Friday, 11 May 2012

From Home to Workroom

A few evenings ago my brother and I rewalked the route my father used to take to his workroom through out our childhood. We lived in St Johns Wood and my father would walk across Regents Park to his workroom in Grafton Mews which was just round the corner from Fitzroy Square.

The video shows where we lived round the corner from St Johns Wood High Street opposite Barrow Hill School. My father and mother moved here in 1952 first living in  Heron House at the top then moving round the corner to Swift House then back to Heron House again; moving each time for a larger flat.

Swift House

Heron House
When they moved in the estate was new and wonderful but the surrounding streets were very run down still suffering from the effects of war, but all London was like that peeling paint and bombsites.

When we were very small we would meet daddy on his way home through the park and have a picnic

When we were a bit older  we would go all the way to the workroom with him in the summer, when he had little to do except go to see if there was any post. He would go upstairs leaving us with Stan who used to work in the garage beneath his workroom. The whole of the mews was full of dodgy car dealers as was Warren Street and my brother remembers the arguments between the dealers as they fought over who parked their cars where. We were quite safe with Stan and were perfectly happy sitting in the Rolls Royces or Bentleys pretending they were ours.

Even when we were little, we understood how important it was to have post. No post meant the overdraft got bigger. The post would be a little brown envelope, inside would be a flimsy bit of paper and pinned to that a bit of material. The more scraps of material pinned in there, the better it was. Each piece represented a Winter order.

My father's summer time task  was to come up with a button to go with that material. A single set would then go back for the sample suit and then in the Winter the real orders came in depending on how well the suit sold. In the Winter he made hundreds of buttons a day, in the summer he played and worried.

Grafton Mews

Sadly, 23 Grafton Mews which was my father's workroom has been remodelled but this is closest remaining one . His was only two stories and just the width of the garage doors, the whole painted in fire engine red. There was a Judas door within the garage doors which opened to the cobbled garage, just big enough for two monster Bentleys, in the corner  was a stone staircase, beneath which was a truly terrible lavatory.
 The staircase took you to my father's two room work room. Which originally would have been the hay loft and a room for the stable lad which had a fireplace. Making was done in the hayloft and the office and stock kept in the stable lad's  room. You could see between the floor boards in the big room but my father approved, as it meant any fumes could get out.

Fitzroy Square taken from the BT tower in 1968

Here then finally is the video. Its no masterpiece and it only lasts two minutes. It begins in St Johns Wood High Street, moves round the corner to our flat, then takes you down Newcourt Street  into Regents Park via the canal bridge  and then across the park into The Broad Walk,  out though Park Square East  into Warren Street then finally into  Grafton Mews. The distance is just under two miles.

With my brother in 1953

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

May Day Midnight Button

We know we are late and trying to cover our tracks by saying we are May Day Buttons and we are dusty, you would think she would give us a wash before our photoshoot!
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