Gaumont Rex Prince Of Wales Cinemas - a Memory of Lewisham.

My strongest memories of Lewisham is there being three cinemas there. The Gaumont (where I saw the Beatles live in the 1960s) - I went to Saturday morning pictures there. The Rex cinema, just by the bridge opposite The Duke of Clarence pub, also opposite the best restaraunt in Lewisham, 'The Saville'. And the Prince of Wales which was further up Lewisham High Street almost opposite the Catholic church near to C & A's.

Lewisham has changed a great deal since I lived there in the 1940s-50s. I lived in Oakcroft Road off Granville Park and to walk down to Lewisham with my late Mum was a treat for me. Chiesmans was on the left with the Quaggy running along side, and next door was the CWS Co-op store. My school uniform was bought there and when we went in and Mum had to pay for it the money would be whizzed across the store in a little pot on a wire and we would have to wait for the change. We also used to collect tin Co-op money and when there was enough Mum would change it up for proper cash. As you came out of the Co-op and crossed the road towards Lewis Grove there was an ABC coffee shop there where if Mum was flush we would have a cuppa and a chocolate cup cake. Next door to there was John Hood's cleaners and in the window sat a lady who would repair ladies' stockings at 8 ladders for half a crown on a tiny machine. Up Lee High Road was the first Bendix launderette which when it opened had a queue of women right down to the traffic lights at the bottom of Belmont Hill. Few women had washing machines in their homes in those days. Mum and I queued once to use the machines, but she came home and did the washing again as she didn't think the machines got clothes clean enough. The Clock Tower stood in the middle of the road, and opposite outside Burtons an old lady used to sit selling chestnuts. The market was brilliant in those days, and Gorstons the butchers always was packed on a Saturday around 4 o'clock as they sold of cheaply any unsold meat. In the winter there were paraffin lamps hanging outside alongside the joints so you could see how fresh the meat was. Behind the C & A's shop was another small market, and at the back was Alf the fishmongers. He sold everyone their wet fish on Fridays, and always knew his customers' names and their children and would always ask after the family.

In Lewis Grove was Sainsburys shop (it wasn't self-service, that came a lot later on and in the High Street) and we would go in there and my Mum would buy her quarter of butter with her coupons (there was still rationing until 1954) and the man would cut the butter off a big yellow lump with two wooden paddles and it would be wrapped in greaseproof paper ready for her to take home. You would also buy sugar in dark blue ice cream like cornet pokes. Tea was always Brooke Bond divi for the stamps she saved for the five shillings that she sent off for when her card was full. In those days summer was cornflakes for breakfast (the packet came with a cut-out mask on the back for children) and winter was always Scotts porrage oats. There was little choice in the shops what with the rationing still on. Woolworths used to sell biscuits by the half pound from tins on the counter, nothing was prewrapped. Mum always took her net shopping bag to carry her vegatables in if she saw a bargain on the stalls. Up near to St Johns was a store called Paynes where my school shoes were bought.C&A's were where my summer dresses were purchased. I went to school at All Saints Blackheath but my two brothers went to Lewisham Bridge.

I started at Guides in Brookmill Road and we used to march to St Stephen's church in the High Street on Sundays. The Black and White milk bar was close to the bottom of Reynolds Street and I always wanted to go in there as I thought it was the epitome of fashion, but my Mum wasn't having any of it. She was a J Lyons lady, or at a pinch the ABC for coffee or tea.

In the centre of Blackheath there was a shop called Jobbins which did very fancy 'high tea' with posh waitresses and cakes on a silver stand. We only went there if it was my birthday. I can remember the Queen visiting Blackheath and as a little girl in 1953 sitting wavinga flag at her from the side of the road with the rest of my school pals. Felt very miffed as she looked just like my Mum did on a Sunday going to church with a costume and gloves and hat on. I wanted the new young queen to be in a coach with a crown and white fairy dress on. The noise of the trams clunking along and I always sat downstairs by the conductor as the bit of window I looked out of was yellow so everything looked yellow. The smogs were also yellow and very thick because everyone used coal to heat their houses.

I remember the bad floods in the early 1950s and the big storm raging when a Dutchman wouldn't abandon his boat in the North Sea. The wireless was the only way we had of getting news and outside the Duke of Clarence the newsvendor shouted 'Star', 'News & Standard' to passing customers. There was a tiny fish and chip shop near to the pub but we never had any and my Mum would have been horrified to see anyone eating in the street. Take-aways were unheard of.


A memory shared by Jackie Walder on Jul 29th, 2011.
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 Comments & Feedback

Sat Jul 9th 2016, at 8:02 am
Hello Jackie Walder just been reading your letter about lewisham my sis ter and I lived at Eliot Park from 1942/1949 we also went to lewisham school my sister then went Greenwich Central and I went to Wallbutton Road New Cross near Pepys Park. Did you know of a Hepworths Tailor in Lewis Grove 1970 or it could have been there before. Pat McCann July 9th 2016
Sat Jun 20th 2015, at 11:23 pm
harvester1 commented:
went to st stephens school . lewisham. lived in the flats opposite ravensbourne park . the re x was known as the fleapit and when th e trains went over the bridge the cinema used to shake . remember the yellow smogs we used to get. tommy hammond

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