Author Topic: Wartime Downham  (Read 8846 times)

tonyagain

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Wartime Downham
« on: April 21, 2008, 11:57:49 PM »
Wartime Downham

If you open google earth and look at Goudhurst Rd at the centre by elmscot road you can see the colours of the roofs change. Its my belief that this shows where the buildings were demolished by the doodle bug that fell to the right side elmscot road.
   We that is my brother Keith and derick Durrent (Now living in Adelaide
Australia) and others played on this large bomb site building huts out of parts of Anderson shelters one of which was two storey which collapsed to great merriment whilst we were in it. We also fired rockets through reclaimed water pipe at each other in mock battles. Fortunately no one was injured. So much for Elf & Safety.
   Further to the right on the north side of Goudhurst rd is another discoloured roof were a bomb had dropped earlier than the doodle bug. We fortunately were in our shelter asleep.
I lived at 57Goudhurst rd north side just left of elmscot road and while laying in our shelter in the back garden was kept wake at times by a mobile anti aircraft gun positioned at the top of Elmscot road.
This should get us olduns talking..regards all Tony.

derrick Durrantgoudhurst1

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Re: Wartime Downham
« Reply #1 on: April 22, 2008, 01:43:07 AM »
Hello Tony Allen,I only by chance logged in to "Downham Online"this morning as I was checking my E/mails,and saw your comments.I remember very well our childhoods during wartime,also of course I remember your brother "Keith"whom I had a phone conversation with here in Australia prior to his death.Its funny how we have very vivid memories of those times,yet often have difficulty remembering events of recent days,especially peoples names ect.Glad to hear you are still around mate,like myself you are probably in your seventies now and well retired I hope life has treated you well.I have been very fortunate in having a good life here in" Australia".,with two sons and grandchildren,who have all prospered.I was back in the Uk several months ago,visiting my brother Peter who you will probably remember,he lives in "Cambridge"'How interesting it was to see how many things had changed in the Uk,but in some ways much remained as before.However I was quite happy to leave Terminal 4 at Heathrow and return to the sun,of which incidently we have had plenty of this summer,we are in a drought situation here in "South Australia with harsh water restrictions.I see a few new comments on the website,which is good,also what an excellent job keeping it all together is done by "Mike"'.My regards to your family and all "Downhamonline'members. Derek Durrant.  X 73 Goudhurst Rd. PS like the chinese proverb "Tony"we have lived in interesting times.

tonyagain

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Re: Wartime Downham
« Reply #2 on: April 24, 2008, 11:23:46 PM »
Hi Derek nice to hear from you and to know that you spoke to Keith before he left us. I always have difficulty remembering names, always have had, makes me feel very guilty at times.
Not only in my seventies, next year god willing it will be eighties, been retired 23 yrs now, have so many things to do donít know how I found time to work. Retired at 55 from the fire service after 30 yrs service.
I believe both you and Keith were right to emigrate to Australia itís a great place I have visited 3 times 85,95 & 2005 most of my relations are there. My late wifeís sister Yvonne Young knee Smith lives in port norlunga nr Adelaide she is good musically with the squeeze box and they have great sessions in a local pub.
Hope you have more rain soon we have had hail and rain several times today and we have been trying to finish a garden pond. Had to pump it out for the cement to dry.
Must finish now this seems more of a personal letter than something of interest to other downhamites. Lets hope they also find something worth responding to.
Regards to all Tony

Brenda

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Re: Wartime Downham
« Reply #3 on: April 25, 2008, 04:53:15 AM »
Hallo Tony, it's good to see your name pop up again.  Do hope all is going well with you.

Keith sent me a photo of an Andersen shelter and did clever things with it so it appears as if your nan is at the entrance to it.  I trust you have got this photo yourself, if not,let me know and I'll forward it to you.

