Remembrance of Things Past

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

[87] Memories in Pictures

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After Blog [58] and Blog [71] it’s time for yet another post inspired by some more pictures I have picked up, mostly from Facebook groups. They will be in a fairly random order.


Some of you will recognize clothes pegs, for hanging washing on a line outside in the fresh air. Some of you may even still do it. But you won’t see wooden pegs any more. Now they will be plastic.


There used to be play areas in parks and I remember especially Valentines Park in Ilford. The equipment was always the same – a few swings, a rocking Horse and a roundabout. Nowadays, Health and Safety worries would make these last two items too dangerous.

I can’t be sure about the dates of these pictures but when I was young, a boy that small would never have had long trousers!


The only mints with a hole were Polo mints so I suspect this picture may have been even earlier than my memories. But the price is correct – 2d for a packet of mints (a little less than 1p now.) You can still buy Polos.


Cadbury’s Dairy Milk chocolate was launched very early in the Twentieth Century with the advertising caption: a Glass and a Half of Milk in each half-pound bar. They used the same slogan for decades. It used to me my mother’s treat – broken into squares and shared with the children. I remember it as about 1s 6d (that’s 7.5p)


Cadbury’s also did Fruit & Nut or Whole Nut bars, available from Confectionery Shops but also dispensed from machines usually at stations or near shops. I remember a price of 6d or 1s, depending on size (equivalent to 2.5p or 5p.) So this is quite a modern picture. It must be at least the seventies to have decimal coinage. (Fruit & Nut was widely advertised on television and elsewhere. I suspect that Whole Nut was much less popular.)


Some of you will recognize a cot – for sleeping babies and toddlers. It assembles and disassembles to be reasonably portable. The front, which can drop down for easy access, prevents the baby from falling out.

We had a second-hand one like this for our children – so it almost certainly dated from the sixties.


Here’s a baby buggy from the early seventies. It flipped easily into something about the size of an umbrella so it was portable. We could take one on busses, with the children. (There was a double version with two seats side by side, almost as easy to collapse and transport.) At the time they were revolutionary but now they are just a memory of the past.

teasmade   teasmade2

Above are two versions of a Teasmade. My guess is that the one on the left dates from the sixties and the one on the right is a later model. Mum had one in the bedroom from about the mid-sixties.

You have to remember that tea making then involved heating water in a kettle on a gas stove, then pouring the hot water into a teapot with some tea leaves. I think tea bags came later. In the morning this would mean a walk downstairs to a cold kitchen.

And clocks, even alarm clocks, worked by clockwork and had to be wound up every day.

The Teasmade automated the whole thing and worked on electricity. You set it up the day before, set the alarm time and went to sleep. You had a clock (worked by electricity so without any winding) and just before the due time it would start up and heat the water. When the water boiled it transferred to the teapot, made the tea and woke you with an alarm sound. A nice cup of tea in bed without having to get up!


A fireside set, essential to every coal fire – although they generally looked black and dirty. This one is for ornament only now as an antique. The shovel and brush were used every morning to empty ash from underneath the fire before setting up for a new one. The poker was used most often to keep the circulation of air going. The tongs were not much used – perhaps to pick up a stray hot coal that had fallen out of the front.


Camp coffee pre-dated instant coffee as we know it. It came in a small bottle and was a quite thick brown liquid. Presumably it was added to boiling water. We had a bottle in the cupboard – but I never heard of anyone, in our family or otherwise, actually drinking it. I heard several people describe its taste in uncomplimentary terms.


Cigarettes came only in a few brands – Players Navy Cut, Wills (downmarket), Capstan and Rothmans (upmarket.)

Not that I smoked as you will know from post number [60].


Finally, here’s something hard to understand in the modern world – a John Bull printing set. It may help if you have read about Newspapers in an earlier blog (which, of course, you have done!) We didn’t have computer printers then or any kind of printers for home use and most people didn’t even have a Typewriter. So handwriting, with pens and pencils, was the only way of writing. The printing outfit was a toy version of how newspapers were done. You put tiny rubber letters into wooden blocks – using little tweezers – and then used an inked pad to print out your messages. To a child this produced printing with almost professional quality. It wasn’t that good but it was a lot better than untidy handwriting.


I am trying to keep going over the holidays. Next week will be a semi-review Christmas post covering the end of a year of blogging. Lots more to come but I’m not sure what will be next.




Author: Alan

Retired, currently living in Cheltenham.

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