BACK IN CIVVY STREET
returned to the Tannery at Edenbridge, they had been bound to hold our jobs for us anyway, and soon it was decided that they would move me to the London Tannery in Bermondsey. This I did on 21st November 1955.
When returning home on the train we often were accosted by various “salesmen” on the station. There was one particular chap who sold “poppets” – plastic coloured beads with a hole on one side and a pin on the other to push into the hold to make necklaces, many of these I was to buy during my time working in London. Hot chestnuts, baked potatoes were also on sale there. Marvellous!
After returning from the Services I joined the British Legion at Sevenoaks Weald. I stayed with them for many years and for ten of them I was the Treasurer.
At this time I returned to my Old time dancing with Bill Warner and he took me to a band concert at the Pantiles in Tunbridge Wells. Here I met Rosemary and we started going out together and to the dances all over the place.
I was cycling to Hildenborough and catching the train to London every day. The 7.30 a.m. just about got us into work by 9 a.m. We had to stand in the corridor so many of us purchased fishing stools; at least we had somewhere to sit. The corridors at this time were down the side of the carriage and not through the centre as now. I think I used to get through about three paperback books a week travelling on the train. We used to catch a bus from Bermondsey to Waterloo in the evenings, cat the train to Charing Cross and stay on that train for its return to Tonbridge. This way we had a seat at least one way. Very often the evening trip was whiled away by playing cards.
Rosemary and I got married on the 15th September 1956 (Battle of Britain day – that should have been an omen!) and initially lived with her parents although we had our own rooms in a bungalow in Cornwallis Avenue in Tonbridge. This meant I travelled from Tonbridge to London and during this period there were often during the winter the well-known London Smogs. This was caused, for those younger readers, a very dense fog comprised of whatever fogs are usually comprised of plus the very large quantity of smoke from the chimneys – at this time there was no smokeless fuel or smokeless zones anywhere in the country and everyone had coal fires. You could not see hardly a yard in front of you and all traffic was almost at a standstill. On one occasion we had caught the bus to Charing Cross and found that the train was delayed so decided to go across to Cannon Street to catch what would have been an earlier train home. We duly arrived, my mate with whom I worked found his dad and we got on the train. We left and very slowly eventually arrived near Hither Green station and stopped. We sat there for about two hours and heard rumours of a train accident. Finally we got going again and when we arrived at Tonbridge they were announcing something about an accident and derailment. Rosemary, with many hundreds of other wives, was waiting to see of we got off the train. I cannot remember much about the accident but there were several killed and injured.
During my time working in the tannery in Bermondsey I learned how to do wages, tax etc. and every week we had to go to the bank at London Bridge to collect the cash. Two of us used to do this and it meant about twenty minutes walk each way returning with about £3000, which was an enormous amount of money when I was only getting £10 per week. Sometime around this period the Dockers were on strike, very beefy, hefty fellows, if they were around today they would be avoided by crossing the road. In 1956 however, things were different. On the journey there were tunnels to walk through and although we would distribute the notes in various pockets there would be some heavy bags of coins to carry. There we were walking through these tunnels often lined both sides with the Dockers who had no money, no work, and probably had to get out of the house for a while, watching our every step.
Quite nerve racking I must say.
Whilst I worked in London Rosemary was working in Tonbridge in the office of the Clerk to the Justices. We had moved out of her parent’s house and were living in the vicarage in Leigh, about four floors up, and she became pregnant. This meant she would be leaving her job and I was suddenly made redundant. I applied for several jobs including one at OXO, but was not successful with those. I therefore applied for her job and was successful. I finished at Whitmores on 21st March 1958 and started with the Clerk to the Justices office on 24th March 1958.