My mother, Christine, passed away suddenly from a heart attack on September 20th 2005 at the age of 69 (she is pictured left in August 2005).
She was a wonderful person, and a wonderful mum and nana - and I felt I'd like to share some of her life story (and accompanying photos) with anyone who knew her and would like to remember her - by making a little shrine for her on this site. So, here it is... my photo biography! (Where possible, I have used her own words to describe the photos).
She undertook of a couple of 'tragical history tours' (as we jokingly called them) to some of her childhood haunts in recent years, and this has helped to build up a picture - and given me lots of info! Hope you enjoy the journey as we celebrate her life...
CHRISTINE CANN - Childhood Years (1936-52)
Christine Reva Edith Bonemeyer was born on March 2nd 1936 in Tattenham Corner, Epsom, Surrey - the only child of Henri Albert Chretien & Reva Edith Bonemeyer (née Cox).
The building on the right is where Christine was born - known appropriately at the time as 'The Start'. It is now a private dwelling - & has a very quirky, chunky 'art-deco' style - not untypical though of many suburban London houses from the 30s era. I think the room she was born in was the one above the garage! Funnily enough, this building is directly opposite the house where she lived with her parents for the first seven years of her life - 125 Chapel Way. She was born at 10:45pm, & weighed in at 7lb 3oz. (Christine took this photo in 1996 when she revisited the spot).
And here's her home - 125 Chapel Way, Tattenham Corner, Epsom - photographed in May 1936 by her father, Henri. Her mother can be seen at the window!
When we returned here in 2000, the house itself had not changed very much - though my mother commented that many new houses had been built on land adjoining Chapel Way. There was also a pathway nearby which she told me was known in the 1940s as 'Crack Alley' - it would probably have different connotations today!
Sorry about this mum... I couldn't resist it! Here's baby Christine in her 'birthday suit' on her parents' bed, posing nicely for the camera. This photo dates from July 1936, making her about 5 months' old.
And here's baby Christine fast asleep in her pram in the front garden of the house, with her mother Reva, pictured in April 1937. It gives a little glimpse of how the garden (and views) looked at this time - the open area to the right has since been developed with housing.
Another view of Christine and her mother in the front garden - and this clearly gives a view of the proximity of her birthplace, The Start, to their home.
This is an excellent professional portrait, taken at FW Clark's studio at Romford Road, Forest Gate. Christine is aged about 15 months' old.
Here she is aged 1, pictured in August 1937 with her mother on the back steps by the French windows at Chapel Way.
From about the same time as above, with her mother and maternal grandparents.
This is outside her home with her proud father Henri (known as Han) or, to Christine, simply 'Dada'. This photo dates from September 1938, making her 2 and a half years' old.
Christine: "My grandparents lived in the Dutch East Indies - now Indonesia - and my father was born there on 3rd June 1884. His father was a school master."
Han worked as a Technical Engineer for the Unilever Company.
Christine, around-about the same time as the above photo - but this time with her mother on the doorstep of her maternal Grandparents' house, 19 Harpenden Road, Wanstead.
Christine: "My mother, two brothers and her parents moved into this house when she was twelve - 1916. She lived there until she married in 1935 - my grandparents lived there until 1942/43."
Christine was delighted when she revisited this location in 1996 to find the tiled porch and original front door still completely intact. The orchard to the rear had, however, been lost to the inevitable housing developments.
Christine: "Epsom Methodist Church, where I was baptised in 1940."
This Church is in Ashley Road, Epsom.
Christine's father, Han, was a Methodist, and her mother Church of England. Christenings are usually associated with babies - so it seems unusual that Christine must have been 4 years' old at this time.
(This is another photo from her 1996 history tour).
Christine pictured in July 1941, aged 5, just before she started school - this was presumably taken in the back garden at Chapel Way. She certainly looks very smart in her summer dress and her hair ribbons - and what a delightful shy smile to the camera!
This was obviously war time, and Christine distinctly remembered the terrifying sound of 'buzz-bombs' overhead as German air-raids hit areas around south London (and later Ealing) where she lived.
Christine: "Picquets Way Council School - I was there from 1941-43. [I went] there to see it again in 1996 - it looked exactly the same as I remembered it."
