An excellent recollection of facts and names - The Maypole Team
My First Memories of the Maypole
Would be around 1942 about a year after moving there from Station Road Crayford. My sister Evelyn was born that year in the nursing home in Wansant Road. My dad along with Misters Pope, May, Perkins and a few others who for one reason or another were not called up to fight were part of the Home guard and did fire watch duties at night around the area. They used to meet in the public air raid shelter by the bus stop up by the school. This was also the place we all had to go to to collect our gas mask, young children were given Mickey mouse shaped ones in a cardboard box with a piece of string attached to hang it around our necks. Bexley Hospital was bombed several times by incendiary and other bombs, I remember standing watching as the planes tried to avoid the search lights and the shells from the mobile pom pom gun that the anti aircraft gunners from the army camp at Leyton Cross drove around chasing the enemy.
My dad was exempt from call up as he was to valuable to Vickers making guns, where he invented a couple of ways to speed up production of same. In July 1942 my mother gave birth to my sister Evelyn the same name as herself. As previously mentioned Evelyn was born at a nursing home in Wansant Road Bexley, while mum was there a German plane crashed just over the road in a field and the young pilot was brought into the nursing home. The nurses and young mothers felt sorry for the young pilot when the police came and took him away, as yet they did not know of his doings only a short time before the crash. He had been shooting at school children in and around Dartford West as they came out of school. One young lad had his bottom shot off by machine gun fire while cleaning his mother’s windows.
Later at the age of four I was to attend St. Michael College also in Wansant Road as a day pupil. Soon after this the school was renamed “The London Choir School”. While there I lost a friend who on the way home from school crossed the road and was knocked down by a laundry lorry and killed instantly. I was off sick that day or I would have most probably have been with him, as we often crossed there together to buy a penny bun from the off-license come grocer shop down the dip (Baldwyns Park) as it was known.
Soon after this Hitler started sending over the V1 rockets commonly known as the doodlebugs, these eerie sounding rockets had short wings and a tail with an engine fixed to the top of it from which exhaust flames could be seen . When the fuel ran out and the engine stopped. Every one would huddle in a corner and wait for the inevitable bang; if you heard it you knew it wasn’t your turn this time. I remember laying in bed one night with mum (dad was on air raid warden duty or nights at Vickers, when a doodle bug came over so low that we could see the flames from the engine as it passed over our roof. It was that low that it took the chimney pot off the roof of a neighbour across the road, before running out of fuel and landing in the allotments just 300 yards away, being so low it hit the earth softly and we were able to see the engine intact the next day. Shortly after that Hitler started sending the V2 rockets that were even more frightening, you would hear nothing until they hit their target.
I can remember watching a dog fight over toward the Joydons wood area and seeing the loser bail out and watching as his parachute opened. One also fell in the nursery of the Maypole House. The Winters who owned the Maypole house used to sell products to us from their nursery; where now stands the Rolex watch factory. Mr Winter was a director of the Co. Tony Winter would have been the youngest boy: A tragic family, three off whom committed suicide.
Mr Pope was later to to keep his horses in the Winters field. Mr Pope used to sell logs from his horse and cart, many a day I would have helped Alan, Ian and George Pope saw up logs for their father; sometimes by the light of an oil lantern.
During the war everyone had to carry an identity card with them where ever they went. I can remember that a police man would get on the bus and check them, he usually got on just where the bus came off the heath and entered Shepherds Lane. On one occasion Mum was questioned at length (much to her embarrassment) on the bus and this was later followed up by a home visit from the police. We later learned that a German P.O.W. Had escaped and had taken on the identity of a Dutch Pilot using the name Van Lott. A book was later written about him and called “The One Who Got Away” as he was the only German P.O.W. To escape from this country.
After leaving St Michaels Collage I went Yorkshire to live with my old great aunt for around nine months on my return I went to school at the Maypole Primary. Miss Gaspar was the head teacher who had taught my Mother at St Albans Road school Dartford, and did not like my mum for reasons that I will not go into here. She immediately took a dislike to me and bullied me all through school, I was caned often and can honestly say that I had never committed the offence for which I was punished. I was stood in front of all the teachers during my first week there and she told them to keep an eye on me as I was trouble; *****. She also would not allow me to sit the eleven plus.
In my class there were Allen Pope, Lindsey Fisher, Anthony Hancock, John Morgan, Peter Howard, Howard Rogers, George Govier? Janice Scott, David Bainbridge, ??? white, Maureen Green, Christine Harper, Brian Coleman, Anita Web, Judith ???, Barry Miskin, Averal Hunt and about ten more. I think I have done well seeing as I can not remember last w???.
Having not been allowed to take the eleven plus I ended up at Dartford West Secondary (no regrets), I did reasonably well there and held the record for bowling at cricket until the school closed some fifty or so years later.
