Interview with Dr. Piotr Stolarski
Above: Sheila Folliard, indexing
Ealing Local History Centre works closely with volunteers to research the borough’s history and make it more widely available to the public. We currently have four volunteers who generously give two hours of their time each week. Sheila Folliard is one of them, and has been assisting us since 2011. This month’s blog post features an interview with Sheila, who has lived in Perivale since the 1960s, and explores various aspects of the district’s history from the perspective of a long-time resident with an interest in local history and many personal recollections of the borough.
PS: Good morning Sheila. How are you?
SF: I’m fine, thank you.
PS: Excellent. Could you tell me a bit about your background, for example, your family, the
schools you went to, and so on?
SF: I was born of Irish parents. My mother came from… Southern Ireland, and my father from
County Mayo… west side of Ireland. They both met here at a dance in London. My mother
was a state-enrolled nurse, and did her training in Scotland. My father worked in a London
hotel… he worked his way up to a wine connoisseur. I was born in St. Thomas’s hospital and
lived in Southwark. Then later, moved to Leytonstone, and then in 1960s we all moved to
Perivale, not far from Perivale station. My father thought it ideal as he wanted easy access to
working in London, which is on the Central Line. I have lived here ever since, and I went to
Selborne Primary School. It was a good school, and we went on many school trips; we
visited Selborne village in Hampshire, where Gilbert White the poet lived, and his place of
rest. Later I went to Perivale Secondary School for Girls, but preferred Selborne to Perivale,
as Selborne was a far happier school.
PS: So you’ve lived in Perivale since the 1960s, where abouts have you lived?
SF: Not far from Horsenden Hill… and Perivale Community Centre.
Above: Perivale in the 1920s
PS: And how would you describe the local area then, as well as now?
SF: Oh, I’ve seen many changes. My neighbour, who lived there back in the 30s, he knew how it
was then. It was more like country, it was like a village. There were lots of farms, and he
remembers pheasants running along the dirt tracks. There weren’t proper roads, there were
dirt tracks. And I think it was named after pear trees, that’s where Perivale got its name. But
I’ve seen a lot of change. It was a very quiet, a very sleepy place… Hardly that many cars,
but now obviously it’s all built up, and the population has grown immensely.
PS: Okay, thanks for that. You’ve lived there since the 60s, over 50 years, so maybe you
could tell us a bit about each decade, starting with the 60s?
SF: In the 60s, it was a very exciting time, if you were a teenager, but I was only a school girl
then. It all started up, the Beatles, in 1963. I remember when I was nine, in 1963, the Beatles
played at the London Palladium, and got recognised, and it all started up from there. But it
was an exciting time, things were changing. Fashions – there was a lot of exciting fashions
Above: The Miniskirt
PS: What kind of fashion?
SF: Well, the mini-skirt, that was a new thing altogether. That was breaking all the boundaries,
PS: Did you have one, or were you too young then?
SF: I was too young. But probably when I was about 11, I might have had a kind of short skirt,
but not a mini. But, hairstyles were changing, and the men were wearing different
hairstyles – growing their hair long. And then the hippies came in at the end of the 60s. It
was all like Flower Power. And we were educated about the Vietnam War, when I was in my
PS: Oh right, what did they say?
SF: They tried to tell us what was going on out there. About the Americans… they didn’t tell you
the bad things about the Americans, but basically just told you what was going on in
Vietnam… I’m not quite sure what it was all about to be honest, but it was interesting…
PS: What about the 1970s, then?
SF: That’s when the Hippies, rock concerts, and Bob Dylan, came on the scene. He was 60s, but
in the 70s I remember buying his album. It was live, I didn’t want it to be live, but it was live
from Woodstock (USA)…. There was a lot of groups coming out then as well. Jobwise, it was
really easy to get a job, the economy was doing really well. And literally, if you didn’t like one
job, you could leave that, and walk into another. There was no such thing as CVs, then…
PS: You just turned up…
SF: You went for your interview, and they told you there and then, if you’d got the job or not.
PS: Was it easy all the time in the 70s, or did it get harder in the late 70s?
SF: No, from what I gather, it was easy all the time. It was the early 80s when things started to
PS: So was Perivale any different in the 70s to what it was in the 60s? For instance, did you
notice any more immigration – more people from the Caribbean or Asia or Polish people;
any kind of change in the make-up of Perivale?
