Author Topic: Notable Downhamites  (Read 39107 times)

David Line

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Notable Downhamites
« on: October 10, 2007, 08:34:32 AM »
Could I suggest a new forum is added to Downham Online. Contained on existing pages is a wealth of historical information about Downham which could be vital to future research on the estate. Sadly it is scattered amongst other postings which means it is virtually impossible to unearth without scrolling through scores of of less relevant material ( I am certainly guilty of adding to it ).

Why not kick off with memories of notable Downham characters with a forum allocated to just this subject? There has already been much mention made of Doctor Nathaniel Hockman who I believe deserves his own thread. There must be many like him such as Teddy Taylor (of the Teddy Taylor quintet) who was born on Downham and ran a successful band during the fifties and sixties and became a regular session musician for such radio programmes as Easy Beat and Saturday Club.

I would like to think we could assemble details about ordinary folk who, in one way or another, impacted on life in Downham. Even people like my uncle, Albert Afford who was a gas meter reader on the estate for nearly forty years. His claim to fame? It is said he frequently got more than a cup of tea when he read a housewife`s gas meter!

David Line
Gareth Grove 1946 - 1954
Beechmont Close 1954 - 1966

christine

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Re: Notable Downhamites
« Reply #1 on: October 10, 2007, 09:14:53 AM »
What a good idea, David.  Sadly I was only about 13 when I left Downham but do remember Dr Hockman very well - obviously as a child the doctor was always the most important person in your life apart from parents!  I used to be taken to another practice as well (gosh, were we allowed to attend more than one GP practice?) - cannot remember exactly where - run by a Dr Blau?  I believe she might have been Austrian but certainly remember it was she who had me rushed into hospital at the age of 6 with suspected meningitis.  Perhaps I owe her my life - who knows?  Afraid I don't recall any other notable Downham people - think age is against me!  I thought Tommy Steele came from the Downham area but could be wrong.

JSmith

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Re: Notable Downhamites
« Reply #2 on: October 10, 2007, 08:47:11 PM »
Tommy Steel lived on Ravensbourne Pk Rd Catford when He became famous. That is certainly a good idea to start a forum strictly for  Historical names places and pictures. But as you say all this info is scattered over many forums.
Born 1945 Churchdown road.

     You can take the Boy out of Downham,but you cant take Downham out of the Boy.

Brenda

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Re: Notable Downhamites
« Reply #3 on: October 11, 2007, 02:31:34 AM »
We place it in your hands, Mike. After all, you're the boss! 

I remember Dr Blau, Chris.  Never knew before how to spell it.  I have always presumed she was German or Austrian and I guess there would be a good story behind her residence in England in those post-war years.  She was our doctor when we lived in Crutchley Rd.  I was always a little afraid of her (I think I was afraid of almost everyone when I was a child, come to think of it) but never of Dr Hockman.

Tommy Steele was a Bermondsey boy.  I am sure he felt he was going very much up-market when he moved to Ravensbourne Rd.  My friends in Denmark went to his concert in 2006 - said they had a wonderful time.  I was staggered. I had no idea he was still performing.  Do you hear much about him in  England now?

As for Uncle Alf the amorous meter reader: as my mother would have said, "Well I bleedin' never."

Dickie eagle

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Re: Notable Downhamites
« Reply #4 on: October 11, 2007, 09:03:20 AM »
Sorry, hate to be a wet blanket,and I know  Downham seems to have had more than its fair share of those who made it to the top like me .and our lady authoress Brenda, David Bowie (Jones), Mr & Mrs Smith's "Five little Boys",Bass players, I mention one of the coutries best Joe Muddle who with  Gillespie & Dankworth (Sir John)promoted "Progressive  jazz" (My inverted commas) and who has worked with the best international stars as a sideline he also composed and wrote the lyrics of some 15 standards which were recorded widely.The Daily Telegraph published Joe's Biography in softback. Tommy Steel I believe bought his Mum a place in Catford but the family (The Hicks) were from Orient St., Bermondsey not Dahnum  Keith told us that Roy Castle lived near Churchdown , 'bye now dickie....................
« Last Edit: October 11, 2007, 09:06:54 AM by Dickie eagle »
Tristram Rd.,  M.N, RN. FAA. RFA,s  from 1941 to 1971  retired ex-MOD(Navy) , Moved to Downham in 1927 .! Travelled a bit With long spells ashore in USA, Malta, Southern India, Japan, NZ and OZ also attatched to Aus Navy ( HMAS Sydney)

Brenda

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Re: Notable Downhamites
« Reply #5 on: October 11, 2007, 09:56:27 AM »
Sorry, hate to be a wet blanket,

Nah, that's not being a wet blanket, Dickie.  You've made a good start to the list, haven't you?  And who was the boxer someone was talking about not long ago. Oh, he left a message on the site, didn't he? Eric someone.  If I've got your first name correct, Eric, I apologise for forgetting your surname. 

