Ilford heritage: Memories of the 1946 eclipse in Hainault

Properties damaged during the Blitz as bombing raids cause havoc in London. Picture: PA Archive/PA I

Properties damaged during the Blitz as bombing raids cause havoc in London. Picture: PA Archive/PA Images. - Credit: PA Archive/PA Images

Things couldn’t go straight back to normal after the war. We had lost so many ships and also getting the goods from other parts of the world into the country took a long time.

The country was broke and our allies had to supply us with funds to keep us going in the form of Lend-lease from America.

But we couldn’t willy nilly, as a country, go out and buy all the commodities that we’d been used to having before the war - we had to restrict our spending.

This was all during the time between 1945 and the 50s, when things started to change more and has slowly come to resemble what we see today in life.

At John Bramston Primary School we still had the big prefabricated buildings, and I remember in 1946 or so we had an eclipse come around for the first time.

We had never seen an eclipse before, we’d never seen it or heard of it or anything.

It happened during the daytime, and every student had to find a smoky piece of glass – that our parents had smoked for us – and of course when the time came, all the kids ran out past the school gates, into the roadway, and stared up into the sky to see the eclipse.

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The new houses next to the school hadn’t been built then, and it was surrounded by fields.

There was a small factory up there– I was never sure who it belonged to or what it was – but they used to have railway lines running through the field running who knows where.

A wagon used to sit on the rails, and we used to climb all over it and try to push it so that we could get it rolling down the slight incline of the hill in the field.

It would come clattering down the line, and smash into the buffers at the end of the field.

We never knew what it was doing there, but it was derelict, it must have been left there from the 1930s, and we used to have great fun.

We learnt quite quickly to jump off before it hit the buffers, because quite often it would go flying through the air, off the rails, and we would all have to work together to get it back up onto the rails.