Tuesday, 10 June 2008

Peggy Sibley Remembers



My memories of the Cuckoo Estate from 1937 to 1948.  I was born and named Margaret Kathleen Sibley on the 21/09/1930 but was known as "Peggy".


I was 9 when the war started.  I lived with Mum and Dad and brother George, who was 3½ years older.  We lived at 102 Greatdown Road.  Mrs Godfrey opposite, Mr & Mrs Cook next door.  Round the corner just going down the hill was my friend Winnie Fowler.  The twins David & Peter were born in 1938.  I remember the first air raid siren, I had pushed the twins to Mrs Douglas Newsagents shop and ran home without them – poor Mum.


Many things I remember which have already been covered in "The Book" but I was in Cuckoo Avenue when a German plane came down and machine gunned.  I ducked down behind a low wall – Cuckoo School end.


George & I used to ride round looking for shrapnel.  My friends and I also used to go in the dungeons under the Cuckoo Schools.  Once we thought there was a German spy there because he stopped us and kept asking questions about the area.  We were a bit frightened and ran home.


Dad was in the Army and one night during the air raid that killed some people in Templeman Road, our front windows were blown in.  I was sleeping with my Mum and the twins in the front bedroom and the glass came on to our bed.  We wrapped the twins up and went round to the Fowlers.  As we opened the front door – all around the remains of incendiaries were burning.  Dad came home and found the house empty – poor Dad.

Life was good, neighbours the best, we shared rations and many cups of tea together.  We had a Morrison shelter in the front room and an Anderson shelter outside.


I used to have a "Help the Brave Russians" tap dancing session in the house (no carpets, only lino) and charged ½d to come in.  I managed to collect the grand total of 7/6d and sent it to Mrs Churchill.  I still have the letter of thanks from 10 Downing Street.

Dad came out of the Army and so my sister Patricia was born in 1946.


We had very little money but a lot of love.  My darling Dad was one of the people who used to take all the children in to the Granada.  I remember so well – the kids saying "can you take me in Mister" and he used to say I've already got 6 - oh come on then.  Creamery Fare, Greenford for our ice cream. Perivale Park, Bunny Park,  Xmas with an orange, 6d and a bar of chocolate in a stocking.

Talking of oranges – I used to queue up for hours with Mum for anything going at the market in Greenford.


Mum, I and the twins were evacuated twice, 6 months in Nottingham and 6 months at Bognor with my Gran.  In Nottingham nobody wanted 4 people together so we were paraded round the streets for ages before a kind lady took us in.

I went to Ealing Modern School and sometimes used to walk all the way to Northfields, via Castle Bar, Drayton Green and Northfield Avenue.  While I was there Abernethies School shop was bombed during one lunch time and some of our girls were killed.


Incidentally does anyone remember the sweet machines on the waste ground on the corner of Laurie Road and Greenford Avenue.  Put ½d in and sometimes, depending on the colour ball you got a bonus sweet, (gobstopper usually).  Also the sweet stall that was outside the old Cuckoo Schools a couple of times a week.  The owner was a Mr Masters who lived at 39 Westcott Crescent.  Buzz bars and Peg bars, oh gosh I could go on and on.  I am so proud to have been a Cuckooite.


One thing I have just thought of, does anyone remember how we had "mini fairs" on the green at the top of Greatdown.  Throwing balls into a bucket, throwing pennies on to playing cards, skittles and many more.  All the prizes were given in "fag cards".  Everybody collected fag cards.


Hi Terry Moore, I bet you don't remember that I used to sit with you when your mum went to work.  Also your mum liked her packet of Tenners.


Where are you now:

Teddy Faulkener – lived up the hill opposite Douglas Newagents.

Derek Coombes – lived next to the junior school entrance, Borders Road.


Also does anyone remember the lady who used to ride round the estate on an old fashioned bike with a big hat on.  I had the same bike and hated it.


I left home to get married in 1948.  Mum died in 1962 and Dad moved in to the flats in Greenford Avenue, he died in 1983.


Peggy Sibley now Mrs M K Clark


Monday, 2 June 2008

June Chat Room.

Open for all discussions.

Flossie(Shelvey) Boyce.Memory's from the Past.

Hi Tom and all you other Cuckooites.

I had a wonderful time at the reunion back in April. It is a brilliant idea, I did miss Effie though. I moved to 95, Cuckoo Avenue when I was five years old. It seemed so strange to see all the trees. We were a happy street, everybody seemed to mix in and we soon found friends. There was no shortage of children living in Cuckoo Avenue at that time. I used to go about with Rose and Kate Young, Joyce and Sylvia Lewington, Pat Higginbottom, Jean Dyer, June Field and Beryl Ditch. We used to make houses out of the leaves of the trees. One day in the war we were having a good game and ignored the siren. Mrs. Ditch came tearing out saying they were machine gunning and made us crawl on our stomachs to get into her house. There were about ten of use, she had an indoor shelter.

