Pam & Jim Laing

Phew! I’m weak with nostalgia after finding your excellent website regarding Walthamstow. I still have connections with the area although I moved away initially to Chelmsford in 1964 then on to Devon in 1969. My parents had moved there in 1962 to semi-retire for the benefit of my Father’s health..

In 1941 myself and the little boy destined to be my husband were born in Thorpe Coombe Maternity Hospital.. ( My daughter Susan was to be born there in 1963).

My family lived in Melville Road right opposite Forest Road School. There was me and my adoptive brother John whose surname was Candler . I attended Forest Road School until 1952 when I progressed to Walthamstow Girls High School. My Dad was some pleased that I was going to the “green school”. John was eight years older than me and he went on to William Morris School.. He also made the move to live in Devon .

I can remember going shopping down the High Street with Mum and chatting with the cockney stallholders, like Ivy Sullivan the Greengrocery lady who called everyone ‘cock’, and the two sisters who sold hats, quite near the top end of the market . Further down near the Cock Tavern was a stallholder called Slash who used to sell all sorts but often asked “who wants stuffing for 6d?” In the Winter we would have a hot sarsparilla drink for 3d, good for the blood! And my Mum was very fond of coconut ice and cough candy which came in big lumps . Mum and Dad belonged to the Conservative Club which at that time was near the top end of High Street and I was taken along there for parties and suchlike. They were very good dancers and used to participate in amateur competitions in the area.

My Dad was a builder who when younger had been involved with the building of the South West Essex Technical College. During this time he had a very bad accident when a huge piece of masonry fell from a crane and almost killed him. He recovered but the accident was to have quite an effect on his later health..

We spent a lot of time in Lloyd Park which was actually two parks, the other half known as Aveling Park. These two areas were divided by the ‘night alley’ where naughty boys often hung about, indeed my other half, Jim Laing from Chingford was apprehended at least once and marched up to the Police Station for a warning! The policeman who saw them said “we expect more from Monoux boys!”.

In our teens our entertainment was found at the Memorial Hall, Woodford, The Harlequin, Harlow, The Royal, Tottenham, down Fred’s café by the bus garage, the Dolls’ House (Park) café opposite the park, B, Chingford, and Arnolds Café up the Mount. I first went out with Jim just before I was fifteen, but I always had to be in early so after leaving me he and his mates would sometimes go somewhere else like the West End.

We both went to work in the City travelling on the old steam trains. I remember when the line went electric and how pleased we were not to have to contend with the smoke smuts. Now we think its great to take a trip on the Steam trains here in the country or along the coast!

I remember Barnes & Harrods record shop where I first heard Heartbreak Hotel, Custances the oil shop in Forest Road, Frank (Jack) the stocking man at the top of the High Street, Perce the parky with the moustache, trolley buses,(great excitement when the trolley came off the wire, the Palace Theatre where when very young I saw Hy Hazel in pantomime,and Oh so many of the other things mentioned in other letters.

Pam & Jim Laing - Devon

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