The Triangle - a personal reminiscence

Published 1965

I, too, remember the Triangle, since I was born in a house at one corner of Gipsy Hill. It was an open Common and at the corner there was a sturdy post to which a ring was attached, to which people might tether their horses. The first house that was built on the east side was a rather sad point in my baby life, as my eldest sister, Edith Gandy, told me we could not see the fields.Central Hill also had a green verge, and they built shops in the cottage gardens which adjoined the new shops. The old white-painted wooden fences were low and the gates swung out on to the green grass verge.

The traffic was not a bother in those days. The hill top had iron railings and a low iron gate. My father, William Gandy, when first married lived lower down Gipsy Hill, but we were all born in his house at the top of the hill, facing south, looking up Westow Street. On the other corner there was an old Regency Farm with stabling for horses and hired carriages, kept by a man named Charles Collins. Liptons had the corner shop and built out the lower part of the shop. I well remember going round to ask people to vote against buses, and this protest was successful. But the sad day came, I think, after my father’s death. We had a south front garden and when the Crystal Palace was burning, people left their bicycles there for safety - but someone came and slit all the tyres!

The view over Dulwich to London was wonderful and, when the sun was in the west, we could see St. Paul‘s Cathedral, Westminster and many other landmarks. When Mr Johnson built his house in Dulwich Wood Park, I thought it was a castle and I went to my father in his consulting room and told him what I had found. Well, for twenty years I lived there in that happy family home. There were many changes and additions. At first, there were no proper drains, gas or lamplighting. The Sunday joint was roasted in front of the kitchen fire with clockwork turning. The footman’s pantry was a very dark room, the further sink and gas ring almost underground, and it was called ‘the Bogey Hole’! The surgery led out on to Gipsy Hill, but all that part has been turned into a flat for a policeman. My father was very interested in architecture, and his great friend designed some beautiful rooms and also the Cottage Hospital in Hermitage Road. There were many public houses in the Triangle. ‘The Swan’, regency with stabling and a staircase from the upper part of the stable, now rebuilt. ‘The Woodman’ on Westow Hill, with stabling at the back.

We hired riding horses from Bartons. At the top of Anerley Hill, another public house in Church Road, leading into Belvedere Road, and another at the top of Westow Street. There was a scheme to put a clock on a building in the centre of the road where these three roads met. But it was decided to spend the money on an extra bed for the Cottage Hospital, where there were always plenty of patients waiting for beds. I can tell you about these places in the Triangle as I remember from the beginning. I am just eighty-seven years of age, and I would be very interested to know if there is anyone born in Norwood earlier than that. I know things cannot remain forever unaltered, but I beg those who plan, never to blot out the wonderful views around Norwood and Sydenham*

W.L. Toulmin-Smith, nee Lois Gandy.

 *hear, hear!

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