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Remembering Cannon Street

Former Deal resident Richard Whiteside, who now lives at Haywards Heath in West Sussex, contacted DealWeb in August 2009 to raise a couple of questions about the Cannon Street area of Deal and recall life there in the 1940s and 1950s.

Richard grew up in the north end of Deal and worked for the East Kent Mercury newspaper until he left for Johannesburg, South Africa, in 1971. He came back to the UK in 1999 with a wife and two teenagers.

Here's what he told us...

Cannon Street, Deal
mystery plaque in Cannon Street, Deal Jolly Gardener pub, Cannon Street, Deal
"This is a photo of a plaque that is opposite “The Jolly Gardener” pub in Cannon Street. It appears to have the figures 94 upon it, maybe part of 1894? I have been aware of it for years but never took any real notice. Maybe the local historical society will be able to decipher its meaning?

"I'm also curious about the origin of the name “Cannon Street”. Were cannons perhaps manufactured or stored here for Henry VIII’s castles?

"I watched the gasworks in Cannon Street being demolished in the early ‘50s as a four-year-old. My grandfather, John Richard Whiteside, was a manager at the gasworks, living at no:27 Cannon Street. When he retired at the age of 70, my grandparents moved to no:23 Cannon Street. Whereas no:27 was grand with gas lights and a huge upstairs bathroom, no:23 was particularly sparse with one cold water tap, an outside toilet and a tin bath in the kitchen filled by an Ascot gas water heater!

"My father, Richard John Whiteside, was an engineer and, in the '50s, travelled around construction sites putting in gas pipes for new post-war developments. He returned to Deal in 1960 and later became Mayor of Deal.

"This photo was taken at the back of no:27 Cannon Street in 1952 - long before the place was concreted over due to the toxic contamination in the ground. I’m on the horse with my brother John standing behind. The wall behind us is the one that separates the, then, garden area and the yard of no:27 from tanks holding cyanide and other chemicals used in the works. It did pong. The view is looking south-west towards the corner of the property that passes back of the gasworks offices (no:25 Cannon Street) to meet the boundary of no:23 and allotments to the west (now under concrete). My brother John now lives in Worthing. We both rowed for Deal with the Deal Rowing Club in the '60s. John still rows and represented Worthing at the Regatta in Deal last weekend (August 2009)." John and Richard Whiteside in 1952

Cannon Street residents had a lucky escape when a wartime bomb failed to explode, as Richard explained....

"This photo is of my uncle, John Price, crouching over the spot where the bomb that went through cottages where the garage is today (it used to be Hardy’s Garage in the '50s and '60s).

"The bomb hit a gas holder strut, went through the cottages, spinning and hitting the wall of the gasworks offices. You can see where the filler cap imprinted in the wall today. Also notice the broken herring bone paving by my uncle!

"I have it on good authority that the family came out of no:27 to see, whereupon our dog approached the bomb and cocked its leg up on it! Had it gone off my family would not be here today – along with half the families in Cannon Street.

"At that time the Oatridge family lived in no:23. Roy Oatridge and I grew up and went through school together at North Deal Infants, and then the Methodist Primary in Union Road. I have not seen him since 1971 but I believe he is living in Thanet.

"This picture is of the Methodist School PTA's production of "Jack in the Beanstalk", circa 1956. From the left are (1) Ivy Waters (Ethelbert Road), (4) Molly Whiteside (nee Price, my mother), (5) Mrs. Gardiner (Methodist School teacher); the boy at front left is John, my older brother. As for the rest, unfortunately I do not know the names."

John Price at the site of the unexploded bomb
Methodist School panto, circa 1956
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