Remember the days of old Fulham

See more picture on our Flickr photo gallery

Remember when Johnny Haynes graced Craven Cottage? When every Fulham pupil had a third-of-a-pint bottle of free milk at school? When children took their broken toys to a dolls’ hospital in Dawes Road?

The SW6 of yesteryear is celebrated in Old Fulham by former resident and passionate social historian Francis Czucha – a book packed with nostalgic images of a bygone era.

There are pictures of am dram productions in church halls, school friends chasing each other around playgrounds, and spit-and sawdust pubs, where you could get tipsy for a few pennies.

When the Clem Atlee estate was built in 1957, the cameras were there, and when every inch of North End Road was filled with market stalls – as recently as the 1970s – a photographer captured the scene.

The girls from Fulham Ladies’ Swimming Club gathered in their costumes for a snap in 1970, ice cream vans run by Italian families dispensed cornets, while the crowds poured (and still pour) along Fulham’s streets to fill Craven Cottage and Stamford Bridge.

The girls from Fulham Ladies’ Swimming Club gathered in their costumes for a snap in 1970, ice cream vans run by Italian families dispensed cornets, while the crowds poured (and still pour) along Fulham’s streets to fill Craven Cottage and Stamford Bridge.

Unashamedly picture-driven, the book is a wonderful wallow in the past, and Francis, 63, is delighted with the print quality. But he is also realistic about the past. “There is a great mood for nostalgia, but it is easy to forget the hardships of those years,” he said.

“Where I grew up, we didn’t have a bathroom or hot water or an indoor toilet. I had to go down the stairs and into the yard, often to find it was already occupied as we had to share with the other tenants. When I tell my children that, they laugh.”

Francis, or Frank to his pals, who lived in Broughton Road, Sands End, from 1955 to 1977, before moving to Cambridgeshire, has been accumulating memories from Fulhamites for years, collating stories on the Sands End Revisited website, which is now five years old.

Despite so much information now being online, Francis still believes books are accessible to all, especially elderly people who may not be so computer-savvy.

“I miss the place,” he says of Fulham. “Part of me has never really left, and I still get that tingle when I walk down the old streets.”

He is astonished at how Fulham has graduated from being Chelsea’s poor relation to being so sought-after, with house prices to match. “My parents bought their home in Sands End in 1955, for £500,” he said. “I couldn’t afford to move back now.”

The book offers an insight into the day-today life of Fulham as an ordinary, working class district; an era when residents shopped every morning at the butcher and baker, rather than at the giant supermarkets of today, and entertainment was live in pubs and halls, rather than being beamed into living rooms on TV.

Old Fulham has a 500 print run, but the publisher will reprint if demand grows. Books are available direct from the publisher, or via Amazon, Waterstones or WHSmith.

Francis’ companion history book on Sands End has already sold more than 1,000 copies. Francis gave a talk about his book at Fulham Library last year.

Old Fulham by Francis Czucha is published by Stenlake at £16.

 Want to stay connected with H&F? Sign-up to the council
Advertisement