Joan Luxford - Barking and District Historical Society

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Joan Luxford

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Reminiscences of Joan Luxford

Joan Margaret Luxford was born in Barking in 1918. She entered a world quite different to that of today. Joan lived locally until about seven years ago. Dorothy Lockwood, John  Blake and Bill George were privileged to meet Joan at her daughter’s house in Great Baddow, Essex on Tuesday 19th March 2013 and listen and discuss her very clear and fascinating  Barking recollections. Brief notes were taken during our meeting. The following account has been compiled from these notes and some further research.

Family Matters
The Luxford family had settled in Barking by the 1830s. Joan’s great grandfather William Luxford (1811-1893), a jobber, came from Rainham, Essex. He married Elizabeth who was born in Tillingham, Essex in 1816.  By 1871 they were living at 2 Wellington  Place, Barking. They had eight children, 4 boys and 4 girls.  Their seventh child was Joan’s grandfather, Samuel Luxford (1854-1915) who was born in Rippleside and baptised at St. Margaret’s church, Barking on 12th  February 1854. He married Frances Fanny Jaggers (1854-1903) in 1873.  They had seven children, 2 boys and 5 girls. Her paternal grandparents, Samuel and Frances Luxford, owned a horse and cart and ran a cartage business, making deliveries, from 75 North  Street, Barking.

Joan’s father, John William Nathan Luxford (1880-1953), who was baptised in Barking on 10th September 1880, and mother Annie Baldwin (1883-1938) were married in St. Margaret's parish church on 25th February 1905. He later worked for Barking Council and drove a horse and cart. Joan vividly remembers the horses and clearly recollects him taking patients  to the hospital in Upney Lane.

Joan’s maternal grandfather, Annie’s father, Daniel Baldwin (1843-1890), was an engineer employed at Beckton Gas Works. Her mother Annie, whose family came from Tottenham to work in the rubber factory sadly died at the age of 55, when Joan  was only 18 years old.  Joan was born at 131 Gascoigne Road, Barking in 1918. She was their third child and had an older sister, Gladys Frances Emma Luxford who was born on 12th  August 1905 and a brother, Herbert Samuel Luxford born on 18th February 1908. Joan remembers her parents as being lovely people. Seven family members lived in their typical terraced house which had two rooms upstairs and two downstairs.

Childhood
Joan does not recall people talking about the Great War which ended in 1918. She remembers that she did not play games in the street, but played in their back  garden where the children had a swing. Barking was a lovely place for children. Joan’s family would say "little pigs have big ears" when they did not want young children to know about grown up matters. She remembers the Rushing Waters, near the  Town Quay as well as J. John Masters match factory, the Elizabethan "Leet House", Eastbury House and the Barking windmill, near where Tescos store was later built. At Easter they played with barge ropes at the Berry Barns.
J.John Master's factory from Abbey Road
Elizabethan Leet House, Barking
Wellington Windmill, Barking, Essex
Eastbury House, Barking, Essex
Barking Back Lane
from London Lanes
by Alan Stapleton
published 1930

R. White's
Ginger Beer Bottles
Joan remembers Mr. Robert Dormer, the chimney sweep, who lived at 25 Back Lane, near St. Margaret’s church. She recalls having 3 good meals a day, including traditional boiled fish on a Friday.   Food also included pie and mash – with liquor, hot rolls and R. White’s mineral waters. Robert White & Sons Ltd., were mineral water manufacturers based  in St. Paul’s Road. R. White’s is now commemorated by the modern Lemonade Building on the site of the former Pesci Brothers fish and chip shop. At the age of five Joan went to Gascoigne School and then from the age of eleven to Northbury  School. She remembers going to Westbury School two mornings a week for domestic science and laundry lessons. Joan left school in 1932 aged 14. She remembers her schools had good teachers including Miss Davies, Miss Mathers, Miss Pond; Miss Nash, the drama teacher, who had St. Vitus Dance and Miss Wilson the cookery teacher. Joan particularly enjoyed maths, mental arithmetic, for which she won 3rd, 2nd and 1st class prizes, geography, knitting and embroidery, making quilts and hem stitching. She also attended, until she was 14, a Sunday school in Park Hall which was run by Miss  Glenny. Joan took part in the Barking Pageant in 1931. She went three times. Joan remembers the Carnival with its big stars, and a "Chicago Piano" in the park. She can clearly recall the smell of oil lamps and open coal fires.

