My London Life

I was reflecting on my life in London this morning, and in particular about where I lived for the sixty years I was a resident. Looking at Google, I was able to find images, in some cases of the actual house or flat. I know some readers enjoy seeing photos of London that are not the familiar tourist sights, so here is a chronological tour of the architecture I lived in.

As a baby in 1952, I was brought home to a two-room flat, upstairs in a house in Storks Road, Bermondsey. My grandmother lived across the road, on the corner with Webster Road. This house in the photo is the one she lived in.

Photo copyright Stephen Craven.

We moved from there to a house in Bush Road, then in Deptford. The houses were later demolished, and a McDonalds now stands on the site.

Photo copyright Stephen Craven.

In 1960, we moved to a brand new maisonette in Balaclava Road, Bermondsey. I was eight years old. This recent photo is of the actual block. We lived on the first floor, halfway along.

We lived there until I was fifteen. Then my parents bought a house in Bexley, which was then in Kent. It is now a London suburb. This is not the actual house, but is an identical style.

After my parents split in 1976, I moved with my Mum to run a shop in south-west London. In 1977, I got married, and my wife and I bought a flat in the area between Putney and Wandsworth. Although it looks like a house, it was divided into two flats, and we lived upstairs.

After a year, we sold that, and bought a three bedroom house in the very nice district of Wimbledon Park, close to the famous tennis courts. It was built in 1901, and had many original features.

When my marriage ended in 1985, I took what money I had, and bought a one-bedroom house on the newly-built London Docklands Development in Rotherhithe, across the road from the River Thames. My house is second from the left, in this photo.

In 1989, I maried for the second time, and we lived in that house for a year. But it was too small for comfort, so we bought a bigger house literally around the corner. It doesn’t look very attractive in the photo, but it was huge inside, and had a separate garage in the street behind. This is the actual house, in Redriff Road, Rotherhithe.

When we split up in 1997, I moved outside London, into a succession of rented accommodation, as I no longer had enough money to buy a property that I wanted to live in. After three years, I used my job as a government employee to apply for a subsidised flat in Cumberland Market, Camden, close to the centre of London. I lived in the block on the right, on the third floor, and as you can see, there are extensive allotments for use by residents who want to rent one. The tall building in the distance is the iconic Post Office Tower. That gives some idea of how close to the centre I lived.

Photo copyright ALondoninheritance

I stayed there for twelve years, before retiring from work, and moving here to Norfolk. With one exception, every property I ever lived in still stands, and is still lived-in, to this day.

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81 thoughts on “My London Life

    1. Thanks for your thoughts. As much as I loved my sixty years in London, I would never want to be old in that unforgiving city.
      I was happy to move away to somewhere peaceful.
      Best wishes, Pete.

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  1. What a fascinating little tour you just took me on Pete! It was great seeing photos of β€˜real’ London and not what you’d find on the tourist websites. Happy to see I’m not the only one who has done a fair bit of moving around in London. I must say, I was surprised to see that you settled in Norfolk. I love London so much and can’t imagine living anywhere else in the near future, but I guess there comes a time when one wants to settle down to a quieter life. Don’t you miss London though?
    PS: You’ve inspired me to start looking up my old houses!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Osman. I am really glad you enjoyed it. I lived and worked in and around London all my life, but I couldn’t imagine staying there once I was retired, and no longer working. Too much noise, inconsiderate neighbours, and a place that is mainly suited to the younger generation. I actually don’t miss it at all, and have only been back there once, in six years.
      But I will always be a Londoner, and would never have wanted to spend those sixty years anywhere else.
      I have other posts about London. If you’re interested, here are some links.
      And thanks for following my blog.
      https://beetleypete.wordpress.com/2016/02/02/non-tourist-london-surrey-docks-to-tower-bridge/
      https://beetleypete.wordpress.com/2014/07/02/non-tourist-london-a-london-walk/
      https://beetleypete.wordpress.com/2012/11/20/thing-i-dont-miss-about-london/
      https://beetleypete.wordpress.com/2012/11/13/things-i-miss-about-london/
      https://beetleypete.wordpress.com/2012/09/22/london-life/
      Best wishes, Pete.

