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Abbey Wood

by Jack Hayter

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Teasemaid 00:59


In 2014 I lived in a derelict childrens’ home at 50 Abbey Wood Rd. A leaky and abandoned hulk which was demolished when I moved out. Nobody had lived in it for 15 years. I had four kitchens and six bathrooms; although none of them worked. I do miss having my own three acre park though. I showered under a hose and I cooked with a camping stove. I slept on a bed I made from warehouse pallets...with a big stick waiting for the next break-in. It was cold but it was almost free.

I recorded these tales in and about those days. Some are verifiably true, some are gilded memorials, and some like “The Arandora Star” and “Bendigo” needed to be told. I’ve barely scratched the surface in terms of writing about the area. I missed out Thamesmead, the fossil beds where kids find big shark’s teeth, the broken abbey built in penance for the murder of Thomas Beckett, where Roesia De Lucy’s heart was buried in 1225, the traveller’s ponies tethered on the estate which are painted green and raced around the abbey on St Patricks night ...until the cops arrive. The beginnings of the Co-operative movement in London, the mudlarking on the Thames, the worst beer in London, the ghost of Sir Oliffe Leigh who once owned much of the land, the ruptured Christmas duodenal ulcer that nearly killed me, the sounds of West Africa, the Ghurka families, the old regulars in The Station pub ... retired army bomb disposal men, William Morris’ other house (the red one), brutalist 1960‘s concrete walkways and early Co-op housing nestled under Bostall Woods, via bicycle-deadly Knee Hill. I ran out of time as the demolition date grew closer and in April 2015 the JCBs arrived.

Abbey Wood is changing fast...the more expensive version of London has crept down the banks of the Thames along with Crossrail. It won’t be known as “Scabby Wood” for much longer. You should go there.


released March 23, 2018

Trudie Willingham helped write “Arandora Star”. Ralegh Long played piano on track11. Oliver Cherer played
saw, horns, whirly tubes, piano and sewage farm vocals. Riz Maslen did ethereal vox on tracks 2, 4, 5 and 6.
Suzanne Rhatigan provided lovely lead and harmony vocals on tracks 3 and 7. Ian Button drummed on track 7. Oh and the congregation of St Michael and All Angels in Abbey Wood Rd introduce track 5 (except that they don't know that because I recorded them from the pavement on the day I moved in). Many thanks to Ian B and all at the Gare Du Nord Record label.


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Jack Hayter Gravesend, UK

The folkish word of Jack Hayter (Ralegh Long band, Papernut Cambridge,Hefner,Dollboy, Spongefinger ,FXU2 etc). Records of both the fee and free variety are available here.
New album Abbey Wood out on Gare Du Nord Records 9th March 2018.
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