Do you remember Curdling's Shop at the end of my Road (Beaconsfield), that nice smell of a small grocers shop where they cut, slice and weighed every thing by hand. Sugar weighed into a brown bag, sweets and lemon powder poured into a cone made of news paper, butter and cheese sliced and wrapped in grease proof paper; very little came pre-packed and the smell of the cheeses, fresh bacon, bread and other items all mingling to give that unique smell that I can smell even now. Mrs Turner worked there before Mrs Roberts Mrs Vera Barrett and Iris was it who married a G.I.?. Talking of smell I used to like the smell of leather and polish in Mr. Miles the cobblers shop.
Dad and Mum used to keep chickens and Rabbits to subsidise the meat and egg rations as many others did. Not like David Saunders and family who some time after the war ate all the pigeons I had sold to him. I think his Parents conned him into eating them as they did not like him keeping them in the garden.
Evelyn and I sang in the choir at St Barnabas, I until my voice broke. We received 3d a week if we attended choir practice and the Sunday service, this we would receive around Christmas time.
The post office was owned by Mr. Vine who used to sing and could often be heard on workers playtime; 247 medium wave, light program lunchtime radio. I can still see the face of the lady who worked behind the counter (ginger hair and glasses head always tilted to one side) selling sweets and cigarettes but can not recall her name. The other lady behind the post office was Mrs Vine. In those days every one was given the title of Mr. Master. Mrs. or Miss. Sir or Madam, no Ms. in those days.
Does anyone remember the winkle man coming round on a Sunday afternoon ringing a bell, Grooms baker and hills milk being delivered by horse and cart and the rag and bone man totting with his horse and cart? The only time a car came up the road was when the Doctor was making a visit or some wealthy visitor came by taxi even the local constabulary came on a bicycle. Mr Waterman the postman in Beaconsfield was the first to buy a car on the maypole I believe, and Mr. Pope and my Father were later to buy motorcycles and side-car.
As others have mentioned we had the maypole institute which was used for all manner of things, youth club, ladies institute, dances, plays and other forms of entertainment. Members would have an annual outing to the seaside usually Margate or Ramsgate and occasionally to Herne Bay in a Grundens charabanc (coach). Of course there was the annual fancy dress show followed by sports, where we that won races were disqualified from ever running in amateur races as we would receive financial reward 2s 6d for first prize if I remember correctly. Of course non of us new at that time of things like that, it was all so innocent.
I joined the merchant navy on my sixteenth birthday and sailed to Australia via the Canary Islands and South Africa, returning via Aden, Suez and Bruge. We were one of the last ships to pass through the Suez canal before President Nasser closed it. I was a terrible sailor and within a year of returning to these shores I joined the RAF as a regular, In 1963 I married an Irish girl named Mary and in 65 moved into No. 30 Baldwyns Road which had been the house of the Hogan's. One of the Hogans remained in the house as we were later to find out. When any of our four children that slept in the top rooms fell ill she would visit them and stroke them. We told the late Mrs. Perkins about this and when Mary described the old lady who visited, Mrs Perkins said that it was indeed Granny Hogan. She dressed all in black and wore long black lace gloves and this was exactly how the two children that had seen her described her. We never told the children what the other had seen, yet both described the same woman. My Mother was first to say on visiting the attic bedrooms that it felt haunted and my dogs would not go to the attic floor.
Children I remember from my childhood on the Maypole would be:
Denton Terrace; Barbara May, Busters daughter who died so young, Willie and Nancy Beck, Dorothy and Barbara Taylor, Pat Flett, Robin Hunt? Barry and John Collins, Carol Slade, Averal Hunt, Pam Wright and Derek and Basil Bedwell.
Beaconsfield; Kim and ?? Button, Fred, Jean Perkins, Angie, Sylvia, Alan, Ian George Pope, Raymond, Beryl, Brenda Wibley, Valerie Eynon, Iris and Pat Connelly,Tony Smith, Janice Scott, Pat, Gill? Richardson Carlton Ball, Colin and Robin Wickens, Stan, Margaret, Jim, Pearl, Elsie Snowdens, Dickie Balcomb, Tony, Yvonne Clark, Brain John and Jean Parker, Maureen Green.
Dartford Road; Jackie Smith, Veronica Taylor, Jack, Norman, Moses Chalice. Christine Miles.
Heath End; 2 , Sonia & Nigel Windmill, Eileen, Barbara Jean Rivers,Steven, Marion Parker.
Baldwyns; Sheila, Audrey, Barbara, Joan Haulton, Joyce Stockford, Peter, Margaret Cadman, ?? Tucker, Christine, Ann, Joan Potter, Billy Fowler, Lee Smith, Mick & June Hogan, Tom Gosling, Gordon Lennox, David & Eddie Wooldridge, Willie, Stan, Molly Barrett, Angela Wibley, David Ann Mosses Mavis Proudfoot, David, Wendy Saunders, Mavis & ? Warwick, Roberta & David Cruickshanks, Michael Masters, Ken & Thelma Perkis. Dorothy Piper.
The Whitehead Girls I believe lived over in the cottage at Capt. James. Earl Read, Bob & Marion Shaw. Lived At The Hospital Gate.
Apologies for those I can not remember and for those who's names I have misspelt.