Thursday, 2 April 2015

Growing up in Eltham, another story from Sue Hurley

I was born in Woolwich in the British Hospital for Mothers and Babies in October 1957, to a family
who lived in Cuff Crescent Eltham SE9. 

Sue and Viv Cuff Crescent, 1964
I grew up in that street and made many friends on the Middle Park Estate, and many I still have to this day.

Friends with whom, I shared many laughs and games. I lived there until I married in 1979 at the age of 21.

We would play on the green at the bottom of our road, kids altogether, all ages, playing rounders, or football, or game of Feet Off England.

If not on the green we would play knock down ginger, two balls up the wall, or sit on the kerbs or front door steps swopping whatever we were collecting at the time.

I would be called in at tea time,and many a time dragged in a friend or two and asked if they could have tea too.

I went to Middle Park School and walked to school like many others did. Not many of us had cars in
those days.

The boys and girls had separate playgrounds when we were in the Juniors. As a girl I spent many
a lunch hour with elastic round my ankles…..playing French skipping. I knew you were thinking the
same thing!! It became very popular, hooking one side of the elastic with one foot over the other
side with little skips.

Cuff Crescent, 1972
In the shelter when it rained playing two balls up the wall or seeing the world from a different view doing handstands. Oh we were very fit back then!

Saturday mornings were spent at the pictures. Always with a group of friends. We didn’t have far to
go to the Gaumont on Eltham Hill.

We didn’t go there for long as the Saturday morning show moved to the ABC in Eltham High Street.

And there we started with “We are the boys and girls of the ABC….” as the spotlight (or big torch) was shone on us and we all hoped we might just get picked. Saturday afternoons we were in the park by Queenscroft Rd.

I loved roller skating on the rink, or sitting around the pool in the summer chilling my feet in the water while chatting to friends.

When December came in the 1960’s I used to go carol singing with one of my best friends
Vivienne. Not just knocking on the door singing one verse of ‘We wish you a merry Christmas’, Viv
and I did it right.

We practised hard beforehand and learnt our carols. We stood at the doors and just sang, we didn’t knock. And we always got people coming to the door and they would stand andlisten. We earned our Christmas spending money that way every year and happily went to Eltham High Street and often Woolworths to spend our wages on presents for our families.

A couple of times we put on shows in our gardens in the summer months. Mum’s old curtains
across the washing line to make a stage and dining room chairs on the lawn. We sang, we learnt
dance routines. We were probably rubbish, but we thought we could sing like Connie Francis.
Stupid Cupid being a real favourite.

Teenage years were spent going to Kidbrooke School. A walk up King John’s Walk every weekday
to catch the 161 bus, by Cater’s. A walk which awakened me to the beautiful Eltham Palace which I
could see from my bedroom window along with the farm which was next door. It was then taken
over by the Army, and I always wished I could go in and look around.

Debbie and Sue, 1973
Saturday morning pictures were taken over by Saturday afternoon pictures at Well Hall and sometimes with a boyfriend on my arm. (Don’t tell Dad!) And six of chips on the way home from the chippy in Well Hall Road.

Or some Saturdays we would venture to Woolwich or Lewisham to the big shops and the markets.

The wonderful record shop in Lewisham which had the listening booths and we would spend ages
listening to all the new records.

Didn’t have much money but it what I did have was always spent
on records or new coloured tights.

Sunday mornings were often spent at Eltham swimming baths. I wasn’t the greatest swimmer.

I couldn’t swim until I was 10. I had the luck of a great teacher at Middle Park who took me and 2
others who had a fear of the water, swimming on Sunday mornings. She was amazing and showed
great patience with us. She had me swimming within 3 weeks.

We had a Middle Park reunion a few years back and Mrs George came along.

How pleased I was that she remembered me and our swimming trips. She also remembered our school journey to the Isle of Wight and how Patsy Stenning and I had tidied the boys chalets for them so they could have buns and hot chocolate for supper and not miss out.

That was the rule. If your beds were not made, and your things not put away on inspection, you were denied your supper.

Not sure what me and Patsy got out of that. We also sang on the stage for our talent contest.

I couldn’t do that now for all the tea in China, but somehow back then, I seemed to have no fear of an audience!

When I hit the magic age of 14, I started to go to King’s Park (Eltham Palace Road) most evenings.

Night school for most people but for us young ‘uns it was more of a youth club. We took pottery
classes, cookery classes and I even dabbled in the woodwork class. Best of all was Friday, when
we played records that we had taken there and sat and listened to them on the 1960’s Dansette
style player while chatting in our groups, or dancing. Or even playing table tennis.

Viv, Sue and Debbie at Viv's 50th, 2008
I had a wonderful upbringing in Eltham. I loved my young life.

Friends I made then, I have now.

Friends that recall all of the same happy times, all the memories, all of the laughs and the

And with two very special friends Debbie Stewart Joy and Vivienne Grimwood Hamilton, we have the honour of saying we have stayed close for over 50 years. I can only ever look back and say “I wouldn’t change a thing! Happy Days!”

© Sue Hurley, April 2015

Pictures; from the collection of Sue Hurley

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