Sydenham in the twenties, part 2

The History of Sydenham from Cippenham to present day. Links to photos especially welcome!

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Sydenham in the twenties, part 2

Post by regoneil »

Carnival week in the twenties.

Every summer, a committee was formed to stage a week of festivities to celebrate carnival. This committee was made up of representatives from various local organisations including the Forest Hill and Sydenham Tradesmen’s Cricket Club and went under the banner of something like: “Sydenham & Forest Hill crippled children’s Fund”. A week of fundraising events would have been arranged including a “Stop Watch” competition. A gold pocket watch would be fully wound, sealed and placed in a jeweller’s safe. The idea being to sell tickets, bearing the time in hours (12), minutes and seconds, and the person with the correct time shown on the watch, when the seal was broken and the watch exposed, would win a gold watch, ladies or gents according to the winner.

This was just one of many competitions held during the week that I can remember. Another, which involved most of the shopkeepers, was to display an item in their window which would not normally be sold in that shop and folk would be challenged to identify these articles. The more shops involved the greater the chance of winning a prize.
Of course, the main event would take place on the last Saturday of the week when the carnival procession would take place.

A procession, some half a mile long, would form up in the grounds of the “Boys Home” in Perry Rise, almost opposite to Queenswood Road, Its grounds reached back to join the sports grounds of “Butlers Wharf”, situated at the top of Perry Hill, opposite what was once “Tillings Farm”. I can well remember my late Step-Father, a great supporter of the Charity, leading the procession off, dressed as a bottle of “Johnnie Walker” red label whiskey, with just a slit cut in the frame work for him to see through and it was most amusing to see his two feet shuffling along under the base. The whole construction was made of wicker and concealed in the appropriate paper covering.

He led the procession of many floats, bands and parades with hundreds of supporters collecting, with buckets from the huge crowds that gathered to watch as it moved down through Bell Green and then up the Sydenham Road, past all the highly decorated shops and along Kirkdale, Dartmouth Road, through Forest Hill, around the back of the railway station to proceed, past the United Dairies Depot at the top of Perry Vale and along down past the fire station back to the “Boys Home”

Once the procession had dispersed, the crowds were entertained by the fair that had been operating in the grounds during the preceding week and the evening would end with a firework display.

The whole weeks event was on a par with another similar event which took place in Southend Village where an annual “Hospital Fete” took place on a piece of land, known to us kids as “A thousand Islands”, the other side of Beckenham Road to “Peter Pan’s Pool”, but that is another story.

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Sydenham in the btwenties, part 2.

Post by regoneil »

Sydenham in the twenties.

At the time of writing, the holiday season is in full swing, so it would be appropriate to reflect on the season as it appeared in the twenties. Remember that the social conditions were far different from that of today, the depression was approaching and the country was still reeling from the after effects of WW1, Money was in short supply and so many widowed women had to bring up families and also be the bread winners.
The schools would break for a four week period during august and in consequence, most children had to fend for themselves whilst mother would be busy earning money to keep things going in the home. So many mothers “took in washing” to feed their family or found some other alternative means to earn a pittance.
For many of the kids, a holiday was out of the question but many enjoyed a day out treat to visit such places as the London Zoo, or probably a trip on the train to Hayes Common for a ramble or a picnic. But for the rest of the month, they had to make their own amusement.
Adamsrill Rd. School arranged for the playground to remain open for the children to play for the whole period. Local parks were open of course, but most played in the side streets. There was little danger from motor vehicles in those days as most transport was horse drawn. Those old enough and lucky enough to have access to a cycle would go out in small groups to explore parks and other places of interest in the surrounding areas. A popular attraction was Spring Park at West Wickham, where we would either cycle or catch a train from Lower Sydenham station to West Wickham and walk up to the park, which was more of a wooded area, just ideal for exploring and setting up camps.
Another favourite was to walk to Forest Hill and catch a tram and purchase either a sixpenny “all day ticket”, or a “four-penny pupil’s ticket”. These tickets would allow one to travel any where in London, both sides of the river at no extra charge for the full day. (The pupil’s ticket expired at 6pm,) I well remember one of the favourite trips was to travel on trams to Woolwich, catch the “Free” Ferry and stay on it until the one of the crew noticed, and kicked us off, only to catch the next ferry, (there were three ferry boats) and remain on board until we were discovered. We would then catch the third until finally; we would come to the end of our day’s cruise. If it so happened that we found ourselves on the North side of the Thames, we would either take to the drain, a foot tunnel under the river, or take a tram and make for the Kingsway Subway under the Strand and make our way by various routes home. The Kingsway Subway was the only link between the tramway systems on north and south London, fed by three routes, Numbers 31, 33, and 35., the latter linking Forest Hill with Highgate.
Augusts in the twenties were always blessed with hot sunny days, according to my memory and the latter part of the month was always highlighted by the start of the annual Crystal Palace Firework season as the nights drew in.
That for the majority of us kids was our holidays, but for some of the lucky ones, they may have had a week or two at places like Southend on Sea or Margate, Ramsgate or Brighton. The latter was not as popular as it did not have sandy beaches.
I was one of the fortunate ones as I was a member of the Daily Sketch Club, which gave me free tickets to travel on the “Bell Steamers” from Tower Pier to Lowestoft. But that is another story, if you would like to read it.

