The Ace Of Spades And Hook Underpass

A Memory of Hook

I was born in Kingston on Thames in 1943. In 1947 my family moved to Thames Ditton close to the old AC car factory and then in 1949 to Lovelace Gardens in Surbiton. At the very young age of 7 or 8 my mother used to send me off on my own on the 65 bus with my rubber flippers and inflateable ring to learn to swim on my own at The Ace of Spades Hotel swimming pool. This was a popular up market out of town venue at that time and on one occasion I met Diana Dors who was teaching her husband Dennis Hamilton to swim. I went to St. Andrews Primary school, then in St. Andrews Road Surbiton and made a huge number of friends in the surrounding area. I later attended (unsuccessfully) Ewell Castle School, famous for Oliver Read. I became a keen motorcyclist and, like him, a bit of a tear away and one of my main meeting places was the Tip Top Cafe in what I think was Ace Parade. From there the crowd would set forth to places like the West End, Dorking and Box Hill and the coast until 1965 when we finally turned to courting in cars and drifted apart. We used to congregate on the bridge over the Hook underpass and hold late night motorcycle races from the Toby Jug in Tolworth to Hook and eat hot dogs sold from a small caravan parked outside Sainsburys. I remember we would cheer on a chap who would often appear revving his engine up on the roundabout in an old grey Ford V8 Pilot. We would sometimes spend the whole of a Saturday night in Brighton and arrive back in time for the Tolworth Excel Bowl to open on a Sunday morning. Then there were the RAF camp dances at Chessington once a week. Fun and laughter never seemed to end. Everybody was a totally mad and well known to the local constabulary but a loveable bunch of characters who had evolved from the war and through the wonderful years of the 1950s. Eventually we all got married and got serious with our own careers. I commenced an engineering career at Tippets Motor Cycle shop in the Ewell Road and finally retired from British Airways Gatwick as a longhaul aircraft technician. I don't know where anyone is now which is very sad. It would be so nice to meet those who survive from the class of 1955 at St. Andrews Primary. I live by the sea now in Rustington, West Sussex

A memory shared by Peter Kenney , on Jun 8th, 2011.

Comments & feedback

Wed Jul 30th, at 9:19 am

niallsmith1970 commented:

I am researching the history of Southborough and wondered if anyone could help me with these questions:
1) what was the exact location and extent of the Ace of Spades Roadhouse, pool, airstrip etc
2) when exactly did it burn down?
3) when, precisely was the building currently known as Southborough High School built?
4) if, as our architect suggests, the "Southborough" building dates from the mid 1950's, which organisation or institution occupied it from then until March 1963, when Southborough School officially opened.
If you can help with any of this, do e-mail me at
Many thanks,
Niall Smith

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