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30 March 2016

24th-25th August 1946: a weekend's fun flying

24 Sat. Mild, cloudy: showers. To Wimbledon in afternoon, bought fish. Also a small glider at Woolworth, this is for Anthony. Many children in this road have bought these gliders which zoom and loop: they cost 7½d. Did more polishing to the bedstead.


25 Sun. Very mild, heavy clouds, some sunshine, light showers, thunder in late afternoon. To Wimbledon Common in afternoon. Flew model successfully to the delight of two foreign boys and a lady. Also saw Morton and Engell. Had the misfortune to break the rubber motor but repaired it in time to show Leonard and Ann Conley who had just arrived by bus. They saw one good flight and then we all had to scatter & go home as a storm rolled up. Sheltered in Mrs Jordan’s for a time, then made a dash for home but did not get very wet and the plane was not damaged very much.

29 March 2016

22nd-23rd August 1946: magic moments

22 Thur. Rather mild, dismal, drizzle most of the day. Got some Walls sausages the first for years but not pre-war quality. To Merton cats meat shop. Bought oak strain and french polish at Wimbledon Wood Stores. Started staining and polishing the utility bedstead. Showed some card tricks to the Conley Children. Gwennie & Laurie called. Donald is ill with cough & cold.


23 Fri. Becoming rather mild; overcast, very humid, very calm. To butchers etc as usual on Fridays. The decorators started on the front bedroom. Stained and started to polish the foot of bedstead. Gwennie (who left her woolly green coat here) Laurie & Ann called.

28 March 2016

20th -21st August 1946: musical box

20 Tues. Very cool, very dismal, rain till afternoon: dirty looking sky. The India V M.C.C. Test Match was washout & abandoned. Ann Conley called & painted a birthday card for her father. Gwennie & Laurie called in afternoon and were rather high spirited. Short cycle ride in evening. It gets dark soon now.


21 Wed. Mild, calm, some periods of gentle sun: better. Got the groceries. Also to Merton to buy fish. While there bought a dozen yards of ¼ wide rubber at Norman’s. Made it into a motor for my plane. Gwennie called in morning. Donald is ill. Laurie called in afternoon with a cardboard box. I stretched some elastic bands across and tuned them to play a musical chord. Started clearing the front bedroom in readiness for the decorators.

27 March 2016

18th-19th August 1946: records on radio-gram

18 Sun. Very cool becoming mild: some sunny periods. Flew my model on Wimbledon Common with good results. Engell and Morton were there. Also saw a young man and his wife, I recognised the young man as a pre-war modellist: he has just left the R.A.F. and will start building models again.


19 Mon. A compliment to call the day mild, very dull, showers, rain setting in later. Alan Spooner called in afternoon bringing some new records which I played on the radio-gram. To Morden to buy fish. Saw the nice auburn haired girl from Perrins music department. I spoke to her and her dark haired colleague when I bought my book of Beethoven Sonatas.

26 March 2016

16th-17th August 1946: 22 hours of rain... tricks & pegs

16 Fri. Very cool, very dull, very windy; rain setting in during afternoon. Got the usual shopping in morning. To Morden to buy cats meat. Brought back some sticky burrs from Coombe Lane for the children. Wrote letter to Uncle Tom.


17 Sat. Very cool, dismal, windy; the rain ceased this afternoon after 22 hours in which 2½ ins fell. Repaired the moulding on two mantel-boards, it was damaged in the bombing. Gwennie & Laurie called: showed them a trick with a penny. Did some shopping locally including buying clothes pegs.

25 March 2016

14th-15th August 1946: lightning & thunder

14 Wed. Mild, very cool for season. Very cloudy, heavy showers with lightning & thunder in evening: some sunshine in afternoon. Got the groceries locally also to Morden to buy fish. Dad is 84 to-day.** Went to see him and to take the Book of Trains, also a torch battery and a birthday card for him. Anthony was very engaging. Played some Beethoven Sonatas.


15 Thur. Very cool, dull morning, very mild sunny afternoon. The gas men took the broken gas fire away. The children called: Gwennie brought her dolls cooking stove to show me. Bought a fine new 70 amp accumulator. Also to Merton & Morden to buy a few things. Cut the old canes out of the loganberries and tied up the new. Cleaned the muck and brick rubble from my bedroom chimney now that the gas fire is removed.

