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Roger Hill — 15 Comments

  1. Roger has already contacted me via the Australian Live Steam Association. I have a feeling that I do remember him, but I await his reply. He mentioned my brother David, who also attended Mayfield two years ahead of me. Sadly David passed away July 5th 2012, in NZ. Possibly some may remember him.

  2. Hi, Peter
    I have quite vivid memories of those times, mainly because they ended abruptly for me at about age 16. I’m sorry to learn that David passed away. I remember hearing about a voyage he made to the Gold Coast (afterwards Ghana) in about 1956. That was the year I left as well. Through this website I read that Robert (Bob) Towler also passed away. I remember him and many others well. There was another non-Mayfielder (as I am not) named Dave, ginger-haired, who moved to Harlow new town in the mid-1950s; and the friends on or near Lexden Drive — Roy Darkin, Chris Mulhern, a lad named Collyer whose first name might have been Ken (he was terrific at climbing tall trees to dangerous heights) and two Rogers, Roger Scott, who moved to Ashford in Kent, and Roger Holmes. Roy was certainly at Mayfield. I got to know them a little later; Graham James on Glendale Crescent off Grove Road; John Farquhorson along Primrose Avenue made periodic trips to Scotland. It seemed to me that we delighted in trainspotting and greenspace, or anywhere different from our own suburban asphalt — so we would go to whatever remained of open space along the Roding, or country lanes near Snaresbrook and Epping and the last of the forest at Hainault, since rural Essex was close by in the 1950s. Very much later, I got a better idea of the lay of the land, for ex, so many small rivers, the Rom, the Roding, the Mayesbrook, and one that I called the Sweetwater (actually Seven Kings Water?), all flowing to nowhere that I knew, then fitting what had seemed to me entirely different rivers as only different stretches of the same river, and realizing as per the map that they all went to the Thames Estuary. Some places I only heard of and never went to: Barking Creek was as remote as China. I’ve been back a very few times, but in no expectation of meeting anyone from that youthful epoch of ours. You can re-visit a place, but not a time. Photos: well, I have one very old one from a big Victory party, you can guess which war. It shows a whole bunch of us, 50 or more, of varying ages, some of whom I knew and can still identify.

  3. Hello Roger.
    You certainly have been busy tracking us kid’s down, over the years. I have little recollection of names, but one does come to mind. A boy named Roger used to “whistle” me up outside my house in Primrose Ave, to come out and go wherever. Roger lived just round the bend in Primrose Ave, with his Grandma. Was that boy you?
    Like you, my life in Chadwell Heath also came to an abrupt end, as my mother sold 128 and moved to New Zealand, with me in tow. That was in 1960 when we boarded the Southern Cross at Southampton.
    I recall I was one of a number of lads who played together, during our Primary school days and yes “we delighted in trainspotting and greenspace”. Many happy times were spent on the “iron bridge”, over the big goods yards. Trips to London terminal stations were quite common, as was the practice of “shed bunking”.
    The most common “greenspace” was that known locally as “Happy Valley”, just over the Eastern Ave, opposite the Hawbush. This wooded area had a large pond with a small island and was bounded on one side by Seven Kings Water. Us kids would often drink the “sweetwater”, oblivious to any thought it could be contaminated. We were once scolded by an old man who said, “Don’t you kids know there is sewage in that water” A popular place to play in was the abandoned Fairlop airfield, with its covered bunkers and leftovers from the war! Another creepy place was a big old house on the corner of Chadwell Ave and High Road. Apparently it had been a hospital but became abandoned by about 1950. Remember Mr Penny’s Grocery shop in Grove Rd. During my last years at Mayfield I worked after school delivering boxes of groceries, with a crude barrow. Deliveries were as far away as Somerville Rd, all on foot and in the freezing cold snow.
    As I mentioned my brother David Passed away in 2012. He attended Mayfield Boys, so some readers may remember him. After school David went to sea as a Midshipman with Elder Dempster Lines, plying the West Coast of Africa on coastal freighters. If anyone else would like to know more, let me know.
    Roger remembered that my father, a live steam model engineer, built and ran a small railway at 128 Primrose Ave. So that is how I too am a live steamer, here in South Australia. My father attended a club at the Chadwell Heath railway station. I understand that club is still at that location.
    Peter Hoye.

  4. I remember David Hoye, I lived just around the corner in Chadwell Avenue. He used to ride a bike and took his pigeons in a basket on the back. I lived more or less opposite Bobby Towler who moved to Donald Drive later and I sometimes saw him in Tesco. Funny looking back, I remember David Hoye moving away, so many years ago.
    Peter Woods

  5. Hi Peter
    The bike was a Dawes, which I inherited when David went to sea. The pigeon loft was down the back of our garden. One night we all awoke to find the printing factory, over the back fence, burning from end to end. David went out to hastily to transfer the pigeons to the house. That did not go down to well with our Mum! The factory was completely destroyed. Do you remember Gooches Garage with the old style petrol pumps out front. We used to play around them.

