Margaret Flanagan

An Evacuee's Story

By Gina Da Cunha

Photo: Illustrative image for the 'Margaret Flanagan' page

Photo from WRVS Heritage Plus Archive

Photo: Illustrative image for the 'Margaret Flanagan' page

Photo from WRVS Heritage Plus Archive

Photo: Illustrative image for the 'Margaret Flanagan' page

Photo from WRVS Heritage Plus Archive

Photo: Illustrative image for the 'Margaret Flanagan' page

Photo from WRVS Heritage Plus Archive

Margaret Flanagan was born in Lambeth, south London in 1930.  Here's her story, shaped by her experiences as a wartime evacuee.

A close-knit family

'There was my mum and dad and sister Joyce. I had a three-wheeler bike which I had to share with my sister. My gran, granddad and aunty lived in the flat above us; we lived in the one below. We had lots of relatives visiting us every Sunday. My dad worked on the railways, driving lorries to Nine Elms. My mum worked for Freeman's Catalogue firm in Clapham and a button factory. We always had lots of buttons. She wore glasses and was dark, and my dad was quite small and dark.'

Gran always in a hat - even indoors!

'My granny's name was Sarah, known as Sally. Me granddad was in uniform during the First World War, but he didn't fight as he was deaf. He did war work in London. He was a lively man. His name was John Albon. I was in my teens when they died. I was in Crawley by the time my granddad died. My gran used to wear a hat, even indoors. They had 6 kids.'

School goes up in smoke - and exam results with it

'I was born on 18th September 1930 in Wilcox Road, South Lambeth. It was when I was about 3 and a half that we moved to Brimsworth Road by my grannie and granddad Albon. By then I was going to the school opposite where I took my scholarship at 10 years old. Unfortunately when our house was bombed, so was the school, so I never had any results of any exams.'

A heady aroma of stew and polish

'We lived at that house till we got bombed out in Lambeth. This is the kitchen and scullery. There was lino on the floor and a rug. Fireside chairs and two armchairs. A little fireplace, a mirror above it and a clock on the mantelpiece made of grey marble. The room was facing our neighbour's house. The smells I remember are the smell of stew cooking, though my dad wouldn't eat stew and the smell of polish. We were there from 1933 to 1940.'

Wartime evacuation

Margaret was evacuated during the war and went to Reading for two weeks 'Our parents thought we may as well be in London as Reading', then to Launceston in Cornwall. 'This time with mum. We stayed at the workhouse there till they could find a proper home for us. We were made very welcome and the food was good. Dad was getting fed up being on his own though, and wrote that the bombing wasn't too bad so after a few weeks, we returned to London. When we were bombed out in April 1941, we went to live with friends of my aunt in Kingstanding, Birmingham. We were living in a house with a bathroom, a luxury we had never known before. I came back to London in Christmas 1943, but my sister stayed on. I went to Brixton Central School at Vauxhall. After leaving school in 1945, she worked at the post office in St Paul's, London as a girl probationer.'

A husband lost tragically young

'I moved to Crawley in 1954 with my first husband Ron Hastings after we were married in June 1954. We went to the TT races on the Isle of Man for our honeymoon, riding all the way by motorbike to the Liverpool ferry. I had a job with Langley of London until we moved, but there wasn't enough work for my husband, so we moved back to London in 1957. I had my first daughter Jeanette in October 1955. My husband began working at the RAC but it was such poor wages, that's why we went back. My husband got a job at Lewisham Council so we moved to Forest Hill. I then worked for an insurance broker, but in August 1968 my husband died suddenly. He was 41. I was fortunate in having friends and family to turn to at the time.

Remarriage and a new life in Crawley

After a time, Les, my husband's friend from Crawley came to see us and we all went on several holidays together. In July 1970 I moved back to Crawley with my children and married Les in 1973.  I lived on Cloverlands in Northgate and The Dingle with Les.'

This page was added by Gina Da Cunha on 01/04/2008.

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