Bren

Pauline

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Re: Wartime Downham
« Reply #4 on: April 28, 2008, 06:53:44 AM »
Hi Derek nice to hear from you and to know that you spoke to Keith before he left us. I always have difficulty remembering names, always have had, makes me feel very guilty at times.
Not only in my seventies, next year god willing it will be eighties, been retired 23 yrs now, have so many things to do donít know how I found time to work. Retired at 55 from the fire service after 30 yrs service.
I believe both you and Keith were right to emigrate to Australia itís a great place I have visited 3 times 85,95 & 2005 most of my relations are there. My late wifeís sister Yvonne Young knee Smith lives in port norlunga nr Adelaide she is good musically with the squeeze box and they have great sessions in a local pub.
Hope you have more rain soon we have had hail and rain several times today and we have been trying to finish a garden pond. Had to pump it out for the cement to dry.
Must finish now this seems more of a personal letter than something of interest to other downhamites. Lets hope they also find something worth responding to.
Regards to all Tony


You know it's quite refreshing reading these posts to know that contrary to my grandthings notions I am not the oldest person around.

There was a direct hit on the houses in Ivorydown at the bottom of Geraint Road - I know this because my Dad told me  ;D
We had to move to a house in Moorside (I was about 6 weeks old).
I was also very concerned when he told me that a direct hit on the shelter would have been 'it' for the occupants.  I fully believed those shelters were bomb proof.
I remember being fascinated my the bombed out houses up the Old Kent Road where my grandparents lived, seeing the different wall papers, and where the fireplaces had been.
My Pete always mentions the new fangled "Adventure Playgrounds" and how we had them years ago - courtesy of Adolf Hitler.
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: Wartime Downham
« Reply #5 on: May 02, 2008, 12:14:35 AM »
There were plenty of bomb-sites to play on, weren't there?  I remember those in Reigate Road and the one at the junction of Whitefoot and Verdant Lanes.  I was always sure I was going to find something valuable among the rubble.   It was years, wasn't it, before the bombsites disappeared.

My first job was in Cheapside and there were plenty of sites there, not surprising considering the history of that area in the Blitz.  I see snippets of it on the TV and hardly recognise the place any longer.  It's full of skyscrapers. 


adcross

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Re: Wartime Downham
« Reply #6 on: May 02, 2008, 12:00:00 PM »
Hello Brenda.

When did you work in Cheapside ?. I worked at the Car & General Ins. Corp.
1 Queen Victoria Street in the Bank of New Zealand building bang opposite the Mansion House. I worked there from 1953 until I did my National Service in the Royal Military Police in 1957. I went back for awhile after demob and the firm had moved further along Queen Victoria Street towards St Pauls but I couldn't stand doing office work after the mob so left pretty quickly. it must have been fate because in 1960 I married and in 1961 migrated to New Zealand to become a traffic cop before moving onto OZ in 1999.

I can remember standing out on the window alcove to get a great view of the Lord Mayors Show because the windows looked down from the first floor directly onto the entrance to the Mansion House. Another thing that I remember was the cushy City of London office hours. 0930 to 1700 and trying to catch the 1702 from Cannon Street to Grove Park because it was fast to Hither Green. Also the luncheon vouchers of 2 shillings and threepence bought a lovely meal at a cafe just across the road in Bow Lane , and just imagine in those days we had to call the boss Sir.

You may remember that the Mithras Temple was discovered just out the back of the Bank's building.

Regards Tony Cross.
A.D.Cross

Pauline

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Re: Wartime Downham
« Reply #7 on: May 03, 2008, 02:08:48 AM »
Hello Brenda.

When did you work in Cheapside ?. I worked at the Car & General Ins. Corp.
1 Queen Victoria Street in the Bank of New Zealand building bang opposite the Mansion House. I worked there from 1953 until I did my National Service in the Royal Military Police in 1957. I went back for awhile after demob and the firm had moved further along Queen Victoria Street towards St Pauls but I couldn't stand doing office work after the mob so left pretty quickly. it must have been fate because in 1960 I married and in 1961 migrated to New Zealand to become a traffic cop before moving onto OZ in 1999.


Regards Tony Cross.

