The Caraher's

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Well, I’ve finally made it to getting a write-up together about my family and our lives, memories and loves of Ashcombe road.

Unfortunately, my Dad is no longer around in body at least to see this site go up and it was mostly built because I wanted  it up because I wanted my Dad’s spirit to live on as well as the fact that whatever I’ve seen on the internet or in books about Wimbledon is about the tennis.

I’m not a great fan of tennis, but each to their own I say.

Anyhow, I felt that it was time to get Wimbledon noticed about its town, it’s residents and it’s history.

Before I started this site I was very fortunate enough to hook up with a former resident of the road who actually left the road long before I and my family became residents, but he and his family were residents of the road for many years before and after we lived there.

Sidney Jones and his dear old Mum have contributed to this site so much that I’ll be eternally grateful.
Thanks Sid.

Well, now on with our story.
My Dad, Mother and I moved into Ashcombe Road in 1967 (I was about 2 years old then ).
I don’t have much recollection of the road except that the corner shop was owned by an English family and that the shop looked like a lean-to with two black doors and not enough room to swing a cat, although fine for a little chubby me to move around in at the time.

We had some fun times there during our early years at our new home.
Dad had always wanted a dog when we’d gotten a garden and we soon got our dog by the name of Judy. She was an Alsatian and such a lovely dog.
She was as docile as they come and just let me do whatever daft little kids like me do to her.
Once I painted her orange. No one knows why and I sure don’t know, but Judy just sat and let me do it.
She soon got over that incident and we carried on with our daft ways.
She’d follow me wherever I went all over the house and would bark to let my Dad or mother know that I was about to do something I shouldn't like run out to the front garden or try to dig my way out of the back garden, I guess she was like having a sister to tell on me, but was always there to look after me.

Be warned that I am an animal lover and I’ll probably let you know of all the pets that we had and some that I adopted over the years.

My Dad built on a conservatory to our new home, so that we could all enjoy a nice meal and look out onto the garden on nice summer evenings.
I myself being a kid seemed to just want to scoff everything down and get on with more mischief it seemed.

One time we were out there the phone rang and Dad went to answer it.
Whilst he was doing that I let Judy get on the table and nick his chicken dinner. Not really sure why and Dad thought it was funny (at least a few weeks later) that I’d let her do it.
I guess she was trying to get back at someone for letting me paint her orange and I pretty much guarded my food then.

My Dad could sure tell a few stories about me as a kid.

When we got our new home. Dad was working as a timber yard foreman at “Champions” timber yard in 

Burlington Road, New Malden.
He’d been there many years and started out as just a labourer, but he worked hard and got promoted.
He had many friends there and most of them became my adopted uncles.

Dad would take me to the yard occasionally and I would quite happily make a mess in the sawdust (maybe that's why I became a woodworker).

When Dad was out working on the car outside the house I would be out there with him wondering what was going on.
All the neighbours would walk by and say hello to us, stop and chat for awhile.
I always seemed to come out well as I remember them giving me sweets to chew on.

Well, now about my mother. 
My  mother worked in a cafe in Merton Road, South Wimbledon at the time of us moving to our new home and various other places during her short stay at our home (I‘ll let you know further on into the story).

She would sometimes take me to work with her.
As I recall it was a dark and dingy old cafe near the end of Merton Road and close to South Wimbledon underground station.

Anyhow, I’d get wheeled down there in my pram and would be let out to whoever wanted to poke and prod me as well as squeeze my cheeks etc.

They had a big old snooker table in there and I’d often come home with a few snooker balls.
My mother’s boss had to call the house a few times after we’d left as customers would be moaning that there wasn't enough balls to play with and I’d always be the suspect it seemed.
Just because I’d been found rolling them in the back garden a few times or so.
Anyhow, it seemed Dad would always have to take them back.
Darn!, looking back makes me sound like a little bundle of problems and mischief (well, maybe I was, but it makes fun memories I guess).

