‘Steeped in Streatham’, 1960s to Present

Interviewee

  • Bridged Hall, 54, was born in South Africa but has lived almost all her life in Streatham and is very active in local projects and organisations. “When I stand at the top of Streatham Common, near the wild area, I think ‘This is my land!’”.

Q: When did you come to live in Streatham?

I moved to Streatham when I was about two, when my parents split up. My mother returned to the UK to live with her family in Streatham and my father stayed behind in South Africa. We started in Midhurst Avenue near the ABC Cinema; then we moved to Oakdale Road, off Valley Road, then Rutford Road, followed by Babington Road near St. Leonard’s Church, Norfolk House Road, and now Wavertree Road, Streatham Hill.

Q: What are your memories about your life in Streatham?

I lived with my mum and step-dad and two brothers in a flat in a house on Rutford Road and my grandma, aunt and uncle lived in the downstairs flat in the same house.

I grew up on Streatham High Road, spending dividing my time between the Swimming Pool and the Ice Rink, Streatham Common, and the two cinemas, the Odeon and the ABC. I went to Sunnyhill Road Primary school, but went to secondary school in Battersea. Sunnyhill Road School took us to the Ice Rink for skating lessons.

The mews on Gleneagle Road was still used for keeping horses and a friend of mine used to ride from there.

There was a Sea Cadets’ training ship, T.S. Onslaught, at the Jehovah’s Witness Hall on the corner of Rutford Road. My step-father was an Officer there, but they did not take girls, so I had to go to Tooting!

My aunt, Jean Maclennan, nee Juff, used to run a Drama Group called Reactors which put on plays at Knights Hill Youth Club. She had been an actress and a director in South Africa. My first play for Reactors was ‘Noah’s Ark’ and I played a lamb! Reactors used to meet at our home in Rutford Road and Oakdale Road. One of my earliest memories is of being chased down the hall by someone dressed as a monkey, bowling a coconut! My mum met my step-father at Reactors. The group ran until the end of the 80s.

I got married at St. Leonard’s Church.

Q: Did you attend any events in Streatham?

It’s my impression that there are far more events in Streatham now than there used to be. I do remember attending the firework displays on Streatham Common when my son was small.

The Rev. Lisa Wright, my son’s paternal grandmother, was a priest at St. Leonard’s. She was also the head of the creative department at Pimlico School and performed at the Edinburgh Fringe. She has put on plays at St. Leonard’s including devised versions of ‘Pilgrim’s Progress’ and ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’.

Q: What are your memories of shopping in Streatham?

Mum used to send me from Rutford Road to the grocers near the traffic lights at Streatham Station for a loaf of bread. My step-grandma used to work in the sweetshop next door. In Hopton Parade, where Morrison’s is now, a guy called Peter used to have a sweetshop. He used to sell ‘dirty’ magazines which he kept on the top shelf and put in a paper bag when he sold them.

My mum was a baby minder; she had four 2-year olds, mu brother who was five, and a baby. When she went into Wallis’s Supermarket, where JD Sports is now, with her enormous pram and six children, all of whom looked as different from each other as they possibly could, she got some very strange looks.

On Saturday mornings I used to go shopping with my grandma and her trolley. We used to shop at Courtauld’s and Kennedy’s delicatessen, and visit the greengrocer’s which was where the bridal shop now is, opposite Morrison’s. I worked there for a short time while I was still at school. After shopping, we’d end up in the Astoria Cafe, now the Life Cafe, and Gran would buy me a Knickerbocker Glory!

On Streatham High Road, W.H. Smith’s was on the corner, where Maplin’s is now. C and A was where W.H. Smith is, and before that, the shop was Sharman’s, the ‘posh’ department store.

On one corner of Hopton Road there was a fish-and-chip shop and on the other corner was the Johnnie Walker building. I think it was a jeweller’s, it’s flats now. We always used to visit the fish shop after swimming, almost every night. In the same parade of shops was an ice-skate shop, and I used to walk from home in Rutford Road to the ice rink in my skates!

Later, when I lived in Babington Road in the 80s, I remember pushing my son around Safeway’s in my brother’s old big ‘proper’ pram.

Q: Did you work in Streatham?

When I was a child, my mother worked as a Personal Assistant in the offices above what is now Beaumont Beds on the High Road.

My aunt worked as a bookkeeper in the London Post Office Telephone Exchange on Gleneagle Road, in the building which used to be the old Streatham Town Hall.

When I was 16, my step-father worked in the Bowling Alley.

After working in the greengrocer’s I started at Woolworth’s at the age of 15, in the mid-70s. At first I worked in the deli counter, where old ladies came to buy two slices of ham and cheese. I still have a ceramic dish that had pate in it; we were allowed to take them home.

Then I was promoted to my own aisle – ladies’ sanitary ware!

I have worked in Lambeth Mediation Service on Barrhill Road, and also co-ordinated the ‘Hands-Off our Common’ campaign to prevent a temporary ice-rink being built on Streatham Common. I was one of the founders of ‘Sustainable Streatham’. I am now campaigning around the Library and am one of the leads of the Friends of Streatham Library.  My husband also works in Streatham.

Q: Do you have any memories of famous people?

When we used to drive past New Park Road on the way to Balham, my step-father always said, “Roy Hudd lives round here”. Roger Moore lived in Wavertree Court on Wavertree Road. (He also lived on Buckleigh Road in South Streatham when he was married to Rosemary Squires). I often used to see Shaw Taylor – he was always on the High Road.

Q: Do you have any memories of transport in Streatham?

I used to go to school on the 49 bus, from outside the old bus garage (the one pulled down to make way for the most recent old one!). I used to walk to the bus stop through the grounds of Coventry Hall, an old convent, now a council estate.

The 49 was a Routemaster and when I used to come home from school, I used to stand on the platform and hang off the handrail as the bus swung round the corner into the dip near St. Leonard’s Church.

The 159 went everywhere! I remember when the last 159 Routemaster service ran, and I really miss travelling to the West End on it.

We often used to go to Croydon or to Brixton Market on the 109, so all our journeys started at the bus garage.

Q: Are there any places in Streatham that are special to you?

When I was a child, the two safest places for me were Streatham Common and the Swimming Pool, so I feel very troubled to have seen my pool ‘torn down’.

I had quite a troubled childhood and I used to go to Streatham Common to get away from it all. The Rookery is one of the nicest places on the planet. I supported the movement for the community garden and dot money for a fruit garden. In the Rookery there is a bench, originally to “the love of my life” Anne from Stan Deadman and now dedicated to both of them. When I die, I want a bench in the Rookery!

Q: Do you ever think of leaving Streatham?

The strength of community in Streatham brings tears to my eyes. I expect to leave Streatham in a box and either go to West Norwood Cemetery or have my ashes scattered on Streatham Common.

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2 thoughts on “‘Steeped in Streatham’, 1960s to Present

  1. Was there a paddling pool at the rookery in the 1960s? I have a memory of going there on the 49 bus from Wandsworth Common.

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