Saturday, January 12, 2008

Some firsthand local history

A while ago I posted some of the history of Charlton Staiton, you can read it here. Well the other day a very nice man called Dave emailed me with a first hand account of growing up around her in the 1950s and in particular with some more information about the station.

I really enjoyed reading his email, it had some great pieces of real personal history about the area. In particular it was interesting to read that there were bombed out houses along Woolwich Road certainly up to the 1950s and possibly into the 1960s. It was also nice to see that it wasn't just me for whom a childhood day out was to go on the Woolwich Ferry :)

Anyway this is the email that he sent me:

With reference to your blogs about Charlton Station, a few memories still exist in my mind of life when I was a youngster, about nine years old at most.

I can recall travelling by train from Charlton, I think to meet an aunt arriving at Liverpool Street Station in the City. This was before the present station was built in the sixties. The ticket office was situated in a wooden 'shed' sited where the present tent like structure is built (the thing they built for the Millennium). There was a coal yard situated where the current run of modern houses are. You then had to cross the tracks via a bridge which crossed from the coast bound side to the London bound side. The bridge was sited at a point where there is now a shelter on the London bound side. The bridge was similar in appearance to the one that still exists at Maze Hill.
I have attached a photograph, which I believe was taken from the footbridge, which clearly shows the sidings to which you refer.

Further, I remember when the new station was built, vaguely. The Post Office used to be sited opposite the present station, in what is now a Chinese Restaurant( can't recall the name). For many years this building housed an insurance broker. Which is where I organised my first mortgage. When the new station was built, the Post Office moved to the new Concrete complex at its present location, but originally took up the whole of the building, rather than the truncated version that it now is. The Valley Cafe, which you also mention in your blogs,was for many years a Buthcher's called Lusby's. I can recall many visits accompanying my Nan, with whom we lived, to the 'Lane' to buy meat for my Dad's tea. Perish the thought that us kids ever ate anything like meat in the week. After buying three lamb chops, she would then pop into the shop next door to buy her snuff, sitting on the chair that was always placed in small shops in those far off days.

We used to sit on the wall of the road bridge overlooking the tracks as trains passed. One day upon returning home for my tea, I was greeted by my Dad, who immediately gave me a thick ear. He had seen me sitting on the wall as he passed by on his bike, on his way to work at the UGB (United Glass Blowers) in Anchor and Hope Lane, where theh Sainsbury Warehouse now is. It always struck me as strange that he never stopped to tell me off at the time.

As a young shaver, me and my mates took great delight in playing in the 'bombed out' houses that existed along the Woolwich Road between Charlton and Woolwich on the south side of Woolwich Road. Danger did not figure in our young minds, and the smell of burned wood still evokes memories of those 'safe' days long ago.This was in an area where the film 'Blow Up' was filmed, and although I have watched the film a number of times, I can't remember if the 'bombed' houses were shown. When I was nine or ten we moved to a flat on the Cherry Orchard estate, but I can remember that when they were filming Blow Up my Mum and Dad decided that we go for a walk around Maryon Wilson Park to view the film sets. In the film there appears to be a large terrace of houses backing onto the park. These never existed, and were just 'flats'.

Another great adventure I can remember is the day when our gang (No knives or turf wars in those days) decided to spend the day on the Woolwich Ferry. This was before the existing diesel powered boats were built. In those days you sat out on the deck in the open. I vaguely remember that the boats had two tall funnels mounted side by side, and I believe that they were paddle steamers, although I am not too sure about this. To get to the ferry in those days you went down a road called Ferry Approach which ran from Woolwich Road to the river opposite Hare Street. This area was redeveloped to make way for the new swimming baths.


Anonymous said...

Dear Charlton, glad you appreciated the e-mail. Since sending it I have revised my memories of the site of the Post Office. This is based on the fact that there is a large faded advertisement high on the wall of what is now the Chinese Restaurant, for barclays Bank, so I assume that that is were the bank was. I think the Post Office may have been in what is now a launderette.

Anonymous said...

I bet the woman on that platform in the picture is still waiting for her train!

Anonymous said...

I used to live in Woodland charlton.our house overlooked Maryon park.they are still there today.the film company asked our landlord at the time if they could paint the brickwork at the back of the properties.he refused so they built a false row of house fronts that you see in the film,When they were filming Blow and a friend took some beer glasses back to the white horse pub for David Hemmings He told his chauffer to take us for a ride in his rolls royce,he drove us down to Woolwich ferry and back,we felt like royalty.

david said...

UGB was United Glass Bottles, not United Glass Blowers. My dad worked there as director of research from around 1938-39 until he died in 1951. The factory was progressively run down during the 1960s and finally closed in 1967. I remember visiting with my dad, and seeing the great furnaces where they made and melted the glass, the conveyor belts of the automated bottling machine, the warehouses and the sheds, and the offices, and the yard where all the brown lorries were parked.
My dad was also in the Home Guard throughout the war, and responsible for 'the works' which were constantly threatened by the bombing and needed to be kept 'secure'. Among other kinds of bottles, UGB made specially designed bottles for blood transfusions (my dad, who was a glass technologist, apparently designed them).

Not all the houses along the Woolwich Road were bombed out, because I remember often visiting one of my dad's colleagues from 'the works', who lived there, Alf Basham and his wife May, and having tea there.