Sainsbury's Veterans Association is extremely active in the London Boroughs of Bromley, Bexley, Dartford, Greenwich and Lewisham, with an unbelievable array of activities. The club was formed in March 1997 and as we come up to our 5th birthday, we have much to celebrate.

At our monthly club afternoons we regularly have over 100 attending and generally there is a speaker plus another attraction and, of course, the customary tea/coffee and biscuits, all free and there is no subscription. Meetings are normally held at Crofton Halls, next to Orpington Station.

In addition to club afternoons we have at least 25 other events including several theatre trips, summer rambles, holidays at home and abroad, Christmas party lunch, day trips, county show, river cruises and much, much more.

There is a keen Golf following with an annual competition. For the anglers we have a stretch of the River Beult available and also organise an-nual sea and coarse fishing competitions. Shortly we are to start gentle keep fit sessions, including advice on avoiding falls, also introducing short mat bowls and table tennis.

Additionally, we hold an annual fayre, a quiz night and jumble sale, when many remember their days in the scouts and guides.

You may be assured that OAP stands for outgoing, active and positive and our ages range from 51 to 85+.

If you are retired and worked for Sainsbury's please make contact, give us a try, we are confident that you will not look back. This applies to eve-ryone, including part-time and ex employees.

There is a very active committee who would welcome you and you will be surprised at how many ex colleagues you will recognise. If you are on your own bring a friend.

Wednesday, March 27, 2002 - Talk on Geraniums and Fuschias

Wednesday, April 17, 2002 - Talk by ex Tiller Girl

Wednesday, May 29, 2002 - Talk by Ken Wilson.

Our aim is "to provide all our members with activities and opportunities which improve their quality of life at an affordable price and encourage members who are inactive to become involved".


The history of Silk was the subject of a talk by Mrs Janet Hearn-Gilham at the March meeting of the Bromley & Beckenham branch of the Asso-ciation of Men of Kent and Kentish Men.

Her story began in China in the year 2640BC when silk making was discovered by the Empress Hai-Ling-Shi while sitting beneath a mulberry tree. A silk worm cocoon dropped into her cup of tea, the liquid released the silken strands, and a new industry was born.

The Chinese developed a silk making process which was kept secret and compartmentalised so that no one person knew it all. Divulgence carried the death penalty.

Eventually the secrets leaked westwards reaching England in the Middle Ages when Huguenot refugees were mainly involved, many worked in the Spitalfields area of London.

Mrs Hearn-Gilham showed slides of beautiful specimens of silk design and printing, and important places in the industry's Spitalfields days. She also explained how such splendid items emerge from the humble silk worm.

From its beginning in ancient China more than 4,500 years ago, the story ended in Kent in the 20th century, with references to the one-time silk worm farm at Lullingstone and the famous David Evans silk printing plant at Crayford.

The next branch meeting is on Thursday April 4 in the Methodist Church Rooms, College Roadm Bromley at 7.45pm. Contact Miss H Gribble on 020 8857 5452, new members and visitors are always welcome.


When Aidan Sikora volunteered to organise a charity fund raising dinner and dance for the master (chairman) of Ionic Lodge, he had no hesita-tion in nominating the Liver & Renal Transplant Unit at King's College Hospital in South East London.

Aidan's wife, Susan was rushed there after becoming critically ill in late 1999 and received a liver transplant. For the following four months, Ai-dan spent most days and nights by her bedside as she fought bravely to survive. In March 2000, the 41 year old mother of two lost her fight.

Aidan, of Keston near Bromley, had been so impressed by the professionalism and care shown his wife that he decided to donate £6,250 the pro-ceeds from his lodge's annual Ladies dinner and dance, to the Liver and Renal Unit.

Aidan, whose 200 year-old Ionic Lodge No 227, meets at Clerkenwell, London said "as the unit's doctors and nursing staff could not do enough for Susan, I thought the least I could do was support them by raising money for new equipment. The Lodge has now adopted the Unit and it will be our regular charitable cause." There will be another fund raising event later this year.


Tony Moss, historian and author, came to OVFM and gave a very interesting talk on the history of the cinema in Orpington, Petts Wood, Brom-ley, Sidcup and Lewisham.

With several slides going back to the early days he showed many cinemas that have now been demolished, including the interiors with their theatre organs and ornate decorations.

Cinema's like the Splendid' at Downham where a 3D film was shown in 1937 and the Gaumonts' at Lewisham and Bromley, each holding more than 2,000 people and invariably a queue to get in!

one members remembered the boys who climed in through the lavatory window at the Splendid to save the three pence admission fee. Those were the days when two films were shown plus a cartoon, a newsreel and long trailers.

If an A' film was showing, children would ask any adult to take them in! imagine that happening today. Another member recalled the times that he had taken part in stage shows that were sometimes put on between films.

Older readers will remember the Carlton' at Orpington and the Savoy' at Lee Green, only a tiny cinema yet the manager would stand outside in evening dress to welcome his customers.

Tony let his audience relate their memories, but he never lost the thread of his story and always continued with even more interesting anecdotes.

Everyone agreed that he had been one of the most interesting guest speakers and we hope that he will visit us again soon.


Although Jim Howitt, the speaker at our February meeting, had spoken on related subjects on earlier occasions, his programme St Mary Cray re-visited' included much new material such as a view of two large houses of c1865 built shortly before the Derry Downs development off Chelsfield Road.

