Growing Up In The 1940's And 50's - a Memory of Wealdstone.

We originally lived in Camberwell and were bombed out in the blitz of 1940. After sleeping on the platform of the Elephant & Castle underground train station for a few weeks, my dad found us a house to rent on Toorack Road, which was the border of Wealdstone and Harrow Weald. We were on the Harrow Weald side. I went to Whitefriars Elementary School, which was across the street from Windsor & Newtons who manufactured artist's paints. We had a wireless that needed its accumulator charged every week. I had to walk about a mile to the hardware shop in Wealdstone High Street, near Lockett Road, to take the old one and pick up the other one which had been charged. I never did understand what that glass battery thing did, because I thought the radio was plugged into the electric, but maybe not! While doing that errand, my mum would have me pick up fresh bread off Spurriers the bakery on the corner of Lockett Road. Every so often there would be bananas for sale at the green grocers, but you had to buy an orange to be able to get one, and the queue was long to get them. My favourite was to get a pomegranate when they would be available, but it was a difficult fruit to eat when you were hungry! Most of my evenings were taken up with going to the Y.M.C.A. When I started going I wasn't old enough to go to the Senior one near the police station in the High Street, so we had to go to the Junior one which was in the shed across from the Odeon cinema, not far from St. Joseph's Catholic Church. When we went to the Senior one we played table tennis, billiards, basketball, and darts. We had a pretty good football team, that laid the foundation for me eventually playing for Wealdstone F.C. at Lower Mead behind the Dominion Cinema in Harrow. During the war we were evacuated to Stafford, but my mum didn't like not knowing what was happening to my dad and our house, so we only stayed there 10 weeks before she took us back home. Our street was one of the lucky ones, as no house in it was hit by a bomb. What a great party we all had when the war ended, with a big bonfire in the middle of the street, and a charabang day trip to Southend with the Air Raid Watchers fund money that was left over. I'd never seen the sea before, and we all sang "I do like to be beside the seaside" when it came into view. I went to work at H.M.S.O in Headstone Drive, and then served my two years in the R.A.F. before emigrating to the U.S.A. in 1959. I try to visit my sister and her family every year...they live in Northolt. Such happy memories.


A memory shared by Reg Ware on May 16th, 2013.
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 Comments & Feedback

Sat Mar 25th 2017, at 6:30 am
kcaus commented:
Memories Of Wealdstone and Harrow and the YMCA
I enjoyed Reg Ware’s reminiscing of Wealdstone and the YMCA. I know all of those places like the back of my hand. I am guessing you are perhaps 3 or 4 years older than me – I was born 1941.
I used to live in locket road. Spurriers must have been one of my very first shopping errand destinations for Mum. I would chew both ends of the bread off before I got home. Best bread ever! I remember wrights the hardware shop – best known for me was the paraffin heating oil we had carry back home, Russell’s the fishmonger etc.
The sweet shop that opened just along from Wrights was absolutely devoid of sweets initially. You could only get sherbet dabs and liquorice straws – perhaps gob stoppers as well, and because the owner was Italian, some ice cream began to appear.
I went to the Baptist church Sunday school across the road. This was very convenient for me as I could to spend my 2 pence collection money at the sweet shop.
I can remember how initially, places like Sainsbury’s were also very empty – no fresh meat, butter or even bacon. There was tinned corned beef and sausages I think.
There was another shop with the word universal as well, it was Universal Stores, as second hand shop on the way to Harrow where I bought my first useless bicycle for about 4 shillings. Dad somehow took pity on me, paid for a few spares and I was mobile.
Now here is a curious thing I now remember, I had to wheel my first bicycle home because as I said it was useless and also, a friend towed me right across London home when I later bought my first car, a 1939 Austin 8 tourer for 8 pounds in 1961. I’d like to see someone try that today! I’ll leave out the motorbikes I had before the car.
The YMCA was almost my every night destination when I got to about 13 years. The Dad ruling was, I couldn’t roam the streets after dark. Ultimatum: join the YMCA or stay in.
I joined and enjoyed it. Yes, played a lot of snooker, table tennis and basket ball. The club manager’s name simply ‘H’, a very good man. If we wanted to go the Sunday evening chat time, we would get a bit of bible but nothing too heavy.
About once a week girls were let in probably from a girl’s club. So, there was a bit rock and roll going on within the walls. I can remember one couple of kids could really dance which I thought marvellous while a stood there as petrified wall flower.
I had better stop. There is such a lot to talk about.
Ken C

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