There's an author from our parts too. I heard him on radio over here and he was talking about the posh boys from Bromley College. Don't know that he was from Downham but obviously not too far from there.  Oh, what was his name?  Alex somebody.  Maybe I will think of it later. 

Dickie eagle

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Re: Notable Downhamites
« Reply #6 on: October 11, 2007, 09:19:20 PM »
Hi !,and Thanks. You were thinking of "young" Eric McQuade, I do remember him as my kid sister had a crush in that direction in those carefree days . Er um ! that story about the meter man, mmm mmm could be, but then I didn't have to read the meter. When he counted the pennies he paid back about 10 % so the wives were doubtless grateful on occasions       dickie.................
Tristram Rd.,  M.N, RN. FAA. RFA,s  from 1941 to 1971  retired ex-MOD(Navy) , Moved to Downham in 1927 .! Travelled a bit With long spells ashore in USA, Malta, Southern India, Japan, NZ and OZ also attatched to Aus Navy ( HMAS Sydney)

David Line

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Re: Notable Downhamites
« Reply #7 on: October 12, 2007, 03:37:45 PM »
All fascinating stuff, but it was not just "the famous" I was thinking about. More important were the ordinary folk who contributed to or impacted on the community in one way or another. It could be someone who gave time to help others, notable teachers at any of the Downham schools, tradesmen or vendors (remember the onion Johnnies in the 50s), those who acted bravely without thought for themselves during the blitz, or simply "characters". The possible list is endless. Don`t forget it is real people who make up a community and contribute to its history.

Best wishes

David
Gareth Grove 1946 - 1954
Beechmont Close 1954 - 1966

Brenda

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Re: Notable Downhamites
« Reply #8 on: October 13, 2007, 07:20:44 AM »
All fascinating stuff, but it was not just "the famous" I was thinking about. More important were the ordinary folk who contributed to or impacted on the community in one way or another. It could be someone who gave time to help others, notable teachers at any of the Downham schools, tradesmen or vendors (remember the onion Johnnies in the 50s), those who acted bravely without thought for themselves during the blitz, or simply "characters". The possible list is endless. Don`t forget it is real people who make up a community and contribute to its history.

Best wishes

David

Brenda

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Re: Notable Downhamites
« Reply #9 on: October 13, 2007, 07:26:55 AM »
Yes, you're quite right, David.  And Dr Hockman comes top of the list as far as I am concerned.  Hard-working, caring, patient, understand - a doctor of the old school.

Sadly, I have always felt I had teachers who were uninspired and who did not inspire me to greater things.  Perhaps it is a case of a bad workman blaming his tools; perhaps others had a different experience.

 

Pauline

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Re: Notable Downhamites
« Reply #10 on: October 15, 2007, 05:50:34 AM »
Why not kick off with memories of notable Downham characters with a forum allocated to just this subject? There has already been much mention made of Doctor Nathaniel Hockman who I believe deserves his own thread. There must be many like him such as Teddy Taylor (of the Teddy Taylor quintet) who was born on Downham and ran a successful band during the fifties and sixties and became a regular session musician for such radio programmes as Easy Beat and Saturday Club.


David Line

Alas I never knew any notable people at all.  Can't even claim loose acquaintance with anyone of any notoriety (although I did know a lady who got into the last 6 at Crufts with her bulldog - does that count?).
However, my Dr Kelman was a gem.  The cobbler up there next to Fords (Grove Park) worked miracles when my stiletto heels fell off.  Talking of Fords, what a wonderful store that was, my Mum would send me there to get our parafin for our heater (wonder we all survived). Theladies in the wool shop (and Anne's along Downham Way there) would help decipher a pattern, - were have all the wool shops gone?
Born 1944 in Geraint Road.  Launcelot and Churchdown Schools.  Moved to Western Australia in 1988.
Two children, 6 grandchildren, 3 dogs, hundreds of snakes, spiders and lizards.

