Monty Dare and De Walden Buildings, Allitsen Road during WW2

Monty Dare

Monty’s grandfather had been a butcher, and his father worked in retail fashion, Selfridge’s, Harrods and Whiteley’s.

This is the verbatim transcript of Monty Dare, who was born in 1938

“My grandfather died in 1915. By 1916 my aunt was looking after the family during World War One. She moved with my Dad aged 11 into the De Walden Buildings in Allitsen Road. She lived at several numbers there, one was number 11 and one was 43, but she also lived at 98 Allitsen Road. My Dad lived with her till he got married in 1934. Then I came along.

My first recollection is going to see my aunt in De Walden Buildings in 1941. She was living in number 43, a flat on the first floor. It consisted of a large lounge furnished with family furniture that had been accumulated over the years and a lot of sepia photographs round the wall. It had a room leading off the main lounge, which was referred to as a scullery. I think it was where they did the cooking and the back window looked onto Charles Lane. Off that room was a bedroom and there was like a communal toilet shared by three flats. I don’t know whether that is correct but it was something like three. As I say the flat consisted of a lounge, scullery with a cooker in an alcove and then a double bedroom where we all slept, no bathroom.

I used to visit my aunt frequently. My uncle was away in World War One, not in the Second World War, so my aunt was living there with her daughter.

Then my mother had two more children and because of the problem of bringing up children…the family home was in Hampstead Garden Suburb on the edge of East Finchley, and it was decided that I would come and live with my aunt at De Walden Buildings for six months. My mother had two very young children to look after, so I came to De Walden Buildings in April 1942. I was over the moon, it was the best thing that could have happened to me. My aunt was tremendous, I really loved her. They made a big fuss of me, in fact too much of a fuss of me. My mother said I had been ‘thoroughly spoilt when I got home.

It was very interesting in retrospect to move from Hampstead Garden Suburb, which was semi-rural in those days. We had a field with a load of cows in at the back of us, we were on the edge of quite a big farm. You wouldn’t think of a farm being in East Finchley.

Then the first day I came to De Walden Buildings it was a Sunday afternoon. We came over from Hampstead Garden Suburb with my suitcase to Allitsen Road. The next morning I was absolutely amazed because all the people coming out of de Walden Buildings to go to work were talking and calling out to each other and that sort of thing, and it sounded as though everybody was in my bedroom.”


De Walden Buildings had a yard, which was a big space with an air raid shelter taking up a lot of room at one end. The siren used to go at about 9pm for the raids on the docks. They would stand in the road till the searchlights came on from Primrose Hill, then they would take shelter. After the raid the guns might open up as the planes went back home. The noise was tremendous. In the morning all the boys would rush out to collect shrapnel. The prize was to find a nose cap which was brass.

Mrs Reed, the grocers was still there in the 1960’s. You could buy small items including bundles of firewood. Next door was the newsagents where Aunt Lil bought her Daily Mirror. At the Home and Colonial, everyone was known by name. Cheese was cut with a wire, butter taken out with a ladle and patted into shape. Biscuits came in large tins and you could buy broken ones. Monty was always given one of these. Sugar came in bright blue bags and tea in packets. Everything was delivered to number 43 through the unlocked front door, downstairs to the kitchen. Lil got dressed to go out shopping, or to the park, she had a brown trilby, Windsmoor coat, handbag and gloves. They ate spam which was delicious, and powdered egg. Monty was given a tablespoon of Robelene, Tizer to drink, arrowroot biscuits and Smiths crisps with a twist of salt. The brewery delivered the beer to the 16 pubs in St John’s Wood, with a horse and cart. “They had a job stopping on a slope, it was street theatre.” Events were held in the drill hall in the De Walden buildings and Monty’s uncle took him once to see the army boxing championships there. The de Walden buildings today have been transformed into bachelor pads, with bathrooms and locked gates onto the street.

One of Monty’s most vivid memories was of the boating lake at Regents Park.  They saw the boats being delivered at the beginning of the season. They were beautiful with red leather seats, brass fittings and petrol engines. Aunt Lil persuaded the man to let Monty have a go, and he had half an hour of pure fun chugging round the lake. She said he would always remember it, and he has. When he took his granddaughters back to repeat the wonderful experience, they were so disappointed. The boats were plastic and grubby and there was litter in the water.

Another memorable time was when he was back with the family in Hampstead Garden Suburb in 1943, Monty was sent out to play by himself. He got on a bus to Golders Green, had no money but was not asked for it. Once there, he hopped onto another bus telling the conductor that he was going to Baker Street. However, when they came to Circus Road, he recognised it, and he thought of going to visit Aunt Lil and jumped off the bus. The conductor was worried about him doing this, and stopped the driver of the bus further down the road, and ran after Monty thinking he was lost! Lil was not at home, but Monty met her in the street and they went straight to the phone box to call his mother.

