Tots and Treats.
My parents brought us up to be thrifty. We learned the value of old iron, metals, rage, jam jars, glass and old newspapers and in our holidays we would go to where they tipped rubbish, totting. One of my schoolmates’ father worked at the Yeading tip. London rubbish used to come along the canal in barges. A crane would be used to dump the rubbish and men would be kept busy levelling it. At the same time they would pick out anything of value, which was sold and the money divided. We helped in this but used to get up to other things. Armed with some old black stockings and some round tins with both top and bottom removed, we would tie the stockings to the tins to form a sleeve. These we stuffed into rat holes, then with a stick agitated holes near by. Rats would dash out into the stocking, when we would kill them.
One Saturday we were taken to the Northolt trotting course as a treat. This was situated in Eastcote Lane. They raced with horses harnessed to a very light two-wheeled vehicle ( a sulky ) and would race around the track, one against the other. Betting would be going on and the atmosphere was very exciting, with of course plenty of jellied eels and beer.
One familiar sight on fine Saturday afternoons were mental patients in the charge of staff coming into the High Street to do some shopping. They would walk from the Hanwell Asylum ( now St. Bernards Hospital ) and back. It would be men to West Ealing, women to Southall, alternating. Although known as Hanwell Asylum it came within the Southall boundary and all personnel counted as Southall residents for purposes of a census.
Once a year Abbott Brothers promoted a 10-mile road race. This would start from Park View, on a circular route via the Greenford Road and back to the starting point. A Mr. Holmes was winner several times. This event finished in 1914.
Two old tramps were to be seen around the High Street, “Chunky” Briant and “Old Gaylard”. Both would be rag-bag dressed and scrounge what they could. Both finished up in the Army. One got killed, the other decorated for bravery.