Ok so the weather has turned and normal service has resumed, but it doesn’t mean we can’t dream of syrupy sunshine and seamless skies. Grab your Kiss Me Quick hat, whose up for beano down to Southend, via memory lane?
91-year-old Daisy Woodard, or as she prefers to be known, Daisy Bailey, has opened up her photo albums for us, which depict the halcyon days of the 1950s onwards. From the moment she saved up for and bought her very own Leica camera, Daisy became obsessed with capturing high days and holidays around her Isle of Dogs home and thank goodness she did, because this powerful pictorial collection transports us all back to a gentler, kinder and more magical age.
‘I don’t know why, but I just love taking photos,’ she said with nostalgic grin when I went to visit her in her Isle of Dogs home. ‘I made myself the factory pest as everywhere I went, you can be sure my camera came to.’
“I was born in 1927 in the downstairs front room of 8 Newcastle Street, Isle of Dogs. I was an only child and spent a lot of time with my Gran who lived with us and looked after me when Mum was working. There was a bakery round the corner and I used to run there at 6am to get the stale cake so Mum could take it to work. And they say the only child is spoilt!”
“I was part of a large and extended Isle of Dogs family, with cousins, aunts and uncles all living nearby, so despite being an only child I was never short of playmates.”
“Me on the left. Sweet sixteen – is there a better age? – in my first job at a sweet factory. I think I ate more than I earned!”
“Me and my pal ‘Doll Moll’ as I called her in my second job at rope works Hawkins & Tipson on the Island in the 1950s. The factory employed about 100 local men and women. It could be dangerous and we all had to carry a sharp knife attached to our belts in case the rope we were handling got tangled up or got caught up in a machine. Many relationships blossomed at work, as workers were often neighbours too. I met my husband Dave in the factory.”
“Larking about in the factory yard with Lil (left) Harry Harris, the foreman and May (right)”
“Here’s me and my two pals Gwen and Bridget on a beano down Clacton. It was a chance to let our hair down after long days in the factory. They reckoned I look like Diana Dors except they used to call me ‘Diana no drawers’. We really did enjoy ourselves on those days out. All East Enders did. Apart from hop picking, it was a rare chance to get away from London.”
“Jellied eels anyone?’
“This was our twinkly-eyed driver and my mate Mabel. They were an item for the day I think, it happened a lot on beanos.”
“A beano was a chance to get rid of factory overalls and put on our Sunday best. All the women made such an effort back then, matching gloves to bags and shoes and teaming them with our best dresses. Men were equally well turned out in their suits.”
“A little drop of something for the journey down. I loved this white dress. I used to hate my figure back then, now I look at these pictures and think “what was I moaning about”?”
“Usually men and women had different days out. These were a load of girls I knew from Bow, I always had a good time with them. Sadly I can’t remember their names, but the girl in the front with the trumpet was a right laugh.”
“My husband Dave in his deckchair. Men always used to wear a suit and tie back then, even to the seaside!”
“I don’t know if it actually was, but it always felt hotter in the summers back then. The East End would bake so a beano was a chance to escape to the fresh air of the seaside. Few people went on foreign holidays back then, so the seaside resorts were always buzzing and full of life.”
“Here’s me with my beautiful daughter June, from now on it’s all baby photos in the album! I don’t think you could have found a prouder, happier mum. I used to love pushing her out in her coach pram round Island Gardens.”
“Happy times with my mum and dad at Christmas.”
“My mum and mother in law enjoying a drop of Porter. A lot of the old girls would wear their wrap-around aprons under their coats and take their vegetables to the pub to peel. They were tough back then.”
Daisy and Kate reminiscing.