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This Was Our Main Shopping Centre In The 1950's - a Memory of Tolworth.

I have vivid memories of Tolworth Broadway. As a child I was born in Tolworth (strictly Kingston Hospital in April 1948 just for my birth that is). Mum, my sister and I would go to the Broadway Co-op to shop and Woolworths and other shops. I used to play in the 'allotment' that now has Tolworth towers standing on it and climbed the lovely trees around it and played in the caravan sales site behind the Tolworth Odeon where my brother was a manager for a time. A fairly happy childhood in Tolworth. Sadly we left Tolworth before Tolworth Towers had been built but my mum went back and with a neighbour was invited to view the 'skyscraper' which everyone thought was ugly and horrid then. We left to move to Margate, where I still live at the moment, around 1960. I went back to finish school at the at Clark's College in Claremont Road, Surbiton before finally settling in Margate (1963) although I did a short stint at Surbiton Odeon as a usherette age about 17. I last went back to Tolworth in my 30's visiting my mum who had moved back to King Charles Road to a flat with my dad. My dad died in the old Surbiton Hospital and eventually my mum moved back to Margate to live with my sister. Still have very fond memories of Tolworth and the Broadway. We actually lived in the Ewell Road, around the corner, where my dad ran the County Shoe repairs at 452 and we lived in the maisonette over the top of the shop. I was the youngest of 7 kids. I have 'visited' Tolworth and the Broadway via Googlemaps to show my hubby where I was born and lived as a child. I'd love to visit Tolworth again one day but in my 30's, when I last visited, I remember it as a rather built up annexe of Greater London with so much noisy traffic. I had learned to ride a small motorbike then and I dreaded driving around that huge roundabout/underpass to get to the Broadway! I use to feel relieved and safe once I got into the Broadway. We use to think the Broadway was busy when I was a child but compared to later it was rather quiet but a lovely place to shop. I remember some of the shops like Victor Towlers where I used to go and play, with neighbour's children, in the boxes in their yard, much to the annoyance of the owners, and were chased out. Also the old dairy, where again we got into mischief, exploring, and I remember getting my ears boxed by one of the dairyman, even though an innocent bystander to other kids getting up to mischief! My mum merely said 'serves you right for hanging around with them.' No sympathy in those days if a grown up boxed your ears, whether you be boy or girl! My older sister, 10 years my senior, said I was a horrid little child and she hated taking me shopping in the Broadway in my pushchair as I use to grab things off of counters it seems, to see what they tasted like! A habit I grew out as I got older it seems!
I remember the time that the Broadway roadway was flooded after a torrential rainstorm one summer and the firemen had to come and pump the water out of the road into the old allotment beside the Broadway. It was in the 50's, and us kids had great fun paddling in the rather filthy water and I cut my ankle quite badly in that water pumped into the allotment but never suffered any side effect apart from my mum telling me off for not doing as I was told. I had been forbidden to paddle in the water but as usual we kids 'forgot' our instructions, from our parents, after about 5 minutes. I also remember the big Catholic church of Our Lady Immaculate being built at the top of the Broadway and being dragged along to mass and various holy days etc by my mother who was a devout Catholic as most of my family were at the time. Beautiful building, but we kids enjoyed dropping the wooden kneelers down 'accidentally' to hear the resounding crash reverberate around the church. I went to primary/junior school at the little school behind the church that was later built. My sister was married in the New Catholic Church as it was then in the late 50's. Yes I have very fond Memories of Tolworth and the Broadway and surrounding areas in the years I lived there.


A memory shared by Christine Roberts on Aug 18th, 2012. Send Christine Roberts a message

 Comments & Feedback

Sun Sep 15th 2019, at 6:34 pm
f.spring commented:
hi. are you geoffry Collins youngest sister? I can remember GODFREY .CLIVE DIANA AND CHRISTOPHER also your parents .looking forward to your reply
Fri Sep 13th 2019, at 6:28 pm
f.spring commented:
Stephen Kent lived above Jobs dairy
Fri Sep 13th 2019, at 6:26 pm
f.spring commented:
hi I was born in Tolworth 1939 I can recall your name. I remember Don Bolton and the other shops.Geoffery Collins from the shoe repairers along the road The Herringbone fish shop.Jobs Dairy Coombe bakery in Jobs yard. There was also mr Herschbien the tailor and the dry cleaners very near where you lived . looking forward to a reply
Sun Mar 29th 2015, at 4:46 pm
sibley2 commented:
I lived at 450a from 1948 until 1973, and well remember watching the Church being built from our kitchen window, the "new shops on the Broadway, which included Ansell Pianos, Sam Cooke greengrocers, and three of Victor Towlers shops as well! Saturday morning pictures at the Odeon, getting locked in a caravan on the site behind it, and playing in an old tin bath on the flooded allotments! Building a huge bonfire on those same allotments for Bonfire Night, and the funfair that played there at least twice a year! Hershbeins the tailor was at 454 if I remember correctly, and there was Tolworth Photographic at 448 ( Ron, Dolly & Donald Bolton) and then a hairdressers at 446, and Cyril Tanner's Cycle shop at 444! Jobs Dairy regularly woke me up when a stack of crates fell off a lorry in the early hours, and being woken by the fire bells when their offices caught fire! Wayne Kerr was at the end our garden in Tolworth Close, and Thorogoods Builders at the end of that! Actually went almost to the top of Tolworth Tower for a dare when it was being built, and remember the strong wind due no no glass in it. And of course, Surbiton Lagoon, which was always freezing cold no matter how hot the summer!
We now live in Spain, but keep in touch with and occasionally visit family in Kingston, and have to say we found Tolworth changed beyond recognition in some places, and not always for the better( poor old Toby Jug).
Philip Sibley

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