The Life and Times of
ALICE ANNIE ROGERS
Date: July 22, 2008
Written by Alice Rogers July 18th, 1982 with later additions.
Initially typed by Jane Rogers October 26th, 2003.
Edited by John Rogers 2003-2008.
I have taken the liberty of making minor editorial changes to the original text.
“Mum and “Dad” refers to Alice’s parents and “Dave” refers to her husband.
“Mr. and Mrs. Rogers” refers to Dave’s parents.
I have used italics to add clarifications.
By W. H. Davies
What is life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare
No time to stand beneath the boughs
And stare as long as sheep and cows.
No time to see, when woods we pass,
Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass.
No time to see, in broad daylight,
Streams full of stars like skies at night.
No time to turn at beauty's glance,
And watch her feet, how they can dance.
No time to wait till her mouth can
Enrich that smile her eyes began.
A poor life this if, full of care
We have no time to stand and stare.
As you know Mum, I am a person of few words, but my love for you is so deep it is impossible to express, but I will always remember you and Dad through your favourite poem giving our family full of care, and time to stand and stare.
About five years ago Mum told me she had been writing her childhood recollections. I decided to get these typed up and then asked Mum to extend it in areas such as the war. This she did and together with some old family pictures, has resulted in the book you are reading.
It’s hard to pin point my earliest memory of Mum. She was always there being a stay-at-home Mum. I do remember her taking me to see her parents in London by train, then walking across an open area to their apartment building. It seem huge to me having only ever seen the two story houses in Petts Wood. Her father sat in an armchair and gave me a hobbyhorse that I rode around the flat (apartment).
This must have been before 1950 when a telegram arrived. Shortly after my Mum ran crying to the bedroom. I asked my Dad what happened and he said that my Grandfather had died.
She would take me to the Petts Wood shops and regularly to the library. This was the first building at the start of the stores and had a children’s section. My favourites were the Winnie the Pooh stores, but I read many others including one about Dr. Bernardo who worked with orphans years before.
I remember us visiting the Co-op and Mum using her Ration Book when making purchases. I was fascinated by the pneumatic tubes, which sent the cash to the cashier and returned the change. Maybe that was the genesis of my becoming an engineer.
Over the years my Mum demonstrated her many talents, from cooking to learning to drive a scooter then our car. She could play any musical instrument by ear, piano, harmonica, flute etc. She could ‘picture’ the notes from the low end to the high end with perfect pitch.
When Mum and Dad retired, they took up ballroom dancing and made many new friends. Mum took up painting and decorative icing of cakes. As she got older these activities waned, but daily walks to the stores, doing crosswords and participating in TV quiz shows kept her physically and mentally alert. “I’ve still got all me marbles” she once said to me. One show in particular involved making the maximum length word from nine random letters or making a random 3-digit number from a few random smaller numbers. Always even in her late 80s, she outperformed Sylvia and me in these tests.
As you will read, when Mum was a girl she was sent to Alfriston (Sussex) as part of a program to let the inner city kids of London experience country life. This made a lifetime impression on her. Every year she made at least one visit there. I remember one trip through the church graveyard where she spotted the grave of one of the women she remembered. I looked at her and saw tears running down her cheeks. It was amazing to me that even after some 70 years she still had such strong feelings.
We are all indebted to Mum and Sylvia for caring for our Dad in his later years, allowing him to stay at home rather than be put in a home. “After all” I remember Mum saying “it is his home” – a simple statement that says it all.
Now as Mum ages, Sylvia has continued to care and provide companionship for her. This has undoubtedly contributed to Mum’s well being; we are most grateful to Sylvia for all she has done.
Before starting I just want to say a huge Thank You to Sylvia. Who after being made redundant, chose to stay home. And these past few years has helped to look after Mum. Not that Mum needs much looking after.
I appreciate everything you do Sylvia. And want you to know that no matter where Carole and I might be we are always here for you. And only a phone call away. No matter what, you have only to call and I will be by your side. I love you dearly as does Carole, and we only want your happiness.
When I think back at the things that have happened over the years. My memory is pretty bad, but I'm sure these things did happen and are not just dreams.
One of my earliest memories is having to go to bed in the afternoon, don't know if it was every day or just Sundays.
Apparently Sylvia was learning to ride a bike with Dad holding the saddle. Dad let go, when Sylvia saw she was riding on her own, she went straight into the fishpond. Of course I missed this as I was in bed!
Mum worked in a church for a while. The church has a side room with toys and books in it. I used to stay in there whilst mum was working. Mainly I would sit in there reading Enid Blyton books the Famous 5 books where best also another book called Mick and his P105, about a boy and his motor cycle. Perhaps that’s when my interest in bikes and cars started. Don't think I've ever read another book since. I've tried but loose interest.
I remember my first day at school. We went to see the headmistress Mrs. Heavan I think. Mum was carrying me. I didn't want to go so I kicked the headmistress. I still had to go though.
One day we were going to a wedding (I think) I had my first new suit. I was ready early and got fed up waiting so wondered of over the woods and slipped on the mud and fell over getting mud on my new suit. I was scared to go home so just stood there crying. John came and found me took me home on his bike. (Thanks Bruv) Can't remember what was said when we got home. Perhaps its best I can't remember.
Mum never used to get angry with us. But one day during the summer holidays, I was left in the house on my own. My mate Paul Turner came round. We got John's record player (which was Taboo to touch). Took it out to the shed and plugged it in playing records in the garden. Then got fed up doing that so off out we went to play. Mum came home to find the back gate open, back door open, and a record player in the shed. That’s about the only time mum came close to hitting me.
When mum decided she wanted a scooter and Dad was showing her how to drive. Off she went and fell off almost straight away.
When I was a teenage it was the done thing to have long hair. Mine was long and greasy. I came home one day and Dad came out, said we need to have a chat, and we sat in the car. He was very worried about Mum and said she was upset with the way I looked, he told me to get a hair cut and sort myself out or leave home. Dad was crying. I had my hair cut. It turned out Mum was going through the change.
We had a strange family living next door. The Headworths, they had two sons Michael and Phillip. Michael was about the same age as me. When he was 17 I sold him a motor bike, can't remember for how much, but he paid me mainly in coins. Sixpences and shillings. God knows where he hid this money. His mother did not know he had this money, and he never told his mum he was buying a bike, he just took it home. His mum came round and had a go at mum about selling him a motorbike. Mum shut the door in her ace, and she apologised to Mum through the letterbox.
The Rogers family is not very good at keeping surprises. Fingers crossed behind their backs!! But Mum and Sylvia did a great job of stitching me up. Carole took me to Jersey in the Channel Islands on my Birthday 1st September 2005, as a birthday present. Whilst we were there I asked Carole if she would be my wife. Spookey that I got engaged on my birthday as Mum had gotten engaged on hers. Anyway on the Sunday 3rd September I went down to collect Mum and Sylvia to come over to Sunday lunch and we would tell them we had gotten engaged. Little did I know that Carole had arranged a surprise birthday party for me. Everyone had hidden their cars in the side road, and everyone was out on the outside patio, so I knew nothing until we walked in. I then wished the ground would open up and swallow me. One up to Mum and Sylvia for keeping the secret. And it was a very lovely surprise. But I did get to turn the tables on everyone who was there. Carole had taken off her engagement ring, as she didn't want it to take away the fact it was a birthday surprise for me. But when I'd had a stiff drink to calm the tummy, I told her to go and put her ring on. I then announced to everyone they we had gotten engaged.
Later we phoned John and Jane who along with Emilee had been over earlier in the year and told them the news.
On 15th July 2006 Carole and I were married. Unfortunately not all the Rogers family was able to share our wedding day. But it was wonderful to have most of them there. My brother John by my side and being my Best Man, his lovely wife Jane giving us a special reading during the service. John and Jane's son Jason, his lovely wife Lori and their two children David and Jessica our beautiful bridesmaid.
And for one so young to have such kindness and compassion. How she came up to Carole and I on the dance floor and danced with us. Then turned to Carole and said I have something very important to say to you. "Welcome to the Rogers Family". Carole had tears in her eyes.
Also it was nice of David and Maureen (Carr) to come to our wedding.
But most especially during this special time to have my mother 87 and Sylvia sitting in the registry office when I walked in made this such a special day.
Hopefully Mum you enjoyed having half the Rogers' family all together.
Maybe we can try and get the whole of the Rogers' family together 4 generations for Mum's 90th. I'm sure we can at least try.
Although a new member to the Rogers family. I just wanted to say how refreshing and wonderful it is to find a family that is so close. Being an only child and having a very tough upbringing, you believe that all families are like your own. Rowing, arguing and shouting all the time. You grow up in your own reserved world. So when Peter wanted me to meet his Mum and Sister I was in shock. Then when I had to meet his Big Brother along with Jane and Emilee. I was a bag of nerves. Here I had a family that were close, caring and understanding of each other. Something I knew nothing about. I felt I was getting the third degree. Was I good enough for Peter!!
It's a shame we are too old to give you anymore grandchildren Mum. I know that you and Sylvia together with Mr. Rogers worshiped David, its such a shame he grew up to be as he was. Peter did so much and gave him so much. But you have John's children and grandchildren. Just a shame you don't see them very often.
