Remembrance of Things Past

Mostly about growing up the 1950s in Ilford, Essex.


This is about growing up in Ilford, Essex in the Fifties and Sixties. The town has long since been absorbed into Greater London as the Borough of Redbridge. It’s based on my memories and is full of sweeping generalisations, some of which may be inaccurate.

It was written in a fairly random order but you may find it’s easier to read by starting at the beginning and working through in order. If you are looking for a particular topic see the Categories below or try the Full List of Posts from the Menu bar.

If you like what you are reading please share it with your friends.

AUGUST 2019: After nearly five years I’m in the process of updating, correcting and reissuing all the posts. The posts were originally numbered as [1], [2], [3],… but updated versions have been renumbered as [201], [202], …

13 thoughts on “Home

  1. whacko!!!


    • Look out for Blog [47]. More to come on TV programmes.


      • Alan. Just ran across your blog.Love the Muffin the Mule pic. I’m a little older than you. I went to Fairlop and ICHS boys, and we lived around the corner from the latter on Emsworth Road. The blog brings back soooo many memories and I have questions about whether some things/organizations still exist. I would love to talk/correspond with you. How can I do that?


    • Whack-o! coming in next blog


  2. Good site you have here.. It’s difficult to find excellent writing like yours these days. I truly appreciate individuals like you! Take care!!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I have enjoyed reading this. I was at ICHS at the same time as you but I only survived 2 to 3 years. During my dreadful time there I was the subject of Pinheads bullying tactics and he ruined my life. It took yoears of help to get over what he did to me.


    • I was at ICHS from 1955 to 1960. I remember Pinhead saying one day that during the war he had been a Spitfire pilot and he would always shoot enemy aircrew who had baled out and were coming down by parachute. I’m pretty sure that is a war crime and just about sums him up.


      • I was at ICHS from 1953 to 1960 — I think 5 years ahead of you Alan. Interestingly I remember several of the teachers — who could forget “Gat” Taylor — the headmaster was less memorable . . . possibly a Mr Kenwood — but memory fades with age. Bill Rigby was the Upper Sixth Form Master when I went through.

        The school had a very strong Liberal/Fine Arts focus when I entered in ’53 — and as a Chemistry and Physics enthusiast I was definitely one of the “lesser beings” until the launch of Sputnik changed the world and suddenly the pleds became the “Golden Children”.

        When I was there we has only A, B, C and D classes in each year and about 700 boys in the school. I sat resolutely at the lower end of the B class throughout my school career — in part (as I know now) because I was ADHD .

        While I was no the world’s best student and would never had won a “most likely to succeed” awards, the grounding I got at ICHS has stood me in good stead and, by any standards, I have had a most amazing life. It too a few years — but I earned a Ph.D at age 42 — in part thanks to those deadly Latin classes from the elderly Mr. Lowe — since I was studying graduate level neurosciences with no biology or Anat and Phys background whatsoever — but the long buried and much hated Latin classes came to my rescue.

        So I have mixed memories of ICHS, of the pleasures of the Chem and Physics labs, the deadly monotony of studying “Macbeth” for FIVE consecutive years. But the bottom line is that, compared with my peers, to this day I have an extraordinarily broad and deep general knowledge base, excellent problem solving and critical thinking skills — and the residual social ineptitude that goes with being in an all male environment throughout my “formative” years.

        Thanks for sparking the memories Alan.


  4. Idly “wasting time” on the computer came across your blog – you seem to have finished with this now – and it brought back many memories. I suspect I must have been two or three years ahead of you but the names of the teachers were mostly very familiar; odd to think that I left ICHS over 50 years ago but your reminiscences made it al seem as if it was yesterday


  5. I was at ICHS 1945-1952 but many of the masters whom you mention were there when I arrived. In some cases they had just returned from the War. In those days it was very common for a teacher to join a school straight from university and to stay until retirement.


  6. Hi
    Cannot believe that I just found a picture off Highlands School with me in the photo – and such lovely memories of the school – and the lifestyle – that I too remember so very well. I remember many of the pupils but not your surname. It’s a pity really that my mother insisted on a stupid bow in my hair for the school photo though. Well done on such great memories on a time gone by BUT – a time that would serve many people well now!!! The culture, discipline and empathy that is so sadly lacking in this day and age.


  7. Alan thank you for telling me about your blog.
    Absolutely fascinated by it.
    Totally different life experience to mine. I am dyslexic when it wasn’t recognised but not thick as most teachers assumed.
    Passed the 11 plus to everyone’s surprise (it was an intelligence test and that was no problem)
    Always bottom of the class but later on found I had an aptitude for science eventually got a degree in 69. Always have had friends and loved the social side of work.
    Must try and write my own blog.
    Thank you for the inspiration


  8. Your blog has been very helpful! I found you after trying to visualize a parrafin heater, while reading Barbara Pym. I live in Nebraska, USA, born in the 60’s and never been to England, so your discussion about household heating was very helpful and interesting. It seems I have a new rabbit hole to go down!


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