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Rangefield Road, Downham, Kent.
(page 2 of 2)

Approx. 1925-1930

One Christmas, Fred and I were given a wonderful Christmas present, a two-seater pedal car by aunt May who lived at Tooting. We also took piano lessons while we were at Rangefield Road, as mum had bought a new piano especially for Fred and I to learn on. She could play quite well herself, but couldn't read music. I managed to play the music scale and eventually progressed to playing a tune called "Down on Misery Farm". Very apt, now I think about it, as I was hopeless and the neighbours probably thought so too. I believe Fred progressed a bit further but we both discontinued after we left Downham.

While we were still at Downham, dad must have joined the British Legion Club because, as a child, I well remember going to the "Family Nights" when children were allowed in, and in particular, the Fancy Dress nights.

Sketch of postman's cap circa 1930
The one day at Downham which sticks in my mind was the 19th November 1929. I was quietly playing alone with my toy soldiers in the living room and mum was upstairs in bed, when suddenly the midwife came down the stairs to tell me I had another baby brother.

Derek had been born!

Fred was away from home at the time, apparently in hospital at Dartford, I believe. I don't remember where our dad was, but I do know he was making periodical visits to Brompton Chest Hospital in London for treatment at around that time. He fetched Fred home from Dartford shortly afterwards.

I remember the local shops at Downham where mum went shopping and on Saturdays we would all go by bus (or was it by tram?) to the bigger shopping centres at Bromley or Lewisham.

Sketch of 1930's ice-cream seller

I recall we always had liver and bacon for Saturday dinner. I remember going to the Schools District Sports Day, probably in Bromley, and taking part in a three-legged race.

We made friends with many of the neighbours in Rangefield Road, and some of them I remember visited us when we later moved to Tooting.

One of our neighbours in Rangefield Road was a cousin of mum's, Rose Nash, although I don't remember her very well.

Our grandmother, Mary Ann Hobbs, whose home at Walworth we had shared, died on 10th January 1929, while we were living at Downham. I remember being told later that it poured with rain at the funeral, which was at Nunhead Cemetery.

Fred, Derek and I were baptised together, at the Wesleyan Methodist Church, on the Downham Estate on 12th January 1930. Fred was aged six years; Derek was only three months old and I was aged eight and a half years. The church was only a short distance away, as I remember we walked there from Rangefield Road.

Some further points of interest - the first general strike in British history was on May 4th 1926.
London buses had their tops covered-in by August 1927.
The Morris Minor was launched in UK in August 1928 and in November 1929 petrol prices fell to 1/7d (£0.08, €0.12) a gallon.
In April 1930, Amy Johnson flew from Croydon Aerodrome in a second-hand Gypsy Moth to Darwin, Australia in nineteen days - now that is something I remember, we were living at Downham at the time and I was almost nine years old.

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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.

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