SF: I remember being in my school, at the end of the 60s, and that’s when Asian people were
coming into our schools. They were just coming over then…. At Perivale Secondary, when I
was about 13 or 14, I think I noticed it then… West Indians were there before Asian people,
I think they came over here in the 50s – because they [met a] need for nurses. A lot of them
became nurses here. That’s when I noticed it more in the 70s – Asian people coming over
more in the 70s. And they were starting up their own companies as well. Small companies. I
think a lot of it was food import and export… I think they were doing quite well as well…
Above: Walpole House, Bond Street, Ealing
PS: And what about the 1980s?
SF: Well, workwise it was still good. It wasn’t that hard. Even then you didn’t need a CV. I think it
was towards the middle of the 80s when things were getting harder. I think the economy was
not as prosperous. By the middle 80s to the 90s I think that’s when they made it harder,
looking for work. You had to set up CVs then. I did at one stage work for British Telecom,
located at Walpole House, Bond Street. On one side were people working on Cellnet –
phones in cars, and on the other side was Radio-Paging. I worked on Radio-Paging. Royalty
sometimes rang in, i.e. Prince Charles saying to meet his chauffeur at the palace gates. Also
newsdesk would ring in. We were the first to get the new flashes i.e. Margaret Thatcher
resigning. Everyone cheered in the room that day [….] eventually BT took their business to
Leeds and a lot of us were made redundant.
PS: Do you have memories of the 90s?
SF: Yes, things were getting tougher then, work-wise. The agencies were still doing well. You
could still go to an agency and look for work. But I think it was a lot easier in the 70s and
80s, by the 90s it was getting harder and there was more people coming into our country as
well. Not so much Polish, for me, personally, I didn’t notice it until 2004 to be honest. I saw
Polish people, but not the build-up. The build-up was 2004, that’s when I did notice it.
Above: Tony Blair with wife Cherie, after 1997 election
PS: And, politically, do you remember Tony Blair, there was supposed to be a big change in
politics in 1997, when he got elected?
SF: Yes, I did vote for Tony Blair. And I did like him, I thought he was doing really well, until he
opened up the flood-gates to the European Union as it were. And I think that was a mistake.
That should’ve been more controlled.
PS: They say he did it because he wanted to create more Labour voters. So he allowed
immigration in, so the people who came in would vote for Labour… But I suppose a lot
has changed even in the last 15 or 16 years, hasn’t it?
SF: Oh yes, yes, definitely.
Above: A digital world
PS: How would you describe the changes? You’ve got the internet coming in, which created a
completely different culture. You do everything online…
SF: I just think, having lived here since the 60s onwards, that we are now living in a very stressful
society. Very, very, stressful society. It’s all to do with ‘winners’ and ‘losers’. And I think it’s
quite sad really... I know it’s the way forward, but personally I’m not into technology. I prefer
how it was in the past. I mean it’s great to have a mobile phone and all that and be
connected, but really to be honest a better way of living was without all that. It was…
healthier to be away from all that [….] physically it was healthier to be without technology, I
think technology weakens the immune system anyway… and there’s a lot they don’t know
about how technology will affect people… I don’t think it’s healthy to be on a computer for
more than two hours. And it’s definitely unhealthy to be on a mobile phone for a long length
PS: I suppose technology also brought a lot of changes in society, because you had the much
more significant rise of celebrity culture, for example. You had celebrities everywhere, on
television, the internet; they seem to be much more prominent than they used to be. Do
you think that’s true?
SF: Yes, I think it’s true. It’s very boring as well. I personally don’t watch all these ‘reality
programmes’. They don’t interest me at all. It’s just not ‘me’… it’s like you’re living in a
make-believe world. It’s all to do with looks and hair, how you act. It doesn’t seem real to
PS: Some people say that started in the 60s and 70s, didn’t it? But maybe it was a bit
different, because it was still largely a face-to-face society. You’d actually meet people
physically, and deal with them on a one-to-one basis – people you could actually see and
communicate with. Now everything is remote, isn’t it? Mobile phones, internet, email…
so people in a way are more isolated as well, from other people. Margaret Thatcher said
that ‘there’s no such thing as society’. Maybe she was being a bit of a prophet, seeing
into the future – people becoming more selfish, due to the rise of technology? Do your
own thing and get cut off from other people… Do you think that’s happened in Perivale?
A decrease in community?
