Childhood Memories

A Memory of Bexleyheath

We used to live at The Green, Bexleyheath off Heversham Road and my earliest memories were riding my tricycle around the detached bungalow. My mother took me shopping at Long Lane on this tricycle which had a boot and a rod device that allowed her full control of it. The Co-op then was three separate shops rather than the supermarket of today. A Greengrocers, a Butchers and Grocers. I can remember a money safe within the back counter, a bad egg light detector and the little counter where the plastic dividend coins were handed out. Across the road was H L Strong another grocers with a window display of chrome, brass, glass and marble slabs. My father knew Mr King who ran the garage and next door was a gents barbers via a side entrance with a ladies salon at the front. The barbers has now gone and was demolished to expand the garage. At the other end of the parade of shops was the Chemist Glyns. Next door was Cowells without the Post Office as this was located where the Blind shop now exists. Across Heversham was Strongs and at the far end was Wendy's a drapers/wool shop. Next to this was a cycle shop Pelhams? As well as cycles and spares he sold electrical items and sold petrol via pumps with overhead hoses to the street. Back across the road next to the Co-op was Betty's another wool shop. The only other shop on this side of the road was Pricerites. Nowadays all premises are converted to shops even if they are not trading at present. The shops were served by the green 401 and 486 country buses. In 1951 we moved to Bedonwell Road so the local shops were still Long Lane although we had the choice of going to the Pantiles. I went to school at Belmont which had just been built on the former Erith Sanatorium site. I remember going on nature walks in a huge hole in the ground which I now know was created by a German V2 rocket.
I know Bexleyheath very well and from Bedonwell Road we used to use the 401 or 486 bus to the Broadway getting off outside the Astor Cinema in Chapel Road. The one-way system used to get quite busy and the near silent trolley buses (696 and 698) needed to be watched for while crossing. From memory no pedestrian crossings existed here. The return bus stop was outside a corset shop and Home and Colonel in the Broadway itself. My favourite shops were Jenkins (Bookshop), Carriers (Bakers), Jenkins (Toys & Shoes), Hides (Department Store), Whomes (Music, Audio Equipment), Straws (Tools), Meakers (Clothes) and of course Woolies There was also a small surplus shop in Mayplace Road opposite the Astor which sold radio and electrical items which was and still is a hobby of mine. Two other cinemas were in the Broadway, The Regal and The Broadway. The biggest change at that time was the building of a new RACS Department Store which I think involved rebuilding the Baptist Church to the top of Townley Road opposite a car park.
My mother used to work in a laundry which was accessed via Pincott Road. This was demolished at the time that Hides expanded their property and added a most needed car park.
I still live in the area but seem to avoid the Broadway as much as possible - maybe the future changes will improve things with better shops and better parking etc.

A memory shared by Bob Hewitt , on Jul 15th, 2010.

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