Author Topic: As time goes by  (Read 87 times)

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Offline MickG

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As time goes by
« on: 11 January, 2018, 03:51:56 PM »


Earlier this week was my 72nd birthday and many thanks to all those that sent me birthday wishes. The following morning when I awoke for some reason the thought immediately crossed my mind of how different, if not alien, the world I was born into must seem to someone born today. I was born just after the end of the war in 1946. A little simple arithmetic shows deducting my 72 years from the year of my birth is equivalent to that of a person being born in 1874 when I first entered the world.

The oldest person I knew in my family was my paternal grandmother who was born in 1881 and I am now talking of a time before even that year.

To me like I suppose it must also seem to many of us old un’s, that I remember my childhood well, my school days, my early working life, followed by my fire service career until I eventually retired. Again I suppose like many, it still seems like yesterday, but the world I was born in must appear as alien to a youngster today, as to that of the world of someone born in 1874 must have seemed to me.

I don’t want to hark on about the tin bath hanging on an outside wall, the outside toilet, gas lamps or coal fired cooking range which many of us like I grew up with. but for many people born in 1874, even these basics must have seemed a modern luxury, compared with the like of the no sanitation at all world they were born into.

Many of us grew up in a victorious but war torn nation. The war heavily influenced our childhood with hundreds of thousands of servicemen who had experienced its horrors, coupled with a recently Blitz blasted civilian community fresh in everyone minds. Now 72 years on, the vast majority of those people, communities and their memories have now passed on. It does make one think that to many youngsters today, WW2 must now seem as becoming as remote to them as the battlefields of 1874 would have seemed to me. As an example, the Zulu wars did not occur until 1879.

My grandmother was born in Camberwell, south London in 1881 an maps of the time show almost everything south of the Peckham Road was open land containing many market gardens. All that had disappeared under rapid urban expansion by the time I was born, but likewise much open land I knew as a youngster has equally disappeared. It is as difficult for a youngster today to visualise the open fields I once knew as it is for me to visualise the open fields of my grandmothers time. Likewise maps of that time of what is now Newham would equally show lots of open land. What had been hamlets like Plaistow, Little Ilford, Wall End, Forest Gate and so on, were starting their outwards growth until they were to merge in the not too distant future into East & West Ham before eventually becoming Newham. At that time, Canning Town, a relatively modern settlement, would have been little more than a collection of buildings surrounding Bidder Street.

One only has to look at a zoomed out aerial view on Google of London and the southeast to see the blur created by buildings now runs almost unchecked from Heathrow in the west, to Shoeburyness in the east, bar for a small break in Essex. Compare that against a immediate post-war map showing buildings to see just how much land a rapidly ever growing population is gobbling up. I do not know what the remote future will hold, but it is things like the above examples of the rapidly disappearing countryside that tell me it will not be in the too distant future, that governments will seriously be debating birth control measures.

No doubt in another 72 years, those newcomers to the world being born now will also have similar thoughts.

Yes in the past 72 years the world has changed a lot. But I cannot help but think when compared of my imaginary 1874 predecessors or what the great as yet unborn will face, we probably have experienced the best of it.
« Last Edit: 12 January, 2018, 02:05:40 AM by MickG »

Offline mogsey

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Re: As time goes by
« Reply #1 on: 13 January, 2018, 01:04:37 PM »

Hi Mick
Just read your quite moving letter,I feel the same ,I am 78 yrs old this year,my dad was born in 1884,he was 82 when he died.I often wonder what he would think of Stratford now,although he was born and bred in Canning Town 29 Charles Street his father was a L
ighterman and a coal merchant. (forgot to mention he died in 1965 so would now be 134 yrs old)His old haunt was leaning on the rail at Stratford Broadway,watching the world go by,then toddling off to the Builders public house to meet up with his old cronies.What would he make of all the changes to good old West Ham.His mother died in 1901 she fell out of a horse drawn carriage while on holiday,she left 7 sons behind,then when their dad brought a new woman to the house they all left.There is such a leap from how it was to how it is now,I know time marches on but it's such a leap!
Regards Maureen


Earlier this week was my 72nd birthday and many thanks to all those that sent me birthday wishes. The following morning when I awoke for some reason the thought immediately crossed my mind of how different, if not alien, the world I was born into must seem to someone born today. I was born just after the end of the war in 1946. A little simple arithmetic shows deducting my 72 years from the year of my birth is equivalent to that of a person being born in 1874 when I first entered the world.