I just wanted to say It is an honour to be a part of the Rogers family, knowing you all has made me see that there is good in the world. And that you and your husband are proof of this, having brought up three pretty special children.
It's a great pity I was unable to meet Mr. Rogers, as having seen all Mum's old photograph's I can see Peter in his father. The same as I can see John in Mum.
I would like to become closer to the Canadian side of the family but this is difficult being so far away, and with them having busy and hectic lives. But it is wonderful that Emilee stays in touch by e-mail, and tells me what is going on in her life, it makes us feel closer. But wonderful to see most of you at our wedding, Which holds so many wonderful memories, especially of Jessica, who will always be very dear to my heart.
You are a fantastically Special Family, and I am honoured and so luck to be apart of the Rogers family.
Table of Contents
THE LIFE AND TIMES OF ALICE ANNIE ROGERS
I was born at No. 5 L Block, Peabody Buildings, Dufferin Street, Finsbury in flats built for the working classes. The benefactor was George Peabody whose statue stands outside the Royal Exchange. The rent was paid to the Quakers Society of Friends at 1 peppercorn a year. No. 5 was on the ground floor; two rooms for a family of seven.
When I was three years old, owing to Arthur's (step-brother) bad health, we were given 3 rooms on the fifth floor. We went from one extreme to the other. I'm sure I remember us moving. Nell stood me on a chair to dress me and said we are moving.
I clearly remember being afraid to walk across to the window at the new address, 25 O Block, Roscoe Street, Peabody Buildings, just two turnings away from Dufferin Street. I thought if I walked near the window my weight would make the building topple over. But, I soon overcame the fear. No one else was worried about it. The greatest advantage of being up high was the air was fresher, plus of course one extra room for sleeping. The three rooms were in a long line (kitchen, bedroom 1, bedroom 2, the end room, the windows were across the front. All the girls slept in the end room in two double beds. Me and Mum in one, Nell and Mary in the other. Arthur and Dad slept in two single beds in the middle room. George slept on a folding bed kept in the kitchen alcove.
Mum said I started to school at three, but they sent me home after awhile and I was nearly five before I went back to school. I remember being in the baby’s class. Miss Clarke was wonderful. She wore an overall, which none of the other teachers did. We played with sand and went home (lunch time), then afternoons we slept in canvas hammocks fitted to the feet of our tables turned upside down.
Soon as she could Mum went office cleaning at Draper's Hall in the city. So, she was gone when we got up. I remember Arthur giving me a pig-a-back into the kitchen to dress in front of the stove. I don't remember breakfast. No cooked breakfast or cereals, bacon or egg. Sunday, porridge was about, but Corn Flakes not invented. When we got in lunch time 12 - 2, Mum was there cooking the dinner. This was our main meal. I seem to feel that the winters were very cold and more sun in the summer. The kitchen was the only room with heat, so of course the bedrooms were cold. Mum and Nell always put a wooly scarf on in bed. But we slept on flock mattresses and these got warm.
Every lunchtime I went up 72 stairs, got the shopping bag, asked Mum what she wanted, down the 72 stairs, up the Whitecross Street market, which ran the length of the Peabody Building. City workers flocked to the market for bargains.
Map of the Area where I Lived
Me, Vince and Jason outside Roscoe Street Peabody Building (not ours) in 1990.
My Brother George
Things were sold loose then, which are all in packets now. Lump salt cut up on the stall with a saw. Horseradish root had to be grated up in vinegar with 1/2d of mint. 1 LB sugar in blue paper cone, butter and marge knocked up in pats while you wait, cheese cut up by wire, bread was weighed in front of you and if it was under, you got a cake out of the window. All dry goods; rice, flour, etc were loose. As I got older more tins and boxes appeared. These tins are now collectible. Milk; this really was hard work for the Dairies. The milk was on a large churn and milk pails with measures. Delivery was twice a day. We had 1/2 pint left before 6 a.m. for Mum to have a cup of tea before leaving at 6:30 a.m. to walk to her work.
The milkie (milkman) trundled his cart round the streets. Then he filled his pail, then he delivered to customers, like us 5 floors up. Then round again about 10:00 - 11:00 a.m. When he came up all the stairs, knocking on all the doors and measuring out the milk, in jugs. Or course we had no refrigerator or cold larder (pantry). As you went in the front door, on your right was the coal cupboard.
We used to have to look out of the window when we heard the coalie calling. When he saw he had to bring it up 72 stairs, sometimes they would forget. But, a lot of people paid weekly for coal, on a card, the agent ordered it.
I used to feel sorry for the Insurance man. If mum did not have enough money to pay him, he had a journey for nothing. I remember him well. He had lost an arm in the first world war, so we had to ask him in so he could rest the book on the table. We only had gas lighting and cooking and he always used to adjust our gas mantle as it was a bad light.
Dad was at work until I was about ten years old. When he was working he was a casual wharf laborer at the docks and was paid daily. He came in about 5:00 p.m., put a 10/- note on the big black clock on the mantle piece. I would be standing there waiting, with shopping bag. I would take the 10/- and ask my Mum what she wanted. There was a regular order of two cottage loaves, half cheese and half marge, the Star newspaper, 1/2 oz., 4-1/2d, dark shag at the tobacconist, then back up the stairs again. Give my Dad the paper. Then he ate his tea, which mostly was fish; bloater, herring, haddock, kipper or dinner kept warm from dinner time. If it was haddock I would stand there looking at him the he would dip his bread in his gravy and give it me. If it was herring and had a hard roe, he gave me a bit of that, but I didn't like soft roe. So when I bought it I asked for a hard roe herring. Then I could go out to play in the Square as we called it till dusk.
Being the youngest, if George or Nell wanted one pennerth (pennyworth) of chips (French fries) I would go out to the fish shop. The trick was to ask for a half penny for going then if they both gave me one I could have a pennerth too. But I was not always lucky. So when I got back they would have to offer me one. I liked going to the fish shop. Dave (another Dave) behind the counter made a fuss of me and told all the customers I was his sweetheart. He was a tall dark Jew, came from Whitechapel. Looked very smart in his white coat and Brylcream hair. But one day I saw him going home, he had a flat cloth cap, down at heel shoes and a bit of a let down. But everyone loved the fish shop it smelled all up Whitecross Street. Most orders were for a 2d or a pennerth.
We had a good cooked meal every dinnertime. Since I have wondered how it was ready in time. Nell and George came in at 1:00 p.m. Then Auntie Mary and Alice asked if they could have their dinner with us and pay mum at the end of the week. So dinner was cooked every day for about nine. Mom was very fond of stews; rabbit, pickled pork, sheep head, beef, But what I did not like was, as I was the youngest when we had rabbit I was given the head and there is not much meat on a rabbits head. But we got on with it, the dumplings and gravy were grand.
I did not like Mondays. It was always cold meat from Sunday and I didn't like Thursdays: Washday. One day to do all the family wash for seven. So each flat took turns to use the washhouse on the third floor. Each person had a copper (a large cooking pot made of copper or often of iron), which had to be filled up with water, and then heated up by wood in the firebox below. Then each had two porcelain tubs to tip the washing in when it had boiled. Then you stood at the tub and rubbed up and down on the board with Sunlight soap and brush. Handkerchiefs, collars, cuffs had to be scrubbed then rinsed in cold water then mangled then hung on lines to dry and must be removed by next morning to make room for the next people. Then they used blue water for the whites and starch for collars. So we had clean clothes for our Saturday night bath.
A zinc bath was put in front of the fire, water brought in from outside landing was heated by the fire with a brass top over the hearth. When every one had gone out Nell locked the door, washed our hair and bathed us. We were very pleased when Public baths were built at Ironmonger Row. Trouble was everyone had their bath either Friday or Saturday. We used to line up all down the stairs and round the building. When I got married it was the first time we had our own bath. Then all ready for Sunday.
The first rule was never wear on Sunday what you may have worn in the week. I don't know how the working class families managed it. Black patent shoes, special Sunday Frock, coat, hat and handbag. All children had a small handbag. Then make up your mind where you are going. St. Paul's to feed the pigeons. Guild Hall to feed the pigeons. Walk to the embankment and look at the barges on the Thames. There was a very good sweetshop. Buy 1/4 pound get 1/4 free. Postman's Park opposite St. Bartholomew's Hospital. and the deserted Smithfield (meat market) opposite side. On the way we passed Aldersgate Street station and got one penny Nestles chocolate bar out of the machine or stamped out our name on a lettering machine. The same went for Liverpool Street station but huge steam trains and whistles made it a very noisy place, but we used to meet the boys there and chase up and down the stairs.
Home to Sunday dinner. Always a roast. Often beef. Then all sit and look a the washing up. Wrongly, boys were not expected to wash up . But Mum and Dad had a lay down. If we did not go to Sunday School, we went for another walk. But we always went because it was next door. Sunday tea was special; either shrimps, winkles, or celery and some cake. Sunday evening we often walked to Bloomsbury Avenue. Never stayed out late. I knew Dad would be watching the time. Sunday night when Mum and Dad got in from the pub he would turn out his change divide it between Mary (sister) and I. "What about me?" Mum would put her hand out. "You old cow, you've had two Guinness off me and you don't get no more". He used to amaze Mum, don't know how he was sober by the morning to go to work. But he always did and never lost a days work except by strike. He only had one over the eight (one drink too many) when he had backed a winner on the horses.
