Burnt Oak A Way Of Life

A Memory of Burnt Oak

What a great place this web site is.
I certainly love the Burnt Oak as I knew it between 1947 and 1969 when I then emigrated to SA (since back in Weston super Mare).
All the memories you folk have mentioned are mine too. I used to go to Mill Hill though and collect old sleeper wood cut down for firewood, using my trolley with old pram wheels on it. The wood was tarry and always set the chimney on fire.
You're right about going anywhere and we used to even walk or bus it to scratch woods and Moat Mount on our own (miles away), with girls too. No funny stuff, just a bit of scrumping when the worms started biting. There was always water in a park somewhere.
Mill Hill swimming pool was a short walk through Blundell park and under the train bridge when the steam engines roared through.
Barnfield secondary modern in the heart of Burnt Oak was my school and my brother's too before me.
Toni's was my fav place to go and then down the alley and through the drainage tunnel into the park. A bottle of Tizer between us and once a week a Mivvy or a Jubbly.
Bangers in the tunnels..great stuff around November.
My Mum used to work in Hassans for years in the sixties and I did a paper round from the shop near the station. The owner was always on Brandy, even 6 in the morning. It was a schoolmate's Dad I think, Dennis Mathews??
We saw a boy get killed coming out of the Gaumont one Saturday morning and I'll never forget seeing one of his shoes flying through the air after the impact. My older brother saw Jailhouse Rock there and had a scar on his chin for the rest of his life from falling between the backs of the seats while running around on the seat backs during the film (presumably when they all got ripped up though he never told us the real story).
My house was on the flight path into Hendon aerodrome and we used to climb to the top of the elm trees in the banjo in Mostyn Road and watch the the DC3's land and people parachute out of those old barage balloons.
We used to run past the Police college near the airfield and they used to hang out the windows jeering. They got plenty of vee signs in return.
I got an apprenticeship at Duple Motor bodies in the Hyde opposite the swimming pool there. Anyone remember that?
My brother was an apprentice at De Havilands.
The busses were the best thing to get around in before I got a scooter then a motorbike. Everyone use the 140, the 52 and the 215 (or was it 251, used to go to the Three Hammers) to get around. One time in the smog the conductors walked in front of the busses with torches or flares to see the way.
Nothing stopped in them days, school went on as usual in fog, ice, storm, smog and so did everything else. No-one gave up even when there was no heating at school when it all froze up solid although I do remember getting a day off once in Woodcroft School for that. The playgrounds used to have an inch of ice all over and we slid along at neckbreak speeds.
In the latter years of Barnfield school the new headmaster was a Walter softie and salt was put on the slides and bundles where stopped as were jeans and leather jackets and pointed shoes at school. A good thing in a  way as it allowed us access to GCE's, but then things went too far with the soft edge.

When my brother left that school they nailed the woodworking teacher's hat to the bench and filled his shoes with hot glue.
The cane and slipper were used frequently and brought the strayers back in line. The real bad boys it made no difference and they ended up in prison I'm told. But it did reduce the number of us who could have gone astray.
We didn't see caning and the whack-bat as abuse, just a good way of settling the problem as opposed to all this interminable negotiation and mental torture the kids have to go through today. What it must do to their minds .....
My Uncle lived in Playfield Road and I used to park my bike there and walk round the park past the school bogs which backed onto the park. You could see the stuff seeping through the wall and the smell was rank, but no-one seemed to mind.
We used to fight the Goldbeaters school boys on the other side of the Silkstream and cut them off by running over the polished pipe that spanned the stream at the road end.
Our old milkman (Arthur) had a horse and cart for years and suddenly it just stopped moving. Next thing we knew he was pulling one of those electric arm floats which nearly killed him when it ran over him down a hill. He used to spend a lot of time in one neighbour's house, collecting illegal betting slips us kids where told.
Next door had a bread delivery van and he used to syphon the petrol out for his own car till one day he was a syphoning with a roll-up going. I was getting dressed for school and saw the big column of fire as he set the van and himself on fire. He ran into his house with the plastic jug melting and his arm all alight.
I told Mum and she said it had to happen one day.
The streets had very few cars parked and the only one in our street was the breadman's and my Dad's old combination motorbike, an Ariel square four that he bought from a scrap yourd up Three Hammers way. He was a mechanic so he brought it back to life with the engine on our kitchen draining board. Our work bench for us boy's bikes in the future.

A memory shared by Fred East , on Sep 24th, 2007.

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