Sunday, April 12, 2015


Welcome to the Laws Family Register. 


A Child of the Twenties

A suburban childhood of the Twenties 

seen from the Ninteen Nineties

by John Robert Laws 1921-2008

Part 18
Before the building boom Southgate was largely an area of large mansions set in their own parks among farmland with a village of cottages and small shops where the new Underground station was now inserted.
                                           Southgate Underground Station

It has been well documented  by local historians and was in the final stages of suburbanisation when we moved there. I has scarcely know the area before moving there, but on at least one occasion had investigated the blackberries growing in the hedges of Osidge Lane at the bottom of which Pymmes brook was still a little stream edged with overgrown hawthorn.
There was a little farm in a small gentle valley opposite our new house, but within months the farm had become a large housing estate and, passing through the stages of a sea of mud became quite a pleasant suburban area.
A house got put up about one every three weeks with very little mechanical assistance, those houses were sold for about five or six hundred pounds, not cheap. A new house could be bought for a little as three hundred and seventy five pounds all around London.

Most houses were being built without garages but ours was one of a small development of half a dozen with a garage built in. Builders had not yet really
decided that, a garage was an integral part of a house, so there was no upper storey over it. Our enterprising builder had even put a radiator in the garage and this, together with a radiator in the hall and a towel rail in the bathroom made up his attempt at central heating. It was too bad that his knowledge of gravity circulation was weak and the garage was a bit lower than the rest of the house, so that its radiator was below the level of the ‘Ideal’ boiler in the kitchen and remained for ever stone cold.

The kitchen in the new house was a real update on what had gone before. There was still a built in dresser for the china with upper grooved shelves to stand up the dinner plates but the top was enclosed by doors, albeit panted a darkish brown. The larder alongside it was deep, giving a lot of space difficult to access. For the first time there was a Refrigerator, a monstrous thing on legs with a big round cooling coil on top to collect the dust where you could see it. It was however finished in white enamel and built like a tank. The black iron gas cooker was left behind and the new one was finished in mottled green vitreous enamel, all very solid. We still had a deep white stoneware sink with a wooden draining board. The kitchen was of course a lot smaller than before and the old deal table used up a lot of the space so that there was little room to eat there. A breakfast room lay alongside to eat in and this arrangement was a bit of a curate’s egg, handy when you needed an extra room but not so handy at breakfast time.
We were about half a mile from the new underground railway station, our move to the new house had been held back until it was completed. A bus route with single-decker buses ran down the road as far as the Chase Side Tavern. The bus stopped within a few yards of us on its way back and it cost a penny for the ride up the easy slope half a mile to the station. I had to be very behindhand and actually see the bus coming before money could be wasted in this profligate way.
The shops in Southgate were at that time in course of changing over from village to suburbia, a change which had been made in nearby Palmers Green a generation earlier probably when the railway arrived. The new tube station had a few new shops built around it but the old ones survived just a little longer, a tiny sweetshop run by a tint old lady on the corner of chase Side opposite the ‘Bell’ Public House and a barbers beside the Bell, where boys got their hair cut for three pence. Next to that going north along Chase Side, Lees Stores survived a long time although the first moves towards supermarkets shoed themselves in shops where you had to go from one counter to another to get your various goods instead of shop assistant fetching it all from far of places and piling it on the counter in front of you, before asking whether you would like it delivered. Next to Lee’s was the paper shop and then an ancient toy shop which didn’t last long. The bike, and perhaps motorbike, repair shop was a hundred yards further on , more a single storey brick shed with a shop front than anything, but it survived  some years standing well proud of the new parade of shops built beside it which was set well back from the road with a very wide pavement. Opposite was Collins the butchers, a purveyor of choice meat, complete with a slaughterhouse in the rear. Here Sam and his dad presided with straw hats and blue and white aprons and would chop away on their big wooden block to produce the chump chop you wanted out of half a sheep. They too would deliver if you liked in a little brown van, well known in the Southgate streets. No doubt you paid for the service in the prices but you still could buy a nice pork chop for four pence.
There were two garages locally, petrol cost the equivalent of six or seven new pence a gallon and you could buy a brand new Austin Seven for one hundred and five pounds if you were lucky enough to scrape that much together. 
                                                                Austin 7
My dad got a Chrysler saloon in place of the old bull-nosed Morris but didn’t have it long as he was neither the first or the last to drive straight on at one of the right-angled Essex lanes. I didn’t ride in it much anyway as he had given me a new bike which I liked much better. After the demise of the Chrysler came a much more sedate Hillman which I feel nobody loved very much.      