**Note: a reminder that some of the family history appears lower down on the right-hand side of this blog

24 March 2016

12th-13th August 1946: birthday girl

12 Mon. Mild, cloudy morning, a little sun later: extremely rough, the wind seeming to come from all quarters. Dear Gwennie is 8 to-day. Gave her a large jar of Vimaltol, a magic painting book and a card. I do love her. To Wimbledon and Merton to buy a few things. Gwennie brought some of her birthday cake for us. To pay the club. Finished reading a book of musical instruments lent me by Maud.


13 Tues. Mild, a small amount of sun in evening: very rough. To Wimbledon to buy a book for Dad’s birthday – a book about trains by C. J. Allen. Also to Morden to buy a torch battery and a card also for Dad. Returned Maud’s book about musical instruments. The three children called bringing a loaf.

23 March 2016

10th-11th August 1946: musical reading... and a poppy

10 Sat. Mild, very dull after rain all through the night: exceedingly rough. To Wimbledon along railpath: bought fish & an anti-splash for the tap. Ordered a new large accumulator at Whitbourn’s.** Am reading a book on the history of musical instruments lent me by Cousin Maud.


11 Sun. Mild, dull cloudy but no rain however. Went to Church in evening. Walked part of the way home with Arthur Swift. A magnificent large double poppy in the garden – crimson & mauve: must save the seed.

22 March 2016

8th-9th August 1946: first bananas bought for six years

8 Thur. Very mild becoming cool. Some very heavy showers with a few bursts of sunshine: very rough. Small amount of shopping locally and to Morden to buy fish. Tied up tomato plants. Bought two bananas from the greengrocer: first I have bought since before the war.


9 Fri. Very mild, very cloudy and dull; showers; heavy rain commencing by evening. Did the shopping in morning. Bought a birthday card and a magic painting book for dear Gwennie. To Morden to buy asthma cigarettes for Aunt Liza also cats meat – not for Aunt Liza. Gwennie came in afternoon to collect some rhubarb. While here she played draughts with me and Victor Conley: I let her beat me but she beat Victor roundly. To Alf’s in evening to collect some bike tyres he offered me: he has no use for them now.

21 March 2016

6th-7th August 1946: cards with kids - then Beethoven

6 Tues. Rather warm, mostly cloudy but some moderate sunshine, windy. Bought fish locally. Gwennie, Laurie and Ann called. Played a card game with them then they helped me make some mince for dinner. They all had the giggles to-day and Laurie whispering in my ear said I was a lovely dove. Ann said she liked my nose, I love them all; they make me happy. Played some Beethoven Sonatas – am improving.


7 Wed. Rather warm, some showers and a little sunshine. Got the groceries locally. Some work in the garden

20 March 2016

4th - 5th August 1946: flying model aircraft

4 Sun. Fine, warm, sunny day with little wind; one of the best. Little Evelyn Baden-Powell knocked this morning and asked to see “Uncle Fred”, wasn’t that precious: she lives right at the other end of the road too but considers she knows me. Mrs Jordan to tea. Went to Church this evening; Mr East, A layman from Worcester Park, took the service.


5 Mon. August Bank Holiday. Warm, calm morning, breezy afternoon, much sunshine. Flew my new model in afternoon with good results in a stiff breeze. Long duration was not possible as the breeze would quickly drift the machine off the Common. Engall & Morton with their models were there. My machine suffered no damage.

19 March 2016

2nd - 3rd August 1946: Vimatol and Cannizaro

2 Fri. Very mild, mostly cloudy but a little sunshine & much wind. Got a nice piece of beef this week, also other articles both locally and in Wimbledon. Bought a large jar of Vimaltol for Gwennie. Went to see Len Garrod in evening: he gave me some home-grown apples.


3 Sat. Rather warm, mostly cloudy and threatening but a few sunny periods. A marvellous crimson gleam from the sun just before it set shone on windows and houses. Gwennie, Laurie & Donald called in morning they were very good. A walk on Wimbledon Common in evening. Passing Mrs Jordan’s house I saw her in the window. Had a talk with her and made a slight repair to her cuckoo clock. Met Chas, Gwennie & Laurie, they had been to a garden party at Cannizaro.

18 March 2016

1st August 1946: Wonderful poppy

1 Aug. Thur. Very mild, cloudy but some sunshine in afternoon. Got some tinned foods in morning, also some fish in Coombe Lane. The Conley boys called in morning. Read a story to Gwennie in afternoon. Wonderful poppy in garden: between red and pale mauve: will save the seed. Straightened propeller shaft of aero.

