I Had a Dream (Growing Up In the Bush Saga)

I have produced various items for this site which have covered my growing up period from 1946 (from 1950 in Shepherd’s Bush). Several contributors of more tender years than I have commented on the uncluttered (but deprived !) times we lived in. For those of you who grew up from the late 60’s onwards I can understand how difficult it must be to understand what life was like in ‘the olden days’ !

Living in the 50’s was like living in a vacuum compared to life now and you survived on dreams. It was kind of strange, you knew things would change, but you awaited things to be created to enable that change. In certain areas such as Colour TV you were eventually aware that certain things existed in the USA, but not in this country so that was frustrating for those of us looking at Black and White TV’s. So it was just a matter of time (1967 onwards).

Prior to Black and White TV’s you relied on the limited radio service and mainly newspapers for news. Without portable radios (that didn’t involve a suitcase for batteries) you could only get a delayed version of news as was the case with newspapers. Truly portable transistor radios did not arrive until the mid to late 50’s when the Far East copied the American invention (yes it was that way round !)

Our early home radios were unreliable valve based and I can remember my father spending half his life on trips to the nearest electrical shop to find replacement valves. The radio was our window on the world and when you travelled away from your home you were more or less oblivious of what was happening in the world. The highlight of my evening was to carefully fine tune the radio using an orange tuning light, hoping to pick up a short wave transmission from some far flung land and jumping for joy if I managed to get a radio amateur in Australia ! Simple pleasures, but you had no choice.

You did at least have a good selection of newspapers with London having the Evening News, The Star and Standard. And as mentioned in a previous article, the West London Observer or Shepherd’s Bush Gazette became a valuable source of info on the R’s. The newspapers did have classified editions on a Saturday which were more up to date with the events of the day including R’s match reports. When I moved to Essex and during a period you could park near Loftus Road, the car was my usual means of getting to the R’s.

The return journey was timed on a Saturday to reach the Bank intersection in the City of London just in time to catch the paper seller patrolling the traffic lights with the classified edition of the Evening Standard. I can still recall the cry of ‘News, Star, Standard, Classified’. This was a good source of football info although at times not particularly accurate in view of the rush to production !

Huddled round the old valve radio set, BBC Radio did eventually cover matches on a Saturday, but in respect of away matches you had to wait for the results service as latest scores was an item still to come. You could tell by the announcer’s tone for the home teams score as to the R’s score which followed so your heart sank a millisecond in advance of the usual confirmation of defeat !

In researching some items I must confess that I did not realise that Bush Radio’s, one of the earlier radio manufacturers, started in Woodger Road, Shepherd’s Bush, in the 1930’s, hence their name. You and I have been enlightened !

Telephones in the average house during the 50’s were few and far between at our end of the food chain ! Mobile phones could only be dreamed about and were decades away. Telephone Boxes were your only means of communication and mainly used for emergency purposes. It was not too bad for us Kelmscott Gardens kids as we played together on a regular basis so trip organisation to Rangers games or Fishing was not a problem. Can you imagine modern kids walking to someone’s house to sort out something no matter how close they were !

Other than that you had a telegram service for urgent communication, and, sometimes a visit from the local police should there be bad news from distant relatives.

One experience of newspaper stop press accuracy and lack of telephones that I can relate too involved my parents flying on holiday to Germany in the early 60’s. On travelling back from the City on the crowded sweat box known as the Central Line (the old red ones of some vintage) I noticed in the stop press of my evening paper that a plane had crashed near the airport my parents were returning from that day. There were few details. You can imagine my feelings for the rest of the journey home on tube and bus to Kelmscott Gardens with no other way of finding out if they were involved. I had been home about an hour before the door bell sounded and I was faced by a man holding a telegram…..my world collapsed !

Opening the telegram with reluctant fingers took ages so you can imagine my feelings to find that it was to say that they were safe. They were due to get on the plane that crashed, killing all on board, after a total electrical failure on approach to the airport ! A mobile phone and more instant and accurate news would have saved me several hours of worry….such were the times.

Transport was cheap in the 50’s with your usual fare being 1d or 2d in old English. A 2d journey got you a long way ! Early buses were RT and RTL type and Trolley buses. I must have been on a London tram as a nipper, but can only remember being on one in my early days in Yorkshire, probably on a trip to Leeds. The Routemasters were to follow. The Trolley buses had a certain warm smell about them as it was not covered in fuel/exhaust fumes ! Ticket Collectors at first had a wooden clipboard with coloured tickets, which had to be punched, followed by the shiny metal turn handle paper ticket dispensers.

When you strayed to the outer reaches of London, the London Country buses with their green livery took over. Also the Green Line coaches, mainly single-decker, became a way of doing longer journeys from central London to the towns within 30 miles of London. Us kids looked upon the Green Line buses as being luxury travel ! You thought nothing of undertaking a long journey by using several buses. The Red Rover ticket with its single payment became very useful in these instances, with also your trusty bus map in your pocket.