He never took a holiday because he would lose his pay. Mum liked going away, especially by boat. The steamers left Tower Bridge (another of our haunts) for Southend, Margate or Ramsgate. Being Dad was in Thames Street working, he would see us on the steamer. The Crested Eagle, driven by huge paddles. The first night we slept three in a bed. Mum, me and Mary nearest the wall. The trip made Mary queasy, and in the night Mary was sick all down the wallpaper. I always remember Mum and the landlady have a go. She wanted Mum to pay for new wallpaper. But Mum never had any spare money. It was an effort to get away and she told her it was rotten old wallpaper anyway. But Mum loved the seaside. One year we went to Southend on Sea by train from Aldersgate Street. She always tried to avoid buying us tickets. It was very embarrassing. You run on in front and we would wait for her on the platform
One year as Mary was getting big, Mum bought her a half price ticket. At Southend we met Mum's Aunt Nellie and Uncle Paddy. They were upset Paddy had lost their train tickets. Don't worry said Mum you'll get through. So once again, Mary's ticket is given to Paddy and again - "you two run on in front through the barrier." They managed it somehow. At the same time Mum's sister Aunt Annie took a two-week holiday every year. "I will take one of the girls with me." Then Mum used to start grumbling; she'll want you to have this and that. Mary used to go; mainly to Brighton. Then it was my turn. "Now I want you to have white shoes, socks, gloves, frock and hat for Sundays". She always got up Sunday morning and went to Mass. Because she was in service (e.g., a house maid) all her life, and had to have the meals given her, she wanted to choose her own food. So she looked for a lodging and attendance house.
This meant you bought all your own food and the lady cooked it for you. So, half of our time was taken up shopping. First thing every morning, breakfast, then dinner and tea. "Now you run it back and meet me on the Prom (seaside promenade)." So that was my job. Very often Mum came down the second week for a few days and she would grumble about the shopping. I have to do that all the year round. Still it was understandable.
We had very good holidays with the school. The first time was at Broadstairs in a convent. We all slept in dormitories and ate in a big hall. The grounds outside led to a private tunnel to the beach. Here I blotted my copybook. I was the youngest there but because Mary was old she would keep an eye on me.
So all us girls were laying about when I noticed something peculiar. One of the older girls had "feathers" under her arms and I went up and told her so. Mary was sent for and I was told I was disgusting. I never forgot it.
On the way back from the market we passed other Peabody blocks. These looked out on to Roscoe Street. On the ground floor lived Mrs. Wright. Mt Mother rapped on the window, up went the window and her head poked through the aspidistras (an Asian plant in the lily family which has large evergreen basal leaves and small, brownish bell-shaped flowers and was widely cultivated as a houseplant in those days). “Hello, how are you”, then have a chat about local news. I was about 8 years old. “Must come and have tea with me one afternoon, I’ve got a special cup for you.” Eventually I knocked at Mrs. Wright’s door “come in” she said “I’ll make some tea and get out your cup”. She brought out the prettiest cup I had ever seen. It was shaped like a flower the lip was scalloped like petals. Roses were all outside and inside. No tea tasted the same. It was about 1927, and Mrs. Wright about 60. So her room was quite Victorian. She loved her cat and aspidistras. So when it was time to go “come again” she said, so about once a month I had tea with Mrs. Wright. When the blitz (German bombing of London) was on, Mrs. Wrights home was destroyed. What happened to my special cup?
Gone with the incendiaries
(bombs containing chemicals that produce intensely hot fire when exploded).
I remember Gracie Fields, (1898-1979) one of the greatest stars of both the Music hall and early cinema singing “The Biggest Aspidistra in the World":
For years we had an aspidistra
in a flower pot
On the whatnot, near the 'atstand in the 'all
It didn't seem to grow 'til one day our brother Joe
Had a notion that he'd make it strong and tall
So he's crossed it with an acorn from an oak tree
And he's planted it against the garden wall
It shot up like a rocket, 'til it's nearly reached the sky
It's the biggest aspidistra in the world
We couldn't see the top of it, it got so bloomin' high
It's the biggest aspidistra in the world
When father's had a snoot full at his pub, 'The Bunch of Grapes'
He doesn't go all fighting mad and getting into scrapes
No, you'll find him in his bear-skin playing Tarzan of the apes
Off the biggest aspidistra in the world
We have to get it watered by the local fire brigade
So they put the water rates up half a crown
The roots stuff up the drains, grow along the country lanes
And they came up half a mile outside the town
Once we hired an auditorium for a hot house
But a jealous rival went and burnt it down
The tom cats and their sweethearts love to spend their evenings out
Up the biggest aspidistra in the world
They all begin meowing when the buds begin to sprout
From the biggest aspidistra in the world
The dogs all come around for miles, a lovely sight to see
They sniff around for hours and hours and wag their tails with glee
So I've had to put a notice up to say it's not a tree
It's the biggest aspidistra in the world
Every year St. Josephs Roman Catholic (RC) Church had a procession walking the streets of Finsbury on Sunday afternoons. Aunt Nora Duggan had nine girls and one boy, all RCs. I would stand on the curb and try to catch their eye as they passed. Six of the girls were "Children of Mary" wearing a white veil over a blue gown.
A band from Clarkenwell played "Ave Av Maria" which they all sang. This was about 1927, I was 8 years old. Had been to local Sunday school. and then followed the procession.
One Sunday, unbeknownst to me, my oldest sister Nell had invited five of them back to tea. She asked Mum to get something in for tea. So she bought one head of celery. So when I went back home I was very surprised to see them all round the table and Nell getting the tea ready. In the middle of the table was a head of celery all cleaned and scrubbed in the glass flower vase.
"Hello" said Florrie Duggan "come and sit here" and squeezed up. "have a bit of celery".
"No" said Nell "it's not for her, she likes bread and jam." Florrie took a piece of celery and put in on my plate with a piece of bread.
I looked at Nell, "You don't like it do you", "Don't be silly" said Florrie "eat it up".
Nell looked all agitated, she had asked Mum to get some celery, but there were eight of us round the table. Mum and Dad were having a Sunday afternoon nap. But poor Nell had counted the sticks of celery, so she went without.
"Was it all right?" asked my Mother. "No" said Nell, "There was not enough celery", "Where did it go?" "Her" said Nell pointing at me, "Alice ate a piece of celery" I should have stayed out longer.
Me at 12 in 1931 at Clacton
When I was about 11, I had my first visit to Alfriston. We stayed with Mr. & Mrs. Marchant in a council house, 8 The Furlongs. We went for long walks over the Downs to Long Man, Cuckmere Haven in Lullington. It was a very happy holiday and when it was announced a visit would take place next year we asked Mrs. Marchant if she could take us. But she had moved in with her mother in a cottage behind the Star Inn. So seven of us stayed in a big house. Mrs. Marchant took us out for picnics. I kept in touch with her and her three daughters. Much to my dismay, she paid a visit one summer while I was away. She thought it would be easy to find our place from London Bridge. By the time she found it they were gasping. I was told later they all had their best straw hats on with bunches of flowers. They had never been to London before. I was sorry. They were only poor agricultural workers and the fare up to London was expensive. When I was thirteen Mary suggested a week at Alfriston. No need to pay fare, go by bike. So Mrs. Marchant recommended a place to us and we made it.
Me at 15 Repairing a Puncture on my Nurses Bike at Alfriston by the Cuckmere River
Lost count of the number of punctures I had and we had to follow the signposts; never bought a map. Had a very good week. Visited Mrs. Marchant. By that time her girls were all going into service at Easbourne. When her mother died they moved to East Dean. I wrote to her there. Then once war was declared I also lost her address but I never forgot Alfriston and never miss at least one visit a year (Sylvia calls this the Pilgrimage).
Last year (1981) we were looking round the churchyard and the first grave in the new part was Alice Marchant died at 60 yrs., Fredrick Marchant dies at 82 yrs. So they stayed in the village and I often wonder if the girls are living locally.
Another holiday was run by the Country Holiday Fund. Always at Dover. I went once when I was about eleven. First of all you had to have a medical in the church hall, Golden Lane. A Doctor went along the line looking for spots. That was all. Was very cheap about 12/- for two weeks.
Seven of us all were taken by Mrs. Tinko; shown our bedroom; was the attic with a division made by wallpaper stuck on a frame. The tiny little window was nailed up open abut six inches. Big enough for us to call out the street to the Scots Guards who were stationed at Dover Castle.
Every morning they marched past and we called out "what you got on under your kilt." Once we were there, there was no supervision. Told if we were in trouble to contact a lady and were given her address. Mrs. Tinko was very easy going. We pulled her place to pieces. She had a piano in her front room. Someone was always on it. When we were in we spent all our time roaming Dover town. Over to Shakespeare Cliffs, sitting on the beach, swimming, just going back for meals and bed. One day Mrs. Tinko was missing all day, still out at 5:00 p.m. When she got in she had had her hair permed (very new then). Said she was sorry. “What did we want for dinner?” We all said “pancakes”. So she got on with it. Of course we soon spent our pocket money and hoped letters from home would have a postal order. We seven were all girls. Two boys who lived underneath us. The Attwoods were in another house with four other boys. So we all used to meet up and roam around. So of course we couldn't all get on the pavement together so one day Willy Attwood slipped off the curb. He sat there and howled. We thought he was making a fuss as usual. He was about nine. Eventually passersby sent for an ambulance and Willy had broken his leg. Siddy Attwood two years older went in with him and the rest of us thought we ought to notify the lady in charge. We tramped all over Dover trying to find her. She then sent for his parents to take Willy home on crutches. When I got home I had a very bad sunburn. There was no supervision at all.
