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Bertha Phillips


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Audio interview with Bertha Phillips. She discusses her childhood in Hackney - the guns and internment camp at Victoria Park during WWII, the Public Baths and the Hospital.

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Phillips, Bertha (Subject of)


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Camp at Vicky Park

We used to go over Vicky Park and there used to be a camp over there for the Army and they used to ask us for books and comics, which we used to take over there. But previous to that, no you don’t want to know about the park, do you? ………….

There used to be a gunning placement, I think it was. ‘cause they had – I always called them electric guns, I don’t know, they were long, skinny things. And they used to shoot from there. Then, I don’t know what they were. I called them electric guns. Then there was the Army camp, proper Army camp. And then it was a prisoner of war camp. So they had all the Germans over there…………

Oh, it was all, all shut in with barbed wire and things like that, like you would see, you know? High fencing. They couldn’t climb out. No, they used to talk to you through the railings if you could understand them [laughs]……….

Couple of them over there was 16 years old, thought that was awful. Used to take the soldiers down their comics and books and, no, and they used to stand and talk to you. Weird, innit? [laughs]


All out houses and streets, what we had here, some lovely houses and streets and they pulled them all down for this [pause]. ‘Cause it was mainly to be for the hospital. ‘Cause when I lived in the Row, you was given, sent letters, you know, explaining what they was going to do, and what it was for and they said it was for what they called a nuclear hospital – what is a nuclear hospital? What does that mean? Nothing, does it. No. And the whole area was supposed to be for the hospital, government wouldn’t part with the rest of the money, so the council ended up having half of it [pause]. And I think that was bad, really. Some lovely houses they pulled down, some beautiful houses [pause]. They’d’ve stood for another few hundred years, I reckon, some of them.

Environment - Fenn Street

They used to be all little cottages along there. Except that on the top part of Fenn Street used to be an old barn and it was an old farm barn, ‘cause there was still places around here from what my dad used to tell me, but I remember the barn being there. And it was used for different things. They used to have little businesses in there. Then all was [pause] moved [pause]. The barn was taken down, then they put prefabs there.


But where I lived, over in the Row, we never had a bathroom. So we used to go to the wash places, where you could have a bath. Or you had a big, which we had as well, ‘cause we didn’t keep going, we used to have a big bungalow bath, a long silver thing. Used to fill it up with water [pause]. But other than that, we used to either go to King’s Hall, like the swimming baths up the top…….

I used to call it the wash house [laughs]. ‘Cause that’s all they done in that, that was just a big building with spas in it. ……. it was nice, used to be lovely, ‘cause being as we didn’t have a bath, it was nice you know. ‘Specially when you come home from work, it was hot in the summer and you could get off the bus, I used to run in there, have a bath.