Above: Perivale Community Centre
SF: Yes, I think it’s the older people, that try to stick together. And have this close-knit thing, but
even that is kind of moving away now. They’re all into their own world, you know, they
become isolated and they’re not as communicative as they used to be. There’s none of that,
kind of, neighbourhood, thing, that they used to have. Even the Neighbourhood Watch, I
don’t think, works anymore. So really you can be quite isolated.
PS: But you’re a church-goer, aren’t you? Does that make a difference?
SF: Yes, I think so, and I think it’s nice to believe in God. If you don’t have any belief at all, I think
you’re living in a very empty world.
Above: Ealing Abbey
PS: You go to Ealing Abbey, is that right?
SF: I go to Ealing Abbey, yes, about once a month.
PS: Do you go to St. John Fisher’s church in Perivale?
SF: Sometimes, but not as often. But I prefer Ealing Abbey because it’s more atmospheric. And
there’s something about that place that I really enjoy going there. I like the smell of the
incense. And my father used to go there, so it brings back memories to me.
PS: So, looking back from 2016 to previous decades, what do you think has stayed the same
and what do you think has changed? Is Perivale still the same old place it was in the 60s?
SF: Sadly, no. Perivale was always known for the quietness. And it was more, kind of, on its own,
as it were. But now, it’s becoming more crowded. Population has grown now, which I
personally think is a bit sad. It’s getting more built-up.
PS: Aren’t they supposed to be building HS2 through Perivale?
SF: It’s going underground. Thank goodness. [Otherwise] people I know would’ve been losing
their houses. I think they’re pretty relieved.
PS: Moving on now, to the next question, about work. You’ve lived in Perivale for 50 years
and obviously worked for most of your life. Could you just let us know what kind of
work you’ve been doing? Which work you enjoyed or didn’t enjoy, whether in Perivale
SF: Work-wise, I was quite lucky, because I worked at the BBC for most of my working life.
Mainly on contract work, which was nice – I’d have liked to be permanent, but it’s very hard
to get a permanent job in the BBC, for whatever reason. If you had your family working
there… it kind of went in your favour. But I worked in BBC Television Centre, and that was
one of the best places I’ve ever worked, which I found amazing.
Above: BBC Television Centre
PS: What kind of work were you doing there?
SF: Secretarial. It was called secretarial reserve, whereby you moved around the building; it was
like an agency within the building. So they would give you the assignments, and tell you
where you’d be working, in each different department. One week I could be working in
studio management, or props and scenery, in all different various places around the BBC.
PS: So did you meet any famous people?
SF: I personally didn’t meet them, but I saw them. I saw various presenters, whose names I can’t
remember off hand… I saw a news-reader in the BBC bar there, John Sissons.
PS: Jimmy Saville?
SF: Yes he presented Top of the Pops, which I went to. I was hoping to see Jeremy Paxman,
because I was just down the corridor from Newsnight, but, amazingly, I never saw him. Not
once did I see him.
PS: So it must’ve been quite fun working there?
SF: Oh yes, you got a buzz – a completely exciting place. I worked in the news room, I was doing
the news-flashes, things that would come up, as we used to meet a lot of the journalists
who’d been travelling around the war zones, coming back with all these scary stories.
PS: So when did you work there?
SF: I was on six-month contracts. And after the six months they would renew it, and you’d come
back, or might have a break, and then come back again. And I worked for another BBC
[place] in Shepherd’s Bush – they had a lot of different locations.
PS: What decade was that in?
SF: It was late 70s, 80s and 90s.
PS: That sounds really interesting. So anyway, was that one of your first jobs?
SF: It was on and off for a long time throughout my career… the agency would always ring me
and I’d go back again. But I had a nice lucky break, and I worked for the Film Studios in
Ealing. That was my favourite. I saw Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders there.
Above: Ealing Studios
PS: Was that in the 90s then?
SF: It was 1988, when I worked there. That was an amazing place.
PS: They’re still making films weren’t they?
SF: Oh yes, still making films, but not like the old Carry On films, that had stopped. But they were
making… a Dennis Potter drama, ‘Black Eyes’.
PS: So did you meet the actors or was it more an office job?
SF: I was working as a secretary there. But sometimes when you go into the canteen, you see
the riggers there, the people that would do the lighting, you’d meet the lighting crew… the
producers, all sorts of people really. They would be in the queue behind you.
