Woolwich & Districts
Keith Littlewood's Reminiscence:
Born in Raymere Gardens, Plumstead Common in 1952.
Went to Timbercroft
School, and Crown Woods School, Eltham.
Moved to Shooters Hill, 1984, then out to Bexleyheath.
I was a small boy my paternal grandmother Emily Elizabeth Littlewood
lived at the almshouses in Waverley Road, in Nelson Cottage,
until she died in 1961, in her 80’s. I visited her often
with my mother Doreen for a cup of tea and a chat after shopping
at the Links, and some Sundays we went with my father and sister
Ann for tea, often playing cards. Gran enjoyed cards, and as
she was very hard of hearing spoke and laughed loudly. Her kitchen
had an old sink, a store cupboard and a gas stove. She gave
me her empty matchboxes for my push-along tipper lorry, and
a thrupenny piece when we left for home.
we had a refrigerator, we went most days to the Slade shops,
where I remember a grocer’s, a baker’s, a butcher’s,
a newsagent's, an electrical shop, a bookmaker's, a hairdresser's,
a wool shop, and two green grocers! Paraffin for our heater,
usually employed in the hall or bathroom, came from Kirkham
Street or Alabama Street. Corner shops were everywhere. Coal
was ordered from a merchants in Tuam Road and kindling wood
for the open fire was bought at the corner shop at Nyanza Street
off Garland Road, where I also remember buying five Players
Weights for my Dad.
door to my grandmother’s flat was a sweet shop and barber’s,
a dentist’s run by Mr Morris, and a Post Office. From
the dentist’s waiting room you heard drilling noises from
the old machinery, and he had a blue model racing car to distract
the frightened patients!
school age there were many visits to the R.A.C.S. Links stores
at Plumstead Common, where I remember a sweet shop, a shoe shop,
a hairdresser's, a green grocers, a butcher's, a baker's and
a chemist's. Metal Co-op tokens (later plastic) were given out,
and we returned them to the central office, next to the stairs
to the hall above, for cash.
my first day at the Infants in Timbercroft
Primary School, in 1957, I had to be dragged inside by two
teachers whilst I tried to kick them! I wanted my Mum. The room
had tiny chairs, a sand pit, lots of toys, and also a toilet.
I later enjoyed school, especially remembering the warm radiators
when outside was cold and foggy in the winter, before the Clean
Air Act brought smokeless fuel. In the “smogs” we
wore Balaclavas, and put scarves over our mouths to try not
to breathe in the dirty air. You could only see a few yards
ahead of you. In the top class Christopher Johnson sat in front
of me, and has remained a lifelong friend. Our mothers had met
when we were in prams, at the child clinic in Garland Road,
which I can remember later attending for some injections.
lived in Pegwell Street, and on Saturday mornings we usually
went for a walk with his dog Tina, a lovely black mongrel. We
would take her over Plumstead Common and Winn’s Common
to Bostall Heath, or up to Shrewsbury Park, Eaglesfield, and
over to Oxleas Woods and Fields. We walked past the scrap yard
on Bleak Hill, and down to Rockcliffe Gardens, a beautiful place
of calm for a Sunday walk. I remember our family passing through
the nearby rubbish dump, now open space, where the valley of
Fanny on the Hill used to be, which was most unsightly.
and I watched the RT buses on the many routes across the Common,
especially noting 163’s, which were RTL’s from Camberwell
Garage, and turned around in Swingate Lane and stopped at The
Woodman. They sounded and looked different, and we noted the
water can and tap provided for topping up the radiators at the
bus stand. A photograph shows my grandfather William Henry Littlewood,
who died in 1951, as an inspector in his 40’s posing with
the crew in front of a B type 54 bus from Hampstead outside
the pub around 1920. My Dad, Henry Alfred Littlewood, born in
Bassant Road in 1915, worked at Plumstead Garage as well as
his father for a couple of years, after leaving Timbercroft
School at 14, before working at Vickers in Crayford.
one week all the buses normally using Plumstead Road were diverted
due to a subsidence in the road, in about 1962. There were buses
constantly arriving at The Ship bus stop, and going down Waverley
Road with the 192’s to Plumstead High Street.
remember playing tennis at Plumstead Common with my sister Ann,
and with Chris, and also going around the putting course with
my Dad, or Chris and his father Douglas and brother Tony. We
even used the public bowls green, but their woods were worn
out of shape, so it was no good.
Doug skated on the ice at the paddling pool on Winn’s
Common, around New Year, and was reprimanded by the lady attendant!
For some while after 1973 Chris, Douglas, a friend Mick Clisby
and I played badminton at Plumstead Manor, “The Warren”
school, and met Len Thynne, who was a brilliant coach, able
to move in any direction to hit the shuttle back effortlessly,
and then return to his central position.
have seen many changes here, and buildings like the Ascension
Hall, our 10th Woolwich HQ at the top of Lakedale Road, demolished.
Littlewood, born in Plumstead Common, 1952.