Red Rover Ticket in 1967 (All day travel for 30 pence in today’s money !)

Such journeys were usually trouble free as there were few cars on the road compared with today. You also returned home un-mugged, un-molested and with all your bits in working order no matter how long you were on the buses and despite your age.

However, you did dread some journeys if downstairs was full and you were forced to use the upper smoking deck. Mind you I was brought up in Yorkshire and if you can survive an upstairs trip on a Doncaster bus with coal stained miners puffing away you could survive anything London could throw at you !

The BEA buses (British European Airways) became a familiar sight travelling from West London Air Terminal in Gloucester Road to Heathrow Airport in the mid-fifties to mid-sixties, travelling down Goldhawk Road on their journey. (Later replaced by Routemaster type double-deckers towing a luggage trolley) Stamford Brook Bus Garage was used for some years for this service.

As previously mentioned, you made your own fun and most toys had to be worked on as PC’s and Game Boys etc were decades away. However, it did make us fitter specimens with all the walking, football etc.

Living in the fifties was like living next to a conveyor belt…you waited for the next invention to come along. The belt seemed to be very slow at times !

Colin Woodley

30 thoughts on “I Had a Dream (Growing Up In the Bush Saga)

  1. Ahh memories Colin..I can remember waiting nervously for the League Cup semi-final 1st leg result up at Birmingham when a smile on the BBC Sports Presenter’s face ahead of the highlights were indeed a clue ! Also, you made me think of that Tony Hancock episode…’The Radio Ham’ when he was trying to deal with a May Day and also send a tray of bread pudding to Kuala Lumpur !

  2. I went to Birmingham F.C. that season. In fact never missed a FLCup game even went to Aldershot that year. Alan

  3. Brilliant article Colin. There is no need for me to tell you that I can relate to plenty of that!

    Iknew all about those LT Bus ticket Machines because My Father was once a Bus Conductor on the 9 and 73 routes out of Mortlake. In fact it was from the Gibson type dispenser that I got all those ticket rolls used as “streamers” for that away game at Southend we all went to in March 1962( R’s won 3-2) Remember?

    Red Rovers were cheap and great value. Always used on our Bus Spotting expeditions. eh?

    Of course as very young boys in the mid/ late 1950’s even going to local first team away games was out of the question. I did not see my first QPR AWAY game until Dec 1960(Watford R’s won 3-0) when I was 12. Yes you had to rely on the Football results announcer and pray for the right tone in his voice..or rush out down the Askew Rd to the Star News Standard newspaper street vendor.

    Different World! You said it!

  4. The older I get the more I enjoy reading these type of articles. Excellent piece of writing.

  5. Great article Colin.
    I used to love the noise that those Bus Ticket machines made. (sad I know)
    The fare for kids was a Tup’penny Half.
    Used to use the Red Rover Tickets from about 9am until dark in the Summer holidays, travelling all around London with my mates from the age of 10.
    A different world indeed.

  6. What a fantastic piece from my dear old friend Colin Woodley. I think most people would probably know that I’m not a QPR supporter but that’s not at all important. What’s really important to me is that there is a web site like this and people like Colin and Kerins (and others) blessed with amazing memories do an invaluable service to old codgers like me (an old Mod from the bloody centre of the universe = Shepherd’s Bush) AND someone like Steve Russell whose hard dedication makes this all possible. When we lived at 22 Kelmscott Gardens in Askew Road and Colin lived across from me (in 62?) and Kerins (Bernard Lambert) just around the corner in Ashchurch I remember on a Sunday dinner-time we would have our roast in the kitchen and to a young Cork boy like me living in a dream world called London the sound from my uncle John’s (Sears) little transistor which model obliged it to be encased in a tight fitting brown case would sit on the dinner table and I would be just absolutely “gob smacked” (unlexiconed in the English language at the time) “gob smacked” by the BBC accents coming from Around The Horne with Kenneth Horne and other exquisite voices of Leslie Phillips and Kenneth Williams. It’s possible, cos it did happen at times, that my dearest auntie Carol (recently deceased in March) might not be talking to uncle John cos he would have been down on the green with Cyril Covill taking their car engines apart in what their respective wives had been told was to be a “very quick look under the bonnet to tighten the batteries” – Jesus, what a fib ! The two of them would be covered in oil up their arms while auntie Carold shouted down from our third floor balcony..”Your dinner is ready..Johnny” The motif “If it’s not broken – don’t fix it” comes to mind. In the afternoon the same little transistor, which might have been a Bush bought in Shepherd’s Bush Market, would lull my aunt & uncle (by now talking again !) in the sitting room with the Cliff Adam Singers whilst I in my Sivori slippers (is it any wonder I now suffer from cramp ?) would head for Ravenscourt Park with Colin and Bernard and the Minor brothers and Geoffrey Murell, Ray Lawrence, Alan Poole and Mick Quinn and my “impossible to get the ball from us” partner Ray Wannell. The No. 11 bus that started out from Goldhawk Road garage to Liverpool Street had the nicest and most friendliest Jaimacan clippie. She was gorgeous with an arse the size of Canada. She used to call me her “little Irish friend”. Thanks Colin for bringing such fantastic memories back. If only I knew what lay ahead and how much Shepherd’s Bush would become embedded in my soul. Does anyone know of anyone who might have access to a secondhand time machine…I only want to borrow it for ten minutes.

