Memories of James Armstrong, former member

14 Jun 2017

"I joined St Andrew’s at their Temporary premises at the council site off Monck Street in 1947. It then transferred to Tufton Street and my friends and I spent many an evening enjoying the facilities. We played darts, snooker, table tennis, chess, cards etc. The hall had a small kitchen for refreshments. These premises also had a squash court which was used for ‘Keep Fit’ sessions and boxing coaching - a retired boxer would try to teach us the noble art!

"We also competed in athletics, football, and cricket in large scale local competitions organised by the London Federation of Boys’ Clubs. Home games were played at Northolt which was quite a slog on the tube!

"The Club Manager also arranged trips out to places of interest. Particularly notable tours included the House of Commons, Broadcasting House, the Daily Mirror and the Daily Telegraph based at Fleet Street, where we were shown how the news was gathered and then set up on huge rollers to produce our newspapers.

"The highlight of our year was the annual visit to Queen's College, Oxford. Our older boys played football against the students and we were looked after by the undergraduates. The visits ended with an evening dinner in the main dining hall which was always fantastic. I never found out what the origins of these visits were, but it did brighten up our lives in what was a very depressed time for the nation, with rationing shortages and restrictions being very severe. This was not easily understood by teenagers when we had won the war! Of course, we did not understand the huge costs associated with the allied victory.

"I lived with my parents, brother and younger sister at 93 Jessol House, Page Street. It was a fourth floor flat with three rooms (two bedrooms and a living room). We had gas lighting, a solid fuel range for cooking and heat. The four flats on our landing were serviced by two toilets with one sink for water, so it was marvellous to have the Club open most nights to escape and relax in.

"My involvement at the Club had a huge impact on my life: it demonstrated a life of opportunity beyond my domestic situation. I credit the Club with encouraging me to broaden my horizons and ambitions. I went on to have a fulfilling career, retiring from Dixons as the Estates’ Director. I was happily married for 58 years before my wife passed away two years ago. We were lucky enough to have four children, eleven grandchildren and, to date, three great grandchildren."

James Armstrong