Chingford centenarian puts her good memory down to exercise and health eating


Almost 100 years after posing for her first photo, a centenarian is sharing memories of her life in Waltham Forest ahead of her next milestone.

Lilian Emerson keeps a cutting of the photo taken in 1920 outside her father’s boot repair shop as a reminder of her “happy childhood” in days gone by.

The photo published in the Guardian in 1981 was taken in Cheltenham Road, Leyton where Mrs Emerson was born and raised.

The pensioner’s crystal clear memory enables her to recall events from her past with impressive detail, something she puts down to cycling and eating healthily.

The mother-of-two who now lives in Chingford said: “I got my first bike in a second hand shop when I was 11 for five shillings and I have always had a bike and cycled everywhere.

“During the summer holidays my mother would make us bread and jam and give us bottles of lemonade and we would cycle up to the forest at Whipps Cross and stay there all day and play.

“We would talk to strangers and it was always safe in those days.

“On Sundays we would have a roast dinner and on Mondays we would have cold meat.

“I would be sent down to the grocery store with a basin to get mixed pickles for two pennies and I remember the first day there were glass jars and you no longer had to bring your own container

“We didn’t have much but we always had good meals like stew and shepherd’s pie.”

Mrs Emerson will celebrate her 100th birthday on Saturday, December 2 with her son John, daughter Janet and friends at church groups she attends.

After growing up in Leyton with her parents, sister and three brothers, she went on to marry her husband George who she met by chance.

She remembers: “I went to a music hall in Walthamstow with my father when I was about 17 because we had a free ticket.

“There were two boys in front of us who could not stop giggling and when the concert finished we went to go out and they said to me they wanted to take me home.

“So they flipped a coin and the boy who won ended up being my husband.

“He took me home and my father took the bus home.”

After settling into married life, which lasted 54 years until her husband passed away, Mrs Emerson worked in the office of an engineering factory in Shoreditch.

On weekends she and her husband would go to Coronation Gardens in Leyton High Road to see bands playing and were avid fans of Leyton Football Club.

“I was in the office doing the spreadsheets one day when the boss came into me to say the workers would get a rise – they would get a halfpenny an hour.

“They worked so hard – 12 hours and day and every Saturday – and they thought the rise was because of me so I was their favourite girl and they were delighted.

“I had such a happy childhood and a happy marriage and look back on it all with great memories.”


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