The school (situated in nearby Banstead) opened in 1936 - and the headmistress at the time was Miss Adams, who eventually retired in 1951. Christine has even kept her very first exercise book as a memento! During the war, the school was provided with trenches and air raid shelters, and the students practised evacuation procedures. The roof of the school was damaged in Feb 1944, and 3 months' later the neighbouring boys' school suffered damage to hundred windows when a bomb fell in Tangier Way!
Following the Education Act of 1944, the two schools merged and became 'secondary modern' - and took the title 'Banstead County Secondary School' (though it is now known simply as the 'Beacon School').
Christine: "My father bought me this little picture because I was [his] 'Little Dutch Girl'."
Christine's father died suddenly in 1943 of a heart attack, aged just 59. This was a terrible blow for Christine (aged just 7 at the time) & for her mother, culminating in them having to leave the home they loved at Chapel Way.
The picture on the left is the wood-mounted print that Christine's father gave her, and she was to keep it close to her for the rest of her life.
8 Monks Drive, West Acton.
Christine: "This was my grandparents' home after they moved from Wanstead. My mother and I went to live with them in 1943 when my father died. We lived here until 1952 (when my grandmother died), then moved to a nearby flat - 28 Rutland Court, Queen's Drive."
This house is situated just around the corner from West Acton tube in a tree-lined road - Christine had many happy memories of this house that was to be her home for the remainder of her childhood. (The house at Chapel Way was later sold for the sum of £1,450 to a Mrs Rudd). She also now started attending St Michael's School in Mount Avenue, Ealing - she was to stay there for the next 3 years, before graduating to St Vincent's Convent in Acton.
Christine (aged 10) and her mother pictured during a visit to Belgium in 1946. It's likely they were there to visit Christine's Auntie Bertha (Han's sister), who was now living in Brussels and working as a teacher. Christine looks very smart too in her school uniform!
Christine: "St Vincent's Convent School, Acton. I was there from 1946-48."
This school was (and still is) located in Rosemont Road, Acton, and was a fee-paying school.
Christine: "St Vincent's Convent School Dancing Display - 1947. I'm on the left front, kneeling in front of two other girls."
Christine is the girl in the darker dress with her arms outstretched in front of her (and with her hands crossed over). I wonder where these other girls are now? I also wonder what Christine's dancing skills were like back then!
Here's Christine pictured in August 1948 with her friend Brenda Sutcliffe, whom she knew from St Vincent's. Also in the picture is Tony the Dog! This was at Avondale, Horsleys Green, Bucks. (Brenda revealed she is also in the above 'dancing' photo - she's standing at the back).
Brenda: "This was my Auntie [Mary's] house - my gran's sister - and I was evacuated here during the war. My Auntie was a spinster, but adored children! We used to spend our summers here."
In 1993, Brenda (who had kept in regular touch with Christine), sent a birthday card with this actual photo attached inside, bearing the message: 'Don't be sad, don't be blue Christine, there's still some people older than you - even though it's only 6 months! We do seem to go back a few years! Many happy memories too'.
Christine looking quite angelic (but serious!) in an official school portrait yearbook picture.
Christine: "This photograph was taken in 2A's classroom - it was taken when I was in 2B."
An intriguing classroom photo from 1948 showing Christine's class at St Anne's Convent, Ealing. Christine appears to be the girl sitting to the extreme left of the picture next to the bookcase. It certainly looks all very prim and proper - as you'd expect from a post-war convent school.
So, at the age of 11, she and Brenda were parted when Brenda continued her education elsewhere (Pitmans College, Ealing) - but were to remain in contact and good friends into the future, as we've seen. At St Anne's however, Christine was soon to make a couple more long-standing friends - in Margaret Balfe and Celia Trasler.
Celia: "Christine & I first met as 11 year-olds in our first year... both scholarship (11-plus) girls. As a "new girl" she was seated next to me to be shown the ropes as it were, and we immediately became the best of pals. [We were] quickly joined by Margaret Balfe (who is the girl with plaits sitting at the front of the class on the right-hand side), and we remained a trio for the next 5 years. It must have been quite a culture shock for Christine; Margaret was the oldest of 5, me the oldest of 6, but she loved to visit our homes and knew exactly how to join in."
