Goldings Web Photo Gallery
By Frank Cooke ©
photos from Barnardo's archive
26/04/2002

Dalziel of Wooler House
 ( or Memorial Home known as Kingston ),
Gloucester Road,
Kingston upon Thames,
Surrey.

Kingston was opened in 1933 when the Clapham Scouts returned from summer camp 26th August. The home housed boys from eight to 14 years of age. In 1967 the home was moved to 10 Galsworthy Road, Kingston. Kingston finally closed August 1968. The Boys were sent to Ifield Hall.

94/12 Childhood Memories a photographic history of Dr Barnardo's

The well known piper band with its Stuart tartan started at Clapham and was transferred to Kingston 26th August 1933.


I enjoyed your website, its very well done I'd like to pass on some info on the home at Kingston I was there from approx 1954/1955 to 1961 it was a boys only home with no schooling done on site, so we all went to different local schools the home was actually named "Dalziel of Wooler house" but was known to all the inmates as "Dickies" it was on the corner of Gloucester rd and Kingston hill and looked out over Kingston hospital the mound of earth and grass in the bottom left of your photo was an old disused air raid shelter while I was there the governors name was Vernon Paul there was more of the building going back from the tower and the grounds backed onto Coombe golf course I believe it has all been knocked down now to make way for housing. A famous inmate who was there before my time was Leslie Thomas who wrote "the virgin soldiers" he also wrote a book about his time in Barnardo's called "no time for tears" keep up the good work

Don Bylett

So what was it like at the Kingston home, My half brother David stayed at this home for a short while prior going to Australia.

Daniel sent an email after reading the section on Kingston, he wrote "People do change and may wish to forget those days if they induce sad memories into their mind."

When I first arrived at the end of October 1959 it had been an unusually extremely hot and humid day in Westminster after getting off the train from Liverpool with my brother at Euston station, which made me wonder if it was so hot because I was further south, and if it was going to be hot all of the time. I had never been to London before that day. We were both escorted by a man, who had taken us from another Barnardo's home in the Wirral area, and after walking down Oxford Street for a short distance, he suddenly decided to get a Taxi to the Kingston home instead of a Kingston bus he was searching for. The journey from Liverpool for a 13-year-old seemed a tremendous distance and my first thoughts were on how to get back home to Liverpool for a journey of exactly 208 miles in a direct line.. Click here to read Daniels full story >>>>>>

One other old boy wrote of a time in March of 1943 aged 13 years old.

I shuffled along from the station beside the man who had brought me. The man did not talk. I kept up with him. I was carrying a blue sack, like a pillowcase, over my shoulder and it contained very nearly all I had in the world. The big houses in Gloucester Road stood vaguely behind their misty trees.

Towards the end of the road there shot up a sudden high wooden fence and I knew we had almost arrived. A few more shuffles and there was the gate. The man turned in and I followed.  Then I stopped. It may have only been for seconds, because the man was walking on. But I know I stopped and looked up at it. A quick loneliness came over me like a pain. No boy has ever felt so much by himself as I did in that moment.

I am not going to pretend that the years that followed were hard, or cruel, or even unhappy. This was not so. This could never be an Oliver Twist story or it would not be true. But standing at the gate, in the drizzle, and the man walking ahead up the path unconscious that I had even stopped, left me afraid and wondering what was going to happen to me from then on. The place filled the horizon. Yellow bricks and blank windows; a tower at the centre capped with a pointed roof, a horror built, it seemed, from some architect's nightmare. Across the front of the building were the words "The Dalziel of Wooler Memorial Home" blazoned in golden letters, of all things, like an advertisement. In the middle of the tower, in more modest gold, was "Dr. Barnardo's Homes".

I jerked myself to some sort of movement and followed the man who had brought me. He went up some stairs in the foot of the tower and I went in through the door after him. We were in an entrance hall reeking of floor polish. There was a boy standing there picking his nose. The man told him to go and fetch Mr. Gardner, the superintendent, and he went.

The man stood a couple of yards away looking around him. Drippings from our coats made liquid explosions on the red floor and settled like small rubies at our feet. The man still did not look at me, or speak. I might have been by myself. Down the corridor echoed the Gaffer. He turned the corner of the hall into our view and approached with military stride and granite expression. He shook hands with my escort, a brisk once-up-and-down, and then led him into the office.

I remained there, still damp with rain and un­happiness, resting my blue bundle on the floor, and croaking a parcel of books in my other arm. With two fingers of this hand I hooked on to a small package holding a tin half-full of toffees. The full tin had been sent to me by an elder brother, just after my mother died, with instructions that half of the sweets were for me and the other half for my younger brother. I never heard any more from the elder brother, and I did not see the younger brother for another year and a half. Despite wretched and returning temptations I never ate the sweets. I kept them for him.

