Open spaces

The green, green grass of home

Image accompanying MP3 audio clip: Jack Law's memories ( KB)

Jack Law's memories

Photo: Cheryl Bailey

Image accompanying MP3 audio clip: Gwen Abbott appreciates the environment on the estate today ( KB)

Gwen Abbott appreciates the environment on the estate today

Photo: Renee Cromarty

The outstanding,and perhaps best, feature of the LCC cottage estates was the amount of greenery that existed within them.  The planners latched on to the attraction of bringing countryside into the urban environment that had first been visualised by Ebenezer Howard who created the idea of Garden Cities.  Natural features were maintained as far as possible, houses were built around small greens and most homes had a garden bordered by privet hedges.

On St. Helier, many of the great old elms which had lined the original roads were left in place.  A large open area was left from the Wandle right across to where the hospital now stands.  Original copses from Hill Farm still exist today.

To the children arriving from London - the place was a paradise.

This page was added by Cheryl Bailey on 30/07/2010.
Comments about this page

DITCH or BROOK When I was in the Tweeddale Infants' School in the mid- forties our teacher spoke about the early days on the estate. On the left of Cheryl Bailey's field picture, running from the hospital, alongside Tweeddale Road and as far as the school was a channel with water in, we always called it "the ditch". However our teacher told us when she came to the school it was a clean, running brook and she used to take her class out, sit on the bank and read stories to them. I do not see it now, I wonder has it been covered or just filled in?

By Ron Bird
On 27/02/2011

That was the fever ditch (we called it) from the hospital. It was waste water and sometimes steam rose from it with the odd bit of toilet Izal tissue. The council put concrete pipe there for it to run and covered it over with soil.

By Dave Carter
On 18/03/2011

I remember the harriers club on the green area opposite the hospital. When Roger Bannister did that first 4 min mile a friend and I thought we could easily beat that!! We went to the harriers track timed ourselves and found it took us nearly three times as long ....decided we weren't built for speed after that!

By Maureen Hurt
On 10/09/2013

Jumping the ditch was a pursuit that gave hours of pleasure to my friends and I in the 1940's.The ditch was in fact longer than the previous items would suggest. It ran as they say from the direction of the hospital along the edge of the field that adjoined Tweeddale Road but it ran down to Middleton Road and then underground to emerge in the field behind the houses in Shaftesbury Road. At Green Wrythe Lane it again went underground and appeared on the other side to run between the edge of the woods which were there at the time and behind the rest of the houses in Shaftesbury Road. The ditch disappeared from view at Peterborough Road and there was no sign of it in Poulter Park. Presumably the council piped it underground, maybe to empty into the River Wandle? The Green Wrythe Lane point was where boys coming from school would try to persuade girls to take to the water accompanied by shrieks and scuffles. Although familiar with the length of the stream our activities were concentrated on the Tweeddale Road end. We had many points from where we regularly made jumps and each carried a predetermined number of marks to be awarded in the event of successful landings. Sometimes we took off from the roots of trees and shrubs that lined parts of the bank and it wasn't always easy to gain a foothold on the opposite side. A path to Robertsbridge Road crossed the ditch and it was here one Summer's evening that Evelyn Thomas, somersaulting on the handrail, broke her collar bone. The bottom of the stream was covered with small stones. The continuous flow of clear water was clean except where it became blocked with debris such as fallen branches, twigs or leaves. Obviously older than the hospital it would be interesting to look at early maps to see if they give any indication of the source of this water.

By Jennifer Ball (Nee Morgan)
On 10/09/2013

I grew up in Leominster Road which is facing Moreton Green (and woods) The woods were a lovely space to grow up, many trees to climb. I'm sure our Mothers were always looking for us somewhere in the thickets to come home for tea. There was a blue police box on the Lilleshall Road side which we always kept an eye on for police going in there. I do remember some railings down one side but I think the majority of them were taken away for the war effort. After a spell living in Morden we came back to the area (Muchelney Road, again opposite the woods) to look after my Nan and Grandad and I stayed there until the late sixties when I married my wife and moved to Surbiton. All the neighbours I remember were all very friendly. The gardens were all very large and I remember having to help my dad remove the air-raid shelter in the back garden when we moved in.

By Tony Rivers
On 14/09/2013

I remember my brother, John Stuart, going down the pipe from St Heliers hospital. It used to run somewhere near our prefab. He got right down to the river Wandle.  He came out stinking and my mum gave him such a good hiding.

By Brenda Clark nee Stuart
On 09/04/2014

Jennifer, your  total description of this ditch was spot on. Likewise, we used to jump its various points opposite Tweeddale Rd school. I was there '45 to '48.

In fact my earliest memories of this were pre war, before I was 5. I was paddling in it at its point where it emerged across Wrythe Lane. It was open at that time even there, whilst so doing I found a number of lead soldiers, quite a find for one so young with few toys. What stamps this ocurrence on my mind was a song being played on the radio from a nearby house. They were, The Woody Woodpecker song together with South of the Border Down Mexico Way,both were hit songs of that year.

By 1945 the first part to Paisley Rd  had been piped, all the rest were done subsequently, but it did run into the Wandle near to where the drain lorries used to discharge there loads.

Finally in answer to your question I was told later that the source of this ditch was a natural spring up in the higher ground beyond the hospital. 

By Terry Kates
On 08/08/2015

Reading through these pages have stirred up too many memories to recall here but the photo by Renee Cromarty is the most poignant because it looks very much like where my mother and I lived during the war. We lived in a one bedroomed maisonette in Stavordale Road, and there was a green in front that had a large elm tree growing to the left of it as seen from the road. My mother didn't like going in the Anderson shelter when the air raid sirens sounded and we used to sleep under the stairs. Fortunately, we were in the shelter when the V1 came down by Hill House in 1944. I lived on the estate until I married in 1961 and now live in Australia. I have a similar photo that I took on a visit home in 2001.

By Bill Bailey
On 06/07/2016

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