Thursday, 12 January 2017

Eltham High Street in the summer of 1915 and again sometime in the 1960s

At first glance it looks familiar enough.  

We are looking at the parish church  on a warm summer’s morning sometime in 1915.

It is a picture I have grown to like and given that I have just bought the postcard I am quite pleased with myself.

Now I say bought, but in fact I have ordered it up and if it hasn’t been sold I shall soon be the proud owner of a little bit of old Eltham.*

So back to the picture which has enough detail to mark it off as an image from almost a century ago.

The tram is about to leave travelling along Well Hall Road which was cut just over a decade before and on the eastern side of the road there are none of the familiar shops while just out of the picture on the extreme right was Eltham’s third Congregational Church.

It was built in 1868 “in a strong Gothic Style with a tall spire and was demolished in 1936.”**

And while I don’t usually do then and now pictures I couldn’t resist adding the second photograph which I guess is from the 1960s.

This is the Eltham I remember.

They say you should never go back and I have to admit the first time I returned after Burton’s had gone, along with the newsagent/bookshop it was rather like a little of my childhood had been consigned to the rubbish bin..

But all of that smacks of nostalgic tosh, and no doubt any youngster who had stood beside the photographer in the summer of 1915 may well have muttered something similar when Burtons opened its grand new shop on the corner of Well Hall Road and the High Street in 1937.

Now I have to confess the shop with its great Ionic columns and pilasters at first floor level still dominates the corner even if the sleek 1960s Italian suits, jackets and ties have been replaced by fast food and soft drinks.

And while I bought my first suit from the shop it will always be the memory of the crowds turning out from the dance hall above the shop on a Saturday night that I remember along with the newsagents which occupied part of the Well Hall side of the building.

It was there that I would buy my Penguin Classics many of which still sit on the bookshelves here in Chorlton.

But again I am in danger of sliding into nostalgia so it’s best to leave these two pictures in the past, until my post card arrives from Mr Flynn which no doubt will set me off again.

And in the meantime I would welcome any images of Eltham which will provide the material for more stories.

Pictures;  Eltham in 1915, courtesy currently of Mr Flynn and Eltham in the 1960s


**Spurgeon Darrell, Discover Eltham, 2000

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