17 March 2016

The Wimbledon Map

A FEW DAYS AGO, my Uncle Fred's diary mentioned an interesting map he'd just bought  - this is a link back to that entry for 19th-20th July 1946 - antiquarian bookseller Laurence Worms, who supplied the photos and the details has now obtained a copy of the map and has sent us these more detailed photos. Here is a link to his bookshop in London SW16 Ash Rare Books and to his personal blog, which makes for interesting reading.




31st July 1946: Cousin Maud the teacher

31 Wed. Very mild, dull morning, some weak sun in afternoon, very rough. Got the groceries locally. The lady in the shop who served me had her two little girls came in to see her. They were lovely, and told me their names were Jill and Pat. To Morden to buy fish. Laurie improvised on the organ. Cousin Maud called in evening. She has resigned her teaching post at Preston and will live with their mother till she can find other accommodation. She starts a new job at Putney after the summer vacation

16 March 2016

29th-30th July 1946: kids

29 Mon. Very mild to rather warm, a nice sunny afternoon: pleasant. The children have their summer holidays and I had a crowd to see me to-day. Ann Conley painted a birthday card for me even though my birthday is 18 Oct. Of course we had Gwennie, Laurie and Donald. To Morden to buy fish.


30 Tues. Very mild, very rough, some pleasant sun in afternoon. Many child visitors to-day. The Thomson’s called many times; bringing a loaf the last time. They watched me having dinner and loved to have tit-bits from my plate. More hoeing and weeding in garden.

15 March 2016

27th-28th July 1946: Onward Christian Soldiers

27 Sat. Very mild, becoming cool: alternate heavy showers and sunshine. To Merton to buy fish. Came back through Wimbledon had to shelter from rain. Stood up in Dundonald Hall, watched young people playing table tennis. Covered & doped fuselage with green-stained tissue – not very satisfactory.


28. Very mild, becoming rather cool. A few sunny periods, & showers. Ann Conley came in morning to practise Onward Christian Soldiers, on the piano – one finger. I have heard hers and Gwennie’s efforts to play this tune ad nauseam. Ann can play half-way through the verse! Mr & Mrs McAinsh with Jeanette and baby Margaret called in evening. Jeanette came for some “pops” of the tree: the pneumatic pods amuse the children. Alan played some Beethoven – better than me. Showed them my aeroplane: I enjoyed their visit.

14 March 2016

25th-26th July 1946: mixed summer weather... needed gaslight

25 Thur. Fine, warm sunny day. Rather a stiff breeze but a lovely day. To Morden to buy fish, returning via Lower Morden lake for the ride. More gardening: sow lettuce and wallflower seeds.


26 Fri. Fine, warm, sunny morning. In afternoon the sky clouded over and the temperature dropped 12 degrees. The sky became inky at times – as black as night and I had to light the gas. It rained a deluge and there was much thunder but not quite local. Cool, dull evening. Did the usual shopping in morning. Started covering fuselage of aero with tissues stained with green ink.

13 March 2016

24th July 1946: two years since bomb wrecked home

24 Wed. Becoming very warm, 86 in the shade, some nice sunny periods but the air was humid: a grand day. Got the groceries locally also to Wimbledon to buy dried green peas, split peas and maplemeat. Bought fish in Martin Way. To Epsom Common. Had an enjoyable ride. Watched an angler at the lower pond. The water was alive with water beetles and dragon-flies with golden wings darted in the sunshine. Came home in 40 for the 7 miles: averaging 10½ miles per hour. The country looks grand and the wild flowers are fine now. Noticed a lot of meadowsweet. It is two years ago to-day since the flying bomb wrecked the house. At first it was thought the house was wrecked beyond repair but at much time and discomfort it was rebuilt. It is now quite comfortable but only two rooms have been finished and decorated which work I did myself.

12 March 2016

21st-23rd July 1946: gardening is hard work

21 Sun. Very mild, very cloudy, rough, rain at night. To see Cousin Len & his wife and baby Joey. They came to Aunt Liza’s to-day. The baby is getting on splendidly: he has very large blue eyes and a noble forehead; he laughed at me.

22 Mon. Mild becoming rather warm: a few periods of pleasant sunshine: windy. Bought a few things locally in morning also to Wimbledon; returning along the railway path, which has been re-gravelled. More hoeing & weeding in the garden. The three children called.

