The Village

A Memory of Belvedere.

In 1959 I was 10 years old and the village was my big adventure trip out when I went to the shops for my mum.  Upper Belvedere was always known as The Village when I lived there, is it still I wonder?  I even went to school there too, Lesness Heath primary, so I have many fond memories.

Firstly the shops.  Derrett and Dorman comes to mind immediately, they sold toys and to a 10 year old that was magic - they also sold, around the fifth of November, fireworks.  There was House Brothers at the bottom of Albert Road virtually opposite Derrett & Dorman and further up the Albert Road on the left was another sweet shop, opposite the entrance to the park.  I remember the sweet shop in the middle just before the Working Mens Club, another small sweet shop about 20 yards further on and my favourite sweet shop up the top close to the church hall.  It was a tobacconists shop really which sold a few sweets, but they were the cheaper sweets that kids could buy with their meagre pocket money.  I think there was another toy shop also owned by Derrett and Dorman, although I believe Mr Dorman has passed on and Mr Derret was the sole owner of the small group of shops.  House Brothers used to sell garden type products from what I remember.  We had a smallholding and kept pigs and chickens and part of my chores was to go to House Brothers for the chicken feed.  I can still remember that special musty smell, so evocative of those times.

The park was always a fun place and across the road there was the paddling pool, although I seem to remember it being mostly waterless.

I remember collecting sweet chestnuts which, although small, were quite tasty when cooked.  I mainly collected them from Lesness Woods close to Picardy boys school.

The only people I remember from the village, people who actually lived there were, Philip Housego, David Ball (opposite Lessness Heath school), Geoff (or Jeff) Hamilton (bottom of Nuxley Road) and Coral McCulloch (in the middle near the Working Mens Club) - what has happened to them?

There are many memories somewhere deeply hidden which need a bit of leverage to prize them out.  Can anyone add to my memories, especially if you were around at the time.  Growing up in the 50's was quite special, looking back, as time diminishes the not so good memories and stimulates the good ones.

Alan Roberton - from 1948 - 1969 I lived in
25 Swaylands Road

With thanks to Alan Roberton for this memory of Belvedere

Added 10 July 2007


Comments & Feedback

I lived at 11 Swaylands Road with my grandmother, from 1945 until
My mum married Ted Booker who lived at number 30, in 1958.
I remember walking to the village with my grandmother and going to the co-op for groceries. I also remember the toy stores, also I think there was a chemist near the church.
I went to Lessness heath school. I also recall your dad's pig farm.
Do you remember going down the Swaylands road hill in the snow on sleds?
Sorry I don't really remember you, but as you are a couple of years older that is not surprising - kids those days tended to mix with others around their own age, plus boys mixed with boys and girls with girls.

I remember the chemist near the church which was close to one of my favourite sweet shops - it was a tobacconist actually that also sold sweets.

Swaylands Road itself didn't have many kids my age from what I remembered. My next door neighbour was Johnny King who was a couple of years younger than me, as was my friend Victor Torn who lived at no. 17. I also remember George Ruddle who lived with his brother David and his parents in a house opposite, at no. 24. From the top of the road at no. 1 (or was it no. 3) lived Della (that was what we all called her) who had won some money (on the pools) and had bought one of the new shops that were built at the top of the road, on Parsonage Manorway. She had the end shop, the wool shop.

I also remember the Della's, the son Trevor set himself alight one November 5th with a pocket full of fireworks. I also recognize the names of the people you mentioned.
I lived next door to George Cousins one side and the Pudney's on the other. Do you remember the Savages ?
We use to play on the bomb site in Parsonage Manorway before the Great Harry was built. There was also a girl called Gillian Clarke who lived on the other side of the road to me. But as you say boys seemed to play with boys and girls with girls.
I think my sister Maureen was friends with one of the Cousins, was her name Julie? I also remember one of the Savages, he joined the army and I believe he was shot in the leg when he was in Aden.

How awful to have a pocketful of fireworks go off in one's pocket!!! But then, in the 50s getting fireworks was never a problem as the shops would sell them to anyone. We had loads of fun with fireworks when we were kids. To think of what I used to do with them, it is amazing how I am still in one piece.

Do you remember Alibars in Erith?
I am quite surprised you found a trip to the village a great adventure. Lessness Heath Primary is 100 yds from Nuxley Road. This is the village. We both went to Lessness Heath and in fact in class 4a I sat next to you for a year. However you left me off of your memory list which is quite surprising as you remember David Ball who was my estate friend in those days. My name is Paul Mace.
By the way. I lived just up from Jeffrey Hamilton. Jeffrey carved out a good career in banking. However this was interrupted when he was I believe working in Wall Street. He had Renal Failure but his brother donated a kidney. Philip Housego lives in Ashford I believe. His sister died but his mother is 102 and still attends All Saints Church. David Ball did various things . Hos sister died as well. The Grubb family
emIgrated to Australia . Clifford Downs died aged 62. I saw Norma Clarke working in Morrisons. O have seen Jennifer Gower about but not for a while. I met Peter Hyde up in London . He lives in or near Northampton area. Others I don't know about. I got a degree in Chemistry and worked in Nigeria near Lagos for Berger Paints. Later I worked in Milan and other places including UK for Max Meyer Paint SPA, an Italian company.
My last job was in Fraud Investigation as I wanted a career change.
Hi Paul

Obviously your memory is better than mine - yes I do remember you. Memories of Lessness Heath school are still a bit vague, probably due to so many things happening in my life.

A little about me - I became a Hypnotherapist/Counseller and lived in Wellingborough in Northamptonshire for 28 years before moving to Wales - then Cornwall and now Hinckley in Leicestershire. During my time in Wellingborough I was involved in the local council as a councillor and spent a year a Mayor. I was involved in Rotary and various other local charities. Incidentally I believe Peter Hyde also lived in Wellingborough, although we never met up. I am now happily married (at last - 3 failed marriages) and well and truly settled.

Having moved around a lot I never kept in touch with anyone from my past so it was great to hear from you. It seems like several of old 4A have done well in life, one way or another. Well done Mr Soloman, the best teacher I ever knew.
I went to Lessness Heath school between 1950 and 1953 and remember Mr Soloman and Miss Bedwell 2 great teachers, I wonder where they are now? Mr Stag was the headmaster. I remember country dancing there. I live in New Zealand now. Barry Prescott
Hi Barry

Just to say that Mr Solomon left Lesness to become a headmaster in another school, but his heart was always in Lesness - so much so that when he died he was buried in a cemetery overlooking the school.
I am sorry to learn about the death of Mr Soloman. If anyone has details I would to hear.He was a great inspiration to me.
Barry Prescott
New Zealand
I only found out about Mr Solomon's death when I visited the school in 1993 when I went on a tour of my old stomping ground - at that time I lived in Wellingborough in Northamptonshire and had been since 1969. I was told he died (I seem to remember) in the 1980s and was buried in the cemetery in Brook Street in a spot that could see the school. Although he was promoted to head in a different school, his heart never left Lessness.

As I reach my 70th birthday certain people remain in my mind as being internal to who I have become and Mr Hugh Solomon is right up there sharing the top spot.
hi all. just found this.
I remember a lot of those names. I didn't go to Ashford. Got a job with BT, then in '73 got married and moved to Colchester, where I am now. Worked at Martlesham for BT in research of various sorts.
my mother lived all her married life in Bedwell Road, and only passed away last year, just before lock-down hit everyone.
Lots of memories.
keep safe everyone,

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