Author Topic: Goldsmiths Community Centre and North Downham estate  (Read 62699 times)

Jane

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 28
    • View Profile
    • Email
Goldsmiths Community Centre and North Downham estate
« on: June 14, 2009, 02:58:48 PM »
Does anyone have memories of the Goldsmiths Community Centre on Castillon Road (adjacent to the Excalibur pre-fabs) and the North Downham estate? The centre celebrates its 70th anniversary this year and I am helping to create an exhibition and website showing how it has been used over the years. It is an amazing building and one of the few purpose-built community centres in the country.

Specifically I am trying to find out about the people that used (and the groups they joined) the centre and hoping that someone somewhere has photos from its early days! As the centre was officially opened in 1939 I guess it was requisitioned during the war and any clubs and groups started up after 1945.

Please contact me if you have any information. With thanks, Jane

JSmith

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 228
    • View Profile
    • Email
Re: Goldsmiths Community Centre and North Downham estate
« Reply #1 on: June 14, 2009, 08:52:48 PM »
Hello Jane.  I lived in Downham and I was a postman at Catford sorting office, castillon rd is in SE6, but I cannot give you much info about the centre. So here is the phone number of a friend of mine, Ray Thorogood who lived on Castillon rd for a time and may have gone to the centre. My name is John Smith and I live in Canada so if you mention this he will know how you connected. His # is 698-9885-0208. Please take it slowly as I have not informed Him that I have given you His phone Number.  John
Born 1945 Churchdown road.

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

Brenda

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 878
    • View Profile
Re: Goldsmiths Community Centre and North Downham estate
« Reply #2 on: June 15, 2009, 07:47:49 AM »
Gosh, I am totally ignorant of this.

Bren

Jane

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 28
    • View Profile
    • Email
Re: Goldsmiths Community Centre and North Downham estate
« Reply #3 on: June 15, 2009, 09:08:27 AM »
Hello Jane.  I lived in Downham and I was a postman at Catford sorting office, castillon rd is in SE6, but I cannot give you much info about the centre. So here is the phone number of a friend of mine, Ray Thorogood who lived on Castillon rd for a time and may have gone to the centre. My name is John Smith and I live in Canada so if you mention this he will know how you connected. His # is 698-9885-0208. Please take it slowly as I have not informed Him that I have given you His phone Number.  John
Gosh, I am totally ignorant of this.

Bren

Dear John and Bren,
Thank you for your replies. I've met people in the area who never knew of its existence either! For such a large building it is quite 'tucked away', blending in with its surroundings, but the 124 bus stops outside on its way to Catford. I've been doing some research and a people of all ages use it every week for education, sports and leisure activities. Maybe it is just a well kept secret!

I will contact Ray as you suggested John, and thank you very much for the information.

best wishes, Jane




Splinter

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 339
    • MSN Messenger - jef55@hotmail.co.uk
    • View Profile
Re: Goldsmiths Community Centre and North Downham estate
« Reply #4 on: June 15, 2009, 02:40:57 PM »
Hello Jane, How long has the 124 bus been going through the North Downham Estate? It used to go Down Northover into Verdant Lane Left into Hazlebank and then right into Torridon. Then again the last time i caught a bus they were Double Deckers it was about 1970.
Born in Pendragon Road 1954 Family lived in house since 1935 Bought in 1970/1 Still own it.

Jane

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 28
    • View Profile
    • Email
Re: Goldsmiths Community Centre and North Downham estate
« Reply #5 on: June 15, 2009, 05:37:03 PM »
My son used to drive the 124 bus about 14 years ago and it comes off Verdant Lane at Waters Road, goes via Battersby to Boundfield, Castillon and Baudwin then on to Hazelbank Road for at least as long as that (I just asked him!). When I first worked in North Downham about 19 years ago there wasn't a bus through the estate; you had to go to Verdant Lane.