    • Thanks Irish..it was No 60!
      Yes those early radio shows were brilliant. Round the Horne was a breeding ground for many comics. One of my favourites was Journey in to Space which was very much ahead of its time.
      Mention of Ravenscourt Park reminds me I have lodged a further article on our times in the park.

  7. An absolutely brilliant piece, which brings back so many memories…
    Black & White TV was the norm in our Kilburn home.. we never imagined colour.
    Often left our the house at about 4.45pm on a Saturday, and headed up Priory Park Road to the Derby and to hear those immortal words ‘Get your Evening Standard… Classified’.. just couldn’t wait to see not omly the result, but that all important league table.
    Great days,Great times.
    Thanks ESSEX.

  8. Wonderful comment Jack. Happy Days.

    I liked most of those old radio Programmes in particular Journey into Space but I was not keen on the Sunday Lunchtime Billy Cotton Band Show(Wakey Wakey)…even though from circa 1958 to 1961 he was a director of QPR FC!

    By the way I reckon it was the Minor Family who lived at no 62 Kelmscott and Ray Wannell at no 65.

    Shame we are all too old now for a kick about over at Ravenscourt Park. lol

    Bernard Lambert(Kerrins)

    PS jjcolls….Ah the cry from the newspaper street vendors

    • great all round.yes i was 65 and now nearly 65!
      jack and i could probably still take you all on over the park.memories ah.
      smell of trolleybuses thats a great one,sort of warm electrical ish.
      and dontforget the RTW bus W for wide,or the pre war RT with the route box on top.
      Sweet smell of sasperello (wrong spelling)down the market or the wait for pie and mash down askew or cookes at the market with those incredibly green peas.
      Looking with awe at the world champion stock cars on the corner of curwen on the short walk to victoria boys,bleary eyed after early morning paper round.Or earlier sailing our self made boats on the pond that was a bomb crater on the land that was to become starch green next to the stone horse trough.
      taking ownership of petrol tags from various tankers at seven stars lights. being proud owner of plastic LS Autodiesel unique.
      Smell of yorkshire pudding and the sound of two way family favorites.
      Playing cricket with MR Minor as well as all the old familiars over ravenscourt on sunday summer afternoons.
      jumping off the sheds at kelmscott ,throwing a tennis ball over the change of colour at the top of the old block next to the laundry.
      Throwing balsa planes off the top balcony with firework bangers tied to both wings.Scrumping apples in the conservative club garden whilst looking for the six and out cricet ball .memories sparked by memories.
      THANKS colin /bernie and jack.

  9. Great comment Ray( for a Fulham supporter lol!)

    You could certainly take me on today over at Ravenscourt especially with my dodgy Achilles Tendon( Golf is now all I can manage)

    It was all just like you descibed. Happy times indeed.

    All the best to you Ray.

    Bernard Lambert(“Kerrins”)

  10. What memories the Kelmscott / Ashchurch gang are still blessed with. There is no doubt in my mind that our fantastic memories have been enhanced to fine detail by the swallowing of various illegal substances in the mid-sixties. Namely Acid and LSD. I should know; I took copious amounts and I ended up with an elephant’s memory. Great post Ray. Really enjoyed it..

  11. I grew up at roughly the same time, but miles away (Harlesden!) although I went through your area very regularly on the 660 and 666 trolleybuses (replaced in about 1961 by the 260 and 266 Routemaster service). This request is a bit cheeky: but did any of you know Bernie Conway, who lived on the Askew Road near you all. He went to St Clement Danes school and I am trying to contact him (and others) to invite to a reunion a couple of us are arranging. [And if there are any Old Danes reading this, a friend of mine is trying to put together a QPR supporters Old Danes “club” that meets for a few beers every now and then. You can contact me on johnmclaughlinQPR@gmail.com

  12. Hi John Mclaughlin.

    I lived at 46 Askew Rd for the period 1952- 1960. The name Bernie Conway does ring a bell but I did not go to Danes and I cant recall him at Victoria or Wendell Park schools.

