Richard Ellis was born in Purley 1924 the son of a Dentist Thomas Ernest Ellis and his wife Olive Mountain. He went to school first at a small Kindergarten at the junction of Riddlesdown Road and Riddlesdown Avenue then on to a boys prep school called Kite Hill in Selcroft Road
During his school days at Kite Hill he joined a scout troop in Kenley, This he enjoyed until they went to camp. The troop had one of those large barrows with two large wheels and a T shaped handle to pull it with, he remembered walking pulling and pushing this barrow loaded with all their equipment and belongings from Kenley to Blindley Heath (10 miles).
In 1935 he failed his entrance exam to Purley County School which had moved to Old Coulsdon but something good became of that year as his sister Shirley was born. The picture of Shirley shown here was a beauty contest she won with the Observer, you can see why.
In 1936 Richard was sent to Charters Towers a boarding school in East Grinstead, He hated it and in 1937 he escaped and walked home to Purley, his parents were furious although that year the head master was dismissed for misconduct towards the boys, he was not sent back. At 15 his father tried to encourage him to be a dental surgen but he was not at all interested.
He was called up for the army after his 17th Birthday in July 1941 and had to attend a medical examination, the outcome was that he was C3 (medically unfit) The reason given was that he would be unable to wear army boots and instructed to attend a government training course, it was to be in metalwork and for about five months, by this time he had a moped so the travelling was easy except once coming home he got stuck in the tram lines and nearly fell off with a tram coming up behind.
In April 1942 after completing the metalwork course the ministry of supply sent him to his first job at Dees in the Brighton Road Croydon as an assistant electrician. Dees at that time was like any other garage but it was a very large business and the manager was a Mr Johns, this job had very little to do with metalwork. For the first time he was in his element, knew very little about the electrical side of cars and lorries, but soon did.
He had progressed to a motorbike by now which was far too big and heavy for him but all was well once moving.
Dees also had a large premises in Carlton Road, part of it was used as a private road where anybody could learn to drive. In 1943 this was taken over by the ministry of supply but still owned by Dees, It was used to renovate Brengun carriers, Daimler scouts armoured cars, American twin engined armoured cars and army lorries, Richard was put in charge of the electrical side.
Around this time he joined the home guard and was made a dispatch rider with an even bigger motorbike, their main task was to guard Kenley Water works every night in groups of six, he also did fire watching at night with a group of neighbours.
In 1944 one morning just before breakfast a doodle bug fell in Dale road and all the leaded light windows were blasted out at their house in Downscourt Road, temporary glass was fitted and it was not until 1947 that the leaded light replacements were fitted.
After peace was declared he was transferred back to Dees in Brighton Road, a larger workshop for the electrical side had been built and was now in charge of it in the main garage.
In 1947 his friend Stewart Spiers said why don’t you give up your job at Dees and join me at Purley Radio as my service engineer.
He knew nothing about domestic appliances or radio let alone televisions but did know the difference between AC and DC and realised this chance was to good to miss and resigned from Dees and started at PR. Dees were furious and said what a thing to do after all the money they had spent on his training.
Stewart, another shop owner and Richard joined the Croydon stagers as members of the chorus, they were part of the chorus at the grand theatre Croydon for two comic opera’s both running from Monday to Saturday evenings with a matinee on the Saturday as well, this was in 1948
All the male members had one dressing room and they had a terrific time, they also had too much to drink sometimes, once the three of them were given a warning, he also fell for one of the chorus girls but she was married.
In the summer of 1951 one of his friends John Newman who lived two doors away asked him if I would like a blind date, they would meet two girls at Purley Station and take them to Brighton in his car, one of them was Edna and she lived in London, they became engaged in December 1953 and married in July 1954 and moved into their first house in Norman Avenue, Purley Oaks.