Memories of Battersea: Jean

Memories of Battersea is an oral history video project run by Spectacle and part funded by the Wandsworth Grant Fund. The project gives young adults from Battersea the opportunity to be trained in film-making while producing short films about their neighbourhood, collecting memories from elder Battersea residents, bridging intergenerational gaps and engaging with the history of their borough.

In Memories of Battersea we start with Jean, a Wandsworth born survivor of the Second World War. Jean recounts for us what life was like living through the German bombardment of V-1 flying bombs and V-2 rockets, her evacuation spent in Oxfordshire as a child, what has become of her first home in Savona Street as well how she feels about new development in the Battersea area.

Jean grew up in Wandsworth Borough as a child during the Second World War. Losing family members and friends, Jean tells us about the bombardment on London by V-1 flying bombs. Although only a small child, such terrible times have remained with Jean for her entire life.

After life became too dangerous for people in Battersea as a result of the bombing, she was evacuated to the village Grendon Underwood in Oxfordshire. There she was cared for by a couple in a large rectory with many others from London. Jean’s safety was short-lived however when upon her return to Battersea, the German V-2 rockets began, knocking a Church down nearby.

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A still of Jean from her interview

Although Jean and her mother survived the war at home, the same could sadly not be said for her father whom was called up to fight. As many families celebrated in the streets of London, marking the end of WWII at by holding street parties called ‘Peace Teas’, Jean’s family alongside many others would never see their loved ones return from the field.

Now living in Carey Gardens near The Patmore Estate, Jean has witnessed a dramatic change in the area. No longer Savona Street, Jean’s old home has become part of what is now known as Savona Estate. More worrying for Jean however, there are now plans to build a large number of flats on the estate, a building much taller than those surrounding it including Carey Gardens.

Jean worries that these new flats may attract a different demographic of people, which wouldn’t suit the friendly nature of her beloved estate. This film was shot by participants on Spectacle’s 4 day training course.

Watch the full film here

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2 thoughts on “Memories of Battersea: Jean

  1. Although evacuated to Cornwall in 1939 the first of 3 evacuations 2 to Luckett, Cornwall and 1 to Leeds. We were brought home from Cornwall because things were quiet and we were so unhappy, but managed to return to Battersea for the Blitz, the Buzz bombs and Rockets. By the time I was 8 years old I had attended 8 different schools
    I still remember my first school friend at Surrey Lane School who was killed at the age of 8 Valerie Knott and my Uncle Henry Juneman who was captured by the Japanese and forced to work on the Railway he died in 1943 and is buried over there. They are always in my thoughts especially on 11 November.

    When we came home the first time another family had taken over the street shelter alocated to us. Mum and us 3 children 5 by the end of the war, slept on a mattress under the table, me at the bottom because I said I wasn’t frightened and the others at the top.
    Dad was a toolmaker and worked permanent nightwork at Hawkers aircraft factory, I remember when Christ Church was bombed Dad was asleep in bed and the window blew in onto him and covered the bed with broken glass and he didn’t wake up!
    After this we were given shelter bunks in a communal shelter in Battersea Bridge Road. Mum would put our nightclothes on, then a siren suit over the top and we would go to sleep there.
    I have lots more memories of that time such as when everyone walked about with red faces from the relection from the sky, red from the flames of the London blitz.

    I remember when Culvert Road was bombed and we were at my Uncles wedding at Reform Street where my Grandfather lived. People were killed there I remember a memorial that was outside a house at the end of Culvert Road that always had flowers on it

    When Clapham Junction was bombed I remember a man hanging onto a large block on the roof of Hastings Furniture store to stop it falling down, and when the Picture house I think it was called the Pavilion at Clapham Junction was demolished and a Coalman was killed. there was a wreath hung on a wooden post there for years.
    I lived at the Latchmere then and some of the other chidren were at the cinema that day and were angry they didn’t get their money back!.
    So many memories.

  2. Thank you so much for sharing your stories with us. We would be delighted to listen to more memories. Are you member of Battersea Memories on Facebook? We are sure they would be happy to hear that too.

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