Memories of Manchester Road, London E14

200 Manchester Road E14
Sue Goddard (nee Butler)
I lived in a row of pre-fabs along the Manchester Road at no. 200 for 5 years.  We moved in when I was about 4 months old in Spring 1948 until stayed there until Spring 1953, when my parents bought a house in Bromley, Kent.
These were a single row of pre-fabs fronting onto the Manchester Road and backing onto what is now St Luke’s Primary School.  I attended that school for just one term – the Autumn term of 1952. The first photo I’ve attached is one I obtained from yourselves on an Open Day and looks as though it really could be of our pre-fabs.  The front door was on the right-hand side as one looked from the main road, with two bedrooms at the front.  The hallway also led to a bathroom at the far end on the right, mainly green I seem to remember. The first door on the right led into the living room with the lounge area centred around the fireplace (note the central chimney in the photo)  with the dining table near the rear window overlooking the sizeable rear garden. Then one went through another door from the dining area into the kitchen which was surprisingly well equipped for the time. My parents furnished it with Utility table, chairs and sideboard which they kept for the rest of their long lives.
My father, Austin Frederick Butler, had been brought up with his 5 siblings at 111 Alpha Road.  His father Thomas Butler was a Chief Engineer on board ocean liners and spent most of his working life in the South China Seas.  However, the house was completely destroyed during the Blitz on the Millwall Docks and virtually all the family possessions were destroyed,  It is amazing that most of the precious family documentation was saved as this was stored in one of Thomas’s sea-going iron chests.
Thomas and his wife Alice were eventually offered a pre-fab in late 1946/early 1947.  Alice was by this time crippled with rheumatoid arthritis and so it worked well that my newly married parents moved in with them and my mother gave up her job as a shorthand typist to care for her.  My father was by this time a Chartered Mechanical Engineer working for Shell-Mex & BP at their Head Office on the Embankment.  (He had been in a reserved occupation during the War as he was designing secret underground oil storage and a national network of oil pipelines.)  When I was due to be born in December 1947, my mother moved back to her family home in Birmingham temporarily but by March 1948 we were all living in the pre-fab, with me sharing my parents’ bedroom.  My memories of my first 5 years are happy and contented ones, never going hungry even though food was in fairly short supply and a very simple diet compared with today.  Nor did I have many toys or clothes but that wasn’t unusual.
The second photo is of my Great Aunt Mary Sheehan, who used to visit us once a week from her home in Barking and her grand-daughter Angela. I’m in the centre! We are in the back garden of 200 Manchester Road.
My grandmother Alice Butler died in June 1951 and in March 1953 when grandfather Thomas was able to go and live with another son, and when the housing shortage had eased slightly, we were able to move to Bromley.
Years later, I came across a reconstructed prefab at the Chilterns Open Air Museum near Chalfont St Peters in Buckinghamshire furnished almost identically and evoking happy memories.

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