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I was born in Chadwell St. Mary, and spent the first few years living with my grand parents there. As my parents lived in Railway cottages near Tilbury Riverside they put me at grandparents to keep me away from the dock area which was being bombed by the Germans.
I do remember at the age of 3 or 4 being at mother’s at 12 Railway Cottages looking up in the sky and shouting excitedly to mum. “look look space ships”. Of course what I could see were Barrage Balloons tethered in the world’s end fields. I must have been on a visit to mum’s at the time.
As I said, I was left at grandparents in Chadwell, and grandfather took me to school to start my first day. I didn`t want to go in and held onto the railings outside Chadwell Primary School, at the top of the hill near the Cross Keys, until one of the teachers came out and coaxed me in. I cried all morning, and was shut in a cupboard. Whilst in the cupboard I could see through the partially opened door, one of the girls went out of the classroom and ran across the playground to the toilets.
Me wanting to go at the time, ran out and across the playground to the loo. The teacher Mrs Heath, promptly sent a girl after me, she caught me up and shouted in my face, “You are in the girls toilets.” Funny when I was a bit older I found out, nobody wanted to go to the toilet if it was raining. The toilets then were in the middle of the playground and had no roof.
Whilst in the last year at the primary school I was in the school cricket team and I remember getting 4 members of the opposing side out in one over. What an achievement.
Whilst at my grandparents I remember the party that was held on the top field of Ruskin Road. That was the celebration for the end of the war. Us children tasted jelly & ice cream for the first time. I was sent to live with my parents at the Railway cottages after the war.
The railway cottages were for people who worked for British Rail. My dad worked on the Steam Ferries. Our family would get privilege tickets to travel on the Ferries or rail.
The cottages had gas lights as far back as I can remember. It was my job as oldest kid in the family to light the gas lights in the evening. Once I was a bit heavy handed and broke the mantel. I lost a few weeks pocket money then.
Our radio worked on an accumulator (a type of battery) and I got the job some Saturday mornings to cycle down to Dock Road and get a charged replacement. One day I dropped and smashed it, then lost several more weeks pocket money. When they finally came round and installed electricity, us kids couldn`t stop switching the lights on and off. (daft isn`t it) I can remember we had a coin meter for the electric and it used to take the old pennies.
In the early evening dusk us kids used to race and be the first to pull the chains and turn the gas lights on at each end of the footbridge leading over to the cottages, also the light that lit up the pathway leading round the cottages.
I went on to Torrells secondary school because I wouldn’t go to rough old St Chads. I used to cycle all the way to school, stopping off at my cousins house in Lytton Road. Chadwell. I’d then go on to school with my cousins.
Very often I had to post dad`s football pools on the way to school. One day he should have won £50 and I had forgotten to post his coupons. Losing yet more weeks pocket money.