Part 4: growing up

Gangs, teenagers, pubs, youth clubs and boxing vicars. New St Aloysius Church. London Borough of Camden forms. Rent Strike against council rent rise. Euston Arch knocked down in station development 1961.

George, now with a quiff, and after National Service, frequents the Cock Tavern ‘the place to go’ and meets his future wife. They wed in St Pancras Old Church in 1958, as many local couples do. But there’s no flat for them, so he has to move from Somers Town. George and wife have two children, who attend St Christophers’ nursery. He works in Smithfields market. Finallly George and family returns to Somers Town with a flat in St Joseph’s flats. Estate Manager is Phyliss Hodges. He takes up taxi driving on top of his market job.

Photo of a porcelain doll of a World War 2 evacuee in front of a model mine cart full of coal.

Pubs

  • A photo of three ladies at the pub. Pub life

    Pub life was full of song in old Somers Town; since ‘Every pub had a piano’, singalongs, and often live bands. Along with the popular hits of the day, some songs were particular to Somers Town and appear to be variations on popular lyrics, like ‘Only a shanty in old Somers Town’.

  • Pubs and dancehalls

    Dancehalls and pubs were big. All pubs had pianos and often had live bands, but DJs were taking on the pianos. Mods are more popular in Somers Town. Local Barry Purchese remembers ‘getting measured up for the your first suit’ in the Mod style, and going to the Tottenham Royal to meet girls and see the Dave Clark Five. - Barry and Danny

  • Flea pits and markets

    The Chalton Street market is a centre of social life, but cinemas are popular such as the Tolmer Cinema, an (in) famous flea-pit. With a terrific double bills of movies, it was the cheapest in London. The audience were a mixture of movie-buffs, homeless street people, a scattering of prostitutes and their potential clients and a few gay men looking for their own kind.

  • Skiffle and boxing vicars

    Skiffle bands play in the Somers Town Youth club in Jellicoe Hall. "I had a guitar. Tommie Owen had a banjo. He used to nod his head to change chords. We only knew three chords. I got into motorbikes - that was the end of the skiffle.” - Dave Hoefling.

    The ‘Vicar’s club’ in Lancing Street put many boys on the straight and narrow. Father John started up boxing and had rock ‘n roll upstairs.

  • Photo of a lady holding a photograph of the Beatles from the Mad Day Out photoshoot. Beatles visit

    On July 1968 the Beatles photoshoot ‘Mad Day Out’ in St Pancras Old Churchyard. Somers Town teenager Elaine waits, and does not see them, ‘We were expecting to see a limo... so we didn’t notice they were there right amongst us.’ They’d crept into the crowd unobserved. Photographer Don McCullin wanted no fuss in the photo. She later sees her image in middle of the Beatles album.

  • Photo of a jet taking off outside St Pancras station. Cold war RAF HQ?

    At the height of the Cold War, for a few days in May 1969 state-of-the-art fighter jets screamed in and out of Somers Town ‘RAF St Pancras’ just North-East of St Pancras Station at Purchese Street Coal Depot. Somers Town was part of a transatlantic race competition between Post Office Tower and Empire State Building New York. The Daily Mail, sponsoring the races to the tune of £40,000 in prizes. Locals went to watch: ‘remembered the coal dust’ as told to Lester Hillman.

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