The Sound Of Bells...

A Memory of Acton.

Working on my bungalow today in the ancient, beautiful Dorset town of Sherborne, I kept on hearing the tolling of the local Abbey bells. Not really unusual, except today, the sound seemed to 'resonate', and take me 'way back' to my childhood.
My local Parish Church, ( All Saints church, South Acton, Middlesex) . was not really that special, apart from being the place where most of the local people, were christened, married, and buried.
Situated in a very poor district, a few miles West from the centre of London, the Towns only real 'claim to fame' was it's nickname, 'Soapsud Island', well earned, as apart for minor engineering works, the area was the home of many laundries, who serviced the needs of the 'wealthy' people who lived nearby in the 'posh' borough of Ealing.
After the war, the 'run down', old terraced houses of South Acton were designated as 'slums' (mainly due to their somewhat 'run down' condition, and the lack of hot running water, bathrooms, and heating)...Unbeknown to the 'locals', this was going to be the beginning of 'high rise', designated to be the one of the biggest 'planning' mistakes of the 50s and 60s,which is a story, for another 'time'...So back to my story about 'the bells', All Saints as well as being badly damaged during the war, due to a bomb landing nearby, destroying three houses, and blowing the steeple off the church, (which was never replaced).
So you can imagine young boy's & girls growing up in a designated 'slum', (surrounded by bombsites), by today's standards, life was pretty tough and austere, (not that we knew it, at the time)...
Yes, we all did, (for a time), go to Church and Sunday School, (no choice), but later, spent our time 'playing out', real street kids, however, we were still reminded of religion, and All Saints Church, as on many Sundays, I can still remember the bells of the old church 'ringing out' hymn after hymn... P.S. I left Acton in 1960, but often returned to see 'old friends and relatives, however, (I forget exactly when), I drove down Bollo Bridge road as usual, (expecting to find the church on the corner of Strafford Road....and it was 'gone').....
Alan Taylor....

Added 18 November 2017


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