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Post by Chelsey »

Hi Reg
I for one would love to read more , so please contribute some more , this is fantastic , Thank You

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Sydenham in the twenties, part 2

Post by regoneil »

Hi Chelsey, (and others who are interested in the “Twenties and Thirties”>)
Thank you for your kind remarks, but can I ask you to remember that for children of that era there were very few distractions for youngsters than we have today. The only electronics available was the crystal wireless set which, for those who could afford the cost of components, was a good challenge to explore the air waves. The Boys Scouts and Girl Guides provided opportunities for us to gain some experience to meet our future lives.
However, to continue from my last item, here is one of my memories of an annual holiday, should I say prior to my reaching the age when I would be eligible to join the Scouts? then the annual summer camp would be the highlight of the year.
To commence one’s holiday by travelling on the “Belle Steamer” was in itself an adventure for any child. Following the excitement of preparing for the annual visit to the seaside, came THE day when we presented ourselves to the crew at the Pier at Tower Bridge in London. As we walked down the gangway onto the gently moving deck of this magnificent ship, smoke billowing out of the funnel, the crew waiting to welcome us aboard amid that nostalgic smell of oily steam drifting around us, the excitement grew intense. My mother always fancied taking our seats at the stern of the vessel as she enjoyed the movement as we steamed down the Thames., the rougher the weather, the more she enjoyed it as I would watch the white trail left behind as the two paddles churned up the water. The boat would steam majestically along passing ships from all parts of the world unloading their cargoes into the great warehouses lining the river way down to Gravesend.
The more affluent passengers could be seen congregating in the bars and restaurants amidships whilst others could be seen dining on lobster salads and the like. Music could be heard coming from the P.A system giving the atmosphere of pleasant times ahead.
Once settled in, I would go off on a tour of inspection of the ship and would be fascinated in watching the great machinery as great arms would go round pushing the connecting rods into the pistons as the paddles were forced round to the accompaniment of bells ting tinging as instructions were relayed from the bridge to the engineers below to reduce speed or increase it The engineers always seemed to have an oily rag in one hand ready to keep every moving part gleaming.
At each port of call, preparations would be made to moor up to the pier but, first, the flag must be hoisted, to remain flying until departure. Members of the crew would stand by to throw ropes to the crews on the piers so to make fast and for passengers to alight or come on board,
Once we were clear of Southend, we would head out into the Estuary until all sight of land would be lost. It was then that we felt that we were really at sea with only seagulls escorting us over the shoals and flats with the occasional mast from a sunken ship appearing in the water.
The first sign of approaching land was when the flag would be hoisted up on the mast as we approached Clacton...
At Walton on the Naze, we would meet boats returning to London, this being the halfway point of the journey and then on we would sail along close to the shore and see lines of beach huts lining the shore line for miles. Eventually, we would arrive at the Claremont Pier at Lowestoft at about 6pm, tired but eagerly awaiting our holiday.
Sadly, this is an experience that has long since gone, The Thames no longer is the hustling busy centre of world trade, Likewise today, folk no longer can enjoy such an experience of steaming down the river to the seaside. Instead, it is “Jetting off” to the continent and other places, herded together like sheep!

