Rose Hill Area

Memories from the 30s

By Bill Mallion

Street Entertainers

James Jackson remembers

Rose Hill was the epicentre of my growing-up world.  Born in the summer of 1932 at the bypass end of Garendon Road, I was, in my early years,  prammed, push-chaired, walked by Mum, and “flying-angelled” by Dad,  up that short stretch of Reigate Avenue with its terraced and semi-detached houses lying back behind grass banks and greens on one side, whilst opposite was the grass bank and orchard of Rose Hill House.  As we neared the shops (and where the pedestrian bridge now stands) we passed the blue, “Tardis” Police Box, next to the white concrete and red-framed GPO telephone kiosk.  Just before you turned the corner by the roundabout, there was the freshly-painted “Reigate Avenue” sign and underneath it, rather rusty and neglected. One for “A217 Tooting-Hookwood Road”.  I wonder how many local people today would know where Hookwood is?  Clue: Follow the Brighton Road South, past Reigate, until you reach Povey Cross, just before Gatwick airport!  That obsolete sign stayed up throughout the war, perhaps to confuse the German Panzer convoys as they made their way towards London!

 Earliest memories (some vague, some remarkably clear) include the huge canopy of a garage (LEX I think) as you crossed towards the shops. This disappeared and the service road in front of the shops leading up to Rose Hill Avenue appeared in its place.  A filling station of the same name arose down the bypass, past the Southern Railway  bridge, opposite the sports field belonging to Wandgas Athletic Club.  Meanwhile, from my pushchair, I watched as lofty elm trees were felled, to make way for the Gaumont cinema. 

Modernistic shops and flats materialised, their bowed-front facing the roundabout reminiscent of an ocean liner, and sometimes referred to as “The Queen Mary”. 

Meanwhile, the corner at the start of Green Lane had clay pits like shell holes that rapidly filled with water after rain. These disappeared in 1940, when large brick, public air-raid shelters were built. by which time we had moved into 24 Reigate Avenue, and become “semi-detached”!” After the war the shelters themselves disappeared under the Cheshire House flats.  Facing the roundabout, on the corner of Wrythe Lane, was “The Rose” pub, with its (for those days) extensive car park planned, I suppose, to cater for the traffic heading for Brighton- mostly coaches (or charabancs as some of our parents quaintly called them).  The outbreak of war in September 1939 was to put pay to that idea, but the big, double-decker 88 buses would terminate there and rest before they plied their way back to distant Acton Green. 

I remember being fascinated by the shop assistants, all outside their shops, in the varied uniforms of Boots, Sainsburys, Tescos, McFarlands, Hearns, Ralphs, and all the other shops at that time. To a child, the shops were a wonderland in the evening, lit-up as they were by a string of gas streetlights and with their own gaily-lit windows.  All of this too, disappeared into darkness at the introduction of the “Blackout” which lasted throughout my school days, until 1945.

Photo:Rose Hill today

Rose Hill today

Renee Cromarty


This page was added by Cheryl Bailey on 25/04/2011.
Comments about this page

How I loved those balconies above the shops opposite what was the pub "The Rose". I so wished I had lived in those flats instead of at 300 Bishopsford Road. Being a bit star struck I would imagine myself on one of the balconies singing to my audience. A little girls dream.

By Rosie Coote nee Fairweather
On 10/09/2011

My friend moved into the top flat, around 1974, the lift was so tiny we fitted her wardrobe in it but we couldn't get in, so sent it up whilst we ran up the steps! They had lasted well, considering their age, and are an amazing design! I haven't been near there for 30 yrs! Nice to see photo above and looking so smart. Likewise I lived on the estate- not as exciting!

By sue from Wiltshire
On 24/09/2011

Nice to see the flats are still there after all these years! How long has the Rose Tavern been gone then!I used to live in Mitcham but I remember Rose Hill, I married a Sutton Girl, still married and haven't children, we live in East Anglia now.

By Davidb B
On 20/11/2011

I just read the entry about Rose Hill by Rosie Coote.We lived at 300 Bishopsford Road from 1957 ( I think ) until 1960 when we moved to Cambridge. I remember the noise of the milk lorries stopping at the traffic lights in the middle of the night and the milk bottles clattering in the steel crates. When did you live there Rosie?. Before living in Bishopsford Road, we lived at 38 Netley Gardens. I had a good friend there named Steve Coote, any connection?. Mick Adley, near Adelaide, Australia.

By Mick Adley
On 12/10/2012

Wow, so many memories. lived on the estate from 63' til 84. 15 Newminster Rd opposite the school. Remember my dad on a Saturday going to the bookies at Rosehill & then onto The Rose to get hammered. Both my parents were Irish & I have 4 sisters, Barbara, Janet, Wendy & Michelle. I remember doing penny for a Guy outside the Bingo Hall & selling the Evening Standard outside The Rose.Anyone out there remember.

By Victor Tribbick
On 17/10/2012

In my teens I worked as a 1st. hand for Gerreds greengrocers. They had two shops one was up near the Hospital next to Ralph's grocery shop which was an open double front shop. I worked at Gerreds other double fronted shop on the bend of the parade opposite the Rose Hill roundabout and facing the Rose Public House.Then there where all the costermongers stalls all the way down the parade selling their fruit and veg at the kerbside.The bus route was the 157 Wallington to Raynes Park and the 88 would start from the Rose Public House car park to Acton Green.

