Tuesday, 4 October 2011

From Where I Came

Growing up somewhere, especially in the dormitory towns around London, you don't seem to realise just how attractive certain parts are.  My home town - Walton-on-Thames - saw a great expansion in the inter war years which accelerated in the post war period.

Up until the 20th. Century the town was largely made up of for four streets; Church Street, Bridge Street, Thames Street and  Back Lane.  Thames Street and Back Lane both lead (in opposite directions) from the Anglers Wharf and up to either end of Church Street.  Apart from  a few cottages dotted about the rest of the area consisted of large Houses and a few Farms.

I've been fortunate and have found one or two images of the Anglers Wharf.  Both my Brother and my Sister have little limited edition prints of watercolour paintings of the wharf, so I was rather pleased to find a little Postcard of the Angler's Hotel and the Wharf.

This image is about the turn of the century, the stamp bears Victoria, but the franking is dated a few years later. There are two things that I noticed immediately about the picture, one it is too quiet and must have been staged and, secondly, it is much the same as when I was a kid.  As teenagers we used to leave our clothes in the veranda while we swam off the wharf.  We'd go into the Public Bar dripping wet to but a Pint.  The Landlord ( I think his name was Cooke ) used to moan about the wet but was always anxious to take our money.

This image is more typical of what the wharf was like I think.  This picture I'd guess is about 1910 or later

The Barges were like that until the 1950s and disappeared altogether in the 60s.  The Skiffs and Punts remained there throughout the 60s and probably into the 70s..  They were hired out by Old Jacko, and I think he continued until his end of terrace cottage was condemned.  At the end of the season, he would drag the boats up to his cottage and they were taken through the house and into the back garden.  They would be repaired, varnished and stored until the new season.  I remember Jacko had a Lodger, cannot recall what he was called, may not have ever known - that could be another story, but lets say he was hardly recognisable when dressed up for a night out - just the 5 O' Clock shadow to give an indication.

I do not live far away and must go a take some pictures of how it looks now - look out for future postings.  I was born about half-a-mile downstream and about 200 yards, or so, from the Thames, and as a teenager and young man spent many a happy hour in the Anglers and the Swan (next door - up through the Arch).  I think this may be the start of several, as yet unplanned visits to the Town.

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