    He may have been part of that family who once lived a few doors away from me..residing at number 54 Askew Rd.

    Sorry not much help really.

    Bernard Lambert

  13. Thanks Kerrins. It was certainly the “evens” side of the road and I have a very distant memory of him living near the bus stop in an old block of flats, where Askew Mansions are now, but I remember the block(s) looking dark and dirty, rather than they look now – or it might be he just got off the bus there (almost opposite Starfield Road, but there’s no stop there now).

  14. Good to see you on here John. I was brought up round the corner in Rylett Road, but don’t know the name ?

    I’ve been trying to research the Orchard pub for the website, but struggling to find very much. Can you help ?

  15. Sorry Steve, I don’t think I can help. I can only recall having had one drink in the Orchard and that was in recent years. I didn’t live in the area – I was in Harlesden, Queens Park and – in later years – Shepherds Bush. The only interesting thing I know about the Starch Green area was that Anthony Blunt was living in Ashchurch Park Villas when his spying blew up in the Press.

  16. John. Re Bernie Conway. It Looks like that family I mentioned at 54 Askew Rd (1952-1960) would not have been the Conways because that is the ActonVale/Uxbridge Rd end…Askew Mansions/Starfield Rd is the Kelmscott/Starch Green locality.

  17. interesting, thanks for that John.

    Would you have been at St Clement Danes in the 60’s ?

    Bernard – what a revelation…Maclean, Burgess, Philby, Blunt and…..!!!!

  18. Your wish is my command Young Kerrins!
    I was at Danes between 1957 and 1963. The name does not ring a bell but you tended to only know those in your year.
    I am also free of any guilt in respect of espionage of any flavour!

  19. Yes Steve, I started at St Clement Danes in 1960, as did Bernie Conway. And if Kerrins is looking for the “Ex Dane Essex U R‚Äôs”, maybe I might qualify – definitely and Old Dane (though never an “ex-Dane”!!) and an Rs supporter (LU block of Upper Loft) and I went to Essex University in the ’60s, though I returned to London after graduating, when forced to work for a living.
    On a separate note, I’ve just bought “Wormholt Park, the first 100 years” and am enjoying reading it – thanks Peter.

  20. Hello John….refugee from the Lower Loft and now in MU Block mate.
    As you know Peter wrote that wonderful ‘Thorpebank Road’ article for us and I finally met him at his book launch last year.


    btw I will be featuring another book on the Bush in the near future.

  21. Me being cheeky again (as I am still trying to trace some of the guys I was at St Clement Danes school with) but do any of you Askew/Kelmscott guys remember a Phil Fleet? He lived at 166 Kelmscott Gdns in the mid-late 60s (and maybe also earlier and later than that. He was a very good footballer – played for England Schoolboys, I’m sure. In (I think) 1969 he went to Hull University and I’ve lost track of him since then. Anyone know him or where he or his family might be now?

  22. Yes John I knew Phil Fleet and his family very well. We were friends in the late 1950’s and 1960’s

    We both went to Victoria primary school and Sulgrave boys club and also the 28th Hammersmith wolf cubs.

    Amazingly enough when I moved up to the Manchester area in the 1970’s..he moved up here as well and was working less than half a mile from where I lived! Small world. We once met up in Manchester city centre for a chat and he told me that he and his partner were living in Shaw near Oldham and was employed by ICI after leaving Hull university. I have not seen or heard from him since 1976 and I don’t know his current whereabouts. His parents are no longer at Kelmscott probably deceased and I don’t know where his brother is living either.

    Yes he certainly was a good footballer(and cricketer)Far better than me. We played in the same football teams at Victoria and Sulgrave boys club.

    There is such a lot more detailed background info I can let you have but I don’t what to type it all up on here. You can E Mail me bernardlambertuk@yahoo.co.uk if you wish.

    PS Now perhaps you can help me about an ex Dane called Geoff Murrell he was there round about your era. Nobody can find any trace whatsoever

  23. Well done young Kerrins. Yes Phil was very much part of our Kelmscott gang and his Mum was a good friend of my Mum. Our family left Kelmscott Gardens in about 1969 so Bernie’s info is the latest.
    Geoff Murrell is certainly someone we need info on as I lost touch with him when he moved to Australia having lived in Kelmscott and worked together for several years in The City.For any ex-Danes I am also looking for John Langton who was a good mate of mine in St Clement Danes.

  24. Thanks Kerrins and ESSEXURs. I’ve put those two names out over my own contact lists and I’ll let you know if I come up with anything.

  25. Thanks for your E Mail John. I have sent off a reply to you today with some more detailed background re Phil Fleet.

    If you get any news on Geoff Murrell I will be pleased to hear from you…by the way Geoff Murrell would not have been in the same class as you at Danes. He is approx. 18 months older that yourself.

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