Eveline Florence Dengate

1924-2019

Eveline Florence Dengate

This biography has been compiled by Eveline's grandson, Nathan Dylan Goodwin, largely using Eveline's own words. He interviewed her on many occasions and uses many of her own words.

My name is Eveline Florence Dengate. I was born on 2nd September 1924 at the family home of 44 St Mary's Road, Hastings, Sussex. My parents were Florence Priscilla Smith Dengate (née Smith) and Leslie Dengate. It was the normal thing for babies to be born at home in those days and for some long time to come. 

Eveline Florence Dengate

My parents' second child was born 3rd March 1926, another girl named Maisie Irene. I was only 18 months old so don't remember anything about it. I do remember my brother, Gordon being born when I was three years old. We were still living in the same house and I remember taking a plate of wafer biscuits up to my mother to have with a cup of tea. I followed the midwife up the stairs--her name was Nurse Carpenter and she lived in Hughenden Road for years--I think she delivered all the babies in the area.

Most families lived near each other, folk didn't move around like they do today and in times of illness or birth I think aunts and grandparents all pulled together and helped each other out. Our families were very close and we spent most of our childhood years playing together. We used to all go to the parks or West Hill with our mums to play, also in the summer holidays we would go to Fairlight Hills with wicker baskets to pick blackberries, which our mums would use to make pies, etc and bramble jelly jam (delicious!). We would picnic up there and have a really fun day out. On the West Hill we used to climb the rocks, which seems strange now as we would consider it dangerous. We were all very close [with her cousins] and we used to play outside their house in St Mary’s Road and there were railings and we used to tie a skipping rope up and used to jump and skip and all sorts of things and play in the street.  We used to go out a lot together, like in the holidays our mums used to take us blackberrying over Fairlight.  I can see us now, holding our baskets, Audrey, Marjorie and Eileen. Christmas time we all used to walk up to King’s Road, because King’s Road used to have a lovely display of lights and we used to walk up there to see the lights and look in the shops.

Eveline, Maisie and Gordon shelling peas outside 110 Braybrooke Road, Hastings

Eveline (far left), Florence, Maisie, Leslie, Gordon on a daytrip to the South Downs

(hover over for a colorised version)

Another thing I find surprising is that when us girls reached 10 or so, we would take people's babies out for a walk in the park mostly but I would never have trusted a young girl with any of my children - perhaps we were more mature and sensible in those days!

As a family, we were all very involved with the Salvation Army. We held our services at the Citadel in St Andrews Square. My dad and uncles played in the band and my mum and aunts sang in the Songster Brigade. Us children sang in the Singing Company. Wednesday evenings were taken up with practices and other things, Scouts, Sunbeams, Cubs, Band of Love (more like a club, I guess). We enjoyed it all. Three meetings on a Sunday and Sunday School in the morning and afternoons and in the summer beach meetings, which attracted hundreds of people, visitors and locals. Most folk had seaside holidays, no plane trips to the continent in those days. Another open-air service was held at the back of Woolworths store in the evening before the evening meeting at the Citadel and crowds of people lined the streets to watch the band and the rest of us march past. Great days - things were never quite the same after the Second World War. Even as children we enjoyed our Sundays and did not consider it a chore being so busy with meetings, etc but then almost everyone belonged to a church and there was nothing to tempt us away from Sunday School - no football matches and other things on a Sunday and no shops open!

Leslie & Florence Dengate with their children Eveline, Maisie, Gordon and Dorothy

My first school was Holy Trinity in Braybrooke Terrace, which is now a book shop. It was a church school, quite small and we were taken to Holy Trinity Church several times a year for special church services. Maisie and Gordon also attended that school. I remember some days in the summer our mother meeting us and taking us to White Rock Gardens to play and sometimes to the beach. We were living in Braybrooke Road, then, which was near the school. We had moved from St Mary's Road when I was five. The headmaster's name was Mr Apps and the only teacher I can recall was Mrs Cox. Also, when Maisie, Gordon and I attended Holy Trinity School we all went down with Scarlett Fever because some of the pupils had been sent back to school while they were still contagious; there was trouble with that, if I remember right. It was a serious disease and you had to go away to the isolation hospital at the MountPleasant end of Frederick Road and were kept isolated, not allowed visitors. We were there for several weeks I think and when we were getting better we were allowed to play in the grounds of the hospital. The illness was so serious that every room in the house had to be fumigated. The illness started with a sore throat and a rash on the face and body and swollen glands.