Poor Pinky. Not the least bit pinky but poor. Eldest of about six sisters. Mr. Money sold firewood for a living. Free boxes from the market. He sat at the back gate filling up shopping bags with firewood. As they came out of school they took a bag and knocked on all the doors until dinnertime. They money mainly went on drink not on clothes for the children. Pinky took it well and smiled a lot.
Phoebe was my mate. Both her parents were dead. She and her youngest sister lived with their grandparents. But by then money was paid to foster parents. She was well dressed. But she was born in Birmingham and remembered living in Bourneville. When I went to Technical School at fourteen she came too.
Annie Andrews was one month older than me. I used to wish she came out to play more often. I would knock at her door. "No she can't come out." She was well behaved but came out with some funny things. "You and me she said are peace babies." It was lost on me. I asked my Mum what she meant. "Annie Andrews is too old fashioned," said my Mum. I worked it out years later. It was nine months after the Armistice in 1918 (end of WW1). Unfortunately Annie's Mum was committed to an asylum. They moved.
Being there were 75 flats in our group we had our square to play in; no need to play in the street. There was always someone to play skipping or hopscotch. Scooters or bicycles and skates. These were all available (to rent) at 1d a day.
One day my Dad saw me with them. "Take them off, you'll break your ankles." Took me back to the shop and paid 2/6 for a new pair. He was a good Dad.
Must talk about Pianos. Auntie Mary used to ask me what I wanted for Christmas - always a piano. Small toy pianos were made then about twelve inches long. You could play "Horsie Keep Your Tail Up" and little tunes. When I got bigger and helped Grandma in the evenings at the offices, sometimes we got the bus home or she would say "let's walk home and look at the pianos in Berry's at Finsbury Square. We used to stand and gaze at the lovely black shiny pianos with a big card; only 2/6d a week.
Mum knew how much I wanted a piano. One day when I got home "I have bought a piano" she told me. There was a secondhand stall in Whitecross Street. I think she gave about 30/- for it. It would be in a museum today. Very high back, red silk curtains in front covered with fretwork. I polished it and cleaned the keys with milk to try and whiten them. But I was very pleased with it. Started piano lessons 10d a time. After about a year I grumbled the piano wasn't big enough. It was only six octaves where normal is seven. Eventually it was decided perhaps we could afford 2/6 a week if we all put in. Mum and Nell put 1/-, I put 6d out of my pocket money. So the big day came for Berry's to deliver the new black piano up 72 stairs.
Mum always did things first then told Dad after. It was coming Saturday at dinnertime. I saw the van arrive when who should come along but Dad. We were looking over the banisters at the progress and Dad following behind. Whatever is he going to say; will he send it back. Tell him it's mine said Nell. So the poor removal men had to take in part exchange the old piano and down seventy-two stairs it went. He could see I was so pleased with it and he used to like me to play the old songs. I gave up lessons; could play by ear.
We eventually had it brought over to 181 Crescent Drive, Petts Wood when John was a baby. Had to sell it as there was no room in the maisonnette; just before Sylvia was born. When we moved to 205 Oakdene we bought a second hand piano but once again it was taking up too much room. Dad smashed it up outside. Made a terrible row. I've never stopped wishing I had room for a piano, but we haven't. (I remember this; Dad extracted the lead weights from the keys and took me down to a scrap metal dealer in St. Mary Cray to sell the lead.)
Mum’s School Photograph, she is 3rd child Left Back Row, her Sister Annie is 2nd Left Back Row, both in Identical Dresses (cc 1890)
Mum with her sisters Annie and Margaret
She was born about 1880, 10th March. Her father and mother were Irish descent (Robert Lampard identified Ballymonie, County Cork). The family name was Holland. Her mother's single name was Margaret Hogan. They were quite a well-to-do family. One of Grandma's sisters attended a private school for young ladies in Pitfield Street. She married a dentist. When I was fourteen the school was taken over as a technical school. I attended and had two years training. Grandfather Holland was a master tailor; had his own business and workroom. Orders had to be out on time. When he would rope in the family to help. My Mum always said she was a good presser because of the help she had to give in the workroom. But the flat irons had to be heated on a fire and the sewing was mainly by hand. He trained apprentices and they were mostly Jewish.
Grandma Holland with Auntie Mary (wearing fob watch) and Auntie Nellie at Margate
My Uncles and Aunts, the Hollands: Annie, Jack, Dan, Nellie and Maggie (my Mum Cathrine and Mary are missing)
In later years when we noticed the tailoring business was mainly run by Jews. "Yes" said my Mum, "nearly all trained by your Grandfather when the Irish were tailors".
He (Grandfather Holland) was a very stern man. My Grandma was frightened of him. She had seven living children and had lost some. When she heard his footsteps coming down the workshop stairs, she would say, "shush here's your father." and they would sit upright in their chairs and not speak. Later they had a provision shop and finished their days at Leyton. Two up and two down house outside loo; no gas; no electricity. All the cooking was done on oil stoves and when it got dusk the lamps had to be put on the table. Grandma's eyes got weak. Mum blamed the oil lamps. You could not see to read. But Sundays you could sit in the parlor. This was a very typical Victorian parlor; coal fire, mantle piece covered in china figures and sea shells which I always picked up to hear the sea. Two crystal drops under glass cases; one each end of the mantle piece. On the chiffonnier (sideboard; chest of drawers) a big case of stuffed birds under glass. I did not like that.
In common with many Victorian families the youngest daughter was kept at home to look after the parents. My mother said this was selfish, as Aunt Maggie, who was the youngest, stayed rather simple, not fit to go out and earn her living, which she had to do when both the old people died. All she could do was housework. So near us was Dawson's a big drapers. Many of the assistants lived in, so she worked there doing the bedrooms.
Uncle Jack was the eldest son. He served in the First World War. After the war, he had a position as a bar man in a Pub in Darbyshire. He never married and never drank. When he lost his job he came back to Leyton and just hung about, living on his savings.
Auntie Annie was the eldest. She never married. Went to work at the Empress Club, 35 Dover Street, W1., at fourteen years old. Made her way to head chambermaid at 60 years old. Mum was upset when she died. She was just due for retirement.
Mum was the next eldest. Then Jack, then Auntie Mary at Downe, Kent. She married Ted and set up home in Chesterfield. He worked in the coalmines. He had been gassed during the first world war so could only do surface work. During the depression he lost his job and they came south to Leyton where they all squeezed in until he got a job at Downe House; home of Darwin, now a museum. After Aunt Mary died; she was about fifty-four ears old, he remarried and moved to Bath.
Aunt Nellie was next. She went into service with Auntie Annie. Backing on to the Empress Club (a women’s club at 35 Dover Street where she worked and where a woman hanged herself in 1929) was the Bath Club in Piccadilly. Uncle Billy (William Partridge), who she married, worked there as an engineer. He had been in the Navy and had a good job there. They eventually moved to Pinner. Auntie Maggie was the youngest.
Born 1860, 10th January, Finsbury (I think)
Unfortunately Dad did not talk a lot about his parents. He always said he went to the Ragged School, which was free, otherwise children paid 1d a week. He once remarked that on washdays a big pot of rice was on the hob (a flat metal shelf at the side or back of a fireplace, having its surface level with the top of the grate and used esp. for heating pans). Plain boiled rice. They helped themselves while his mother got on with the family wash. Two of his brothers were still alive when I was a child. One brother Walter, married with a family, lived at Walthamstone. We only saw him at their brother Charles' funeral. When I was about ten, I had my hair different, he said to Mum "doesn't she look like my sister Annie." But I don't know if he had anymore family. I wish I had asked more questions. I know he served in the South African Boar War. His army pay book was in a drawer, which we went through when he died.
This was discarded as rubbish. I now wish I had it as a record. His first wife was Mary Brooks. They never had any children. She was Aunt to Auntie Mary Brooks. When Auntie Mary's parent died leaving three children, Mary, Lizzie and Jack, they took in Mary and Lizzie but Jack went to Barnardo's Homes.
Dad was a very strict father to them. He was a teetotaler for many years and used to take the girls to Saddlers Wells Ballet in Shaftsbury Avenue. They used to see magic lantern shows at the Leyton Mission but he was always waiting outside when they came out. One big thing I remember Auntie Mary telling me was that when her Aunt Mary was ill (his first wife) there was no such as an ambulance, so he got a costermongers barrow, wrapped her up in blankets and walked her to Highgate Hospital. This must be eight to ten miles. He worked forty-seven years at Three Cranes wharf, upper Thames Street. It was a tea and coffee warehouse.
