Tuesday, 18 April 2017

A golden childhood growing up in Well Hall in the 1960's

Lost in the woods, 1977
Now Eltham was a pretty good place to grow up in the 1960s especially when you had come from Peckham.

It was partly the opportunity to wander over large areas of open and wooded land where you could play, walk and just let your imagination out for the day.

That said I was 14 when we arrived in Well Hall which made some of the “play thing” a little old hat.

But that freedom to set off up into the woods on a warm summer’s morning with no real idea of where you would end up was magic.

Of course the first few times you took off up there it really was discovering new places, and then later it was equally special as you shared it with a girlfriend.

What started out at Well Hall could by degree take you off to Welling via the castle and offer up some stunning views.

And when you tired of trees, solitude and aimless meanderings there was always the Palace and the pleasure of walking along King John’s Walk towards Mottingham.

King John's Walk, towards Mottingham, 1977
Looking back all that didn’t last long, partly I guess because the summers were all too short and soon there were widening horizons and counter attractions.

Never underestimate just how a sixteen your old starting out a fresh at Crown Woods with a whole new set of friends can be drawn away from the simple pleasures of a walk in the woods.

But they never quite went away, after all when you live on Well Hall Road the woods dominated the view from the back window and on those storming summer nights when the sky was lit up with the jagged flashes of lightening it was hard not to be drawn up there.

Not that anyone with any sense would venture there in such a storm.

A much better attraction was the Welcome from where you could sit out the storm with a pint although all too often I was less lucky.  Those storms seemed to pick me out as I was walking back from a Friday night in Woolwich, and later still falling out of the King’s Head in the High Street.

And now the woods and Well Hall are a long way from where I live and separated by a gulf of time but they still exert a pull and bring back a pretty perfect childhood.

Pictures; the woods and King Jon's Walk, 1977 from the collection of Jean Gammons


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