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This covers the period between the time I was discharged from the army in 1946 and when I was taken ill with Tuberculosis in 1949.

After discharge from the army, I took a short break and spent some time with my family at North Cheam. Dad, who had been working on plumbing contracts for the government during the war years was now beginning to establish his own small business around south London. He sub-contracted mostly for the building firm of William Willett and worked mainly in the Putney, Richmond and Wandsworth areas. He maintained a small yard near to his workplace and usually employed about six or eight plumbers; his office was the dining room of our home in Malden Road, North Cheam and I spent most of my spare time over the next three years acting as his “Secretary”, “Office Manager” or whatever he chose to call me on his letterheads. Most evenings he would spend several hours dictating letters and estimates to customers and building contractors and I would type them for him. He was also kept busy with local plumbing jobs which invariably meant him being called out at unsociable hours.

In the meantime I had resumed my own full-time work as a butcher; I had returned to work with my last employer, Thomas Kingston. The firm had several branches in the area within travelling distance of the head office at North Cheam and I started at the branch at Wallington and travelled to work by bike. I was later sent to the Carshalton Ponds branch, known as “Woodmans”, for a short time and finally to a small branch at Worcester Park, which was much nearer to home. I remained there until my first year of statutory reinstatement had expired and was then made redundant to make way for other ex-employees returning from the forces.

It was now 1947. I discovered that other butchery firms in the area were experiencing the same problem as I continued my search for employment. I finally applied to Sainsburys at their head office at Blackfriars in London, knowing that a job with them would lend prestige to any future job application, but they too had nothing to offer.

The Labour Exchange at Sutton weren’t able to help with shop work, but offered me the choice of working at the Post Office as a postman or going down the coal mines as a so-called “Bevin Boy”. I accepted the former, took the necessary medical examination with the GPO Doctor at Sutton and was subsequently accepted as a trainee postman at the Sorting Office in Grove Road, Sutton. Apart from the very early start in the mornings it was a good job and I think I might have stayed a lot longer if I hadn’t been constantly on the look-out for another butcher’s job. Luckily I found that after only one week at the Post Office.

Hearns (Butchers) of Wrythe Lane, Carshalton were advertising for a cutter, so I applied for the job and was accepted. Meat was still on ration and this shop was claimed to have one of the biggest customer registrations in the south of England. There was a large staff there including at least four full-time cutters; I joined them and soon became part of the team.

There were two cashiers at the shop and one of them, Vera, persuaded me to take up ice-skating and we went to Streatham Ice Rink regularly. I had tried this sport previously, so had already mastered the art of staying on my feet, and had even bought a second-hand pair of speed skates to save hiring them every time I went.

The younger of the two cashiers, Joan, was more keen on cycling and so we made up a foursome with my friends, Win and Stan, who lived in Worcester Park. I later bought a Royal Enfield tandem from a friend, Walter, who was the Senior Shopman in the shop where I worked.

In the meantime, I still made full use of my faithful BSA sports bike which I had bought in 1935 and used to travel to work on ever since; Hearns was the eighth firm I had worked for since leaving school. During the years that I was away in the army, the bike which I had left strung-up from the rafters in the garage at home for safe-keeping was, I later discovered, “lovingly cared for” and “kept in good working condition” by my two brothers…

In July 1947 , eight of us, family and friends went on a weeks holiday to Margate, travelling by coach from Sutton.

Some time during 1947 I enrolled for a correspondence art course with the Brodie Mack Correspondence Art School, and aunt Nell loaned me the money to pay the fee. I guess I must have been too preoccupied with other things to be able to concentrate fully on the course, so I packed it up and paid the money back to aunt Nell.

Painted by Alf at Cheam in 1948.
Painted at Cheam in 1948, I guess that Alf copied the lower drawing - which is literally "cut-out and pasted" to his drawing. I like his version more...

Points from history: The most popular radio shows in the UK in January 1947 were “Radio Forfeits”, “Dick Barton” and “Woman's Hour”.
In March 1947 the Government banned mid-week sport to boost productivity.
In the budget a packet of cigarettes went up from 2/4 to 3/4d (£0.17, €0.26).
In June 1947 the milk allowance was cut to two and a half pints a week and a flat rate Car Tax of £10 (€15.11) a year was planned…
The royal wedding of Princess Elizabeth to Prince Philip took place on 20th November 1947.
On the 1st January 1948 the railways were nationalised.
On 28th February the last British troops left India.
On the 1st April the electricity industry was nationalised.
On the 10th June the first heart operation was performed at Guys Hospital, London.
The National Health Service was started on 5th July 1948, including a National Insurance scheme, welfare systems, free medical treatment, free prescription dental care, free glasses & wigs.

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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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