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Last Updated: Thursday, 12 June, 2003, 09:27 GMT 10:27 UK
'My years as a lollipop man'
On a busy junction near Wimbledon Common, school crossing guard Alfred Robinson, 76, sees pedestrians safely across the road. It's 50 years since lollipop men and women started their stalwart service.

Alfred Robinson
When I see drivers that mess about, I want to bang my sign on their cars
When I was a boy in Jamaica, you could practically walk in the centre of the road, there were so few cars. But today in the UK traffic is heavy and I can't believe how people drive, it's as if they own the roads.

This junction, near St Michael's Primary School in south-west London, is very busy. There are lorries, buses, people driving to work, parents driving their kids to school, and some don't like to be stopped. It's just not safe for kids to cross on their own.

When I see drivers that mess about and don't stop, if I had the will I would bang my sign on their cars. But no, I don't do that.

I was hit by a car once that was in too much of a hurry. Even some of the mums don't like to slow down - I tell them 'don't cross until I tell you', and some just ignore me.

But after 14 years on patrol, many of the people around here know me. They stop to say hello, and a lot of the drivers wave as they pass.

To serve and protect

I've been a crossing warden since 1990, when a workplace accident forced me to retire from my job as a painter-decorator.

Pupils with a police officer in the 1950s, photo from Wandsworth Council
Police once helped pupils to cross
Two years ago I took part in the Royal Variety Performance in the West End - the opening number was Stout Hearted Men and I was one of those asked to represent the 'stout hearted' people who serve the community.

I didn't have to say anything; we were up on the stage in our uniforms and did our bit, miming helping someone across the road, and afterwards did a royal salute.

That wasn't the first time I'd seen the royals - I sometimes worked at Buckingham Palace when I was a painter-decorator, back in the days when the princes were small.

Despite so few cars, the UK had 5,000+ road deaths in 1950s -1,500 more than today
Wardens were introduced in 1953, responsible to police
Most were married women and retired men

One day when I was working in the corridor, I opened the door for a young lad and said 'all right Guv' like I normally do. Another worker asked me if I knew who that was, and when I said no he said 'That was Master Andrew'. After that, whenever Andrew went passed me, he always said 'all right Guv'.

Just as I loved that job, I'm devoted to being a crossing patroller. It is a challenge because it's about keeping kids safe - I love kids, and we have to have protection for them. I will keep doing this as long my health lets me - unless one week I win the lottery.

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