Treadle operated Singer Sewing Machine

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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.

Bellingham Council Estate in South London

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Houses in Moremead Road on the Bellingham Council Estate in South London where Tony grew up (1944-1964) and went to primary school. (This photograph believed to have been taken in the 1990s).  The estate was a wonderful example of municipal housing built by the London County Council in the 1920s following The First World War. A manifestation of David Lloyd George’s pledge to build “Homes fit for Heroes”. Regretfully the integrity and social purpose of the estate was largely destroyed by the Thatcher Government’s right-to-buy initiative of the 1980s.

Bellingham Council Estate in South London

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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.

 

‘Prefabs’in South London – built as emergency housing just after WW2 and meant to last for just 10 years

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The German bombing of civilian areas in London destroyed many homes during the Second World War.To meet the consequent shortage of housing after the end of the war ‘Prefabricated Houses’ (Prefabs) were designed and built. Growing up in South London in the 1940-60s Anthony J Sargeant saw many of these homes and had friends who lived in them. They were prefabricated in factories and quickly assembled on site on pre-laid foundations.Groups of these prefabs were put up on any available plots of land. They were meant as a temporary solution to the desperate need for housing – and they were only meant to last for 10 years. In the event many of them lasted for much longer certainly well into the 1960s and a few remain today. These ones were photographed by Tony Sargeant on the Excalibur Estate in Catford, South London in the summer of 2016.

Haberdashers’ Aske’s Hatcham School for Boys

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Anthony J Sargeant went here from 1955-62. This used to be the side entrance used only by staff and prefects.The school was built in the 1870s and functioned as an endowed grammar school of the Haberdashers’ Livery Company until it became a voluntary controlled school of the LCC in the early 1950s and eventually a comprehensive in the 1960s and later still an Academy.