1960's And 1970's Childhood Bush Hill Park
A Memory of Bush Hill Park.
Memories are funny, they come and go and during this time of lockdown I've thought quite a lot about my childhood. We lived in Amberley Road, very close to the Raglan School entrance in Raglan Road. The school gates were never locked and the girls' toilets were at the end of the corridor and led outside, which meant that any member of the public could access them! I remember one of the girls of my fourth year class telling the teacher that there was a man in there! Mrs Dean then marched down the corridor to get rid of him. Can you imagine the outcry today?
Amberley Road was a lovely place to live and we were very lucky. We were a family of four children with Mum and Dad. We lived in a 'Curry' built house and knew all our neighbours, who were either called 'Mr and Mrs' or 'Auntie and Uncle' Our mums didn't go out to work (unless part-time) and did a range of household jobs daily that took up a lot of time. My mum and Auntie Kay next door did their washing on Mondays and I used to run from house to house to tell them who was 'winning' with the laundry. They both had identical twin-tubs with shiny metallic blue lids on their spin driers. They would spend quite a while filling the tub, overseeing the 'washing' and then the clothes were rinsed, pulled out individually with big tongs, the water pumped away and the clothes put into the spin drier and spun. It was a lengthy process that took a whole morning. Auntie Olive who lived in Countisbury Avenue at the back of our houses had a mangle which I found very interesting. Mum always said 'Poor Olive!' as she felt sorry for her having to do all her washing by hand.
A morning would be set aside to clean the fridge, or clean the inside of the windows or polish the front door step. In between, Mum and Auntie Kay would be on the 'phone to each other and stop for a cup of tea or coffee. Beds were made (sheets and blankets) and dinners cooked in the mornings as we had our main meal at lunch time. I remember Dad coming home from the office at about 1pm and then going back at 2 after a little doze. Watch with Mother was on the telly and I used to want to watch it with mum and dad, but they would be asleep. I used to try and prise my mum's eyelids open! I don't remember my older brother and sister being there, but they must have been, or maybe it was because they were at secondary school.
In the afternoons Mum would go and visit Auntie Olive in Countisbury Avenue, or Auntie Betty in Abbey Road then we would be collected from school. Mum didn't drive so she used to do all her shopping daily at small shops. A visit to the shops was lovely and she either went 'Up the Top' (Cambridge Terrace), or 'Down the Bottom' (Queen Anne's Place or St Mark's Road).
My brother Mark and I used to ride our bikes round and round the block, which was down Sennen Road and into Countisbury Avenue, up Edenbridge Road and then back into Amberley Road. We did this several times a day (we weren't allowed to go in the road) and knew all the children who played outside. In Countisbury Avenue, every year without fail, there was a tree full of furry spiky caterpillars that used to fascinate us, and after Guy Fawkes night we would go and collect old fireworks that were littered around the streets.
I remember Mark taking all the gunpowder out and putting it in a pile and then lighting it. Mum would have had a fit if she'd known. We used to make a Guy every year and collect money for fireworks, the most we ever got was 10p from an elderly man who was affectionately known as 'Grandad'. Blue Peter used to tell us horror stories of children who had been badly burnt lighting fireworks - it was horrible but compulsive viewing!
After school, Mark and I would stand by the lamp-post opposite our house and wait for mum to cross us over the road (there wasn't any traffic, but we still weren't allowed to cross by ourselves). Once it was cold and frosty and Mark told me put my tongue on the lamp-post which I did, not being able to believe that my tongue was stuck! I was a bit silly, but they were such happy days.
We were allowed to go to King George's Park with an older child looking after us and I can remember someone telling Mark and me that Bobby Kennedy had been shot! There was a boy in our school called that and I thought it was him!
That was in 1968 when I was 5. I was quite political and having an older sister probably helped.
Bush Hill Park has definitely changed over the years along with everything else, but it's good to be able to share some of my many memories of this lovely place.