Recalling happier time under bridge

The problems with the structure of Hammersmith Bridge and residents south of the river wanting it to reopen have sparked memories for one former resident.

Mike Chilvers, now 82, lived in Parfrey Street, Fulham from 1940-59 and recalls children jumping off one of the bridge supports nearest the northern shore and swim in the Thames.

He said: “But not me – I just watched!

“I do remember jumping on the old rubbish barges that used to moor by the bridge. I think we used to call it ‘dusthole rakin’ as we used to scramble around in the hope of finding’ something’ good – we never did.

The skiffle band Hank Ford and the Driftin’ Cowboys.

“But the highlight has to be the skiffle days. We used to ‘play’ under the bridge in the evenings with our guitars, plus banjo and tea chest ‘bass’ playing old folk/skiffle & Lonnie Donegan songs and whatever we could manage with just three chords.

“For beginners, we were not that bad and even had an audience at times.

“Recalling things like that remind me of the happy days.

“They’ll never be repeated, and to see the bridge in dispute about being repaired is very sad.

“But to me, it means a lot.”

Hammersmith Bridge

The friends formed a band called Hank Ford and the Driftin’ Cowboys. Most of its members were based at the Fellowship Hall youth club in Hammersmith Road.

The building is still there. Their moment of glory came when they played at a showing of the movie Davie Crockett – King of the Wild Frontier at the Hammersmith Gaumont – now the Hammersmith Apollo, in 1956.

They played the song Davie Crockett for the actor who played the lead, Fess Parker, arriving on the steps of the cinema.

The cutting is from the West London Observer, which closed in 1984 after 129 years of publishing. Its headline was’ Fess ‘Davy Crockett’ at Hammersmith Gaumont.

Mike said: “I was born in west London in 1938 and it has many special memories for me. I now live in Farnham Surrey so I’m not that far away but you don’t forget the areas you grew up in.”

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