We had an old tin bath in front of the fire in Braybrooke Road and the toilet was outside but adjoined to the end of the kitchen. You had to come out of the backdoor and across the yard; it was just normal in those days. We had our baths in the living room; I don’t know where everybody else was. In those days you only had a bath once a week; that was the norm then. I think bath night was a Saturday night and you had your dose of syrup of figs to keep your bowels working! Just on Saturday nights, I think that was a regular thing for most people.  Another thing we had was sulphur tablets, but I don’t know what they were for. I think Maisie once got hold of a box and had a load of them, but it didn’t seem to do her any harm. 

When we lived in Braybrooke Road, we used to sit on the wall at the bottom of the garden and watch the trains go by. In the summer we would often go to Fairlight with other cousins and go blackberrying. We also spent a lot of time at the park. We played lots of indoor games together. Maisie was a very shy person (has changed a bit!) Gordon had lots of toy cars and soldiers and Meccano, which I loved to help build things with.

I learnt to play the piano from about the age of 7, but was not very good at it as I didn't practice enough. I haven't touched a piano since leaving home at 19. I liked singing in a group at school and at the Salvation Army but not as a soloist!

We used to have a Sunday School outing once a year in the summer. Once we went to Peasmarsh, not far from Hastings, and played games in a field and then had tea sitting on the grass and ate food set out on trestle tables. The tea was arranged by my great aunt, Grace Dengate. After tea we had a walk in nearby woods and picked armfuls of foxgloves. Before we left for home we all ran around the field behind aunty Gladys and Mrs Evenden's house (our treasurer and second sergeant). They scattered bags of sweets about and we picked up as many as we could. This would seem a very tame day out to children nowadays I guess but we enjoyed more simple things in those days.

Another thing I remember is going camping with the Girl Guides. We camped at Ninfield a few miles from Hastings. I didn't really enjoy it and never went again. We didn't have any of the mod-cons they have today, we sat on waterproof sheets on the ground for our meals and ate off very long low tables, I remember. I was not very popular one day as we were having a meal and I felt something crawling up my leg in my Wellington (which I seem to remember we wore most of the time). Anyhow, I shot my leg in the air under the table and the table went up and everything got thrown off!

When I was a child I used to spend some of the school holidays with my aunty Lily and uncle Ted. They would come to Hastings to stay with us and then take us back with them. They mostly lived in Surrey around the Croydon area, Thornton Heath, Norbury and Shirley. The milk was delivered by horse and cart and I was very fascinated by this. If I remember right, there were two firms, United Dairies, which was painted red and white (the carts not the horses) and the others were blue, Express Delivery, I believe. Strangely, I can't remember horse and carts in Hastings.

Another thing I remember from the old days is that few families had cars and when I was at the Central School my friend's father and my dad were the only two in our class that ran cars and our English teacher suggesting that by the time we all grew up everyone would have cars and planes would be the usual thing. We were fortunate to have a car and dad would take us out on Saturday evenings for a drive in the country. It was a 'Clino' car with a 'Dickie' seat in the back with no cover and one day it rained and we all had to squeeze in the front with our mum. Sometimes we would drive to Hampden Park and play ball games there. Another drive we had was around the hop fields to see all the pickers, mostly Londoners, a sight you don't see today.

When I was ten we moved from Braybrooke Road to a brand new modern house in Keppel Road, number 3 and this meant that we had to change school. We went to Mount Pleasant School in Manor Road, which was an infants and junior school. I can't remember how Maisie and Gordon found it but I didn't like it. It was much bigger than Holy Trinity and the children didn't seem very friendly. I had only a year there, though, as we had to leave at 11. We had to take the 11+ exam then and if one did really well you went on to the High School for girls or the Boys Grammar School. There were only a certain number of places and for those that just missed out, we went to the Central School in Priory Road. There were separate schools for boys and girls and this is where I went. The other children who didn't get a place at either of these schools went to St Mary in the Castle, which I think was in Portland Place. I enjoyed my time at the Central School and I especially liked Wednesdays as we went to another school in Manor Road attached to Mount Pleasant School I supposed and that day we spent doing housewifery and cookery. I think we did one week of each. Our headmistress was Miss Button and I remember Miss Lotun took us for maths, which was divided between geometry, arithmetic and algebra. I loved algebra and got good marks always for that but goodness knows what good it's done me! Miss Pearce taught French and I think PE and Miss Ray was English and Literature. The teachers all came to our class - we didn't have to move around. In the Boys' school they had laboratories where we went for science lessons. We had to use bunsen burners and I was frightened of using them - I think I thought they might blow up!