Monty was taken to Lord’s to see a memorial match between England and New Zealand during the war. They went to the nets and Monty remembers thinking how fit and healthy the New Zealanders looked. Later on, he paid about six pence to get in to see a match. He sat on a wooden stand on the left of the pavilion. The gentlemen and players (professionals and amateurs) came out of different doors.

This page was added on 28/04/2011.

Comments about this page

  • I’m a current De Walden resident, it’s so nice to hear these old stories as a young Aussie who has made the move to London ☺️ I saw a comment above about an old resident wanting to have a nostalgic visit but wasn’t able to so please reach out via the page as I would be happy to show you around

    By HH (29/02/2024)
  • Firstly thank you to the person who published this wonderful first hand memory of De Walden Buildings. I am researching family members who lived at no 48. In 1939 Thomas C Stone was living their with his 20yr old daughter Phyllis V (later Knee). His wife Kate Stone was living in Whetstone with their other daughter Olive K McKay who had a newborn baby. Although Kate moved back to no48 at some point, she sadly died in Aug 1942, aged 67. Thomas lived until aged 80 in 1957 by which time he had moved in with his daughter Olive McKay in Whetstone. It’s wonderful to read of people’s daily lives so close in time and space to my relatives. Thank you again.

    By Theresa Jane (03/01/2021)
  • Hi Debbie (Deborah Winter Tekirdagli),
    I was so surprised to see your message, it’s been a long time! I only got your other message the other day, it had gone into the hidden messages and I only found it by chance. I’ve sent you a request Debbie, it would be great to catch up!.
    Stay safe and well x

    By Tracey Dumbelton (29/12/2020)
  • Hi all. I came across this page while googling De Walden Buildings hoping to find some pictures. I honestly could not believe it when I saw the familiar names of Terry and Mary Dumbleton! My parents were Alfie and Brenda Winter. We lived next door to Stuart Goddard and my mum babysat Stuart on many occasions. My sister Karen was born in 1959, my brother, Martin in 1963 and me (Debbie)in 1964. My mum and dad’s best friends were Terry and Mary. In fact it was Terry that introduced my dad to my mum before they married and moved to De Walden Buildings! I remember the stories my dad used to tell and all the parties at De Walden – In fact I probably still have a lot of photos. Tracey Lee Dumbleton, if you’re still checking this page, it would be great to chat, or anybody else that recognises my family – Don’t know how we’d be notified of new messages but I’ll check every now and then 🙂

    By Deborah Winter Tekirdagli (20/11/2020)
  • I just came across this page by accident and it’s put a massive smile on my face. My mum (Mary Edmans) moved into number 1 with her family in the early 50’s (I think), she stayed there after losing her family, married my Dad (Terry Dumbelton) in 1957, had my sister Kim in 1958 then me (Tracey Lee) in 1961. Mum had grown up with most of the people there so once all the children were born it was like one big family. Our neighbours were the Lake family at number 2 and the Goddard family (Adam Ant) at number 3. We had 2 room, living room/kitchen and a bedroom, the shared toilet was on the landing with the big grey tin bath hanging on the back of the door, I can remember mum boiling bucket after bucket of water just to fill the bath, it was bliss when Dad fitted a geezer in the kitchen, hard to believe that running hot water could cause so much excitement lol. Apart from the fun playing in the yard and the scrapping of my knuckles from the pebble dashed Walls on the landing one of my favourite memories is sitting with Mr Hyams at the back of the green grocers in the other yard, watching him boil his beetroot and the wonderful smell from it, it’s just something that’s always stayed with me 🙂

    By Tracey Lee Dumbelton (05/12/2019)
  • I had cousins, John Alfred and Annie Luff, that lived in De Walden Buildings; at number 29 and then later 37. Don’t know when they moved in but it must have been about WW II. Both died there; Annie in 1949 and John in 1960.

    By Ian Wells (02/01/2019)
  • I was born in the buildings in 1958. Mum and dad John and Eilean Croding. We lived at number 44 on first floor. I had a younger sister and brother also born there, so 5 of us living in that tiny place overlooking Charles Lane at the back. The front door opened onto a small living room which had a door into a little kitchen with a toilet at the end. A tin bath hung on the wall. We had one bedroom between us. It was small but great growing up there. My grandfather, Jack Cording lived at the end of the balcony with his wife Daisy and my other grandmother Maud Thomas lived further down Alitsen Road in Opie House. As children we loved playing in the courtyard. Good memories.

    By Lynn Becks (nee Cording) (21/04/2018)
  • Lori Dalgleish you have not got it quite right! Elsie Wyatt was your Granddad’s sister, she was your mother June’s Auntie. John Wyatt, Elsie’s son, is your mothers cousin.Your great grandma was Elsie and and your grandpa’s Mother! My name is Valerie Wyatt, I was married to John Wyatt, and I dare say my daughters and my 6 grandchildren are related to you as John was your second cousin. Hope this info helps you out if you’re are tracing your family.