I have unearthed some interesting stuff about the pre-fabs and the estate, including the 'Boundfield Festival' which was a sort of summer playscheme as far as I can make out and a youth club going back to 1942. Any further contributions will be gratefully received - I can scan in photos and would like to interview anyone who has memories of the community centre - past or present.

Jane


Vic

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 86
    • View Profile
Re: Goldsmiths Community Centre and North Downham estate
« Reply #6 on: June 15, 2009, 09:33:55 PM »
John,
Now there's a coincidence! I knew Ray Thorogood very well as a boy. He lived in Shroffold Road,along the 'Bank', between Merlin and Dagonet Gardens. His father was a bus conductor at Catford Garage. Ray lives in Shroffold Road now, but not at the same address. I visited him, with a mutual friend, a few years ago. I recall that, when young, Ray couldn't walk anywhere - he had to run! He ran and jumped all the time. I know it's the same Ray Thorogood as the Tel No you gave Jane checks with the one I have on his card in front of me now.
Regards,
Vic.

Splinter

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 339
    • MSN Messenger - jef55@hotmail.co.uk
    • View Profile
Re: Goldsmiths Community Centre and North Downham estate
« Reply #7 on: June 16, 2009, 12:32:54 AM »
I remember in the late 60`s that the school had a summer playcentre and Forster Park had a sports day. Was it Boundfield Road that had a small parade of shops ? I loved the cakes from the Bakery. I had a Boy Scout Mate who lived in the Prefabs he had a leg iron due to polio i found out later that he decided to have the leg off !!! I wish i could remember his name.
Born in Pendragon Road 1954 Family lived in house since 1935 Bought in 1970/1 Still own it.

JSmith

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 228
    • View Profile
    • Email
Re: Goldsmiths Community Centre and North Downham estate
« Reply #8 on: June 16, 2009, 01:49:18 AM »
John,
Now there's a coincidence! I knew Ray Thorogood very well as a boy. He lived in Shroffold Road,along the 'Bank', between Merlin and Dagonet Gardens. His father was a bus conductor at Catford Garage. Ray lives in Shroffold Road now, but not at the same address. I visited him, with a mutual friend, a few years ago. I recall that, when young, Ray couldn't walk anywhere - he had to run! He ran and jumped all the time. I know it's the same Ray Thorogood as the Tel No you gave Jane checks with the one I have on his card in front of me now.
Regards,
Vic.

Vic   I hope you will get in touch with Ray, He has not got a computer, but I know He would love to here from you. He is a fantastic guy, He is permanently in a wheel chair now because He has a flesh eating disease. I worked with Ray at the post office at Catford, He often phones me here in Canada and we talk of old friends and old times.  John
Born 1945 Churchdown road.

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

Brenda

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 878
    • View Profile
Re: Goldsmiths Community Centre and North Downham estate
« Reply #9 on: June 16, 2009, 03:52:45 AM »
Well, doesn't this site come up with some amazing twists and turns.  I love all these new connections to old connections.  How ironic that a lad (Ray Thorogood) who 'ran and jumped all the time' should end up with such a disabling disease. Poor man.

Look forward to the next episode.