In the evenings the Lewingtons used to come home from the pub singing on their way home. So we knew the pub had turned out and my dad would not be long home. One night he was very late and just after 12 we heard lots of shouting and it was my dad being chased by Mr. Ditch. My dad was drunk and had missed our house, he ended up in bed with Mr and Mrs. Ditch. Our key fitted their lock, but he had to prove it to my mum who went mad. Mr. Hammond often chased Alf and Harry Hammond up the street. They were always fighting but Mr. Hammond had a wooden leg, so it looked very funny.

We went hop picking every year. We took Pat with us one time. We had a great time. Mrs. Higginbottom and Flo Finucane were sisters but so different. Tommy, your mum was quiet and Flo was the opposite, but if you were fed up and bumped into Flo, you laughed all day long, she was so funny. I missed her and Mrs. Dyer who was a lovely woman.

There was always such a lot going on. It would take a very long time to write all of my memories down. But what a lovely place to live. Everybody looked out for each other when we were young. You didn't hear of all the awful things happening that happen today. Thanks god for the old days when you could walk the streets and be happy. I'm glad I was born when I was. Life was so much easier then. We had fun, but we did not hurt anyone. Oh for those days again and the Cuckoo estate we knew and loved.

Thanks for listening to my memories, many more stored away, but too many to put on paper. Wait till the next reunion and I will keep all those sharing the same hotel as me awake till early hours of the morning with my tales of the estate. Flo Boyce (nee Shelvey).

Hazel Sibleys contribution



I am Hazel Sibley and I married George Sibley of Greatdown Road.  I remember lots of things about the Cuckoo Estate but mostly the friendliness of my neighbours.


My mother-in-law Mrs Florence (Flo) Sibley and I used to wait on the tables at the Cuckoo Schools whenever the Labour Party did the childrens' parties.


The Osbornes in Wakeling Road used to organise coach trips for local people.

On some occasions we would go with our children on day trips to places like Marlow on the River Thames or sometimes to the coast, usually Southend.  These were all organised by local organisations such as the St Christophers Church or the Labour Party.


I would like to put it on record for anyone interested that there is a club that takes place on Tuesday mornings at St Christophers Church. The club is named the "Drop in Club".  Anyone looking for leisure activities or are new to the district, the "Drop in Club" is an ideal way to make friends. The church has now been rebuilt and is very nice.


Best wishes to all those who contributed to those "Happy Days".


Hazel Sibley 21 May 2008



George Sibley Wanted to share his Memory's from the Cuckoo Estate


I was born in Runcorn Place, Notting Hill in 1927, we then lived in the Peabody Buildings near the Scrubs.  My Mum, Dad and sister Peggy moved to the Cuckoo Estate when I was about 10 years old.


My Mum had the pick of any house on the estate and she chose 102 Greatdown Road because it had a side entrance and a bay window.   We were moved by a Shire horse and cart.  All our worldly goods were loaded on that cart. 


The shops in Greenford Avenue were not built at this time, however the pub was.  Also Westcott Crescent was still being built and there were no paths.  My Dad was offered a job on the estate painting but prior to this, when living in London, he was out of work like everyone else.  He used to stand outside the Scrubs selling squirters to try and earn some money for his family.  My Mum used to give me 2.½d to go and buy my Dad a packet of fags, Weights or Tenners.  She also used to send me to buy an egg for a farthing for my dinner and I remember on one occasion breaking it on the way home.

I remember playing over the dungeons at the Cuckoo Schools and also over Castle Bar where there were fields to play in with horses roaming about.  When the milkman and baker started coming round they were vying for business and they used to give you free samples to get your custom. 


At the top of Westcott Crescent there were lots of apple trees and I remember my Dad and I went up there one day and he dug one up to bring home for the garden.  On the way home he was stopped by a copper and got told off.  The policeman did not stop us taking it though and my Dad planted it in the garden where it died.


I went to Brentside School and when the war started, all the kids planted vegetables in the grounds as everything was rationed, it was to "Dig for Victory".  Mr. Oliver was the headmaster – he was a nice man but I hated school and found it hard.  I expect this is because I had a bad start due to ill health when I was young.  My Dad had 3 allotments and we had chickens in our back garden.  I used to catch tadpoles in the River Brent.  My Dad had a paper round in Perivale for £1 a week and had to walk there.  However, I used to do it for him when he was working.


My best mate at the time was Peter Reardon (not sure of the spelling), he lived in Templeman Road.  A bomb hit his house and his Mum must have heard the bang in the night and when she went to look out of the window there was no wall.  She and Peter fell and were buried under the rubble.  Peter was not injured until one of the rescue team stood on his leg (or arm, I cannot remember) and broke it.  However, Mrs. Reardon was never the same again.


The Faircloughs opened a shop over Castle Bar Station, Peter Fairclough was a friend of mine.  Georgie Culver who lived in Cuckoo Avenue was another friend.  I used to go to school with Eddy Bennett. All the children would go to Sunday School in those days.