An unusual photo of Christine riding a donkey! This is circa 1949, and was taken by R. Mitchell's photographers during a holiday in Clovelly (near Bideford, Devon) with her mother - who can be seen standing to the left looking on. I always thought it would be interesting to see if much (or little) has changed on this street-scene - and finally visited back in 2011, where I was delighted to see how beautifully preserved this whole historic village is.
Talking of donkeys, Christine's mother was much later to become a passionate supporter of the Donkey Sanctuary (near Sidmouth in Devon), and Christine took over her membership when she passed away in 1997.
Here's Christine pictured in August 1949, and starting to look quite grown up! She's looking very smart again in her school uniform with her mother, in a picture actually taken whilst they were on holiday in Newquay.
Christine: "Mummy and I at Towan Sands at Newquay, August 1949. I was 13, Mummy was 44."
This must have been taken during their stay in Torquay, the same week as the picture above. It all looks very civilized with the tea tray and cakes!
This lovely school portrait (from St Anne's Convent) is one of my favourite photos of my mother. I remember it being on my bedroom wall at my Auntie Bertha (Christine's father's sister's) house in St. Mard, Belgium, when I stayed there as a child. It seems to perfectly capture the essence of the young Christine.
I was later contacted by the Scholastic Society of Canada, who asked if this image could be used on the cover of one of their 'Exiles From the War' WW2 story books - of course I was very happy (and honoured) to oblige them.
Margaret: "[This] photo of her in her school uniform is exactly how I remember her. She was beautiful to look at with a flawless skin, and very gentle and sweet-natured."
Celia: "As the school years went by, I was often accused of some minor demeanour or other - but Christine was always there for me, putting things in perspective and making me feel good again. She would have made a wonderful counsellor."
Here's a good photo of Christine in the garden at Monks Drive with her grandparents, with whom of course she and her mother were living. Her Grandfather (Morton Rivett Cox) was born in Brixham, Devon, in 1869 - and Christine always knew him simply as 'Gamps'. He and his brother Frank were Master Builders by profession. Her grandmother's name was Edith Ethel Cox (née Roberts), and she was born in 1878. They were married on September 20th, 1899 (more info on my 'In the Beginning' page).
Brenda: "It's so nice for me to see the photo of your Great-Grandmother and Gamps, whom I adored. I remember so well the first time I met them, at Monks Drive. I called for your mum one day and was invited in by her nana, and given an orange (plus knife and napkin) to eat whilst waiting for Christine to get ready. Also, Reva was a very kind, dear lady, and always made me very welcome during those early years. We did not have cars, andif I had spent the day with Christine at her house, Reva would always accompany me home in the evening - and vice versa."
Celia: "I recall many happy times spent there, like taking Grandpa Cox for short walks in the gardens. Also, of course, listening to Christine playing the piano; we both played and we both had a great love of classical music. I remember how frustrated Christine was when they had (because of the space available) to buy a piano with a shorter keyboard than standard; she would extend her hands to play notes that just weren't there!"
Here are two more photos taken at Brenda's Auntie's house at Horsleys Green, dating from 1950. On the left, Christine carries Tony the dog - and it also gives another view of the timber-framed house, which has since sadly been demolished with another 'Avondale' constructed in its place. The other shows her with goats Daphne and Jane!
This photo (kindly provided by Brenda) shows Christine in her bedroom at Monks Drive in 1951. I think this looks almost like a little monochrome painting! I particularly love the way the natural light illuminates her smiling face.
Brenda: "The light shining in a square upon her face was the reflection of the sun shining on her dressing table mirror, but it certainly did the trick - and made a great snap."
Christine: "This is a photo of me when I made my 1st Holy Communion after becoming a Catholic".
This is a professional photo taken by Wakefields Photographers, 21 The Mall, Ealing (this building now houses the Benefits Agency!). It was taken at St Anne's on Nov 4th, 1951. Christine had decided to become a Catholic, and this was obviously something that was very meaningful to her at the time - she was Confirmed at St John's Church, Brentford, on October 1st 1952. She would remain allied to the Catholic church for the next 40 years or so of her life, and stay a regular church-goer - although in later life she distanced herself from this religion, and even started to attend occasional C of E church services instead. She was also to become more spiritual too, and explore other avenues in this respect.
Below - St Anne's Convent, Ealing, May 1952. This was Christine's final year at school (although she was to continue her education with secretarial studies).
