- Cart drivers emerging from their depot at the Bricklayers Arms on the Old Kent Road. 1918.
Who remembers the old Trams and RouteMasters
Bricklayers Arms Goods Depot site, some great memories for me. I worked there from 1957 to 1960 when I was fifteen, I started out as a van boy and my drivers name was Johnny Cordrey, who lived somewhere near East Lane. It would be nice if someone remembers him, only he was really good to me. To this day, I can still sign Johns name as good as my own, as sometimes he didn’t feel like getting out of the cab so he sent me to sign. We used to have our round 3 days a week, on the Isle of Dogs, West India Docks and back to Cable Street, East London. This is when you could drive through the Rotherhithe Tunnel with a lorry, if you forgot to pull your offside mirror in it wasn't there when you came out the other end. The other 2 days just general haulage, Tooley Street, Surrey Docks, Shad Thames, Borough Market. We used to have a vehicle like the one in the photo above, coming out of the depot (KJJ 985) I still remember the Rego. We used to call them Iron Horses, plus a lot of other names, but I’ll keep it clean. They were made by Scammell and they had a head of a horse on some of them. They could turn on a sixpence, but reverse to quick and you would be alongside the trailer. Boy, were they cold in winter, holes everywhere. They would shake you to pieces on the road, then you had the gear stick which was positioned to your right on the floor by the driver’s door, misjudge getting out and believe me it made your eye’s water. Still I learnt to drive in one of them. Then you have the steam trains and the turn table, which I used to see when I was younger by climbing over the fence in Willow Walk, many a time getting a clip round the ear by the railway police and told not to come back. The weighbridge we used to go on, also the South Bermondsey Signal Box I have been in. I remember as a kid looking through the windows at the horses in the stables in Willow Walk. Next to the windows were two houses, one in which the yard foreman lived, I think his name was Ted Horn, the picture of the loading bay which looks deserted, was far from it, the banter, language the sense of humour was unbelievable, plus a few things went missing from there (so I’ve been told) the entrance in Hendre Road was closed to vehicles when I worked there, but as you came through the gate then turn left, there stood the clocking in office. After two years I changed jobs, (more money) 3 of us going around the depot transferring goods from one place to another, picking up the rubbish and dumping it in rail carriages in the entrance on the corner of Dunton Road and Rolls Road bottom of the bridge. One particular day we decided to hide the lorry in Earl Road and go up to the Astoria Picture House to see a film. Halfway through the films the lights went on and 3 rows in front of us was the foremen, you can imagine the panic but we sneaked out without being seen. A couple of other stories I heard, which happened before I worked there, was to do with the horses. The first being that a lot of the drivers use to drink when working, often getting drunk, so they would just tell the horses to go home and they would fetch them back to the depot. The other story being that one night when it was real foggy a horse and cart came into the yard, went about two hundred yard into the depot and as the driver got down he looked back to see several vehicles had followed him into the yard. At least the horse knew where it was going. Something else I’ve just remembered was when the railway wagons came in with wine or spirits on they used to have seals on the doors but that didn't stop some people, they got underneath and got it out by drilling through the floor. Can anyone remember when the money from The Royal Mint was stolen in the same way? I can’t remember any of the names mentioned, but a couple of the blokes lived on the junction of Rotherhithe New Road and Hawkstone Road in the flats in the middle of the junction, A few of them lived in Waleran Buildings on The Old Kent Road, next door to the World Turned Up Side down. One of them being Fred Scot, (Scotty) who sadly is no longer with us and who I worked with for many in Kent.
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