This is another of those posts about the quiet streets of the late 1960s and early 1970s featuring pictures taken by our roving photographer John Rogers. Some of these images are nearly fifty years old now, which certainly gives me pause, as I contemplate my own mortality. (Not to be morbid or anything.)
John has to be standing in the middle of the road here at the western end of Bomore Road with a view of one of the towers of the Silchester Estate in the background. All is quiet with barely a car on the street.
Here is a nice view of some varied brickwork.
And here, the corner of Avondale Park Road.
Note Lily’s Toy’s and Novelty Goods (prop. A. Bridges) with its makeshift table of stuff outside. How much passing trade did they get, I wonder?
There is some life in Bomore Road though.
Can’t quite make them out? Allow me:
A couple of sisters happen by on their way home from school. How do I know they’re sisters? Well the fact is I’ve spoken to one of them. Her sister found out somehow that John had accidentally caught them on camera, and she came in to get a printout of the photo, which I did. for her. It was she who told me the anecdote which ended up in a post from the early days of the blog. This kind of thing has happened more often than you’d think.
So the theme of this post is not empty streets (which I am fond of), but passers by. Above, a woman with a perm, a Mark 1 Cortina (those rear lights) and Star Radio. (“The shop that buys anything” Anything? Really? I wonder if they sold everything too?) Norland Road, by the way.
A man pauses under the awning.
Is he thinking about BACON, or on his way for a haircut? I like the glasshouse structure you can just see on the left at the rear of the building.
Almost a crowd by backwater standards. The Stewart Arms has a slightly plain exterior. The van with the open door is in the process of dropping off some Mother’s Pride bread. And the woman is in a hurry, seemingly oblivious of John.
Something more elaborate further east in Moscow Road.
A lone young man passes The Leinster. Is he about to swerve and go in? Or not?
Back west in Murchison Road, another girl is about to leave or enter her house. I’ve never met her. Or perhaps I have. Not everyone is interested in old photographs.
Even further off the main road was Munro Mews
Munro Mews was of those slightly run down streets which seem in retrospect to be mostly occupied by people doing things with motor vehicles, servicing them on an amateur or professional basis,
Gathering up old tyres, or just abandoning cars and vans.
The mews was more of an alley.
And this trio are the real stars of the show, weary but confident travellers almost certainly on their way home.
(And what about the pile of crated milk bottles by the wall at the back?)
It’s possible to read all sort of situations into the three girls. Are the two standing together best friends, with the other only tolerated, or more likely, is it an entirely random moment of walking down the street, all three living in the same street? Are two of them sisters?
So you know what I have to ask. Do you recognize anyone? Is one of them a friend of yours, or a relative? Or is one of them you? I’m no longer surprised by coincidence. I almost expect it now.
But even if all the people in these pictures remain unknown, these are still good photographs.
It’s not really my place to pay tribute to John Cunliffe, the creator of Postman Pat, who died recently, but Pat Clifton (did you know his surname?) loomed large in our house at one point, on VHS videos, played incessantly, and in wool form brought to life by my late mother-in-law, Jean. The wool version of Pat still sits on the shelf of a wardrobe along with ancient bears and a blue hippo, but all that is left of the monstrous giant version of Jess the cat is a head, somewhere in another cupboard. Alas, poor Jess. And thank you to John Cunliffe.