Down Memory Lane 



There are many senior citizen residents living within the area of both parks who have vivid memories of them. We hope to share some of their memories with you - with their kind permission, of course.

Jack Hilton of Alexandra Cottages writes:

The layout of Alexandra Park as I recall, at the age of five years (1935), from Lennard Road to the fountain, to us kids, was known as the First Rec and from the  fountain to the Sydenham end was known as the Second Rec.

A pretty cricket pavilion was situated half down on the right hand side of the Second Rec. I had my first kiss in there as a shy 15 year old. (I can't believe I just wrote that!!!) The whole park was enclosed in four feet high iron railings. At the, now playground, end in Lennard Road were two huge ornamental gates supported by architectural brick piers. The park was opened and closed every morning and night at different times of the year according to the season.

Two full-time keepers patrolled the park, one the First Rec, one the Second Rec. Mr Butcher, head keeper, lived in the house, still there now by the bowling green. He was a stern disciplinarian: woe betide anyone who stepped out of line. Anyone causing trouble was soon evicted from the park. Should a dog stray into the park everything stopped until it was removed.

The bandstand was situated just inside the Second Rec, to the right of the entrance at the top end of Alexandra Road where also the groundsman's hut, tools, and mowers etc were installed. A gents' toilet was also adjacent to the groundsman's shed.

A ladies and gents toilet was to the right of the head keeper's house. Four tennis courts were sited down from the fountain in the First Rec. This is how I recall it until at least up to the Second World War.

From the age of five years until the outbreak of war (1939) I attended Holy Trinity  Church Sunday School. Every Sunday afternoon after Sunday School I would go straight up to the park, meet my father and watch the cricket in the summer. This was instrumental in my love for cricket later in life. Some summer evenings my parents would take me up to the park to listen to the band playing in the bandstand.

Most kids, like myself at any early age, learned to ride a bike in the park and was chased out by the keepers, as bikes were not allowed in the park.

Attending Alexandra School (Infants) it was customary for mums to take us children up to the park after school, sit knitting and chatting while we indulged in all sorts of enjoyable activities.

My whole life was spent in the park in those days. We would come home from Junior School, dinner times (no school dinners then) have dinner, go straight up to the park until the school bell went. The school bell could be heard all over the district.

Summer evenings the Second Rec would be swarmed with kids playing cricket. Nobody had the proper gear: all sorts of makeshift bats, stumps etc were used. Local people used to come up, sit in the sun and enjoy watching us. In particular our next door neighbour and his wife used to say how much they enjoyed these evenings. Funny, it never seemed to rain in those days!

to be continued... 



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