A choirboy's memories
Martin Brunnschweiler spent his early childhood years in Denham and after seeing the stories on our website, he wanted to share his own memories. So we have made him a guest contributor. Here is his story.
Martin now lives in the Isle of Man, where he makes beer. He and his wife Debbie have four children Nicky, Martin, Andrew and Melanie. He wants them all to share his memories.
My family lived at River Lodge from about 1964 until 1971 and despite leaving at the age of eleven I have great memories until we moved north to Lancashire for our father’s work in the textile industry.
It was an idyllic childhood - there were four children, 2 girls and 2 boys and we went to the local county primary schools until I took my eleven plus exams. My brother Andy and I were in the choir at St Mary’s and I was a bell ringer as well. The photo here shows my wife Debbie finding me in a picture of the choir around 1969/70. It's in the vestry. Andy is in the front row sitting second from the left and I’m front row first on the right kneeling. We love seeing the church in episodes of Midsomer Murders and other programmes which bring the memories flooding back.
It was obviously a different world then. Our father took my younger brother Andy and myself once to see a football match at Chelsea showing us how to get to the ground for the first time so that we’d be able to go ourselves, thereafter getting a bus to Uxbridge, tube train changing at Rayners Lane and Earls Court and finally getting off at Fulham Broadway. I’d have been ten and Andy eight but it seemed perfectly safe for us to be doing it back then.
This is me again, the one wearing the balaclava, outside River Lodge together with my dad and the Rolls Royce Silver Cloud which Viyella provided as part of his job. Andy is on his bike and what was then the Weeks' farmhouse is in the background. Dad worked at Viyella’s head office in Savile Row and commuted daily to Marylebone using a collapsible bike along the Pyghtle and then taking it on the train to finish the journey swiftly. I remember how jealous my older sister Nicky was when Dad told us about the Beatles bringing the street to a standstill when they did their rooftop concert in January 1969. I didn’t know until recently that there up on the roof behind one of the film cameras was Colin Corby who later became a well known Denham resident.
Valerie Evans (always Miss Evans) got on well with our mother and kept us children stocked up with comics - Beano, Dandy and Bunty and I was pleasantly surprised when she remembered Mum fondly and all of us children by name when I called by a few years ago despite her being very elderly at that point.
River Lodge was a lovely house which Mum and Dad extended by joining together two main buildings to create a fine sitting room with balcony. It seems to have attracted people from show business since we left. The singer Peter Noone (Herman of Herman’s Hermits) bought it from us in 1971 and I’ve read that he put a recording studio in one of the outbuildings before heading out to America a couple of years later. I made contact with him a few years ago when he was on tour back in the UK and he had very kind things to say about Mum and the pride she took in her garden.
I also remember another singer, Matt Monroe, being shown around when the property was on the market.
Other random memories I have are of a seafood stand outside the Green Man pub on weekends selling whelks and cockles.
I have a few memories of Denham fair when I had a table selling stick insects in jam jars with privet twigs and real live greasy piglets on a stall on the village green which you had to try and catch to win a prize. I can remember one year, which must have been 1966, when a World Cup Willie lookalike was in the fair’s procession.
One final memory I have was when Roger Moore and Tony Curtis were filming a scene for the Persuaders outside the Weeks’ farm over the road from the house and Mum and her friend Mrs Conley were chatting away noisily and the director asked if they could be quiet. I’m guessing he wasn’t terribly polite when he asked because Roger Moore himself came over and smooth talked them into piping down and letting them have autographs of which I still have one.
Thanks for reading my haphazard list of a child’s memories. And many thanks for your website.
Photo of Peter Noone by Cindy Funk, CC BY 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons
Other photos by Martin Brunnschweiler