Dad’s Memories

Audio recordings of my father telling his stories of growing up in Mitcham, working, keeping pigs, pubs etc.

Some recordings were made in pubs and so they have background noise, and most recordings include some mild swearing. There may also be some duplication, where stories overlap.

Click on a link below to go to the recordings, or scroll down.

Star School
Rose Avenue
Keeping Pigs
Working on building sites


Dad grew up in Queens Road, Rocky. His mother Alice died while giving birth to him and his father didn’t want the baby, so her parents brought him up. Dad’s father lived in the same road, and he remarried and soon dad had two half-brothers.

Dad’s grandparents had 6 sons and 6 daughters. Two of their sons died in WW1, and their names are on the Mitcham War Memorial: Arthur James Block and Edgar Block. Dad’s mum, Alice, had married before to William Walklett who died in February 1918. His name is also on the Mitcham War Memorial. They had a daughter, Alice Eileen, who died aged 18 months in November 1918. She remarried in August 1919. Dad’s older brother was born in 1920.

Shops in Rocky

Factories in Rocky including Permo, Bush’s, TW Farmiloe, the Cock Chimney and Brown’s varnish.

Dad also talked about a small farm nearby in Rocky, with a piggery, slaughterhouse and pond, surrounded by a wall, which as kids they climbed over.

Slang for money.

Dad’s grandfather had a shed on the allotments in Batsworth Road, and would drink a bottle of beer there rather than go to the pub. Dad would bring sandwiches to his grandfather, and sometimes get the beer from the Wheatsheaf, and would get a chocolate biscuit as a treat. Johnny Johnson had a pet monkey, and would bring it to the allotments, and give the monkey a chocolate biscuit.

Star School

When in the infants, dad and his friend Roy wondered what teachers Miss Smith and Mr Shaddock got up to during break. Climbing on dad’s shoulders, Roy looked through the window and told what he saw.

Rose Avenue

After the Explosion, dad moved to Rose Avenue.


Starting work at Upholstery with his cousin Frankie.


Dad started work after leaving school at 14, at the furniture factory of Standard Upholstery, Lewis Road. After three months he was promoted to castor boy, but then left to go to the marzipan factory in Locks Lane of John F. Renshaw & Co., Ltd. as a van boy. This included washing the vehicles at the factory as well as going in a Dennis lorry to and from the Docks, as well as other parts of London, both delivering marzipan and picking up sacks of almonds etc.

While on a car trip through London, passing over Tower Bridge brought back some memories for dad when he was a van boy. He remembered delivering to bakers and on one occasion having to pay one shilling and sixpence for an apple pie he accidentally knocked over in the shop.

He said the driver was Albert Newin who he described as middle class. On a run to Southend they stopped at Albert’s sister, who made dad a meal of egg and chips, for which dad had to pay for. At Garth Road, when Albert would drive home for lunch, he made dad stay in the van, and brought him out some afters. After two years dad was allowed in the house, in the kitchen. Dad told his grandmother about this and she said “Keep away from them people!”

He returned there after the war, and worked in various departments until becoming the almond grader, working on the top floor.

This photo from 1960 was taken in the Loading Bay at Renshaws. Dad is in the front row on the left, Mary Oliver next to him and her brother Peter. In the back row, Sally Mount who married George Briggs, and Eileen Major.

Before getting married in 1947, dad asked Mr Renshaw for 10 shillings more in his wages.

When dad worked there, Renshaws bought in the almonds still with their skins on. Removing their skins was called blanching, and dad described the process and also how he mistakenly thought he could dry his overalls in the same machine and ended up breaking the cogs.

After he left, Renshaws switched to buying in almonds already blanched, which resulted in savings of time and money for the firm. Listen to dad describing the arrival of almonds and their blanching.

He left Renshaws in 1963. Mr Renshaw gave him a 25 pound service bonus, which dad disputed as he had left to go to the war.

Keeping Pigs

Dad, on right, with his work mates and their pigs

Dad kept pigs with his brothers initially, but after a chat in the Bath Tavern, which he went to most Sundays, he started his own pig stys with a couple of work mates from Renshaws.

More on keeping pigs in Batsworth Road.

Their first pig was killed near the Bull pub.

Dad’s uncle Sid Elliott had worked in an abattoir before, and he helped with the slaughtering of one of their pigs.

Working on building sites

Snagging Ideal Homes

After working for Croydon Council, dad got a job with Hatfields doing spray plastering. He was promoted to foreman, and sacked the others, bringing in his mates from the council job. One of them being Trevor.

Window Conversions

‘Obsolete Glass’


Dad tells about playing cards in the Fountain on Saturday nights, as well the quality of beer found in other Mitcham pubs.


Blowers seafood

Dad’s father in the ARP

One of dad’s father’s neighbours was kicked out by his wife, and he slept in his shed on the allotments. Dad took him home, and went into Spicers butchers, next to the Kings Arms, on the way. Meat had just come off the ration, so dad bought a load of lamb chops at 1 1/2d. each. When he got home with him, mum was still at work, so dad cooked the chops for the pair of them. The man then fell asleep in the armchair in the front room. Mum got home and saw the man, saying to dad that there was a little old man asleep in the front room.

Freddy and Billy Bowdery

1937 – Dad at 15 and Tommy Woods

Johnny Munt and the Eel

In 1965, two years after leaving Renshaws, dad was working as a builder, and he almost won the pools. “People like us don’t win money like that” said mum.

Talking about food, dad mentioned getting milk delivered from someone in Fleming Mead, and vegetables such as blewit mushrooms picked nearby.

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