Growing up in the 1940s/50s

A circle of good friends

I consider myself lucky to have grown up just after the war with rationing still in place, no TV, no video consoles or mobile phones, no designer labels but what we did have in abundance was a circle of good friends. Because there was nothing to keep us indoors apart from ‘Dick Barton’ and ‘Journey into Space’ on the radio, we were always out with each other, rain or shine. I lived in the Stanley Road/Shaftesbury Road area and as kids, Harris’s forecourt on the junction of these two roads was our meeting place.

Games of imagination

Depending on what we had seen at the ‘Dukes’(Duke of York’s cinema) recently, Harris’s would be a submarine, foreign legion fort, western town or such like. We would play ‘tabs’ and marbles, and enjoyed racing round the block formed by Stanley, Shaftesbury, Clyde and Lorne Roads on foot or bike. We would go out for the day, our favourites being Sweet Hill, where there was an old Bren gun carrier and Hollingbury ‘Roman camp’. They were building the Hollingbury estate at that time, so it was a good source of material for building our own camps.

Fun in Preston Park

We would usually be home very early because we’d eaten all our sandwiches, drunk all our pop and were hungry. We would go out to Preston Park to play cricket or football or maybe bunk into the cycle track when a meeting was on. When it rained we would visit Mr Bert the basket maker in Lorne Road, or race cigarette packet boats down the rain filled gutters of Stanley Road. Sure we had our squabbles but they were soon over and forgotten.

Comments about this page

  • Has anyone ever seen the WWII photo of Nelsons Column at Preston Circus? Its a shame I probably can’t show my copy, I think it is probably copyright protected till 2015!

    By Peter Groves (22/05/2013)
  • I grew up in the same area – we moved to Shaftesbury Road in the early ’60s. As you say, there was an abundance of entertainment for children – there was always a mob game of some sort in the street (Hide and Seek, Statues, Kiss Chase etc) or playing on the swings and slides of The Level, hurtling down Clyde Road on a single skate with a Dandy annual on it. Or frightening ourselves silly on the Ghost Walk on Upper Lewes Road. As you say, we’d be out of the door at 8, and wouldn’t be home until tea time, or until we got hungry. How did we survive, without being texted every 10 minutes by worried Mums?

    By Marc Turner (02/06/2013)
  • Hello Peter, I am trying to research Preston Circus and am very interested in this photo of Nelson’s Column if you are able to show it now that 2015 is here!

    By Roz Wells (10/04/2015)
  • Yes, I did a story about it for the Prestonville Friend; I will post the page soon!

    By Peter Groves (12/04/2015)
  • Great memories!  I remember distinctly “Journey into Space” on the radio and being out of the house for hours on end. 

    I did a paper round for Hartland’s and one of the routes took me down to the bottom of Clyde Rd near the Dukes.

    On on the Circus itself outside a pub on the north side I recall a newspaper vendor.  He was an older man with one leg who would bellow out “Evening Argus……Evening Standard” around 5 or 6 in the evenings.  My guess is that he was a WW1 vet.


    By Phil Allsopp (20/04/2017)

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