Thornhill Square in the 1950s and 1960s, by Michael Rose


As a London taxi driver I recently dropped a young lady off at Thornhill Crescent and she suggested I visit this website. It was a nostalgic fare for me as I was christened in St. Andrew’s Church. I also attended Sunday School there; I think the vicar’s name was Mr. Curley.

I lived in the area – Shirley Street (now gone), just off Matilda Street – and attended St Thomas’ School in Everilda Street (now also gone). I was born in 1948 so my ‘active’ time around the square would have been from the mid-fifties until the early sixties. The square was always a favourite place with the local children as it was the nearest open area of grass – plus trees and a playground.

What struck me most when I drove around the square was that nothing really had changed! The swing park is how I remember it; the big Plane Tree by the swing park is just as majestic, and I remember a pair of Crows always nested high up in its branches. The best bit, for us kids, was the small hill just to the north of the Plane Tree because it had plenty of bushes to hide in and to have a crafty cigarette (I was about fourteen by then – 50 years ago). Also, at the southern end in Matilda Street was the Buffalo Club. Not a disco, but a working men’s club where adults went for a drink and a jolly-up.

Those of you around at that time may also remember we had a milkman in Matilda Street. He had a small dairy and a cobbled yard where he kept his horse! His name was Bill Morgan. You may also recall a lady known as Beetroot Annie who sold her beetroots on the corner of Tilloch Street and Caledonian Road. And, of course, the Home & Colonial store in Caledonian Road.

Probably my earliest memory was at the age of four or five attending a party in Matilda Street to celebrate the queen’s coronation.

Just across the ‘Cally’ was Tilloch Street where my cousins lived and I remember vividly the gaps in the rows of terraced houses where a bomb had landed during the war. These ruins were our playgrounds. In fact my cousin, who is ten years older than me, says he remembers barrage balloons above the area during the war years.

Thornhill is a beautiful London square well worth preserving. I just hope it stays that way.

All the best,

Michael Rose