In the mid 70s when I worked at a home for children and young persons, New Year’s Day was always a bit of a ritual as after lunch, whatever the weather, we had the annual New Year’s Day walk. Not that we didn’t go out regularly and often, it’s just that on this day everyone went and usually I’d have my trusty Minolta SLR camera with me to record the event.
Just up the road from the home was the vast expanse of Putney Heath and the adjoining Wimbledon Common, this was easy to reach as one didn’t have to negotiate difficult road crossings and once through the pedestrian underpass at Tibbet’s Corner you would suddenly find yourself in the middle of the countryside. The lakes and ponds were always an attraction as most youngsters like to splash around a bit so they were usually the targets for our forays onto the heath. King’s Mere on Putney Heath was our usual lake to visit, it’s shallow edges and wide beaches provided easy and safe paddling as can be seen in this photograph.
Queen’s Mere was more isolated and also the deepest, not usually a favourite place for the gang as the water shelved very sharply so paddling was only suitable in or or two small beachlets where the bank had become eroded. It was also the one farthest from home so a little more effort was necessary to get there. This 1976 photo shows some of the youngsters on New Year’s Day at Queen’s Mere playing in one of the aforementioned miniature beaches. I guess I had shouted “look this way” as a few have been caught looking directly at the camera, the lad in the foreground looks as though he is about to or has just had a bootful of water. We weren’t fussy on how grubby our charges became, as long as they didn’t spoil decent shoes or ruin good clothes. Wellington boots and scruffy shorts or trousers allowed the youngsters freedom to enjoy mucky activities; after all, mud will wash off, but enjoyable experiences remain as unforgettable memories for ever!
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Now, let’s fast forward 37 years to today, which was the date for the annual New Year’s Day “Save Morfa Beach” walk down Longlands Lane at Margam to the beach. About 40 supporters turned up for today’s walk, the increased numbers no doubt prompted by the lovely sunny day which was a complete change from the foul weather we’ve been having of late. The wind was keen and indeed, once on the beach, was biting, coming in from the north west. The walkers turned left once they reached the beach and strolled as far as the Kenfig River. As usual, I was last, or almost last, taking photos on my journey slowing me down, the blue sky and fluffy clouds providing many photographic opportunities – an energetic and bracing start to the new year!
You can also view a number of photographs taken during my time at the children’s home in a set on my flickr photo site entitled The London Years.