PS: Sounds exciting, doesn’t it? I suppose when you work somewhere quite prestigious,
you feel quite valued, don’t you? You feel you’re part of a team that actually means
SF: Yes. You were treated with a nice feeling of respect. You respect them and they respect you.
It was a very nice atmosphere to work in.
Above: Central Middlesex Hospital
PS: Where else have you worked since then?
SF: I worked in Central Middlesex Hospital years ago – that was way back in the late 1970s.
That was an interesting place – I worked for the Pathology Lab. We’d get all the technicians
coming in… that was interesting, and I was there for quite a long time. I liked my work
because it was varied – I wasn’t in one place for a long, long, time. I moved around, which I
found more interesting. And you get more confidence as well, which is nice.
PS: Have you done similar work, secretarial, in the late 90s and 2000s as well?
SF: I was doing a lot of switchboard reception work, one-to-one, people coming into reception,
meeting and greeting. That was very nice, because I was working for BBC Enterprises where
I was on reception, and you do get to meet a lot of interesting people. I remember meeting
the Bond chap, Maurice Binder, the graphic designer for the Bond films, which was
Above: Maurice Binder
PS: Another question now, about your interests. You strike me as quite a fashion-conscious
and stylish person. Would you say that fashion is one of your interests?
SF: Yes, because I worked for River Island… from 2004-2011, when I was made redundant.
PS: Was it a local store?
SF: It was head office… in Hanger Lane. It was a very hidden place, you wouldn’t know it was
PS: That’s relatively close to your house, isn’t it?
SF: I used to cycle down, which only took me around 20 minutes.
PS: So working there, you were in touch with fashion?
SF: Oh yes, you saw the designers there, and you knew what was coming into fashion six
months before it actually went into the shops.
PS: Sounds quite exciting.
SF: Yes. You knew the colours that would be in fashion. Say it was spring time there, you
knew what was going to be out for the autumn. Ahead of their time. They used to travel
a lot as well, the buyers used to travel around the world, and come back with new ideas.
PS: So have you always been interested in fashion?
SF: I did like fashion before I worked there, but I think it increased my obsession as it were. I
became more obsessed with clothes, I think, by the time I left! So I don’t think it was a
good thing for someone like me!
PS: So do you have the proverbial 50 pairs of shoes?
SF: No comment.
PS: Only forty-two? I jest, but apart from fashion, what other interests do you have?
SF: I like badminton, but I don’t get the chance to play it. And anybody I know doesn’t seem to
be interested. It’s a bit hard to play on your own…
PS: It’s quite a strenuous sport though isn’t it?
SF: Yes, but I think it’s nicer than tennis. With tennis you’ve got to run really fast for that ball.
With badminton it’s a different kind of thing altogether. You have to run fast, but it’s not as
if you’re running after a ball…
PS: You’re whole body gets a work out, doesn’t it?
PS: It’s really exhausting. I played it about twice at university. That was enough for me. Do
you have any other interests?
Above: Agatha Christie
SF: I like reading, novels. I like Agatha Christie. Murder mystery. Charles Dickens, various kinds
of books… I even like Harry Potter as well. Mystical. Anything mystical. I also watch murder
mystery on telly… I enjoy costume drama and find it interesting to see the clothes they wore
of that period. I once went to the V and A Museum whereby they showed clothes throughout
the centuries – the 50s and 60s was a real turning point.
PS: So what do you think are the best things about Perivale?
SF: It’s still quiet, even though the population has grown. But there are noisy people with fast
cars, who tend to go a bit fast around my way. But it’s still nice, you’ve got Horsenden Hill,
which is a nice place to go. The parks are nice, and the station is good, the Central Line,
which is only up the road. You can get into London really quick.
Above: View from Horsenden Hill
PS: So it’s a good location even though it might be a little bit isolated?
SF: Yes, but it’s nice to come back from the madness and come back to Perivale. You can just
chill out and have a bit of quiet.
PS: Another thing I realised, quite recently, is how close Perivale is to Pitshanger.
Across the M40, beyond St. Mary’s church, Perivale, quite close by is Pitshanger
Lane, isn’t it?
SF: You’ve got St. Mary’s church, Perivale, and there is a footpath, and it’s a quick walk, just
round the back. And it takes you round to Pitshanger Park, and you’re out to where
Pitshanger Lane is, which is a very nice place.
PS: Do you ever go that way? Isn’t it supposed to be very, well I’m not sure if middle
class is the right word, maybe...
