Penarth Town Centre as it looked in the summer of 1939 in a photo which was reproduced on a postcard.
If it looks as though Windsor Road was wider than today, the pavement “build-outs” had yet to be added and also it’s partly an illusion caused by the fact that – in those days – cars were a lot narrower than they are now.
A 1939 medium-size saloon like a Morris Cowley was just 5 feet wide. A comparable 2016 Vauxhall Astra is 6.7 feet wide – a third wider than most pre WW2 cars.
It was the practice for the comparative few who owned cars to drive them into their domestic garages . In 1939 the permanent parking of cars outdoors and overnight – in residential streets – was almost unheard of . Penarth was then a much less cluttered place.
In 1939 though, the smart move for those who owned cars was to sell them – as petrol was already rationed and in 1942 private motoring was almost totally prohibited – except for those in reserved occupations where car transport was deemed essential . The other option was to store the cars under cover and wait for the war to end. Working second-hand pre-war cars would achieve high prices after WW2 was over.
On February 18th 1941 newly called-up serviceman, Bill Blatchford, wrote on the back of this postcard to his mother at 42 Rosehill, St Blazey, Par, Cornwall;-
“This morning (Tuesday) about 100 chaps, myself included, were marched up this street to be sworn in the RAF. We looked a queer crowd too. At 12:30 am I was made an RAF man . I report for training in two or three weeks time . Love from Bills XXX”
As Mr Blatchford isn’t named on the St Blazey war memorial it may well be that he survived the war .The postcard is up for sale on an auction site at £17.50