Friday, 21 December 2018

Streets of my childhood, again

Spirit of place, flashbacks to childhood memories, when I'm at my father's and I have a bit of time, I will wonder down through West Ealing to Hanwell to connect with where I am from. I walked this way to school each morning for seven years, observing. Crucial to spirit of place is the texture of reality, those qualia, moments of conscious experience of being there. And I am drawn to relive those qualia... Sensory inputs and their effect on emotion, on the me-ness of being me. Knowing where I'm from is essential to rooting my consciousness's place in the universe.

Below: Oaklands Road Primary School, which I attended from September 1962 to July 1969. Happy days!

Below: this was the parade of shops, just round the corner from our house on Croft Gardens. From left to right: Lawrence the Butchers (now a private house); Oaklands Hardware; DeVee Hair Fashions...

Below: a 'Polski Sklep', this used to be Tanner's newsagents and confectioners; then W.J. George the grocers; and then with brown paper bags, earthy spuds and chromed scale-pans, the greengrocers.

Below: and on the corner of Oaklands Road and Grosvenor Road, the Grosvenor pub, the air outside heavy with the smell of spilt ale and stale tobacco smoke. Built in 1904, by the time I was a boy, the pub was a little over half a century old; a passage of time lesser than that which has elapsed since the early 1960s. Up Grosvenor Road, I discover that legendary British-motorbike shop Reg. Allen on the corner of Hatfield Road, closed this summer after 60 years in business; the premises will be turned to flats.

Hanwell of my childhood - below, the public library on Cherington Road. I walked in expecting to be greeted by the smell of floor-polish and well-thumbed books, the sight of elderly gents browsing the day's newspapers, but was disappointed - the building's interior no longer contains that smell which I can so vividly recall and readily bring to mind. Much as level-access is welcome, the ramp does upset the visual proportions of the front elevation.

Below: next door to the library, another building that was important in my childhood. This is Cherington House, built in the late 1830s, which during the 1960s served as an NHS paediatric clinic. I'd come here with my mother to collect bottled orange juice and cod-liver oil, and to have my baby brother weighed.

Below: usually we'd go home along the Uxbridge Road, sometimes down Boston Road (below), a run-down area then as it is now.

Below: a brief familiarity; from September 1969 to May 1970, I'd travel dach day to my new school, Gunnersbury Grammar, by Piccadilly line train from Boston Manor station to Acton Town. And then we moved to West Ealing, and new routes to school were found. But for nine months I'd stand on the platform here every morning and await the Cockfosters train.

The platform dates back to 1883, while the station building on Boston Manor Road is a Grade II-listed Charles Holden design from the 1930s.

**** **** **** ****

As then as today; Old Manhole Covers of Hanwell and West Ealing. Look down to seek your heritage. This is the texture of reality; small eyes in a pushchair gazing down on the pavement as it trundles underneath - and then these...

Left: Borough of Ealing (not London Borough, you under- stand, so 1926-1960), with the name of the makers of this fire hydrant.
Right: METESCO, the Metro- politan Electricity Supply Com- pany, active between 1899 and 1926. The electricity came from the Acton Lane Power Station.

Incidentally, if you think being interested in manhole covers is a bit odd, this is a hobby of Jeremy Corbyn...
Left: Post-Office Telegraphs, manhole cover from between 1896 and 1912 (when the telephone network was nationalised).

Right: post-1912 Post Office Telephones manhole cover. The streets of West London - history beneath your feet. Click to enlarge.

Left: maker's mark on a pavement, Clitheroe Road, Hanwell. As increasing stretches are being relaid, with ordinary asphalt rather than paving slabs, the character of the street subtly changes, and with it, inexorably, does spirit of place.

This time last year:
Jeziorki - swans and bonus shots

This time three years ago:
A conspiracy to celebrate

This time four years ago:
The Mythos and the Logos in Russia

This time five years ago:
Going mobile - I get a smartofon

This time six years ago:
The world was meant to end today 

This time seven years ago:
First snow - but proper snow?

The time eight years ago: 
Dense, wet, rush hour snow

This time nine years ago:
Evening photography, Powiśle

This time ten years ago:
The shortest day of the year

This time 11 years ago:
Bye bye borders - Poland joins Schengen

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

"To connect where I am from" many wonderful resonances in this sentence and in these final lines. In a strange way, its narrative tone and Lud-locus reminded me of the opening lines of Machen's 'The London Adventure'.

Very stirring thoughts for this darkling season.

Frater Ambrosia III