Iris Humphries

Iris Humphries and children, Crystal Palace Park, 1962

Growing up

"I kept a record of the shopping I did for my first baby. We used to subscribe to a magazine called "Parents" and that advised you of all the things to buy for the layette. And you needed to work your way down this list, and you didn't feel satisfied until you had the full complement of nappies, and baby's baskets and cotton wool, and goodness knows what.

We had nighties and baby's nighties, I think I bought the material and made them. A little wicker basket, which I covered in material, because my mother had one. There was a particular firm in the Camberwell Road that gave discount to members in a staff association, so we trotted down there and bought the big high pram which we were all expected to use.

But I didn't find it very convenient living in a high rise flat and pushing it through city streets it was rather an encumbrance, and so it didn't really get used much. And quite quickly we improvised with a strange piece of equipment called a Transporter, which we could fit a carrycot onto. And this was a most versatile little pram and we could push that around, and we could leap onto buses with the carrycot in one hand and the Transporter in the other, and we'd be able to go all over the London parks by transport because there weren't many green spaces locally."


Summer fun, Lammas Green, Sydenham, 1963

"In the summer the kids had a playground on their doorstep. They all had bicycles and they could ride around Lammas Green to their hearts' content.

In the summer the sprinklers would go on the grass, the children just loved that, and they'd all get their bathing suits on. As soon as Mr Knox, he was the groundsman who looked after the green, as soon as he brought out the sprinkler, they'd all rush in and put on their bathing suits and they had a wonderful time.

There were a lot of children of about the same age at Lammas Green; a lot of people had come from different parts of London. A lot came from the Old Kent Road estates, and the Petticoat Lane area, and a lot of the families had another child almost as soon as they got to Lammas Green. There was a great crowd of youngsters all about the same age, and it was really nice for them all to play together."

Family life

"When I was first married, I kept a very careful household budget, partly because my mother did, and I thought it was the thing to do, and partly it helped my budgeting economy to know where the money had gone. Because of course you know money was fairly tight.


The Humphries family opening presents together on Christmas Day, Lammas Green, Sydenham, 1962

But having looked again at the things we ate, I don't think we went short. We used to have bacon and meat, and cheese and eggs, and all the things people don't eat now in abundance.
I used to buy my vegetables when I was first married in Whitecross Market, which was a first class place to shop, and there was always plenty of fresh vegetables available. We didn't have frozen vegetables at all; it was a long time before I had a freezer. Although I did have a fridge almost as soon as I moved into my first home, Great Arthur House. The summer we moved there, it was so hot it was like an oven, and there wasn't anywhere to keep the milk, and so we had to go out and buy a fridge which was quite a luxury in those days!

I think as a young housewife one read the magazines like "Women's Own", and we were encouraged to budget for the family, and provide balanced meals. And I think I did all that rather conscientiously and carefully, although I think as I got more experienced in later years, I didn't need to write it all down.

Cooked breakfasts were a very big feature of life in the 1950's. We had a bacon and egg breakfast most days. Yes, we went to work on an egg, but we accompanied it with bacon and fried bread as well. Oh yes, and kippers for tea!."

Daily Life

"We heard about the Lammas Green Estate, of the Corporation of London in Sydenham, and we were invited to look at an empty flat. We fell in love with Lammas Green, and we were able move there in 1962.


Silver Jubilee Tea Party, Lammas Green, 1977

We came to Lammas Green, when Colin was about a year old. It was a fairly basic flat, it didn't have central heating; there was an electric fire for extra heat, but in those days we had a coal fire, and we had to have an old fireguard so that it was safe for the children to be in the room. We're opening our Christmas presents on Christmas morning in this picture."

Free time

"We all got together and tables were put up and everybody made cakes, and got lemonade in and put up the bunting, and there was a great celebration for the Queen's Silver Jubilee."
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