Standing in the hall was a little like being at the entrance to a temple, but with your nostrils full of floor polish instead of incense. Boot falls and distorted calls sounded from the landing up inside the tower. A few yards from where I stood there was a pedestal topped by a marble bust wearing a layer of dust and a slightly annoyed expression. There was quite a lot of dust clogging the inside of the eyes and I attempted to cheer my miserable self by trying to imagine what would happen if the head came to life and found all that muck in its eyes. I don't know who the head was or if I did, I have forgotten-but the gentleman in the picture on the wan, the one with the watch-chain and' the lion tamer moustache, was Dr. Barnardo, the Father of Nobody's Children.

Excerpts from Leslie Thomas book 'This Time Next Week' reproduced by kind permission.

Leslie was evacuated to Goldings in June of 1944 (the date could be wrong) with 20 other boys from Kingston. This was to escape the doodle bugs and what do you think he heard on his first night? You will have to get a copy of his book for that answer. Or you could click here


Frank Norman was sent to Kingston 21st August 1941 he writes:

There were a good many differences the two Homes. Kingston was far less rural, there were only boys there, the staff were almost entirely male though there was one house matron who took care of the clothes and the younger boys. There was also a nursing sister who took care of our ailments. The Superintendent, known officially as the Governor, was named Mr Gardener. Of all the people I met in the Homes, he remains the most difficult to fathom. He smoked voraciously, and seemed only interested in the band and Brentford football team (it was advisable to give him a wide berth when the team had lost a match of a Saturday afternoon). He left the running of the place to the rest of the staff and I saw him rarely.

But the greatest difference between the Bedford and Kingston Homes was that at the latter we went to an outside school. It was at this school that the real stigma of being brought up in an orphanage was made clear to me. There were many fights with the 'outside' boys, who also went to the school, particularly when they referred to us as Dr. Banana Boys!' We were also rather looked down on by the teachers and parents. If there was ever any trouble (which there almost always was) we invariably got the blame for it.

I think this was mainly because we were usually responsible for it. The war was now at a critical stage: the sirens wailed almost every day, warning us of enemy aircraft overhead. To be caught without your gas mask was a punishable offence, and fire drill was as regular as going to church on Sundays. We learned how to use a stirrup-pump and spent a good deal of our time in air-raid shelters. Any progress that I might have made at Bedford was soon lost; I came bottom of the class in just about every subject in the curriculum. Instead of being mentally retarded I now became a nasty little boy, always in trouble and hating everyone I came into contact with, both boys and staff. I was savagely beaten times without number, the punishment which at Bedford had always been administered to my backside now moved to my hands. During my three years there I was caned so often my arithmetic was' never good enough to keep count. On one occasion I was given a stinging stroke of the cane on each hand for being a couple of minutes late for school, actually it was almost a daily ritual for I was late at least four out of five days in a week. But this particular morning it was bitterly cold, which made the pain doubly hard to bear, for my fingers were already numb from the icy wind. In pique I suddenly turned on the master and snarled: 'When I grow up I'm going to come back here and kill you!' But I never did and I expect he is dead anyway by now, for he was quite an old man then (all the young teachers had gone off to the war). Of course my remark was reported to the governor of the Home, who gave me another thrashing that evening.

There were about two hundred boys at the Home (maybe a few less) their ages ranging between eleven and fourteen, which in those days was school-leaving age. At fourteen many were found situations and let out into the world to fend for themselves, while others were sent to technical college to learn a trade. The Home could therefore be looked upon as a place between junior school and grammar-school, but in fact all it was was a house full of boys being kept as safely as possible from the dangers of war. This of course was no fault of Barnardo's, but us kids who were later to be known as 'products of the war' suffered for it greatly. Though few bombs were actually dropped on Kingston there were many air-raid warnings and a good deal of our time was spent in air-raid shelters. Therefore we received very little schooling though we attended classes every day, for almost as soon as we were seated at our desks, the siren would go and down we would march into the bowels of the earth in orderly fashion, safe from all but a direct hit.

