Len & Babs Finney

Len and Babs remember Buddy Holly’s gig at the Granada in Walthamstow very well. They were disappointed, thinking that Holly was not much of a showman.

They used to go to many of the concerts, and especially enjoyed the Dave Clark Five. But they were never very keen on the Beatles, and when they came to town decided not to brave the ticket queues.

Len and Babs, now in their 80s. live in a house two streets from where Babs was born and less than a mile from where Len visited his grandparents in the 1940s. Both are from families with local roots going back two centuries. When they first lived there, coal fires provided the heating and there was an outside wc and washing was done in a copper in the scullery. Today the inside of the house is comfortably modern, without a nod towards its early Victorian years.

The Finney family evidently has a musical thread running through it. Len denies being musical himself, although performing at a school concert at the age of six is among his earliest memories. He was dressed up in a frilly costume and had to stand on a precarious stage composed of piled up dining tables to perform an Irish folk song.

Mike, one of Len’s brothers sang with bands locally in the 1960s, playing on the local music circuit and gaining a following, their fans filling some of the many local venues to capacity. Like so many, came close to “the big break”, but in the end opted for a more secure career as a maths teacher.


In the 1960s Walthamstow was a glamorous place – a fond memory for Len and Babs is the annual Ball held at the Assembly Rooms by the owners of the Walthamstow Guardian. It was a black tie event, always with a famous guest of honour. They especially remember the year this was Katie Boyle, who, they say, looked “just as she should”.

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