Wednesday 20 July 2016

Deptford Reminiscences from Christine Fagan

My nan lived in Brookmill Road, just past Carrington House (but not in the Sylvan Cottages), and we often visited her there in the 1950's.
Her front door opened onto the street, and there was a long passage leading down to a living room with a scullery off. The living room was typical of the time, with a cast iron cooking range/fireplace (nothing at all fancy, mind you). I remember being horrified once, by the smell and look of her dinner simmering on the stove. It was green tripe (unbleached) and is unfit for human consumption apparently, but she still lived to a ripe old age.
The other two rooms off the passage must have been a bedroom and a parlour, although I never got to see inside either.
Upstairs was rented to another family, as was quite usual in those days. Most houses where I lived, in East London, were multiple occupancy. A young couple, wanting to get married, would speak to their mother's landlord who would find them a room in a house nearby. As they got on their feet financially, they might rent an additional room as it became available, and eventually a whole floor. It was usually a really large family who ever rented a whole house.
This was the reason that London then was a succession of 'hamlets'. I knew everyone in a radius of 4 or 5 streets, and was related to a number of them. These communities were broken up due to the post war 'slum clearance', initiated by a Labour Government. I often smile at the frequently referred to 'problem' of an ageing population. We lived in 'slums', unheated and without indoor plumbing, everyone smoked in tiny rooms, we burned coal, breathed in pea soupers, and played on bombsites. How come we have lived so long??
I was a bit intimidated by the men outside Carrington House, but my dad told me that a lot of them were ex-servicemen who had come home to no house and no family. After that I noticed how many of them had service tattoos. No-one ever bothered kids anyway.
I was amused to read that Carrington House was considered inferior to Rowton Houses by residents, on the grounds that it wasn't 'homely' enough.
Thanks for bringing back these memories of a slum, that is now a Conservation Area!
kind regards,
Chris Faganpt

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