Blackfen in 1962

Today would’ve been my dad’s birthday so I was thinking about 1962 – the year he moved to Blackfen from Wandsworth. With his job as an overseas telegraph operator he had saved enough money to get a mortgage on a house in the tree-lined East Rochester Way.

What did Blackfen look like in 1962? Although my dad was a keen photographer he took virtually no photographs of Blackfen which is rather annoying!

Wally Racher, shoe repairer was still in his cabin near the Jolly Fenman, from which he would regularly emerge to see school children across the road. There was a grocery store at 10 Blackfen Road (now converted back to a house), and a newsagent/Post Office at the corner of Fen Grove. In the centre of Blackfen you could find Jackson’s greengrocers, Lintorn Butchers, the Corn Shop, Homepride, Woolworths, Lipton and Sylvia’s Cafe as well as the still familiar names J. Ayre bakers and Copelands the newsagent. One of my dad’s favourite shops was Corbett’s timber merchant and his favourite pub was The Jolly Fenman.

The library was in an austere building in Cedar Avenue. The Odeon Cinema in Westwood Lane had been closed for years but the derelict building still stood in 1962. (Shortly afterwards it was demolished and replaced by Safeway). The A2 flyover had not yet been built and there was just a crossroads with a set of traffic lights. It was in 1969 that the Rochester Way was widened and the grass verges were lost.

There are quite a few photographs from this era in my book ‘Woodmen and Fenmen: Blackfen’s Story’ which you can borrow or purchase from Blackfen Library. It was because of my dad that I wrote the book – I wanted to know why he (and all the other people who came here) chose Blackfen as the place to make a new life.

Woodmen and Fenmen: talk

Visitors are welcome to come along to Lamorbey and Sidcup Local History Society. On 7 March I’ll be giving a talk about the effect of the two world wars on Blackfen and how it changed dramatically in the inter-war period from a hamlet surrounded by fields to a busy residential district.

poster-2017-3

Talks on Blackfen’s history

I will be giving some illustrated talks on Blackfen’s history during 2015. The first will be at Central Library Bexleyheath on Saturday 21 February at 2.30pm as part of Bexley Local Studies and Archive Centre’s events programme. Tickets can be booked here. [This event is now SOLD OUT]

I will also be giving a talk at Blackfen Library on Thursday 12 March at 2pm. Tickets can be booked at Blackfen Library or by telephoning (020) 8303 8877.

Book early to avoid disappointment!

Leaflet

 

Talk sold out

Book out now!

So yes, it’s been a long time coming and a lot of hard work, but finally it is out. ‘Woodmen and Fenmen: Blackfen’s Story’ is a history of Blackfen from its beginnings as a hamlet in the woods, later surrounded by farmland, to its development as a residential and commercial district. Historical documents and reminiscences from past and present residents have been used to tell a story of enterprising and strong-willed individuals who have helped to build this community.

Front cover

The book is available from 11 November 2014 at Bexley Local Studies and Archive Centre, Central Library, Bexleyheath and should be available from other Bexley libraries shortly. (It will be in Blackfen Library from Friday). For information on ordering copies by post, please see http://www.bexley.gov.uk/index.aspx?articleid=11633

I hope you enjoy it!