Letters, Monday, April 11th, 2011

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Happy memories of Deptford Days

THE article on Deptford (Echo, March 17) brought back lots of happy memories. My family lived in Roseanne Street. My older brother and I went to St Andrew’s School.

My brother was the first ever pupil to pass the 11+ exam and he went to Bede School. The school put on a party for him and our family in St Andrew’s School hall in Church Street. We had a magician, paper hats and ice cream and cakes, a rare treat for children in those days.

The Dene was always the focal point for Deptford. The war victory party was held in the Dene. My dad, who could play the organ, got the big lads to carry the organ on to the Dene, couples danced and sang, while we, as young boys, chased the girls, slashing their legs with ploggies (spiky weeds).

On a Sunday morning it was Deptford v Trimdon Street on the Dene, which was rough tarmac. Coats went down for the goal, no lines, no ref and the ball was a casey.

I remember a large furniture-type lorry full of different sized bikes and you could pay the lads for maybe half an hour joy ride at your leisure, again a rare treat.

The local character in Deptford was a very large and lovely lady called Big Emily. One day all hell let loose near Garthorps Bank as she had caught a German spy. When the police arrived she had him up against the wall unable to move. They took him to the police box at the end of Alexandra Bridge where crowds gathered to boo him as he was led away. We never knew the outcome of that but she was our heroine.

Boyish pranks when you tied two doors together with string then knocked on both doors as you ran away, stuffing paper in the base of a metal down-comer and setting fire to it, creating a loud buzzing sound that lasted for ages; passage carpets were rolled up from the front door (always open) and then thrown to the top end of the passage, shouting “bagwash”.

The Lamb family were really known because of the father who held full control of us at the Millie as he was the real chucker-out.

After many years Deptford, like many other areas, needed revamping and clearing. Most families ended up at Pennywell and other districts with mixed feelings about moving out but realising the benefits of being modern.

A. Winter, Carleton Drive, Mowden Park, Darlington

Save the alley

I WOULD like to say how sorry I am to be losing the BKF Bowling Alley on Newcastle Road. I have been going to this bowling alley for 15 years and myself and my two children have spent many a great time there.

My youngest has been going since he was only three weeks old and started bowling when he was only a few years old. He is now a better bowler than me and recently received most improved bowler in the league we both play in.

I know that the owner has approached Sunderland Council for a permit to move to new premises and has been refused numerous times. Why? I will lose a lot of friends when this alley closes. My son and I will also lose our family night out together. I can’t afford to go to any other bowling alley.

I would like to know why Sunderland Council is against letting the bowling alley move premises when what we need in the North East is more places to take our families at a reasonable cost. We have already lost the swimming baths on Newcastle road and Crowtree Leisure Centre (where I myself spent my youth in the ice rink), so please don’t let us lose yet another.

D. Evans, West Boldon

Pass returned

CAN I send a big thank-you to Deptford bus depot and all concerned for the quick return of my bus pass?

I lost it on Tuesday lunchtime

and it was returned on Thursday by post.

Once again, thank you. It’s much appreciated.

Mrs. A. Gibson

Pay and perks

RE the council chief executive officer. I was astounded to learn that, apart from a big salary, the ratepayers contribute a further 14.5 per cent to his pension fund. Is it any wonder no chief executive reaches full retirement age in office?

The argument that we must pay top dollar to attract the best hardly holds water in the case of the present incumbent. He was already employed by the council.

It is also noted that the financial director (once called the borough treasurer) also receives pension contributions of 14.5 per cent.

I wonder how many have held this position in the last 15 years. To the best of my knowledge at least three, and all of them retired early.

Can someone explain why, in the case of a retired executive (having chosen to retire early), does he receive an excessive tax-free lump sum for “loss of office”?

Is it any wonder that people in the private sector are out of sympathy with the public sector?

Finally, do all council employees receive a 14.5 per cent contribution to their pension fund? If not, it requires an explanation as to why the inequality exists.

D. Pearson, Sunderland