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YHA Southall People


The following photographs are from the years when I left Oxford to serve an apprenticeship at the Fairey Aviation Co Ltd, Hayes Middlesex. Afterwards, I continued to work for the same Company with my National Service obligation deferred.

I became a member of the Southall (Middlesex) Youth Hostels Association Local Group which met once a week in premises on the Uxbridge Road (or was it called The Broadway?). It was on the left of the main road from central London to Uxbridge, just before the traffic lights.

On alternate weekends we would cycle somewhere and stay overnight in a Youth Hostel. I remember Houghton Mill and Tanners Hatch without having to use a map to jog my memory. My YHA card with all its evocative stamps was regrettably thrown away when moving house years ago.

On alternate Sundays we would cycle somewhere for the day.

In those days (mid 1950s) traffic on the roads was so light that the two rearmost cyclists of the two-abreast phalanx were required to shout "oil!" whenever a motorized vehicle came from behind.

There were also annual events such as "The Easter Tour", "Whitsun Boating"; the latter upstream from Oxford in double camping rowing boats hired from Salter's at Folly Bridge.

For the best part of a year, I was engaged to Pauline Bryen, a fellow member of the YHA. Although it is probably hard to understand now, National Service, the obligation to serve 2 years in one of the Armed Services  was quite a burden. Anyway, without consulting my fiancée, I decided I had to get it over with. So, off to Cardington for RAF intake on 14 February 1955, then Hednesford for "square bashing". The summer of 1955 was spent at RAF Yatesbury on an Air Radar Fitter's course, before being posted to RAF Geilenkirchen in Germany.

Understandably, Pauline Bryen terminated our engagement, although we continued to correspond and meet, until her father took steps to prevent it. Consequently, there was never a reason to go back. Considering that the threat of "Call-up" was over by 31 December 1960, my decision to discontinue deferrment was premature and certainly life-changing.


The photograph on the right was taken in about 1953/4 when a group of cyclists from Southall YHA Local Group took a rest on the A419 between Swindon and Cirencester.
(size = 100Kb)

photograph of YHA cycling group I can remember Martin Baker (extreme left); Sylvia and Eileen; and Peter Coombs (at the roadside). The chap with two stripes across his sweater I seem to remember as Ian; his girl friend (Helen?) is beside him. The girl in the centre is Kay. Pity the milestone cannot be read.


Photograph of Southall YHA stage productionThe photograph on the left was taken in about 1954 when members of the Southall Local Group of the YHA put on a show.

 I am in the centre, third from left, in drag, next to Pauline Bryen. The names of the other cast members escape me.


Photograph of Pauline Bryen This photograph was taken in about 1954.

This shows Pauline Bryen with her cycle somewhere between Southall and Brighton.  If anyone can recognise the location, I would appreciate an e-mail.


One of the cycling accessories we lusted after in the 50's was a Carradice saddlebag. I was delighted to see that they are still in business and have a website. Another item you had to have was a Brooks B17 saddle. They are still obtainable; see this web site.

Perhaps it's my imagination, or wishful thinking, but we are beginning to see more touring cyclists on the roads near Chepstow, especially on Sunday mornings.


Site last updated Saturday, 18 July 2020
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