Bren

Vic

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 86
    • View Profile
Re: Goldsmiths Community Centre and North Downham estate
« Reply #10 on: June 16, 2009, 02:34:41 PM »
John,
What sad news about Ray. I shall contact Gordon, the mutual friend who re-introduced me to Ray, he lived lived in Durham Hill when we were young but now lives at Bexley. I'll ask him if he is aware of Ray's problem. I shall pop in to see Ray when I go to Dahnum.
I was in the garden yesterday pruning Red Robin and some other small bushes and I was reminded of the gangs of men that went round the estate from time to time cutting the privet hedges. They did a fine job. On reflection, it was the overall symmetry of Downham that appealed to me. The same bricks, the very well laid pavements and the privet hedges. There were some clever variations of architecture in the shapes and sizes of houses and, I believe there were about four different types of porch way. A quick glance at 'Street View' confirms it.
Cycling is all the rage in the UK at the moment, but we were way ahead of them. There was a mixed cycling club on Downham in the forties. It was run by a Winne Mae who lived in Tristram Road. We met in a big house on Mason's Hill in Bromley, but spent most week-ends on the road youth hostelling with the YHA and CTC. Members I remember were the Dean brothers from Rangefield Road, their Dad had an Auto Cycle to do his insurance collection rounds on - we thought that very posh. There was Les Manton who lived on the corner Of Durham Hill and Woodbank; Wam Millington from Ivorydown and two brothers, one was a bit dwarfish but managed very well on a bike, from Valeswood Road. There were a few from the 'White City' at Marvels Lane including John Manning. I remember that we all aspired to Deraillier gears - when we could afford it, and the ultimate was a Claud Butler 531 frame sports model. Most of us had 'bitsers' made different by having 'fixed wheels'. OK until you forgot and tried to stop pedalling and over the top you went! At one stage me and my brother had a tandem - he on the front being older, me on the back - trouble was, after a night shift on the railway he was pooped and I did most of the work!
Enough reminiscing, must go and do some more pruning.
Vic.

Splinter

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 339
    • MSN Messenger - jef55@hotmail.co.uk
    • View Profile
Re: Goldsmiths Community Centre and North Downham estate
« Reply #11 on: June 16, 2009, 11:05:39 PM »
I used to cycle all over the estate to see various mates, we would all go off together to places, didn`t think about how safe it was. Best outing was to Biggin Hill Airshows ( had 2 each year then). I couldn`t even think of it now with the state of the roads, traffic and parked cars, i wouldn`t last a week. PS I`m off to Biggin Sunday week for the show havn`t been for 3 years.
Born in Pendragon Road 1954 Family lived in house since 1935 Bought in 1970/1 Still own it.

Brenda

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 878
    • View Profile
Re: Goldsmiths Community Centre and North Downham estate
« Reply #12 on: June 17, 2009, 12:04:00 AM »
Fantastic reminiscences, Vic.  Yes, the council workers came along regularly to trim the privet hedges.  Whenever I smell privet, I am immediately taken back to Downham days. I was delighted to find a privet bush on this property (maybe the single token of a past owner's attempts at a hedge) and it has thrived.  When it flowers, I am in heaven!  

We decided on a native bush hedge (grevillea) in the early days of our residence here and got quite a nice one going.  The flowers attracted the native birds, in particular the lovely blue wrens. However, the penny dropped that it was also attracting the long wigglies and we removed it.  Happily, they self-seeded and now there are two nice bushes on the other side of the road so the birds are still happy and the snakes no doubt are also happy.

My friend and I cycled a fair bit when we were in our teens.  We always said we'd join a cycling club but never did.  Didn't ever get too far. I suppose the farthest we went was to Biggin Hill and Greenwich.

My brakes once failed on the big hill down into Lee Green and I rammed into the back of a car.  Ouch!  The driver was actually quite forgiving but might not have been had I caused any damage.  Had bruised fingers for a while.
Bren

