June 2003          

Dear Ray,

Thank you for your letter, it's a long time since I lived in Summerhill Road but not long enough to forget all the good times we had and all the friends we had. Our family home was at number '44' and I have lots of memories of those days from my childhood to my marriage to Dick and starting my own family at number '44'. Paul was my first child, followed by Susan and then Diane, who was 3 months old when we moved. I then had six more children. I am now 72 years old so a lot of water has gone under the bridge since then. Unfortunately my husband Dick died in 1985.

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Barbara & Daughter Susan -Pictured 1957 -44 Summerhill Road

We moved into number '44' in 1938 and we had not lived there long before the barrage balloons were in the air, which was a bit different to looking up and seeing birds darting around the sky. Soon after this people were having air raid shelters in their gardens. It was exciting but also very frightening. When I was 8 years old me and my sister Hazel, who was then 6 years old, were evacuated. We were away for 6 years.

We were sent to Cambridge in September 1939. We had a tearful goodbye with our Mum and Dad that morning and went on our way. It was very strange, when we arrived in Cambridge, as we had left our Mum and Dad and all our friends behind and here we were not knowing anybody and what might happen to us. We were very confused and frightened. We were taken in by a Mrs Ayeres in Mill Road Cambridge. It was a five storey house and I can remember that first night very well. Our bedroom was on the top floor, and when I went to bed I could not stop crying and wanted my Mum and Dad, which in turn upset Hazel and she was shouting down the stairs Lady ! Lady ! my sister is crying !  We lived in this house for two years and had a very strict upbringing as Mrs Ayeres son was a deacon in a Baptist chapel.

In early 1940 the family received a letter from my Mum to say that my father had been killed. He was a builder and was working on scaffolding when it collapsed. When they told us we were very upset as it had not been long before that he had been seeing us off and waving goodbye, and now we would never see him again. To this day we do not know where our Dad is buried (perhaps someone in Summerhill Road will know ?)  Our dad was only 34 when he died.

About a year after this Mrs Ayeres son got married and we went to live with him and his wife at 16 Perowne Street, Cambridge (which was by the college) and we lived there until the day the war was declared over, and on the evening of that same day we arrived back home !

My Mum had remarried by this time and we had a new baby brother to fuss over, and to meet with our friends again. Mr and Mrs Ayeres had a daughter after we left and his wife passed away years ago, but in 2000 I met him and his daughter and he gave me a photograph of Hazel and myself along with another girl from London did not stay long before going home. Mr Ayeres daughter was pleased that we had met again, but alas he died last year aged 86 which was very sad.

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Tom and Vi Mallinson pictured at number 44 Summerhill Rd

I have lots of memories of Summerhill road, all nice ones. We all got on well as kids in the street. We could play in the streets without any fear, we did not have the things kids have today. We used to make our own games and things to play with. Most games had rules, but with many variations as games were sort of handed down from generation to generation. They were interpreted in many ways as kids of all ages joined in these games and everyone got on so well with each other. The streets were always full of laughter, maybe because you could not go to the shops to buy these things. They were ours, we made our own laughter which was good. We had hardly any sweets and things to shut us up. No one had T.V's it was all playing and making friends, that's why we remember it. Like our street party for V.E day in 1945, we had a stage put up in the corner of the Piggery and people got up and sang songs. Everybody joined in with what was going on and everybody knew everybody. We all had our photo taken which was good fun. The whole street had tables and chairs along it.

We really did have a good time, which stays in my memory, as do the streets with no cars to worry about. Bikes were the things then and I can remember the lamp lighter coming around to light the gas lamps on his bike and the ladder on his shoulder. Any deliveries to houses were done on bikes, and then we had the young man 'Harry' who used to knock on doors selling winkles,cockles, shrimps and whelks from his large basket. His greeting of 'Hello Missus' or 'Hello Mister any cockles or winkles' was lovely and always made people smile. I remember the piggery two doors away from us and the kids all running to see the new ones coming in, and when one escaped we all used to help chase them back. It was real fun to us, and then the slaughter-house up the top where us town kids could see live Cows, Sheep, Lambs, Calf's, large Pigs and piglets going in. We all knew the animal sounds. My brothers Russell and Ian were good at making these noises.

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Pictured Barbara's neice Sheila and son Paul with daughter Susan seated -  Number 44 Summerhill Road 1957

To the right background you can just see the roof of the piggery and at the left rear the storeroom for the 'Clyde' public house in Clyde Road. Also note the tiled footpath that was constructed by Fred Firth

I also remember Mr & Mrs Firth and Vera next door. I think Mr Firth and his Dad built my Mum's house and his house. They were a very nice family. Also I remember Mr & Mrs Perkins and Janet, Mr & Mrs Woodward and Brenda, Mrs Holgate and her daughter Cissy and her husband with children Jean and Doug. There was also the Hardy family which was a large family. Eddy, John, Freddie, Victor, Gwen. Kitty. Then there was the Potters.  Ivy,George,Billy,Nelly,Terry,Fred and younger sister Ann. The Bastons also lived in the same house. Then there was Margaret Wilson and Edna Mitson. Also Mrs Carter with Margaret and Anne. Then Dolly Martin and Phyllis who had fits, and the French lady who lived upstairs. There was Mr & Mrs Pearman and Sheila with two younger brothers, and Mrs Parrott, and the the Clacton's and the Hills.

On the other side of the road I remember Mr & Mrs Clarke and their son Tony who used to work for the Accumulator shop at the top of the road. You needed these to run your Radio's in those days. They were like a battery but you had to get them charged up regularly. Tony used to deliver them on a horse and cart and we used to run alongside him up the road. Then one day we were very shocked to learn that Tony went to the Dentist to have a tooth out, and something went wrong and he died in the Dentist's chair. He was only 20 and a very good looking young man. So tragic and so sad !

Then there was Joan Evans and her Mum, Dad and brother who lived next door to the Clarke's. There was Mr & Mrs Trotter and their son and daughter who lived opposite us. Then the Coupes and the Small family, Beryl and her brothers . Also the Bloomfields - Ronnie, Barbara and younger brother, and then the Barnes family with Alice Jarvis and her brother living next door. There was Stephens the butchers and Mr & Mrs Bailey and their son David.

I must not forget my very best friend Betty Hoills who married an American Serviceman and moved to America, as did her sister Janet. She also had two other sisters Sylvia and Eleanor. Mrs Hoills was a dressmaker and made Betty's Wedding Dress. Some of the neighbours worked for Mrs Hoills. Then there was Iris Mitchell and her brother next door. He was a fireman, Frank, they also had other kids in the house. The Hawkins and the Sheldrakes lived further up the road as well. I can't remember any more people at the moment but if I do I will write to let you know.

I have not had much time to think about it all as your letter came like a bolt out of the blue. Its been a very long time since I left Summerhill Road but the memories are still in my head. Thank you for remembering us and giving us this chance to walk down memory lane with you all again. Its been lovely!

Your truly

Barbara Leadbetter 

(Note: This letter has been reproduced for the Internet site from the original written by Barbara Leadbetter [Pooley] )  

Footnote to a subsequent letter received from Barbara: 

Dear Ray.  Many thanks for the copies of the website and addresses you sent to me. I am so pleased I can contact Betty again. I have a photo of her and Louis. I used to work for her mother sewing baby rompers which she made for Dillons Children's shop on the High Cross, Tottenham High Road. This was when my son Paul was a baby. Its so good to know how Betty is as we were very good friends. Thank you !    


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