St. Peter's Boys' Club

Trying to keep us off the streets

By Ted Blowers

St. Peter's Church had three vicars at one time, one of whom was a Father Haler (not sure if that is the correct spelling). He used to organize lantern slide and cartoon shows for the kids in the area. They also had a youth club which was run by a man named Mr. Cat. He was a very nice man and certainly didn’t deserve the dog's life (no pun intended) that we led him. We played darts, team games, similar to those played at PT in school, and a friend of his came to teach us boxing. My memory is a bit blurred to the time frame between Mr. Cat and Father Haler - they may have been around at the same time or Mr. Cat's club may have been before. 

Mr. Cat was far too soft and we ran him ragged.

Mr. Cat was far too soft with boys of our ilk and we ran him ragged. On one occasion, he invited us down to his house, which was on the way to Mitcham and had a big back garden. We were supposed to play putting or croquet. His garden had a couple of beautiful apple trees, as well as other fruits and he told us we could have any windfalls but on no account wwere to pick any apples, I presume that, having no children of his own, he had no idea of how specific you had to be when talking to kids, particularly kids like us who lived on our wits most of the time. As soon as he had disappeared indoors, a street game ensued where one boy was hoisted on another’s shoulders and they would run at each other, one trying to dislodge the other from his horse. It was a boy named Teddy Aslett, now deceased, who came up with the bright idea that if you had a putter or a mallet on your shoulder, as you ran under the apple trees, it wasn’t your fault if a few apples were dislodged. After all, we had been told not to pick them. It didn’t take long before our  game was up and we were banished forever from Mr. Cat's garden. Shame, in our ignorance we abused his hospitality. I do know that we all remember him fondly.

Seaford - two weeks of heaven
Photo: Illustrative image for the 'St. Peter's Boys' Club' page

Father Haler carried on trying to keep us of off the streets, encouraging us in any endeavors that kept us coming to the church club and better still, as far as the clergy were concerned, to church on Sunday. This was achieved in part by the fact that if you didn’t go to church, you couldn’t partake in the activities that the club or church provided. Father Haler’s piece de resistance, was arranging for a lot of us to go to a boarding school called Chesterton Cottage in Seaford, Sussex, while the resident students were on holidays. It must have been about 1946-7. It was a magical place for us run by a Lady called Daudie. We never knew who she was really was. There were speculations about her being an old girl friend of Father Haler. In retrospect, it was more likely his sister - a lovely lady nevertheless. We had archery, two swimming pools, a roller skating rink with skates supplied, loads of fields and space to play, trips to the beach, even a trip out on a fishing boat. Even then there were some who took advantage, yet all in all it was a wonderful experience. Some had never seen the sea before and after the deprivations of war, it was wonderful.


This page was added by Ted Blowers on 19/09/2010.
Comments about this page

I have a visitors book for Chesterton Cottage for post and pre war visitors.  In 1947 there were a lot of children from Carshalton and Morden who arrived on August 8th.  names include Roy F Cartwright; John A Wiltshire; E.R.Scully; James E Knight; Ray Arch (sic) and many others.

By Geoffrey C Thursfield
On 19/06/2015

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