My birth on 30 Nov 1946 at 34 Oldberry Road, Burnt Oak, is where it all started for me, but my mother & her parents moved into the house when it was built for the LCC. She's 89 now, but recalls that she, as a 9-yr-old in 1928, spent the first few days there just running up & down the stairs, as they'd come from rooms in Euston where noise, etc. was forbidden. They also had their own kitchen with cold running water, & a fire-copper in the corner for water heating & washing. Sheer luxury! Oldberry Road, as built, had 49 houses in it, and was a single-track road with a passing-place in the middle known as "The Bend". My old man's family had moved out of the St Pancras area to no 7 Milling Road at the beginning of the 1930s. Our Express Dairies milkman was Bill Curzon, & he had 2 horses, - Ginger & then Donald, before the electric era took over. Other tradesmen who came along the road were Spurriers, the bakers, the Co-op & UD milkmen, EAD Apthorpe with spuds, a guy named Lou who did a paraffin round in winter, & ice-cream in summer & Western's Laundry. A kid named Leslie Feltham used to go round early Saturday evening bawling "Late Night Final!" as he sold 'papers with the football & other results in them.
I recall being fascinated by the sight & sound of aircraft constantly flying over the house into RAF Hendon, and the great treat of going to the Aerodrome in September for the annual flying display. There were lots of static exhibits, and the flying included pilots in DH Chipmunk trainers bursting balloons with their props, and an air attack on an 'enemy' castle. Later, my brother, & then I, joined No 120 Sqn ATC, & became very familiar with RAF Hendon. I also served there from 1971-4 when I was in the RAF proper.
The Watling estate had no pub within its boundaries, so if one drank, one had to trek to The Stag, or to the Green Man. Mill Hill Broadway boasted no pub, either. The buses only ran along Watling Avenue, so if you were late it was a choice between running down Goldbeaters Grove, or hurrying across Watling Park to the Tube station. The 140 'bus to Hayes and London Airport started at Bunns Lane then, because the railway bridges at Mill Hill were too low to allow a double-decker through. If you wanted to get a 240 to Hendon, you had to go to Station Road for it. The 240A and 251 were always single-deck 'buses, and the 240A went to Edgware via Hale Lane, & the 251 came down Watling Ave to Burnt Oak. In B.O. Broadway, i.e. the Edgware Rd, there were quite a few 'buses, including Trolleybuses. These last were numbered 645, 660 & 666. Big mistake to get rid of them! There were lots of shops, such as Pegleys, Hassan's, Stevens & Steeds, Watlings, and, of course, the great Co-op. Jack Cohen might've started with a stall in another part of London, but Watling Avenue is where his shutter-fronted shop that was the first to be called 'Tesco' was sited. I remember going to Watlings to buy a pound of pigskin, which was as good as chamois leather, & a lot cheaper! My brother had Saturday jobs in both Stevens & Steeds & Woolies. When I was stationed at Hendon I met a Miss Hassan, daughter of the Gent's Outfitter. They were from Gibraltar. The Ice-cream parlour near the station was at one time owned by the father of a schoolmate named Glauco Ricci. I got my first 'proper' pair of glasses from A. I Jones in the Broadway, & later my first contact lenses from them in 1976. Nice to see they're still there.
Gervase Road figured in my family's life in that 1. It was where Ken Gallagher, the Akela of the 20th Hendon Cub Pack (originally based at Eversfield Church) lived, and 2. Where both I and my older brother, Phil, nearly lost our lives on 2 separate occasions. He was about 13 in 1955 when he was out early one dark winter's morning learning a paper-round with a lad named Walter Tyrrell. Phil was in front as they cycled along Gervase Rd and a lorry hit them. Phil was knocked off his bike onto the pavement, but poor Walter was killed.
At Xmas 1958 I was with my old man, returning from a kids' party at Colindale telephone exchange, where he worked. Our Motorbike & sidecar had just passed under the tube-line bridge in Montrose Avenue, when a guy in a Morris Minor shot out of Gervase Rd and hit us. Luckily for me I was only concussed, but my father had head lacerations and his left ankle broken in 3 places. The car driver thought he would race across Montrose Avenue & down the wrong side of the island at the end of Booth Road.
I went to The Meads Primary, in The Meads. Miss F. W. Cross was the headmistress, and I recall Mrs Horton, Mrs Crook, Miss Stovold, Mrs West, Miss Beer & Mr Washbourne as teachers. Ted Fisher was the cheery caretaker. We always stopped to look at the little goods train that passed along the back of the school a couple of times a day. The school always had a certain smell - coffee near the staffroom, & floor-oil elsewhere, as the whole place was made of wood & they treated the floors in the holidays. That must be why it went up like a Brock's rocket when someone torched it in the 1960s! I see my 1000 words are about up, so maybe I'd better get busy on an autobiography!
A memory shared byon Oct 14th, 2008.
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