The Wildgoose Chase

I met Chelsea Pensioner Walter Wildgoose in 1977 when he was 87 and I was 26. Through a series of letters written over the last year of his life, he passed along his life story - the workhouse children's home, a life in the British Army witnessing the opening battles of World War I and life in India, a remarkable family surviving the bombs of World War II London. This blog will document my research and progress on the novel I'm writing about this amazing man.

Monday, October 17, 2005

The house on Clifford Avenue

Walter, May, Doug, and Ron at Clifford Avenue, 1930's

After a remarkable childhood and 22 years with the colours, Walter was ready for some stability. He secured a job as a school caretaker and was ready to become a home-owner:

In the summer of 1932, I was really on top of my job, and I felt that I would like to live nearer to the school, which would be more advantageous to both the children and myself. I told May that I was taking her out house-hunting. We sent the two boys in the recreation ground, with some refreshments and some soft drinks and told them we would not be home until midday. They were quite happy to be playing with the other children. We set off and we called at all the estate agents offices. We were lucky at the last one. They had a house in Clifford Avenue (quite near the school) for £750. He gave us permission to “view by appointment,” and we called on the lady concerned. I was greatly impressed with what I saw and I decided to buy it. I gave the estate agent a preliminary deposit of £5 as a deposit. He asked if I had any capital to put down as part payment, and we gave him £300 which we had saved during our time in India and I arranged a mortgage with the Huddersfield Building Society. By October the transaction was completed and on the 17th October we moved into No. 23 Clifford Avenue Mortlake.

I had to go to Hounslow periodically to draw my pay, which was due to me until the 6th June, when my final discharge was due. I then had to go to Dover and report to the regiment to receive my army discharge book and particulars relating to my service pension. The adjutant, Major Impson, strongly advised me not to commute my pension, but to draw it each week which was the princely sum of 25/1d per week. So I received £2.5-0 for my job and 25/1 pension, which totaled £3.10 per week. We had to be careful those days, although we had a little balance in the Building Society.

Walter and May lived at 23 Clifford Avenue, Mortlake, from 1932 until May's death in 1971 - almost 40 years.
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posted by MaryB @ 6:34 AM  


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