Jean Dowd was born Jean Bott in Charlton in 1934. She lived in Delafield Road with her mother, father and brother in a house that backed on to Charlton Railway Station. She can remember her brother waving off one of his friends who was being evacuated to Leeds and shouting their addresses to each other.
At first they were both evacuated to Reading to stay with their aunt, but they came back after a time because the bombing hadn’t started. However, no sooner were they back than the Battle of Britain began and her parents had to have discussions about where to send them. It was decided they would go with their mother to stay with one of her friends in Bradford.
After a short time Jean’s father had the option of moving with work to Radway Green and he found lodgings for them all in Kidsgrove. You can hear Jean talking about her mother’s reaction to arriving at Kidsgrove Station by clicking on the link below:
Jean’s first impressions were slightly more positive than her mother’s. She hadn’t been used to so much countryside and felt as though she was on a holiday. She also remembers everybody being very poor and wearing clogs – something which she wasn’t used to. They were treated as outsiders at first. Her mother had made her a siren suit and nobody in Kidsgrove had ever seen anything like it! She also remembers being bullied somewhat at school for the way she spoke before her brother stuck up for her. Their next move was better still, when they found they had their own place in Goldenhill. They had an amazing neighbour called Mrs Brooks who helped them move in and always baked them an apple pie for when they came back off long trips.
She still has a great affection and feels a tie to South East London. One of her fondest memories is of her cat and the dog making their way up to Staffordshire in the back of a Pickford’s lorry (the removal men had evidently had to put the cat in a sack). When they arrived they said to her father: “Whatever you do don’t let that cat out while we’re at the house”.