My greatest ambition at the Kingston Home was to join the band, and learn to play the bagpipes. I applied to the governor several times but was always turned down flat, despite the fact that I had been a dab hand with the baton in Miss Love's tambourine band a year or two before. Instead I got all the terrible jobs. I built flower-bed walls with clinkers from the furnace and was then made to whitewash them. For a time I was put to work in the lavatory: every day I washed down the urinals with foul-smelling disinfectant that was so strong that it burnt your hands. I would then scrub the floor with a yard broom. One day the cook found out that the same broom was being borrowed from the lavatory to scrub the mud from the potatoes, which were always steamed and served up in their jackets because the skins were said to be good for us. My own opinion is that they merely wished to save the trouble of peeling them. The handle of the lavatory broom was immediately painted red, in order that the same mistake would not happen again, if indeed mistake it was. One morning I found one of the lavatory pans blocked with excrement, and full to the brim with foul water. The master in charge took one look at it and then at me: 'Come on lad! Don't just stand there!' he bellowed 'get your hand down there and fish it out! it's all your own!' it was my command performance of the war.

Frank Norman recounting his days at Kingston, from his book page 51 Banana Boy 1969


When Kingston house and sports master Jim Guertin made the young Leslie Thomas captain of the Kingston football team in 1948, he recognised him as 'dedicated and talented'. Leslie Thomas obviously thought highly of Jim Guertin as well. Because when he published his book, based on his time in Dr. Barnardo's titled ‘This Time Next Week” he gave a section of it over to memories of World War Two veteran Jim Guertin, himself a former Barnardo’s boy (Boys Garden City 1931-33 and Goldings 1934- 1937).

In the book, Leslie reminisces on a day when Jim took Leslie and a group of lads swimming: 'It had been hot all through the day ... the river was like a bale of silk unwinding ... We swam for an hour or more until the river was darker and mistier, and running more into the sky every moment.

I remember this night because I swam on my back among the stumpy green islands in the middle and collided with one on which sat a regal swan. I paddled there, face upwards in the water, looking him straight in his black eye. He made a grating noise just as though he were sharpening something; I flipped over and swam like fury for the bank.

Jim Guertin was squatting there, looking vaguely in the direction in which the day had drained away. "Sir," I said dramatically. "A swan nearly had me."  "Hhmm," he said. "What do you think of Miss Chalk?" I looked at him hard and was about to go back to talking about the swan when I realised he wouldn't be interested. "Miss Chalk?" I said. "Well, she's all right." I had not given her a thought that night, but she was a small, pretty button of a girl, easily the youngest and most attractive of the matrons in Dickies * She had never had much to do with us because she looked after the very smallest boys. Mr Guertin didn't say any more until we were on the bus and on our way up Kingston Hill. "You think she's all right, then?" he said eventually. "Who?" "Miss Chalk." "Yes," I said impatiently, while the other two or three who had been with us looked at him a bit strangely. "That's what I thought," he said. There was a silence, which was funny when you were with him because he was always talking. Then he said: "You were lucky that swan didn't get you." Not long after he and Miss Chalk said they were going to get married, and they did too.'

When Jim and Dorothy married at St Peter's Church, Kingston on Thames, the happy event was watched by all Kingston's staff and boys. The couple recently celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary, and Jim tells After Care: 'Our years of marriage have been very happy and fruitful'. Both are still fit and well and very active churchgoers and ramblers. Jim adds that he and Dorothy feel they have to thank Barnardo's for its emphasis on four essentials: religious instruction, education, sport and moral principles. 'These have stood us in good stead over the years since leaving Barnardo’s,’ Jim declares.

Reproduced from The Barnardo Guild Magazine Summer 1998

Below is a photo of the Kingston Hill team 1948, with Leslie Thomas (front row centre) whom Jim describes as 'a great captain, dedicated and talented as were all the young athletes.'


 

Left to right. front: K. Tasker, N. Taylor, G. Cantrell, D. Baker, L. Thomas, G. Bosley, R. Morris, N. Crowther, D. Williams.
Back Row: R. Mills, D Jones. D. Price, A. Turtle, Jim Guertin, N. Jephcott.


Regarding the name Dickies boy and the meaning:

Leslie Thomas wrote: Through generations of boys a slang had been evolved at Dickies, an insular language that left strangers mystified, and you had to learn from the start. Yet, strangely, the very word '"Dickies" had grown without anyone being able to recall or even guess its origin. It was just caned Dickies and nobody knew why. A boy was a kid or, more generally, a guy. Thus a boy from the home was a Dickie guy. Once a lad called Frank Knights, who went to a grammar school, wrote a letter to' 'the London Evening News and signed it Dickie Guy and it was published with that name under it.

Note from the webmaster: My view the term "Dickies Boys" originated from Kingston 100% true. Kingston had a member of staff who had been working for Dr Barnardo's for some 40 years Richard (Dick) Gardener so when old boys would return they would say they were one of Dickies boys and from that the name stuck over the years, It also became the nickname for Kingston.

When the boys moved out to other homes, mostly Goldings the name sort of stuck for all us boys who were brought up in Dr. Barnardo's. I know it was used at Goldings.  If you have a view let us have it.


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