Streatham Growing Up In The 50s And 60s - a Memory of Streatham.
Born in 1947, I grew up on Babington Road, Streatham. I remember the Home Guard a few houses up and Robin Hanson and I would play on the search lights left over from the war when we were four or five. There were three bombed houses on our road all at the top near Ambleside Ave where we would play. I went to St Leonard’s primary school. Mr. Sopper was the Headmaster and then Charles Stewart took over. There was one teacher, Mr. Keeling who had a missing thumb and a slipper called “Charlie” that you would get on your backside for doing something really bad. On Ambleside Ave in the 1950’s there were three shops, Mrs. Cornish the greengrocer, Mr. Whittles the grocer and down the dip was the sweet shop with the butchers, iron monger’s and bakers just round the corner. Waitrose came in on Streatham High Road about 1957, the first of the supermarkets and that began the killing-off of all the small family owned shops.
There was little money for extras in the late 50’s; many of the kids had no bikes. It was common to share a pair of roller skates by pinching a bit of someone’s fence, strapping it to one skate, putting your bum on the skate, outstretched legs and rocket down the dip or the small park at the top of Babington Road, opposite the Manor Arms Pub. All the old dears would shout and wave their bags at us as we tried to dodge in between them. Every other Saturday morning we would go to the pictures at the Regal or the Odeon, it cost sixpence and we would watch a loony-tunes cartoon followed by Batman, The Purple Monster or a western like Poncho and Cisco. It was only an hour and a half but we looked forward to that Saturday morning.
Firework night was a treat. I remember buying penny bangers and twopenny canon-crashers. We would foolishly light them and put them in milk bottles to blow them up – they never did! On choir night, during Guy Fawkes, we would sneak round the back of the church and throw a couple of bangers inside the church, all dangerous stuff looking back but we all did it!
I left St Leonard’s in 1958 and went to Tulse Hill Comprehensive in Brixton. They stuck me in the grammar stream because I passed my 11+. None the less it was a brutal wake-up call as to how different secondary school was compared to the tiny church school on the corner of Mitcham Lane and Ambleside Ave. To get to Brixton I would cut through the flats on Babington Road and catch the in-frequent 95 or 57 from Mitcham Lane, or walk down the dip past Rickett and Cockerel the coal merchants toward Streatham Station and catch a plentiful supply of buses coming up from Streatham Garage, the 159, 109, 133 are numbers that I recall.
Getting older and getting interested in girls they had Saturday morning at the Locarno in 1961 and 1962. We would hang out at Smiths the record shop afterward and listen to the newest singles. The Lion Sleeps Tonight by The Tokens was a hit record then. The bowling alley opened up about the beginning of 1962 and between that, the Locarno and The Rumbling Tum Restaurant, Streatham Hill was THE place to hang out. In the summer of 1962. I remember meeting two brothers whose parents were rich and retired in the country, Dave and John Furneaux. They had their own maisonette just off Russell’s footpath opposite Streatham Station. We would all hang out there. I met Jeff Paul there and he and I would try and chat up girls on Tooting Bec Common and the Ice Rink in the summer of 1962. Then there was the dance hall above Burtons on Streatham High Road by Shrubbery Road. Names I remember are Barry Gilham, Gail Massey, Ed Niece, Pauline Russell, Vivienne Eldridge, David Haines, Lesley Van Doorne, Tweedy Wild, Felicity Oliver, John Penny, Julie Payne, Robin Hanson, Susan Glass, John Vyse, Margaret Earl – Streatham in the early 60's was an amazing time, where have all those friends gone?
A memory shared byon Mar 8th, 2012.
Tips & Ideas
Not sure what to write? It's easy - just think of an important place in your life and ask yourself:
How does it feature in your personal history?
What are your best memories of this place?
How has it changed over the years?
How does it feel, seeing these places again?
Do you remember stories about the community, its history and people?
This week's Places
Here are some of the places people are talking about in our Share Your Memories community this week:
...and hundreds more! Enjoy browsing more recent contributions now.