A Schoolboy's View Of Bexleyheath In The Early 1950s

A Memory of Bexleyheath

I went to school in Bexleyheath between 1950 and 1954. I believe the school was in Pelham Road but I can't be sure. Maybe there was a separate infants department in North Street? My first (very young) girlfriend was there too and she lived just off the Green and was called Kay Thompson. I started school early at the age of 4 at North Street infants and moved on to Pelham Road Junior the other side of the site where Miss Harding taught us beautiful handwriting with pens and nibs that had to be dipped in inkwells! I remember the excitement of the Coronation in 1953 when we spent a lot of time making flags. I was given a Coronation cup and saucer at school. Sometimes I would come up to the High Street as I joined the cub pack in 1953 which met at the Congregational Church (the 4th Bexleyheath).

Looking back on those years now I am nearer 70 than 60 it seems quite amazing how much freedom we had at such a very young age. I would travel to school unaccompanied on the 401 or the 486 bus (fare one penny!). I had a fight with Alan Wainwright at the bus stop one day and knocked one of his teeth out - I only found out the damage because a shop keeper saw what happened and told my mother. I just biffed him because he had been bullying me and then I got on the bus to escape! Hopefully no lasting damage as it would be a first milk tooth and was probably loose anyway (where are you now Alan and can you tell me how you are?).

I can remember shopping with my mother and seeing the trolleybuses by Bexleyheath Clock Tower. This picture shows the trolleybus wires above the Broadway. On Saturday mornings I went to the cinema every week at the Bexleyheath Regal Cinema. We were given tin badges to pin on our blazer lapels I recall. I went on Saturday mornings with young friends who lived near me in The Green, Bexleyheath. I can no longer be quite sure which years I was going there but we moved away from Bexleyheath in 1954 when I was 8 years old so it would be the early '50's. One of my friends I went along with was Kay Thompson - we were both six or seven years old I suppose. We walked the mile and a half there and back together.

Its amazing to think I can remember this sixty years later! We lived on The Green - a bungalow at number 28. My father bought it when he came out of the Army in 1945 ( for £1200- I have the original receipt !) and we lived there until 1954. I remember the air raid siren tests after the war - it was very loud as there was a siren close to the Green. There was a brick bomb shelter on the Green which still had an electricity supply and someone was growing mushrooms in there in the warm damp dark. I was able to squeeze in to see all this being so young!

I recall the dreadful snow of 1947 and opening our bungalow front door to find a snow drift to the full height of our door so that when you looked at it closely you could see the pattern of the window glass where the snow had been driven hard against the door. Our neighbours were Maud and Les Bocking – they were very helpful to my mother when she had a miscarriage a year or so before my brother Geoffrey was born in 1953. Further up the Green were a delightful couple of my parents friends (Bob and Corrie Walters) from Rhodesia. They stayed in touch a great many years.

My father's job with Williams Deacons Bank moved to Bournemouth in 1954 when he was appointed assistant manager so our family moved away from Bexleyheath. I remember the place fondly for my earliest schooldays, the Regal Cinema on Saturday mornings, the Trolleybuses and hearing the fog horns from tugs sailing on the Thames beyond Erith in winter time.

A memory shared by John Howard Norfolk , on Feb 21st, 2012.

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