Life Without

or - How it was

By Ted Blowers

Just prior to the war our family had moved from the slums of London to St. Helier Estate - a new council estate - and although the estate was still in the greater London area, it was like paradise to us and certainly nothing like the slums we left behind. Every corner had a green which had shrubs and some even trees. Our house, like all the others, was built in rows of six and by today's standards would be considered poor quality. There was no separate bathroom, no plaster on the kitchen or WC walls - they were just bare brick painted. The bath was in the kitchen and had a lid which served as the table. There was a large cast iron copper in the corner, a big earthenware sink with a draining board by the back door, which had gaps that the wind would whistle through like a tornado. There was no hot water. If you wanted a small amount of hot water, a kettle was boiled on the gas stove. Bath nights and wash days meant a fire had to be lit under the copper. The living room was tiny by today's standards and had one open fire with an oven above for baking. The whole thing had to be cleaned with black lead every weekend - a job we kids hated. There was just one electrical outlet in the whole house. The coal was kept in a small, triangular cupboard under the stairs, which meant to get there the men delivering the coal had to walk right through the living room to empty their sacks in the cupboard. This meant that although they were careful, the sacks would tend to scratch the ceiling and mark the doorframes, plus when they emptied them the whole house would fill with coal dust. Despite this our parents were very happy with their new surroundings.

We had a lot of fun - there were dozens of kids to play with. Mothers stayed at home, except some did a few hours a day charring, which was cleaning the houses of those middle class families who lived in private houses in better neighbourhoods. To get there the mums charring had to walk or catch a bus. This money helped to provide a little extra. This apart from looking after their own families and their own children - washing, ironing, cooking. It was a community and it didn’t matter who saw you. If you were doing something you shouldn’t have been, they would correct you and you could be sure your parents would know all about it, time you got home.



This page was added by Ted Blowers on 16/08/2010.
Comments about this page

What was a very economical measure was the way the large kitchen sink stood on a centrally placed earthenware drain pipe standing vertically on the stone floor and on view from all directions

By Nib West
On 25/09/2010

Hi Ted,

You must have lived in Welbeck Rd or similar. Perfect description of 114,  however in the mid sixties they did add a separate bathroom at the rear leaving the kitchen as just that, no other room sizes changed. We left in Nov 1964 as the improvements were coming down the road.

This same property now sells for 220k !!!!!!

By Terry Kates
On 03/08/2015

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