I remember the coalman would deliver coal to Ashcombe Road on his horse drawn wagon.
The some of the residents including Mr. allam next door to us at number 17 would go out there after the horse had gone  by and would shovel up the horse’s doings and use it for their gardens.
That was not a thing that I was going to get anywhere near to, but they all claimed it helped them.

Anyhow, as years went on the coalman would stop right outside of our door every time he came by as he knew that there was some little boy at the door waiting to get out to feed the horse.

Dad would have carrots at the ready for me to feed the horse.
Dad never liked feeding horses or any big animals come to think about it, but it seemed that I was always the one ready to be sacrificed to do that job.
It never has bothered me and still doesn't as long as they don’t think my fingers are carrots, I’m happy.

We also used to have the “Rag and Bone” men come by on there horse drawn wagons.
They would ring their bell on the wagon and shout “Any Old Iron!, Any Old Iron!”.
Then all the neighbours who had old washing machines, furniture, noisy kids etc..would run out to street and hand over what they had to the rag and bone men.
They were easier for me to detect when coming down the road and I’d again be waiting at the door, ready to be sacrificed to feeding another horse.
Both of these horses feeding times became traditions to us it seemed as I can often remember both of these Wagoner's stopping outside our home for me to be ready to feed.

I must’ve cost our family a fortune in carrots as a kid.

I remember the road was very quiet when I was younger.
There wasn't too many cars racing up and down the road like there is now.
Ashcombe Road has sure changed a lot over the years.

I rember when we used to all go for walks in the evening.
Dad and mother would stroll on down to Wimbledon Broadway at times and I’d be the lazy little sod in the pram.
Even back then I have recollections of what Wimbledon used to look like.
I remember that along the corner of Wimbledon Broadway and  Palmerston Road, there used to be a row of old shops.
They’d all have front bay windows. One of them used have a lot of lighted ceramic cottages as well as a few other lighted ornaments and night-lights.
I used to love looking in that window. It seemed like a magical little village there for me as a kid.
One time my Dad went in and bought me a ‘Winnie the Pooh’ night-light.
I remember that day like it was yesterday.
It may sound daft, but I treasured that light for many years and in fact I may even still have it.

Wherever we went shopping or even if I wasn't with either of my parents and they were out shopping it seemed that they’d always come back with a toy car for me to play with, well, maybe not always, but by the amount of them that I had stashed in the cupboard under the stairs you’d think that was the way it was.

Well, whilst working during the day my old Dad would think that things were going great at home, but far from it.
There were a few too many occasions that he’d come home and wonder where Judy was.
Only to find that she’d given her away, so Dad had to go around and pick her up and to try to explain to people that it was a mistake that his wife had done a stupid thing.
If that weren’t bad enough he’d come home from work and find me and the dog gone.
Not only had mother given Judy away, she’d put me in a home on various occasions.
I never thought that I was that bad, but mother got fed up with us and decided that was wanted she wanted.
Dad on the other hand had to pickup the pieces and try to find us all.
Well, the last occasion was with having Judy put down. 
Mother a supposedly dog lover, had gotten Judy put down.

Dad changed his job during our time at Ashcombe Road during our first few years there.
I’m not sure what the reason was, but he became a night worker at “Ronson’s” in Leatherhead, Surrey.
He was building cigarette lighters.
He was quite happy there, but it meant that he had to sleep during the day and awake in time to pick me up from kinder garden as mother was at work those hours when it was time for me to be thrown out.
He’d always be there though.
Dad would put me to bed and tuck me in at night and then go to work.

Mother would then look after me until the morning hours and when Dad got home she’d go to work.

Well, that worked for awhile.

One night Dad went to work thinking all was well with us all I guess.

Well, I’d stayed awake as I couldn't sleep for some reason, (I guess I knew that something bad was going to happen).
Anyhow, I just played with a treasured toy car on my bed.
My mother came up after awhile and threw a fit and just threw the car against the wall smashing it.
It’s the weirdest thing as I have trouble remembering what I did last week, but there are times far back in my childhood that I can remember like yesterday and that one about my mother is one that I can certainly remember with ease.
Well, to get back to the story.
Mother just left the bedroom and that was the last  I saw her for a long while.