    By V.Wyatt(27/11/17 (27/11/2017)
  • Actually I joined an existing antique shop run by Phillip Carr probably he converted that empty storage area.I then bought him out and also opened an art galley in the basement..The cafe opposite did a great lunch at about two shillings and six pence.!!!I wish I had a picture of the exterior..

    By mark rimmell (27/08/2016)
  • If I remember rightly Mark Rimmell took over an empty shop which was used as  storage by Reeds grocers opposite, I lived over the road and occasionally did deliveries for Nat Hyam on his trades bike. His shop was painted white and caused quite a stir among the locals, as it was seen to be trendy for the time, but he soon won them over with his friendliness and of course those cups of tea.

    By Terry Farmer (21/01/2016)
  • In the 1960s I owned an antique shop and art Gallery in between Nat. Hyams the greengrocer and a barber shop.’Mark Rimmell Antiques/Rimmell Gallery’.I was there for about 5/6 years. In the yard behind and above were small flats mostly for the elderly.Each week several ladies would wait to be taken to an old peoples lunch. Occasionally it rained or in the winter time  I would invite them in to keep warm and give them a cup of tea.

    Occasionally Paul McCartney would pop in since he lived in Cavendish Avenue..and many other celebrities who lived in the area..It was like a small village .I was sorry to leave..If you remember it do write .

    By Mark Rimmell (15/12/2015)
  • I would be interested to hear about the history of De Walden House. I was told it was a converted stables, also I heard it is ex council property . Can anyone tell me more .

    By Susan Ng (06/01/2015)
  • I remember all of the Fetigans . My brother John and Jacob used to be good friends. I believe Henry you used to keep in touch with my Dad’s sister my Aunty Kay. I was very friendly with Kay Bingelly who had a younger sister Patricia (we used to call her Tootie )who died of Diphtheria. I was born in the Buildings in 1944. There was Mr & Mrs Gibson and my nan lived there. We lived at No. 8


    By Anita Jacob (now Gurney) (31/10/2014)
  • My mother had a dress shop at 100 Allitsen Road after the war. To the right was a cafe and my Aunt Rose worked there. (Now it is a bookmakers). To the left was the barbers shop and next to that was a greengrocers. At one time my mother employed a young lady who lived on the middle floor on the other side of the yard. I was interested in photography and took pictures of her young daughter’s birthday cake. (I still have copies of those pictures). Later on she had another baby which tragically died of SIDS. The mother turned white overnight and was never the same again. I can’t remember her name

    By Reginald B Page (12/11/2013)
  • Stuart Goddard did live in De Walden,we played together in the courtyard as children, he was a couple of years younger than me, his mum used to work in the Laundrette in the High Street.

    By Terry Farmer (15/04/2013)
  • I believe Stuart Goddard was brought up in De Walden Buildings. He later became better known as Adam Ant.

    By John Simons (12/04/2013)
  • Came across this website by accident. What a blast from the past. I remember playing with Shaun and Henry Fetigan and John Wyatt. Nice to know they are still around.

    By brian hawke (01/04/2013)
  • My dad George often used to mention Pat Fetigan, I think they went to school together.

    By Terry Farmer (21/11/2012)
  • Our family lived directly above The Wyatt family and we were good friends. I was born May 29th 1940 one day after Sammy Vincent the son of Sam and Minnie Vincent. I knew the family well. June, Prim and Sammy. My family were Harry and May Fetigan with one daughter Eileen, three son’s Patrick, Shaun and Henry. I live in Vancouver Canada and still visit the Wood. I’d love to be able the go into The Buildings, now known as De Walden House but it has a security gate. I do drop in to The Gammon Rasher for a good fry up breakfast. My brother Shaun still lives in the Wood at Cotman House and my sister Eileen is still alive at 85 in Canada.

    By Henry Fetigan (09/07/2012)
  • Elsie and Charlie Wyatt were my grandparents. They lived in the de Walden buildings until they died in the early 1980’s. My dad was their son John.

    By Denise Ellis (06/06/2012)
  • My nan used to live in De Walden, I knew Elsie & Charlie wyatt , Elsie used to work in the greengrocers Hyam’s in Allitsen Rd, where I used to live, in Park Mansions, I also knew a Victor Poulton, I loved living the Wood it was a great place to grow up.

    By Terry Farmer (06/02/2012)
  • i think I knew Sammy and June Vncent from the Wood. I was born in the Wood in 1942 and lived ther for 19 years. My sister,  Edna was great friends with June. Are you any relation to any of these names? Please let me know. Thanks, Ken.

    By kenny poulton (05/12/2011)
  • My great grandma, Elsie Wyatt ( nee Vincent) and her husband, Charlie, lived in De Walden Buildings from 1930’s to1970’s. They had a son also named Charlie, I think. I remember visiting them in the 1960’s there and the flat seemed very small and dark, although immaculately clean. Elsie’s brother (my grandpa) Sam Vincent, lived opposite at Kingfisher House on the Barrowhill estate with his wife, Milbro (Minnie).

    By Lori Dalgleish (10/07/2011)

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