When I finished school, I worked in Chain Garage in Hanger Lane but only for a short time because I got too dirty.  When I left the garage I got a job as a Baker for Clarkes and was a rounds man.  A large loaf was 4d.  You could not buy very much cake in those days and I was only allocated 6 slices for selective customers on my round.  However, I used to cut of a thin slither from each slice and eat it myself - don't tell anyone.  I also used to give the milkman a slice of cake for a pint of milk.  I remember pulling the bread barrow from Hanwell to Greenford up the hill and when I came down the other side, it was so heavy my legs used to take off until I learned how to control the barrow and make sure the wheel was kept in the kerb.  I ended up with muscles on the back of my arms as well as the front.  When it was snowing, I had to take the bread round on the sleigh. 


I think the customers in Greenford were the tightest bunch of people I knew at that time as at Christmas they hardly gave a tip and if I got a farthing I would give it back.  After this I was directed into the factories by the Government on aircraft parts because I was unfit to go in the army.  They had me in the Home Guard and I was the only one to have a rifle and 10 rounds of ammunition. We used to go and guard the AEC at night in Southall with one rifle.  If the Germans had come, we probably would have all run away as all we had to protect us was that rifle and a few sticks to fight them off.


I remember having to look for my sister Peggy when the first air raid siren went off she had taken my twin brothers (Peter & David) out for a walk.  Luckily it was only a practice one. 


I was in West Ealing once when the Germans dropped bombs on the estate and one near our house.  I ran all the way home to find the front door blown off and the windows blown in and I could not find my Mum and family.  After a frantic search they were found safe in the Fowlers having a cup of tea.  Dad was in the army for a short time but was discharged due to sickness unfortunately there was a lot of that around.  I used to go round the Estate fire watching and once got hit on the head by a lump of shrapnel, good job I had a tin hat on.  Every night people would walk down the schools to sleep underground.  We had a shelter in the garden but I never went in there because I got claustrophobic and went to bed and took my chances.


Once I was walking up Cuckoo Avenue when a plane came down.  I could see the gunner in the back of the plane and he machine gunned all the way up Cuckoo Avenue.  He then came across the school and machine gunned it too but no children were in school thank goodness (cannot remember why, perhaps it was holiday or weekend or something).  In the Home Guard they always told you to lie on the floor if something like this happened but I just stood there and watched, I suppose I was shocked.  When the doodlebugs came over you had to lie behind or against the wall because no-one knew when they would stop.  You could here it buzzing when it came over and when it stopped you could only hear the whistling as it came down in the silence and just blew up.  I cannot remember if any came down on the estate though.  I think people were brave in the war, no-one panicked.  We used to dig people out and clear the rooms so that they had somewhere to stay. 

Everywhere had railings round the greens but they were all taken to make arms for the war and were never replaced afterwards.


After the war we had street parties.


Too many memories to write them all down but the Cuckoo Estate was a credit to everyone who lived there.  We were all in the same boat, no-one had anything.  We all helped each other and we were happy.   It was clean and tidy, everyone cleaned their steps and swept their paths and prizes were given for the best garden, therefore every garden looked nice. 


George Sibley 15 May 2008

Pat Routledge sent this in

 Old Age, I decided, is a gift 

I am now, probably for the first time in my life, the person I have
always wanted to be. Oh, not my body! I sometimes despair
over my body, the wrinkles, the baggy eyes, and the sagging butt.
And often I am taken aback by that old person that lives in my mirror
who looks like my mother!), but I don't agonize over those things for
I would never trade my amazing friends, my wonderful life, my loving
family for less gray hair or a flatter belly. As I've aged, I've
become more kind to myself, and less critical of myself. I've become my
own friend.
I don't chide myself for eating that extra cookie, or
for not making my bed, or for buying that silly cement gecko that I
didn't need, but looks so avante garde on my patio; I am entitled
to a treat, to be messy, to be extravagant

 I have seen too many dear friends leave this world too
soon; before they understood the great freedom that comes with aging. 
Whose business is it if I choose to read or play on the computer
until 4 AM and sleep until noon? 
I will dance with myself to those wonderful tunes of the
 50 60 &70's, and if I, at the same time, wish to weep over a lost love
.. I will. 
I will walk the beach in a swim suit that is stretched over a
bulging body, and will dive into the waves with abandon if I choose to,
despite the pitying glances from the jet set . 
They, too, will get old. 
I know I am sometimes forgetful; But there again, some of life
is just as well forgotten. And I eventually remember
the important things 
Sure, over the years my heart has been broken. How can your
heart not break when you lose a loved; one, or when a child
suffers, or even when somebody's beloved pet gets hit by a car?
But broken hearts are what give us strength and understanding and
compassion; A heart never broken is pristine and
sterile and will never know the joy of being imperfect. 

I am so blessed to have lived long enough to have my hair turning
gray, and to have my youthful laughs be forever etched into deep
grooves on my face; So many have never laughed, and so many have
died before their hair could turn silver. 
As you get older, it is easier to be positive. You care less
about what other people think I don't question
myself anymore I've even earned the right to be wrong. 
So, to answer your question, I like being old. It has set me
free I like the person I have become I am not
going to live forever,but while I am still here, I will
not waste time lamenting what could have been, or worrying about what
will be And I shall eat dessert every single day. (If I feel
like it)