Those Were The Days 1 - a Memory of Barking.
Growing up in the 50s and 60s in London's East End (well the Essex side of it).
I was born on April 14th 1952 at Upney Hospital. I attended Northbury infants and junior schools and then went to Eastbury Secondary Modern. I worked in lot of the places described herein. I left Barking in my 20s for Southend and Benfleet. I then left England in 1980 for fame and fortune in the USA where I still live, in Pasadena CA with my partner and our daughter and the prettiest little Cocker called Bella.
But the heart of England, London and especially the East End still beats deep and loud in my soul. It's who I am.
My earliest memories of Barking go back to when I was around 4-5 years old. I remember fondly riding the electric trolley buses with all the over head power cables that criss crossed the streets of Barking. Ducking every time it changed direction cos the arms would bang on the roof. Sounded like they were about to crash through. And then there were the tradesmen the knife sharpener who wore a big top hat, on his bike with a big grinding wheel on the front. The Chimney Sweep with his brushes strapped to his bike (funny he wore a topper too). The Coal man all dressed in leather with his brewers dray pulling a cart loaded with tons of nutty slack. The milkman walking in front of his electric cart. Gold, Red or Silver top maybe Sterra? No mate mines a yoohoo or fizzy orange juice. And next the ever popular Rag and Bone man. His cart loaded with old junk pulled by an even older horse. He was always slumped forward on his seat, cap pulled down over his eyes looking for all the world like he was dead, then his pitiful cry of "Any ol' rags n lumba" could be heard up and down the street. And who could forget the dustmen driving the little green dust carts with sliding curved doors on top. This little mix of the East End and Essex in Barking had a profound influence on me and left an indelible mark as well.
(Sterra, Steralised milk; like evaporated milk. I asked about it once. Dad said it was evaporated I said it can't be cos I can see it the bottle. Idiot he said and clipped me ear)
The gasman cometh. Under the stairs in our little house were the ever hungry gas and electric meters right in the middle of cooking or watching TV they would turn off. So you had to feed them vast amounts of shillings. Then these geezers showed up from the gas and electric companies every couple of months to empty the meters they wore the cap of company and huge leather satchels that they emptied the coins into and get this they paid you your rebates right then and there in shillings, how convenient was that.
Now let's go for a walk around the Barking I remember. We'll start at Barking Station, a medium sized but imposing brick facade with huge green wood doors that led to the ticket office windows and the main stairs down to the platforms. I would watch all the old steam trains at this station from my bedroom window on Cambridge Road (where Barking Garage used to be and the Advertiser offices) It was all green fencing from the station down to Cambridge Road and an imposing brick wall down to the Spotted Dog on the corner of Longbridge Road.
A memory shared byon Mar 15th, 2010.
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