I was born in London in 1937 and moved to Days Lane, Pilgrims Hatch in that year,so all my childhood years were spent around the Pilgrims Hatch area. Dad was always sharp of the mark and a couple of steps ahead so foresaw the coming war and got his family out of Kilburn and harms way into the countryside, or so he thought. Just along a wooded Lane from us was Hatch Road and there stood a very large Wireless relay station with four 100 foot pylon's backed up with field upon field of pylons of lesser height so we were very much on Mr Hitler's nightly visiting list after the war started.
I recall many times Dads foresight and clever move from London being hotly discussed by Mum when such things as a Box of matches had been left off the shopping list and a visit to the local shop had to be made, quite a walk for such a small item. Days Lane was quite isolated so a long walk to the shops or a Bus to Brentwood.
At the age of 4 years in 1941 I started school at St Pauls, Bentley, Nr Navestock. I can clearly see my first teacher a Miss Anderson, grey haired and kindly who always wore a floral pinny, she retired soon after I joined the school to be replaced by a young, very glam Miss Bardwell; well thats how my minds eye recalls her. Our headteacher was Mr Taylor. The memories of my namesake are not too happy, a Mr Squeers of Charles Dickens fame, a bit of a bully, but then he had to put up with me. I recall I was caned by him many times in front of the class as were some of the other boys. In those days we had to leave home for school about 8-15 and walk the three miles to St Pauls in rain, snow, or sunshine, no school buses or cars back then. When there were very hard frost's during the winter we would build slides on a pond called Ashwells which was half way to school, what a hold those slides had for us time would just fly, then in the distance the Bell could be heard, oops late again, would it be Mr Squeers or Mr Taylor waiting at the school gate.
During these dark war years life was very simple but happy, food was short and rationed, few sweets, Margarine instead of Butter but plenty of eggs as we had our own chickens. Christmas dinner would be home grown chicken and very welcome too. Christmas presents were in the main made by my father from wood, but still a joy. I recall getting out early in the morning to collect shrapnel from the previous nights raids and also collecting cigarette packets, Gold Flake, Players, Woodbines, Waights, and the rare ones - Three Tons and Passing Clouds. So, so simple but what fun for us kids to find and swap. There was Cricket in the summer, Football in the winter, school matches played against South Weald school who would walk from their school all the way to Bentley as we had a playing field and they didn't, free school milk was delivered in a churn by Mr Stokes from the farm, school dinners cooked in a small kitchen next door to the school by a Mrs Clark until they were delivered by Essex County Council after the war had ended.
Families I remember who lived and played with us; Billy Lunnon, Trever and Mary Turner, Doreen and Jean Jobson. I hope this will be read by someone who also remembers Bentley School, Pilgrims Hatch and those hard but not so unhappy years.
I moved on from Bentley in July 1948 so there sits another story of schooling in Brentwood. There were City Coach Company Buses, and getting the last 339 bus home to Pilgrims Hatch at the shocking hour of 10.30 pm after the Pictures had turned out, the Palace and Odeon were the Picture Houses as we called them then and the Bus Conductor never turned anyone away from this last bus home, there was no such thing as full up. Dances at the old Town Hall situated half way down the then high street, news paper sellers calling Star, News and Standard outside the Yorkshire Grey. During the summer months Buses coming from direction of London, City Coaches to Southend, 721,86 and 247s blowing steam out of their radiators after the climb up Brook Street hill to Brentwood, Lads and Girls singing the latest Frankie Laine and Guy Mitchel songs, what a simple life we had. Then at 15 it all stops a Boy to a Man in a matter of weeks, at 15 leave school at 18 called into the Army as we all were then, Trained up, sent off to the Middle East, returned to Brentwood for a short time, Married and moved away, all in all very happy times, good old Pilgrims Hatch and Brentwood.
A memory shared byon Feb 20th, 2013.
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