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Moving house in London.


After I left hospital in April 1952 I had the task of finding a new job. I hadn’t worked for about three years because of hospital treatment and was constantly aware that I should avoid heavy work of any description for fear of another relapse.

I tried, in vain, to get into commercial art, but I lacked the work experience. In the meantime, June had returned to her job as Secretary to a Departmental Manager at Mullards, Mitcham Works. She was able to get me an interview with the Personnel Officer on the site, which was part of the Philips Electrical Group. I eventually started work in the Record Changer Department as an Assembly Operator. Within two weeks I was promoted to Mechanical Inspector checking the final assembly of record changers.

June and I were married during my first week working at Philips.

Alf and June 3rd August 1952

June was lodging in Carshalton, but had no parental ties, so decided to get married from my parents' home in Maycross Avenue, Morden. We initially chose a nearby Methodist Church but found they couldn’t have a marriage service on a Sunday. We finally chose to get married at St James' Church, Martins Way, Merton, which was quite nearby. Sunday was a more convenient day for relatives and friends to attend, so the wedding took place on Sunday 3rd August 1952.

Our first home was in furnished rooms in a house in Hazelwood Road, Morden, consisting of one bedroom, a kitchen and a shared bathroom. We stayed here only a few weeks; the landlady was not at all friendly and the flat rather unsuitable.

We then moved to our second home, in a boarding-house in Castle Street, Carshalton. We had a large furnished front room on the ground floor, with no cooking facilities except for a small gas ring on which we could boil a kettle. The landlord brought meals into us on a tray. We shared the bathroom with the other boarders but had to send out our laundry locally. We were, however, allowed to store our personal property, in cardboard boxes, in the basement of the house, as well as my bike which I was using to travel to work. We had no furniture of our own at this stage.

We spent Christmas 1952 at this house; we were still there on 2nd June 1953, the Queen’s Coronation day, which we listened to on the radio. We had no television. I still have a few newspapers and the Radio Times which I have kept from that event as souvenirs.

June became pregnant while we were staying at this house, so it was essential that we found more suitable accommodation.

Our next move, to our third home, in late July or early August 1953, was into a London Borough, a move which allowed us to get our names onto another housing list - we were already on two other Borough’s lists! It was a furnished upstairs flat in Burntwood Lane, Earlsfield.

The landlord and his wife occupied the downstairs of the house and allowed us to use the garden to hang out the washing, but to do this we had to go through their kitchen. They were a very unpleasant couple. Upstairs, we had a front room lounge, a kitchen, two bedrooms and a shared bathroom. They also, very reluctantly, allowed us to keep the pram in the hallway at the bottom of our stairs, but they had known about the baby’s imminent arrival, so it was part of our arrangement with them. Michael was born at St Helier Hospital, Carshalton on 21st August 1953 while we were still living at Burntwood Lane and although he was no trouble, the landlady used his presence as an excuse to get us out.
My dad fails to mention that I was born two months premature, which in 1953 must have caused concern for him & June, on top of the landlord's pressure.

Ultimately the landlord gave us “notice to quit” as he wanted the flat for friends of his who had temporarily moved into his lounge downstairs. We continued to look for other accommodation and had interviews with the Citizens Advice Bureau. We asked the landlord for a time extension, but he refused and took us to a Rent Tribunal which was a rather upsetting experience. The result was that we were awarded six weeks “Security of Tenure”. This annoyed the landlord and his wife who proceeded to make our life more unbearable; among other petty rules that he enforced he restricted the use of the bathroom, specifying which days we could use the bath and put three padlocks on the bathroom door, which meant we had to go downstairs and ask him for the three keys whenever we needed to use the bathroom and then return them afterwards.

Around Christmas time 1953, Michael was taken seriously ill with double pneumonia and admitted to hospital at Grove Road, Tooting, the hospital now known as St George's General.

Luckily, with the help of friends, we managed to get our first unfurnished flat. This was our fourth home and was in Totterdown Street, Tooting. Michael was about a year old, so it must have been in 1954. Here, we gradually started to obtain our own furniture bit by bit, mostly second-hand of course, and mainly thanks to generous relatives. We bought our first washing machine here, a top-loader with a hose-pipe to fit on the cold tap in the kitchen sink. There was no heater in the machine so hot water had to be added separately. The waste water was drained off into a bucket from an outlet at the bottom of the machine, but it had its own hand-wringer… such luxury!

In about 1955 we moved to our fifth home, and again it was unfurnished. This time it was in Streatham, above a chemist in Eardley Road. It was an awkward shaped flat, quite big, and it occupied the whole of the top floor, up three flights of stairs. The long lounge was wedge shaped as the building was situated on the corner of a fork. Michael had a black cat while we were living there.

In 1956 we moved to a house around the corner, in Leverson Street, Streatham. This was our sixth home. The house was owned by an elderly lady living alone, who occupied the downstairs part of the house and let the whole of the upstairs flat to us, unfurnished. She was continually borrowing money and food from us because she was always “hard-up”.

The local corner shop had stopped giving her credit because she couldn’t settle her debts. We paid our rent well in advance to try to help her and I bought four wooden chairs from her as we didn’t have a lot of furniture of our own. She was so desperate for money that she tried to sell her house to us at a very reduced price, provided she could go on living there rent-free, but when we contacted her daughter we discovered that the house wasn’t hers to sell!

All the time we were living in London we had no refrigerator in our home, as they were still considered to be a luxury item and we certainly couldn’t have afforded one. The milk, and sometimes the butter, was kept in a bowl of cold water usually on the kitchen floor, with a damp muslin cloth draped over it. The flat in Leverson Street had no electric wall sockets; we had one fitted in the kitchen so that we could use our washing machine, but for all the other appliances an array of extension sockets would hang from the ceiling light socket in the living room.

On 25th August 1956 Valerie and John were married at St James' Church, Martin Way, Morden. Two days later, on 27th August 1956, we moved out of our flat in Leverson Street and moved to Swindon.

During those first four years of our marriage we had lived in six different homes in London and for the whole of that period I was working at Philips’ Mitcham Works and cycling to work on the same bike that I had bought in 1936. June had been working at the same place as me, but she had been there prior to her illness and again after her convalescence up until Michael was born in 1953.

Some points of history: Identity Cards were abolished in UK on 21st February 1952, tea rationing ended on 3rd October 1952 and sweet rationing ended on the 5th February 1953. By the 3rd July 1954 all rationing in Britain had been ended, after fourteen years.
After twenty-eight attempts, Sir Gordon Richards won his first Derby at Epsom Races, on 6th June 1953.
In October 1953, the Ford Popular at £390 (€589) was the world’s cheapest four-cylinder car.
The most favourite radio shows in 1953 were “The Goon Show” and “Educating Archie”.
Of course, Roger Banister broke the four-minute mile on 6th May 1954 - he ran it in 3 minutes, 59.4 seconds.
On 2nd June 1954, at the age of 18, Lester Piggott became the youngest jockey to win the Derby and on 22nd January 1955 Joe Davis first achieved snooker’s highest break of 147.

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.0 UK: England & Wales License.

Text by Alf Allen 1999. Edited and spell-checked by Mike Allen 2003.
Most photos taken by Alf and most illustrations drawn by him; scanned from his albums, etc., now in my possession and digitally edited 2003-2005.
Yes, yes, the photos and layout need updating - the website was first designed in "dial-up days", before any sort of broadband, and everything had to be small so it uploaded and downloaded fast. Work to do, I know.

Website produced 2003-2013 by Mike Allen - a fatuous platitudes production.

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