By Sidney Sussex
On 07/01/2013

Mick Adley's entry reminds me that my nan and grandad lived in Netley Gardens No. 10, I think. I went to Malmesbury Junior School around the corner because the school closest to us, Glastonbury Junior, was full. I don't remember the Cootes but my mates Terry Grant, John Pennington and Steve Evans all lived in the gardens. Two doors away from my nan lived Linda Grogan and I was secretly in love with her. Oh my aching heart! Strangely Mick, I now live in Adelaide, Australia too, in the north east suburbs. I go back to the UK regularly but have only once been back to Rosehill, since I emigrated in 1987. You can take the boy out of Rosehill but you can't take Rosehill out of the boy.

By Steve Smith
On 04/04/2013

just wondered if anyone remembered the tea place on the left under the flats, if anyone was moving we used to go and buy the tea chests from them and normally they still had quite a bit of tea rolling around inside the chests. lovely memories

By Pamela Laflin was Tyler
On 28/04/2013

It was interesting to find this item about Rosehill as the Cheshire House was built on my late Grandfathers farm and I grew up in this area and remember so many stories about the history of Rosehill pre the Glastonbury/Rosehill estate being built when it was just farm land.

By T Mason
On 10/09/2013

I remember ralphs at rosehill, mum use to get her processed cheese and sausages there, her meat was gotten from hernes the butchers and veg from brooks and the best pasties where sold at bonneats that was near woolworths, Food tasted better and fresher in those days.

By Heather
On 06/05/2013

St Helier - what a place to grow up. I think I was in one of the last generations to experience the fun of playing out in the street all day! I lived there from birth in 1968 until I was 22. I remember buying sweeties and copies of Twinkle in Taylor's (later Pauline's newsagents) and going to Monty's for me mum. We lived in Netley Gardens and a group of girls and boys aged between 5 - 10 would all play out together. We'd play games I've forgotten the rules to like 3 bad eggs, British Bulldog and one about "going across the water, to see a fairy daughter, on a cup and saucer, upside down". Our best summer of play ever was when building works took place to reduce the grass circle in the middle of the Gardens so more cars could park there. It meant a circular trench was dug which became the best play area ever. Health and Safety would have a fit now as we crawled around in the mud being Nazis' and the always victorious British soldiers. My shot German rendition would have put Daniel Day-Lewis to shame! It was a brilliant place to be. I also remember having Guy Fawkes bonfires on the green and being in rivalry with Neath Gardens for the best bonfire, which usually involved sneaking around stealing wood and old furniture from each others piles!

By Lynn Brodby
On 01/07/2013

The tea place on the left under the flats was my grandads tea shop Hill Top Teas and I can remember going there as a child to watch him tea tasting, I used to sit on the tea chests !!!

By Loraine Walker
On 08/08/2013

I remember the tea chests and the fresh tea, and Taylors shop for sweets and Montys for groceries. I used to stare in awe at those flats as I went to the shop. I used to walk up from the corner of Middleton Road and St Helier's Ave, I passed both Neath and Netley Gardens - had school friends living in both of these gardens. 

By Gill Cole
On 30/10/2014

Anyone remember the barrow selling sweets etc,at the foot of Morton Green,you had a barrel full of sawdust into which you could dip your hand hopefully to win a small prize. It was run by a family called Voteters, I played football on Morton Green with their boys, it was not long before a V1 hit the three oak trees on that green and took them out. We called them faith hope and charity.

By Dennis O'Brien
On 17/02/2015

Rosehill, my first job at a hairdressers Russell's was just along from the cinema.  If you went out the back end of the shop to go home I always felt some one was around, very cold strange place. Just along about two shops there was an opticians where I had my first sight of Sir Harry Secombe going to have his eyes tested, he was well known then, my first sight of a star.

By Janette gillmore
On 05/09/2015

I lived in Stavordale Rd. from 1945 until 1968, I remember Hill Top Teas, had a paper round at Taylor's delivering many in the flats above, went to the Holy Family school in Montacute Rd. There was an Iris Adley in my class, any relation Mick in Adelaide, Valerie Wells was also in the class for one year only, she was so pretty, we were only 10 or 11 but every time a Volkswagen car went by there were her initials VW to remind me, I remember George the milkman, scrumping in the grounds of Hill House and the Gerrards greengrocers, probably the only business remaining is A. Smith the undertakers, happy days indeed.

By Michael Tanner
On 15/09/2016

Re Hill Top Teas

My Grandfather was the owner's eldest brother so that makes me a cousin something removed to Lorraine Walker who commented above.

My parents and I lived on the Watts estate off Green Wrythe Lane and my mother and I would pass the shop going home from St Helier Methodist Church. If Uncle Ern saw us we had to stop for 'half of tea' even though my parents drank coffee ! I remember the local boys asking for the tea chests to stoke the fires on Bonfire Night 

By Maureen Mahoney nee Bertrand
On 28/09/2019

Lovely reading up on your stories. Has anyone got information on Goodson house where I currently live as really enjoy a bit of history.

By Najjj
On 19/05/2020

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