1947 Happy Landings

The date was Saturday, December 13, the year 1947  and the time was 6 am. Trevor David Bannister arrived into this world. There would be a major culture shock ahead, but the world would just have to get over it.

Harmar, Fairlie; Cheyne Walk, Chelsea, London; Rochdale Arts & Heritage Service

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My mother found the nearest transportation to rush me to the hospital, which happened to be a street cleaner’s truck, conveniently passing by our house.

I was also raised in London’s artistic quarter called Chelsea. Situated in the southwest of London, its southern border is the chalky bank of the River Thames, from whence its name probably derived. Chelsea alludes to a chalk wharf, suggesting that it originally handled goods being ferried up river. Centuries later, Chelsea was to gain a reputation for delivering much more. But for now, I was ingloriously rushed upon the world stage thanks to the driver of that waste truck, I was a rare collectors’ item. Below: St. Stephens Hospital in Chelsea, I think the world existed only in black and white those days?

Photo Credit: Billy Figg

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My first school was Park Walk, also in Chelsea. This was it; time to squeeze my active imagination into a compressed part of my brain, and out of the toaster would pop out a well crusted little Englishman. The struggle was about to begin in earnest.

Park Walk Primary School is located off Kings Road, where the glamorous part of Chelsea faded into obscurity. The main part of the school consisted of an ageing Victorian building complex, with an adjacent later-built annex, highlighting conformity to a new age of post war modernity & prosperity. There is historic reference dating to 1884 claiming that some children from a local workhouse were threatened with exclusion from this school, unless the guardians paid their fees. The ‘class system’ had an appropriate name herding us into socially acceptable streams from the moment of entry into the first public institute, school. An invisible border between the rich and poor neighbourhoods of London’s Borough of Chelsea, met at our infant school. Depending on ones’ fortune or lack of, the school could be reached from the slums of an area appropriately named World’s End, or from the social heights of ‘Chelsea proper’.

Park Walk Primary School, Chelsea

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