Nine Elms Lane

A Memory of Battersea

I was born at 15 Currie Street in a modern prefab which had electric lights when most other houses still only had gas. We had an inside toilet and bathroom luxuries that others could only dream of then. At one end of Currie Street was Ponton Road, which is still there and which has taken over what was Currie Street, and Woodgate Street, at the other end Everet Street. We had the Nine Elms Rail goods yard on the South side, the gas works on the West Side, Friary Meux and Carlsburg on the East side. Carlsburg occupied what used to be a school for wayward boys and girls (shown on the map). Sandwiched between Currie St, Ponton St, and Woodgate St is a little triangle area, and although not shown on the map, there was the Crown Pub and next door to that was our little church, where I went to Sunday school. I recall one day I was smashing beer bottles, when I managed to insert the base of one of these bottles through my left foot, and nearly loosing my big toe. I was rushed to hospital in a Green Ford Consul owned by one of the managers of Carlsburg. I spent 6 weeks walking very painfully on one side of my foot as I couldn’t bend my big toe. One of the highlights of living there was the cricket matches between Carlsburg and Friary Meux; these matches were held in Belfour Street, and if I remember correctly, this is where George Shearing the blind jazz pianist also lived. I can remember when he played piano at the local kids party held in the house where previously the Suffragettes had there HQ in the early days. This house stood at the corner of Currie Street and Everet Street, and had three floors connected by a wooden staircase with cupboards on each stair landing. At the rear of the house was a small hall, and this was where the parties were held. We had a magician at one of the parties who made a cake out of drawing pins. My friends included Stephen and David Leonard; I went to John Milton School with these two and then there was David Evans who was about 4 years older than me. David Evans and I would practice Judo together, which we learnt from a book as there were no clubs to go to, dangerous stuff really. David, his sister and mother moved away so I don’t know what became of them. We had great fun building go-karts, and we would race them around the streets; I always had my black dog 'Prince' sitting in the back of my kart, which also pulled a cannon made from an old table with one of the legs being the barrel. At the junction of Everet Street and Woodgate Street was an old abandoned house that had a stable attached, this house was used by the French onion men as their home when they were taking onions to the market. They would cycle miles on their push bikes, with mounds of onions that they could barely see over. One of these men was a very good artist and he created silhouette drawings on the ceiling using candle smoke. One drawing was that of a bust of a young woman, and another was a three masted sailing ship - I remember these two in particular as they were my favorite ones. At the other end of Woodgate Street lived, I think her name was Mrs Dillery, every Sunday during the summer holidays she would hand out toffee apples to the kids, they were great I can still taste them. Our milkman was called 'Jaggi' probably his surname, he was from Switzerland and delivered our milk by horse and cart that got replaced by an open back vehicle. The laundry man would come round once a week and I would sit in the back of the van with the bags of clothing and put the name tags on the bags and as I was only 6 to 7 years old. These days the driver would have been arrested for doing that. We were the last family to move from that area in October 1961.

A memory shared by Michael Box , on May 28th, 2013.

Comments & feedback

Tue Nov 4th 2014, at 5:24 pm

Michael Day commented:

I seem to recall my Mum refer to this part of "THE ELMS" as Red Skin Village

Tue Nov 17th 2015, at 12:34 pm

dp_stokes commented:

I remember living oposite you Michael, at number 26 Currie Street. We were friends in those days & often played together til we moved away in 1958. It would be good to make contact with you again & share our memories

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