Ham Lands, dangerous playground – by GH

One incident was a lady approached me after the talk and said her father had received the Royal Humane Society’s Gold Medal for rescuing a drowning child from the Ham Pits. The pits were extremely deep with vertical sides, so if you were to fall into them, getting out would be extremely difficult and for this reason, mothers would insist that their children did not go to play at the Ham Pits, as they were known, which, of course, children always did, sometimes with near-fatal consequences. The depth of the pits is such that Nigel Hepper used to relate a story that on one occasion, they tipped a double-decker bus when they were infilling the Ham Pits, into the pit and it sank below the waves, completely out of sight. The other aspect of the Lands… also, when I gave the talk would be thirty years ago, when there was another generation of people around, they used to mention that living in Ham when they were reconstructing London after the War, there were lorry load after lorry load of Blitz rubble, which was brought into Ham and tipped in to fill the pits. Again, it was rumoured that the Dysart family made more money from filling in the gravel pits than they did from extracting it in the first place!