19/01/2018
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A very domestic look at the past

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One of the pleasures of family history is finding those small everyday details, reminders of times gone by, clues to the way our ancestors once lived. Author Keith Gregson shares some beautiful early 20th century photos of the estate where his mother-in-law once kept home...

My article ‘Living on the Estate’ (August FTM) elicited a positive response so it is with great joy that I can reveal that we have discovered more evidence on the topic. The article was based on a pile of rent books belonging to my wife’s grandmother who lived on the ground-breaking Becontree Estate in Dagenham from its very opening during the inter-war years until her death in 1968.

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Just recently we have been involved in massive rebuilding work on our 1870s Victorian terraced house and have decided to downsize at the same time. While my wife was looking through some old files she found a pile of photographs taken by her uncle of the house on Becontree Estate. He was unmarried, lived with his mother and had to move out on her death.

Home life in the Sixties

He was a keen photographer and we reckon the photographs were taken in the 1960s. As noted in the article, my wife recalls the ‘family home’ as being on the corner with a large garden in which the children could play. The pictures seem to show all aspects of the estate housing in winter – both with and without snow.

Perhaps the two most interesting are the one which shows the house on the corner and the one which shows the room which my wife calls the scullery. As she also comments – you could call it a kitchen but in truth it was very small and that “was all grandmother had” – and she had to bring up three children!

Over to you!

Next time you're looking through your old family photos, make a note of those that show the homes and streets where your family once lived. See what clues you can gain about the area in times gone by. Perhaps create a collection of photos of 'ancestors' homes' to share with relations - it's sure to spark memories!

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