I decided that I would go back to my roots where I came from and the nearest prison that was available to me was Latchmere House or Ashford Remand Centre and I was lucky enough to get Latchmere House. I worked in Latchmere House on and off for twenty-two years.
I was totally unqualified for anything actually including the guitar completely unqualified, and they said they wanted somebody to do music with the boys at the Remand Home, 15-19 they were and she said oh yes I’ve got the person, so I worked at the Remand Home for a few years.
Well you see in Latchmere Close we were a very close-knit community, we used to go in the prison club in the evenings, but it was only people that you’d worked with all day and you see them most of the day even when you were off duty you were still altogether in the environment, you just didn’t mix with the outsiders because there was no need to because we had all of your prison officers were mates and all that were there so you didn’t really know, of course we knew some people on the outside because it was […]
It was very, very safe and peaceful childhood up to the war of course. We had an Anderson shelter, I can remember my father fitted it out beautifully and we slept there. Normally we went to bed there, we didn’t get up in the night. I can remember him getting us all up to see the fires of London, it’s an abiding memory is that. And watching the German planes coming over. So in your war years you weren’t evacuated? No I had the summer of ’44 away because my sister and her little friend along the road were sent […]
Of course where the prison was, Latchmere, that used to be a Prisoner of War camp. Can you remember much about that? No, not really, I mean we were forbidden to go near it and that used to be a Prisoner of War camp.
I think it’s purely something that you have to accept for yourself, the people that lived in Ham, the majority of them that I knew that lived in the vicinity of the prison were quite happy about it. I think that as it went on I don’t think the people in Ham had any problems with the prison being there, in fact I think they thought it was quite secure living around there. For instance, when we went out we never ever locked our doors because we knew that the environment all around there people just wouldn’t break into houses […]
I was totally unqualified for anything actually including the guitar completely unqualified and they said they wanted somebody to do music with the boys at the Remand Home, 15-19 they were and she said oh yes I’ve got the person so I worked at the Remand Home for a few years. I’d no idea what I was going to do with them because they weren’t going to learn guitar because they hadn’t got guitars. We had a lovely time. We were talking about soul music and reggae and we just sort of played records and often sang a few songs […]
Latchmere House had various incarnations and at one stage it was a Borstal. My mother always very carefully kept the kitchen door locked at all times. She thought if anybody escaped from the Borstal they would immediately go into someone’s kitchen and nick money or something so she always kept the kitchen door locked just in case.
They had prefabs where the prison officers used to live. Latchmere House was a borstal so they must have had quite a few prison guards living there. I knew Mr. and Mrs. Wood very well because Mrs. Wood used to come and babysit occasionally. (ML) What did you feel about having Latchmere House just down the road? I didn’t mind. I felt safe because there were so many police.
On this side I had Mr Grudgins who was a policeman, but he was one of the old style policemen and when he retired they got him a job at what was the boy’s Borstal at what was Latchmere House over on the Common and he only worked there a year, he said “I can’t stand it, the way they treat these boys is not right” but obviously that was the way they needed to be treated, it was like “Porridge”. He was the tender hearted one and after one year he said I can’t work there anymore and he […]