My first real memory of Belvedere was that of starting school at St Augustines Primary around 1954. I can recall a wind up gramaphone which the teacher would frantically wind up to keep the music playing, even a funny sight to a five year old.
Eventually, I graduated to Picardy School For Boys in 1960, which as I recall was a nightmare place to be, with many sadistic teachers and some fellow pupils to match the teachers.
But, none the less, Lower Belvedere was a great place to grow up. My mother would take me off to the village and to Derritt and Dormans on birthdays and Christmas. The place used to be stacked out with all manner of toys, my first, and indeed only, Hornby 00 train set came from D&D.
Our house, in Thornton Road had a limited view then of the Belvedere Football ground (now an ugly B&Q store), so, free matches every Saturday, well, half a match, as I couldn't see the whole ground!
I remember well Franks Park, which was just up the road from Thornton Road, where we would have overnight camping trips. I don't suppose that can be done today. I also have vivid memories of Parkers the news agents at the bottom of Picardy Hill, with the green grocers next door, both of which were later pulled down to make way for blocks of low rise council flats, I guess that would have been around 1958. The then new shops were built adjacent to the service road running parallel with the Lower Road, and all shops are still there, I believe, including the electrical store known as Davies Brothers, I wonder if that shop is still in family hands? If it is, then it must be on its fourth generation.
Another thing one could do in the 1950 and 1960s in Belvedere was to get to the riverbank very easily, which would be an adventure for a then 8 year old.
After leaving school many of my contemporaries ended up working at Fords,
just accross the river in Dagenham. In those days Fords laid on a ferry to get the staff to work. One look at that place on a school trip was enough for me, as I recall they were making the then Ford Zepher Mark 111 and to see car after car passing over my head made my mind up that Fords was not the place to be...
However, despite the industries on both sides of the River Thames, Belvedere still had a semi rural feel to it in the 1950s. There was a massive farm covering more than 400 acres where I would go and dig potatoes for two shillings and sixpence a hundredweight. The farm was enhanced with many other open fields nearby, where the travellers would keep their horses. That farm sadly is no more; it was swallowed up by Thamesmead Town, there-in lies another tale, mainly of woe.
A memory shared byon Jun 25th, 2009.
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