Robert and Lilian Stockwell and their family
Robert and Lilian were married on 23 September 1933 at Trinity Methodist Church, Prestatyn in North Wales.
Their first home was at 107 Briar Avenue, Norbury in South London. This semi-detached house was bought for about £900 and my father told me that after he had signed the mortgage he thought “What have I done? How I am going to afford to pay this off?”
They joined Norbury Baptist Church and remained in membership there until they moved to Cheam in 1955. Robert became active in the Sunday School, first as a teacher and then as Sunday School Superintendent. He rejoiced in the number of boys and girls who made their first profession of Faith while they were scholars in the Sunday School. Many were baptised at Norbury, going on to be Sunday School Teachers themselves. Some entered the Christian Ministry. Robert kept in touch with many of them for several years - some were still in contact when he died in 2002.
Their daughter, Margaret, was born on 30 November 1934. Before she was 3 years old her brother, Robert, was born. He was born on 17 August 1937 in the family home and Margaret still remembers her father taking her into her parents’ bedroom the next morning to see this new addition to the family.
Two years later with the Second World War breaking out, Lilian took the two children to stay with them at her parents’ bungalow in North Wales. Robert was spared the traumas of National Service on medical grounds but he stayed behind in London to fulfil his responsibilities in the printing business. When it was clear that the war would continue for a long time, they let the house in Briar Avenue and Robert went to stay with his parents in Cheam. As there was no telephone in the bungalow, it must have been quite stressful for Lilian not knowing how Robert was surviving through the Blitz.
For the children there were distinct advantages in growing up in the country. There was quite a restricted public transport system and it was not uncommon for them to go for a walk into the hills behind the town, benefiting from the exercise and the fresh air.
The two children started their schooling in Prestatyn at the Vale View Preparatory School. In those days we walked to school and back and Lilian had the walk each way twice a day to deliver her children to the school and to collect them later in the day.
One sadness for Lilian at this time was the death of her father on 4 May 1940. He died at home in the bungalow. He was only 68 years old. After the funeral the burial took place at Coed Bell Cemetery to the East of the town. It became a regular trip over the following years for Margaret and Robert to visit the Cemetery. Usually we were able to take the twice-weekly bus one way and walk back – occasionally we walked both ways.
In the Spring of 1942 it was decided that Lilian would bring the children back to London and the family were re-united in the house in Briar Avenue.
Margaret started at Streatham High School and continued her schooling there until she left to undertake her training at Maria Grey Teacher Training College, where she trained as an Infant Teacher. Robert spent one term at Streatham High School before moving to Dulwich College Preparatory School for the September Term in 1942. He continued there until 1948 when he transferred to Dulwich College. He stayed at Dulwich College until 1954 when he began his studies for a Diploma in Printing Management at the London College of Printing.
The family moved from Briar Avenue in 1944 and went to live in Streatham Hill. This was more convenient for Robert to get to London Bridge (near the printing business) and for the two children to get to their schools.
It was while they were living in Streatham Hill that Robert bought his first car. It was a second-hand Austin A40. He had being driving since before the introduction of the Driving Test so he had a full licence to drive any kind of vehicle. He changed his car many times, but continued to drive until he was over 90 years old.
In 1955, with the children’s schooling finished, Robert and Lilian moved to Cheam, Surrey. This was the town where Robert’s father and mother had moved in the 1920’s and where he had stayed with them during the early years of the war. The house Robert and Lilian bought was a fine detached 4-bedroom house in Shirley Avenue. They lived in this house until 1969, by which time both their children had left home.