Pamela and Jim Sharman
My husband Jim and I moved to Middle Field in February 1958, a few months after we married. We had been living near Baker Street so it was a natural area in which to look for a home and was convenient for Jim’s work as a partner in a stockbroker’s firm in the City. He used to commute via South Hampstead Station in Boundary Road, wearing a bowler hat and carrying a furled umbrella.
We went nearly every week to the Odeon cinema [Swiss Cottage] and ate out occasionally, sometimes at Cosmo in the [St John’s Wood] High Street, but gave regular dinner parties using elaborate Elizabeth David or Cordon Bleu recipes – our guests usually came wearing “black tie and long dresses” and we often played bridge after dinner.
We had very modern furniture from Heals with a bright red sofa and two bright blue chairs and a fluffy white carpet in the drawing room. All the rooms had fitted plain bright carpets and coloured painted walls and the dining room had a dark red ceiling.
Central heating was provided by a boiler which took coke [coal], which was delivered round the back to the boiler house and had to be fed to the boiler at least twice a day. We had a twin-tub washing machine but sheets, tablecloths and stiff collars went to the laundry. There were no washing up machines or deep freezers.
We went to St John’s Wood Church fairly regularly, and the first three (Michael, Charles and William) of our five sons, were christened there. The babies all sat outside the house in their pram. The children went to Mrs McCaffrey’s school in a road [Langford Place] off Loudon Road, to which I think we walked, and then later to the Hall School [in Hampstead]. We had a German au pair to help with the children. I walked our Airedale dog, Vicky, and the children in Primrose Hill most days or took them to the gardens of the derelict unoccupied houses in St Johns Wood Park.
I shopped at John Barnes [a John Lewis department store, now Waitrose] and an old fashioned Sainsbury’s. Newspapers and milk were delivered. We had a private doctor, Dr Plowright from Hampstead, who visited the house at a guinea [£1.10p] a time. We probably were not as keen on burglar alarms as we are now – one night we had a burglary while we were asleep and all our silver and jewellery were stolen, then about a week later the gang or their friends came back and stole all the electrical goods like the Kenwood mixer.
We knew all the neighbours very well; Bridget from no 7 became godmother to Charles, and her parents took us to various events in the City. We definitely did not eat in the street and wore hat and gloves for all occasions, even the school sports day. Trousers [probably still called slacks then] were only worn for sports or on holiday.
We moved from Middle Field in 1963 as we needed a larger house. Michael and Charles did not want to move as they had made lots of friends among the Middle Field children and although we only had a tiny garden they could all play in the road together; we had also altered the garage to be a playroom and rented another garage behind the house as cars were always put in garages for the night.