Wednesday, 3 August 2016

Buying a book at Wilcox's on Well Hall Road and a thank you

Well Hall Odeon, circa 1960s
It is pretty much one of those things that when you live somewhere you take it for granted.

Growing up in Eltham in the 1960s I don’t think I ever took a photograph of the place and most of the changes that occurred just passed me by.

That said I am not sure that there were many dramatic developments to Eltham during that decade.

The cinemas were all still there when I left as was the old station, and the shops on Well Hall Road just down from the Odeon were the same when I returned in the early 70s.

They included the radio shop where mum bought our first stereogram, the barber's shop next to the cinema where you always came out with a short back and sides no matter what you had asked for and Wells the Chemist and the cafe.

Some places have faded from my memory and others while still vivid have challenged me to remember their name.

Wilcox, Well Hall Road circa 1960s
So here I am with that shop at the top of Well Hall Road hard by Burton’s.

It sold everything from papers and sweets to books and on a Saturday morning it was one of the first ports of call before heading up the High Street to meet friends, or visit the library.

And only yesterday our Saul started reading the copy of Canterbury Tales which I bought from Wilcox’s sometime in the summer of 1967.

The book is much battered and is in danger of falling apart but it is a nice reminder of the continuity which binds me to the place where I grew up and still feel a pull for.

So I was pleased that I have come across a fresh collection of photographs from the community website This is Eltham and particularly pleased that they have given me permission to raid the archive.*

Some are very much part of my childhood while others look back to an earlier period of Eltham’s history.

But it is the one of Wilcox’s that has triggered off a rich cascade of memories and underlines for me the power of an image to reawaken the past.

And as these things go just as I finished the story, Lesley of This is Eltham, told me that Wilcox's  
"was my father's shop Andrew,  he had 5 shops in Eltham, 32 High Street, and there's a photo of my mother in that shop in 1938/9, then a haberdashery's in Well Hall Parade opposite the Pleasaunce, one with a Post Office in Westhrone Avenue and and a tiny, tiny one at the High Street end of Archery Road but that was probably gone by the time you came to Eltham."

Now that I think is just a perfect ending.

Pictures; Well Hall Odeon and Wilcox’s circa 1960 courtesy of This is Eltham


*This is Eltham, http://www.thisiseltham.co.uk/index.php

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