Vic

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 86
    • View Profile
Re: Goldsmiths Community Centre and North Downham estate
« Reply #13 on: June 17, 2009, 02:50:59 PM »
Here come more past connections Brenda! I presume that the hill that you lost your brakes on was Burnt Ash Hill - leads down to Lee Green. My first girl friend, Sylvia Jeffries lived at 53 Burnt Ash Hill. I was the tender age of 9 and we were evacuated to Old Duston near Northampton. I never saw her again after we returned to London!
I hope your privet bush continues to thrive. I cut out a large bush of unknown identity yesterday afternoon - it needed pruning every year, was slowly increasing in size and didn't look very nice. This morning we bought a slow growing New Zealand phormian to take its place. I'll plant it when it stops raining!
Both you and Splinter mentioned Biggin Hill. I belonged to my school ATC squadron and  I spent just about every week end there as an ATC cadet helping with refuelling and covering/uncovering the Spitfires on 600 (City of London) Squadron. It was an ad hoc arrangement whereby three of us cadets stayed on camp on Saturday night. I can't remember how we fixed it, but it was unofficial. On Saturday mornings I collected money for paper bills for W H Smith's in Grove Park station from my rounds in Baring Road, Amblecote Road, Kynaston Road and Chatsworth Avenue right round to King's Meadow took it back to the stall manager, he was ex Navy, was called Fred and lived in Gareth Grove. Then I caught the 94 to Bromley then 410 to Biggin Hill. We slept in a barrack block and mostly ate in the NAAFI as the food in the Airmens' Mess was awful. This went on for some time and on one occasion Winston Churchill visited Biggin from nearby Chartwell, he was Honorary Air Commodore of the other squadron at Biggin 615, and during his walk about he stopped in front of me and asked what I did in the war! I said I was evacuated for a lot of it, but I had been mostly in London. His eyes glazed over and he moved on without comment. One gruesome event comes back to me: a Spitfire of 615 Sqn crashed near the pub on Leaves Green - well it hit the ground in a flat attitude at high speed, shot through a high wall and ended up against the front of the pub. The pilot, a Flt Lt Benson, was thrown out backwards and ended up hanging in the tall tree by the pub in his parachute harness, very dead with his left leg rammed up into his torso. I was due to go to the RAF Aircrew Selection Centre on the following Monday and all the experienced old ex-wartime airmen said to me that sort of thing happened often to pilots! Food for thought! The pilot was buried in Downe Cemetery.
Still on Biggin Hill. On weekday evenings our cycling club often visited the Old Jail pub in Jail Lane, just past the airfield. They sold very strong cider and I remember that the ride home was great fun. It was downhill most of the way, except for the climbs at Bromley South and at Southover, and every week we tried to beat our previous best time home. On some evenings we would venture as far as Westerham or Sevenoaks, but that involved climbing either Westerham Hill or Polhill on the way back. As Splinter says, traffic then was light enough not to make cycling a dangerous pastime.
A final note about Biggin Hill. I remember seeing from the bus a mock gravestone in a wall in the village which said 'In Loving Memory of Ten for Sixpence'. Woodbines I suppose.
I hope you have a good day for your visit to Biggin Bump Splinter.
Vic.

Splinter

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 339
    • MSN Messenger - jef55@hotmail.co.uk
    • View Profile
Re: Goldsmiths Community Centre and North Downham estate
« Reply #14 on: June 17, 2009, 08:07:13 PM »
Enjoyed reading your last comment Vic,410 bus eh! the good old Green line bus, all gone to the big bus stop in the sky now. Further to Aircraft crashes i was at Biggin a few years ago and the day before, a crash killed 2 pilots i think it was a Meteor, we had a min silence then within 30 mins an old american plane crashed in front of us killing the pilot, then a F16 came fast over the airfield he must of been told what had happened so flew away and they stopped the show. I`m going there to see the Vulcan Bomber which is now flying and the two Folland Gnats. There will also be a special flypast to celebrate Vigin Atlantics 25 years they will have the new 747-400 in formation with the Red Arrows i just hope for good weather. Back in the late 60`s i belonged to 22nd Lewisham South Scout Group based at Ballamore School (Now Merlin) and we became Air Scouts. We went on many trips to Biggin, had a few flights and then went to Heathrow and went on a simulator of a VC10 (still a lovely plane). But i never went in a helicopter, until 1999 and then it was the Kent Air Ambulance. I was in a Go Cart race had a crash and got taken to Maidstone Hospital, looking down at all the houses i didn`t realise how many had swimming pools in the back garden. I was OK a few broken ribs and a sore neck. So i do a bit of Charity work for them.
Born in Pendragon Road 1954 Family lived in house since 1935 Bought in 1970/1 Still own it.