The coffee came in raw. A team of women was employed as coffee pickers. They stood and picked out the bad beans. He was in charge of the coffee pickers. He always walked to and from work. First thing he would say to me on sitting down was "take my boots off". I would unlace his boots, tip them up and out would fall coffee beans. He would give a big sigh of relief. I don't know why he did not empty his boots before walking home. Then he would have his tea, Fish or dinner. I would bring in the evening paper with the shopping. Then he would look to see how his horses had run which he had backed dinnertime. Then he would have a good old swear. Then we knew his horse had lost. But, straight away after tea he would get a scrap of paper and write another bet. Sometimes he would get fed up and say to me, you pick one. He always signed his bets Alice XX because street betting was illegal. If he had a win he would slide up to the bookie and say Alice XX then he would pay him out.
This was his only recreation and smoking his pipe. When films came along, he never went. He had never seen a film when he died which was before television. Even radios were not around till I was about eight years old. George made a radio called a cat's whisker and earphones. Our main source of music was gramophone records or the piano. People used to go round public houses playing at the door, playing concertinas and a dulcimer, which I think was very much like a zither. The most heard of instrument was the barrel organ.
To go back to Dad. His first wife died and when he married Mum, Auntie Mary and Auntie Alice who had moved in with him because her mother died got themselves a bed sit in Islington. Although at times I though he was a difficult man, he had his good points. Looking after those girls at his own expense. No allowances given then if you fostered children. So to Mary, Alice and Lizzie he was their Uncle Bob. All the neighbours called him Uncle Bob back in Dufferin Street and all over Peabodys. Dad's first wife had cousins living off City Road, Number five Peerless Street. Morefields Eye Hospital is on the corner. Tiny terrace houses, outside toilet, no bath, two rooms downstairs, one living room and a scullery. Upstairs front room one bedroom, on the second floor, two bedrooms. Here lived Aunt Nora Duggan who had been left a widow with ten children. Kate, Lizzie, Rose, Winnie, Florrie, Nell, Lou, Maggie, Nora, Jack Murt Mutuck was an Irish name called Murt for short. He died young. All the rest of them including Nora's son Tommy Reagan. Nora was widowed in the 1918 war. Where they all slept I don't know.
They were of Irish descent and practicing Catholics. Often used to meet one or the other going to mass. They made lots of friends at the church and there was always a crowd of people there. They loved parties. Nora had a piano in the first floor front. Winnie had a fine voice and every Christmas they had a party. It was the highlight of the holiday for us. Eventually Kate, Lizzie, Rose and Maggie got married and they all chose Christmas for their weddings. I don't think you get married on Boxing Day nowadays. Table full of food downstairs, piano and dancing upstairs. We never forgot when Rose got married on Boxing Day. Upstairs it was Knees Up Mother Brown and super being laid down stairs. Suddenly the floorboards gave way and made a hole through to downstairs but they did not worry, just passed the food through the ceiling.
Not rowdy parties. No beer. Some sherry and port. Everyone had to take a turn and sing with the piano. Dad was still Uncle Bob to all these girls and their mother used to say, "I'll tell uncle Bob if you don't behave." Eventually the family split up but not until just before the war. Winnie went in a convent. Jack and Lon died. When Nora saw Auntie Mary's bed sit at Holloway, she got herself one. Florrie and Nell shared a flat in Finsbury. Nora's Tommy married so it was never the same. But as a child we had some good parties with them. Just as well because we never had a party, not until Mary was twenty-one and told Mum she would like to have some friends to tea. This went off very well. After tea we all went to a show up the West End.
Mum got married at about twenty years old to Arthur Carr. She had six children. Arthur, the eldest; Kathleen died about 1 year old; Nell Ellen Johanna; George Albert, later at Polegate, Margaret died at 30 years old. Louisa died in 1979 at 66 years old.
Her (Mum's) husband died at 40 years old from TB. when Lou was six months. This was at a time before widows pension was paid. They had a terrible hard time. When she asked for help; called relief, she was told to put the two youngest in a Residential Home and go out to work. This she did, although it could not have been easy to part with them. I've never heard of any help offered by his (Arthur's) family and my mother lost touch with them.
Nell was looked after for a while by Grandma's sister Nellie and Paddy. They were childless but I think Mum needed her to help look after the younger ones. It was soon discovered that Arthur had TB so Mum had her hands full. She often spoke of a job she got at the Old Bailey working for the Australian Red Cross during the first world war. When they packed up they wanted her to go back with them. She often said she wished she had taken her chances and gone.
When Mum met Dad he was living at 5L Dufferin Street. He was a widower, no children but Mary and Lizzie Brooks, his niece and her friend Alice Simmons. His first wife was Mary's mother's sister. Granny Brooks lived next door in 6L. I think she kept eye on them. But after her death the two girls lived with Dad. He brought them up with no allowance from the parish. This Auntie Mary was grateful for all her life and was a good help to us when we were growing up. Lizzie was younger and got married and this left Mary and Alice at home with Dad until the time he remarried. When they moved in with him, Mary and Alice found themselves a bed sit in Islington.
Mary was born 18 May 1917. I was born 27th July 1919. Dad made a great fuss of us because he had not had any children by his first wife. By this time he was in his fifties.
Me and sister Mary
When I was about ten Dad’s Wharf was burnt down and he was coming up to personable age. He never worked again. Mum stuck at her work knowing that at sixty she would get a pension from the Drapers Co. She always had bronchitis, caused I think from the ashes of the fires she had to clear out in the offices and of course the London smogs.
When I look back, I see what a hard job it was. The evening work was cleaning up all the mess made in the offices during the day. Huge waste paper baskets with ticker tape (all stockbrokers offices) to be emptied; fires to be cleared out when cool. Re-laid with paper wood and coal for the morning. Sweep up, brush the carpets by hand in the private rooms. Next morning get the fires lit on three different floors; dust the desks. She used to curse when the fires would not burn up. The staff looked forward to a nice fire when they got in. All the office floors were covered in Lino and had to be cleaned on your knees, after going down to the basement for hot water. Lavatories and basins, washed every day.
I know it is better today. When Nan Rogers, (Dave’s bother) Bill's wife did it she spoke about vacuum cleaners, scrubbing machines, central heating, lifts to all floors. But people were glad of those jobs then, it brought in one pound to 1.25 a week. Eventually, we were all at work. Not Dad. Things should have improved but in the early days she got in the hands of money lenders and never got out of it till the second world war when everyone seemed to drift away. Dad lived to 89 years old but was unwell for the last few years with an ulcer on his mouth which would not heal. He went in Bart's for treatment. First time he had been in Hospital to our knowledge. Mum got worried in case he swore at the nurses. He died at home. One year later Mum discovered she had breast cancer. She was seventy years old. She had an operation at Bart's and Nell and Chis thought it wise of her to go and live with them. Both her sisters Annie and Maggie had died within a year of their operations. But Mum lived to be eighty two year old; then she bronchitis.
I clearly remember George (brother) making a crystal set with ear phones. He put them under an enamel basin and we could all hear the music. Then he built a radio. Had to keep the accumulators (batteries) charged. This was my job. Used to go with the gang to the Saturday morning silent movies. Mostly cowboys and horror films or Mickey Mouse and Laurel & Hardy, etc. Nell took me to see my first talking picture. Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm. When it was all over I was the only one who clapped.
When the Old Street Tube Station was redesigned in 1929, we went over special to see the escalators.
Redesigned Old Street Tube Station, 1929
Very few people owned a private car. If we saw an aeroplane we all stood and stared. When the first ladies permanent wave came in it was a big contraption, baking your hair. Electricity was brought into more homes, lighting and cookers. Nylon stockings came in just before the war. Only after the war were washing machines, Televisions, refrigerators, etc., brought into the homes
Poor Aunt Carty. She was poor, she lived at Shepherdess Walk Workhouse. These poor unfortunates were recognizable by their dress. When they were first admitted, any long hair was cut short to help keep it clean. To go out, they had a black bonnet and cape. Aunt Carty was Grandmother Holland’s sister. Her husband had died, his name was McCarthy. They had one son Steven killed in the Boer war. This left her destitute. My mother always said as Stevens dependent, she should have had a pension. No widows pension either.
So as a child, I used to hate to see her waiting at the school gate dinnertime. Of course my Mother shared our dinner with her. We probably had a little money but my Mum would give her something. When we were out shopping at Hoxton, my Mum would say “Look she’s out of the workhouse” and go over and give her sixpence.
Eventually she died. My Mum was notified and the funeral was arranged by the parish, they said she could go. When she got back, she was thrilled. She had a ride in a big black car, but she was the only mourner.
When I was 14, my Mum suggested I go to Technical Institute for 2 years learning upholstery. I made lots of new friends as they came from all districts. I was taught curtain making, and all soft furnishings, use of the machine, and hand and machine embroidery. Still had a general education, History, Art, English and a well-equipped gym. We also went swimming once a week in our dinner hour. Had tennis lessons in second year.
Mum at 54
I got various jobs in the city. All down quilts, cushions and bedspreads. One job I got was further away. But I still got home for dinner on my bike. One lunch time I was following a lorry, another lorry coming in the opposite direction wanted to turn right behind the lorry . He did not see me on my bike. He hit me on my right side, mainly my face and shoulder. They put the bike on the lorry and took me home. I did not feel too bad and it looked as if the only damage to the bike was a smashed lamp. Eventually their insurance had to pay for new front forks. I went to Bart's hospital to have my shoulder X-rayed. The side of my face was bruised. Once I got my bike back, I thought no more about it. I was about 17. So I often wonder did this damage my ear. A few months later I had a severe attack of vertigo and sickness. We called it a bilious attack. Then I kept alright until 1941-2 when it became regular.
