In 2013, Annita, who lives at 85 Richmond Avenue overlooking Thornhill Gardens, received a surprise visit from Ken Bridgman, then aged 79, who remembered living in the house back in the 1840s.  Annita invited him in and had the presence of mind to take notes as he reminisced about his family and their experiences in the area during the war years.  The result is a fascinating account, packed with local detail, which you can download here:

Download Ken Bridgman Notes

This was in the days when the area was much more deprived and multi-occupancy was the norm.  Read about communal cookers on the landings; rabbits, chickens and ducks in the garden; late night drinking parties in the basement with the connivance of the Duke of Wellington across the road; the destruction through bombing of Barnard Park; and much more!

We've tracked down Ken and his brother Sydney on Ancestry.  Ken married Shirley Beamiss in 1956, moved to the South Coast, where he ran an oyster bar outside Brighton's Grand Hotel, and died in 2015 in Littlehampton.  The Bridgman family seem to have been deep-rooted in the community - Ken's father had a wet fish shop next door to the old Eclipse pub. as well as a builder's business - but so far that's all we know.  Can anyone supply more details?

Later:  Yes they can!  Annita subsequently contacted Ken's daughter Jackie who has kindly shared with us the wonderful photo below of the wedding party of her uncle Sydney Bridgman to Josie Greer, which took place at 85 Richmond Avenue in October 1948.  Ken, who would have been 14 at the time, is the lad third from the left in the back row.  Sydney and Josie are in the middle row just to the right of the wedding cake.  And Ken and Sydney's Mum and Dad are on the extreme right on the back and middle rows respectively.  We also have an image of a wedding telegram sent from Suez!  What's the story there I wonder?  According to Jackie, Sydney is now a young 95 and eager to tell his story, so hopefully we'll find this out as well as more details of the life and times of the intriguing Bridgman family.

 

Wedding Sydney 1948 IMG 2176 ProcessedWedding Telegram