  6. The Gooches had chickens with no feathers, the mange maybe or depluming mite. My mum used to say they were oven ready. I remember the fire, I watched from my bedroom window. There were several fires over the years, the next in Grove Road was Chapels Sweets, then Montnette the hairdresser. Penny, the grocer, had a film poster on the wall for the film “Giant” for donkeys years. The Haunted House became a night club then burned down mysteriously, fires must have been all the go in those days. Gooches was opposite my house, you maybe remember my two sisters Jackie and Jill. I phoned my sister last night and she said Graham James was always outside our house. David I remember as being very kind to me and Ricky Beadle and letting us watch his pigeons. I was so fascinated I got some pigeons later. I could go on and on as I remember everything. One more thing, do you remember “Lord Pusey” he was always outside, he became a teacher at Mayfield. Trainspotting, remember tooty Bill?

  7. I remember Peter Woods you lived a couple of doors away from me. My grandad owned the printers.

  8. Hello,
    Yes, I lived on Primrose Avenue just around the curve in the road. I might have been the one who whistled. I think it was about that time that I had learned the piercing high-pitched whistle that in some cases needs sets of fingers through the lips and under the tongue. Mine was unaided, all mouth, no fingers. That left the hand free to serve as an amplifier if needed.
    Re Chadwell Avenue: Near Gooches there was also a person named Bellamy. I don’t know exactly who he was, except that when we young ones got too noisy once, or perhaps near to trespassing, Bob Towler cautioned us in regard to Bellamy: “Bellamy will only create!” said Bob — with “create” taken to mean complain or come down hard on the ruckus.
    Re the Haunted House: would that have been the pre-natal home at the end of Chadwell Avenue facing the High Road? I’d heard there was an Iron Lung in that building, which sounded alarming at the time. The Iron Lung might have been associated with treatment for polio rather than pre-natal.
    I remember also Andy. Andy was a very fast runner, and he had developed his running from errands that he routinely went on.
    Three of us, Andy, me, and a third person or perhaps even a fourth, went “carolling” one Christmas. I can remember a few of the lines of one of either Andy’s or Peter’s songs, one that I had not known before. The words had gestures and movements accompanying, so it might have been a song learned in school. I think there was no snow that Christmas evening, just cold. (Oh, I’ve just realized, the carol was The Holly and the Ivy. Now why wouldn’t I have known that.)

  9. Hello Roger, Peter and now Janice.
    I have no recollection of a “Lord Pusey”, so you will have to help out on that one. Tooty Bill was a strange one but quite harmless. Summer and winter he would stand on the footbridge over the goods yards, emitting all sorts of train sounding noises. I believe he was an inpatient at the Mental Home in Barley Lane. We used to go into the grounds of the hospital to collect conkers. A very popular playground activity in those days.
    One time some of us were poking around in the Haunted house and I saw this metal “coffin” with a hole in the end. Definitely was an “Iron Lung”. There were also sterilizers and other equipment, all simply abandoned. About this time us kids at Chadwell Heath Primary School were being given the Salk vaccine to counter the threat of Polio. Remember the land from the “house” down to Barley Lane was all vacant and littered with junk, car bodies etc. We would build “dens” to hide in and do battle with the Eccleston Crescent gang, hurling clods of dirt at each other. Big Fairs were also held on that land each year, with rides being still powered by showmen’s steam engines. Looks like the whole lot now is a sports complex, with tennis courts etc. Any of you remember playing at “Happy Valley”?
    Yes Roger, you were the “Whistler”. On hearing you, Mum would call out to me “Rogers here” and off I would go without hesitation. I was one of those “carolers” and boy was it cold. We rarely had snow at Xmas time, which would come more in Jan/Feb. We do not have snow here in Gawler SA.
    So Janice, your Grandad had the printers. What a blaze that was, with all the glass skylights in the roof exploding. Talking of fires, remember the bonfires round in Grove Rd, for fireworks night. They were huge, taking months to build with tyres, settee’s, anything that was not bolted down would be thrown on. Global warming was still yet to come.

