Pauline Payne
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Pauline Payne (nee Hayler) with her toy dog, Sooty, 1940

Growing up

"My grandfather had been gassed in the First World War and had subsequently died of complications, which left my grandmother, Adelaide Mary Hayler, a widow with three young children.

They had lived at various addresses in Catford, before the chance of a new life presented itself. They were allocated a council house in the new Grove Park Estate at Marvels Lane, some time during 1929. At the time of their arrival, Marvels Lane was an unmade track, which saw horses and carts and very few cars.

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Pauline's father, Alfred Hayler, with his mother, Marvels Lane, Grove Park, 1930

By then, the children were almost grown up, and during the first year of the occupancy of the new council house, my father married my mother at St Augustine's Church in Grove Park on December 22, 1929. At that time, my father was a soldier in the Royal Artillery, as work was not freely available, and my mother told me he had "taken the King's shilling" and enlisted."

"On leaving the army, my mother and father set up home in Springbank Road in Hither Green, and I was born in September 1937. I suppose I had a very privileged upbringing as I was the only child and there were very few families with only children in those days.

When the war was declared, my father became a weapons inspector at the Royal Arsenal at Woolwich. One day during 1940, a bomb fell on our house in Springbank Road making the house uninhabitable, and Mum and I were taken to some nearby garages. As we were by then homeless, we had to go and live with my grandmother in Marvels Lane until we were allocated a council house at Cobland Road.

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Pauline Hayler and her father, Marvels Lane, Grove Park, 1949


I was three years old when we visited the house for the first time, and I can remember how gloomy it looked with all the doors painted chocolate brown. (After the war you were allowed to choose bottle green paint!). Reaching the age of four I was enrolled at Marvels Lane Primary School. At first I hated it and cried all day long, but Mrs Smee my first teacher was very kind to me. I soon overcame my aversion to school and entered Juniors with enthusiasm."

Getting married

"Mr and Mrs Payne, Michael's parents, arrived at their new council flat in Roseveare Road direct from Hither Green where they had rented rooms opposite the Railway Hotel. They had a young family of three children and were overjoyed to have been allocated a brand new house on the estate.

Their family increased to six children, three boys and a three girls and Michael was the youngest. Mrs Payne declined all medical assistance during her confinements as she had a morbid fear of doctors, hospitals and also in later life the dentist!

Michael Payne was one of my fellow pupils at Marvels Lane Primary School, he was something of a heartthrob to the girls, but I did not rate a second glance in those days as although certainly not disinterested in girls, his number one passion was playing football. Our paths were to cross years later, after we had both left our secondary schools and a chance meeting at Cannon Street station was the start of a life long relationship."

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Michael Payne aged 3, 1940

"It was a very hot and sunny day, and we got married at 12 noon. The organist failed to turn up, so you could hear my feet clip clopping on the stone floor.

The bouquet was originally pink rose buds and freesia, but by the time we had come out of the church, they were full blown roses because of the heat. The wedding breakfast was at the Star and Garter public house in East Street in Bromley, and we catered for about 75 people.

We stayed in a little guesthouse in Grove Park on the wedding night, and we went and saw "Damn Yankees", a show in the West End at the Coliseum. The following day, we went to Bournemouth for our honeymoon, on the Bournemouth Belle.

In the 45 years since we have been married, we have raised 4 sons, I have 4 grand daughters, but as is the way of the modern world, I have no daughters-in-law!"

Family life

"After the war everyone relaxed into a more normal way of life.

After leaving school in 1954 I found work in Fleet Street working for a group of provincial newspapers, and Mike was employed as a trainee tea taster in Idol Lane in the City. After a chance meeting at Cannon Street Station we were reacquainted. We got engaged at 16, whist he was doing his National Service, and we married at 19 years of age at St Augustine's Church on 30th March 1957.

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Wedding of Pauline Hayler and Michael Payne, St Augustine's Church, Grove Park, 1957


After we were married, Michael used to spend his leave at my house, as we had not yet found ourselves accommodation whilst he was in the army. Mike and I look back at our childhood on the estate with affection and feel very nostalgic, when after forty years we find ourselves walking the same familiar streets again. From Grove Park we moved to Lewisham, Hither Green and in 1976 to Lee. We have raised four sons and have four granddaughters. My eldest son has recently bought a house in Marvels Lane, so strangely Grove Park continues to be a focus of our lives even though we left in 1958!."

Free time

"My Dad was allocated petrol for his car, which was a grey and black Morris registration CMU 393. It must have been the only working car on the estate, as when it was parked outside our house, it used to attract children for miles around who climbed all over it, much to his annoyance. After the war, when my father was made redundant, financial restrictions made it necessary to sell his beloved car. I remember how emotional he was when he said a last farewell to a faithful friend, when he sold it.

To try to alleviate the misery of the war, my family loved visiting local cinemas and we used to go two or three times a week. The Palace and the Odeon at Eltham, the Plaza and the Queens Hall at Catford, the Splendid at Downham and the Gaumont at Lewisham and others. I spent most of my childhood and teens in these wonderful places of delight. Another favourite haunt was the Lewisham Music Hall at the bottom of Brownhill Road.

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Pauline and Michael Payne at the time of their engagement, Grove Park, 1955


One other form of entertainment for me, was when Mum and I went to Catford for "serious" shopping i.e. clothes, and we visited the Broadway market, which was situated behind the shops in a large open space. There you would find "Eddie, the best boy in Catford", and he would have "models" standing on a platform showing off his dresses, suits and coats. My mother had a trim figure all her life and so she scrutinised the clothes on offer very thoroughly. You could also buy china, towels, bed linen, in fact anything that made up a thriving market in those days."
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