Dad came home the next morning from work and was absolutely devastated.
He told me that mother had left us and didn't want to come back.

Dad thought that he was doing well by trying to look after his family and this was the thanks that he got.

Anyhow, after that it was just I and my Dad.

Dad carried on working at night at Ronson’s and neighbours would keep an eye on the house whilst I stayed at home and Dad went to work.
Eventually Dad had to get in lodgers to help with looking after me at night and to help pay for the house.

When Dad came home from work he would take me to school and then he’d go home to sleep until it was time to pick me back up.

Anyhow, neighbours in the road became familiar with our situation and a lot were kind enough to offer and help Dad out.

Mrs. Jones (Sidney Jones’s Mum) offered to help Dad out with me.

I remember Mr. ands Mrs. Jones a lot.
They were a very nice couple.

They would both stop and chat to us wherever we met in town and would come across and sit with us for chats.

Pretty much all of our neighbours were like that in Ashcombe Road.

On nice summer evenings and pretty much any nice afternoon Mr. robins from number 31 would sit in his front garden just reading, watching the traffic go by.
Mr. Robins was in a wheelchair as he’d only one leg.

He and Mrs. Robins were very nice people.
I remember just walking only his house and stopping to chat on many many occasions.
My Dad and I would sit there for hours just chatting.

Whilst all of the divorce proceedings between my Dad and mother was going on new new people bought the corner shop.
The Gill family.
They were an Indian family and sare still there, although Mr. Gill (The Father) has passed on unfortunately.
He was a very nice man.
His son, (Gill), now runs the shop with his family.
Things have certainly changed at the shop and certainly for the better I’d say.
Gill has done wonders with the shop and is a constant source of knowledge of Ashcombe road; it’s residents through the years and about the surrounding area.

If anyone in the road ever needed any help with anything, there was always someone there to help.
It seemed to be our own little community.

When the Queen had her Silver Jubilee a lot of the roads were shut down around the country.
Ours was one of them.
It was great as all of the residents pitched in and hung British Flag bunting all over the road.
We all had flags in our gardens and wore British flag bowler hats.
Where all of those tables came from I just don’t know, but the road was lined with them.
All were covered with tablecloths, napkins, and cutlery etc.and all were just packed with food.
I was a shy kid, but food on offer always seemed to make me getting to know someone a lot easier (some things never change).
Now, my Dad and I were never great followers of the royals, but it was just a great day with everyone in the road.
The party rolled on into the late evening and it was a nice sunny day, which was pretty rare.
We had balloons silly noisy whistles and a few of us had taken out our radios, so we just had a lot of music throughout the day.
At sometime during the day we listened to the Queen make her speech.
We had neighbours from nearby roads that came to visit us all as well.
I ended dancing with a few of the neighbours as so did Dad.
We all had a great time.

As time went on in years new people moved in as older residents moved on.
Some new residents didn't stay long for some reason, but others are still there now.

I can remember Mr. & Mrs. Allam living next to us at number 17.
They were really nice old couple.
Mr. Allam had an old Ford Poplar. It was in black and really old.
He’d had it from new and kept it really nice.

Mrs. Allam was always cooking and just gave Dad and me pies a lot.
I was never one to turn that offer down.

In their back garden it was full of blackberry bushes and Mrs. Allam made the moist loveliest  blackbery pie. I know as we sampled quite a few over the years.
I loved it when it came to blackberry season and I would even go over and help pick them.

Unfortunately the years took their toll on Mr. & Mrs. allam and one day an ambulamce arrived and they took Mrs. Allam away.
It was a very sad day for us all in the road as they’d been residents of the road long before Dad and I had moved there.

Over the next few years, Mr. Allam tried to carry on, but started to become a little forgetful about things not be normally forgotten about.
He ended up having to have help go into help him with the everyday chores and then the Meals On Wheels people would come around twice a day to make sure that he had his meals.
Everyone in the road tried to help, but he missed his wife so much and just could’nt carry on without her.
One day the help came and they called an ambulance, as he was not well.
They tried to help him, but he passed away in his home as did his wife.
They were both a lovely couple and were greatly missed.

