Alfred Atkins, who played the role of Hayning in Cottage to Let in which a young George Cole (as a young actor George lived in Streatham, residing for three years in a flat above George Reeves Estate Agents’ shop at 267 Mitcham Lane)
Alfred was born in 1899 at 104 Mitcham Lane and on leaving school served briefly with the Royal Artillery. After leaving the forces he commenced a career as a bank clerk but later turned to acting.
His first acting role was in a tour of Chu Chin Chow and in 1921-22 he was a chorister in the D’Oyly Carte Opera Company. He appeared in various West End productions including The Beggar’s Opera, The Little Minister, Rose Marie and The Desert Song. One of his last performances was as the Boatswain in Shakespeare’s Tempest at the Old Vic in 1940.
In 1936 he played the role of Spike Brady in The Frog at the Princes Theatre which starred a young Jack Hawkins in the role of Richard Gordon of Scotland Yard. Both actors were to revive their roles when the play was turned into film in 1937 and Jack Hawkins subsequently went on to become one of Britain’s most famous film actors. Alfred appeared in a number of other films in the 1930s, mainly playing bit parts, including My Lucky Star (1933), My Last Barricade (1938), No Parking (1938) and Gaslight (1940). His last stage performance was in Cottage to Let.
Despite his acting commitments, after the outbreak of war Alfred joined the Auxiliary Fire Service (AFS) in which he served as a Section Officer in Streatham. He was killed during an air raid on the 10th May 1941 when a high explosive bomb fell on his home at Hereford Villa, 582 Streatham High Road, between Hepworth and Glen- cairn Roads.
John W Brown in the Streatham Society News (237)