The War Years and After

St. Helier was as pleasant place

By Valerie Bayliss

I was born in St Helier Hospital in June 1944; acording to family story, during an air-raid. My mother's family had been moved to Halesowen Road from Bermondsey in 1942, after suffering bomb and blast damage three times and losing almost all they possessed. Dad was away in the army. My grandfather insisted that Mum and I were evacuated - to Lancashire - for about 6 months in 1944-5 because of the risk from V2s which were coming over regularly then.

After we came back and Dad was demobbed, we stayed in the house until 1950. The tenants were actually my grandparents, and this very small house (1 living room and 3 little bedrooms) was home to between 7 and 10 adults during that time. There had to be a pull-down bed in the living room for my mother's brothers. So we were very overcrowded. I don't suppose we were the only family in such a position at the end of the war.

There was a bathroom with toilet, which the family had not had in Bermondsey where the loo was always outside, so this was an improvement. The bathroom contained a bath and toilet but no washbasin and everyone washed in the kitchen. The bathwater was heated in the copper in the corner of the kitchen, in which Christmas puddings were also boiled! I also remember that coal was stored in a cupboard in the entrance hall and on delivery days the whole place got filthy from the dust.

Grandad was an ARP warden and used to tell how one day after a bomb fell nearby the houses were blast-damaged and he went to the next-door house, whose door had been blown in, to check on the occupants. He went in and called out their names- to hear a voice from beneath him saying he would be OK if grandad just got off his **** door! I recall the gap in the row of houses further up the road whre the bomb had fallen, later filled in with new houses.

My first school was the nursery at Canterbury Road and then I had a year at Glastonbury Road until Mum, Dad, my new brother and I were rehoused elsewhere in Carshalton. Mum worked as a bus conductress on the routes from Mordern to Carshalton.

St Helier then was a pleasant place to live, with plenty of green open space and of course few private cars. We could play out in the street without problems.

This page was added by Valerie Bayliss on 10/08/2011.
Comments about this page

I don't recall anyone having a seaside holiday. The nearest we got to that was the Morden and Carshalton chilldrens outing.

Each year a large number of charabancs would arrive at the green in Middleton road, and take a large number of children to Littlehampton for the day. We were given a packed lunch and some threepenny pieces for rides on the funfair. (sorry for the spelling of charabancs, but they were not called coaches in that day) 

By Harry Mitchell
On 02/10/2015

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