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Moving to Surrey.
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One of our favourite lunch time walks when working at Venners was in the grounds of "Carter's Tested Seeds" at Raynes Park, which was quite near to Venners on the Kingston by-pass. We were allowed to look around the nurseries and the enormous greenhouses and we admired the large fishpond at the main entrance; it had some of the biggest goldfish I had ever seen.

From the top of the road bridge, overlooking Carter's, we had a very good view of south London, the two towers of Crystal Palace stood out like sentinels in the distance.

In was while we were living in Tooting, that the Crystal Palace was burnt down - 30th November 1936. The enormous fire lit up the area for miles around as the giant glass building collapsed. We stood in the road that evening in Glasford Street and watched the enormous red glow in the sky. The view of London from the Kingston by-pass was never quite the same again, but I believe one of the two towers survived the fire.

During my last few months working at Venners I was joined by Fred who had just left school. He too, started in the Repairs Department as a tea boy but left the firm after a few months to embark on a new career. By then we had moved three times and were living at North Cheam in Surrey.

Around 1937, we had moved out of Tooting to settle “in the country” again, this time in Surrey. Our first house was in First Avenue , West Ewell, near Epsom. The house was No. 6 (I think), but we were only there for about a week as mum discovered the place was over-run with ants, so the agent quickly found us another house.

We then moved to a house about half a mile away at 11 Poole Road. This was a fairly new housing estate at West Ewell, situated on the edge of a wide expanse of rough land, known locally as the “Wilderness”. The Hogsmill River wound its way across this land and as there were no proper bridges all the local children, including Fred and Derek, would have to cross the river as best they could on the way to school at Ruxley Lane which was the nearest school at the time and was about a mile across the fields. They invariably came home from school with, at least, wet feet.

A new school was built while we were living in the area, at Danetree Road, which was adjacent to Poole Road, but Fred and Derek continued to attend Ruxley Lane until Fred left school in March 1938. He then joined me at Venners at New Malden and we cycled to work together from Poole Road.

In 1938 the family moved to North Cheam, whilst Fred and I continued to work at Venners at New Malden, but not for long! Fred was offered a Saturday job at Kingston’s Butchers in North Cheam, which very soon lead to a full-time job in the same shop. We were now living at 6 Wordsworth Drive, North Cheam. Fred was working as a trainee butcher which left a vacancy on the Saturday delivery round which I was offered and very gladly accepted.

My part-time Saturday job on the butchers’ round eventually lead to me being offered a full-time position alongside Fred, and so it was that I left Venners Time Switches in 1938 and became a trainee butcher with the firm of Thomas Kingston of London Road, North Cheam.

At Christmas 1938, Fred and I were both working at Kingston’s and busy delivering meat and turkeys to our customers in very bad weather conditions. The snow was so heavy at one time that it was impossible to ride the carrier bikes, we just loaded the baskets and pushed the bikes as best we could. As we progressed on the round and the load was subsequently lighter we were able to ride the bikes back to the shop and pick up another load. Sometimes we used our own bikes, but often it was easier to walk. I think it was that particular Christmas that mum let us thaw out about twenty turkeys in front of the fireplace in our living room, they were then rushed back to the shop to be trussed before we could deliver them. Fred made his last delivery of turkeys that Christmas Eve by sledge.

Click the thumbnail to see a full-sized picture painted in 1939
Mike says: Around this time, my dad started drawing & painting, he says for the first time.
Click the thumbnail (above) to see a copy of the picture he painted on the 8th July 1939.

Continues on page two

On the 8th January 1940 food rationing started and on 10th May Winston Churchill became Prime Minister of an all-Party Coalition Government.
Black-outs were introduced on 1st September 1940 and on the 7th September the Blitz began.
Soon after was the start of the “Battle of Britain”. Petrol rationing began on 23rd September 1940.

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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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