Growing-up With Southall From 1904 (Memories of R.J. Meads)


                         Just after my 9th birthday I started work, running errands and dusting for the caretaker, Mr. A. Perkins, at the County School ( 7 to 8.15 mornings, 4 to 5.30 evenings, 8 to 12 on Saturday, for 1/6 (7 ½p) per week – about 20 hours). Mr. Pollitt the headmaster, found out that I was too young so I got the sack.  

                        The first real holiday I remember was a week at Trowbridge with Mr. Willis’ family who lodged with and had then two sons, one the same age as myself, George, who in 1929 was best man at my wedding. Another was a day excursion to Southend, the fare then being 2/9 (13 ½p) return adults, 1/4 (7p) children, from Southall.  

                        Other outings were days at Kew Gardens with the added joy of a ride on the ferry at Brentford, ( Fare 1 penny adults, ½ penny for children ). Mum could do the whole day out for 5 at a cost of about 2/6 (13 ½p). At least once a year mum would take us over the footpaths to Northolt village where us boys would play on the green and have a picnic whilst Mum would visit relations, one of whom was Mr. Reid, landlord at the “Crown” public house, who would give us a bottle of gingerbeer and a cartwheel arrowroot biscuit before starting our walk back home, tired out.  

                        What prompted the idea I don’t know but it was decided that I should start violin lessons. So one was purchased but no case, just a green baize bag. Lessons at 6 pence an hour started with a Mr. Wiles in Beechcroft Avenue once a week, and there were lessons at school which included playing the hymns at assembly in the mornings with the school orchestra. We went to the Crystal Palace to play in the Schools Orchestras Festival in 1912. After leaving school I continued playing with the Brotherhood band at the Central Hall under Mr. Oliver, and finally in the Maypole Margerine Works Orchestra with Mr. Wheeler, conductor, until the works shut down. I have not played since.  

                       Class Two teacher was “Big” Miss Bush, known thus because her sister “Little” Miss Bush was teacher of class 3. Everyone liked Big Miss Bush, a very gentle natured person. In 1914 aged 10, I joined the Holy Trinity Church Choir. Choir master was Mr. Craven; also the Trinity Church Scouts ( scoutmasters Mr. Hitchcock and Mr. G. Quinion ). In the middle of July the troop went to its first camp, going by lorry to a farm at Long Crendon on the Friday, staying the night in a barn, and trekking to camp at Brill, Bucks, on the Saturday. As we moved in the Boys’ Brigade moved out. The weather had been very bad for them and the site was very muddy. We had a good week and returned home the week before war broke out.