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


Local Transport etc. 

                        Until well after 1925 the only means of public transport was the London United trams from Uxbridge to Shepherds Bush, and the Great Western Railway. When this came in 1839 it virtually cut Southall in half. When the bridge and satation were built in  1859-60 no thought was given to the fact that intending passengers had to climb the bridge, perhaps with heavy luggage, only to go down steps to get to their train. The parcels office was also on top. How Irish! 

                         Fares on the railway were classified 1st, 2nd, 3rd class. A great many cheap day excursions were run and an organisation known as the Sunday League used to charter special trains for parties on Sundays. In those days only bank holidays were recognised by the employer, but a lot of what were known as “bean-feasts”, in other words day’s outings, would be planned. Men would pay in so much a week to an appointed agent and arrangements would be made for a day out at the seaside, and provision of refreshments. Some bosses gave good support to these, and I remember my father going to Skegness and Weston-super-Mare with Plaistow’s men. To us kids these seemed like foreign parts, and how we used to boast about where Dad had been and the presents he brought us back! 

                          Later came the char-a-bancs and outings taken by road. These used to be open-top coaches and children used to run alongside shouting “Throw out yer mouldys” ( coppers ). Going in from the South Road was a road leading to the goods yard and coal wharves and, a little further on, the engine sheds. Here the engines would be cleaned, coaled and watered. This was where a great many local men started on the railway by becoming cleaners, graduating to firemen and in time to drivers. The men working on the coal wharves had a very hard time unloading the coal trucks, loading the coal trolleys, which brought the ordered coal to the customers, and the coal carts used to canvass the streets making their presence known by the shout of “coal man”. Prices I remember were 24/- ( 120p ) to 27/- ( 130p ) per ton. It is on record that the “best brights” were supplied to schools on tender in 1908 for 19/6 ( 97 ½p  ) per ton. It was not unknown that you had to count the sacks in, or you would be one short.