Southall 830-1982

A sad tragedy highlighted the voluntary evacuation of children. Four children from Clifton Road School, who were on their way to relatives in Canada; were drowned when the evacuee ship City of Benares was torpedoed and sunk by the Germans.
Several premises were taken over for ARP work – Crosbie House, Osterley Park Road; The Grange and the St John Ambulance First Aid Station in The Green; the Manor House and grounds; Vine Cottage, Park View Road which was used as a half-way house for bombed-out people from London in 1941; Hartington Road Hall was used as a Communal British Restaurant.
It was in 1940 that the seed was sown resulting in the formation of a detachment of the British Red Cross in Southall. They combined with the St John Ambulance packing parcels for prisoners of war at the Drill Hall in Featherstone Road. A classroom at Featherstone Road School was converted to a kitchen in 1943 and, before the end of the war, over 900 children from all schools south of the Borough were being fed.
The rates were increased by 3d in 1939, to stand at 12/6d (62½p) in the pound.
The Maypole Institute plus 2.83 acres of land were purchased for a Community Centre May 1939. On May 25th, 1940 the Institute became the Headquarters of the ARP, moving from The Grange.
By 1940 the war was beginning to make itself felt. Several people had been fined for breaking the blackout. Rationing had begun and Councillor Hutchings had been appointed meat allocator. Wartime allotments were made of all spare land and Mr B. Gale, Parks Superintendant, in co-operation with the Southall Horticultural Association were giving lectures and demonstrations on how to cultivate them. Air raid sirens sounded from both Police Stations and another one was erected next to the police box at the corner of Western Road. The Council bought the Southall Football Club Ground in February 1940 at a cost of £5,060.9.0d.
The population in 1940 was 52,400. Rates 14/- (70p) in the pound, despite which the Southall Loan Debt was £984,509. Mr W. Staley-Brookes resigned from the office of Town Clerk after five years, with an appointment to Walsall and Mr M. Lindsay Taylor took his place. Mr S. E. Hewitson became the first full time Chief Officer of the Fire Brigade at a salary of £350 per year. This was on the retirement of Mr Albert Smith who had served the Brigade for forty years. Several presentations were made to him, including a gold inscribed wrist watch from the firemen. Councillor G. Reed died on the 27th March, 1940. He was the retired Tudor Road schoolmaster.
Each week the local Gazette featured weddings of servicemen marrying whilst on leave, and, as in war, casualties began to be published, one of the first was Lieutenant Burridge, son of the Mr E. J. Burridge (Southall’s Relieving Officer for several years), killed in action.
In the first four months of 1940 the town’s National Savings amounted to £124,620. But it was not all gloom – all organisations were doing their best to boost morale. Parties and concerts were held and the new Locarno Dance Hall and Skating Rink in Gladstone Road, which had taken the place of the old Film Studios, became very popular.