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Sept 2013 - Jason Gillam:

Jeff: I would like to thank you for the informative website you have, especially in relation to Gilpin Grove. When my mother was born her parents were living at No. 7 Gilpin Grove (12th November 1948). The family name was Edwards (Charles & Gloria). It lists the occupation for Charles as a labourer for an electrical goods manufacturers although we do not know the company name.

It was very nice to read your information and get a picture of life in the area.

Thanks, Jason. When your mother was born in 1948, my sister Wendy and I were living at number 56. For whatever reason, we didn't know much about the residents of the houses at the low numbers in the street and the name "Edwards" doesn't ring any bells. I wonder if we knew them by sight, though. It's interesting that Kelly's Directory doesn't have an entry for number 7; I wonder why.

Jeff: Here is a photo that I believe was taken at the time they were
still living in Gilpin Grove. My nan is on the far left holding my mother, Christine Gloria Edwards, who was born in 1948. Granddad is leaning against the door frame. This is a café where he worked for a bit but I do not know where it was located. The others in the photo were family friends [click on the photo to see a larger version].

Oct 2013 - Andrew Scott:

Jeff: What a treat to see some photos of Gilpin Grove after so many years of searching the web. I lived at No. 32 from around 1954 to 1958 (aged 2 to about 6) or whenever the date was when we moved to the new flats around the corner.

The house was rented – as I think most were – and was originally my grandparents’, and then my mother’s Lily May Brown. My uncle and aunt lived at No. 36, Todd and Doris Shotbolt, with my cousin Albert. Prior to them it was Albert’s grandfather – another Albert.

I remember a test of childhood was being able to climb the brick wall at the end of the square into College Gardens - it took me years to manage it. I think No. 32 was adjacent to the corner of the square and is the first house on the right in your photo. Directly across the square at No. 74 was Paul Bednars who lived with his mum and we used to play in the square sometimes. I remember it as fairly safe compared to today - a few bigger lads we were scared of, especially one with the surname King from over in the newer houses next to the railway line. I also remember witnessing a brawl outside the pub in the same area near the railway footbridge? Also, standing on the footbridge as the steam trains went through and covering us in sooty smoke. Just over the footbridge was the Tizer bottling plant and the row of factories with a strong chemical smell. I remember lifting a bottle of Tizer from one of the delivery trucks on my way back from Wilbury Way School – I must have only been 6.

No’s 50 and 52 were the dreaded Perry’s who were a very rough family, and we were warned from having anything to do with them, although I have no memory of any threats or problems. Must have been near neighbours of yours?

Immediately at the back of Gilpin Grove where it ran into Gilpin Crescent was a wasteland as all the houses must have been pulled down by the time I was out and about, and we used to play on the rough ground there. I still carry a 10-inch scar from a bit of rusty metal that cut my leg on that site.

It was hard times for Mum, as Dad cleared off and she rented the ground floor of No. 32 to an aptly named Fred Hard, who had served time for larceny. Not a nice bloke and he scared the crap out of me.

We moved into the new flats on the boundary which were instant slums and which
pushed us up against the Tottenham kids who were a step up in the toughness stakes to us. I was always wary out on my own in those days and was glad when we moved away.

I just realized that I have a photo of Gilpin Grove taken from the square and looking down to Fore Street and the Bell Pub. It must be 1958 by the car, me, and my cousins Vicki and Anne [click on the photo to see a larger version].

I’m now living in New Zealand but it’s still great to stir my memory with your photos.


Thanks, Andrew. I do remember Albert. One memory I have is of us racing our bikes around the square. Albert came a cropper somehow and went in to tell his mother that I had done the dirty deed. I don't remember how it turned out.

Another anecdote of the Shotbolt family: I owned a rubber ball that was about soccer ball size that we local kids used in the square for our soccer games. One day, a kick at goal (the space between the square's raised gardens) sent the ball running down to Gilpin Crescent. Some budding footballer in the crescent booted it back to us but his aim was off - it sailed over the back wall of the Shotbolt house and crashed through their ground floor back window. The budding footballer disappeared down Bridport Road and I had to knock on the door of No. 36 and ask for my ball back! I was able to prove my innocence and get the ball back and it served us for a few more years until, to much dismay, it ran under the wheels of a lorry that was driving by the Shotbolt house.

I see from the 1952 Kelly's Directory that Albert E. Shotbolt is shown at No. 36 (perhaps Albert's grandfather?) and James H. Brown at No. 32 (maybe your grandfather?). No. 74, however, shows James Napier rather than Bednars.

Regarding the "brawl outside the pub in the same area near the railway footbridge", I don't remember a footbridge. Are we talking about Bridport Road? In my time the road ran over the railway line; I remember the pub as the "Little Brown Jug"; we went to its off-licence for our ice lollies, sherbert, and soft drinks. That was also where I waited for the coach to the Open Air School. We had great fun running our soapbox cars down the steep hill over the railway line. There was a jog in the road at the pub that made it a blind bend so we had to station someone there to give us the "all clear" when there were no cars coming! I also remember the hill being tarred. When the tar melted in the summer we rolled the tips or our arrows in it to give them weight and make them fly straight (our arrows were just bamboo sticks with no flights).

I lived at No. 56 and my aunt lived at No. 54. The Perry's were next door to her at No. 52 but I had forgotten they were also at No. 50. I remember the Perry's as doing our laundry. I also seem to remember them having large trees in front of their house.

There were still houses behind Gilpin Grove when I was there - no waste ground. One of those houses backed on to No. 54 and contained the Alsops. Their back garden ran alongside ours (see mapdetail). They kept pigeons and, at one time, ducks. One day when I was all dressed up for a family outing, Mr. Alsop allowed me to have one of his pigeons perch on my arm. It crapped all over the sleeve of my new blazer. Oh, the consternation!

My aunt and grandmother moved into those flats at the boundary and I used to visit them. As you said, it didn't take the buildings long to change for the worse.

It's interesting to see how the residents of Gilpin Grove have dispersed. It was my plan to move to New Zealand in 1969 but I ended up in Canada. One day I'll maybe get to see what I missed!