When I was about fifteen years old, I saved up my money to buy a bike. Mary went out every weekend with a camping and cycling club. Went down Petticoat Lane for 15/-. I got a sit up and beg bike (not a sports model). I called it a nurse's bike. From then on I gave up Sunday School and went camping with Mary.
The campground was at Waltham Abbey. We took all our food for Sunday dinner with us and cooked it over Primus stoves. No camp beds, just a ground sheet and blankets. Grandma used to grumble we were never in to Sunday dinner. There was a stream running through the camp and we swam and sat around the campfire Saturday evenings singing. I had a mouth organ. The worst thing was the toilets. Phew. The club also ran races. I had to look for a better bike. One of the boys sold me his crossbar bike, which had a small frame. Mary and I entered. The distance for the ladies was ten miles. Sometimes we rode all night to the coast with the club. This was how Mary met Peter. He was captain of the club. We were always out on our bikes. Club night was Tuesdays. Camping, Easter to September. Club runs were on Sundays. We all met at nine a.m., took sandwiches for lunch; visited all the country villages within reach. Then set tea, booked at tea rooms for 1/3d; then home. We were terribly tired Monday mornings.
Me (almost 16) with Nell (29) at my brother George’s Wedding to Rose July 1935
Eventually I struck out on my own and joined S.E. section of the National Cyclist Union. This was where I met Dave. Walter Fryer (my Uncle Chis) was captain. I sold my bike and we bought a tandem. Have many snaps of us out on the tandem. We were booked to go to the Peak district one weekend, but war was declared. 1939.
When I got engaged at twenty, we never had a party. But Mum and Dad had not met Mr. & Mrs. Rogers (Dave’s parents). So they both came over and they all went out for a drink. Nell had met Fran (Dave's sister) as she made some dresses for her.
1940 August 10 we were married. We held the wedding reception for 10th August 1940 at Dave's home in Marcia Road on the first floor front room belonging to Mrs. Resa, who lived upstairs. We could still order a wedding cake although the war had been on for one year. All I remember was I went over to make the jellies the night before August 10th and was worried about them setting. After the ceremony, we got in the car to go to the photographers and the first thing I said to Dave was "did the jellies set?" The wedding cake was three horseshoes and I put the top layer away. We were able to eat it when John was christened in 1943.
Wedding 10th August 1940
Wedding Picture: Nell, Mary, Dave, Me, Fran Rogers,
George and Don Rogers are in Back Row
To make room for the tandem in an upstairs flat we took it to pieces. We moved to Petts Wood in April 1942. John was born 22 May 1943. Grandma Rogers (Dave’s Mum) was living at New Malden, Surrey so we put the tandem together and visited her. The war was still on and not much chance to use the tandem. Nell and Chis said they would like it. So they had a few years enjoyment with it. Dave had a single bike, which he used to cycle to the Fire Station. It was a long haul to Surrey Docks but it saved fares. Eventually he got moved nearer home. Finishing up at Orpington.
George Frederick Rogers (Dave’s Dad) was borne 26th June 1881 to George Rogers and Harriet ? He had at least two brothers (James and Henry) and two sisters (Sarah and Emily).
George Frederick Rogers at 17 (1898)
It was only after I saw him (Mr. Rogers) with an envelope addressed to Dr. Barnado’s Home that he told me every year he sent a postal order to the home because they looked after his brothers and sisters after their parents died. So possibly the youngest were taken into care and those able to fend for themselves tried to keep the home going. I know he had at least two sisters, Aunt Sarah: Dave and I visited at North London. One brother lived at Clarkenwell, so they saw quite a lot of him Uncle Harry. So when you see the photo of Mr. Rogers age 17 and in uniform. It was common for lads like him to join the Army. He attempted to serve in the Boer War but on the troop ship was found to be too young and stayed on the ship to India where he performed bubonic plague duty in Poonah (Poona). When he came out he drove the early lorries (trucks) for meat deliveries from Smithfield meat market.
He married Francis Mary Anson (Hanson?) in 1907 (?) she was born in Poplar, London 28th August 1886. Her parents were Richard Anson (lighterman) and Susan Best.
Mr. and Mrs. Rogers August 1924
They started a family:
Dave 20th November 1911 (birth recorded November 27th)
Francis Matilda 1917 the only girl
Don 1922/3 called up at 18 into RAF. Served in Calcutta. Originally lived in Kingston where he met and married Iris.
Dave’s birth certificate gives Holborn as their district, they lived around the SE Old Kent Road area. Their friends at this time were Mr. and Mrs. Farrant. So when the first World War was declared in 1914, unbeknown to either of their wives, they both joined up. This caused some hardship. Army pay was very poor, apart from the shock, and to make things worse, they thought they would stay together, but they were sent to different regiments. They both got sent to France and Mr. Rogers was under heavy gunfire, also he developed pneumonia so he was hospitalized. During that time it was noticed that he was deaf, put down to the noise of the gunfire. So he was medically discharged and came home.
Mr. Rogers (left) and longtime friend Jack Farrant
This entitled him to either a pension or a lump sum. He took the money and bought a horse and cart and a stable off the Old Kent Road. Dave used to point it out to me, when as a boy, they had to visit the stable. He wanted to do deliveries, but as often happened, the horse died soon after he bought it.
I don’t know what year Mr. Rogers got work as a porter at Smithfield Meat Market. It was very heavy work carrying carcasses on their shoulder from lorry to market. But it was a lift up for them. This eventually helped Mr. Rogers get a job in the office of meat salesmen.
Bill was a porter and Mr. Rogers got Dave a job in the office doing accounts. So things at home were more comfortable. When I met Dave they were living at 15 Marcia Road. George was already married. Don was soon leaving school.
Firemen tackling a blaze at the Surrey Docks
Then the 1939 war was declared. This shut down the market. Dave joined the AFS (Auxiliary Fire Service) and Bill and George moved to depots setup outside London to handle what meat there was. Bill was sent to the Kingston-on-Thames depot. The bombing was very bad and Bill and Nan, his wife, said let’s share a house at Kingston where it’s quieter. They did this and Mr. Rogers looked for work. He got a job in a factory. I was staying with them a few days during the war when there was a knock on the front door. In came a big Australian soldier with his typical Australian hat.
This was Mr. Rogers brother’s son who was sent to Australia by Barnado’s So Mrs. Rogers said Uncle George is at work. So Fran and I took him round to the factory and Mr. Rogers came out and spoke to him.
I never new one brother was in Australia or how they had the new address. He must have kept in touch with him.
After the war the Rogers all came back to London. Dave joined the (LFB) London Fire Brigade and never returned to the Smithfied Meat Market.
Eventually, through the help of Tom Farmer (Fran’s husband) Mr. and Mrs. Rogers got a small house in Lewisham. It was very handy, near the shops. Deafness was a handicap for him and Mrs. Rogers the same. He died at 88 in 1969. Eventually Mrs. Rogers went into a retirement home where we visited quite often. She was 89 when she died in 1975. She was a very nice woman. I always got on well with her.
The Duggans were nieces of my Dad's first wife, they lived at 6 Pearless St EC1.
Parents: Nora and Murtch (Mutuck, Murt?) Duggan (Irish).
10 Children (nee Duggan):
Honnora Regan (Nora, 1st war widow, had son Tommy Regan)
Kate (married Tom Spencer
Liz married Reg, insurance clerk
Nell (crippled, iron foot)
Maggie (married Jack Hogan, had 5 children)
Jack (poor health, died about 30)
Rose (married Sennett had 4 children)
Winnie (convent nun, singer)
Florrie (single, dressmaker)
Lou (had fits)
A year before declaration, war was expected. Chamberlain the PM, came back from Hitler with a Peace Pact.
We had been issued with gas masks in a cardboard box, which hung over your shoulder. But no shelters had been built. On the Sunday morning, over the radio, came the message "We are at war with Germany" because they had invaded Belgium. We were all at home and the sirens went and took us all surprised. We all went downstairs. Someone told us to go to the basement of De La Rue factory.
1869 - 1940
PM 1937 - 1940
Star Works, De La Rue factory, Bunhill Row
Destroyed in Blitz 3rd September 1939
We did not know whether to put on our gas masks. Soon the all-clear siren went. So we went home and wondered what was before us. People started going to the Underground Stations. It seems the first alarm was a mistake. Actually, things were quiet for a while. Meanwhile, conscription went ahead, all 18 years old males (females were called up later) but volunteer females were wanted for nursing or forces.
Dave was already in the Fire Service. Soon shelters had to be provided for everyone. Behind us a big playground was made into an underground shelter, lots of bays with a bench all round the walls, no toilets or water.
Rationing soon started. We knew ships would be bombed as they brought in supplies. People with gardens grew vegetables and chickens. Milk, butter, sugar, cheese, tea, coffee, eggs, bread came later, fish was short and then clothing coupons.