Christine: "[Here is a] letter from my headmistress at St Anne's Convent, Sister Mary Stanislaus, [which] refers to my 'O' level results":
'My dear Christine... You have very good credit marks in French, almost a distinction, and have missed your English and History by 3 marks in each. The marks of the Literature and Mathematics were not so good. I know you have done your best dear Christine, the marking has been very stiff this year. I do hope your mummy will not be too disappointed. Many thanks dear Christine for that lovely pencil and especially for your kind little thought. If at any time I can help you, you can always come up to see me. You have always been an exemplary pupil and have never given any anxiety to any member of the staff. God bless you dear Christine. Be very faithful to your mass and the sacraments as well as to all your other religious duties, and you can be sure of God's blessing. My kind remembrance to your mummy. Affection to you, Sister.'
Christine: "I'm in the group under the Portico. St Anne's Convent [was] in Little Ealing Lane, Northfields, opposite a pub - I think it was called the 'Dick Turpin'. There was a tunnel from the school (previously a private house) to the pub which Dick Turpin was said to have used."
Celia: "[Christine's] expertise on the piano increased & increased, and once a year on the occasion of the headmistress's (Sr Stanislaus) feast day, she would play for all the school - probably much appreciated by the nuns and teachers, as she would have been preceded by Dusty Springfield and her guitar - who was in the class below!"
I always remember my mother mentioning that she was at school with the great Dusty Springfield - who at that time of course was still plain Mary O'Brien. This interesting revelation from Margaret about the annual concert gives rise to my mother having a kind of claim to fame... she being 'top of the bill', with Dusty as her 'support' act!
In 1986 this school undertook a radical change - becoming the 'King Fahad Academy' (which itself relocated in 2005). The buildings were sadly standing empty behind heavy security gates when I paid a little visit in 2006 but, since then, it's been refurbished and re-opened as Ealing Fields High School.
This 1952 photo was kindly provided by Celia (now Celia Flach, pictured sitting on the right) - centre is Margaret (now Margaret Amin).
Margaret: "[Christine] was a good friend to me, all through our school years and beyond - until I left to marry and live in Kenya, when we kept in touch at Christmas time. At school she was very popular, and she played the piano beautifully. I have many fond memories of her."
Celia: "I have spent many hours remembering and recounting all the things we did together over many years. [Christine] was my best friend at school and for several years afterwards. It is with gratitude that I remember all the happy times I spent with your mother - she was such a lovely person."
CHRISTINE CANN - Rutland Court Years (1952-1964)
In this section I'm covering the period from when my mother left school, through her early adulthood, and then her marriage and subsequent move to Maidenhead.
28 Rutland Court, Queen's Drive, West Acton.
Following the death of her Grandmother in 1952, Christine, her mother and Gamps moved from Monks Drive to a first floor flat at this attractive and elegant-looking neo-Tudor complex - situated literally just around the corner from their previous address. This whole area (including Monks Drive) is known as the Hanger Hill Garden Estate - and was built between 1928 and 1936. The estate consists of 361 houses and 258 flats built to the designs of architects Douglas, Smith & Barley. This whole area has a unique 'garden village' feel - and grew up upon completion of the Central Line in 1923, and the nearby West Acton tube station.
Here's Christine up on the balcony of their apartment (circa 1953) alongside Gamps.
Christine: "[Gamps] died aged 86 on 11th July, 1955. He and my grandmother (died 23rd February 1952 aged 73) are buried in Gunnersbury Cemetery in Gunnersbury Lane, on the way to Ealing Common."
Margaret Balfe: "I often went on Sunday afternoons to have tea with Christine and her mother when they lived in the flat (they had a large black Persian cat they were very fond of). Sometimes we travelled up to London together to go shopping in Selfridges or to visit art galleries. Once we got lost on the tube, and ended up travelling all over London before we got back to Ealing Broadway hours later!"
Celia Trasler: "Occasionally, whilst still at school, we would take ourselves off to Saturday morning concerts arranged at either the Albert Hall or, later, the Royal Festival Hall. And once Christine left school... we began a very long association with these two halls, regularly meeting after work and treating ourselves to the cheapest seats in the house as we followed our favourite music and soloists."
Following Gamps' death, this flat remained Christine and her mother's home until April 1964 - a few months after Christine's marriage in Sept 1963.