We used to cycle everywhere. I don’t think we were allowed to use our bikes on a Sunday though. I rode my fairy bicycle down Braybrooke Road towards the park and I came off it and I shouldn’t have been riding in the road, evidently in those days there wasn’t a lot of traffic about, so I wasn’t hit or anything.  I went down there and careered into the kerb and came off it and a gentleman carried me home and when I think about now, in these days you would have called an ambulance. I think I was unconscious and I remember my lip was all swollen and Maisie said that I was putting my tongue out at her and my mum explained that it wasn’t that at all.  We moved when I was five and we moved from there to Keppel Road when I was ten so I must have been under ten – cycling in the road! I probably got into trouble, but I don’t remember know.  I just remember lying on this settee in Braybrooke Road and Maisie grumbling because I was putting my tongue out at her.

 

Once Maisie and I we were friendly with some of the band boys at Eastbourne and we decided to go all the way over there!We cycled to Eastbourne and when we got there we couldn’t think how we were going to cycle back as we were a bit sore and we went and saw Aunty Dolly, as we called her, she used to work in a dairy down in Cornfield Road [Eastbourne] and we went down to see her and we had to stay with her the night and cycled back the next day.  Going across the marshes the wind had been against us and we thought that at least going home it would be with us, but it still seemed to be against us!  I think Aunty Dolly must have rung our mum and told her where we were.  It must have been before the war, we were living in Keppel Road. It was quite pleasant cycling those days as there was not much traffic about. Our bikes didn't have gears like the modern ones, so you can imagine it was not easy going but we enjoyed it.

We were put into what they called houses when we first started and we had competitions between them, sports, etc. We had four different colours and we wore badges and girdles around our gym slips. My colour was blue. The houses were named after town councillors, our house was Lyle. The other colours were red, green and I think yellow. I was house captain at one time.

Eveline with her friend, Winnie Lodge in Winnie's garden in Birmingham. Her father, Captain Lodge had been the officer at Hastings Citadel

Eveline around 1935

My mum used to meet us from school and take us to the beach or in the park. She had a lovely nature, I never ever remember her raising her voice. She was always calm and smiling.

I left school at 15, school leaving age was 14 but we were expected to stay the extra year. I had hoped to go to the Mary Wray School in Cambridge Road to learn shorthand and typewriting, which was quite a good thing to learn but my mother was ill after giving birth to Dorothy and I stayed home for a while and then did shop work. I started at Henry, King & Feist bakers in Robertson Street, serving bread and cakes to customers. My cousin Joyce [Donnelly] worked there as well. On Monday mornings we always had to polish the floor upstairs, where there was a café and we had to move all the furniture and polish the floor. She used to go to Four Square Gospel and we’d polish this floor singing songs she’d learnt at the Four Square Gospel and me at the Army. I can see us now.

War broke out the day after my 15th birthday and that year everybody forgot my birthday because they were all thinking about the war coming. I was at home with my mum and dad and listened to the news coming on the radio. I can see my mum now sitting on the arm of the arm of the chair and my dad in his chair. Everyone knew it was coming, but to hear Chamberlain announce it, we knew it was happening.

My next job was in a dairy shop, quite high class, in Claremont, just off the seafront and Robertson Street. As well as selling milk, cream and other dairy products, they had little tables where people sat and had ice-creams in glass dishes which I remember having to wash out and scrub the glass until it shone. I went there when Dora [first cousin] left to go into training as a Salvation Army officer. Guess she got me the job. I had to leave there when they cut staff because of the war and a lot of shops closed down altogether.

I then went to work at a florists in Kings Road, 'Stapleys'. It was owned by the Salvation Army bandmaster, Sid Stapley. They lived at their nurseries in Harrow Lane and grew lots of flowers and also tomatoes and cucumbers, which were sold in the shop amongst other veg. Unfortunately, the shop was bombed. It was a Wednesday afternoon and my half-day, so I was not there but Mrs Stapley was. I don't remember if she was badly hurt but must have been very shaken.