23 Tues. Very mild, becoming rather warm: dull morning but some nice sunshine later; rather rough. Some shopping locally. Bought fish & wallflower seeds at Merton. Did a lot more weeding & hoeing and the garden is looking better. A garden makes a lot of hard work. Dear Ann Conley made a fuss of me

11 March 2016

19th-20th July 1946: interesting map

19 Fri. Very mild, dull, cloudy; slight showers. Got a nice piece of brisket this week. Sent Alb a birthday card. Bought tissue, clear dope & a balsa block at Norman’s. Hoed and weeded part of the garden. Laurie & Donald brought a banana each for Ciss and I.


20 Sat. Mild, very dull & threatening, rough. More gardening; dug up the shallots. To Wimbledon to buy fish. Bought box of superior stationery for a birthday present for Alb. Bought a very clear map of Wimbledon & district with a device for quickly finding any desired place - very interesting. Aunt Liza called.






Note.  Laurence Worms at Ash Rare Bookshttp://www.ashrare.com/laurence_worms.html - has kindly supplied the illustrations of Fred's 'very interesting' map, along with this note.

'This sounds to me like The Directional Pointer Guide-Map to Wimbledon, first published by E. J. Burrow & Co. of Cheltenham & London in 1931. They are a species of what are known as ‘tape-indicator’ maps, which first surfaced in the mid- nineteenth century. You simply swing the marked-up tape across the map to read off your destination from the key in the margin. 


'Burrow & Co. made similar maps of towns all across the country. The British Library has five separate editions of the Wimbledon map up to 1939, but the attached pictures are apparently of a ninth edition as late as 1961.


'I think in fact that the ‘ninth edition’ of the pictures dates from 1956 rather than 1961 – there was a tenth edition in 1958, an eleventh in 1960 – and a twelfth in 1964.'




10 March 2016

17th-18th July 1946: forgot front door key - shut out!

17 Wed. Very cool, white fog early, very dull day; heavy showers later. Got the groceries also to butchers in morning. Forgot to take the key & could not get in. A workman climbed over two fences and got in the back way, opening the front door to me, gave him 6d. To Tolworth in afternoon to take Dad’s ration book which he left behind. Gwennie & Donald brought some cats food, they played pin board – Gwennie won by a narrow margin.


18 Thur. Cool, becoming very mild; very cloudy and dull, heavy showers; windy. Did shopping locally in morning. Gwennie & Donald called. Tried to play table tennis with Gwennie but beat her 21 to 2 and 21-5 but she is only 7 yrs old. Mr and Mrs. Spranklen-Green called in evening.

8 March 2016

15th-16th July 1946: cheered by sight of post-war bicycles

15 Mon. Very mild, cloudy, rain at night. To Morden to buy fish in afternoon. The three children called: they love the pop tree now that it is covered with the pneumatic pods which explode with a pop when pressed between the fingers.


16 Tues. Very cool, 52 degs, very dull, rain till midday. To Morden in afternoon. Saw two gorgeous Raleigh bikes in a shop window: the finest since pre-war days. The de Luxe Roadster was enamelled a deep green with gold lines, two brakes, three speed dynamo hub with brilliantly plated parts, oil-bath gearcase and a head lock that has to be undone with a key: a price of £18.18.6. The other bike was a showy sports model in transparent emerald green lacquer: - £15-0.0. It cheered me to see such signs of a return to less austere times. Aunt Liza called.




7 March 2016

13th-14th July 1946: Sunday School outing

13 Sat. Warm, a fair amount of hazy sunshine; pleasant. The children went to Oxshott for their Sunday School treat; Ciss went and a happy time was spent. Cooked the dinner for Dad & myself. To Merton to buy a few things also a few purchases locally. Alf & Lily called in evening to see Dad.


14 Sun. Rather warm, becoming much cooler. Mostly cloudy with a few showers: windy. Alb, Lily & Anthony to tea. In evening a car called to take them & Dad back to Tolworth. So ends Dad’s stay with us for a week.

6 March 2016

12th July 1946: one summer's day

12 Fri. Very warm, 84 degs. lovely sunny day calm. Just the sort of day I like. Did the usual shopping locally also to Morden to buy fish. To Tolworth in afternoon. Played with Anthony on the lawn. Spoked to two of his friends Pamela and Muriel. Aunt Liza called. Madge & Margaret called bringing a bunch of flowers. Mrs Philpot & Monica called; gave them some roses for Winifred.

