Dennis Jack Penfold - A Walthamstow writer & poet



From Daniel: I'm trying to get in touch with Dennis Penfold's family.. if anyone can help please email me

Picture of Dennis Penfold
Dennis Jack Penfold (1924-2013)

Dennis Jack Penfold was born in Walthamstow on the 8th of February, 1924. He was educated at Winns Avenue Senior School, where he spent many happy years of his childhood.

    He has always had a flair for writing stories and poems, and his favourite subject at school was English and Grammar. His English master was Mr. Green, whom he respected and loved very much. He encouraged Dennis in his writings and poems, and soon became aware of his hidden talent in this field. His Headmaster was Mr. Gracey, a very forthright and well respected and loved man, who was a credit to the school.

Very often when the other kids were out playing in the streets of an evening, Dennis Penfold would be indoors with his paper and pen, writing his stories and poems. His talent soon became widespread, and many of his friends and relations were asking of him to write poems for them.

    Dennis was an acquaintance of the late James Hilton (son of John Hilton, the headmaster of Chapel End School in Walthamstow). James Hilton was educated at the Monoux School, Walthamstow, and wrote stories for the Evening Standard. He later became a very famous author of that period in the thirties. He wrote "Goodbye Mr. Chips", "Lost Horizon" and many other well-known books which were ultimately made into films featuring many famous stars.


James Hilton (1900-1954)
Picture of Dennis Penfold 2011
Dennis Penfold and Daniel Quinn, Walthamstow 2011

      On June the 24th, 2011, at the age of 87, Dennis Penfold was invited by Daniel to attend at the "Walthamstow Memories Gathering" for "An Evening of Words and Music Celebrating Living in Walthamstow", where a few of his poems were read by Peter Woolfe.
The poems were very appreciated and a long applause followed, that made Dennis very happy. In spite of his age, Dennis wrote yet another book (his autobiography "Born To Struggle") after this event.


"Poems For Pleasure" (by Dennis Pensfold - Whole book - PDF format)



        GOLDEN DAYS by Dennis J. Penfold

Gold are my memories of long, long ago,
the days of my childhood in old Walthamstow;
Mum did her shopping late Saturday night,
the High Street was packed and was blazing with light.
I look back with nostalgia as my mind recalls
the green naphta lights as they hissed on the stalls.
We would elbow our way through the tightly packed mob,
and buy two dozen oranges, "only a bob",
a bagful of apples, and lovely sweet pears,
with just a few bob, we were all millionaires.
Tasty pease pudding and hot saveloys,
and savoury hot faggots was one of our joys.

Three and a tanner would buy Sunday's meat,
with something on top, in the way of a treat,
outside their shop, where they used to tout,
"Buy, buy, buy, buy," they would holler and shout.
All pushing and shoving the crowd gathered round,
where bargains galore were there to be found.
An aitch bone of beef, or a bit of topside,
the strokes they came out with, I laughed till I cried.
They did not have freezers in my time of day,
no wonder the shops almost gave it away.

We would wander round Woolworth's, my heart filled with joy,
for only a tanner, you came out with a toy;
there were bright coloured balls, and all kinds of games,
and sweet, pretty dollies with all different names.
A box of toy soldiers, a tank or a fort,
we all had a bargain, whatever we bought;
with a few meagre coppers clutched tight in my hand,
the world was my oyster and life was so grand.

We would go to the "Palace" and get in the queue,
and as the doors opened, we all bustled through,
up in the gods for fourpence we'd go,
munching our peanuts as we watched the show.
A strong smell of orange pervaded the air.
and after the show there was peel everywhere.
Bags of sweets they would throw, to our great delight,
every Thursday and Friday was carnival night.
It was "Spotlight" on Wednesday and what a surprise,
if the light stopped on you, you went up for your prize.
Tears fill my eyes as this story I tell
of a jolly good show, 'til the last curtain fell.

If we were lucky and still had some cash,
we would go into Manze's for a hot pie and mash,
it only cost tuppence and when we came out
Mum would go in the "Cock" for her half-pint of stout.
I listened with joy to the good "Sally Ann",
and outside the door stood the old chestnut man,
hot baked potatoes, a ha'penny a time,
no wonder my life was so sweet and sublime.
A penny a sheet for the latest of songs,
oh for that era where my heart belongs.
All those wonderful memories are now but a dream
that have swiftly passed by, like a fast flowing stream;
as I reminisce in my twilight of life
and look back on those days, full of trouble and strife,
I would change not a day, nor a month, nor a year,
they will live in my heart with all I hold dear,
sweet, tender memories forever will flow
of my young childhood days in old Walthamstow.
          © 1984 Dennis F. Penfold



        HOW IT USED TO BE by Dennis J. Penfold

(from “A blast from the Past”, by Dennis J Penfold)

I went down the High Street one Saturday night,
had nothing else better to do,
I thought "How it has changed since I was a boy"
from the old High Street that I once knew.
Not a stall to be seen it had all been swept clean,
to me it just wasn't the same.
every shop it was closed as through windows I nosed,
in the end I was sorry I came.
I stood for a moment surveying the scene
as my sweet memories started to flow,
I went back fifty years, through the laughter and tears,
to those days that I once used to know.
Up and down the long street trudged the tired,
aching feet of the shoppers on Saturday night,
my mind still recalls hissing lamps on the stalls,
and the shops that were blazing with light.
Often in winter we'd trudge through the snow,
our fingers were numb with the cold,
heavy laden with shopping, and face all aglow,
those old days to me, they were gold.
As I close my eyes I can see it all now,
the shops where my Mum used to go,
Maypole the Dairy, Pearks, Titus Ward,
and to Clare's for Dad's bit of cod roe.
I remember quite well as this story I tell,
when the High Street was one busy throng,
the meat would not keep, so they sold it off cheap,
week-end joints, they would go for a song.
Outside of their shops the butchers would tout,
they were glad of your custom those days,
"Buy, buy, buy, buy'' they would holler and shout,
while we used to stand there and gaze.
Auctions in those days, they were all the trend,
at prices that you could afford,
providing that you had a few bob to spend,
then you could live just like a lord.
Right to the end of the market we'd walk,
sometimes in the pouring rain,
for an aitch bone of beef, or a nice leg of pork,
oh for those days back again.
The Walthamstow Palace was packed like sardines,
there was always a queue there outside,
the Dominion, Granada, the Carlton and Queen's
that we used to look on with pride.
How good those times were compared to them now,
as we elbowed our way through the mob,
for apples, oranges, bananas and pears,
when the lot only came to a bob.
We would go into Manze's, Mum loved her stewed eels,
hot pie and mash she bought me,
then when we came out, to the Cock for a stout,
to my Mum it was her luxury.
'Tis the end of my story, I'm sorry to say,
as I make my way home, so forlorn,
still dreaming of how it all once used to be
in that era in which I was born.
Fifty years have gone by, oh, how quickly they fly,
all I have now is my memory,
they were good, the old days, and still worthy of praise,
of the High Street that once used to be.
          © 1984 Dennis F. Penfold

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