Christine: "[This is the] underground station from where my mother and I travelled to work to London - I also went to school from here to Acton Town station, then on to Northfields."
Christine took this photo when she re-visited some of her old haunts in May 1996 - it's situated a very short walk from Rutland Court. She had studied typing, shorthand and book-keeping, and during the 50s had various jobs in London including working for the National Provincial Bank (now NatWest), the BBC Overseas Service in Portland Place, and finally the NFYFC - the National Federation of Young Farmers' Clubs, where she spent many happy years.
This is a professional portrait of Christine (looking rather formal!) taken on Sept 30th 1954 - making her 18 years' old. It was taken at Williams Pioneer Studios (London's leading photographers!) on Seven Sisters Road. I'm guessing it may have been taken for a passport (in the days before those little booths) and when you were still just about allowed to smile!
This is a photo I particularly love, taken in 1957 by Christine's friend and colleague at NFYFC, Jim Preece.
Jim: "This was taken from inside the NFYFC office at 55 Gower Street. From the same vantage point I got a good one of a fat old cat leaning against the base of a lamp-post, fast asleep. I used to use an Olympus SLR. [The office] was a very substantial early Victorian building with a basement which, as you have guessed, was fairly sound-proof as well as spacious."
(Jim also revealed that Christine used to practise her violin there after work!).
As already mentioned, she was a keen musician and singer, and followed in her mother's footsteps by learning the piano from the age of 7. She was a big fan of pianist Denis Matthews (whom she said was very attractive to women!), and had attended one of his concerts in Matlock in 1952. She'd even written him a letter (to which he politely replied) asking for lessons! She was also a fan at the time of cellist Pierre Fournier. Despite her classical leanings, she had embraced the new rock'n'roll boom to an extent - buying Bill Haley's 'See You Later Alligator' and Guy Mitchell's 'Singing the Blues' discs.
And here's the exterior of 55 Gower Street - as it looks today. Sam said he thought it looked a bit like 10 Downing Street, which I liked! It's situated in an elegant row of Victorian houses (many of which we noticed have now been converted into hotels), and is directly opposite RADA. It's also just a short walk from Goodge Street tube station (being situated just around the corner), and this is the way Christine would have travelled to work each day (and where she's presumably headed with her violin in the above photo).
Another significant and auspicious thing about this building is that it's actually the place where my parents were to meet... but we'll come to that later! Christine was to remain working here until November 1964.
The above photos (also 1957) show Christine with Celia (who kindly passed them on to me) holidaying in Paris. Christine had learnt to speak French at her days at the convent, and had a good understanding of the language. On the right she is pictured sitting on the steps of the Louvre.
Celia: "In 1957 we took ourselves off for a week to Paris - which I already knew well. It was Christine's first visit, and the package tour started with a trip across the channel by a DC3 Dakota. An adventure in itself (I believe it was her first flight), and an action-packed week."
The following year she and Celia visited Belgium - and the 'Expo 58' exhibition in Brussels. More than 43 countries participated, and the famous Atomium - a giant free-standing molecule you could travel through via escalators (pictured above) - built especially for the exhibition, has now become an enduring symbol of the city. I also love Celia's photo of my mother relaxing with a bottle of Coke and a cigarette!
Celia: "We went to stay with her Auntie Bertha in Brussels, where we explored the city and made many visits to the Expo. Even by modern-day standards, the quality of each country's displays was exceptional and we thoroughly enjoyed our several visits there. They even had a small factory where they produced all the Coca-Cola drunk on site, and you could watch the whole manufacturing process."
Pictured above left is another photo from Expo 58, taken in the USA area. The other pic shows Celia with Auntie Bertha (born 12th April 1894) in Brussels.
An entrancing photo of Christine looking from a window at Rutland Court that has a very professional sheen about it. This is another of Jim's - more about him soon! I think it's an excellent natural composition with very effective use of light and shade on her face, and with her wistful sideways glance/half-smile.
Jim: "Your mother was very beautiful and photogenic and was happy to have her photo taken, although I preferred un-posed shots. I would like to have taken shots of Reva too but she was too shy and preferred to be behind the scenes. It's likely that it was taken on the same day as the one outside [see below] sitting on the wall."