Dickie eagle

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Re: Notable Downhamites
« Reply #11 on: October 15, 2007, 08:08:19 PM »
I assume that contribution was our young friend Brenda from Durham Hill ( Dahn Undah ). Yep !The late Dr. Mark Kelman was a wonderful person.South African, who trained here.married a gorgeous Staff nurse and opted for the mushrooming new estate of Downham. His original Surgery was by the Rent Office adjacent to the top of Northover in Downham Way. Later moving to Burnt Ash Lane opposite Launcelot. That was after his stint as an Army Medical Officer in the far East. I did bump into him once out there. He was my Mentor .
Incidentally Bren the people at Hither Green would like a rough idea of the date of your Grans demise,they are quite helpful        Dickie.....................
Tristram Rd.,  M.N, RN. FAA. RFA,s  from 1941 to 1971  retired ex-MOD(Navy) , Moved to Downham in 1927 .! Travelled a bit With long spells ashore in USA, Malta, Southern India, Japan, NZ and OZ also attatched to Aus Navy ( HMAS Sydney)

Brenda

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Re: Notable Downhamites
« Reply #12 on: October 15, 2007, 11:06:52 PM »
I assume that contribution was our young friend Brenda from Durham Hill
 
No Dickie, that was from Pauline.

Another notable - but definitely not famous - Downham person was Mrs Hobbs.  She was one of the 'playground ladies', those marvellous women who patrolled the school playgrounds and sorted out bingles and soothed grazed knees etc during the breaks.  She also made wonderful birthday cakes to order.  Mrs Hobbs was the sweetest and kindest of ladies and very non-scary. That was important to me, being such a scaredy-cat.  When a friend and I tied a girl up in the lavatory with a skipping rope (I think that was the only time I did anything really naughty - must've been my friend's influence!), it was Mrs Hobbs who found her after the bell had gone to go back to classes.  Not only did I feel bad for doing the naughty deed, but was mortified to be thought ill of by Mrs Hobbs.

Will check Gran's death-date and let you know, Dickie.  Thanks.

Pauline

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Re: Notable Downhamites
« Reply #13 on: October 16, 2007, 04:40:34 AM »


Sadly, I have always felt I had teachers who were uninspired and who did not inspire me to greater things.  Perhaps it is a case of a bad workman blaming his tools; perhaps others had a different experience.

 

You are quire right Brenda - unless we were geniuses we fell by the wayside.  You definitely had to have the right colour eyes - I didn't.  I don't think I recall anyone from Churchdown going off to University.  A young lad in the next street (Gareth Grove) went to Uni, we were so proud of him - he became a lawyer or an accountant or something like that and did very well.  I work in a Uni now, and when I see some of the gormless lumps coming though I wonder where I went wrong.

I remember our headmistress Mrs Gatehouse - she terrified me.  Unfortunately I was a tad too noisy. If we did something wrong and were sent out of the class - heaven help us if she came by.  She reminded me so much of Maggie Thatcher. I always say I'm 18 'til I die - but my daughter reckons I didn't even reach 18!!!!!!
There seemed to be a closer community - everyone did something for someone didn't they?  I remember my Mum rushing next door when our neighbour went into labour and helped deliver the baby because the doctor or midwife was out helping someone else.
Born 1944 in Geraint Road.  Launcelot and Churchdown Schools.  Moved to Western Australia in 1988.
Two children, 6 grandchildren, 3 dogs, hundreds of snakes, spiders and lizards.

Brenda

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Re: Notable Downhamites
« Reply #14 on: October 17, 2007, 07:09:11 AM »
I could have made more of my education, I am sure.  I actually got a place in Prendergast but my mother, rightly or otherwise, thought a grammar school would prove too expensive and so I went to Churchdown instead.  I was top of the class in English and French and bottom of the class in maths.  Perhaps, as I said before, it was the uninspired and soporific teaching which caused my early promise to be stunted. Or perhaps I was just too lazy. 

Mrs Gatehouse was certainly memorable and, like you, I was terrified of her.

You are also correct about the community feeling on the Downham of our youth.  There was always a neighbour who would have me in when my mother had to go out to work and considered me too young to be left alone in the house.   I particularly remember how the neighbours would be as quiet as possible when I was on night-duty.  I am sure half the street crept around just so I wouldn't be disturbed.  Can you imagine that happening these days?  So, for notable Downhamites, I nominate all those kind neighbours of yesteryear - truly the salt of the earth.