Alice Murphy: A Dagenham Girl

Alice Murphy
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Alice Murphy: A Dagenham Girl

Jon Cruddas was recently contacted by the daughter of Alice Murphy. Alice moved to Dagenham in the 1930’s and attended Dagenham County High School. She trained as a primary school teacher; a career she never had the chance to follow as a Mother of seven children. She married Michael Murphy and by the time she passed away had been married for over 60 years.

She became a school dinner lady when her youngest started at Leys infants and she stayed for over 15 years. She went on to become a Girl Guide Captain and ran a number of campaigns to save green spaces in Dagenham.

Jon was sent the following poem from Alice’s daughter, Julie Delaney. The poem reflects Alice’s love of Dagenham:

A Dagenham Girl

Moving here from London in nineteen thirty-two,
From houses crammed in narrow streets,
To homes so clean and new.
With bathrooms, what a luxury!
No toilet in the yard,
Such kind and friendly neighbours,
Who shared when times were hard.

They built the Civic Centre,
Our town began to grow.
We acquired a Grammar school,
Then War came; what a blow!

 I had to go to Norfolk,
As a small evacuee.
Sailed on the Golden Daffodil,
Excited as can be.

When I returned; to air-raids,
And guns in Parsloes Park.
With rationing and food queues,
Kids thought it was a lark.

My life’s been spent here in Dagenham,
And though our town has altered.
With Superstores and High Rise flats,
My love has never faltered.

 And when I meet St. Peter,
Outside the Pearly Gates.
I’ll say I’m a Dagenham Girl,
And that will make us Mates!

Alice Murphy November 1997