Above: Pitshanger Lane
SF: More affluent.
PS: More affluent, and what used to be called the ‘better sort of people’.
SF: Yes, it’s a very nice place to be. An expensive area, houses are very expensive. But it’s very
middle class and a very village-like atmosphere.
PS: Do you ever use the library in Pitshanger or Perivale?
SF: Perivale library, I go to, which is a nice place. A very quiet library. There’s only a few
computers which is a good thing, because if there were many computers, it would tend to
draw in a not very good crowd of people – as I’ve experienced at Ealing Central library.
PS: Yes, that can be the case, unfortunately. Perivale used to be considered part of
Greenford. So do you go up Greenford way at all?
SF: Yes, I do go to Greenford. Because it’s not far from me… but it’s gone downhill and it’s not
as it used to be.
PS: What have been the worst things about Perivale?
SF: One of the worst things was the lack of social life at night, except for the Myllet Arms and
Perivale Residents’ Club – where you had to be a member. There wasn’t much for younger
people to go to, you really had to venture out back in the 70s. Also a lack of supermarkets,
you would have to venture out… [also] for the cinema – to Hanger Lane or Greenford, before
those [cinemas] closed down. There was a lot more prejudice, especially against Irish
people. My mother experienced prejudice while shopping for fruit in Pitshanger Lane, where
she was verbally abused for no reason. Also we used to have a bread man that would come
round to sell bread. You would have to queue outside. He refused to sell my mother bread
for whatever reason even though there was bread there to be sold. Obviously things have
changed a lot since then from back in the 60s. Also I remember how I tried to join the
Brownies when I was about 10 years old. I was with my friends at the time, I was asked what
religion I was, and when I told them [I was Catholic], they refused to let me join. One of the
girls I was with, decided not to join and she joined the Girls Life Brigade with me instead.
PS: Would you say there is a community spirit in Perivale?
SF: Not so much. Back in the 60s and 70s, definitely. Neighbours would knock on each other’s
doors, they’d ask if they could have a cup of sugar – that was a very post-war thing, that
happened a lot after the war, after rations. But now I think that neighbour thing has
PS: So it might still be called a community, but you live next to people you don’t really know
and you don’t speak to them…
SF: Well, I don’t speak to my neighbours, so… not that I’m bothered, but I think that if there was
a crisis, it would be good to be in touch with neighbours. There could be a time when you do
PS: That’s true. Do you think it’s just general social changes, that people are becoming more
individualistic, doing their own thing, or do you think immigration has played a part as
well, because people come from other countries, they might be perfectly nice people, but
they have less in common with you, so they’re not likely to strike up a conversation…
Above: St. John Fisher Catholic church, Perivale. The
congregation is increasingly diverse, including more
Polish worshippers, since 2004.
SF: Well, sadly… Polish people came over here in 2004, and they do keep themselves to
themselves, rather than actually integrate with English people. They lived in their own… kind
of, in their own community. And they were quite friendly when they first came over, but
they’re not so friendly now. That’s my experience, anyway.
PS: Maybe it’s difficult for them to find things in common with other people, but also: what
kind of integration could they do?
SF: Well, I suppose they need to kind of get to know English people more… also they have a
drinking culture which is not a good thing. It’s not so bad now, but it was bad after 2004, but
it seems to have quietened down a lot more now. It was bad, I think, three years ago.
PS: Right, yeah. Were they homeless or vagrant people?
SF: Well they used to make a noise in the early hours of the morning, coming back from
nightclubs and pubs, they used to be singing down the road. Not a good thing.
PS: That’s Poles for you! Moving on now, I suppose you have neighbours and acquaintances
who’ve lived in Perivale since the 60s, have they been good friends of yours?
SF: Yes. A man who lived next door to me, Bill Salisbury, he was a real character. A lovable
rogue. He knew all the history of Perivale, because he actually built the house next door to
me, he helped build the houses, and that’s how he knew about Perivale… He told me things
I would never have believed about [Perivale] as a village, and it was all farms, Perivale Lane
was like a country lane. He said there was hardly any people really living in Perivale, it was
that quiet… it was not as built up… and in the 60s, when we had the winters, you would get
thick snow, and my father would have to shovel the snow past where the gate it when I used
to go to school in the mornings. Winters were real winters, then. A lot, lot, colder. Now, I’ve
noticed, the winters are getting warmer. Frighteningly warmer, when I think of the 60s…
PS: Are there any other neighbours or acquaintances around there?