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  2. What a fascinating tour of south east London! I recently went on a guided walk around Rotherhithe, Poplar and the Isle of Dogs and probably passed some of your old haunts. If you’re ever back in London you might like to try them, Dotmaker Tours. We heard a fair bit about the housing in the area, from the old warehouses to the post-war prefabs, which are still standing, and visited Poplar Farm where there are now chickens and goats in the WWII machine gun emplacements πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I doubt I would need a tour guide to be honest, Alice. πŸ™‚
      When I was small, my babysitter lived with her parents in a prefab in Bermondsey. Everyone was very envious of the people who got a prefab, as they were considered to be very desirable properties! When I was at school, the docks were still in full swing at Rotherhithe, (Surrey Docks) so by the time I moved back in 1985, it was strange to see the transition.
      Best wishes, Pete.

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    1. She did a great deal. She borrowed the money from her Dad to buy me out. I was depressed about the split, as it was her idea. So I signed it all away for less than twenty grand, and headed off into the Rotherhithe sunset. Many years later, she trousered a small fortune from the sale. I have to take my hat off to her. If I had done that, I would probably still be boasting about it from my luxury holiday home in Tuscany, or my swish riverside apartment next to Tower Bridge.. πŸ™‚
      Spilt milk, and all that…
      Best wishes, Pete.

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    1. Thanks, very much, Lara. Although I don’t miss London, I have such fond memories of the different areas I lived in. So I was delighted to be able to still find photos of all my previous homes. πŸ™‚
      One day, I might post a photo of the house in Beetley!
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Cheers, Bobby. You would remember the Wimbledon house of course.
      I reckon you could find most of your old houses online. If not the actual house, something in the same street.
      Best wishes, Pete.

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  3. What an interesting post Pete. I’ve only ever lived in two properties (although had a couple of student rentals). I saw my original halls of residence being blown up to make way for redevelopment (it was a 20 storey block of flats that contravened all kinds of H&S legislation) which was a sad moment for me, so lovely to know that most of your previous homes are still being lived in.

    I’m amazed those allotments are still going in Camden, the land must be worth an absolute fortune! I looked at getting a flat there once when BTP moved their HQ but the prices were crazy – the additional Β£3k London Weighting was a joke!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. When I moved there, (walking distance to the BTP HQ, as you know) nobody was allowed to buy the flats. They were all run by the Crown Estate purely for the benefit of government employees on low wages, so the rents were subsidised. Then in 2010, they were sold to The Peabody Trust. That removed the obstacle to ‘right to buy’, so some are now being sold for close to Β£600,000, for a very small one-bed flat. Staggering! I moved away before I had the chance to buy one at a discount, but I would have had to stay on there for five years, so that wasn’t going to happen.
      I am very happy that you found it interesting.
      Best wishes, and my regards to your Mum. πŸ™‚
      Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I also really like the house in Wimbledon Park. I’ve never thought about collecting photographs of homes and apartments I’ve lived in throughout the years, but it’s an interesting idea. However, only one would be of visual interestβ€”and that’s the one I designed myself, with some input from my wife at the time. I really enjoyed your walk down memory lane, and find it quite amusing that you can now order a Happy Meal at the site where you once lived!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, David. All of those photos were found online. I have no idea why I never thought to take any myself over the years.
      The Wimbledon Park house was full of period character, and incredibly now worth around Β£1.8 million! πŸ™‚
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 2 people

    1. I am very happy that you like the post, Pam. Those gardens are individual allotments that people rent to grow vegetables or flowers on. Living in a place with no garden, they provide an outlet. There is a long waiting list to get one, as you might imagine, and they are only accessible to those renters. Fortunately, Regents Park was so close, I could see it from my kitchen window,.
      The McDonalds is a relatively recent development. (1990s) The site stood derelict for many years after our old house was demolished.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. There was something very Virginia Woolf in all of this that I found very enjoyable. (Don’t ask me to explain, it’s too early in the morning here.) I was excited, just for a moment, that you might have actually lived in a McDonald’s. (Would Ollie sleep in the french fry basket?) Like I said, early in the morning.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Such a shame you couldn’t have hung on to the Wimbledon Park house. It not only looks lovely, but I can only imagine how much it must be worth now, well over Β£1 million I expect. Plus you could rent it out during Wimbles for an easy grand a week. That’s my favourite of the houses you lived in. I think I have lived in over 26 houses/flats since birth. Though I have only ever bought four.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. The Wimbledon house was for sale (and sold) in 2014, for 1.2 million. I would imagine it’s a little more by now. My ex-wife stayed there, remarried, and extended the back and loft. I imagine that she sold it for a whopping profit, enough for a comfortable retirement at least. We bought it for Β£26,000 in 1978, a considerable sum at the time.
      Tennis rentals were Β£600 a week, in 1978. Tracy Austin used to stay in the house opposite, when she was playing. These days, that would probably rent at around Β£3,000 a week at least.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Ridiculous prices. How does anyone working in retail or any of the lower paid professions manage to buy a house? Even a teacher of several years would struggle in the south-east. My daughter has a huge mortgage and her partner has just been ‘let go’.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. The people I know who still live in the south-east commute into London from considerable distances. i know someone who travels from Eastbourne into London every day by car, to work for the police. He was able to buy a very nice flat in Eastbourne for Β£185,000, and couldn’t even afford a garage in London for that price.

          Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Cindy. Part of the reflection of getting older, I suspect. I was delighted to see them all still standing, I confess. πŸ™‚
      tThe Bexley house was a 1930 semi-detached, with a long garden. It was considered to be a very posh area, in 1967. Not so much now, as it is more of a commuter suburb.
      Best wishes, Pete. x

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Lizanne. Both sides of my family grew up in Rotherhithe and Bermondsey. I traced some of them back them back to the late 18th century. All four of my grandparents were born in the same year, 1900. So, they were ‘just about’ Victorians.
      Thanks for reading, and your comment.
      Best wishes, Pete.

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      1. My grandma was born in 1884 & she told me about all the high masts she could see above the roofs of the houses. Her great grandpa moved his barge building business from Lambeth to Rotherhithe when the embankment was built in the 1830s/40s.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. It was an off-licence, housed in a former pub. The shop was quite small, but we had three floors of very big living accommodation above. We had to buy the lease from Whitbread, then pay tenancy fees as well. Eventually, it became too much in terms of hours, as we were open seven days a week. I left to get a full-time job in 1977, but worked evenings in the shop to help my Mum. She gave it up in 1980, and bought a small grocer’s shop in Kent, with living accommodation behind. :).
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

        1. Lots of quite famous customers, including Derek Jacobi, and a few more ‘Theatricals’. But mostly it was a constant war against shoplifting, cheque fraud, and ever-reducing profits. We also sold less and less alcohol, once the supermarkets opened later and longer at weekends. At one time, most of our takings came from sweets and confectionery, and cigarettes. The margins on those items were too low, and on some brands of cigarette, we made less than 2p a packet. In 1976, I was working all the hours I could, and getting less than Β£40 a week from the shop in wages. A hard lesson about small-scale retailing. πŸ™‚

          Liked by 2 people

  7. Wow: that property in Wimbledon park looks really amazing😊 I really enjoyed this post. It’s cool that all of the houses that you lived in still stand (except for one). In this day and age of urban renewals that is pretty unique. Thanks for sharing all these and of course the wonderful pictures. Have a great weekend PeteπŸ˜€

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Michel. The house prices in Wimbledon Park have gone crazy. That house we owned sold for Β£1.2 million, in 2014! We paid Β£26,000 for it, and It was valued at Β£57,000 when we split up in 1985. My ex-wife still lived there, and converted the loft into a master bedroom. She must have made a fortune when she eventually sold it. πŸ™‚
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 2 people

    1. I can tell you that the Wimbledon house sold for Β£1.2 million in 2014. We paid Β£26,000 for it in 1978. A small 1-bed flat on the Camden estate would sell for close to Β£600,000 now. When I lived there, they were exempt from right-to-buy, sadly!
      The house you like was my Nan’s, but was rented by her of course. It was later sold, and a garage built in the back yard. It had a small garden/yard, and my Granddad kept chickens and rabbits there. As you suspect, it had little natural light. If sold now, it would fetch around Β£800,000!
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Pete that was kinda a loaded question πŸ™‚ I suspected figures like that, the real heart breaking story behind Britain’s property market is how does a hospital nurse ever manage to buy a house in London…… so sad! My home lies close to Oxford & cost me Β£95,000 in 2000, I believe now it would sell for Β£270,000…………… but it’s TRUE worth is I love my little house. Have a lovely weekend. (As for that McDonalds 😦 , no comment!)

        Liked by 1 person

        1. In Beetley, we have a 3-bed detached bungalow with a decent garden, separate garage, and additional space for parking up to three cars too. It cost Β£147,000 in 2011, and is still only worth about Β£200,000, at a push. As they say on TV, it is all about ‘Location, Location, Location’. πŸ™‚
          Best wishes, Pete.

          Liked by 1 person

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