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sydenham in the twenties, part 2

Post by regoneil »

The two decades between the two world wars was a period of trying to stabilise living conditions in this country, as was so in other countries that had been involved. Germany was hit by very heavy inflation and the value of money went completely out of control. Strangely though, in the U.K., although there were of course severe shortages of commodities, especially with food, the value of money remained steady. There was no “Cost of living index” and no inflation until the period following WW2... Dramatic changes were to take effect within the work force, due to the casualties sustained to the male population, resulting in the introduction of women to replace the men lost during the war.
In consequence, the lives of everyone were to change dramatically. Prior to WW1, family life revolved around the husband being the bread-winner whilst the wife looked after the home and raised the family. During the war, the women had to go into the factories and replace the men that had to go to war with the result that Family life was to change for good.
Strangely, it was not until the period following WW2 that inflation hit the country when, in the late 40’s a spiral of rising costs started with an increase in the costs of transport on the railways. Freight charges and fares were increased to support the failing railways. It had been an advertising feature of the railway companies to offer fares at a “penny per mile” prior to that time. That was, I believe, the start of the inflation cycle.
Throughout the twenties and thirties, prices on most essentials remained constant and headlines were made when, following a poor harvest, the price of a loaf of bread was to be increased by a farthing!
(Remember that there were 20 shillings to the pound, 12 pence to a shilling and 4 farthings to a penny. A pint of milk was a penny halfpenny, newspapers were 1 penny and cigarettes were twenty for a shilling or eight-pence for twenty of the cheaper variety). The average wage was less than £3 per week.
Money was short, and living conditions during that period were very hard. There were queues outside pawnbrokers every weekend for folk redeeming their pledges.
Such was life that annual holidays were the highlight of the year for those who could afford such luxuries. Perhaps I was one of the lucky ones, see my last post on this subject, re “Belle Steamers”

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Sydenham in the twenties, part 2

Post by regoneil »

MAs I write this item, we are just into November, fortunately the sun is shining as if it is spring, But, in the twenties (and thirties) things were not so pleasant, as November would herald in the foggy season, commencing with Bonfire night on the 5th to the great delight of us kids. For several weeks prior to this date, we had all been busy collecting burnable rubbish from the local shops and suitable garden rubbish from neighbours, to build a great bonfire. Our parents had been asked to donate discarded clothing in order to make effigies of Guy Fawks, some of which would be paraded close to railway stations in the hopes that returning city workers would be tempted into making a small donation towards our fireworks kitty. .”Remember, remember, the 5th of November” was our cry and “Penny for the guy”...
There is no doubt that the smoke from thousands of bonfires was the start as it would be followed by the smoke from the chimneys of every house in Sydenham and, of course from the rest of the metropolis.
With little, or no wind, this very soon enveloped the whole of London and, without any exaggeration, it would reach the situation where it was impossible to see one’s hand, nine inches from one’s nose.
Traffic would be brought to a standstill and I with other B.P. Scouts would ride our bicycles in the front of buses to help them to their destinations. The alternative would be for the conductor to walk in front with a torch. Of course, we would wear handkerchiefs over our noses and mouths as a filter. But the smell from the smog was horrible, a blend of fumes from coal and, worse still, coke which many households burned for economy.
The “Clean Air” act certainly was a success; imagine what it would be like today to have a smog with all the cars on the road to add to it, there were very few motor vehicles in those days.

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Post by Ulysses »

regoneil: These are brilliant.

I love reading them. I am sure I am not alone. You have such a detailed memory and such an evocative writing style. Wonderful narrative.

I did wonder if Sydenham Radio might want to get you in front of a mike? Given the proliferation of people of a 'certain vintage' here in Sydenham I'm sure there'd be loads of people keen to listen to your reminisces. I don't think it being broadcast over the net would be a barrier .

Just a thought.

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sydenham in the twenties part 2

Post by regoneil »

Thank you for the kind remarks re my memories, may I, with respect, make reference to my thread

PostPosted: 24 Jun 2009 20:35 Post subject: Memories of the Crystal Palace in the Twenties and Thirties.

I would not wish to repeat any of them but, mention has been made of the giant clock, a picture is to be seen in other threads, but I am anxious to find out details of the size of it, if anyone can help.
For those interested in the Palace history, there was an excellent film shown last night on BBC4 entitled "J.L.Baird, his story". for those interested, it is a must.
More memois to come.

