There are no cottages in Stewarts Lane any more; these were demolished to make way for housing estates, industrial units and a large set of railway sidings during the Fifties and Sixties. I still go through that area every day on my commute to the office and I can’t quite marry up this sepia tinged picture with what I see every day. Yet for decades, families occupied this area just to the north of Wandsworth Road in a series of houses that had two rooms on each floor and an outside privy in a tiny paved yard.
My dad – and his siblings – were born and grew up in one of these cottages. He’s dead now, but I don’t recall him ever saying he missed living there, although until the relative end of his life, he never moved far away from his birthplace. He’d seen it change and develop and it didn’t seem to bother him too much. He could still remember the yard, the privy, the tin bath in the front room and the queue for the rough soap and scrub.
Does it both me now, looking at these older photos and comparing it with what it looks like now? I don’t think it does, but I must admit to finding the more recent spate of developments in the area to be much more jarring. I think Dad may just have been better at hiding it than I am.