She certainly showed herself to be very photogenic, and was interested in photography - owning a Brownie camera at this time. Jim's obviously a very talented photographer too!
Here's one of the other photos Jim took at Rutland Court, dating from 1958. Christine is sitting just by the main entrance porch, with the balcony of her apartment visible just above her.
Celia: "Some time after the move to Rutland Court, Christine's mother bought a television, and virtually every Sunday evening I was invited to join them for supper and to watch this magic box. There was, you see, always a really good play to watch - more often than not a scary one with the likes of Peter Cushing. But these were lovely evenings and their peaceful and friendly company was treasured by me - an escape from a rather hectic family life which included a baby sister fifteen years younger than myself."
From the same year, Christine looking very relaxed soaking up some sun in Italy! She'd visited with her long-time friend Brenda Sutcliffe & one of Brenda's other friends. She often recalled how 'amorous' the young Italian men were... she and her group were often followed around by them, and had to ward off their unwanted advances on more than one occasion!
(Below is Christine's photo of the Leaning Tower of Pisa)
Here's a nice photo showing the living room at Rutland Court - with Christine, her mother, and seated, Margaret Balfe. The photo on the sideboard looks familiar too! When she later moved to Maidenhead, she brought this unusual carved sideboard with her - and kept it until the mid 1980s.
Here's another classic photo from the Jim Preece portfolio! She and Jim and some friends with motorbikes had a club, and liked to travel to the south coast - and Christine was very keen on bikes!
Jim: "Our favourite haunt was Hastings - we knew a friendly guest house proprietor there who, off-season, was glad to have us all book in for a Saturday night. Other places we liked to visit for the day were Brighton, Eastbourne and Worthing. I particularly like the [photo] of your mother in pensive mood, in her motorbike gear, sitting next to a white helmet on what looks like a park bench."
I love this photo - and so must have my mum, as she had an enlargement which I've now framed (I even had it printed on a t-shirt!). It was taken at Leamington Spa in 1958.
Here's Christine and friend Diane rowing a boat on the River Stour at Flatford Mill, East Bergholt, Suffolk, during another motorbike club outing in 1959. This is of course 'Constable Country', and very near the site of his world-famous 'Hay Wain' painting.
This lovely photo shows Christine (standing right) as a bridesmaid at Brenda's wedding to John Hammond on May 30th, 1959. It took place at St Dunstan's Church, East Acton - the other bridesmaid being Julia McPherson. Brenda and John moved to Vicars Cross (near Chester) a while after this, and went on to have three children - Angela, Lesley and Anthony. The bridesmaids' dresses were described as being 'in kingfisher blue faille with a V-neck and Princess line'.
Christine: "607 Trolleybus - happy memories. This bus used to travel along the Uxbridge Road - I used it when I visited Brenda, travelling from Acton to Ealing Common."
Christine was delighted to once again see this trolleybus when she visited the London Transport Museum in Covent Garden with Maurice in February 1999 - it obviously brought back many happy memories for her. Trolleybuses (which ran silently by electricity by means of overhead cabling) were of course a familiar sight in many towns and cities in post-war England, but had sadly all but disappeared by the early 1960s. It was great to see this one myself when I later visited the museum, and it made me think of my mum straight away!
And here's (a now married) Brenda pictured visiting Christine at Rutland Court in April 1960.
Here's my mother looking very happy with her future husband (and of course my father) - Clive Cann (b July 13th 1932). They'd met through Clive's visits to the NFYFC, in his capacity as a chartered accountant for the Mann Judd Company (based at 8 Frederick's Place, Old Jewry, London - more details on my 'In the Beginning' page). Jim Preece once again takes up the story:
'Christine 2' was Christine Gorman, who worked alongside my mother and Jim - hence the numbering system to differentiate them! She (and her husband Ken Hale, whom she married in 1964) were to remain long-standing friends of my mother. And it sounds to me then that Jim Preece played no small part in bringing my parents together - good work Jim!
Here's a nice group photo taken in the lounge at Rutland Court. From left (clockwise) we have: Clive, Marion (Christine 2's sister), Christine 1!, Ken Hale, Christine 2, Jim Preece, and of course Reva. This was very probably during celebrations for my mother's 26th birthday in March 1962. I remember seeing this photo as a child, and thinking how similar in looks Jim and my father were!