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sydenham in the twenties part 2

Post by regoneil »

To fully appreciate what it was like to be resident in Sydenham in the Twenties and Thirties, it is imperative that one understands a little of the general living conditions of the period, so different from what we are accustomed to in this digital age,.
Residents of the town were confined mostly within it’s boundaries due to the limited transport of the period. There were very few motor cars, a limited service of omnibuses and a very sparse railway service. Unless one was employed in the City or other suburban areas, one seldom had reason to stray outside SE26, unless it was to catch a bus to Catford, Penge or Forest Hill in search of bargains from their local shops, or just for the sake of a change of scenery or, once a year for a visit to the seaside for the annual holiday. In consequence, the residents became “Clannish” and looked upon residents of neighbouring areas as intruders, but this was an advantage in that one recognised one another, strangers would be conspicuous and so we were able to be a part of a very friendly family and live together and knowing one another as such.
There was a trust amongst the community where it was commonplace to leave front doors open or unlocked. The local “Bobby” was seen to be a friend, offering good advice and monitoring the area for the goodwill of the community,
. It was understood that he carried a truncheon as well as a cape, to give him protection from the weather and intruders. Children were taught to go to a policeman if they found themselves lost or in any form of trouble as they would ensure a safe return home. Of course, if a youngster was caught up to no good, he would receive a clip round the ear and some sound advice. Neighbours would share their interests and pleasures with one another and offer a helping hand in times of trouble. One could “go up the street shopping” as one would say, and get a smile or other sign of recognition from most passers by. Housewives would pop in to one of the many tea shops for refreshment and a “long sit down” as my mother would say, and a chat and a rest from searching for bargains in the many friendly, little shops, of which there were a multitude. (Where are they today?) It should be noted that in those days, married women did not “go out to work” unless it was necessary due to financial difficulties. It was the custom for them to look after the home and rear the children, a full time job, it must be admitted, No washing machines, vacuum cleaners or other household appliances, just a copper, mangle, brute force and hard work for them, but they were very proud in the manner in which they hearth stoned their front door steps snow white and polished the brass knockers and doorbells on the front doors. Another item of pride was the black leaded stoves and fireplace surrounds, who would polish the brass water taps these days? Saturday evenings would see housewives trudging back from the local shops laden with a weeks shopping in baskets slung from both arms. There were no shopping trolleys, but a few brown paper carrier bags could be purchased from most shops for “tuppence”, which was quite an expensive item. We kids would earn pocket money by returning empty jam jars to the grocers and claim a penny for 2lb jars and a halfpenny for 1lb ones. (One could purchase 2ozs of sweets for one penny or two sherbet fountains, or four “Gob stoppers”, all for one penny! A ha’pth of hundreds and thousands would go a long way.)
There were no School meals, at midday we would all have to walk home, eat one’s dinner and return by 1.50 to answer the register, there was usually a ten minute playtime mid morning and afternoon when we would eat our packed lunch of bread and jam or bread and dripping. We would be “let out “at four thirty to go home for tea... It was not uncommon to hear a pitiful cry of “after you with the core” if one was seen eating an apple or pear in the playground, to which a common reply would be “there aint going to be no core!”
The average wage for men was £3.00 or less, per week (I was told that a Bank Manager earned £5 a week). And I seem to remember that “the old age pension” for those over the age of 65 was seven shillings and sixpence a week, (I used to go and collect this for an aged aunt, once a week from the sub post office at the bottom of Berrymans Lane opposite Trewsbury Road.
There was plenty of entertainment with three cinemas in Sydenham and nine others within the three towns, as well as the Lewisham Hippodrome in Catford and the Penge Empire, which offered live entertainment. There was no television and wireless was in its infancy. I well remember my step brother raising the roof when the wind slammed a door and the cat’s whisker jumped off the crystal, and he lost his reception from his home made crystal set, I would be allowed to listen to children’s hour before going to bed, those were the days of Uncle Mac, (a resident of Sydenham). Who for so many years entertained us with “Children’s Hour", before the news at six o’clock. The programme usually ended with a list of birthdays, with a chant of “Hello Twins” if somewhere a pair would be celebrating, There were, of course, wind up gramophones in most houses from which one could hear the latest dance tune radiating from front room windows. There usually would be a dance held in St. Michaels Church Hall on a Saturday evening. There were various youth clubs and many organisations catered for the young during summer evenings and winter among which were cycling clubs for those who owned bicycles. It was quite safe for youngsters to cycle out into the country lanes of Kent and Surrey as there was little danger from speeding motorists, and, one could certainly hear the sounds of their approach.
In the current age of inflation, it seems to be forgotten that during the years between 1920 and 1945, the value of money in this country remained stable, if for some reason, probably a poor harvest, or an increase in the price of milk or bread became necessary, by a farthing, there would be an outcry, It was during this period that the country experienced the rehabilitation from WW1, the great depression and WW2, and yet the value of money remained stable, as did wages. (The rot set in in 1947 with the advent for an increase in freight charges on the raikways, and so the spiral began. But that is outside this subject).
Sydenham was a very friendly happy place to live in in those days, I well remember the disruption created by the South Suburban Gas Works deciding to lay a new gas main from Bell Green, up the Sydenham Road and along Kent House Road to Penge with all the inconvenience of road closures and diversions of bus routes, that went on for many months. All the work being done by hand with the assistance of a steam roller, with many men and horses, and, of course elderly gentlemen called”Night watchmen”, We would go and chat with them over a coke fire beside their hut and listen to stories of what it was like when they were boys, as they settled in for an all night vigil,. From other posts, it appears to me that History is repeating itself! I very much doubt that you would be able to sit and listen to the tales of the “Old Night Watchman” in this day and age.