Shopping
Although some clothing was often bought from the door to door tally man, Moses, shopping was mainly from local shops. Joan was always well dressed but she was particularly proud of her shoes. She remembers the haberdashers and shopping for baby clothes  and recalls Grangemans, Alfred Henson the fruiterer of 164, Gascoigne Road, and Baldwins which was run by a Jewish family. Local shops included Robert Willetts, the clothier, hosier, glover, linen draper, house furnisher and pawn broker of the Broadway  and North Street, Marks and Spencer’s Ltd. Penny Bazaar at 34 East Street and the Hope public House. Young Joan often shopped and ran errands for neighbours including buying ham. Joan recollects shops staying open late at night and the turkey auction,  held next to the Penny Bazaar, on Christmas Eve. Late into Saturday night it was possible to buy, from street stalls, live eels, cheese, biscuits, sweets and eggs, thirteen to the dozen!

Growing Up
After school on a Monday Joan paid 1p for the "penny rush" at Barking swimming baths. She also went to the Brownies which was run by Miss Marjorie C. Barber, who subsequently married Mr. Henry John (Harry) Hills jnr (1899-1977), following a protracted  divorce. He ran the local wireless shop in Barking, recharged accumulators as well as mending the sets and repairing gramophones. Later he ran a bicycle shop. Although Harry married Susannah Du Reiu, in 1927, he soon formed a relationship with Marjorie  Barber (1907-1986), a teacher at a local school. She taught Harry to read and write and he taught her to drive. A divorce case took place about 1932. Marjorie moved in with Harry and people assumed they were married but they did not actually marry until  1945 in Rochford. The divorce apparently caused a split in the family and Marjorie was never fully accepted by some, including Harry's father.

Joan also enjoyed walking. She recalls going to the Broadway and Electric Cinemas and watching Tom Mix (1880-1940),  the Cowboy King of Hollywood, and Mary Pickford. Thomas Edwin Mix was a prolific American film actor and the star of many early Western movies. Between 1909 and 1935, he appeared in 291 films, all but nine of which were silent movies. He was Hollywood's  first Western megastar and is noted as having helped define the genre for all cowboy actors who followed. Mary Pickford (1892-1979) was a Canadian-American motion picture actress, who was known as "America's Sweetheart", "Little Mary" and the "girl with  the curls". She was one of the Canadian pioneers in early Hollywood and a significant figure in the development of film acting. Politics in Joan’s family mainly revolved around the Labour Party, but she well remembers the fascists in Stepney. With her brother Sonny, Joan went to the Fred Dallen’s School of Dancing at the Princes Hall in King Edwards Road. Through the friends she met at these dancing classes she subsequently met her husband to be, Bob.

The school nurse was known as ‘Nitty Norah’ because she checked childrens’ hair for traces of nit infestation. Health care, before the National Health Service, cost 2/8d [13p] a week. This service was provided by Dr. Fenton. Drs. Edward Charles Fenton and William John Charles Fenton, physicians and surgeons were based at 70 Park Avenue. Dr. William Fenton later operated from the Whitehouse, Movers Lane. Queen Mary’s Hospital was at Stratford and could be visited on a Tuesday.  Upney Hospital was in Upney Lane, but M&B [May & Baker] tablets were often self-administered. Joan remembered Coleman’s toothpaste could be bought for 3d [1p].

Career
On leaving school and following an interview at the employment office in Snow Hill, London, Joan was taken on as an apprentice at 10/- (50p) a week making Ostrich feather capes at a firm in Little Britain – London. From there she moved to Hitchcocks  & Williams, again as an apprentice making ladies clothing. During the war she worked in Cornish’s in Ripple Road and from 1955 she worked in a grocers in Upney Lane.

Local travel was made on tarred and gritted roads. Sometimes in the summer visits were made to Thorpe Bay, where she would travel in an open landau or sail across the Thames estuary to Herne Bay.  When Joan worked near Newgate Station she travelled from  Barking by steam train. Joan vividly remembers trams and the exciting journey over the Bascule Bridge.

Family
Joan married Bob [Lewis Charles] Dallen (1915-1955), who came from Plaistow, on 20th August 1939 at St. Margaret’s church, Barking. He had been called up earlier in June  and was stationed at Hartley Witney with the Royal Berkshire Regiment before service at Long Melford and three years in South Africa. Later he was in Italy as part of the 8th Army. Bob, followed in his bus driver father Walter’s footsteps and worked as a driver and chauffeur. Joan well remembers the Anderson Shelter and said she felt safer in Barking than in Hornchurch where the aerodrome was a prime target. Their daughter, Sandra, was born in 1947. Babies tended to be born at home, but childbirth was never discussed. Although Joan moved on 8th October 1966 and lived, in a flat six floors up in John  Burn’s Drive her favourite home was in St. Anne’s Road.  Joan remembers having a very happy life.
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