The oldest person I knew in my family was my paternal grandmother who was born in 1881 and I am now talking of a time before even that year.

To me like I suppose it must also seem to many of us old un’s, that I remember my childhood well, my school days, my early working life, followed by my fire service career until I eventually retired. Again I suppose like many, it still seems like yesterday, but the world I was born in must appear as alien to a youngster today, as to that of the world of someone born in 1874 must have seemed to me.

I don’t want to hark on about the tin bath hanging on an outside wall, the outside toilet, gas lamps or coal fired cooking range which many of us like I grew up with. but for many people born in 1874, even these basics must have seemed a modern luxury, compared with the like of the no sanitation at all world they were born into.

Many of us grew up in a victorious but war torn nation. The war heavily influenced our childhood with hundreds of thousands of servicemen who had experienced its horrors, coupled with a recently Blitz blasted civilian community fresh in everyone minds. Now 72 years on, the vast majority of those people, communities and their memories have now passed on. It does make one think that to many youngsters today, WW2 must now seem as becoming as remote to them as the battlefields of 1874 would have seemed to me. As an example, the Zulu wars did not occur until 1879.

My grandmother was born in Camberwell, south London in 1881 an maps of the time show almost everything south of the Peckham Road was open land containing many market gardens. All that had disappeared under rapid urban expansion by the time I was born, but likewise much open land I knew as a youngster has equally disappeared. It is as difficult for a youngster today to visualise the open fields I once knew as it is for me to visualise the open fields of my grandmothers time. Likewise maps of that time of what is now Newham would equally show lots of open land. What had been hamlets like Plaistow, Little Ilford, Wall End, Forest Gate and so on, were starting their outwards growth until they were to merge in the not too distant future into East & West Ham before eventually becoming Newham. At that time, Canning Town, a relatively modern settlement, would have been little more than a collection of buildings surrounding Bidder Street.

One only has to look at a zoomed out aerial view on Google of London and the southeast to see the blur created by buildings now runs almost unchecked from Heathrow in the west, to Shoeburyness in the east, bar for a small break in Essex. Compare that against a immediate post-war map showing buildings to see just how much land a rapidly ever growing population is gobbling up. I do not know what the remote future will hold, but it is things like the above examples of the rapidly disappearing countryside that tell me it will not be in the too distant future, that governments will seriously be debating birth control measures.

No doubt in another 72 years, those newcomers to the world being born now will also have similar thoughts.

Yes in the past 72 years the world has changed a lot. But I cannot help but think when compared of my imaginary 1874 predecessors or what the great as yet unborn will face, we probably have experienced the best of it.

Offline MickG

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Re: As time goes by
« Reply #2 on: 13 January, 2018, 04:25:02 PM »
Hello Maureen.
Yes family history is quite fascinating isn't it? Often tinged with sadness, like the sudden death of your grandmother in 1901. History is something you either like, or hate, although I think it tends to grow on people the older they get. At school history was often hard to grasp as youngsters, as we had not lived long enough to be able to relate to much of it. Family history however pervades down through the generations, not necessarily written down but in little facts that suddenly pop out in the course of conversation. An example of that was my 1881 grandmother who once to me that she remembered her grandmother speaking about her grandmother who related how when she was young. people were fearful about the Jacobite Rebellion. In an instant there was a kind of instant family memory link that encompassed several centuries.

I suppose in many ways it has always been like that as successive generations eventually pass on. I suppose the hardest thing for myself to come to terms with is change. The comfort zone of the environment we knew changing out of all recognition and morphing into something new and perhaps not as good to older eyes. I suppose in several generations time the Newham we know today will have changed so much that even todays youngsters will no longer recognise it.

When I think about all the terrace housing that Newham and much of London still consists of and knowing that buildings do not last forever. I cannot help but wonder what will happen to all these now mainly privately owned homes and what will replace them?
« Last Edit: 13 January, 2018, 04:30:29 PM by MickG »