This week’s Magical Memory Lane comes from Carol Price of Forest Gate
This week’s Magical Memory Lane comes from Carol Price of Forest Gate, with some wonderful thoughts.
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On the left hand corner of Parliament place and Forest lane in the early 1900s there was a Blacksmiths forge, a very busy place I would think with all the horse drawn carts and carriages around at that time and also the kids taking in their iron hoops to be repaired.
Further down Parliament place on the left there were little shop fronted houses that sold many different things , at one time there was a sweet shop, a shop that sold livestock, a brush maker and at the very end on the same side was the Parliament house pub. Opposite these shops stood Whitehall board school with its roof playground, in the early years this was an infant school.
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There were pointed iron railings surrounding the school and partly in the playground on the corner was the caretakers house , next to this was a small alley called Whitehall place it ran between the school playground wall and the backs of the shops and the pubs that were on the main road, this little alley came out into Forest street. On the bottom corner of the wall of the playground that led into Forest Street was a very large round stone this was to stop the cartwheels hitting the wall as they turned into this little alley to deliver goods.
By 1912 the Blacksmiths forge had gone and was replaced by the Forest Gate cinema showing silent films, at this time there were three other cinemas in Forest gate, The picture palace , The Electric theatre and The Kings cinema and I am sure they were all very busy . The Forest gate cinema changed its name to the Forest lane cinema in 1922 and in July 1932 it closed for reconstruction of a new stage and store and it re-opened in August 1932 as The Splendid cinema this is the name that most people remember it by .
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They used to have children’s cinema shows probably on a Saturday morning which were called the Tu-Penny rush by the kids , this is where Bryan Forbes used to go , along by the cinema was a shop called Heard’ s which sold many things that interested kids , rolls of celluloid films that were good for burning “they used to explode” , leather bound books and coins and he also sold and exchanged comics so the place was always very busy .The Parliament house pub at the other end of Parliament place was a rounded shape the same as the Splendid cinema and had the same kind of over hanging lights on a curved metal bar all around the building , these must have looked really lovely at night .
There was a little alley behind the cinema which led to Chapter street and the little factories, there was also a chapel in that road that was later called Busby hall , there are now a troupe of scouts called the Busby scouts . By 1939 the Splendid cinema was closed and demolished by 1940, maybe it was a casualty of the continuous bombing of the East End which began in September 1940 , the site was cleared and the only part remaining was the sloping floor where the seating once was . February 1947 the coldest since 1881 children sat in class in their coats and the ink froze in old fashioned ink wells, deep snow lay all over the country .The sloping floor of the old cinema was now covered in snow and was a great place to play, kids would use a tray or whatever else they could find as a toboggan, some even made their own wooden ones, none of the kids needed money to have a great time just lots of mates and a good imagination. Wonderful Times.
By the 50s when I went to Whitehall school there was a Factory that made ice cream wafers in the place where the cinema once stood . The shops in Parliament place have sold many things over the years ,Pie and Mash , a rag shop , The brush shop that was still there in the 50s and then there was Carters bicycle shop where you could hire a bike for 3d or have one made for �3. 7s .6d . Parliament place was always full of kids playing, Leapfrogging over the metal posts playing ball or five stones or just sitting around eating a lolly, usually it was a Dicky Birds Glo-Joy lolly from Jacks shop .On school days it was always noisy as the playground on this side was the boys, the girls playground was around the back no mixed play in those days . I can remember Robin the Downs syndrome boy standing in Parliament place with his face pressed against the railings watching the boys kicking a ball about or just talking to them . By the 50s the factories over the back were Ottens button factory where I took my sewing machine case To fill up with buttons from the bin that I had seen them throw out .
When I got them home they were buttons with one hole or the holes were right on the edge in fact they were no good at all . Then there was Chamberlains shirt factory where Cliff Richard went to have a couple of shirts made taken there by Al Saxon I would think because they used to practice upstairs in his Mums Florist shop next to the Railway Tavern . Parliament Place was the entrance to my world , when you came home at night it was always busy And lit up by the lights in the small shop fronted houses , The Parliament house pub and the undertakers on the corner of Station road who had a statue of a lady bearing a flaming torch in the window which was always lit up . This Place was alive with happy kids playing during the day , People rushing to get to work in the morning, some in suits some in turbans either going to the office or the factory. Then making their way home at night with their shopping or reading the news or the football results in the late newspaper. At weekends young people walked through here
in their latest suit or dress that they had saved for and their smart shoes chatting and laughing on their way to the local dance to watch a live performance by a popular group or singer or maybe going to meet their latest date outside the Odeon cinema and buying some chocolates from Richards posh sweet shop next door.