Greenwich as it used to be....

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Days out in and about Greenwich

She loved taking us to London, especially Hyde Park, which we knew as well as Greenwich Park. We usually went by bus or tram to Parliament Square, and then across Horse Guards Parade into St. James's Park and then through Green park and on to Hyde Park, where we would spend the day by Serpentine and listen to the band. On other occasions, we would walk up Whitehall to Trafalgar Square, up Regent Street to Piccadilly Circus and then along Oxford Street, where she loved to look at all the shops, and then on to Hyde Park. There was nothing we did not know about London.

We never missed a Royal event, mother would get us all up early, and catch a train. I remember in 1935, watching King George V and Queen Mary, drive up the Mall during the Silver Jubilee celebrations. We also saw his funeral procession, the following year. Mother got us up at about 5am. It was a cold wet January morning, and still dark whilst we waited at Westcombe Park station. When we got to London, there were thousands of people already there, and we found a place on Horse Guards Parade. It was a very sombre occasion, I remember seeing the old Prince of Wales and his three brothers following the gun carriage on foot.

We also stood outside Buckingham Palace when the Duke of Kent married Princess Marina and the Duke of Gloucester married his wife Alice. Quite often when we were in Hyde Park, we would pass by the garden of 145, Piccadilly where the Duke and Duchess of York lived, with their daughters Elizabeth and Margaret, hoping we might get a glimpse of the Princesses playing in the garden. A few years later, after their father had become King, and they were living in Buckingham Palace, mother read in the paper that their house in Picadilly was open to the public, so she took us there. We were shown the main rooms downstairs, and then taken to the top of the huge house, to the nursery. There was a wide landing with a gate at the top of the stairs, and we were told the Princesses used to cycle around the landing. Sadly the house was bombed during the Blitz.

We never missed the Lord Mayors Show, which was quite a spectacular event in those days, one year there were elephants taking part in it, and I seem to remember that a woman in the crowd had her foot trodden on by one, which must have been a very painful experience.
Mother also took us to see the Pantomine at the Lyceum Theatre every year. Dad who was much more serious, and loved Shakespeare, used to take the older children to the "Old Vic" theatre where they saw Macbeth one year, when the famous actor Charles Laughton, was playing the main part.

When we were very young mother would take us to Greenwich Park to feed the ducks on the lake, but when we were old enough to go alone, we spent Saturdays and school holidays either on Blackheath or Greenwich Park. Mother would pack us sandwiches and a bottle of Tizer, and off we would go for the day. It was quite safe in those days, as there was very little traffic on the quiet roads leading to the Heath, and we had never heard of children being molested.

© Albert W. Gearing

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