Rose Gower

Rose Gower's parents, Emma and Harry Brewer, with their eldest children. Bradford Road, Sydenham, 1919

Growing up

"I was born at Camberwell Green in 1925, and we lived there until I was eight and then we moved to Dulwich. There were seven of us, and I was the youngest. There's only 14 months difference between me and my sister who's bit older than me. We were the lucky ones really, the others had it harder than what we had, you know we were really lucky.

My oldest brother lived with my aunt. My mother and my aunt lived next door to one another, and my mother had the first two children quickly, and she was poorly. So my father, whose sister lived next door to them, let his sister look after the oldest boy while my mother got a bit stronger. But as time went on my mother kept saying you know, let's have him back. Well she didn't have any children, my father's sister, so of course she was a bit reluctant, and so as time went on and on, she sort of fetched him up. It was bit sad really that the eldest brother didn't live with us."

Family life


Rose Gower's mother, Emma Brewer, and her eldest children, 1916

"I had three children, they were all born in Ethnard Road, Peckham. The first one, I had at St. Giles's Hospital in Camberwell Green. The second one, she was born at home and so was Barry, he was born at home. I think it was just common then, they did have them at home. My sister-in-law, my husband's sister, she looked after me.

When the second one was born, it was so quick she had to run all the way down St. James' Road, to get the midwife, and I think the doctor arrived before she did. Ann, that's my daughter's name, she was born almost straight away, so I was lucky. With Barry I think that was on a Thursday morning that he was born, but we had gas and air at home, so my sister-in-law looked after me again then, and that was about 46 years ago."

Getting married

"I was married in 1947. My oldest sister and I went on the Friday night to my mother-in-law's place to get everything ready.

We made jellies and put then on the marble mantelpiece because there were no fridges then, and of course they didn't set. On the Saturday morning we went and did all the salad, peeled all the potatoes, which my mother-in-law forgot to put on as we went to the church! But there again, we were lucky to have had a wedding like that.


Rose Gower and the wedding party in the back garden at Ethnard Road, Peckham, 1947

I can't remember how many guests we had, not huge. There was lots of mums with children about the same age, and as we came out of the church it just absolutely poured, so of course they all ran for shelter, so of course we've not got many photos in the family album.

I think we used the coupons for the material. The flowers cost £4 and 10 shillings, and the wedding ring was 31 shillings, it was just a 9-carat one, that's all you could get unless you went on the black market and paid more. I've still got it on my finger.

The car picked us up from home, and as I say we had our wedding breakfast in my mother-in-law's house, the car hire was £2 and 10 shillings. The vicar and the banns were read, and that was 5 shillings.

I had the dress made, it was a friend of my father's, his wife she made the dresses, she lived up Lordship Lane. She made the three bridesmaid's dresses as well, they were blue, and they had pink carnations. There was my sister, my niece and a friend. I had carnations in my bouquet; I think they were a pinky-red, but it was nice in those days, because the greenery used to trail down. The horseshoes and that, my brother-in-law made them, he worked at a card maker, you know a birthday card place, and he made those."

Free time


Rose Gower and friend on a "beano" trip to Southend, 1947

"When my husband retired, we bought a chalet in Seaton, and we had that for 26 years, and the family all used to go down there.

It was quite a journey! I think the very first time we went down there on holiday, we hadn't bought the chalet then, it took us nearly seven hours to travel there in the car. While we were down there that year the chalet went up for sale, we thought about it and then we decided you know, that we'd buy it. Not all at once, I think it was £1000 and something, which then was a lot of money. We had it for about twenty-six years."

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