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These pages are edited from a letter written by Bee and Curly Collins and sent to me in May 2000. Included in these pages is the little information I have regarding Lilian Deacon, her short life, and her marriage to Eddie Jones.
Ernest James (Curly) and Beatrice (Bee) were married in February 1938, a quiet family wedding as money was scarce at the time. Curly was working on a Life Insurance Book which entailed door-to-door collections. Bee continued her job in an office of Scientific Instrument Makers in Hatton Garden, London until Mike was born on November 13th 1938. When War was declared in 1939 Curly returned to the Merchant Navy (where his indentures had been cancelled due to the depression) and with only two days notice was immediately ordered across the Atlantic to Texas and back a second time, then on to le Havre, France and finally to an oil tanker sailing around the Persian Gulf where he remained for two years without leave. Bee had to take over the Insurance Book which meant walking miles around Walthamstow and Chingford to collect the pennies. (She very soon became motorised).
Alfred Peacham was called up to the Army and was sent to Ceylon and Rosa Peacham stayed in the gardeners cottage at the Lodge where their daughter Ruth was born. Mike and Bee often stayed with Rosa and Ruth. Donald Gowing joined the Air Force and was stationed abroad and finally the middle east and Leonard Deacon was called up, to the Army.
Bee wrote: "When peace was declared, the boys all came home thankfully safe and sound. There had been considerable devastation during the "Battle of Britain" and the V1 and V2 "Flying Bombs" had caused an immense amount of damage. Builders were being brought in to repair the war damage. Pud (Lilian Deacon) met Eddie Jones who had come up from Bristol and was working on a building site in Chingford, he told her he was looking for accommodation and she persuaded her father (John Benjamin) to take him in as a lodger. They married in 1946 and remained in Pretoria Crescent with Mum and Dad." Pictured right is the wedding of Lilian Deacon and Eddie Jones in 1946. The photograph was taken in the garden of 29, Pretoria Crescent, Chingford, the bridesmaids were, left Ruth Peacham (age 6), centre Pamela Collins (age 3), Audrey Gowing (age 5).
Alfred (Peacham) was given his "de-mob" allowance but was out of a job as Friday Hill House had been taken over by the L.C.C. and he was allocated a house in Larkshall Road. Apparently Eddie Jones suggested going into a partnership with him on war damage building contracts, the business was not a success and Alfred was left with nothing. After a year or so Eddie purchased the Pretoria Road house, and proceeded to pull it to pieces, making life intolerable for his mother and father in law, so much so they ended up moving in with Rosa and Alf Peacham at Larkshall Road. John Benjamin died there in 1950.
"Curly" Collins returned home after two years at sea in 1942, four years after the birth of Michael. It was during this stay they heard about a flat in Woodford Green from Bee's mother Annie Elizabeth, who was still in contact with her friend Ada Nottage in Mayfield Road, Hackney, (where Annie Elizabeth grew up). Ada's daughter Maud (who had just married) had moved into this large house that had been divided into flats, and the top two floors were still empty. It was ideal for the young Collins family. Curly jumped at the chance, and they moved in immediately. When the war was over the owner offered to sell them the house as sitting tenants, for eleven hundred pounds, interest free, with the rent as repayment.
In 1943 Pamela was born and by 1949 they had completed the buy out of the house, sold it and purchased 149 Larkshall Road. Interestingly, 149 Larkshall Road, was (and still is), about a quarter of a mile from 148 Larkshall Road, on the other side of the road, and it was here Bee and Curly set up a little factory making men's bowties and employed five or six outworkers including Winifred and Donald (Gowing). Curly purchased a new car (a Morris Minor) and sold his Austin Seven to Donald, who used it for years ferrying the children from Waltham Cross to Chingford, to visit their Grandmother and Grandfather, and deliver the completed bowties.
When the Pretoria House was finished Eddie sold it and with his new wife Lilian moved to Bristol (where he came from). Nothing more was heard from either of them until one day she telephoned and said they were leaving for Australia. They returned home to see her Mother and Father, staying with Win and Don Gowing at Balmoral Close, Waltham Cross, for two or three weeks before sailing.
In 1955 Bee and Curly invested in a shop in Kessingland, Suffolk. They were happy and successful there but Michael, got itchy feet and wanted to try a little traveling. He had communicated with Australia House in London, who jumped at his enthusiasm, and fixed him up with a cancellation birth to Sydney on the "Arcadia", one of the newest luxury liners. His parents were naturally devastated thinking they would not see him again. He settled on a property in the Southern Highlands of Sydney as a "Jackeroo" and thoroughly enjoyed the lifestyle. He wrote home saying "I love it here but if you don't come out to me, I'm coming home".
Within a few months Bee and Curly had sold up and the morning they were to depart they received a letter from Mike at Rosa's house in Chingford (where they had stopped to say goodbye) saying "You had better hurry up and get here because I've bought you a block of land". He did not mention it was only a deposit of five pounds, (which was instantly paid in full) and that was the original block in Gwandalan. They had a wonderful five week journey out on an Italian ship, Pamela grew from a fourteen year old to twenty overnight, and was in her element with the young crowd aboard. Pud (Lilian) and Eddie met them at Fremantle where they had a one day stop, and were shown around Perth. The ship had another week before reaching Sydney. They arrived on November 27th, 1957, and bought a house and car within the first two weeks, Mike gave up his job and joined them and they all had Christmas dinner together on packing cases as the luggage had only just been delivered.
In Bee's own words:
"In 1959 we moved to Gwandalan and bought a very run down business on the waterfront, catering for people who had bought land to build for their retirement as it was an exclusive holiday area for people from Sydney 130 miles away. Gwandalan in 1959 had no piped water, no sewerage system, no electricity and no made up roads. Our closest school, doctor etc. was 20 miles away. The main thing we sold in the shop was blocks of ice for people who did not have paraffin refrigerators, and Mike and Curly drove over 10 miles every Friday to pick up the milk and bread and other necessary groceries to sell in the shop over the weekend as no deliveries were possible due to the distance and state of the road. We were putting money into the shop for the first two years before making any profit......"
In 1963 Pam married Raymond Birrell and Mike married Leonie Ihlein. By 1964 both had built their own houses and Pam had a son, Trevor John and Mike had a daughter Annette Frances. Leonie had Karen Michelle in 1966 and in 1969 Keiran Francis was born to Pam.
Wedding Party of Pamela Collins and Raymond Francis Birrell 1963.
Beatrice Ann with her Grandson Trevor John circa 1964.