Saturday, 9 January 2016

Remembering the sounds of of south east London in the 1950s with Barny

I can recall that back in the 50's, the journeymen (and women) of the day would form an almost continuous stream of vendors, peddling all sort of wares, often from horse drawn carts stopping outside the house.

On a typical day, the peace would be shattered or interrupted by the sound of a hand bell, and the call "Shrimps and winkles" (don't remember the "alive alive-o" bit from the song though).

Kids these days wouldn't eat winkles I'm sure? These were often accompanied by stinky Shiphams shrimp paste for tea!

This would be followed later by the milkman, yelling "milko" or something? Can't recall if it was Express or United Dairies, the electric hand cart was red, so probably UD.

My aunt used to call him feet, the assumption was because he always had sore feet from trudging round the streets pulling a cart containing hundreds of bottles or milk and orange juice. I'm sure the electric motor in the cart done nothing to help..

Later on, it would be the coalman. A middle aged friendly man with sooty face. Sacks piled high on the cart, and my dad behind the horse with a bucket and shovel collecting manure for the roses. We wasn't that posh to have a coal-hole to chuck the anthracite into, so the poor coalman had to trudge though the house and out to the back yard to dump our coal-nuts into an old wooden shed, that we called the coal bunker

Next would be shouts of "Paraffin oil".  Later on it was "Any old rags or lumber",  perhaps later still, "knives sharpened", "Fresh fish", "Fruit and veg".

They drew the line at "bring out your dead" though. However, there was a Mrs. Enwistle just up the road that used to "Layout and dress" any poor departed souls...

There was no respite even on a Sunday. I used to like a bit of a lay-in on Sunday, after a busy Saturday helping with the demolition of bombed housing by smashing all the windows with a catapult and making bonfires from anything that would burn.

So, around 9am, about five thousand of the local Salvation Army membership, bless them all, would parade march along the main road not far from my bedroom, banging drums and singing "Jesus want's me for a sunbeam", and the like..

I'm sure we referred to the 1950's as "Peacetime"?

Pictures; Harold Morris, milman from the collection of Jean Gammons and Enoch Royle coalman from the Lloyd Collection

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