Born In Burnt Oak

A Memory of Burnt Oak

I was born in Burnt Oak in July 1956 in North Road - the same house that my mother was born in.  My grandparents lived in North Road for many years until North Road, South Road and East Road were compulsory purchased by Barnet Council to build a new estate.  

I spent many great hours playing around the block, I remember the little factory at the end of North Road which used to produce metal piping.  My sister, brother and I would pester the workers by throwing back into the factory the off-cuts - which looked like wedding rings to us!

My grandparents' house was directly opposite the side entrance to Edgware General Hospital, there was also a little school - where my mother and her four brothers went to school.

My grandfather used to give us some pocket money and we would promptly go over to the little sweet shop in Columbia Avenue to buy sherbet dips, pineapple chunks and those little milk bottles along with black jacks.  It's a wonder I still have my teeth!

When they started to pull down all the houses in North Road I wanted to take one of the road signs - I felt I was entitled to it as I was born there.

My mother and father both worked in the cinema in Burnt Oak (I remember it as the Odeon), dad was a projectionist and mum was a cashier and usherette.

I remember the Express dairy yard and the dance studio next to it - I believe it had formerly been a photographer's studio.

The Watling was a busy shopping street - with a fish shop which always had live eels slithering around in a metal box. I used to go to Sainsbury's with my grandmother - she always brought her back-bacon, cheese and butter there.  It was wrapped up then you had to go to the back of the store and pay the cashier.

I also remember the little Pay and Take store and Mac Fisheries and what about Ford's the drapers - they sold everything you could ever need for sewing and mending clothes. I also remember the newsagents, Poole's, where my grandfather brought his newspapers.

My elder sister and I used to go to Watling market every Saturday because she liked to make clothes and one of the material stalls sold samples stuck to a piece of cardboard - little did we know then that she would become a textile artist and travel the world passing on her excellent, prize-winning, quilting skills to people as far afield as America, Japan and New Zealand.

My mother and I were sitting in the Wimpy Bar one day when a couple came in and asked my mother to be a witness at their wedding in the Registry Office across the road. I always felt it was sad that they didn't have a relative or friend who could have done this for them.

I worked in Woolies on a Saturday in the lighting department, in those days I had to take the light bulb out of its wrapping and test it to ensure it was working. Can you imagine the health and safety issues this would cause nowadays?

A memory shared by Sandra Gibney , on Apr 13th, 2009.

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