Reminiscences of Joan Luxford
Joan Margaret Luxford was born in Barking in 1918. She entered a world quite different to that of today. Joan lived locally until about seven years ago. Dorothy Lockwood, John Blake and Bill George were privileged to meet Joan at her daughter’s house in Great Baddow, Essex on Tuesday 19th March 2013 and listen and discuss her very clear and fascinating Barking recollections. Brief notes were taken during our meeting. The following account has been compiled from these notes and some further research.
The Luxford family had settled in Barking by the 1830s. Joan’s great grandfather William Luxford (1811-
Joan’s maternal grandfather, Annie’s father, Daniel Baldwin (1843-
Joan does not recall people talking about the Great War which ended in 1918. She remembers that she did not play games in the street, but played in their back garden where the children had a swing. Barking was a lovely place for children. Joan’s family would say "little pigs have big ears" when they did not want young children to know about grown up matters. She remembers the Rushing Waters, near the Town Quay as well as J. John Masters match factory, the Elizabethan "Leet House", Eastbury House and the Barking windmill, near where Tescos store was later built. At Easter they played with barge ropes at the Berry Barns.
J.John Master's factory from Abbey Road
Elizabethan Leet House, Barking
Wellington Windmill, Barking
Eastbury House, Barking
Barking Back Lane
from London Lanes
by Alan Stapleton
Ginger Beer Bottles
Joan remembers Mr. Robert Dormer, the chimney sweep, who lived at 25 Back Lane, near St. Margaret’s church. She recalls having 3 good meals a day, including traditional boiled fish on a Friday. Food also included pie and mash – with liquor, hot rolls and R. White’s mineral waters. Robert White & Sons Ltd., were mineral water manufacturers based in St. Paul’s Road. R. White’s is now commemorated by the modern Lemonade Building on the site of the former Pesci Brothers fish and chip shop. At the age of five Joan went to Gascoigne School and then from the age of eleven to Northbury School. She remembers going to Westbury School two mornings a week for domestic science and laundry lessons. Joan left school in 1932 aged 14. She remembers her schools had good teachers including Miss Davies, Miss Mathers, Miss Pond; Miss Nash, the drama teacher, who had St. Vitus Dance and Miss Wilson the cookery teacher. Joan particularly enjoyed maths, mental arithmetic, for which she won 3rd, 2nd and 1st class prizes, geography, knitting and embroidery, making quilts and hem stitching. She also attended, until she was 14, a Sunday school in Park Hall which was run by Miss Glenny. Joan took part in the Barking Pageant in 1931. She went three times. Joan remembers the Carnival with its big stars, and a "Chicago Piano" in the park. She can clearly recall the smell of oil lamps and open coal fires.
Although some clothing was often bought from the door to door tally man, Moses, shopping was mainly from local shops. Joan was always well dressed but she was particularly proud of her shoes. She remembers the haberdashers and shopping for baby clothes and recalls Grangemans, Alfred Henson the fruiterer of 164, Gascoigne Road, and Baldwins which was run by a Jewish family. Local shops included Robert Willetts, the clothier, hosier, glover, linen draper, house furnisher and pawn broker of the Broadway and North Street, Marks and Spencer’s Ltd. Penny Bazaar at 34 East Street and the Hope public House. Young Joan often shopped and ran errands for neighbours including buying ham. Joan recollects shops staying open late at night and the turkey auction, held next to the Penny Bazaar, on Christmas Eve. Late into Saturday night it was possible to buy, from street stalls, live eels, cheese, biscuits, sweets and eggs, thirteen to the dozen!
After school on a Monday Joan paid 1p for the "penny rush" at Barking swimming baths. She also went to the Brownies which was run by Miss Marjorie C. Barber, who subsequently married Mr. Henry John (Harry) Hills jnr (1899-
Joan also enjoyed walking. She recalls going to the Broadway and Electric Cinemas and watching Tom Mix (1880-
The school nurse was known as ‘Nitty Norah’ because she checked childrens’ hair for traces of nit infestation. Health care, before the National Health Service, cost 2/8d [13p] a week. This service was provided by Dr. Fenton. Drs. Edward Charles Fenton and William John Charles Fenton, physicians and surgeons were based at 70 Park Avenue. Dr. William Fenton later operated from the Whitehouse, Movers Lane. Queen Mary’s Hospital was at Stratford and could be visited on a Tuesday. Upney Hospital was in Upney Lane, but M&B [May & Baker] tablets were often self-
On leaving school and following an interview at the employment office in Snow Hill, London, Joan was taken on as an apprentice at 10/-
Local travel was made on tarred and gritted roads. Sometimes in the summer visits were made to Thorpe Bay, where she would travel in an open landau or sail across the Thames estuary to Herne Bay. When Joan worked near Newgate Station she travelled from Barking by steam train. Joan vividly remembers trams and the exciting journey over the Bascule Bridge.