I was born Daisy Louisa Chapman in January 1924 in St. Bart’s Hospital. I lived in Radnor Street, in the City of London. My dad, Horace, was a steeplejack; he put weather vanes up on chimneys, lightning conductors and all like that. He did Salisbury Cathedral, Duke of Gloucester’s stables, built a grasshopper weathervane for the London Stock Exchange (see photograph on page 37). He did the moulding for it, another factory made it and then he put it up. His father was also a steeplejack. Mum, Louisa, was a cleaner and a tea lady in a big factory. Mum’s family lived close by but Dad’s family lived on the Essex Road, Islington; you could walk there in 15 minutes or get the tram.

family tree 1

Daisy with dog

DAISY LOUISA HUNT (née CHAPMAN) probably aged about 4 years – Born 1924

I had one brother, Horace (always known as Horry Boy because dad was also Horace), who died in 2005. Mum lost a girl, Joyce, in 1934 who was 4 years old and she had another girl, Sheila, in April 1939 and she lost her in August at four months old. Joyce died of diphtheria, Sheila had gastroenteritis.

JoyceLeft is a photo of my sister Joyce, which was taken on the Saturday on my gran’s windowsill in Radnor Street. She’s eating ice cream.

We had a doctor over on the Monday and he said it was just a cold. On the Wednesday the doctor came round and took a swab and called an ambulance. She went in the hospital and died on the Saturday of diphtheria. She used to say that Mae West saying ‘I’m no angel.’

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We were very lucky with our living accommodation. When my mum and dad had me and my brother Horry they had a little parlour, a kitchen and two bedrooms in Radnor Street. The kitchen we shared with the people downstairs. A couple of years later my mum got a six bedroom house in Nelson Street. It had a kitchen in the basement, two rooms on the ground floor, two rooms on the first floor, and two on the top. We paid weekly rent to Mr Jenning. We sub-let two rooms to an old lady as a lodger.

You had a tin bath in front of the fire. You had a bath sometimes twice a week, mostly once a week. In where we called the scullery you boiled your clothes in the big copper tin, with a little grate underneath for a fire. You put your clothes through a mangle and that got a lot of the water out. You hung them in your back garden or dried them round the fire. You didn’t have a vacuum cleaner, you had a broom. You had carpets but you took ‘em in the garden; put them on your washing line and banged ‘em clean that way. Every Saturday I had the clean the chalk hearth stone, everyone had one by their front door.

I went to St. Luke’s Parochial Girl’s School in Old Street, EC1, when I was about five. The boy’s school was next door. My gran used to take me to school ‘cos mum was working and she’d take a bottle of milk in a medicine bottle and the teachers used to put it by the radiators and we’d have that at 10 in the morning. We used to go home for lunch and then come back.

We did reading, writing and arithmetic, 30 children in each class. We also did knitting and sewing, you went to a different place for cooking. We played hockey in the Lincoln Inn Fields. We had to catch a tram to that with the teacher. When you were 13 you did swimming in Pitfield Street Baths. I could swim, wasn’t brilliant, just enough to lark about it in the water. If you were clever and you passed the 11 plus you went to technical college.

Warren: Did you pass your 11 plus?

Nan: Course I bloody didn’t!

From the age of six you went to church in the morning and Sunday school in the afternoon. When you were 14 you started work and you didn’t go to church anymore, unless you were that way inclined. Sometimes I did go with my mates to the Catholic Church, but the church on the corner of our street was Anglo-Catholic, wasn’t quite Church of E and it wasn’t quite Roman. We had Holy Communion and confession and all like that, but it wasn’t pure Catholic. But the School I went to, that was a Church of England School. You had religion as a lesson and the Priest came round and tested you now and again.

When we came home from school we just played in the street, you knew all the neighbours. You had the London way of talking. I can’t remember a lot of it now ‘cos I haven’t spoken it for years. Plates of meat are your feet; apples and pears - stairs, it was all cockney.
You knew everybody. If your gran moved out another relative would move in, a daughter or a son, but we all get separated during the War.

When I was a kid there was horse and carts, a car was very rare. No-one in our street had a car. My dad used to give me a penny a bucket for horse manure, to go on the rhubarb or the roses. We didn’t grow vegetables in the garden ‘cos they were so cheap to buy and you had the shops more or less at the bottom of your street.

You could get a packet of tea for ha’penny; a loaf of bread was about four pence. They used to weigh the bread and if it wasn’t the weight it should be, they cut a couple of slices off another loaf and put it on top of yours. Sliced bread wasn’t thought of. You had your corner shop that sold bread, butter, milk, cheese and all like that. Most of the people that ran these shops were Welshmen. You had the pork butchers and in there you’d have trays of faggots, joints of silverside beef. Everything was cooked. You’d get a saveloy and pease pudding and you’d walk along the street eating it out of paper. We had a pub, a corner shop dairy, a greengrocer, a shop that sold little kiddies clothes, a butchers and a hardware shop that sold paraffin. Across the road was a sweet shop and a barbers. In that area you had everything. You didn’t do like we do now and take a bus into Slough to do your shopping; you went to your little local shop.

My mum used to take me to a little bookshop around the corner and buy us books and every Sunday afternoon my brother Horry and I sat reading books. We had a wireless (radio). Sunday nights we used to have bubble and squeak for supper and we had ‘The Man in Black’ that was a thriller story on the wireless.

We were comfortable, because dad and mum had good jobs with money coming in. We went out to Southend, Hampstead Heath, Clissold Park, Victoria Park. Some families couldn’t afford a bloody day out. When we had a week’s holiday we went to Ramsgate. A lot of people didn’t get paid for a week’s holiday but my dad did, he was in a good profession. We’ve got a photo of your mum in Ramsgate when she was 3 years old, she wanted to go a wee and my brother was holding her out to go a wee and your granddad took a photo of her. You went to cafes to get a meal for about half a crown. We’d go to the beach, have a midday meal at Harrison’s café right by the harbour.

Factories used to hire single decker buses; we called charabancs, to take their workers to Southend. People put in so much a week and they’d have crates of beer on the chara. Then they’d drink in the pub and lay on the beach drunk. That was their day out! We went on the train excursions for half a crown which was more for families.

Daisy’s mum was called Louisa Samwell. She was born in 1901 at the Royal Free Hospital, Greys Inn Road, London and died in 1967 in Queen Marys Hospital, Sidcup, Kent. Louisa married Horace Fredrick Chapman in 1922 in St. Bartholomew’s Parish Church, Islington. Horace was born in 1899 in Islington and we, the great grandchildren, knew Horace as Granddad fish-face because he always pulled funny faces to make us laugh. He remarried in 1970 to Elsie May at Bromley Register Office. He died of a heart attack at home in St. Pauls Cray, Orpington in 1975.

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