I worked at the Central Telegraph Office (CTO) by St Pauls when I left school in 1960, where I was trained as a telex operator, very high tech in those days.  We did our other training at Centenary House which was right next to Cannon Street Station.  I worked for a while in a shipping office in Fenchurch Street - so boring.  Walking across London Bridge (the old one) in the freezing cold, along with thousands of others every morning.   We had our morning coffee in Lyons, and they had the most wonderful donuts, and the coffee was the best.   Then another shipping office in the old Hop Exchange, gosh that place stank of hops, and a tea lady would come round with her trolley and buns.  I loved the shops in Cheapside, although I didn't have that much to spend (pounds)4.10.6d then pay my Mum, then my train fare (monthly ticket so that I could go to London at the weekend).

The city was fascinating with all the history, but the jobs (insurance, shipping and banking) were so boring.  After my children were born I went back towork for a while at the Continental Telephone Exchange, also near St Pauls, but then we moved to the Isle of Sheppey, and then here to Australia.

Such carefree days, and if anyone would have told me that I would one day be living in OZ!!!!!!

Several Friends of ours (in UK) have kids who are back packing around the world taking ayear off to do it (all of them calling in here, for a week or two to get fed and watered, and a nice clean warm bed) .  If I had told my parents that I was going backpacking they would have had me certified - it just wasn't done was it?
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: Wartime Downham
« Reply #8 on: May 03, 2008, 07:56:32 AM »
Hallo Tony and Pauline,

You can bet your bottom dollar we passed in the City at some point!  I worked in Thomas Meadows (Shipping Agents) Milk Street which was a little road just off Cheapside (I couldn't find it when I looked on Google Earth and suspect it has been 'developed'.)  This was 1959-1960.  I used to walk from Cannon Street to Milk St via Bow Lane.  Loved that little lane - so full of character. I found some nice photos of it on the web and it doesn't appear to have changed at all.

There, the wage was three pounds, ten shillings a week, and we had vouchers worth 2/3d and I agonised whether to put another 1/-d to them to them to buy something halfway decent or have sardines on toast at 1/9d and waste the remainder. I obviously hadn't found that little place in Bow Lane!  The sardines usually won because, as you know, an extra shilling seemed an awful lot of money then.  As you say, Pauline, our mothers had to have their board and lodging money before anything else.

I can't help chuckling about the rush to catch the train that was fast to Hither Green.  I had forgotten that awful feeling of hoofing along to the station as quickly as possible - in stiletto heels, of course - to catch the fast train.

One nice thing about working there was that when there was any kind of procession to Guildhall for visiting dignitaries e.g. President de Gaulle and the Shah of Persia, we were allowed to go out and watch the pageantry.

After a year, I got a job in an insurance company in Gracechurch Street - again, pretty near to where you were, Pauline.  It was no Saturday mornings as it was at TM's, an extra pound a week and 3/-d luncheon vouchers.  However, I hated it there.  I had enjoyed working with the girls in the typing pool at TM but some of the women in the next job were hard to get on with. 

My sister found a shop near London Bridge that allowed you to use the luncheon vouchers for cigarettes.  As I didn't smoke and my parents and sister did, they got me to buy cigarettes with the LVs and gave me some money in lieu so we all felt we'd made a profit!  I used to take Marmite sandwiches and eat them in various little gardens and churchyards in the area.  Sometimes, I'd go up to St Paul's and eat there.

Oh, just realised Pauline, we match with the shipping and insurance!

 When I left school, I thought I would be swapping the boredome of the classroom for something interesting but soon discovered the typing pool was just another form of boredom.   I suppose I thought going up to London each day would be exciting but it was  - for me - was nothing more than a hassle with the crowds and the trains and the rushing to and fro and all for very little money.

When I see the whole area on the television, I hardly recognise it.  It seems full of skyscrapers now.   

Pauline

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Re: Wartime Downham
« Reply #9 on: May 04, 2008, 06:15:42 AM »


You can bet your bottom dollar we passed in the City at some point! 

That's so true.  We were expected to get ourseles out to work as soon as we left school.  None of this year gap, or 'finding ourselves' that they do nowdays.
AND we had to pay our board, did us the world of good.