As things got tighter, only pregnant Mums and babies got an egg ration and bigger milk ration. The public only got ½ pint milk 6 days a week. Meat was tight 4p per person per week. Naturally, the more books you had, it made it a bit easier. Or line up when you heard fish might be in, or oranges. No bananas for anyone.
Smithfield meat market closed immediately. Dave enrolled at Surry Docks Fire Station. Meat depots were set up on the outskirts of London, for men over 30 years. So Dave signed up with his next-door neighbour.
He was 24 hours off, 48 hours on. We still went ahead with our plans to get engaged on my birthday 27th July, 1939. My Mum said buy as much as you can, things will get short. Luckily Dave had saved up while working as a salesman at Smithfield (Meat Market), he got a wage and a commission on sales.
So we had already seen the dining suite (my sideboard) we liked. So at Houndsditch Warehouse we bought a bedroom suite, dining suite, blankets, and they agreed to put them in storage for a year.
Dave at Smithfield Meat Market
We had to rely on the radio for any news of how the war was progressing. Sometimes they would say how many of our aircraft were missing, or how many we had shot down. Different towns over the country were targeted, air fields, goods yards, munitions factories. Incendiaries were dropped all over the place, so all factories had to arrange fire watching duties. They stood on the roof and used stirrup pumps to put the incendiaries out. This was a bit tiring for staff who had worked all day and took their turn fire watching.
At the same time, people went about their business just the same. Many on war work. My sister Mary was engaged to Peter Lampard in 1939. He got sent to Cheltenham by Smiths Industries to do war work. Gradually more and more people were conscripted. School children were evacuated to the country. My brother George didn't pass his medical, but he was a volunteer fireman and put in a lot of hours at his local station at Brockley.
When we got married August 10th 1940 things were very short, but managed very well. We rented a flat in East Dulwich, which had a bathroom. One day we left the taps running to fill the bath up to deal with the incendiaries, but the bath never had an overflow. The couple below came running up, their kitchen was soaked. It taught us a lesion.
We had only been married two weeks when the raids were every day. Following the Thames by moonlight, the bombers made their way to London and the docks. Next to the fire station in Surry Docks was a big oil company called Dix's. Huge big containers were on the riverside. It was said that if ever Dix's got bombed the fire station would go with it.
After our wedding, I still had to get work. I was at an embroiderers off Whitecross Street where we made Army badges.
Night-time raid on the Surrey Commercial Docks
Fires in the docks, seen from the Upper Pool
On 7 September 1940 hundreds of planes targeted London's waterfront. Bombs set the Surrey Docks and the thriving businesses along them on fire. The fire service had anticipated major fires when the Germans attacked but were stunned by what they saw. Gerry Knight, a Station Officer sent this message to the alarm office, 'Send all the bloody pumps you've got … The whole bloody world's on fire!' Thousands of Auxiliary Fire-fighters joined the London Brigade to battle the flames.
The message reached HQ that Dix's had gone up. So they had to notify relatives. Our new address had not been changed so a messenger was sent to Dave's parents and told them he was missing believed killed. Mr. (George) Rogers went to our flat. Mrs. Verril the landlady said I was at work to he made his way to my Mum's and told her the news. She wasn't sure where I worked, but said I would be in dinnertime 1 PM. Mr. Rogers went home. Dave walks in the front door, "I thought you was dead" said his Mum. "Luckily we were called out to a fire when the station went up" he said. He made his way back to my Mum. She said I would be in soon "Go and lay on my bed". Soon as I got home my Mum told me all. I went and looked at him. Dirty, unshaven, but would not wake him. I went back to work and broke down when I told the girls about it. We both went back to the flat and of course Mrs. Verril had a shock.
The house was damage one night when barrage balloon broke free. Hanging from those balloons were long iron cables to try and stop the aircraft flying low. As it blew all along the roof tops it knocked off chimneys and slates.
We didn't care for it there (Dulwich) so we asked Lena (Dave's brother George's wife) to look for a house to rent in Petts Wood. Houses became vacant after bomb damage was repaired. We went to see 181 Crescent Drive, Petts Wood. The rent was 1 pound plus pay the rates 7/6 per week. This was a lot out of 4 pound but it was worth it. Dave still had a long ride on his bike to London, so he tried hard to get a transfer to the Kent Fire Brigade. Eventually he got to Orpington High Street.
The house owners lived at 6 Kenilworth and came every Monday morning for the rent. All the neighbours were friendly: Mrs. Williamson at 179, Mrs. White at 183, Mrs. Hart at 185 and Mrs. Porter at 187 who was to be a very good friend to me.
The first summer I had a severe attack of vertigo and sickness. Mrs. Porter saw me being brought back from the shops by two ladies in the next road. From that time she kept an eye on me as she new Dave was on night shifts. We had an indoor shelter put up in the front room. It was like a big iron table. You put a mattress underneath and crawled in.
The biggest loss was one Sunday lunchtime. The Crooked Billet pub caught a direct hit. It was full of people; a lady in Crescent Drive, mother of three children was killed. Biggan Hill Aerodrome was not too far away. They had many raids and Mum's sister Mary lost her home and was given an old cottage at Downe Kent.
Once I was pregnant in 1942, I attended Farnborough Hospital; they also gave me tablets for my attacks. When my labour started, Mrs. Porter knew a neighbour with a telephone and rung up for me. John was born 22nd May, Saturday evening 6lb 13 oz. Although Dave was waiting he never got to see him till Sunday visiting. I was in hospital for 10 days which I think is very good for the Mothers.
John at 6 months at 181 Crescent Drive, Petts Wood
Mrs. White had Christine 6 months later and Mrs. Hart had Margaret 9 months after John. It was she who led John into the shed while out in the garden playing and saw on the bench a tin of creosote and a brush. That evening, John who was about 15 months, was sick and reaching all night. Mrs. Porter came in and said "I'll get a drop of brandy, that will settle his stomach". Then we noticed a ring of blisters around his mouth. "He's been burnt" she said, "it's that minx Margaret done this". Taught us a lesson not to leave paint about opened. Dave decided to keep chickens, which did lay very well, and could help Mrs. Porter out with eggs.
Peace was declared in 1945 so people in the forces were being demobbed. The owners of our house wanted it back. As they offered us alternative accommodation at 6 Kenilworth Road, we could not refuse. It was a two-bed maisonette, not to bad with one child. We soon made friends and it was near the shops.
Eventually Dave got stationed to Orpington Fire Station among the (High Street) shops. So when we went shopping we could have a chat on the front. A new Fire Station was built off the High Street (Court Road?) so we used to go to the events they held.
After the war a lump sum was given to them (the firemen) to do with their pension. Dave already had a motor bike (a Francis Barnet) and he had been taught to drive in the Fire Service.
On September 30th 1947 Sylvia was born 6 lb 12 oz. While I was in hospital, the doctor asked me if I had ever seen an ENT specialist. An appointment was made and he said that he would stop the giddy attacks. I went in the first Sunday after Christmas. I took Sylvia in with me as I was still breast-feeding. Arrangements were made to take John in the Gorse, a big house on Chislehurst for children whose mothers were in hospital.
Me and baby Sylvia at 6 Kenilworth Drive, Petts Wood
I was in hospital five weeks, John was four but he remembered the Gorse and Dr. Ledger was very kind to him. It was a slow recovery; I had to learn to manage with one balance instead of two. At the same time he removed my hearing, but I have managed very well on one ear. Today's doctors say it was very drastic of him to remove my hearing. It is now known as Ménière’s disease, a disorder of the inner ear.
After the war things were returning to normal. The Germans had occupied the Channel Islands off the coast of France. Now they were liberated and were reorganizing services. Dave had always talked about Jersey. He had been there with his mates just before I met him, and hoped we could go there for our honeymoon. This of course was not to be. About 1948 he came home and said there were vacancies in Jersey. They were forming a new Fire Service. "Can we take our furniture?" I asked. He said "No". I could not part from our sideboard. I had loved it from the moment I saw it in the shop window, and still love it. So the answer was no.
Eventually we did have a holiday in Jersey, by then you could fly. Before it was ferryboat only. Jersey is a very sought after place to live now because they have a low tax rate there.
I was pregnant with Peter, we were going to be very cramped with three children. We already had our name down for a (council) house, so we asked Miss Chapman the landlord to give us notice to go.
Four weeks before Peter was born, Orpington Council offered us 205 Oakdene Road. We soon moved and Peter was born. September 1st 1951 weighing 7lb. There was a lot of work to do – mainly the gardens, they were as the builders left them. First thing Dave did was to put down slabs so I could put the pram outside.
Me with baby Peter, 205 Oakdene Road, Orpington
Mrs. Porter came to see the new baby and said they were moving to Cornwall (Cawsand, a small village overlooking Plymouth Sound). But we kept in touch. Sadly she died a few weeks short of her 100th birthday. I still heard from Joan Porter, her daughter until 2003, the first year we never received a Christmas card. Looking back to 1942, Joan had started work so she could be in her late 70s. I assume she has died.
John wanted to join the cubs. So I made enquiries and they were held at the (Poverest Road) Baptist Church. So he joined. A few weeks later he had scarlet fever and was sent to an isolation hospital in Bromley. Naturally we thought he would be away for two weeks.
