Abbey Buildings Boy!

A little bit about yourself growing up in Bermondsey
nuttyboy pat
Posts: 9
Joined: Mon Oct 16, 2017 12:35 pm

Abbey Buildings Boy!

Postby nuttyboy pat » Tue Oct 17, 2017 7:12 pm

Glad to see this great site up and running again. My is Pat Nolan and we grew up in Bermondsey in the 60's and lived in Abbey Buildings (Irish railway workers housing), Abbey Street. I have so many happy memories of my childhood there but too many to mention. I went to St Josephs Primary School then onto St Michaels School just across the road from St Josephs. My main memories of growing up in Bermondsey was when as kids we were always having fun and getting up to mischief, mainly 'knock round ginger'! I had a paper round from the corner paper shop on the junction of Abbey Street and Tower Bridge Road
Picture 007.jpg
My old paper round shop
and was run by a nice elderly couple, its a block of flats now.
Picture 057.jpg
Times have changed!
One Sunday morning I was doing my paper round when suddenly I saw two low flying Messerschmitt BF109 fly over! I was so startled that I dropped my paper bag and ran home crying to my dad thinking that WW3 had started! He explained to me that it was the making of The Battle Of Britain film which was being filmed extensively in and around Bermondsey during 1969. My dad had to go back to where I dropped my paper bag and finish off my round as I was too scared to go out to finish off my round!
We had great fun going to and from school as we were always up to something. I remember the toilets under the railway arch at the end of Abbey Street as they were only cleaned out about once every fortnight and my god did they stink! Don't think anyone used them only if you were really desperate?
I recently took a trip to Bermondsey and took a few pics and also visited my old school, St Josephs which was run mainly by the nuns from The Convent of Mercy at Dockhead when I was there. To my amazement some of the school staff remembered one of the old sisters from my time there, the dreaded Sister Vianni!!! Even now when I hear her name it strikes fear into me as I'm sure it will do to any ex pupils from St Josephs? Weekends were spent at the local swimming pool at the Grange.
Picture 099.jpg
The Grange Swimming Pool
Our mums made sure we went so we could have a good shower when we finished. There was always loads of old derelict sites for us to explore in particular the John Feaver factory which was situated right behind our flats.
Picture 006.jpg
Our Disneyland adventure play park!
It was an old tin factory and when it was closed down it became our Disney Park adventure playground! We had a whale of a time there and also some scarey times too? On one occasion one of our friends Steve Wright had fallen through a glass roof in the factory and hit the ground from about 15ft above, he was quite concussed but we managed to get him to his feet and struggle home with him. Of course he lived right at the top of Abbey Buildings but when we got outside his front door we just rang the bell and legged it! His dad went ballistic on us and we were all grounded for a week for that one! Another time my brother, Dave, found an empty can of hairspray and we thought it would be fun to chuck into a bonfire that we had just started. After about 10 minutes it exploded in my brothers face and he had to be rushed to hospital with severe facial burns! Another week grounded!
I now live in Strood,Kent. Recently my neighbours of nearly 9 years and I were having a chat over the fence as you do and I started talking about Manze's pie and mash shop on Tower Bridge Road and how in all the years that I lived there I never once visited Manze's. He suddenly said that when he was a kid he lived in Bermondsey too and went to the same school! Can't believe that we've known each other all these years and never once mentioned Bermondsey! What a small world?

Hope you've enjoyed my trip down memory lane.
Last edited by nuttyboy pat on Wed Dec 20, 2017 3:34 pm, edited 1 time in total.

kiwi
Posts: 1697
Joined: Sat Jan 14, 2017 2:53 am

Re: Abbey Buildings Boy!

Postby kiwi » Wed Oct 18, 2017 3:35 am

Welcome to the site nuttyboy pat, really enjoyed your memories. Kiwi.

Merv
Posts: 2
Joined: Fri Feb 16, 2018 12:57 pm

Re: Abbey Buildings Boy!

Postby Merv » Fri Feb 16, 2018 1:52 pm

Hi!
I was interested in your writings regarding Abbey Buildings.
Me? My parents lived at 8 Dockely Road (as it was then) and I was hospital born 14/12/1936 on King George VI Birthday; so I arrived to the overwhelming sound of bells ringing all over London. Typical "Oranges and Lemons".
My Grandmother lived in a ground floor flat (kitchen, outer toilet, lounge and two bedrooms) in one of the buildings, not the first building from Tower Bridge Road but the second. My Aunt (Rosie) and cousin (Brian - about 2yoa) stayed with my Grandmother throughout the war.
During the early war days my Mother and I would walk to and then sleep under the arches, probably about 3/4 to a mile from Dockely Road.
When the first bombs began we were under the arches, but on our return to 8 Dockely Road the next morning most of our home had been destroyed. We stayed with my Grandmother during that day and she persuaded my Mother not to go to the arches that night but to remain with her until morning. That night the arches were bombed and the majority of those sheltering from the night bombers were killed.
My Grandmother decided that we should move out of London that day, as she felt that the third bomb strike would get us (she was a bit of a psychic)! We packed what little we had left and arranged to evacuate to Englefield Green, Egham and stay with my Father's relatives.
We arrived at my Uncle's residence and were initially made welcome, although that didn't last very long - but that is another story.
The next morning, after our arrival, we received a telegram to say that Abbey Buildings had been damaged by a bomb but no one was seriously injured. My Grandmother, Aunt Rosie and Brian were in the pub around the corner between the tin factory and Abbey Buildings when the bomb had exploded and so were safe. The pub, name now forgotten, was a nightly venture for Gran and Aunt Rosie and my Mother. When we visited the pub Brian and I would be placed in a little cubby-hole under the stairs near the bar so the law could not see us should they come visiting!
We would visit Gran about once a month and every time we did the bombing seemed worse than before. Eventually Gran asked us not to visit her any more until the bombing had ceased - she feared for our lives.
At the end of the war we visited Gran regularly and I played with the other children in the open area between the buildings. When no-one was watching us, we would climb onto and into the bomb sites and collect bits of shrapnel.
I recall that Tommy Steele was an Abbey Building kid and while I did not realise at the time, my cousin Brian and I were playing games with a future world known singing star. My Father? He was in the RAF and was not demobbed until a few years after the war.
We eventually moved to Ringwood and started a large small holding business - but again that's another story.
Thought I would just add a little to those who still remember Abbey Buildings as they were.
Best wishes to one and all

kiwi
Posts: 1697
Joined: Sat Jan 14, 2017 2:53 am

Re: Abbey Buildings Boy!

Postby kiwi » Fri Feb 16, 2018 9:35 pm

Hi Merv, welcome to the site. Like your story and memories, especially coming from that area myself.
Think the pub you mentioned could have been The White Bear? There is a picture in the Long Walk Topic.
Cheers Kiwi.

nuttyboy pat
Posts: 9
Joined: Mon Oct 16, 2017 12:35 pm

Re: Abbey Buildings Boy!

Postby nuttyboy pat » Wed Feb 21, 2018 3:12 pm

Hi Merv.
What a great story about the lives of you and your family in and around Bermondsey! Sometimes my generation and others don't really appreciate what thousands of people like yourself went through during the blitz. It was a pleasure to read your story Merv.

All the best!


Return to “Member's Short Stories”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest