History Focus

Hello Everyone, I’m back and I must say that it is very nice to be back in one piece and moving on to the next edition. My apologies for the interruption in services but a brief stop in St George’s Hospital at Tooting was the culmination of six months of visits there. I was surprised to be treated in the midst of the covid crisis but who was I to complain when they called me in. My treatment was amazing and I was left in awe of the nursing and medical staff who climb mountains as part of their daily routine. Nothing was too much trouble and they acted as if they had all the time in the world to address my questions. Now a few weeks later, all patched up and raring to go, all I can say is “Long Live the NHS !”

As a result of my temporary incapacity, I have fallen behind in dealing with some of your queries. That and the fact that Richmond Local Studies Library is still closed. Sorry. I have started to work through them and I will get around to them all eventually.

My thanks to all of you who have purchased copies of “Teddington TW11”. It was going very well until the covid 19 restrictions closed down Waterstones and The Loft. If you couldn’t get one, never mind – there are still some copies left, either at the above shops or via the TW11 magazine website: www.twmagazines.co.uk, price £12.99 + £1.99 P&P or from me.

One story I must pass on is from Mrs Pauline Pike of Clarence Road. Pauline was living in Bolton Gardens during wartime and after one bombing raid, an unexploded bomb was found. Although the road was evacuated, Pauline and her mother remained and made tea for the bomb disposal squad.Unfortunately, her parents’ marriage broke up and she went to live with her aunt who had one of the big houses in Udney Park Road, opposite the tennis courts and she played tennis every day. She remembers the house having many rooms, several let to boarders who had bed, breakfast and dinner, all cooked by her aunt. One vivid memory is of attending a ball at the end of her school years. She wore a new green dress, purchased especially for the occasion and to take her there and collect her home, she rode in William Silver’s horse- drawn cab. Thanks for the memories, Pauline.

Quite by accident, I have found myself drawn into an alternative career and have had to grapple with the modern media. Let me explain, in January the story broke that the owner of Park Road Stables gave them notice to quit as he wanted to sell off the property. This would have been disastrous news for the locality and the Stables in particular. Natalie O’Rouke contacted me to see if I could write a piece on the Stables, giving its history and emphasising its role in the locality. I said that I would be pleased to do so but the source of most of my material for projects such as this was locked away in the Richmond Local Studies Library. From then, things moved extremely quickly. Natalie emailed me to invite me to the Stables to take part in a BBC interview. As I was shielding at the time, pending going into St Thomas’, I reluctantly declined. 

However the BBC saw Natalie the next day and were very keen to get the historical angle on the story, so Natalie telephoned me again and asked if I could attend as the BBC were not to be put off.After some brief discussion, they decided to come around to my house. Now we come to the tricky bit – since Natalie’s first request, I had been unable to call up any historical notes and I was desperately looking for something meaningful to say. Within minutes Gareth Firby appeared on the doorstep and was ushered into the garden where we had a 30 – 40 minute interview. He then dashed off to his next assignment.

About 10 days later, I was talking to Natalie and neither of us had heard when the film would be shown. A couple of hours later, Natalie mailed me to say “Quick you’re on NOW!” I rushed to the TV and caught half of the clip on the 6 0’Clock News. Natalie told me that we got a lot of donations as a result, so it couldn’t have been that bad. 

Since then, some local celebrities like Rob Brydon stepped in to add their support and the fund grew until Natalie hit her target. You all know the rest – Park Lane Stables has been saved! 

Ken Howe

Ken Howe is a local historian and author of several books.

howe64@btinternet.com | 020 8943 1513

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