It was particulary noticed by me as these were really the first people that I’d known greatly that had die as I was pretty young when they died and is still not a time that I remember that well.

We had a lot of close neighbours in the raod. Close meaning that we all got on pretty well.

There was Sheena at number 23. She had a dog-called Connie.
Norma and Peter at number 29 with cats TGeronimo and Tabitha.
Mr. & Mrs. Robins at number 31 with son Trevor.
Mr. and Mrs. Ellis at Number 9.
Mr. & Mrs. Whelan at Number 3 Bridge Villas.
Mr. & Mrs. Underwood at number 2.
Mr. & Mrs. Jones at Number 4.
Nigel with dogs Cody and Coda at number 8.

There were alot more, but my old brainbox needs jogging to remember everyone.

We always had the milkmen driving through the road throughout the day.
They’d start very early in the morning at about 3am and you’d hear them start off at about 4am as their electric milk floats would whine on down the road. and they still use them now.

The Unigate dairy was behind our house as well as some abandoned ground.
Sometimes Dad would have to get over there and saw down a tree limb or even a tree that was becoming too obtrusive and threatening to bring down the back well as getting in the dustmen’s way for picking up the bins.
Dad would saw these big old things down with a handsaw.
That’s something I certainly wouldn't do now.
I generally use a chainsaw (which I must return to my mother-in-law one day).

I can even remember when the dustmen used to walk around the back alley to collect our bins empty them and then bring them back.
They used to start very early as well at about 4am and we’d hear them come around crashing and clanging the metal bins as they went along the road.
Later on in years things changed as to how we had to put our rubbish for them to collect and we ended up leaving black bags in the front gardens for them to pick up.

As I grew up Dad would let me goto the corner shop on my own which I think he regretted in a way after awhile as I always seemed to come back with an animal of some sort and then we’d hear neighbours outside calling for their cats to come home to be fed and all the while the little fat furry balls were sitting on my lap after being fed by me (not with Dad’s dinner this time).
So, I’d have to go out and say that I’d found them and give them back.
Eventually if anyone had lost a pet they’d come to our house first.

I’d go back with dogs and cats. Never anything unuusal except a goat once.
Just one time I bring a goat home and I never heard the end of it.

Anyhow, it was wandering around; I made friends with it and took it home.
Granted it was a bit unusual to have a goat in the midst of Wimbledon and something unusual; I was bound to find it.
Anyhow, this little beastie had escaped from a local gardener who kept goats.
I got in the papers for finding it and wanting to keep it, but I had to give her back.
It kind of worried my Dad a bit when he saw me wander in the house with a goat and wondered where I’d been to find it, but he eventually saw the funny side of it.

I guess I was a bit of a handful.

When my Dad and mother eventually got divorced the house got to be a less stressful place to be.
Dad was so worried about losing me and fought like tooth and nail to keep me.
He could never understand why mother wanted to fight to keep me after she’d put me in so many homes to get rid of me before.
In fact it still makes me wonder, but I’m glad that Dad kept me.
It certainly seems that I was better off.

We saw her and her new bloke various times in Wimbledon on ocassions and one time I went completely nuts as we were shopping in Tesco’s when we saw her.
I was so angry at her as a kid as to what she’d put my Dad through.

The first time I saw my Dad cry was when she left us.

Anyhow, I guess that bitterness is still hard to lose.

Back to happier times now.

Well, when I was about 12 Dad allowed me to get a kitten from my aunt Barabara (Dad's sister).
Anyhow,  he was a little bundle of black & white fur with his eyes popping out at yer.
Dad could fit him in one hand when we first got him. (I know, here he goes again about his cat).
Well, we named him George after my other Great Uncle and ir also being Dad's middle name and the name suited our new family member.
Yep, he was certainly part of the family alright.
I could just write a whole book on George.
George just fitted right in with us.
In fact a lot of things were run around him.
He was a funny little character.
I'd let him come up and sleep on my bed and eventually he'd find his own way there.
He'd lay in front of the fire for hours whilst we watched the telly or read a book.
When it was time for us to go to bed he'd find his own way up and nestle himself down into a cosy little spot.
When it was time for me to get up and go to school he'd just lay there and happily see me off as that meant that he could have the bed in peace to himself.