I later worked in Oxford Street, opposite Selfridges, never had any money then, spent it all on clothes.  But the tube ride from Charing Cross to Bond Street was horrendous, it's a wonder I didn't catch something terrible.  Scramblin in, the doors only just closing. But stilletto heels came in handy when a guy behind you got to close, and lurch of the train and the heel in his toe! At least we didn't have the thought at the back of our minds that someone might blow us up. Went to London in June 2006, went on the tube, didn't feel 'right' watching everyone, and so much dirt.  The streets were awlful, dog pooh everywhere, not like here. Cars parked along the road, short tempered people, I was so glad to get back to the peace and quite of dullsville (Perth).
I got luncheon vouchers 2/6d when i worked in the city, at the CTO and the telephone exchange our meals were very heavily subsidised.  Oh those were the days.
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: Wartime Downham
« Reply #10 on: May 05, 2008, 03:11:13 AM »


 At least we didn't have the thought at the back of our minds that someone might blow us up.

Except when the IRA were using bombing tactics.  I was working near Oxford Street in those days and I must confess, I did not like walking past those plate glass windows and going on the tube.  There were occasions when the train would stop in the tunnels because of a bomb scare somewhere.  And walking down the tunnels to the platform was a bit hairy.  There was always so much rubbish and how on earth did you know what might be contained in those old bags etc that littered everywhere. 

I was working in a huge Family Planning Centre opposite the Middlesex Hospital and a couple of streets away from the PO tower which suffered an explosion.  Not, I'm happy to say, during the day when I was working but sometime in the evening.   The clinic also had some kind of threat or warning and we weren't allowed to open any parcels. 

Still life went on, didn't it. As it goes on in London today despite the recent acts of terror.  I think, perhaps, things seem worse because the capabilities for destruction seem so much greater.  Maybe I'm wrong.

Pauline

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Re: Wartime Downham
« Reply #11 on: May 05, 2008, 04:37:37 AM »


 At least we didn't have the thought at the back of our minds that someone might blow us up.



Still life went on, didn't it. As it goes on in London today despite the recent acts of terror.  I think, perhaps, things seem worse because the capabilities for destruction seem so much greater.  Maybe I'm wrong.

London in our young days was different.  I would go into a 'dive' in Soho with friends, get the last train home to Grove Park, walk onto Downham without the slightest fear.  Don't think I could do that now!
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.

derrick Durrantgoudhurst1

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Re: Wartime Downham
« Reply #12 on: May 18, 2008, 08:15:31 AM »
Hello Tony,I took a leaf from your book this week and looked at "Downham"via Google Earth.I was astonished how clear the picture came over,I assume it must have been a clear day for the satellite.I honed in on "Goudhurst rd,you can even see the roadmarkings,also people now all seem to have turned those small front gardens we remember into car parking spaces.One thing did surprise me how much green space their is seen from an ariel view.I at first could not get my bearings but typed in "Grove Park"and once I had the railway lines followed Downham Way"" down to "Butts cut through and I was their. Just watched th FA cup final on "Foxtel here "at 2 .30 am in the morning,was happy to see Pompey"win as I have fond memories of "Portsmouth",my sister "Joan "living their for many years and we used to go via "Timpsons" bus to "Southsea on holiday with my "Mum","god bless her .Happy times I remember.take care .Derek.

Pauline

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Re: Wartime Downham
« Reply #13 on: May 19, 2008, 02:18:28 AM »
we used to go via "Timpsons" bus

Oh my goodness - I had forgotton all about Timpsons!  How exciting I found that garage as a child.  We would go to Kessingland Holiday Camp in Norfolk with Timpsons.  The excitement started with finding the right 'charabang'.  That place was a hive of activity.
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: Wartime Downham
« Reply #14 on: May 19, 2008, 12:00:21 PM »
One thing did surprise me how much green space their is seen from an ariel view.

Yes Derek and if you think about it, nowhere on Downham was really far from a little patch of green whether it was The Hill or the little shrubberies on corners of streets or the large wooded areas of Woodbank and Shroffold Rd. Then there was the Woodland Walk.  So yes, everyone was near a nice little bit of green.