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Post by leenewham »

I loved reading that Reg.

I thought about setting up a blog called 'what was sydenham' with Falkors images and a new shot from today from the same position so we get an ongoing record for how sydenham has changed and will change in the future.

It would be great to incorprate this with these posts by Reg in a new updated history section on this site instead.

So Reg, Falkor, Admin etc, what do you think?

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sydenham in the twenties. part 2

Post by regoneil »

Christmas as I remember it.

To recall this period in time it must be remembered that very few houses were supplied with electricity in the early twenties; Gas, paraffin and coal were the main sources of power. There were very few motor vehicles on the streets and, of course, there was no television and very little wireless to distract us. There was little, if nothing, in the manner of equipment to aid the housewife in her daily chores apart from the bare essentials of a gas stove, or cooking range for coal or coke and a copper for heating water for washing and bathing. Let us say, most things were home produced. With these conditions in mind, I shall try to recall my memories as a child in the early part of the 1920’s.

Preparations for the great event began way back in November when the ingredients for the Christmas Puddings would be purchased and mixed ready for pre-boiling in the copper. The mixing was in itself a ceremony as each member of the family would be invited to have a stir and make a wish. It was at this moment in time when folk would realise that it was time to consider what gifts had to be chosen for relatives and friends and to make plans to either make something, or save a few pence to buy something suitable. I can remember men and boys busy with fretsaws making items suitable for the home and girls and women busy with the knitting and, or, needle-work. I well remember turning the handle of a sewing machine for my aunt as kettle holders, tea cosies and other items were being turned out by the dozen to provide gifts, or to supply gift stalls at the local church Xmas Fayre.

Christmas shopping would be heralded in by advertisements in the newspapers that a toy fare would open at Gamages or Selfridges in the West End, which would entice us kids to be taken to see the Hornby trains and Meccano kits being exhibited and, perhaps a visit to Santa’s Grotto to receive some small toy. (Many years later, I took my young daughter to Cheesemans in Lewisham to visit Santa and to her amazement, and mine, he greeted us with a “Hello Reg”, followed by the curtain behind him opening and a mug of tea appeared, to which he lifted up his beard and took a long swig. On returning home she told her mother, with some pride that Father Christmas knew her Dad!)

There were not the long weeks of advertising, promoting the coming of Christmas as of today; the festival would start in most homes on Christmas Eve when the decorations would be put up. Home made paper chains carefully assembled a few days earlier would be hung from strings, carefully arranged away from any source of flame, and sprigs of holly and mistletoe would grace picture frames around the house. I remember cotton wool letters being stuck on the plain glass window over the front door spelling out “A Merry Xmas to one and all” and backed by a huge bunch of mistletoe to greet visitors. The evening of Xmas Eve would be a hive of industry as final preparations would be in force, deliveries from the greengrocer, butcher and grocer would go on late until nearly midnight. The local off-licence would deliver a variety of drinks to refresh the revellers over the Yuletide. I would be put to bed later than usual and told to go straight to sleep, otherwise, Santa would not come if I was awake. So after hanging my sock at the foot of my bed, I would leave some nuts and sweets and a mince pie on the mantelpiece to refresh the visitor. I would then try to go to sleep.