It got pretty cold in the winter and with the heating bills so high in England Dad would'nt have the heating on so high, so getting nestled under quite a few blankets was fine with me.
It was cosy like that and one night George felt the same I guess as when I awoke in the morning I saw this little black & white face looking back at me.
He had his head on my pillow and had somehow managed to nestle himself under the blankets and stretched himself all down the bed under the blankets.
How the little sod did that I will never know as he had gotten the blankets to cover him at his neck like me.
And people say cats are stupid ?. Not this one for sure.

After I’d gotten my first job working at a Toyota garage in Tooting, SW17.
I went to college three evening s a week to get my City and Guilds in Motor Vehicle mechanics.
I worked during the day 6 days a week, rode 7 miles to work every day there and back for about 2 years or so.
Dad went to college with me in the evening and took the same course with me.

Dad was actually an electrical engineer and a damn good one at that.
He’d been flown all over the country in his younger years to sort out many problems for some pretty big factories including the Hillman Imp factory up in bonny Scotland.

Anyhow, we both did the the course three nights a week for three years at Kingston Technical College.
Thankfully I didn't have to ride there every time as Dad drove us there for the first 2 years.
Then I got my license and it was my turn terrify him with my driving skills.

Where I worked as a mechanic at Toyota’s my boss “Joe Baise” the owner of the garage gave me a car when I passed my test.
It was a Datsun Cherry hatchback in yellow.
All I had to do was to insure and he gave me a raise to help me pay for it all.

Although some didn't think he was a nice bloke I never found a problem with him.
Sure he was a bit gruff at times, but aren't we all at times?

After we’d passed our exams on the City and Guilds I’d had a few people ask if I could repair their cars.
Sure, it was extra money.
It didn't take long for me to get more and more work and I know that I peed a lot of people off in the road with all the cars that I was repairing, but a lot of people in the road also got their cars repaired for next to nothing as well.

The road got really busy in those years.

Cars would just race through Ashcombe Road at lightning speeds especially when Wimbledon Football was on.

The Wimbledon Stadium was only about 1/2 a mile from the house.

I was never too much of a fan as I supported Chelsea.
A much better team I thought, but I supported Wimbledon, as it was my home tram.

Well, now things have changed completely.

I’m now living in America’s Midwest. happily married and remembering the old times back home.

Dad passed away in February 2000, so not a great start to the millenium for me at least and only two months after I’d gotten married here, so Dad never got to meet Wendy.

Dad’s house was sold, as I could never have dealt with living there as Dad had died in the house, so I decided to sell it although sometimes I do regret doing so.

The house was sold to Gill, the corner shopkeeper, so at least a long-standing freind has it as his own now.

He and I grew up together and so knew my Dad well, so it was fitting for him to have the home I thought.

Well, you can soon read more about the other roads in which I have lived throughout the years as well as where I am now as I have built another site covering the memories and history of the lives of all who want to participate.
At the time of writing this it covers just the whole of the UK, but at present is also expanding the USA.
I hope to eventually have it to the rest of the world, but it all takes time to do.


I hope you’ve all enjoyed reading this and I hope it’s inspred you all to write a a vers or two about yourselves and your family in the roads in which you have lived along with a few pictures to share as well.


I will be inserting pictures to this write-up over the following few weeks.

Also to all that maybe interested I am writing a book about my life at Ashcombe Road, my family and all the daft things that we've done along our journey to as our lives are now.
Please let me know if you'd like to know of it's release time and I'll be happy to let you know.


The Caraher's Photo Album
Dad with George. Christmas 1980
Ray with George. Christmas 1980
Our Home
George posing for the camera as usual
George taking a rest after all of this filming
Ray on Dad's new Ford Cortina