Treadle operated Singer Sewing Machine


Singer Sewing Machine

The mother of Anthony Sargeant had one of these when the family lived in Lower Sydenham just on the edge of the Bellingham Council Estate in South London. In the 1950s it was not used for ‘creative’ work or ‘craft’ activities but to sew the essential everyday things for clothing and furnishing a home – from bed linen to frocks. The machine itself was hinged at the back and when this was pushed back the front wooden panel which was also hinged at the very front edge and on which it rested could then be raised and the whole of the sewing machine would then fold down into the compartment underneath. The metamorphosis was completed by the hinged wooden flap on the left hand side being folded back across the top concealing the compartment. The structure was based on a cast iron frame and the machine was treadle operated with the large wheel on the right of the treadle driving a thin leather belt up to the machine itself.

There was a small shallow drawer across the front used for pins and needles and such like then two deeper longer drawers on each side. In one knitting needles were stored, all shapes and sizes and colours. In another buttons, it was just post-war remember, and many things were in short supply so any buttons on worn-out clothing were saved for possible re-use in the future. The button drawer provided great delight for Tony as a small child, who arranged the buttons on the floor making patterns with different colours and shapes – a happy memory. When at some time in the 1950s the leather belt broke and was replaced with a new one the broken belt was left lying around and put to use as an implement for punishing Tony when he was deemed to be naughty – not such a happy memory.


Images from the past



Could be Anthony Sargeant in 1955 growing up in Bellingham, South London. The tiled fireplace in every lower middle class home. A small screen television and a lampshade in the corner of the room.

School Stories for Girls



Wonderful ‘period’ 1950s Children’s Annual published by Dean and Son of Ludgate Hill in London. From time to time Anthony Sargeant buys boxes of books at auction in order to donate them to OXFAM bookshops. Often it is possible to buy 30 or more good quality hardback books for £10 or so. If the resale value of the books is only £3 each you can see how effective this is in terms of donating to OXFAM. The charity may make let us say £90 out of the £10 investment on direct sales plus since the books are gift-aided the charity can reclaim a further 25% of the £90 donation (the value of the books) from the Chancellor making a total donation from Tony of £112. Over the years this has generated thousands of pounds for charity from a relatively small investment donation by Tony. It is fun and satisfying – though the boxes of books need to be chosen with some care for resaleability. There is an added bonus that occasionally one finds a charming period piece like this children’s annual for schoolgirls published by Dean and Son of Ludgate Hill in London sometime in the 1950s. The typography of the title is rather pleasing.

‘School Stories for Girls’ Published by Dean & Son, Ludgate Hill, London.


Inside board and end paper of ‘School Stories for Girls’ – Bought at auction in a box of books for OXFAM by Anthony Sargeant. This was a really ‘period’ annual published by Dean & Son in the 1950s. The girls jiving to a Dansette vinyl record player is especially charming.

via ‘School Stories for Girls’ 

Final destination board of a red London bus in the 1950s



Underneath the Larger board showing the Route number and the main stops on the route London buses had a narrow slot which gave the final destination of this particular bus on the present journey. For example this might be the last trip of the day and instead of continuing to the very end of the route the bus would finish at the bus depot (in this case Catford Bus Garage). Anthony J Sargeant notes that remarkably the possible final destinations of every bus route working out of Catford Garage were written on a black roller blind (not just for, in this case, the No 54). Here you see the roller blind unwound and displayed outside the indicator board.

This meant that the driver for the front final destination board, and the conductor for the rear had to wind through this immense list of possible end destinations for every bus route working out of any particular London Transport bus garage to find the relevant one for each particular journey.


Bellingham Council Estate in South London



Anthony J Sargeant grew up on the Bellingham Council Estate in South London in the 1940-50s. Although born and living just off the southern edge of the estate in a Maisonette in Worsley Bridge Road which was SE26 (not SE6) his paternal grandparents still lived in the very heart of the estate in King Alfred Avenue close to Elfrida Primary School where Tony went to school. (His maternal grandparents also lived on the estate in Broadmead but were both killed by a bomb on the last night of the London Blitz – 25th May 1941. This photograph shows the corner of Randlesdown Road and the Green which is at the heart of the estate. On the right of the picture is St Dunstans Parish Church built to serve the new estate in the 1920s in a vaguely byzantine style.