William Morris and Hammersmith | Spitalfields Life

The Gentle Author, who writes for Spitalfields Life, has very kindly given us permission to share his recent piece on William Morris in the East End as Hammersmith is mentioned several times.

And here are a couple of photos from our Archives –

William Morris in 1889


The Hammersmith Socialist Society in the garden at Kelmscott House, Hammersmith (Morris’ house). William Morris is in the photo. c1891

Like to learn more? Our Local Studies and Archives can help.

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Sweets, sweet shops and money in the 1950s

I have previously written about playing in the streets and bombsites of Shepherds Bush, and also about my time at Ellerslie Road School, in the 1950s. But for the ‘Baby Boomers’ the 5th February 1953 was one of the greatest days in the life of a child – the ending of over ten years of sweet rationing. And for the rest of that decade sweets, sweet shops and money became much more important than school, and could only be equalled by ‘playing out’.

‘Lovely Jubbly’ as Del Boy Trotter would say to express his delight. But to us, growing up in the 1950s, a Jubbly was an orange drink in a strange pyramid type carton. But no self-respecting child would ever have drunk one as we only bought them frozen. One end of the carton was cut off and you pushed up the frozen orange and sucked the top like a lolly. But occasionally if they hadn’t been given enough time to freeze completely they were something akin to a ‘Slush Puppies’.

When sweets came off ration we were using the old pounds, shillings and pence system. The pound was of course the same, but it was a banknote rather than a coin. The pound was made up of 20 shillings and there was also a 10 shilling note (equivalent to today’s 50 pence piece). Each shilling was made up of 12 copper pennies, making a total of 240 pennies in one pound. However, it was further complicated as a penny was made up of 2 halfpennies or 4 farthings. There were actually 960 farthing in one pound.

If you were very lucky you might get one or two pennies to spend on the way to school. The farthing continued to be legal tender throughout the 1950s and my earliest memories of money was being able to buy one sweet for one farthing. So for one whole penny I could buy four sweets. There was a choice of two types of chew which were similar to today’s Starbursts or Chewitts. One was an orange/strawberry chew called a Fruit Salad and the other was an aniseed flavoured chew called a Black Jack. The wrapper of the latter would be politically incorrect now as it bore the face of a golly.

As we all know, by watching repeats of old TV programmes, life then was very un-pc. It’s hard to believe but in those days smoking related sweets were readily sold to children, and in fact were very popular. You could buy a pack of 10 sweet candy cigarettes, in a realistic looking cigarette box complete with a picture card. Each cigarette was made of white candy with a red tip at the end. Child size liquorice pipes were sold, complete with a red ‘hundreds and thousands’ top to imitate the glowing tobacco. You could even buy a pouch of sweet tobacco that in fact was candied coconut shaped and coloured to look like tobacco.

Many of our local corner shops sold loose sweets such as bulls eyes, sherbet lemons, acid drops and pineapple cubes. The pineapple cubes were rock hard cubes of yellow candy coated with sugar. They were the same size as the real pineapple chunks that came out of tins. In those days I don’t think many kids actually knew what a real pineapple looked like. There were also chewing nuts that were actually small chocolate covered toffee drops. I think we paid around twopence for a small white paper bag of sweets, weighing two ounces (two ounces was less than 60 grams).

These type of sweets were kept in large glass jars and the shopkeepers would shake them out of the jar into the pan of the weighing scales. Some ‘posh’ shops used small metal scoops but the less hygienic shopkeepers often used their hands, to loosen the sweets if they were stuck in the jar. There were no strict hygiene laws then and I remember that items like liquorice pipes and sticks of hard liquorice were often handed to you by the shopkeeper.

Of course there were lots of packaged sweets such as tubes of Smarties, Love Hearts, Wine Gums and Fruit Pastilles all of which are still in production today. But only those of a certain age will remember sweets such as Bazooka Bubble Gum, Gob Stoppers, Spangles, Five Centres, Picnics and Toffos. One favourite was a Jamboree Bag, which was a sealed paper bag containing a small selection of loose sweets and a small toy.

