Growing up in Hedge Lane in the 40s and 50s

Increasingly often I log in to find something wonderful is posted on the comments section on the website or on the facebook page.

One such recent post was from Carole Benson nee Rabbie who with her Mum, Dad and brother Harold lived in Hedge Lane from 1939 to 1961. These are her memories from the time.

It was a nice place to live growing up in the 40s, 50s and 60s — very neat, “waspy”, middle class, leafy, suburban neighborhood of well-kept front and back gardens, pretty, well maintained parks, lovely old growth trees, an allotment where you could get a very very small bit of land to grow your own vegetables.

Tatum park near the Cambridge Roundabout that had a playground with swings, two slides, and a roundabout and “the field”, a block away from my house — both on Hedge Lane. Broomfield Park on Alderman’s Hill Southgate was magnificent. Our annual school sports day took place there.

Copyright unattributed

Copyright unattributed

The United Dairies and Express dairies delivered our milk (choice of pasteurized, sterilized or Jersey with cream at the top) to our doorstep year round on weekdays, and later bread and eggs. Got free milk each day in school plus artificial orange juice and Radio Malt for our vitamins. We were healthy considering.Walked 20 minutes from my house on corner of Connaught Gardens, to Hazelwood Lane Infants and Primary School — and later on took the bus from the corner on Green Lanes to Glendale Grammar in Wood Green.

During the war, the council gave us concrete and corrugated iron and helped us to make an Anderson bomb shelter in our back garden. It was creepy, smelly, musty, full of spiders and mice and terrifying to sleep in it as a child so my mother took me (my brother wasn’t born till after the war as Daddy was posted to Aldershot and other barracks around the country and was away for 5 years, with hardly any leaves) to family in Edgeware and other relatives much of the time when the bombing was bad. (No homes were bombed near mine but there were some direct hits to factories in the neighborhood.) our garden lawn was never the same after they dug up the shelter. The concrete was left behind and we couldn’t afford to get a digger in to remove it.

There was a prisoner of war internment camp nearby (i don’t remember exactly where) and the prisoners could be seen doing road repairs and manual labour. One family facing us were Italians and were met with suspicion and were ostracized by most of the fearful neighbors.

Food and everything such as shoes, clothes, linens, were on ration and very scarce. Sainsbury’s for cheese and bacon, sliced from slabs and a butcher with cheap cuts, including rabbit, a decent baker with great doughnuts and a Fishmonger frequently sold out so you had to be in the queue when they opened to be sure to get your supplies. (When you had enough coupons or money.)

Nice department store near The Triangle, Evans & Davies”. a drapery shop near Fox Lane, with a wire to convey invoices and money across the ceiling in a pod to the cashier’s kiosk) and Etam’s, i remember, for stockings and undies.

Hardly anyone had a car. Petrol was scarce. Everywhere was walking uphill and downhill. The family doctor Seifert whose home and office were next door was the only person i knew personally who had a car.

The local policemen were nice to kids, i recall. I don’t remember hearing about any crime in our neighborhood growing up.

We were required to take in lodgers in our spare room for the war effort. We had a nice refugee Jewish family (the father was a psychiatrist who was obliged to work as an orderly in a local mental hospital) from Czechoslovakia for a year or so and a after that a Welsh schoolteacher who took me with her to school when i was 3 so i learned to read at that age. We were lucky. Keeping warm was a challenge in the winter. Coal was on ration and virtually unobtainable, wood was impossible to get so we used coke which was cheap and inefficient. One hot bath a week in a freezing bathroom had to suffice.

After the war when my Dad came home from fighting for King and Country, my Dad drove his own London taxi, so we could go to Westcliff or Brighton for the day and have peppermint rock and prawns, cockles and mussels and jellied eels and fish and chips when the weather was nice. We were lucky.

Loved the three movie houses in Palmers Green. There were 2 near The Triangle –the Palmadium was the big one. There was another one The Capitol, in Winchmore Hill where i took my younger brother Harold to see The Ten Commandments. Mummy preferred American musicals to British movies but i loved them all. Went nearly every Thursday, rain or shine. Sat in the one and nines if we were flush.

Remember fabulous Victory Party on Huxley Place (where some of my relatives lived) and other celebrations in Palmers Green. Tea and buttered toasted tea cakes in Lyon’s tea shop on the Triangle with Wall’s ice-cream wrapped in paper in a cone was next to heaven. Of course, going up West to Lyon’s Corner House at Marble Arch for a knicker-bocker glory really was heaven.

Don’t remember much about going to pubs as i was too young. Remember sitting outside with a lemonade while the grown up Mums chain smoked and chugged a port and lemon.

If you remember Carol, she’d love to hear from you – especially her friend Valerie Rowe (born Knight).

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5 Responses to Growing up in Hedge Lane in the 40s and 50s

  1. paul says:

    Do you know if the gap in new river crescent at the bottom of park avenue was caused by a bomb?

  2. Fabulous to read though I wasn’t born until 1949 in Park Ridings, Wood Green and also went to Glendale Grammar that was amalgamated with Trinity Grammar to form Wood Green School around 1963-64. I think the internment camp Carole mentions was probably Trent Park in Cockfosters.

  3. Nice memories Carol. If it helps I think the prisoners were camped at The Horsemeads, Firs Farm. The drapery shop you will no doubt remember as Grouts. The third cinema was The Queens, on the corner of Lodge Drive and Green Lanes.

    Cheers, Rick

    • Colin Younger says:

      Does anyone remember using the air raid shelters in Broomfield Park along Aldermans Hill above the sports field, or know anything about them or the shelter now used as a changing room above the sports field?

  4. Roger Newark says:

    Wonderful memories Carole, and beautifully described. My family used Dr Seifert as well. His brother was the architect who designed Centre Point at the junction of Tottenham Court Road and Oxford Street, Dr Seifert had a dry sense of humour. On one occasion when my Dad went to see him, he admired my Dad’s jacket, so they swopped jackets, and the consultation was carried out wearing each others clothes!

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