  10. Hello, Peter, and also Peter and Janice
    Yes, I remember the fairs in Barley Lane Field, with “Dodgem” cars and all sorts of rides. I think one of the fairs may actually have been a circus called Chipperfield’s. I remember playing “fivestones”, cubes tossed onto the backs of fingers, at a fair one day. One part of the field, toward Eccleston, had a kind of crater in it, though whether or not from a bomb I don’t know. The crater was large enough to create an echo effect from shouts or cries.
    I do remember going with a group of boys older than me to see the remains of a V-1 on the edge of the field near the High Road. At least, a V-1 is what it was thought to have been. I could describe it, or perhaps draw what I saw from memory.
    If Barley Lane Field has been developed since, well, I suppose it should have been. I remember a letter to the local newspaper back then, in which the writer commented on how desolate the area looked.
    And Happy valley too: regarding drinking from the “Sweetwater”, or Seven Kings Water, which ran the length of Happy valley, I stopped taking a drink from the stream after I saw a dead rat lying on the bank.
    Regarding the Eccleston Crescent gang, I realized how deadly those meet-ups could be when I was hit in the face by a stone during one of them. Or it may have been a clump of dirt with a stone in it. That seemed to lower my appetite for gang feuds.
    At some point back at that time, Graham James and I reached a certain enlightenment about the dangers of tree-climbing. Graham told of climbing a tree with a group of boys in the field near the Essex Road area. He was part-way up a tree when something fell past him from a height. It was a body. Graham then saw a shoe in his hand, just caught there. After that conversation, he and I had a different view of tree-climbing. Graham was vehement about it. However, I did fall out of a tree once, on the way to Hainault, or in that neighbourhood, on what seemed to be a farm. But it was from not much of a height, and little harm.
    Regarding surname Woods: I used to know a boy named Woods who lived on Primrose Avenue, near the house where the Barrett family lived. I think his first name was Maurice. He collected antiques. The Barrett family included three brothers, one of whom I think wore glasses.
    I’ll have another look at that old Victory party photograph, if I can locate it (everything is boxed) and review the who’s who of it.

  11. Hi Roger, Peter, Janice.
    Circuses were quite common on Barley Lane field and Chipperfield’s were one of many. It seemed to be common knowledge that the crater was caused by either a V1 or V2 rocket. According to a report in the “Ilford Recorder”, Ilford had the highest percentage of Doodlebugs and V2’s drop on it, out of all the London council areas. We were right in the line of fire of those terrible things, so if they ran out of fuel, we copped them.
    Early maps of our area show there once was a quarry in the vicinity of Eccleston Cres, served by a railway siding. The siding ran from the main lines, then under the High Road and into the quarry. A look on Google Earth shows the Field to be a sports complex now, Tennis, Bowls etc. The Greyhound Pub is still there but The Hawbush has long gone. So have all our front gardens! Primrose Ave is one long car yard now after working hours. Where Janice’s Grandad’s printers factory was is now a large commercial building. I have only made one trip back in 1997 and was able to visit our old house. The people who bought the house from my mother in 1960, were still there and allowed me to look around. They asked about the sunken area of lawn out back. I said “that was where the air raid shelter was”. I have an old Coronation Party photograph, that was taken outside our house, with next door neighbor’s daughter Carol Bevis in it. Ring a bell? Carol was a bit of a tomboy. It all seems so long ago. Do you remember Martin Newens who lived in Grove Rd, right on the corner of Primrose Ave? Martin was left to guard a hole that we were digging on the Field in pursuit of coal that must have been dumped there at some time. While we were away, the constable saw it and told Martin to fill it in.

