A story from the grave

My late fathers history

By Tony Morrison

My father, Tom Morrison, died a couple of years ago and just this week, I have been forwarded a copy of his life story which he wrote down in 1999. I never knew it existed before Sunday!
Dad was born in Balcombe Street in 1932. His parents were Eliza Lord and his father was Thomas Morrison and they lived at 115 Bell Street. My Nan lived there until the late 70's in the house above what was then a shoe repairers. I believe the shop is now a travel agents. I was born in 1960 and spent many good times in my childhood at Bell Street. 
My Nan, who according to the manuscript, was known as Liley and one of her jobs was as a chorus girl at the West London Music Hall in Church Street.  My fathers, father died in 1935 when dad was 3 so there aren't a lot of recollections about him. Apparently, my Nan sang with the Ming Lyons Imperial Trio and in his memoirs my dad talks about her sharing the music hall bills with people like Hermione Baderley who was part of a duet called the Two Hermiones. 
My original Marylebone family seems to have been quite large. My great uncles were, Bill, Henry, Leslie, Georgie, Fred and Syd. There was also a great aunt Ivy, all had the surname Lord and we may or may not be related to Thomas Lord who, according to this document, "owned" Lords cricket ground!  The one I remember most is Uncle Henry who was a scrap metal dealer in Lisson Street, the site of which is now an office block owned by a company called UBC. I have many memories of nipping down there as a child and, fascinated by cars, my uncle Henry would let me play with old speedometers or steering wheels from scrapped cars. 
My dad tells of the old cobbled streets around Scroton Street and how the great horses used to sometimes fall over on the shiny stones. He goes on to say about how his mother used to work at a pub called the Robin, the Robinson Crusoe in fact which I understand is now demolished. His description is thus, maroon glazed tiles, sawdust on the floors and a separate ladies bar called a Snug. Further recollections are of his forthrightly visit to a barber called Teddy Woodwards in Bell Street. His mum who was only 4 foot 10, once sent him down there for a "threepenny Joey", which I'm guessing was a haircut and Mr Woodward got his new apprentice to cut his hair. It didn't turn out to good and Mr W said, "stone me, Lylie will kill me if she sees what you've done to Tommys hair". It went so far that 2 of dads uncles ended up having a fearful row over who was going to go down and sort out Mr Woodward!
My dad also reveals a family in Daventry Street called Brooks and a son called Joey Brooks who was always knocking him about. My dad yelled up to Nan, "mum, Joey Brooks is hitting me" and as my nan came storming down, Mrs Brooks appeared and they had a fight in the street with my nan having a big clump of hair and a little of her scalp removed. My dad says, "I suffered for a while after that!"  
He also talks about Church Street Market and in particular of a greengrocers run by a lady wearing a mans cap and smoking a little pipe. He also mentions 2 pubs the family used to use in the market called the Harp and another called the Admiral, (I'm guessing that'd be The Lord High Admiral which is still there). He describes how the beer pumps had beautiful porcelain handles but one of them was in fact a fake pump and the handle would be taken off and used as a truncheon when needed. Mr Dore was the Landlord at the time. 
We had a relative who had a coal shop in Salisbury Street. People could buy coal by the stone and my dad used to help out there by chopping up wood for kindling. Also, he mentions several shops in and around Bell Street. There was a Chippendale workshop, a dairy with a mechanical cow too. You'd put in a couple of pennies and it'd produce a pint of milk. On the corner of Lisson Street was a pub called the Brazen Head where his uncle Bob Soley would sit all day dressed in the same attire whatever the weather. Long black overcoat, white silk scarf and a flat cap. My dad never recalls Bob Soley doing anything other than sitting at the bar but goes on that he was held in high esteem by the locals. Other shops he talks about are Pepes the greengrocers, Judges bike shop where he bought his first cycle, "£8.50 or a third down and the rest over 2 years" as he describes it. There was an eel and pie shop opposite the Sunlight Laundry. Cooked eels were dearer than raw ones so a treat was pie, 2 portions of mash and liqueur. On extra special treat days, they'd have raw eels too. Also in Bell Street, a rag and bone shop where you could take empty bottles and newspapers in exchange for ha'pennies which would be saved up for a trip to the News Cinema in Praed Street. 
I could go on and on and on but dads memoir runs into 91 pages and I've yet to read it all but I was absolutely fascinated by his recollections. I have my own memories of being in Marylebone in the 60's and 70's but even over that 30 or 40 years it changed so much. Places I remember like the Perseverance and the book shop in Bell Street are still there but many other places are long gone, one in particular being Chuffs, the model train shop up the top of Baker Street which must have closed in about 1970. 
I'd love to read other people's recollections so if you have any, get them up here and share them!

Photo:Bell Street, my brother Mike, Tom Morrison, me

Bell Street, my brother Mike, Tom Morrison, me

Photo:My nan, Eliza Lord, Bell Street, 1952

My nan, Eliza Lord, Bell Street, 1952

Photo:My dad, Tommy Morrison, circa 1952

My dad, Tommy Morrison, circa 1952

This page was added on 20/11/2013.
Comments about this page

I lived in Stalbridge Street, one end of Bell Street & the other end off Shroton Street, so knew of all the shops you mention, except the Coal Shop, the one I knew of was in Daventry Street. As mentioned in a request, yes I knew your uncle Les & some other members of the family. I am not a hundred percent sure, but I believe one of my uncles had a friend by the name of Tommy Morrison. My Uncle was born 1906 and died about 1932 / 3. I do have a photograph of the two of them together.

By Doreen Paganini
On 17/01/2014

What wonderful recollections of Marylebone. Thank you for sharing with us. I look forward to more maybe!

By Gillian Waters
On 04/07/2014

My wife and I were good friends of Tom. We spent a lot of time together in the 1950s and were guests at his marriage to Wendy. 

We lost touch, but by good fortune were able to meet up together with other old Marylebone friends in June of 2007.

The group of us continued to meet each year. It was great to meet Tom again after so many years.

The remaining friends continue to meet, at which time we raise a glass to absent friends

Peter and Anne King

Ex Lisson Street and Shroton Street

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By peter king
On 03/11/2016

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