on their house), noisy trams hurtling along Battersea Park Road, buses painted in different colours. I was evacuated to Eastbourne Sep 1939 at outbreak of War but returned to London Feb 1940 to live in Lockington Road near Dogs Home Bridge. Dad in the Army, mum at work, sister Maureen still evacuated, me and a cousin roaming the streets collecting shrapnel after night before bombing. There was hardly any school attendance - half a morning one week and perhaps an afternoon another week because we were never sure when or where. Sitting on the doorstep watching the dogfights overhead, sleeping in an air rid shelter every night until the end of the blitz, playing part of a casualty in Southolm Street when emergency services staged a mock-up of a bombing incident. Then re-evacuated 1941 until end of War. Later lived in Kilton Street, Battersea Park Road from 1955 to 1967 - still loved it! Happy memories.

A memory shared by John Dorking , on May 18th, 2013.

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