New-look Barking a shock to system

WHEW! My creaking old grey matter is whirring fit to tilt it off its pivot. It s an uncharacteristic whirrability provoked by a reader, Mrs Groves, who kindly sent me 20 photographs of Barking. Not the usual nostalgic views of dusty lanes shaded by tall

WHEW! My creaking old grey matter is whirring fit to tilt it off its pivot.

It's an uncharacteristic whirrability provoked by a reader, Mrs Groves, who kindly sent me 20 photographs of Barking.

Not the usual nostalgic views of dusty lanes shaded by tall trees or buildings that might have dropped off a passing century.

These were modern. I took one look at Ripple Road and jumped as if I had swallowed a mouthful of fish riddled with small bones.


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So where is the Electric Theatre with its orchestra of piano, fife and drum, the cracking of peanut shells under shuffling feet and its smell of oranges?

Where is the Post Office and the entrance to the football ground from which, on Saturday afternoons a barrage of sound would rise to a crescendo to proclaim a home goal - then a howl of anguish announcing that the visitors had equalised?

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What is that great eight-garbled building that occupies the site, pretending it has been there all the time? Except for the litter in the foreground, I like it.

I recall Ripple Road with trees behind a long wall enclosing extensive vicarage grounds.

Nearby was St Paul's Church and church hall, the venue for mothers' meetings.

Many a reputation has been shredded over their mid-meeting cup of tea. It was there Dora Mary joined her Brownie pack each week and looked over the wall to watch cows coming home for milking.

Another picture, another surprise, a teeming procession of traffic, nose to tail, in circuitous pursuit round a roundabout at Fanshawe Avenue.

The whirling wheels of time have spun relentlessly. I remember horse carts ambling round this corner in the wake of screeching, swaying trams sending steely blue sparks cracking from the overhead wires.

On one side there was Whatley's baker's shop with loaves arranged on window shelves like a little street of tiny gold, brown houses.

Across the road several plots of land lie wasted where unemployed men played football. Not only they.

I have a memory of my mother taking me for my first haircut at Mr Steven's barber's shop, the front room of his house close by.

We waited long and my impatient mum never did get the knack of waiting. Neither was she well pleased when she found the barber was playing football with the jobless men.

How different from today!

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