Here's Clive parked at Rutland Court with his brand new car - a cream coloured Austin A40 (with a sky blue roof) registration 811 BJB. He bought it at the end of May 1962, 2 weeks after passing his driving test!
Christine also passed her test (at second attempt) on Oct 11th 1962, in a pink Vauxhall Victor ("gorgeous car - very quiet"), and was so happy, she cried her eyes out! Back in April though, things weren't looking so good according to her diary entry...
Christine: "Driving lesson not too bad - drove down Hanger Lane. [Instructor] says I'm making progress in spite of the fact I wrecked his gearbox!"
Hanger Lane is literally at the end of Queen's Drive, and connects the estate to the Western Avenue. In the cold, if the A40 failed to start, the engine could be manually turned over by way of a starting-handle! They would share this car up until 1973, by which time unfortunately corrosion had caused its demise.
Here's Christine, Clive and Reva together with Reva's brother Dudley (b May 14th 1903). His two children (Christine's cousins) are David (b 1956) & Margaret (b 1954). Their mother Lillian (b 1925) is behind the camera! They lived at Barkingside, Essex.
Margaret thinks this photo was probably taken at Hainault Country Park.
Clive's rather sombre suit seemed to belie his character - he was an intelligent but fun person, with a wicked sense of humour, and liked to play occasional pranks on his colleagues! He also had nicknames for everybody, and referred to Christine as 'Fred' (and later 'Old Fred'!) - I've still no idea why!!
This is how Christine used to get around during 1962/63 - on her trusty moped! She was still using this even after she passed her driving test, and bought it herself on HP. Notice that she isn't wearing a crash-helmet - in those days it wasn't compulsory on such a bike. She did fall off a couple of times though, so maybe it may have been a good idea! (This is also where we change over from those glorious black and white days to technicolor!).
She actually kept this moped up until July 1969... when she sold it to our (then) next-door neighbour, Terry Lambourne.
Here's an excellent photo of Christine practising her violin after work - as revealed earlier by Jim. She loved her music, as we've seen, and was certainly still playing the violin up until the 1970s. She also belonged to Ealing & Acton Operatic Society, and attended Spanish dancing classes (complete with castanets!) once a week. She was delighted at this time too to discover a piano at Clive's father's house (above his butcher's shop W Cann & Sons, 103 Devonshire Road, Chiswick - see my page 'In the Beginning' for more on that!) and used to practise on it most Saturdays.
After years without a piano (since the Monks Drive days), she bought an unusual old ship's piano in 1973 (with a keyboard that folded away) and was to continue her love of playing music for the rest of her life.
This photo was taken at the garden at the rear of the Gower Street offices.
Jim: "[This shows] Christine, Pam, Roman Kozakiewicz, Sarah Miller... [but] the girl in a vertically striped dress was an office junior whose name I can no longer remember."
Others not pictured here include of course Jim Preece and Christine Gorman, along with Beryl, Dorothy, Pam, Susan, Theresa Jones, Julia Layfield, Elsie Traynor, Ken Savage and June Clark (whom my mother kept in touch with until June's death in 2000).
Christine and Clive in Richmond Park (below left) on a lovely sunny day in June 1962. They also holidayed in Brixham (Gamps' birthplace) the same month - but didn't seem to take many photos of themselves - only the scenery(!), but I did find this nice photo of my mum standing by a stile (below right). They also had a break in the Lake District in September.
During their courtship they spent a lot of time at the cinema - sometimes going to films three or four times per week - and belonged to the Film Society in London, which had special showings for its members. Clive also took Christine to some matches at his local football team, Brentford, for whom he was a lifelong fan. The first match was a 3-3 draw against Southport in the old Fourth Division.
Christine: "Went to football match Brentford vs Southport - very exciting, want to go again!". He later proposed to Christine on Feb 3rd, 1963.
Christine (speaking the following day): "Felt very happy today - head in the clouds, and all that!"
They bought their engagement ring a few days later at James Walker, Chiswick High Road.
Christine: "I think I'll wake up soon and find it was all a dream - I'm so happy & don't deserve it."
This sounds so typical of her quiet & charming good nature and modesty.
Christine Bonemeyer becomes Christine Cann!
This is Our Lady of Lourdes Church, Acton High Street, where my parents were married on 28th September 1963.
