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Cyril Maidment interview: Changes in Wimbledon

How would you describe the changes and development of Wimbledon during your lifetime?

It’s the end of the blue collar worker. Certainly Wimbledon down the hill would be populated by blue collar workers but now they have all been overtaken by white collar workers and that’s just the nature of things. The blue collar jobs have disappeared and also they are a lot better educated and a Cockney accent cannot be heard anywhere - hardly anywhere - in South Wimbledon. I’m horrified when I do the school run. All the children are speaking BBC English. It’s so irritating. If only they could say ‘ain’t’ and ‘nuffink’ but it’s all gone forever.

The appearance of Wimbledon? Well we have a better access to some of the shops now. We have Centre Court which is quite good but I think no-one would have swapped our [old] public hall for Centre Court if they had any say in the matter. The other shops haven’t changed really. We’ve got supermarkets, the first one was Sainsburys and it’s still there. They’ve now brought back a Sainsburys in the location of the original [one] opposite the theatre. The new Piazza is a plus, definitely. We lost Victoria Crescent. The ladies struggling for emancipation – the vote – had their office in Victoria Crescent and now it’s a supermarket and the road has gone forever.

I used to like the Wimbledon where we had four cinemas so you could see a great variety of films if you wanted to in one week. They were so popular it was necessary to queue outside. There were three levels of queuing. One was ‘queuing’. Then if you were in the auditorium it was called ‘standing’ and if you were in the [vestibule] it would be called ‘waiting’. Those were the days. Television is marvellous and you can see some good films on television but I used to get a lot of fun out of going to the cinema.

The Common is a marvellous asset. A thousand acres. I can no longer get lost on the Common although I used to. I have walked it so often. But it is something very special for the locality and apart from Richmond Park it is superior to all the other commons. It is still there. We managed to stop the Lord of the Manor taking it over at the critical time and it’s a tremendous asset for the people of Wimbledon.