Memories of Barking - Barking and District Historical Society

Barking and District Historical Society
Go to content

Main menu:

Memories of Barking

Articles > L-R > Members' Articles etc.
Memories of Barking

Linda Walker (4’9” tall if you want to know)

I was born in Barking Hospital on the 18th December 1946. Mum had pre-eclampsia, which was not diagnosed until years later. She described it as a stroke. I spent the next 6 weeks with my Nan, Alice Westcott’s at 17 Madras Rd., Ilford. Dr. Brady, the lady doctor who attended my birth, asked my dad which one of us to save. I think dad said mum. Lucky for me she saved us both. This was before the NHS came in 1947. Mum told me her G.P. always smelt of drink!

The winter of that year was very bad so I am really lucky to have survived. Mum was partially paralysed down one side. We lived in a terraced house at 46 Suffolk Rd., Barking until Dad and Mum moved to Wellingborough in Northamptonshire just as I got married on 11th June 1966. Chris, my husband, and I contributed to a BBC documentary film in 2016 called Generation 66 which was broadcast on the day after the celebrations last year for the 50th anniversary of us winning the World Cup.

Ripple Road Infants School. Mrs Green, my teacher, was lovely. I remember the Crittal windows opened out in the afternoon for our snooze on camp beds. We had the warm 3rd of a pint of milk with the cream on top. I managed to chip my front tooth on the bottle. I still have the tooth minus its nerve.

Ripple Road Junior School. At 7 years old I went through the gape in the wall to the big school. Staff I remember. Head Master Mr Gascoigne who had a car accident as I neared the end of my time there. It was rumoured he fell asleep at the wheel of his car.
Mr Collins who wore a brown overall and had curly auburn hair. He electrocuted himself, I think in school. So sad. Mrs Haddock who was blonde and played Dandini in the Panto the teachers put on for the pupils at Christmas. Miss Foster. My form teacher, who gave me my love of reading out loud, as she read the Family from One End Street by Eve Garnett to us. At the Christmas concert one-year Linda Holton sang ‘I’m just a Girl who can’t say no’ from Annie Get your Gun. I did feel uncomfortable as she was only 10. It was a long time before I realised why. I see from the schools’ website it still has the silver birch trees along Suffolk Rd. We had a great time in 1953 celebrating the coronation in the playground. I used to go arm in arm with, I think, Linda Holton singing ‘Friends and Neighbours’ learnt from the Radio. Was it the ‘Huggetts’ signature tune?

Eastbury Secondary Modern School (up the hill.) Teachers remembered:
1/2nd years. Miss Humphries - the teacher I did not want as we stood in the hall on our first morning waiting to be assigned to a teacher. I can see her now, iron grey straight short hair, glasses, white blouse, grey cardigan, pleated wool skirt, thick stockings, brogue shoes every day! She was lovely, so caring. She was one of twins she told us. Not at all alike she said.
3/4th years. Mrs Newton - middle aged, funny, kind, calling us ‘silly arses’. She got me my first job at a shoe shop called Sousters in Ilford, opposite the post office. Mrs Ford, P.E., in her  tracksuit/trainers and blonde hair. Her husband taught in the boy’s school. The year behind me were mixed with the boys’ school. Very disconcerting for an only child like me. Mrs Dell, needlework, who called everyone darling all year. Perhaps she had a bad memory for names. She would ask for me at P.E. time to help with needlework, finishing off our green check Domestic Science aprons and hair bands, as I went white at P.E.time. I was the only one in the class who could use an electric sewing machine, courtesy of 12 2hr lessons at The Singer shop in Ilford High Street for my 11th? birthday - 25 shilling for the course.  Cross-eyed Mrs Locke who pointed one way and looked the other. Told me I should be a prefect one week. The next week told me I was a disgrace. Well I think it was me she was talking too. Miss Clissitt, not sure what she taught. She was short and slim with 6 inch clip clop heels and a tailored suit trotting around the quad. Miss/Mrs Prowse who taught History and it was rumoured committed suicide. We surely weren’t that bad. Who knows how the teachers coped with 4 at least classes in each year of 50 in a class. Thank goodness we left school at 15. We had a lovely Indian teacher who wore a sari whatever the weather. The only non-white person I saw until I started work. One student teacher our class managed to dissolve into tears. Yes it happened in the 60s too. Miss Shallcross, the Head Mistress - pale blue eyes, grey hair. Rather frightening. Miss Hague or was Haigh, Deputy Head. Always in the stationery cupboard. Or was that her office?  Domestic science - Mrs Jackson. Large, white overall, very short hair. Was she afraid of catching nits? Told me I had the messiest table in the room. Cookers of all types around the room. Each term I think it was we were paired up to cook a meal.

