Wallington in the 50s and 60s
Barry Luckie wrote.....
I was born in Wallington at 41 St Mary Avenue (Butter Hill estate) on 19th July 1946 and lived there until the age of 23. My early memories include playing in the street, being interrupted by a vehicle about once an hour. There were no parked cars! Some of the vehicles were horse drawn, such as the coal merchant and rag & bone man.
My first school was Holy Trinity in Bute Road, which I walked to via Derek Avenue and Croydon Road. I started there in 1951 as an infant and progressed to the Junior section, leaving in 1956. I had the privilege of playing for the school football team (practice in the "Rec" in Bute Road) and was selected, in 1956, to represent Beddington, Wallington & Carshalton schools in a match at Carshalton West school in Wrythe Lane.
Beddington Park featured strongly in my childhood. Dental treatment at the Grange, as well as football, cricket, boating, swimming at the Orphanage and learning to ride a bike. When I changed to Senior school, I walked past or through the park every day to Elmwood Secondary Modern school, near Hackbridge. I had the good fortune to fail my 11 plus exams (narrowly, after two sittings and an interview) and, instead of going to Wallington Grammar and having to play rugby, I started at Elmwood in their highest 1st year class, playing football in the school team and emerging with 5 GCE’s after passing the 13 plus exam there.
From the age of 12 to 16, I was a member of the Boys Brigade, which met at Queens Road Wallington. This involved Parade nights, PE nights, Band practice, Church parades and playing in the 7th East Surrey football team (also representing the East Surrey Battalion against other Battalions). What I initially thought might be rather "nerdy" actually formed an important part of my youth and kept me and my mates off the street - apart from chips and a Tizer at Wallington Green on Friday nights.
Wallington was a great place to live, as London wasn't far away and the "posh" countryside was near too. After leaving school, I worked in Victoria, Central London as a clerk, travelling from Hackbridge Station each day, until I bought myself a Vespa scooter at the age of 17, on which I commuted.
I remember, in April 1963, taking a girl from the Girls Life Brigade (linked to the B.B.) to the Royal Albert Hall to see Del Shannon. He was brilliant but over-shadowed by a new group called The Beatles, who were among the support acts! They took the place by storm - although I did see them live again, this was the only occasion they could be heard. They were drowned by screams at future concerts.
Around that time, the Liverpool Scene got under way and Wallington Public Hall (Stafford Road) on Tuesday nights was the place to be. Week after week, top new bands appeared, including The Searchers, Nashville Teens, Johnny Kidd, Hemans Hermits, Swinging Blue Jeans, Billy J Kramer and many others. The audience stood tightly packed but what great memories they are. Years later, in the 1970's, I played on stage there as a member of a group. What a thrill!
I have marvellous memories of growing up in Wallington. Though I suppose there were down times, to live amongst places like Carshalton Park, Beddington Park, The Odeon Wallington, The Dukes Head Wallington Green, Carshalton Ponds (The Greyhound pub) and "the top of Wallington" as we called it (south Wallington, where I took my driving test) and be raised in a decent area was a privilege. The churches and, later, the pubs were corner-stones of activities throughout our "development" and the ability to commute to Central London, be in the suburbs but be close to the countryside was and still is important to the quality of life.
If I had to go back and start again, it would be in Wallington!
Words and images Copyright © Barry Luckie (now living in Plymouth)
Posted 5 March 2016
Posted 5 March 2016