  12. Hello, Peter

    Yes, I remember Martin Newens, and on the opposite corner from where Martin lived, also facing Grove Road, there was another boy, about two or three years older, whose name I do not remember. Other names and faces that come to mind are the two Bellingham brothers, Maurice Woods, the three Barratt brothers, all just before the curve in the road; then further along (it would have been further west) David Harrison (quite a bit older), John Newton (older still), and at the corner of Primrose Avenue and Manning Road the O’Leary family, brothers Terry, Dennis, Raymond, and their sisters Maureen (older) and Monica (tiny).
    Across Primrose from the O’Leary house was Roger Ardrey; west again near either Galsworthy or Arandora Crescent, Johnny Farquhorson. Quite a bit older but near me were Robert Gough and John Patten; about my age, Vivian Roberts and her younger brother Ian. North of our immediate area on the way to Little Heath were the Lexden Drive group led by Roy Darkin, Christopher Mulhern, and others. Along Christie Gardens, Roger Scott and the expert tree-climber named Collyer. On Glendale off Grove Road, Graham James. The various groups had their main centres, such as Chadwell Avenue, Primrose, Lexden. During the last two or three years before I left, there was a certain merging or overlap of some the members of these area groups.
    Friends of mine in those days were in two sets; the ones of my immediate area who however went to different schools from the one I went to, on the one hand; and the ones who went to my school but lived nowhere near me, on the other hand. So for me, there was a neighbourhood set and a school set, and seldom if ever did any members of the two sets meet.
    What puzzles me on looking back is how large the overall population of the district was, yet how few people among my neighbours I got to know at all well. Those suburban avenues were no village.
    Regarding memories of WWII, I was born to the Battle of Britain, but only learned very much later that there had been one. I have a distinct memory of standing on a platform at Ilford Railway Station in the late afternoon. Everyone was looking up at a typical fleet of heavy bombers heading west; so they (the planes) were presumably returning from a raid over Germany or occupied territory. A young adult with my family looked up and told us that the bombers were Flying Fortresses (or B-17s as someone else might say). It was typical because the planes were large in number, they held our interest, but were too common a sight to cause much other comment. And we shall never see their like again, right — all those multi-engined propeller planes droning along, that is. That would have been either 1944 or perhaps early 1945. It was during daylight hours, which fits in with the daytime flying of the Americans, since by my reading their recruits had yet to get their IFR down cold. German propaganda took note of the difference between the crews of the U.S. and the R.A.F.in regard to daytime flying vs night and sought to sow resentment over that point: bombing missions by day were more risky.
    Very much later, relatively recently in fact, I talked to a man who been on bombers and had survived being shot down in one. He was a Canadian; his plane may been a Lanc. He immediately corrected my straight “east and west” for the direction of those raids, telling me that his outbound run would have been much more north-easterly.
    Something I had not known about at all until I visited London in the mid-90s: in 1940 the Canadians were on the Thames embankment manning the anti-aircraft guns and were “eyeball to eyeball with the German bombers.” Of course, Canada entered the war only a couple of days later than the U.K., but in all my childhood reading I just hadn’t known they were at those gun positions so early in the war. That was according to the guide that day on the Thames as we passed Big Ben.

  13. Hello Roger.
    You certainly have a good memory for names, as I have no recollection of any of those mentioned by you. Being born in May 1942, that puts me about 2/3 years behind you. I have no recollection of any war events, yet David my brother, about your age certainly did. As I get older my thirst for the past gets more intense. Information about the war simply was not available and as a child neither did I care. Those involved in the war were usually sworn to secrecy or did not want to talk about it.
    Only in recent years have “black secrets” come to light, often via English programs such as “Foyles War (Slapton Sands) and The Bletchly Circle (Porton Down). Then there is “Omaha beach”. Just type those names into Google and bingo, all is revealed! Bad luck about the “Official Secrets Act”, nothing is hidden any more. No wonder nobody wanted to say much.
    What a wonderful thing Google Earth is. I have been able to “walk” all the way from Chadwell Heath, to Ilford via the Internet. Had a good look at the Primary School, Greyhound Pub, Goodmayes Lane/ St Pauls Church (where I was Christened) and also learned basket weaving. Did anybody else do that? I see that the Hawbush Pub has gone, as have the railway freight yards. Is nothing sacred!
    As for us kids, we were like little tribes based in our streets. Generally these tribes were dispersed with the advent of Secondary school and eventual adulthood. My Trainspotting Tribe however did venture far and wide, even to Waterloo and Paddington stations. We even “Bunked many railway sheds, (Stratford at least twice) to collect numbers. Though illegal, such activity was tolerated, providing you used that now defunct commodity called “Common Sense”. We were just 8/10 year olds in short pants, wandering around lines of locomotives. What wonderful, unique years they were. I often wonder who those kids were? Don’t be shy, own up!
    To you Tony Gocke. Thank you for this wonderful Website. It has put me in touch with so many I shared my young life with. Raise a glass friends and say “here’s to you Tony”.

  14. Re Google Earth and walking from Chadwell Heath to Ilford using the Internet: the last time I walked that route (actually, not virtually) was in the mid-1990s. Some places along the way were familiar, others I had never noticed before, even though they had clearly been part of the neighborhood for a very long time. As I reached Ilford, I passed an old WWII bombed-out site that took up most of a city block; its location was diagonally north-east across the street from the front of SS Peter & Paul’s Church on Ilford High Street. The site was low, as if all bomb damage had been removed and the site scraped down to its basement. It had stayed that way in all that time since the 1940s. At least, my assumption was that the site was the result of enemy action during the war. Since the mid-1990s when I last passed that way, the site may have been re-developed as part of the New Ilford. Google Earth might show how the site is now.

  15. I’ve just now come across a website that tells of war damage in Ilford. In particular, it refers to a V2 rocket that hit Ilford on January 12 1945, which was one that came down on or near the Hippodrome Theatre. I have two memories about the Hippodrome: it was where I saw “Jack and the Beanstalk”, and, after the V2 fell, where I and friends ventured, once only, and saw the devastated theatre, its seats open to the sky. Bombed-out sites were dangerous places to go, presumably, but they were so common that kids wandered in and out with no one around to stop them.

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