Further remembrances

Published 1961

Today, it seems incredible, as the red bus comes along Westow Hill, to imagine ‘carriage folk’ using Church Road, Westow Street, and Westow Hill as a kind of Rotten Row. Nevertheless, it was so, seventy years ago. You would also see Carberry’s goat, wandering around the same route and doing quite a lot of the scavenging, as goats will do. It belonged to a Mr Carberry, who was a high-class butcher and rather a character. On one occasion, a stranger was loitering about outside his shop at the corner of Carberry’s Lane, Westow Street. At last, Mr. Carberry asked him: ‘Excuse me, Sir, but why are you hanging about here?’ ‘Who are you?’ came the retort, capped by the butcher with : ‘Me: I’m Carberry the Butcher. Everyone knows Carberry!’ The loiterer walked away.

Talking of butchers, one is reminded of a West Norwood tradesman who was noted for his home-made sausages, and who put a Union Jack outside his shop when they were ready. He would say: ‘We know what these are made of; they are not from China Town!’ When ‘the Estate’ – Wolfington Road and St. Julian’s Farm Road - was developed, a movement started that changed the name of the district from Lower Norwood to West Norwood, thus looking Upper Norwood in the eye, as it were. Seventy years ago, there were processions of friendly societies, Sunday Schools and temperance societies to Tritton’s Field or Fry’s Meadow. The former was the field attached to Bloomfield, the residence of the Tritton family, and the latter to that of the Fry Family, where St. Joseph’s College now stand. Both families are remembered as benefactors in the locality. It is impossible not to recall these festive occasions without a feeling that something of the friendliness and happy community of local life have been lost in the Great Wen of London.

Maybe there are still some bee-keepers locally. I recall Ted Geary’s Beehives, in New Town, Central Hill. New Town was then rather an exclusive walled-in community, best avoided unless you were on friendly terms with a resident. The passage-way to the Recreation Ground (opened about 1887) did much to improve this curious bit of a by-gone Norwood. The late German Emperor’s father stayed at the Queen’s Hotel and, promenading, stopped outside Nicholls’ newspaper shop. A little boy also gazed in the window: possibly thinking of the Boy’s Own Paper, a rattling good publication, and the Emperor brushed against him. That boy never forgot the occasion, for the fine-looking, bearded Emperor immediately apologised. Norwood was really a colourful district, especially when the Indian Officers were in residence at the Queen’s Hotel and went riding in a body: in 1897, was it?

An Old Boy.

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