Paragon School to Coldharbour Road

A little bit about yourself growing up in Bermondsey
Steve Blackdog
Posts: 2
Joined: Sat Mar 16, 2019 5:53 pm

Paragon School to Coldharbour Road

Postby Steve Blackdog » Sat Mar 16, 2019 7:32 pm

I thought I would post this, as I was looking for pictures of Paragon School which led me to this great website - full of history.

My Grandad, Joe Bent, was the live-in school caretaker at the Paragon from the late 1920s to sometime after the war (not sure when). He later worked at Guinness, throughout the 60s (and maybe the 50s too) as a commissionaire/door-man (in a United Services Corps uniform) until the year he died at the age of 85 in 1976.

He was as hard as nails. He had a very tough a rural upbringing in Stowmarket, brought up by an uncle because his parents couldn't keep him. He left home at 14 (1905) when the East Lancs Regiment was passing through and joined up as a drummer boy. He went off to war and was awarded the VC at Ypres. ... ent-vc-mm/

He retired from the army in 1926 as a Company Sergeant Major, came to London and did a few jobs, such as hotel porter, before settling down in Bermondsey. He and his wife Alice had three children, Spencer (aka Joe), Beryl and my mum Pauline. If you look at the photo on the Paragon thread, it is possible that the girl in the front row in the middle is my auntie Beryl, but I am not sure.

My Mum was born and brought up at Paragon School. She went to secondary school at St Olaves. She and her sister Beryl were evacuated to Chertsey with the school. Beryl was homesick and came home for the rest of the war. My Mum was sent to relatives in Scotland - which was pretty harsh.

Mum got married to my Dad (from Enfield) in 1956 and moved away. I'm not sure if she had left home by then or whether they had left the Paragon, but I do know my grandparents were at the school throughout the war years.

It would be interesting if anyone remembers them. My grandad bred standard Poodles and had an apricot one called Suzie (people sometimes remember dogs better than humans!). During the war people would keep rabbits and chickens, which they would take to my grandad (being a countryman) and he'd wring their necks, as the owners had got too attached to them.

He had a few mates, including someone called Patrick and someone called Paul from the pub he drank in - he named my mum after them because he had promised - she became Pauline Patricia as a result.

He was very keen on the horses and was down the bookies every day making a small flutter. He watched the Arsenal and Rugby League.

After the Paragon, they moved to a new flat off the Coldharbour Road - now a Riverside Housing Association property on the Lambeth Estate - apparently it is due for redevelopment. They stayed there for the rest of their lives.

You might also be interested to know about my uncle Joe Bent. He stood for election as Southwark's Communist Party candidate between 1950 and 1964 although unsurprisingly never got too close to being elected. But I guess someone may have known him as he always lived in or around Bermondsey or Camberwell.

Anyway, keep up the good work with this super website.

All the best


Steve Blackdog
Posts: 2
Joined: Sat Mar 16, 2019 5:53 pm

Re: Paragon School to Coldharbour Road

Postby Steve Blackdog » Sat Mar 16, 2019 7:56 pm

A few piccies of Joe Bent out campaigning

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Posts: 3342
Joined: Sat Jan 14, 2017 2:53 am

Re: Paragon School to Coldharbour Road

Postby kiwi » Sat Mar 16, 2019 11:01 pm

Hi Steve, welcome to the site. Great story about your Grandad and your family,also I liked the pictures. The information on the museum website shows just how brave your Granded was, the rescue of Private McNulty and the story of that rescue just goe’s to prove it. Obvously I never knew Joe but for him and many brave soldiers they deserve and have my respect.

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