Saturday, 21 January 2017

Remembering Eltham in 1977

Nothing dates more than the recent past.

I am looking at pictures of Eltham taken in 1977 and what strikes me most is how different the place looked just under 40 years ago.

It is a mix of the colour that was used on the prints and the slightly unfamiliar looking clothes.  And of course the absence of some of the buildings which you take for granted.

All the more so when Eltham is no longer your home but just a place to return to.

Which takes me back to the pictures of the Castle in the High Street and the King’s Arms on Eltham Hill, which are pubs whose names stretch back well into the past.

I can’t say I liked the Castle and only ever went in there once, but in the space of two visits home it had gone and I can’t even remember when.

Likewise the Kings Arms which was for a while was our local is also no more.

Thinking back I am not sure why I did like it, unless it was that tendency in the young to scorn old pubs which had character and interest on their side.

All of which is my loss.  The Greyhound would certainly have impressed my Italian family as did the Royal Sun when I was in there a few years ago.

But we do take things for granted and I suppose don’t even register the changes that are happening.

All of which makes pictures like these wonderful pieces of history.

As always you have to be careful not to descend into nostalgic rubbish.

Places evolve, buildings come and go and not everything that is demolished is worth saving.

Although as I grow older I do rather look on the buildings of the 1950s, 60s and 70s with a bit of a jaundiced eye.

Simple concrete box designed shops and houses lack something of the charm of earlier buildings.  The 1970s Post Office has little to compare with its predecessor

So while I don't mourn the end of the Castle I would hope that its neighbour is still standing in 30 years time.

This is  the old David Grieg building which is a fascinating piece of old Eltham with fine brickwork, balconies and terracotta initials of the company in the gables.

And in turn will write in with their memories of their last pint in the King’s Arms as I  remember eating in the Golden Orient or whatever it had become by the 1990s.

So it matters to keep taking the pictures, saving them and bringing them out every so often to chart the changes which we miss.

Pictures, courtesy of Jean Gammons

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