In 2006 Epsom and Ewell local and Family History Centre staged an exhibition on Stoneleigh, at the local library. Visitors were invited to fill in a questionnaire about their memories of the area. This is just one of many replies:
My parents were married in Dulwich in 1930 and I was born in 1932. For nearly 6 years home was a flat in Balham. Some time in 1936 we visited some Balham neighbours who had moved out to Stoneleigh
and were living in a Carter-built house in Amberley Gardens. My parents were impressed with what they saw and were financially ready to make a move. My father was working for a timber importers with offices and mill at the head of the Surrey Canal in Camberwell.
Having looked at several houses being built by Carter's in part of Stoneleigh Park Road my parents eventually decided upon a 3-bedroomed semi-detached house with integral garage, costing £1000! We therefore joined the exodus from South London and on 3 October 1936 moved into our new abode and became 'founder residents' in Stoneleigh. I have remained in that house to the present day!
The majority of our new neighbours had, like us, moved from London and their occupations included work in the fur trade, rag trade, insurance and one was a doctor.
Moving to Stoneleigh
To my parents, our new home displayed the height of luxury - integral garage, 2 toilets, Ideal boiler in kitchen (read about some of the latest 1930s labour saving kitchens)
, radiator in hall, heated towel rail in bathroom, gas coke fire in 2 reception rooms, fireplace in 2 bedrooms and a large garden which my father, a keen sportsman, laid to lawn and marked out as a badminton court.
Initially, I think it was rather difficult to make friends. Fields extended from the bottom of Stoneleigh Crescent to where Stoneleigh West Schools were being built and I can remember my mother telling me how lonely she felt when she first took me out in my pushchair and realised that she did not know anybody. This was soon remedied when I started playing with other children in the road, and before long we felt we belonged in the community.
Shops were very different from today's supermarkets and in the pre-refrigerator age, my mother made an almost daily foray to the shops, from which there plenty to choose. On Stoneleigh Broadway she frequented Peggy Brown's (cake shop), the Co-Op (butchers and grocers, where cash was sent back and forth in wooden barrels to and from the cashier by means of an overhead railway. 70 years on, I still remember my mother's 'divi' number was 183581 !, Payantake Stores (grocers), Bradbury's (electrical- still there), Frost's (grocers and cold meats) Woolworth's, Sutton Creameries and Edith (ladies' hairdresser). At Ewell Court she used Madame Aida (knitting wools), Sunny's (newsagents and stationers), Job's (dairy), Manning's (fish and chips) and on the far side Nutting's (grocers) and, top favourite with me, Palmer's (double-fronted toy shop). In the Station Approach at Stoneleigh (St John's side) there was Danny Evans (chemist) and Bedfords (newsagents) and on the far side of the roundabout in Vale Road Rudkin's (greengrocers) and The Avenue Bookshop (newsagents, post office and confectionery).
Home deliveries were made by Scott's Dairy with a horse-drawn cart, and a baker whose name I cannot recall. I also remember the Wall's Ice Cream 'Stop me and buy one' man making very frequent rounds on his tricycle, ringing his bell to warn us of his approach.
For a brand new area facilities were good - a doctor and dentist in Newbury Gardens, and library at Ewell Court House
. Stoneleigh Methodist Church was opened in 1938. I went to the Sunday School on the day it commenced in Stoneleigh West School in 1937 and have been a member of the church ever since.
A month before my 5th birthday I became a scholar at Stoneleigh West Junior Mixed and Infants' School on the day it opened in April 1937 under the headship of Miss Bessie Hayter. I was put in the youngest infants' class with Miss Wylie as my teacher. I shall be forever grateful for the excellent standard of primary education I received there. The discipline was firm but fair. In 1943 I went for 1 term to Stoneleigh West Central School before commencing my secondary education at Nonsuch County School for Girls from where I matriculated in 1948. From 1939 to 1945 some of my schooling was, of course, carried out in air raid shelters - long, narrow structures with wooden slatted benches down each side with the teacher placing herself about halfway down. Not ideal, but we (unlike many children) survived and had some fun into the bargain.
Because I am disabled and in childhood wore an iron on one leg, my mother took me to and from school in my push chair until I was able to use a tricycle and eventually a bicycle, which I used every day for the journey to Nonsuch.
School dinners were a thing of the future whilst at Stoneleigh West, so we had to come home for lunch (another trip back and forth for my mother). Dinners were supplied at Nonsuch.
Games at Stoneleigh West consisted of very regular PT lessons in the playground (in teams) and later on, games on the fields behind Cuda's Close and Thomdon Gardens. At Nonsuch it was tennis and rounders in summer, hockey and netball in winter. Leisure activities were Brownies and Guides held at Stoneleigh Methodist Church, hobbies at home such as knitting, sewing, cooking, stamp collecting, piano lessons with Miss Doris Rogers in Thorndon Gardens and occasional visits to the luxurious Rembrandt cinema to see such films as Snow White, Bambi, Dumbo, etc. Because there were very few private cars being driven during the war, our summer holiday outings were usually restricted to hot days at Surbiton Lagoon, and travelling on the 406/408 buses
to the top of Reigate or Colley Hill for a picnic. These outings were always undertaken in the hope that there were no air raids whilst we were out.
Recollection of two important events in childhood
A month after I started school, the coronation of King George VI was celebrated in Westminster Abbey on 12 May 1937. Around that time two special events took place in Stoneleigh, which I believe occurred on the same day.
As nearly 5-year olds we were lined up on the pavement in Newbury Gardens to cheer the Rt. Hon. James Chuter-Ede, charter mayor of the newly formed Borough of Epsom and Ewell
as he toured the borough in an open carriage, donned in his mayoral robes. When we went back into school we were presented with our coronation mugs, but I was heartbroken when I dropped and smashed mine on the way home! A replacement was never found.
14 March 2006