Old paper advert from author’s own collection

I particularly remember Five Boys milk chocolate bars. The small bar was in 5 segments with a different boy’s face on each. Five Boys was a very old brand and I remember my father telling me that it was his brothers’ favourite chocolate way back in the 1910s. Apparently the actual photos for the advertising were taken in 1885.

Today there are multiple manufacturers selling huge varieties of types and flavours of crisps. It’s hard to believe that in the early 1950s you could only buy plain crisps. They were not even salted and each bag contained a small blue paper twist containing salt. You had to find it in the bag, open it and then sprinkle the salt over the crisps. Occasionally you might find two or even three twists in the bag but if you were really unlucky the twist would be missing altogether.

Over time the local sweet shops I frequented as a child disappeared and the buildings were converted into homes. One was directly opposite my school in Ellerslie Road. There were two in Adelaide Grove; one in a row of shops opposite the Adelaide Pub and the other on the junction of Dunraven Road. The earlier black and white photo on the left shows the shop on the junction of Dunraven Road and Thorpebank Road, and the one on the right is a later photograph of the same building.

There must be a certain nostalgia for some of these old sweets as a quick search of the internet has revealed several websites offering retro 1950s sweets. Black Jacks are still sold but the offending golly picture has disappeared. I did find sweet cigarettes on sale but most have now been renamed candy sticks. However, much to my surprise I did find retro liquorice pipes and sweet tobacco being advertised.

Peter Trott
Hammersmith & Fulham, Local Studies and Archives volunteer

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Join in with 2018’s Summer Reading Challenge

This year’s Summer Reading Challenge launches in our libraries tomorrow, Saturday 14 July. The challenge is fun, free and designed for all children whatever their reading ability and it’s been designed to help children to improve their reading skills and confidence during the long summer holidays.

Children can read whatever they like for the challenge – fact books, joke books,
picture books, audio books or you can download a book,  just as long as they are borrowed from the library.

This year’s Summer Reading Challenge is called Mischief Makers – Dennis the Menace, Gnasher and friends invite the children taking part to set off on a hunt for Beanotown’s famous buried treasure.

Each of our libraries will be holding special events for children of all ages, some of these are listed now on our website Pop in to your local LBHF library to find out more about the Summer Reading Challenge and collect a special  events programme.





Posted in Askew Road Library, Children, Crafts, eaudiobooks, ebooks, Event, Fulham Library, Hammersmith Library, Shepherds Bush Library, Summer Reading Challenge | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

School memories from the 1950s

In the 1950s, the majority of children went to a local school within walking distance of their homes. So in 1954 I started school life at Ellerslie Road School. It was only recently that I discovered that it was in fact the year that the school celebrated its 60th anniversary, having opened in 1894.

The Hammersmith Ordnance Survey map of 1894 shows the position of the newly opened school just south of Old Oak Farm and east of the disused Brick Yard. Adjacent to the school were fields, which in 1904 became the ground for the Shepherds Bush Football Club. It was not until 1917 that Queens Park Rangers moved in to the ground. The ‘School End’ and later the ‘Ellerslie Road Stand’ became well known to football fans.

There were two black iron gate entrances to the school on Ellerslie Road. The infants and junior girls entrance was on the right and the junior boys was on the left. The gates led into separate playgrounds. I presume they felt the boys were too rough to play with the girls and the infants. The infants school was the first building just inside the gate and was separate from the junior school.

My first school photo

It was a very cold introduction to school life for me. Although we were not required to wear a uniform all boys wore short trousers (even in the winter). The toilets were outside in the playground and they were no more than brick built sheds.

Although the playgrounds were segregated all the juniors came together for lessons. The classrooms were arranged around a central hall. At one end were two big wooden staircases which led up to a balcony. On the left was the teacher’s room and on the right was the Headmaster office. The school had parquet flooring and the lower parts of the walls were shiny glazed bricks with painted plaster above.

Archive photo of an infants class circa 1916
(note the glazed bricks)

Each morning we were given a 1/3 pint bottle of milk which was always extremely cold in the winter. But on particularly hot summer days it often smelt and tasted ‘off’. For some reason there were one or two boys who always drank the unwanted leftover bottles. I seem to remember that the record was about six bottles in one go. Some children were also given cod liver oil capsules to supplement their poor diets.