5 March 2016

11th July 1946: played Beethoven for visitors

11 Thur. Warm; the sunshine – not very much was hazy; but a lovely day all the same. Did shopping locally in morning. Uncle Tom called to see dad: gave him a geranium cutting. More shopping in afternoon: bought home some ice cornets. Gwennie & Donald arriving just in time to have some. They played with some pops off the yellow acacia – first time since last year. Mrs. Matson & Mrs Brown to tea: played the organ to them also movements from Beethoven Piano Sonatas: I don’t often play for the visitors.

4 March 2016

9th-10th July 1946: maiden test flight

Cards sent to 'Master Anthony', in this case
in November 1943
(not kiddie cards, but much the same style)
9 Tues. Warm afternoon: cloudy morning but bright sunshine later. Did shopping locally in morning. Bought two kiddie picture post-cards to send to Anthony. To Wimbledon Common in evening with Victor Conley to test the new aero. Got good results in a stiffish breeze. The machine tended to lose height in turning down wind. Broke the propeller but repaired it and got further good flights. A few slight modifications will make a good machine of it.


10 Wed. Warm; lovely sunny day. Got the groceries also fish & other things locally. Did some work in the garden – weeding & loosening the surface of the ground also watering. The Hugh Dickson rose has been a picture. Mrs. Collis called in evening.

3 March 2016

8 Mon. Very mild becoming rather warm: some moderate sun in afternoon. To Normans to buy steel wire, balsa cement and 1/16 x 1/16 rubber. Made tensioner & freewheel for model. Made up a motor of 26 strands and the model is ready to test. Aunt Liza to tea. Ciss will be at home and Dad will stay this week. Gwennie brought a treat card for Ciss. Showed the model to Chas.

Note - the motor of 26 strands refers to ribbons of elastic, bound together at the ends, which stretched the length of the model inside the doped, tissue-paper-covered, balsa wood fuselage. It was wound from the front by attaching a hand drill. The propeller of the model would then be held with one hand as the model was held aloft with the other arm, a slight run or movement of the arms would aid the launch as you let go of prop and model. A take-off from the ground would be far too wasteful of the elastic's energy.
As I recall, a simple device, the tensioner, meant that when the band was nearly undone it would stop the now loose bands revolving and flailing around inside the fuselage. A slight adjustment to the rudder, before launch, ensured the model flew in a wide circle, else you'd be chasing for miles across Wimbledon Common to retrieve it. "How did you know where it was going to land?" a suitably impressed child onlooker once asked me when Uncle Fred took me to the Common. It was knowing about the circling... and guesswork! I do sometimes wonder what Fred would think of drones... or the fact that many years later this writer learnt to fly and gained his Private Pilot's Licence. Fred, Ciss, their brother Albert and his wife Lily never flew - nor were they alive by the time I became interested in flying for real. - Tony French.

2 March 2016

7th July 1946: holidays. Dad comes to stay.

7 Sun. Very mild, becoming rather warm, some pleasant sunny periods. To Wimbledon Common: quite a treat to see some models in the air again. Met Frank Engall who I had difficulty in recognising: he was flying a model I have seen him with in pre-war days. Ciss went to Tolworth in a hired* car to bring Dad here: he will stay the week as Ciss is having a holiday at home. Alb, Lily, Anthony & Mrs. Jones came to tea, they came by bus. Aunt Liza & Gwennie came to see Dad. Gwennie was very happy & rather excited.


* Fred means a taxi, in today's usage. Term was I think used to indicate a pre-arranged, booked trip, as opposed to a London black cab or 'taxi' you'd hail on the street or at a rank.  

1 March 2016

6th July 1946: made a fishing game for kids

6 Sat. Very mild, fine sunny day, but very stiff fresh breeze. Amused the Norris’s children. I made some brightly polished sheet copper fishes – like gold fishes with rings in their noses. I also made some hooks which I tied on the end of a line attached to a long stick. The gold fish were put into a large pot of water and the children fished until they hauled one out glinting in the sunshine to their delight. To Wimbledon to buy three plain white cups at 9d ea. Also bought fish & biscuits. Saw Merton make a good score No 1 batsman made 108. Cycle ride along Sutton Common Road.