Home life. Dad worked at Delaney Galleys Engineering Company for 34yrs that moved with the overspill from near the White City stadium to Wellingborough in 1966. In WW2 dad who was 5ft 4inch at most and weighed around 7st received his call up 3 times and his company refused to let him go into the forces as he was a skilled sheet metal worker mending aircraft. He stayed on the shop floor all his life as he could not read blueprints. I found his apprentice books in the loft when he died. We did not have any reading matter in the house all the time I was at home apart from my library and school books and The Daily Mirror (complete with Jane and Andy Capp). He sold the house in a day by putting a notice in our front room window - we were on a short cut route to Barking station. Mum was not very tall and partially paralysed down one side. She died at 59 and although she wanted and got a bungalow in Wellingborough I think she missed the neighbours back in Barking. Nan lived in Ilford, mum visited once a week on a Wednesday. I regularly forgot and panicked, running up to No 66 to see where mum was. Lovely Mrs Enid Shaw always took me in. Her boys, Collin and Jeffery, used to play with me. Their home was where we used to watch thorough the dining room window the fireworks their dad let off in the back garden. The Catherine Wheels on a nail on the shed always got stuck and Mr Shaw would run out with a stick to free them. I never learned to ride a bike as dad was not that sort of dad, always tired from work. Including travel his work days were 12 hours, 5 days a week. Mum could not chase me down the road. She found the stairs difficult. The bathroom was upstairs complete with enamel bath, butlers sink and an enormous gas geyser (Ascot) over the bath that used to make the most enormous noise when lit with a wax tapper. Luckily we had an outside toilet. Out the back door, turn right thorough the lean-to the toilet. Complete with mums dark red lipstick within arm’s length of me sitting on the loo all over the wall .It must have been quality lipstick as it was still on the wall when I left the area in 1966.

Shops in Barking. (About 1958 I think.) On the way to senior school there was a row of houses. Then shops on both sides of the road with a Zebra crossing joining them. First the Greengrocers, fruit and veg displayed outside under a canvas awning. It sold mushroom stalks on their own cheaper than whole mushrooms! Next the fresh fish shop. Mum used to send me for ‘1lb Whiting for the cat’. They regularly called me ‘sonny’ which I was not best pleased about. Not surprising really as my favourite outfit was a pair of boy’s jeans bought from the outfitters in the same row of shops.
Next I think was the newsagent, where I bought my 6/9d Osmeroid Italic left-handed fountain pen - recommended to mum by my teacher to help with “Barking” writing. Dad’s favourite shop, where he got the second-hand spares for his precious Albion motorbike complete with sidecar for mum and I, was next to the newsagents that sold Birds and Glojoy ice lollies. The banana and chocolate and milk were my favourites. As they came in a mixed box of flavours it was a red-letter day when I got one of my favourite flavours.

Looking back things are so different now. Not better or worse, just different. I was lucky to be born when I was, missing the war and experiencing the swinging 60s.
I left Barking behind in 1966 when I married on 11th June 1966 at Ilford Registry Office. We didn’t move far, just to a tiny flat in Ilford. Thank you Barking for my happy early life.
Back to content | Back to main menu