As you get older, you get invited to more funerals than you did when you were younger and so it has been for Gaynor and me recently and, perhaps that’s why I was feeling a little nostalgic last week. Coincidentally, it was “Open Gardens” weekend in London and we decided that these would make up this weekend’s walk; something Gaynor blogs about and posts on her Face book page. https://hiddenwithinplainview.wordpress.com/tag/walks/
So, when the chance came to look around the “Floating Gardens” on the barges just by Tower Bridge, we needed no second bidding. Apart from the fact that they were a must, that area was where my great grandfather and his family first settled when they emigrated from Ireland. Indeed, my cousin, Mike, and I used to play on the beach at Tower Bridge when we were kids and both went to St Olave’s School nearby.
So, having looked around the barges (another of those “little pieces on Wonderland”, that I write about) we decided to walk to George Row where, said, great grandfather lived when he and his family first arrived in London in the 1860’s. To do this, of course, we had to walk past the old school. Well, it’s now a hotel and one of the staff kindly gave me a brief guided tour of the, much unchanged, building. This included the hall and the Head’s Room where I got the cane on the first day for talking during lunch and a lecture about how I wouldn’t make a living out of talking! Actually, the room was then on the first floor and not the ground floor where it is now.
So, on to George Row which was part of Jacob’s Island, one of the worst slums in London during the 1840’s and adjacent to, what is now, the Charles Dickens’ Estate; this being the setting for parts of “Oliver Twist” and where Bill Sykes died. Little of the original street remains but, fortunately, I have a pencil sketch of the part that that shows the “Old Margate Town” pub, and the house, two doors away, that the Daligan family occupied 150 years ago.
Who says “nostalgia ain’t what it used to be?”