To be continued tomorrow

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Family Events from our database for today April 12

1646 - Christen: Margaret LAWES-2283, Clerkenwell MDX UK
1674 - Christen: Issac LAWES-2258, Dukes Place, LONDON
1828 - Birth: Robert Henry LAWS (Master Mariner ) -7639, Stepney MDX UK
                                                      St Dunstans, Stepney Middlesex

1843 - Marriage: James Dick LAWS (Carriage Maker) -30255 and Sarah SINEXON-30256, PA                    United States
1843 - Birth: John LAWS-38489, Wilkes County NC United States
1843 - Will Proved: William LAWS (Master Mariner) -3620, Great Yarmouth NFK UK
                                                          Great Yarmouth Norfolk

1844 - Birth: Henry Joseph LAWS-7134, Feltwell NFK UK
1853 - Indicted: Charles William LAWS (Merchants Clerk/Ship Agent) -61758, City of LONDON
1854 - Birth: Anna LAWS-47451, Portsea HAM UK
                           HMS 'Victory' Nelsons flagship preserved in Portsea Naval Dockyard

1861 - Birth: Thomas LAWS-122235, Parker Co TX USA
1862 - Occupation: Thomas LAWS (Steerage Steward) -51774,
1873 - Marriage: Thomas BROOKER (Pianoforte Tuner) -55398 and Elizabeth (Twin) LAWES-                55397, Brighton SSX UK
                                                                    Brighton Sussex

1882 - Marriage: Albert Morse LAWES-756 and Fanny WATERS-757, Sandy Creek Gawler South            Australia
1883 - Marriage: William Gulder LAWS-119075 and Evaline HUFF-119076, Cocke Co TN USA
1888 - Death: Edward LAWS (Coal Miner) -38336, Washington DUR UK
1904 - Birth: Lizzie Mary LAWES-118706,
1904 - Birth: Edward William LAWS (Australian Army) -32321, Leichhardt, NSW AUSTRALIA
1912 - Birth: Chester Hart LAWS-45622, Chilhuahua MEXICO
1922 - Marriage: Charles Henry LAWES-45407 and Ila G WORTS-45408,
1932 - Death: William LAWS-7792, Sparkhill STS UK
1935 - Birth: Charles Richard Thurlow LAWS (Stockbroker / Company Director) -103807,
1948 - Burial: Mary Ledoska LAWS-3897, Williamsburg, Franklin Co, Kansas Mt. Hope USA
1953 - Residence: Francis Joseph LAWES-122003, Devizes WIL UK
1958 - Marriage: Joseph V LAWS-114884 and Ann HUNTER-114885, Clark NV USA
1960 - Birth: Anne Maria LAWES-100792, Wimbourne Minster DOR UK
1961 - Birth: William Mack LAWS-40425, TX USA
1965 - Admon: Arthur Ernest LAWES-124121,
1969 - Death: Owen Faulkner LAWES (ARMY Colonel) -50300, St Saviour JERSEY
1984 - Birth: Larry Jerome (II) LAWS-40729, TX USA
1994 - Burial: Burl Owen LAWS-38363, New Diggins, Spring, town Washington Co, MO USA
1994 - Burial: Carlton John LAWS (PFC US Marine Corps) -37907, Calverton National Cemetery,                NY USA
1995 - Death: Charles John LAWES (Assistant Postal inspector) -42201, Southend-on-Sea ESS UK

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