Those Were The Days 5 - a Memory of Barking.
Come out of there and you were at the Magistrates Court in the square I remember a big tree in the back behind black iron fencing and thinking that's where they did the hangings right in front of Barking indoor swimming pool and Turkish Baths.
(I don't recall too many Turks in Barking in the 50s. Although I had my suspicions about old Mrs. Sopp and that beard of hers) not a pleasant image of your final moments on earth I think, that's why they put a bag on your head. On the next corner was the Capitol Cinema. Saw many a swashbuckling film or Disney Film there. I think here was the ever delightful Marks and Spencer's Food, Apparel and House wares of a higher standard. We used to really enjoy shopping here One always felt so rich. Next door was the CO-OP and its Green Stamps, I recall mum saving those stamps for years to get a coffee percolator. Don't know why though, she didn't like coffee. There was a jewellers I think and another furniture shop and at the end on the corner was Burton's Tailors.
Crossing the street here (North Street and Broadway) we can see St Margaret's and the Abbey ruins but we are heading back up East Street towards the station. (This is just as well. I think Captain Cooke still haunts me for sitting on his grave, but that's another story.) I think there used to be a pub or a bank on this corner. I remember an alley here and next to it was a bakers who made the best cheese Bakewell tarts ever (she called them cheese cos the top was decorated with stringy desiccated coconut strands. Heaven)
Next door was a very haughty Jewelers shop, mucho expenisvo. You could feel your money cringing in your wallet just looking in the window so we move along to a better class of shop, Woolworths. The everything shop. Here was another Alex Wheels toy shop (there was a third Alex Wheels on Longbridge Road an upscale version of his other shops as the clientele were more better off than us commoners) an undertakers a dentist, a men's fine tailor and a funeral directors. There were a lot of funeral directors in Barking, in those dayss it seems, why? What weren't they telling us? Must have been the over flow from the clinic.
Anyway let's cross the street here back at Barclays Bank and walk up towards the station. Next to Barclays was a dry cleaners and various shops that I have long forgotten but I do remember a Stationers, very nice and classy all black marble with chrome and glass display cases. Bought many an item in there, they were so nice and very helpful and patient. And the record shop which was in the basement of the tool shop I spent hours in both those stores I remember the first record I ever bought for myself from there Charlie Drake's "My boomerang won't come back". I tried to play it on mum's big old 78 player well you can guess what happened next, my ear, her hand but, but it was worth it cos Dad went and got us a used 45 record player. God we were stylin' (no pun intended, yes it was). They had listening booths where you could listen to your record or snog your girly or both if you were adventurous (or is that amorous I was never really good at spelling) till the manager sussed out what you were up to and banged on the glass, left there with many a scratched record and an earache.
That brings us safely back to Barking Station. Or does it?
A memory shared byon Mar 15th, 2010.
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