As I Walked Out One Morning in Putney

I read Laurie Lee’s book, “As I Walked Out One Morning” set in the mid 1930’s a few years ago. I loved it.

Laurie walked from Gloucestershire to London (enroute to Spain) stopping in Putney and finding work on a building site and later becoming involved in a strike.

I pictured him working on a block of flats to the east of Putney Hill, somewhere around Carlton Drive, perhaps.

Architecturally Putney hasn’t much changed since the 30’s, a still glamorous age, having as many horses as horseless, carriages and the streets not blighted by traffic. Walking down Deodar Road and crossing the river by the rail and footbridge is a pleasure taking me back to the 1930’s.

Local history is enjoyable and Putney has lots.

Duels were had on Putney Heath- quite a few over the years. It was here, in May 1798, William Pitt, the Prime Minister, no less, had duelled with George Tierney an MP.

Tierney had challenged Pitt, after Pitt accused him of reluctance to defend the country from Napoleon-Tierney was opposed to enlarging the navy. Both duellists missed.

Ten years later, in 1809, another duel, Viscount Castlereagh, War Minister at the time, shot George Canning, foreign secretary, in the thigh because of a treacherous political manoeuvre by Canning.

Certainly those centuries bred a different politician and I expect some voters now would be pleased to see the return of, if not duelling, then, a demonstration of honour worth defending with one’s life.

The duelling took place near to the Green Man Pub where the parties often went for a drink beforehand. “Pistols for two and breakfast for one” was the local saying.

Highwaymen, they say, preyed on the intoxicated leaving this pub. But I wouldn’t call their behaviour that of a highwayman. They were mere muggers, surely.

Enjoy the autumn