Growing Up On Chalford Road, South-East London

Faith's early memories

Faith Brooker

Photo:Clive Road

Clive Road

Photo from WRVS Heritage Plus Archive

Photo:Faith the Artist

Faith the Artist

Photo from WRVS Heritage Plus Archive

Chalford Road was a crescent (although that seems a very posh word for it) that came off Clive Road.  This is where I lived in South East London.

It was a special place because this is where we played.  Afterwards, cars became a bit more commonplace, up and down the main road.  There was a park about half a mile away but we hardly ever used it.

Our mothers (and it was our mothers not our fathers) liked to be able to shout out that 'tea was ready' and we would have to dash back home, double-quick.

There was a built-up, plaster wall outside the corner house which proved irresistible to us, as it offered a perch, a look-out place.  Sadly, the woman who lived in the house didn't share our enthusiasm for our using it, and would bang on the window for us to clear off.


The fence opposite would have a sort of wicket chalked on it and we would play rounders, using odd, assorted bits of clothing to mark the 'stops'.

Sometimes, I was allowed to play in our back garden make a 'train', using chairs and tablecloths.  We were always on the way to somewhere exotic, like Timbuktu or Tanganyika, words I must have heard on the radio without having the faintest clue where they were.

The coalman's son

Sometimes, John, the coalman's son would play with us.  John's Dad was a very round, bald man who was often seen completely covered in coal.  He wore a sort of shiny cap and an apron of sack-like material and his face was always bright red under the black of the soot.  His wife was in the WI with my mum.

When John's mum ran off with somebody else, we weren't allowed to speak about the family again.  I didn't mind then.  I thought John was a bit simple anyway.  I didn't think then that it might be cruel.

What the neighbours might think

There was always a dread of what the neighbours might think, which escaped me!  I either liked people or I didn't.  My mother always knew where someone fitted in the pecking order.

People might be 'common' or 'snooty'.  I have to say it was very rare for her to consider anyone without slotting them into one or other category.

Where we fitted in, I'm not sure.  We had an outside lavatory and didn't own a house or car.  On the other hand, my father was an office manager, wore a suit, white collar, bow tie and button-hole, every day.

Luckily, my brother and I both got into grammar school and those sort of distinctions started to fall away.

This page was added by jon hildreth on 27/03/2008.

If you're already a registered user of this site, please login using the form on the left-hand side of this page.