As a child my mother she’d had problems and had St. Vitus dance (Sydenham chorea) and I think you can’t keep still.  And she rheumatic fever and was sent to a convalescence home in St Leonards when she was young. I remember her saying that she never ever thought that she’d end up living in Hastings. I think all these things damaged her heart and you didn’t have check-ups in those days so you wouldn’t have found out.  She had us three children all right but before Dorothy was born, she must have been about 8 months pregnant, she had a heart attack and was taken to hospital and after that she kept having these heart attacks and apparently it was the valves of the heart that were diseased and there was nothing they could do. Sadly, she died of a heart attack in the end when I was 16, just when I needed her most. Aunt Dolly had been over and she and mum and dad had been to the pantomime at the White Rock and they’d all come back and it was during the night she died.  I remember waking up and hearing something going on, they were trying to get the doctor in and then my Aunty Dolly came in and told me she’d died. The thing was everyone kept saying how sad it was for Dorothy because she was a baby, but she was the one who didn’t know anything!  Aunty Gladys had Dorothy for a while and I’ve always heard, but I don’t know whether it was true, but they wanted to keep her and were willing to bring her up. A terrific number of people went to the funeral.  I remember going down Queen’s Road in the funeral cars and I can see people in shop door ways all the way down Queen’s Road.  The cortage went down to the old town and then up to the cemetery for some reason. I can see these people in the doorways now. There was a hat shop along Queens Road, near the World Stores and one of the girls from the army worked there, Eveyln Barret and I can remember seeing her and her colleagues form the shop standing there. I think the funeral began at the house then to the citadel then to the cemetery.  

Florence Priscilla Dengate, her Order of Service, grave after the funeral and headstone

Various friends and family members came to look after us, Brigadier Walter Sully and his wife who were great friends of my dad, stayed quite a while. They were on leave from Nigeria as missionary officers for the Salvation Army out there. Aunty Gladys and uncle Cecil took Dorothy and apparently wanted to adopt her, but my dad didn't want that, so she eventually came back to us. And then you see Dolly [Dorothy Flora Sainsbury, née Gutsell, Leslie's first cousin once removed] decided to give up her job and come over and look after us all. I think it was her idea. She worked in the office at a diary in Cornfield Road, Eastbourne.

I had several shop assistant jobs, the last one at Sainsburys in Hastings branch and then I transferred to Eastbourne branch where I was promoted to Head of Grocery Department!  I remember I got an extra 5 shillings a week.  When I worked at Sainsburys you had to queue at each counter for your shopping, one counter for meat, another for bacon, another for cheese, another for butter and yet another for groceries and so on.  People could have their shopping delivered, which many did, especially the elderly.  I joined up with Eastbourne Citadel when I was there and sang with the songsters.  I went to Eastbourne because I wasn’t very happy with my aunt Dolly from Eastbourne.  She came to live with us and I was there when they got married [26th December 1943] so this must have been before they got married. I didn’t really get on with Aunt Dolly, but in those days you didn’t stand up to your elders, you just accepted it and wouldn’t have complained about anything. I remember one silly thing; I had some expensive stockings and she took them and then replaced them with these thick old things, which I didn’t like, but I didn’t say a word.  But it was that sort of thing. We didn’t argue with our elders then.  I’ve thought about it a lot since; I’ve never forgotten it. Lots of little things which are not the end of the world of course. I think she was quite strict and Maisie and Gordon were evacuated so I was left at home. They found me job with them up in Ware, I think in an ironmongers and wanted me to go up there but I didn’t realise that I could have got money for board and lodgings from the government but I didn’t know anything about it so I didn’t take up the offer.

At first I used to go on the train there [Eastbourne] and back and then I lived in above the shop, they had special facilities for staff and I had my own room which I thought was lovely and then I went to live with some people from the Army, Edie and Harvey Denyer and their two children. I joined up with Eastbourne Citadel when I was there and sang with the songsters. 

