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Sharp-eyed Sylv takes a look at all her yesterdays

PUBLISHED: 18:21 28 May 2008 | UPDATED: 09:13 11 August 2010

SYLVIA Eddy is an avid reader of All Our Yesterdays but last month she saw something that caught her attention more than usual. A photograph taken in 1959 showed a group of expectant mums getting advice at an antenatal clinic. One of the faces was familia

SYLVIA Eddy is an avid reader of All Our Yesterdays but last month she saw something that caught her attention more than usual.

A photograph taken in 1959 showed a group of expectant mums getting advice at an antenatal clinic.

One of the faces was familiar. "I saw the picture and I thought 'that looks like me!'" said Sylvia, 75 of Sisley Road, Barking.

"I remember going to the clinic in Movers Lane, just opposite Greatfields Park, when I was expecting my first son Paul in 1959.

"I asked my grandson and grand daughter if they could see their nana in the picture and they both pointed me out."

Sylvia's family has long-standing roots in Barking. Her grandfather and grandmother, surname Mathison, lived in Creeksmouth and were among those who helped to rescue survivors from the infamous Princess Alice disaster in 1878.

Their son Arkley Mathison lived in Kennedy Road, Barking, and fought in the Great War.

He survived the conflict but was the victim of a gas attack in the trenches and suffered poor health for years afterwards.

On medical advice he lived in a converted shed at the bottom of the garden after returning home.

One of Arkley's daughter was Kitty Mathison, Sylvia's mother, who married an American named Jack Harrison.

To say Jack had a colourful upbringing would be something of an understatement. He was born in 1908 in New York City to an engineer father and during his youth the family toured the world.

They spent a period living a luxurious life in Venezuela, in a house complete with servants, but lost all their money during a civil war.

The family moved to England and Jack followed in his father's footsteps by becoming an engineer.

He found himself working in Barking where he met and married Kitty.

Sylvia remembers: "When my dad used to work at Beckton they used to call him Flogger Jack, because if something didn't work he'd hit it with a hammer!

"He was also in the fire brigade at Barking. I can remember a display they did in Greatfields Park with a big scaffold and him carrying people over it on his shoulder."

At the start of the war the family were living in Linsdell Road, now on the fringes of the Gascoigne Estate.

While they were sheltering in the air raid shelter at the end of the garden their house took a direct hit from an enemy bomb and was completely destroyed.

Next to Abbey Road were some giant gasometer towers. "It wasn't till the next morning we realised how bad the damage was," said Sylvia. "Our house was completely gone.

"People used to say there was an old boy over the road who was in bed at the time. He was blown out of the house and landed on top of one of the gasometers - still in bed.

"The amazing thing was he survived!"

After the war Sylvia the family moved to 17 Digby Road and Sylvia went to Eastbury Girls' School.

She can still reel off the names of teachers, including Mr Woodhouse the music teacher, Miss Kingsberg, Miss Appleyard and Miss Shallcross the headmistress.

As a young woman she worked at joinery firm Austin's in Abbey Road, making staircases, until she married Charles in 1959. "I had muscles like a man," she recalls.

They had three children, including Paul the eldest, with whom she was pregnant when her picture was taken at the clinic in 1959.

Sadly Charles passed away four years ago after a long battle with cancer.

In 1988 Sylvia had her 15 minutes of fame when she appeared on the Sky TV programme Star Search singing Blue Moon, a story also covered by the POST at the time.

By now living in Sisley Road, they were one of the first houses to have a satellite dish, earning her the nickname Satellite Sylv', still used by some of the neighbours.


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