SF: There are a few I know, they have been here for a long time like me. Sadly the neighbours I
did know back when I was a child have died now. But there was a lot of characters around
our way. The ones I do know are quite old. There’s a lady across the road and she’s in her
eighties, but I remember her when she was a lot younger. Things were just different really.
She’s seen a lot of change. And obviously we’ve got a lot of immigration in Perivale now,
which has completely changed…
PS: Okay. Maybe we can talk about some of the famous buildings or parts of Perivale, which
have got historical interest. You must walk past the Hoover building, and there’s St.
Mary’s Perivale, which has concerts; Horsenden Hill, as well, and that steep bridge near
Horsenden Hill, just past the library…
SF: Oh yes there’s a very old bridge, near Horsenden Hill… by the canal.
PS: Do you ever go to those famous places in Perivale?
SF: I go to look at the Grand Union Canal, I find that fascinating… all the boats, the pleasure
boats, or barges, there’s people living on those barges, and I find that amazing… Also they
do trips to Camden and Paddington. Little Venice.
PS: Do you ever go to Hoover or St. Mary’s Perivale?
Above: Interior of St. Mary’s church, Perivale
SF: I go to St. Mary’s, and that’s amazing, the church… built in  AD. It has a lot of history,
they used to have a plaque on the wall with all the stages of what went on around the
country – the Reformation, when a lot of the churches had to change you know, to become
Protestant – where you’ve got the coat of arms, during the time of Henry VIII. And St.
Mary’s has got the coat of arms – it had to go along with what they wanted otherwise they
would just crucify the church: burn the church down. But it’s been through the Black Death,
the fire of London…
PS: Fairly far away from the Fire of London… but they did survive that time.
SF: The church has been standing all that time while that’s been going on.
PS: It’s now more a concert and cultural venue, isn’t it?
SF: It’s only open for the public now. They used to do Christenings there, it was like a proper
church, but now it’s only opened at certain times, for concerts, fetes, open days…
Above: Perivale’s most famous landmark, the Hoover building, illuminated by night
PS: Have you ever been inside Hoover?
SF: Funnily enough, I don’t think I have, no. I’ve been on the outside of Hoover’s. And they used
to film Poirot there, apparently, because of the Art Deco – it’s all set in the 30s…
PS: Do you go to the Tesco?
SF: I go to the Tesco supermarket, but I’ve never actually been inside the Hoover building itself.
Above: The Myllet Arms, now called Perivale Farm
PS: Is there much to do in Perivale? Do they have any decent shops, pubs, restaurants?
SF: They’ve got a new place now, it used to be called the Myllet Arms, for a long, long, time,
because it was owned by somebody called Myllet [actually the pub, which opened after
World War One, was named after a sixteenth century Perivale resident called Myllet – ed.],
and I thought it was one of those listed places where the name had to stay the same, but
now, this year, it’s changed, and it’s called Perivale Farm, since Halloween this year.
PS: I’ve heard they’ve got a decent carvery and roast?
SF: That’s right.
PS. And there’s that place I’ve been to a few times… called Starvin’ Marvins. It’s metal…
SF: A portakabin-looking place…
PS: And you go in and it’s like a 1950s style diner.
Above: An acquired taste: Starvin’ Marvin’s, Perivale
SF: Yes, they’ve got a jukebox… they’ve filmed a lot there: ‘New Tricks’ with Dennis Waterman, it
showed them coming out of there… and ‘Lewis’ with Kevin Whately and… Laurence Fox…
coming out of there as well. So it’s quite a popular place for doing filming there.
PS: It’s kind of nice – if you like fast food then you can go in there…
SF: It’s supposed to be very expensive though.
PS: It’s more expensive than say, McDonalds. They do like milkshakes, and what not.
SF: It’s the 50s, they’re copying the 50s… it’s quite decorative from what I remember, with a
black and white floor… a jukebox.
PS: The late 50s music was quite similar to the early 60s, wasn’t it?
SF: The late 50s, the music was changing?
PS: It was changing, but young men used to wear jackets and trousers until about 1965.
SF: I think they used to wear drainpipes… they were called Teddy Boys, with a quiff.
PS: Bootlace ties.
SF: Yes. There were suede shoes.
PS: Would you have seen any of that in Perivale at the time?
