Thursday, 10 September 2015

Walking past New Cross Fire Station

Some things about Queen’s Road don’t seem to have changed in fifty years.

The Fire Station is still there and so is Edmund Waller School but much else has gone including that row of shops from Lausanne to Dennet’s Road.

But reading back copies of the BBC news I see that even the fire station was nearly lost when it was one of those slated for closure in 2013.*

And that would have been a shame.  It was built between 1893-4 and is an impressive building reminding me of a grand French Chateau rather than a work a day fire station.

That said I just took the place for granted and only now have come to appreciate it.
And much the same is true of Edmund Waller, which I left in the summer of 1961 and have less happy memories.

Now I am not inclined to that old belief that your school days are the happiest time of your life.  Mine weren’t and that I guess is partly because of my problems with dyslexia and also the shadow of 4a which still bites deep bringing back a mix of humiliation and failed achievements.

On reflection they should never have promoted me from 3b, in the September of 1960.
I was as they say a fish out of water.  All my friends including Jimmy O’Donnell and John Cox stayed in the second class, I found much of the work difficult and had to endure all the preparations for the 11 plus which Miss Reeves confidently announced to mother I would fail, which of course I did.

Added to which there was that top class ethos which I didn’t fit into.  After all I had not travelled the first three years of Juniors with the other children so didn’t really know them and at least one felt so superior that he insisted my name should be left of a group project.

As it so happened I came across Barry “something or other” some years back on a social network proudly listing his academic and professional achievement and his current job somewhere in California.

I could have responded but chances are he would never have remembered me or the incident and to pass a comment seemed very childish.

But enough of such bitterness within a few months I left the school for Samuel Pepys and later still for Crown Woods.

I never went back to Edmund Waller and doubt I ever will.

But the fire station now that is a different thing.  One day it might feature as one of the places to go during Heritage Week when all sorts of interesting places are thrown open to the curious and historically minded.

But not so this year.  Instead there is an event at the South London Gallery** “working with historical material found in Southwark Local History Library and Archive, artist, composer and performer Sarah Hughes has developed a series of works relating to the early history of South London Gallery (SLG) and its proposed impact on the local community."**

Sadly I won’t be there but perhaps some will and report back.

Picture; New Cross Fire Station, January 17 2007, © Danny Robinson licensed for reuse under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 license, and Edmund Waller School from the collection of Colin Fitzpatrick

*Two London fire stations win reprieve from closure plan, July 10 2013,

**South London Gallery, 65-67 Peckham Road, London, Greater London, SE5 8UH -,

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