I'm posting this in response to Julia Field's request for memories of her father, Terry Field, who lived in Bradford Road. Julia, the fact that you are asking suggests to me that your father is no longer with us. He and I were childhood mates and I do hope that I'm wrong.
There was a group of us all around the same age growing up together, namely; Terry, Raymond Page, Barry Thomlinson, the Waterman twins Georgie and Peter, Joan Perrott and myself. My memories are mainly of the things that we got up to together rather than of our individual interests. None of us were little angels. But Terry was not as mischievous as some.
Following the aftermath of the second world war, the shattered half demolished remains of bomb damaged buildings were commonplace. These ruins were our adventure play grounds. Shattered glass and broken roof tiles littered the ground around the remains of peoples homes, shops, places of worship etc.. They crunched underfoot at almost every step. Few buildings had been secured and those that had been boarded up, posed little obstruction to us. Staircases were often none existent, but again that was no problem for us little monkeys. Upper floors may have been stripped of their floor boards. No problem, we walked across on the floor joists. And if an outside wall was missing, it was great fun to stand at the edge of the floor and loose a stream of urine into void. A variation of that was to piddle through the joists onto any mates on the floor below. All told we simply added to the destruction caused by Mr Hitler, with no thought as to the fate of the people who's homes these had been.
There was very little traffic using our streets, and some tradesmen, like the rag and bone man, still employed a horse and cart. The horse feed that was spilt was a magnet for flocks of house sparrows and the streets would be filled with the sound of their noisy chatter. Then when something disturbed them they would all suddenly take flight together. This was the environment into which we had been born and it was usual for us to play in the middle of the road. We played tag or kicked a tennis ball around. What we lacked in rules, we made up for in exuberance. It was not uncommon for us to sport grazed knees and hands. Less energetic were the games we played on the pavements with cigarette cards and with marbles. The girls meanwhile played less rough games than the lads. They chalked the pavements with rectangles and played hopscotch. And the use of skipping ropes was common, either individually of with a couple of girls swinging the rope for another. Another activity for the young ladies was to tuck their skirts into their bloomers, and perform handstands against a wall.
For us boys there were other opportunities for play close by. We had Wells Park where we run wild, playing cow boys and Indians. We chased one another, pointing our fingers like a gun, shouting "bang, bang, your dead!". Whereupon the victim would throw himself down, dying in the most dramatic fashion, only to be on his feet again within seconds. The monastery woods provided other opportunities, including lighting fires and attempting to roast potatoes. At the end of the day when we finally decided to go home, our mothers always knew what we had been doing by the stench that proceeded us. At other times we could be almost civilised. There were regular trips to the public swimming baths in Dartmouth Road, and every Saturday morning a film matinee at the Capitol cinema in Forest Hill. Did I say 'civilised', the noise there was deafening with hundreds of youngsters shouting at the screen.
So what of Terry?. I remember him making model aircraft from kits. This involved cutting out balsa wood to form the various shapes needed for the framing members. These then had to be assembled and glued together, and the whole thing covered in thin paper to form the body of the aircraft, which was then painted. Unlike Terry, I never had the patience for that. What did interest me was the length of rubber fitted in the model. This was wound up to provided the means of powering the propeller. For me that rubber was perfect for making the catapults our mothers had forbidden.
I've seen mention of Terry with a bicycle but I can only remember him with one on a single occasion. I think it must have been a birthday present, and he was riding it on the grass in Wells Park. I don't remember anybody else in our gang had one, so cycling was not one of our group activities. But I would have thought it likely that a bicycle became more important to him, as one by one his mates were plucked out of the community to begin lives elsewhere.
So Julia I'm sorry that I've not been able to provide more personal information about Terry. But I have tried to paint a picture of what life was like almost 70 years ago, and the 'world' in which he grew up in. I do know that we were so lucky to enjoy such wonderful, carefree childhoods together.
With warm regards, David.