My article that appeared in the December issue, ended with ‘please get in touch’. Well I am really pleased to report that several readers did just that and provided me with very interesting memories which I have been able to share in my book which is now published. In my chapter about the reality of War for the residents of River Gardens;
I was able to quote very interesting facts about the V-2 Rocket which landed on the “Metropolitan Water Board’s filter beds” on the 15th September 1944. This was due to Ken Battle who got in touch after reading my article and supplied me with copies of Home Office papers about the incident. He had obtained the documents when he was researching at the National Archives in Kew. Ken was 9 years at the time of the incident, living 600 yds away in Cranleigh Rd. lower Feltham but remembers being woken up at 04.10 a.m. on that fateful day as did the residents of Ashridge Way; a shocking start to the day and a great deal of clearing up to do. The rocket fell just 215 yds from the back of the ‘even’ numbered side of the road. All the windows at the back of those houses blew out and the front windows of the houses on the ‘odd’ side of the road. I am sure Ken has material for a separate article on this interesting event.
A delightful correspondence ensued with Joya Childs who read my article and contacted me. Joya lived with her parents and Grandmother Louisa Doyle next door to me in Ashridge Way for a brief time before they moved to a new house on the Berg Estate. I remember well the sound of her Grandmother’s chiming clock and when my husband retired and chose a chiming clock as his gift from the Company, I said “it must have a Westminster Chime like Mrs. Doyle’s”. Joya inherited her Grandmother’s clock and we shared video links listening to each clock – Grandmother’s had a much sweeter sound than the modern version from John Lewis! A letter I published in the Herald & News/Staines Informer put me in contact with Bill Norman who still lives at No.88 Ashridge Way where his parents brought him to live when he was 6. He remembers asking the builders if he could help with the painting of the front doors – the houses at the end of the road, on the even side, were still unfinished in 1937.
Bill provided me with the amazing ‘gift‘ of an original sales brochure for the ‘Vincent Houses‘ being built in River Gardens. I have been able to reproduce and include several of its pages – it is a unique document – properties are not advertised in this way today. It contains cartoons extolling the virtues of wood block floors – no draughts coming through floorboards and one with the caption “An‘ I thought that Central ‘Eating was something to do with teeth”. The developer even helped a buyer or tenant to budget – it has a page listing how weekly outgoings were arrived at – renting or buying.
The chronicle I have written began when Sunbury-on-Thames was a small village but it ends when it could no longer be described as such. It is a story of family life on a housing estate from the late 1930s through to the early 1960s; written using RIVER GARDENS documents, photos and memories that I have been able to share with the children and grandchildren of those families who settled in River Gardens in the late 1930s. I have been overwhelmed by their enthusiasm and encouragement to write this book and I like to think it will be valuable resource material for Family History researchers of the future.
Book Launch 4th April 2014 at Friends of Sunbury Library Coffee Morning www.lyndakiss.com ‘River Gardens’ by Lynda Kiss available from Amazon and Kindle eBooks.