A lot of children were able to go home for lunch but there was a dining hall in prefab type building at the back of the school. This building was approximately where the Jack Tizard School now stands in South Africa Road. Before the new Ellerslie Road Stand was built at Queens Park Rangers the roof of this building was often used by older boys to climb into the ground on match days.

There were very few books and they were given out and collected in for each lesson by the ‘book monitors’. As a result they were all quite dirty and dog-eared. One term I was very thrilled when I was told I had won a book as a prize. However, my joy turned to disappointment during the prize giving ceremony, when I was told the prize was actually for the school and I had to hand it back.

As with all schools there were good and bad teachers. One teachers, a stereotypical Victorian spinster tried to convert us to Catholicism. We were subject to a very strict regime and had to recite Latin prayers at the start and end of each day. Without fail she gave us detention every night. After a few weeks the mothers started to get very annoyed. One day my mother went to the cloakroom, picked up my coat, opened the classroom door and called me out. The teacher confronted my mother but several other mothers did the same. The detentions stopped and very soon after that the teacher left the school.

Although I didn’t realise it at the time, I witnessed a very important milestone in British history. It was the arrival of the first black pupil at the school. He had the very unusual name of Cosmos and he was very bubbly boy who soon became friends with everyone. It was many years later that I realised he was one of the Windrush generation.

I don’t actually remember going any school trips but we did have the occasional trip to Lime Grove indoor swimming baths and it was on one such trip that I learnt to swim. Another milestone was that in our final year boys started to wear long trousers and that winter was much more bearable.

About that time a major piece of PE equipment arrived at the school. It was a very new modular system made up of two sections of three triangular shaped climbing frames with wooden ladders. The two sections were linked across the top by a metal tubular bar that held ropes and ladder.

Traditionally the senior class were the cast for the end of year play. In my year it was Treasure Island and the new PE equipment doubled up quite nicely as the rigging of the pirate ship Hispaniola. The production was quite professional with costumes and make up. Sadly, although we could see what our friends looked like we had no idea what we looked like ourselves as there were no mirrors. Few people owned cameras so I don’t think any photos were ever taken. In my part as Redruth, I was the first person to walk on stage and talk. I don’t remember having any nerves even though my mother was sitting right next to the area where I had to wait before making my entrance. Later in the play I had a very dramatic death scene.

My final year at Ellerslie Road School ended with me passing the eleven-plus exam. Then it was the long awaited summer holiday before going on to secondary education.

Entrance to Imre Close

Ellerslie Road School closed in 1998, just over 100 years after it was built. Imre Close was built on the site; named after Imre Kiralfy, who was the mastermind behind the White City Franco- British Exhibition of 1908.

Peter Trott
Hammersmith & Fulham, Local Studies and Archives volunteer

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7 Deadly Dates with Jean-Paul Noel-Cephise

We’ve an event with Jean-Paul Noel-Cephise, author of ‘7 Deadly Dates’ on Wednesday 11 July at Shepherds Bush Library.  The book is a witty take on the realities of online dating from a male perspective. You can book a free place via Eventbrite

So join us next month – you will have the chance to buy a copy of the book on the night and ask JP for his dating secrets.

Over to JP to tell us more about his book –

I became separated from my ex-wife after being married for 16 years. The only way I could describe being divorced after a long marriage is to stop a noisy, juddering train ride and then find the silence itself deafening. The initial peace after the marathon journey was pretty uncomfortable. It took me some time to adjust to being single again.

In that time I decided to begin dating again to find a new woman. I had a romantic dream of meeting a woman to have a partnership with and of falling in love and having my happily ever after. Like Shrek.

Like everyone else who has tried to date via the internet, I thought: let me use technology to find love like everyone else seems to be doing. Let me find “The one”. My soul mate. My partner. The lady in my life. You get the idea. I decided to give online dating a try.
Being out of “The dating game” for so long meant I was out of touch with the rules. I joined an internet dating site as it seemed so easy to find a woman this way. I couldn’t believe that I was soon receiving so much attention and interest from lovely ladies all around the country. It made me feel great!