SF: I wouldn’t have really remembered that because I was a bit too young. But I do remember
the ‘Hell’s Angels’ but they were called something else before that… Rockers.
Above: Rockers in the 1960s
PS: They were basically motorcyclists, teenagers and early twenties…
SF: Leather jackets and long hair.
PS: Like ‘Fonzee’ from that TV programme…
SF: Yes, but they mostly had long hair though... But then you had the Mods who had cropped
hair… with sideburns.
PS: Okay. Moving on. You’ve been volunteering for several years now, at Ealing Local History
Centre. Could you just let us know how you got into that? How long you’ve been doing it
and why you’re doing it?
SF: I was down at Perivale library and asking about volunteering then, but they said they had no
vacancies. But then, about a week later, they said there is a vacancy at Ealing, in the history
department. So I thought that would be good, because I’ve always been interested in
history… and I decided to come down here and have an interview here.
PS: When was that?
SF: I think it was September 2011. I got made redundant in June 2011, and after that I thought I
would go into voluntary work, as the work situation was quite difficult.
PS: That was an opportunity after moving on from work, but you’re also interested in history.
What kind of history?
SF: I like medieval history… Roman history… the Normans and the Vikings. I like the very old
history, which I find amazing… the way of life, what they believed in back then, before Christ.
So, I find that fascinating.
PS: Oh, right. Didn’t you go to a Roman villa at some point? Where was that?
SF: Somewhere in Hampshire, a Roman villa, I went there with a friend. And we saw Roman
murals, which was amazing. They were really lovely… and mosaics.
PS: So what kind of work have you been doing for us in Local History since 2011?
SF: I’ve been researching the First World War… the life of different soldiers and their families….
Going through different stages of what happened during the First World War… and I’ve done
the Second World War, and now I’m doing… women in the 1970s.
PS: When you start your work in the morning, what actually happens? Some of the readers
might be interested to know how you actually go about the work you’re doing.
Above: Microfilm reader
SF: I get the microfilm, I put that on the machine, set it all up, and I start back in 1970, to do with
PS: So you’re taking notes of what’s on the microfilm… making a reference to which issue it’s
in, by the date at the top… is this kind of thing interesting?
SF: Well I lived through the seventies, it was a very happy time… before mobile phones came
out, people communicated better, and it was a happier place… now, people are more into
their phones… they’re looking down all the time… it can be very disconcerting, you can be
walking down the high street, people are just bumping into you…
PS: Like zombies.
SF: Well, yes, they’re walking into traffic as well, not even looking where they’re going, crossing
PS: Yeah, like I say, I’ve only got a basic phone, because I don’t need anything more. It
doesn’t have the internet on it. But, I guess, doing this indexing work, you may have
learnt a few things as well… did you do some work on 1950s immigration as well?
SF: Yes, I think I did.
PS: For World War One, you were taking down names of soldiers from the local area who
appeared in the local newspapers.
SF: Yes, I was.
PS: But you work as part of a team in Local History, not just me and Jonathan, but with the
other volunteers. Do you get on with those?
SF: They do different days to me, but I have met a few of them. They seem pretty okay. I see Gill
at St. Mary’s, sometimes, not always. There’s Peggy, who I’ve met, and I don’t see her as
much now as she’s on a different day to me. And I’ve seen Norman a few times, and he’s
fairly quiet. And another lady pops in – Tanya…
PS: Tanya Britton – she’s a researcher. But you have a few other people, like David
SF: David Blackwell, yes, he’s a very friendly person.
PS: I’d describe him as a legend, or would that be going too far?
SF: No, but he’s a character.
Above: Hanwell Community Centre
PS: That’s probably more accurate. Have you visited his museum in Hanwell Community
SF: No, I never get round to going there. It’s a bit out of the way for me, if it was a bit easier to
get to, it might be a bit better… Cuckoo Avenue is very long… I’d have to get my bike and
cycle down, that might be easier.
PS: Well, I think that’s pretty much it. Is there anything you want to add?
SF: Oh yes, I do remember when I was young, 6 or 7 or 8, going up Horsenden Hill, and it was
full of rabbits, it was really lovely – the whole place was full of rabbits! Sadly a disease came
out for rabbits, and they all died. But I used to see them burrowing… but you don’t see them
anymore; it was lovely! It was greener, before, now, everything has died off…
PS: Maybe we should end on that note. Thank you very much for coming in, and for your
insights on Perivale.