Industrial expansion included the construction of Cray Avenue by Fordyce Brothers, Civil Engineers, which had involved the destruction of Manor Farm. The Tip-Top Bakery. Morphy-Richards, and the Blue Lagoon outdoor swimming pool were among the many developments along the new thoroughfare.

Apart from the buildings, our speaker referred to many characters of Old Cray. These included Smokey Joe' and his bicycle which had no tyres. Mr Howitt also recalled his own youth when he was a choirboy at St Marys Parish Church. A group photograph, which included the long serving Vicar Ray Galer, showed him outside the Church porch.

Among the reserve slides presented towards the end were some of Orpington. One of these illustrated the most attractive interior of the Commo-dore Cinema which, like so many other interesting places, was needlessly destroyed during the post was period.

Councillor Colin Willetts, Bromley Deputy Mayor, had been invited to the groups meeting, and to judge by the letter received later was obviously impressed with the latest trip down memory lane'.


at our March meeting Kate Chivers, Chief Executive for the Kent Air Ambulance Service outlined the role of this organisation which operates out of Marden. It forms a back up to the statutory ambulance service as it can reach venues speedily which could prove inaccessible by road. This service enables the sick or injured to be transferred swiftly to the appropriate specialist hospital. Helipad hospital sites are welcomed to eliminate minimum movement of the patient. This vitally important community service is funded entirely by voluntary donations, without the continued support of the public it cannot survive.

Members showed their support by purchasing many articles from the attractive display of goods arranged by the speaker. To conclude the meeting cake was served to celebrate our 44th birthday.

There will be a change of venue for our next meeting. We will gather on Wednesday, April 3 at 7.47pm at Hayes Village Hall for our AGM. We look forward to seeing you there.


"Travellers/Gypsies are a distinct group of people and must not be confused with New Age Travellers" said James Belsham-Revell, talking to the Orpington Women's International League for Peace and Freedom recently. Mr Revell works for the Bromley Gypsy Traveller Project in the Crays.

He gave a brief general history of Travellers, their culture and language. Here in Britain, Travellers had developed a language called Kant that is mixed and interspersed with Italian fairground language. In the 1960s, Travellers abandoned their horse drawn wagons or vardos for lorries and cars. Mechanisation brought further changes which eventually took away their livelihood as farm labourers and they turned to car maintenance and the scrap metal business. The Travellers' way of life is being slowly eroded. For instance their knowledge of wild plants and their uses are skills that are no longer considered relevant.

Some forty years ago MPs Eric Lubbock and Norman Dodds tried to improve Traveller welfare for example by introducing the Caravan Sites Act which compelled local councils to designate camping sites; if the council was slow in finding them a site they could find their own. One of their local sites is by the A20, a hazardous and polluted environment. Their average life expectancy is just over 60, compared to the Bromley average of 75. They have poor job prospects which often lead to debt problems. They have to pay 20% more than the rest of us for the domestic use of gas with the introduction of the swipe card. "the poor are being penalised for being poor". Said Mr Revell.

Members were reminded of some of the prejudices that the Jorgias' (non-Gypsies) have, such as the notion that they are dirty and that they leave mounds of litter and garbage in their trail. More often than not, this fly-tipping is generated by the non-Gypsy population, using their presence as a convenient excuse to dump their own rubbish near their sites and let them take the blame. Travellers have always respected the environment. They are in fact scrupulously clean and strictly adhere to their own code of honour and laws. it was an interesting and informative talk.


members of the Beckenham Floral Art Society enjoy a flower arranging demonstration on the fourth Thursday of each month at the Public Hall, Beckenham 1.30pm for 2pm.

The next one on March 28 is entitled "Everything but." And will be given by Jean Plaskett. Visitors are always very welcome £2 at the door with a raffle, sales table and teas available. Enquiries to 0208 460 8228.


the Beckenham Section for the League held its AGM on March 5 following Mass is St Edmund's Church at which Father Ashley Beck gave a ser-mon on World Debt, the meeting was presided over by Mrs Kathleen Tomlin the treasurer of the Diocesan Branch.

During the past year more than £2800 had been raised by the section and distributed to various charities. Mrs Jean Byrne thanked the members for their efforts and welcomed Mrs Barbara Ferrando and Mrs Carmel Watt onto the committee.


On March 6, Vic Hunt gave a talk to the members about the Cutty Sark. The name Cutty Sark actually means short chemise and is a Scottish term which was used by Robbie Burns in his story of Tam o'Shanter. The figurehead on the bow is in fact a replica of one of the witches in Tam o'Shanter. The Cutty Sark would sail south through the Atlantic, round the Cape of Good Hope, across the Indian Ocean and reach China in 110-120 days where tea was loaded to be brought back to England. The Suez Canal was opened in the same year the Cutty Sark started her trading, and eventually steam driven ships by using the canal were able to reach China in 60 days.

After seven years in the tea trade the Cutty Sark then carried woollen cargoes from Australia and sometimes overtook steam driven ships on that route. She was then sold to a Portuguese captain and renamed "Ferero" and after 25 years was brought back to Falmouth and used for training by a Captain Down, and when he died his wife gave the Cutty Sark to the RNR. Subsequently in the 1950s she was brought to dry dock in Greenwich.

The club meets on Wednesday at 8pm in the Bromley Common Village Hall, Hastings Road, near the Tudor Garage. New members are always welcome.