One in five people are now finding their partners online. People are still a little sceptical about using the internet to find love but I wasn’t afraid to try. The process was: scan over the picture, then scan over the profile. If you’re interested then message the person, then speak, then meet up. It’s actually all in reverse to how we date normally in our lives.
What I found when I was dating is that no matter how the person looked in their pictures or how they described themselves in their profiles they were rarely put together exactly as I had thought they were.

7 Deadly Dates recounts the surprises that I found and how I attempted to cope with them while also trying to enjoy the date.

Is it because the net isn’t right for this purpose? Is it right to use technology to find love? Are people truthful about themselves? Is there a right way to date online? Dating sites give you advice on how to present aspects of yourself but do these apply to everyone? Some aspects make dating tough, especially in these days of social media where there is an intense pressure on people to always look good, be entertaining and to continuously attract positive attention!

My author’s talk will talk about what led me to write my book, what happened when I got comfortable being single again, what happened in one of my “deadly dates” and how meeting someone in real life is becoming more of a challenge today when we can “hide” online. It will also be focusing on my personal solution to this dilemma!

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Boom! Free Comic Book Day arrives once again…

Free Comic Book Day is an international celebration of all things comics – taking place on the first Saturday in May – tomorrow – it is a day where new titles are released and shops offer a giveaway of free issues – our libraries are taking part, courtesy of those lovely folks at Forbidden Planet

The day is perfect for both collector fanatics and those who are picking up a comic for the first time.

Explore all this and more at one of our libraries and don’t forget to ask staff for your free comic book. We have three titles to give out, while stocks last – head on in before missing out. You’ll discover characters from the DC Universe including Superhero girls, Doctor Who, plus look out for the exclusive DC Nation!

Why not also check out the graphic novel selection? or the new release DVDs available while you are there and see what else your local Hammersmith & Fulham library has to offer?

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Read and Relax reading groups in LBHF

This is guest blog post from Liz Ison. She works for The Reader and looks after the Read and Relax reading groups that run in LBHF. Over to Liz to tell us more…

Do you love stories, poems and great literature?

Would you like to find out what shared reading is?

Did you know that there are many shared reading groups going on in your local neighbourhood running every week?

Meet The Reader, an organisation that is passionate about the power of reading together.
We at The Reader are the pioneers of Shared Reading. The volunteer Reader Leaders who run our weekly groups, bring people together to read great literature aloud.

Groups are open to all, readers and non-readers alike. Come along and listen to stories and poems read aloud. It’s an opportunity to read and talk together in a friendly and relaxing environment. Free refreshments provided!

Our shared reading groups have been running locally for many years bringing shared reading to the residents of Hammersmith & Fulham. We work in libraries, community centres and other organisations spreading the joy of shared reading.

Here are what our group members have to say about shared reading:

“I’ve felt really happy since the session with you —bought myself some flowers the next day…and went for a long walk while listening to music— all in one day. Our happy thoughts trigger happy chemicals in our brain.” Aysha

“An anchor during the week”

“It always makes me feel more fulfilled than the other days”

  • 95 % look forward to the group as an important event in the week
  • *84% think the reading session makes them feel better*

Here are some groups to try in our local libraries:

Fulham Library, Tuesdays 10.30am – 12 noon

Hammersmith Library, Tuesdays 1.45pm – 3.15pm

Avonmore Library, Wednesdays 10.30am -12 noon

Shepherds Bush Library, Wednesdays 2pm – 3.30pm

We look forward to welcoming you to a group soon. To find other shared reading groups in your area you can contact:

Erin at erincarlstrom@thereader.org.uk or call 07483 972 020

Liz at lizison@thereader.org.uk or call 07807 106 815

More information is on the The Reader website too.


* 2017 Reader evaluation data for Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea shared reading groups)

Posted in Avonmore Library, bibliotherapy, Books, Fulham Library, Hammersmith Library, Shepherds Bush Library | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment
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