Early the following morning, I would awaken to hear the band of the Salvation Army playing “Christians Awake” in one of the nearby streets and I would feel around the foot of the bed with my foot asking myself “Has he been?” For some reason, he had trouble in getting my gifts in such a small sock so he left things in a pillow case! Within it I would feel that there were boxes and things that rattled, but I would not be able to find out until daylight would fill the room, or my Mother would come in and light a candle for me to explore the contents. Santa must have been in a hurry because he hadn’t refreshed himself with the items I had left out for him. I leave it to your imagination as to the excitement of the moment as each item was unwrapped and the various items of sweetmeats were tasted. Of course, there was a blower amidst the mountain of paper and wrappings to be blown in answer to a similar one sounding from next door. I seem to recall that there was always an orange, tangerine, some nuts and a piece of coal in my sock, amongst other things. I believe it was traditional.

The programme for the day would be a visit to church for those not involved with the proceedings of the festival at home. Children would be busy with their new toys delivered by Santa until dinnertime when the family would take up seats around the table for the Xmas Dinner. I seem to recall that there was always some reference to the “Parsons nose”, which I did not understand, but it was always a source of amusement. Following the main meal, the traditional Xmas pudding would be paraded in and a match put to it to envelope it in a blue flame.

This would have been ceremonially carried in by Uncle Walter, dressed in a dressing gown, with a dog chain around his neck and his head topped by a big blue tea cosy. He always carried an enormous clockmakers catalogue in the shape of a large pocket watch, depicting the time of 3. 40., claiming to be the Lord Mayor of Lewisham. During the rest of the day he would frequently be asked "what is the time?" to which he would reply "Twenty to Four".

Once shared out, with a warning to all present to be careful and not to swallow the silver three penny pieces that had been inserted into the pudding, the time for drinking a toast to absent friends would arrive.
This was before the late King George V introduced the Royal Christmas Message on the radio at 15.00 hrs.

Once the room had been cleared and the washing up done, then the highlight of the afternoon would be the distribution of gifts from one to another. These would have been placed under the Christmas tree and ceremoniously distributed by the head of the family. The tree that I first remember was illuminated by real miniature candles held in little metal holders clipped to branches of the tree and had to be lit by hand and carefully extinguished after use. They had to be placed where they could not set fire to any of the many decorations on the tree. (No Health & Safety in those days). There was little decoration of the exterior of houses then, apart from an old Victorian habit of placing small coloured glass vases, containing night light candles, on window sills or hanging in trees, which gave a little colour at night until the candles burned out. Of course, there was no public transport on Christmas Day; it was certainly a stay at home period, unless visiting relatives elsewhere.

After a quiet, restful afternoon, pleasantly disturbed by the playing of the latest gramophone records of the day, or, alternatively, Christmas carols or songs would be sung around the piano. Tea would be provided with lashings of jellies, blancmanges, trifles and other goodies surmounted by the great, iced Xmas cake, to fill the already overfilled stomachs. Sometimes indoor fireworks would be let off including, as I remember, a top hat which blew up after the fuse had been lit, showering everyone with small trinkets and novelties. Once the debris had been cleared away, folk would gather around a long table and take up sides for the many parlour games arranged during the evening. Such games as “Tip-it”, where the two opposing mixed teams would sit facing each other, hands under the tablecloth as a sixpenny piece would be passed along to be concealed in someone’s fist. On the command of the captain, seated in the middle, the team would place their clenched fists on the table and a member of the opposing team would be charged to choose the hand containing the coin, with the command to “Tip it”. This game would go on for some time before the ultimate winning conclusion would be reached. As a child, I often wondered why there was so much laughter and excitement when the hands were beneath the tablecloth. I am still a little puzzled! Should the coin be dropped to the floor, the captain would cry “Dropped piece” and then the scuffle would begin to retrieve it.
So many different parlour games were played, far too many to be recorded here but they continued well into the night with a break, late evening for refreshment of cold turkey sandwiches and cheeses, with liquid refreshment available at all times.

Boxing Day would be a repeat of Xmas Day, but for the food being cold, and as there would be a restricted bus service running, there would be an added attraction of a game of soccer at the local stadium, in this case, the Palace or Charlton

Christmas in the twenties was a TWO DAY holiday, a joyous occasion, and a really true family affair. The New Year was not a holiday in England then, so it was back to normal on the 27th. and, wait for the bills to come in.

May I wish all readers to this thread, a very happy and joyful Christmas and ask which would they prefer, a digital one or the old fashioned Yule Log and Roast Chestnut One?

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sydenham in the twenties....latest!

Post by regoneil »

Thanks for all your kind wishes. I am back home but a bit groggy! But here goes.....