A health inspector visited us and told us there were other cases in the road. Two of them were the boys I had asked about cubs. We kept ringing up and asking when he was coming home. They kept postponing the date. Christmas passed and kept the tree and the presents back. We could write and he wrote one or two letters. Eventually he came home at Easter, four months later.
We held our Christmas and had balloons. John blew one up and passed it to Sylvia. At the same time I think he also gave her scarlet fever. So the doctor came and said she would have to go away and John as obviously he was a carrier.
When the ambulance came, I asked if John had to go and they said no, he would never get clear of it in that atmosphere. The school doctor said he needed lots of fresh air to clear the system. Luckily Sylvia was soon home. Peter was 3 months old and breast fed and unlikely to catch it.
By the time John was passed fit for school he had lost 9 months schooling. This of course put him back. He did a lot better when he changed schools (from Crofton Lane to Poverest Road junior school).
John, Robert Lampard, Susan Lampard, Sylvia, my sister Mary and Peter, Sudeley Castle, Winchcombe, 1953(?)
Sylvia Outside Dinkie Doo
Family on tricycle at Dinkie Doo
One holiday we used the train to go to Dinkie Doo. This was a converted railway carriage home located near Bornemouth. Peter was about 3, Sylvia 7 and John 11. The homes were in a big field where the children could play with living rooms in the front of the carriages which we only slept in. But it was on a cliff top where erosion was rife and our steps down to the beach fell in. So we had to go in the next field and use their steps. (I have several memories of Dinkie Doo, one was finding a Victorian farthing on a window shelf and Dad seeing me eye it say it was a test to see how honest we were. There was also an eclipse of the sun while we were there and full size tricycles for rent.)
John in new Woolwich Polytechnic School uniform, Peter and Sylvia.
It was about this time I needed an operation to tidy up after Peter's birth. So arrangements had to be made for the children for five weeks. Eventually my sister Mary said she would look after them. Although Cheltenham (Bishops Cleeve) is quite a way away, train fares and keep had to be paid and 6 children (Mary had Jacqueline, Robert and Susan) for Mary to care for. But it is wonderful countryside and John roamed the hills with Robert, Cleeve Hill being the highest point in the Cotswolds.
I began to look for work, first at Christmas at Tip Top Bakeries putting marzipan on Christmas cakes, or on the belt putting the tops on minces pies. One Christmas I worked in Woolworth's behind the counter which was quite an experience. Then I got a summer job at the Examinations department of the Royal Society of Arts checking papers to markers. I also worked at the Wool Shop in Petts Wood afternoons.
I was always in close contact with Mary my sister two years older than me. We both had three children and lots to talk about. We had holidays with her in Cheltenham and they came here. Mary had not been that year and the doctors did not help much. She complained of backache and fell off a ladder at work. They came to us Christmas 1956 but she was having to watch what she ate. During the year, letters mentioned how she was having heavy night sweats. Eventually the doctor sent her to hospital. We didn't really know what was wrong, although it was mentioned that they removed one kidney.
From then on she went downhill. When Dave and I visited one Sunday, (her husband) Pete was waiting outside. We couldn't see her as she had an emergency operation. Eventually we saw her, she was very ill. Next we heard she was being transferred to Bristol Hospital, there they tried operating again. Dave and I got a train to Bristol; this was January 1958 and saw her. I had a chat with the Sister and she said my mother should visit and see her. My sister Nell and Mum were looking after my 3. When we told them they visited the next day. Very sadly she died a few days later. Such a tragic loss to us all.
Me with Sylvia on my scooter (Oakdene Road)
In 1960 I passed my test on a Vesper at 40 and bought a second scooter. We had lots of trips out (Dave had a Lambretta). When John was old enough to drive he bought one.
When I got my job in Ministry of Defense I was able to use the scooter for work. While I was at Blackbrook Lane I passed my test for a car license. It was Christmas week and I took the girls down to the Crooked Billet (pub) for Christmas lunch.
Then we had our first car a Ford Popular around 1962. It was awful in the dark, the headlights were so weak. Eventually we got a better car (a Mini?)
Had a holiday most years. By the time he was 17 John had a scooter and we booked a caravan near Weymouth. It was a let down, it should have slept five but one bed was a piece of board slipped between two beds. John got fed up and said he was going to visit Mrs. Porter in Cornwall, and off he went. He got there but the poor scooter needed work (the drive shaft broke). Luckily Mr. Porter knew a blacksmith who mended it and got him back on the road.
Soon after he had a motorbike (a Norton 350, I also had a BSA 250 for a short time) and then his first motor (a Standard 10 followed by a Jaguar Mark II Salon).
George and Lena’s Daughter’s Wedding 1960?
John, Me, Mrs. Rogers, Fran and Tom Farmer, Dave behind them.
Dave retired from the Fire Service when he was 53. He worked in an insurance company in Bromley in the post room. We knew new offices were being built at St. Mary Cray station. Dave got an interview with DTI (Department of Trade and Industry) at Holborn London. He got a letter to say he could start as a clerical officer at SMC. His section was the patent office, which is very interesting, work as you are cataloging people's inventions.
So I wanted to get into the Civil Service, saw an advert for staff for MOD (Ministry of Defense), which would be moving to Bickley Kent. I got the job; you were called 'temporary' unless you passed the Civil Service Exam. This makes you 'permanent' and entitled to a pension. So I sat that and passed well. So talked Dave into taking it, and he passed. By this time I wanted my car license. So had to pass that which I am glad to say I did first time, and for starters bought a Fiat 500 to take me to work.
I had a hysterectomy operation in 1966 and saw an advert for a Fiat 500. The first thing I did on getting home from convalescent Home was go and see it. I had good service from it for nine years. I sold it when Dave retired, as we could not keep two cars. I always feel I have been on the road most of my life. Looking back at things, which have been invented since I was born.
Dave retired from the Civil Service (CS) when he was 65 for his OAP (Old Age Pension). I left at the same time, but had to wait until I was 60 for my OAP and CS pension. So with the various pensions coming in, we do quite well.
Cutting the 50th Anniversary Cake
50th Anniversary Group Picture, Backyard 205 Oakdene Road
Front Row: Edward Carr (Georges’s son); John; Rose (George’s wife); Dave (Maggie’s son); Me and David. Second Row: Chis (Nell’s husband); Sylvia; Maggie (Peter’s first wife); Fran (Dave’s sister); Tom (Fran’s husband); and Brenda (Dave’s niece). Back Row: Vince; Jason; Peter; and John (Brenda’s husband).
Jason’s Wedding to Lori, Markham, Ontario, Canada
My 80th Birthday Cake, Rockwood, Ontario, Canada
Cheers! Jessica and Me
80th Birthday Group Picture
Front: Wade and Emilee. First Row: Kimberley; Daine; Lori (holding Jessica); Jason; Me; Sylvia; Jane; and John. Back Row: Vince; and Jason (holding David).
Replace with picture with Mum included
Replace with group picture with Peter and Carole included
I am still living here at 205 Oakdene being looked after wonderfully by Sylvia, for which I am truly grateful. Still enjoy the garden and knitting, read the papers, do the crosswords. Can learn a lot from TV documentaries.
We keep in constant touch with Peter and Carole and Jane and John and their family. I only wish I felt well enough to travel to Canada once more. But I cannot see it happening. Will look forward to who ever can visit in 2009 for my 90th birthday.
This was never intended to be a life story. I thought my childhood was so different to today's family life and wanted to put it down.
John Holland (b1830)
Johanna (b831), Ballymonie, Cork, Ireland
Daniel Holland (b1852)
Margaret Holland (b1853)
Jane Holland (b1861)
Daniel Holland (b1852)
Margaret Holland (b1853)
Married 1876 Lambeth, London
Johanna (Annie) Holland (b1878)
Cathrine Holland (1879-1962) my Mother (see note)
Daniel Holland (b1881)
Jack (John) Holland (b1883)
Margaret Holland (1888-1945)
Mary Ann Holland (b1889)
Dennis Holland (b1891)
Ellen Holland (b1893)
Robert Watts (b1836)
Mary Brinn (1838-1884)
Robert Watts (1860-1949) my Father
Alice Watts (b1862)
Walter Watts (b1873)
Charles Watts (b1875)
Emma Watts (b1877)
Arthur Carr (1860-1949)
Cathrine Holland (1879-1962) my Mother (see note)
Arthur Carr (1898-1909)
Catherine Carr (b1903)
Ellen (Nell) Joanna Carr (1905-) married Walter (Chis) Fryer 1943
George Albert Carr (b1909) married Rosalind (Rose) Smith 1935
Edward Carr (b1936)
Margaret Carr (b1912)
Louise (Louisa?) Carr (b1914) married John Murphy
Kathleen Murphy (b1945) married Nicholas Garay
Sheila Murphy (b1948)
Robert Watts (1860-1949)
Cathrine Holland (1879-1962) my Mother (see note)
Mary Watts (1917-1958) married John William (Peter) Lampard
Jacqueline Mary Lampard (b1941)
Robert John Lampard (b1944)
Susan Anne Lampard (b1946)
Alice Watts (b1919) married David James Rogers (1911-1991)
John David Rogers (b1943)
Sylvia Rogers (b1947)
Peter Rogers (b1951)
Note, “Cathrine” is the preferred spelling but “Catherine” and “Kate” also appear on documents.