Jim Hammer and Angus Hanton have given us interesting recollections in recent issues of the Journal about Dulwich in the thirties and sixties. I came to live south of the river in 1957 and found a very different community from the northwest London area which had been my home from childhood.
As an historian I loved living in an area with so many historical connections but I also found it very friendly. In those days few mothers worked so a network of friends was important. There were of course coffee mornings galore many in aid of charities such as Shelter. And we gathered round the school gates and chatted. None of us drove to school of course as we were all local.
Nowadays home deliveries are normal but it wasn't so very different then. If I was kept at home because of children's illness then I could ring Mr Bartley the greengrocer or Cullens the grocers or the butchers and have food delivered. Otherwise shopping was done every day and you had to remember to take your shopping basket with you just as we do now that plastic bags are being phased out. For items other than food then the Bon Marche in Brixton or Pratts in Streatham would deliver.
We spent a lot of time in the Park but not much at the Gallery which was then rather gloomy (no electricity) and certainly not welcoming to children. It is very different now since the reopening in 2000 and the development of the Sackler Centre for Education.
Looking back I suppose we were naïve compared with today. When we bought our house we asked for the back door key but were told that they never locked up. When the first supermarket opened in Forest Hill I used to leave the baby in the pram in the front garden and ask a neighbour to keep an eye on him. And I well remember leaving my eldest in the pram outside the hairdressers whilst I had my hair done. I certainly wouldn't do any of those things today!
The greatest change I have seen is the development of the Village into an alfresco dining room. We would never have considered sitting outside on the pavement to eat and drink. That was for holidays in France not England.
But what a pleasure it is on a sunny morning or warm evening.
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