Sydenham in the Twenties

To the many well-wishers who have so kindly commiserated with my incarceration in hospital, over the last few weeks, I send my best wishes and thanks so much for your messages.
Your wishes have encouraged me to a speedy recovery and, I hope, it will enable me to recount some of my memories of the 1920s.

For my birthday, I was given a copy of a book, telling of the history of Sydenham. I was not impressed that the Author described Lower Sydenham as a slum area. During my lifespan of ninety years, I have visited many slum areas within the U.K. and I can assure you that in the 1920s the Bell Green area did not warrant that description. In fact, most of the area comprised of rows of small dwellings with small front gardens between the footpath and the houses. The occupants of which took great pride in the appearance of their homes, the pathways to the front doors were hearth-stoned white and the front door furniture was always sparkling bright.. Front windows gleamed in the sunlight through which colourful curtains. would be seen.

Sydenham in those days was divided into three areas, Lower Sydenham, which embraced the gas-works and the area east of Champion Road, up to Kent House Road, including side roads off the main road, contained the smaller houses and the area west to Kirkdale contained larger properties with larger gardens Some areas within this section had some well appointed properties such as the Dacres Road area, backing on to Mayow Park (it seems that these magnificent houses have been replaced now with tower blocks).
The third area, from the railway up to the Crystal Palace contained, what was the millionaires area on Sydenham Hill.
Basically, Lower Sydenham housed the cloth cap residents whilst the white-collared brigade resided east of the railway station (I do hate the expression “train station”) Mosf of he Sydenham Hill occupants disappeared long before the fire that destroyed the Palace.

It should be remembered that it was during the twenties, motorised transport was introduced, as what we called the “wireless”., so most of home entertainment was the playing of gramophone records which cost 1 shilling apart from the little six inch “eclipse” records purchased from Woolworths at sixpence each. Entertainment for children was mostly home invented games but as the roads were quite safe, They became playgrounds and many games were played where the
nearest to any danger would have been tripping over a small heap deposited by the Baker’s or Milkman’s horse. (This would not have remained where it had been deposited for long before someone would have removed it with a brush and pan to enrich the back garden.

There was no graffiti apart from chalk lines Left on fences by children running along with a piece of chalk, clicking on the fence panels as they passed, Of course, Home Park and Mayow Park were well attended both by children and their parents for Picnics and games after school.
Life was so much quieter and slower in those days and children were so adapt at making their own toys and games from discarded rubbish from homes.
I well remember, as a Child, my mother would purcnhase a wooden crate from the greengrocer for a few pence, to provide firewood for lighting fires. This was an of an eight-sided,long, two compartment crate that once held bananas. Ideal for me to sit in and imagine that I was in a boat, amongst many other imaginary vehicles. Many hours of pleasure was given to me before it was chopped and burned
We kids were able to improvise and very few “tailor made” toys were available, with the exceptopn of “Meccano” and similar items. Not like the present day electronic contraptions that do not awaken the imagination.

Posts: 125
Joined: 16 Jan 2006 10:29
Location: Sydenham

Post by sarahc »

LOVELY to see you back Reg.

I so enjoy your stories, I really do. Alot of family on my Mothers side hail from Lower Sydenham - so it is of particular interest to me.

Keep 'em coming!

Sarah x

Posts: 18
Joined: 2 May 2010 23:59
Location: dartford

Re: sydenham in the twenties....latest!

Post by rolyevans »

regoneil wrote:Thanks for all your kind wishes. I am back home but a bit groggy! .
I hope you are feeling better now Reg. Your memories of Sydenham are wonderful. I lived in Sydenham as a child in the late 40's and during the early 50's (Champion Road , St.Michael's school etc.,) and, judging by your detailed accounts, it would seem that there was not much difference in day- to- day living in this period and that of the late 20's and 30's.
My mother's family , the Killicks lived in Sydenham from the turn of the century.
In the 20's and 30's they lived in Porthcawe Road. I have fond memories of Bretts the greengrocers, Delahoys , the Railway Tavern and the Bell
St.Michael's school.
Do you remember that old tramp, Jack Castle who hang around the bomb
site at the bottom of Holmeshaw Road opposite the Gas Works. He was quite a character, a bit eccentric but harmless. No political correctness in those days. A dog bit me and he carried me for two streets to take me into the Children's hospital.
I could go on , but I don't wish to bore you.
Thank you for your lovely memories. Please keep them coming

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