A Kentish Maid

My mother was 28 and my father 47 when I was born 16 July 1929 in the Kidbrooke nursing home on what my mother always said was the hottest day of the year. We lived in Blackheath Park Rd which being West of the river Medway makes me a Kentish Maid. I was third in the family since I had a half sister, Isla Helen from my father’s first marriage and a half brother Dennis Henry who came with my mother, Florence Rose Birch. When they married in 1928, my father, Alfred Ridler, did his best to even up their ages by adding four years to my mother’s age and subtracting four years from his age on their marriage certificate. From the age of 18, my father had been a regular soldier in the Middlesex Regiment, serving in the Boer War and in Hongkong before receiving a severe leg injury in WWI in 1915 which finished his time in the army. For a while he worked in London in the National Bank of India but he hated working indoors and took on the post of groundsman at the bank’s sports ground at Blackheath. His first wife died after an accident which led to his second marriage and my birth as a Kentish Maid. In 1930, when I was 1, we moved to Beckenham where my father was the groundsman of the Japanese Sports Ground of the Yokohama Specie Bank.

Prince Chichibu, the brother of the Japanese Emperor Hirohito came to visit in 1937 at the time of the coronation of George VI. The Prince was English speaking having studied at Magdalen Oxford in 1925, a patron of sport and of good rapport with our Royal Family. He was an officer in the Imperial Japanese Army and had held the title Prince Chichibu since 1922. We had a wonderful display of tennis by Fred Perry who had turned professional after his 1936 Wimbledon win and of course we had to wait until 2013 for Andy to give us another British win.

Here we see Michael and David on their bike outside 163 Copers Cope Rd. When the Japanese entered the war after Pearl Harbour, 7.12.1941, we moved to Copers Cope for the next 24 years! Michael and I married at St Paul’s church on 1.9.1951 and three weeks later he went to sea for Ellerman Lines as an engineer. Philip, Peter and Gill were all born here at 163.

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