Incidentally, the number 1 song in the pop charts at this time was 'She Loves You', by The Beatles.
And here's the bride and groom outside the church on the big day! My mother made this lovely wedding dress herself from a pattern - she was very good at dressmaking, and it must have taken her many hours. Clive didn't make his suit however... it was bought at Burtons!
Following the wedding, everyone re-convened back at Rutland Court for photos (it made an excellent backdrop as you can see) and then a reception party at the flat.
Pictured here (to the left of the couple): Cyril Cann (Clive's father - my grandad) and bridesmaid Margaret Cox (Christine's cousin); and to the right, Uncle Frank (Reva's brother, who gave Christine away), Reva, amd best man Terry Cann (Clive's younger brother).
And here's Lillian pictured at the Rutland Court entrance porch with her children - bridesmaid Margaret, and of course younger brother David.
Margaret went on to marry John Cogger in 1977, and had two children - James (b 1984), and Emma (b 1987). Christine's daughter (my sister Diana) was to be their bridesmaid!
David married Maureen Brown in 1981, and also had two children - Christopher (b 1986) & Matthew (b 1988).
Here are wedding guests Roman, Christine #2 and Jim Preece from NFYFC - I know too my mother was very fond of Roman.
Jim: "Roman Kozakiewicz always wore a hat (in the office too), as he had a very bald head! He was a packer/dispatcher of supplies to the 1200 or so YFC clubs. He'd been a Major in the Polish cavalry amd was attached to the intelilgence services, he said - amd could not return to Poland for fear of the Russians. He escaped to the West in the boot of a car, and came to work with us after being retired, at the age of 65, from the regular Polish forces in England."
Jim is holding a cine camera - and though he says he can't recall, must have been responsible for the 8mm colour film of the wedding that exists. It only has exterior scenes (as filming in churches wasn't permitted in those days) and is silent - although in the 1980s my mother had it transferred to video, and a music soundtrack added! It's a very special piece of film to me, and a unique record of the day.
Here are the happy couple posing by the wedding car - a pink Vauxhall Cresta, which may well have been Ken Hale's (Christine #2's fiancé).
This photo is the only colour portrait from the official wedding photo album - which looks as though it has been colourized in the lab! Perhaps this is the special one they decided they'd like to give the colour treatment to. It does give a much closer (almost) full-length view of Christine in her wedding dress, and is certainly a beautiful picture.
Christine (from her diary entry): "Clive and I got married [today] - lovely! The weather was pretty good, and the flat was filled with people."
And finally, from the official album, here are all the wedding guests assembled on the lawn in front of 28 Rutland Court. I will hopefully put names to everyone here eventually - I certainly know who most of them are, but not all. My mum did go through and tell me at one point - I wish I'd got her to write it down!
Following the wedding, Christine and Clive headed off by car for their honeymoon at the Beacon Castle Hotel, Ilfracombe, North Devon. They actually spent their wedding night at The Pheasant Inn at Winterslow, near Salisbury - a convenient halfway house (this has since been converted into a large residential property). Unfortunately though, Clive had developed a dreadful cold and wasn't feeling very well!
They enjoyed a peaceful week away, visiting Lynmouth, Lee Bay, the Valley of the Rocks and Clovelly - the scene of the earlier 'donkey' photo. Unfortunately though, no photos of this holiday exist...
Celia: "Christine was always a very talented photographer and,, to me, always seemed to have the latest in cameras. I still have at the back of our official wedding album a set of coloured photos she took - almost a novelty at the time... But I sadly remember that the photos she took on that same camera when on her honeymoon were ruined, all covered in a green dye."
So that would explain the lack of photos - what a shame! I have though, as you can see, reproduced the cover of the hotel brochure that they picked up at the time - it certainly looked like a lovely spot perched high up on the cliffs. They must have enjoyed their time here, as in September 1970 they returned to the same hotel for a second honeymoon! Sadly today though, this hotel no longer exists - it was completely destroyed by a huge fire back in May 1985. I did visit the spot where this photo was taken back in 2011. It was taken from the nearby Beacon Point, near Hele Bay - and it was great to see it at last and imagine my parents' happy menories of this beautiful place.
The story continues... with part 2 of Christine's Photo-Biog 1964-2005 on the next page.