After a while, I felt very patriotic and volunteered for the Wrens, even though I would not have been called up until later and not at all probably as food was an important job. Anyhow, I passed my medical--I remember going to Brighton for that--and got my call-up papers and train pass to take me to Ballock on Loch Lomond in Scotland. The only vacancies they had were in the Cookhouse, so I said that would do and I had my pass and was ready to go.  I had always wanted to visit Scotland so that was great, but it was not to be. The manager and the area manager from Brighton tried to me not to go, which I’d already had from everybody else so I called it off and didn’t go!  I think my family and people at the Army and the Denyers, who I was living with tried to persuade me not to go. I think they probably knew me better than I knew myself.  I realise afterwards that I wasn’t ready to go off on my own and not know what I was getting into; I don’t even like the sea! And I can’t swim! I would have looked nice in the uniform though. I remember one dear old lady at the corps, Mrs Woodcock, she said to me one day, “I was so pleased,” she said, “I prayed that you wouldn’t go”  And I wasn’t very pleased about that at the time, but afterwards I thought that I wished I’d told her that I realise that she was right and I wasn’t ready to go. I obviously didn’t give it much thought, I just thought I was doing my bit for king and country! In fact, our area manager got on to the appropriate people and sorted it out - think they didn't want to lose any trained staff! Sometime afterwards I realised it was all for the best and that I was not really ready to go off into the big wide world. I'd had a pretty sheltered life and was too young and innocent to face the world. I find it a bit scary now to think about it; I really believe the Lord was looking after me and it was not to be.

Twice a week some of us went to help at a serviceman's club serving food and drinks to service men and women. That was quite enjoyable and one felt you were helping the war effort in a small way. I left Eastbourne in 1944 and went to work in the Post Office at Ruislip. I had a room in a house in Northolt with a friend of my aunts. My auntie Amy and uncle Arch lived next door to Stan's parents in Sandringham Road, Northolt and that's how Stan and I met. I knew him when I spent holidays there with my cousin Madge when we were still at school.

When I moved to Ruislip I worked at the Post Office on the counter. Our hours were changed every week as we did different shifts and even though we knew what time we should finish we could never be sure if we would leave then as we had to balance the books every day. We also worked Sunday mornings, just a skeleton staff, so it didn't happen too often. I can't remember why I left as it was a good job but I did and went to work at Northolt Airport. I was a cashier in the engineers canteen and I stayed there until Stan came home from abroad.

We got engaged on my 21st birthday. Stan was posted abroad in November, so we got married on his embarkation leave. Housing was short after the war and like a lot of other young couples, we started in 1 room in Ruislip, Middlesex. We went from there to two rooms and a shared kitchen in bathroom in Greenford, Middlesex. Then we had 1 room at Stan's parents' in Northolt.

Eveline Florence Dengate and Stanley Arthur George Edwards' wedding 28th November 1945, St Mary's Church, Northolt

hover over the image for a who's who

Eveline and Stan had three children: Ian, Jane and Mark. When Ian was 11 months old the family returned to Hastings, taking a flat in one of Eveline's father's properties in Braybrooke Road.

Stan and Eveline in 1946

Eveline with Jane and Ian, 1955

Stan and Mark, 1963

Springfalls, 1958

Eveline and Stan saved their money for five years and then in 1959 they built their own house in St Helens Down in Hastings for £175, which they named 'Springfalls,' owing to the natural spring in the back garden.

Eveline continued to attend the Salvation Army her whole life, spending some years at the Hastings Temple Corps but the majority of her life at the Hastings Citadel, where her grandparents had been early adherents.

Eveline had many pastimes including baking, sewing / knitting, gardening and walking, something she had Stanley did very regularly, covering hundreds of miles a year. Among their favourite holiday destiantions were Derbyshire, Wales and Dorset.

Eveline, Stan and son, Mark being welcomed to Gordon Dengate's house, 1970s

Eveline and Stan (far right) at their daughter, Jane's wedding in 1975

Eveline with her grandson, Bryn at home in Hastings, 1986

Eveline and Stan returned to their place of marriage in Northolt in 1987

Eveline and Stan showing their sense of humour whilst holidaying in Derbyshire in 1999

A selection of photos of Eveline and Stan

In 2008 Eveline and Stan attended the Dengate Family Reunion at the Brickwall Hotel in Sedlescombe, organised by her cousin, Norman Dengate.

Sadly, on the 26th May 2009, Stan died following a short illness and spell in hospital. He was buried in Hastings Cemetery. 

Eveline continued to live at the home they had shared for many years in Dunclutha Road, Hastings until her own unfortunate passing on the 2nd June 2019. Following a service at the Salvation Army Citadel, where her parents and grandparents funerals had also taken place, Eveline was buried with Stan at Hastings Cemetery.

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