A great place to grow up

Village life: These children gathered together for an event in Norwood Green will be senior citizens today.
Village life: These children gathered together for an event in Norwood Green will be senior citizens today.

TAKEN in the post-war years with rationing almost at an end, this photograph is one of those rare occasions when probably every child in the village is there. The village in question is Norwood Green.

What domestic changes these children have seen during the last 60 years.

Gone, for example, are the outside lavatories and the need for Tilley lamps just to keep the winter frost at bay.

I am sure these children would have never imagined then that the use of the mobile bathroom (the galvanised tin bath) would ever come to an end. The days of dragging it out and each taking it in turns to climb in would have been a ritual for many of these youngsters.

I am sure the girls will also recall that when it was their turn mum would strategically place the clothes horse with appropriately sized sheets draped round it to preserve their modesty.

Waking up in a morning to find more frost on the inside of the bedroom windows than on the outside was something we all got used to.

The up-side to that was scraping it off just to see if there was still enough snow for some decent sledging.

I am sure almost all these children would have attended the village school. What memories that must unfold.

These were the days when every classroom had a big map which proudly displayed all the pink bits representing the British Empire.

Remember the desks with the tops that lifted up. “Boys, don’t bang your desk tops down” was an order from teacher that they must have heard more than once!

With the summer almost upon us, recalling school days for many will bring back many happy memories of the annual school sports day.

This was a time when competition was healthy but winning was not compulsory.

Regularly coming second in these schoolday races didn’t seem to do me any lasting harm!

Being teamed up with one of the tallest lads in the class for the three-legged race may not have been fair but we lived through it and never felt we were failures.

I had a very happy 30 years in the police service and my tall friend went on to have his own very successful business.

During the early 1950s there was a new sense of community as more and more people moved on to the new estate developments. Community groups were opening up throughout the district. Norwood Green soon joined in by starting its own Good Companions Club in August, 1952.

These clubs soon became focal points for the older members of the community where they maintained friendships and organised outings and even holidays.

I have had the enormous pleasure of speaking to a number of these sorts of club. It is sad that many are now closing down as the dwindling number of members of members takes its toll.

The children in this week’s featured photograph will be senior members of the community now. The majority should be enjoying a greater disposable income than either their grandparents or parents and many will regularly pack a suitcase and spend a weekend on the coast and a trip abroad during the year.

I was at a reminiscences group I run in Halifax recently and asked the 12 people present, all aged 65 through to 84, who hadn’t got a current passport. Out of the 12 there was only one.

On a recent holiday to Cyprus I looked round the hotel pool areas and even now at the age of 60 I felt positively youthful compared to the ages of some of my fellow guests enjoying the warmth of the early summer sunshine.

I want to get up in a morning after the central heating has come on automatically, and not have to tackle the remains of the previous evening’s open fire.

You soon became quite adept at making newspaper firelighters - one of the earlier examples of effective recycling - and putting a shovel full of coal on with a bit of wood to help it along.

Then carefully placing the shovel in front of the fire with the newspaper held up in front of it to help the fire to draw.

All this - at seven in the morning - doesn’t get me all dewyeyed about thos far-off days!