A Walworth woman with a claim to being Southwark’s oldest resident celebrated her 106th birthday last week with (another) card from The Queen and a free bottle of bubbly.
Eliza Mercer sang and chatted to East Street Market traders last Thursday as her family walked her through the neighbourhood she has known for over a century.
The Walworth woman, who was a fire spotter in World War Two and had three uncles who fought in World War One, said she was “very happy”.
Her niece, Marilyn Bentley, told the News: “This year we went to Marks and Spencer and all the staff said hello and they gave her a bottle of champagne. We visit every week and they’re really good to her.
“And she joined a party thrown for the residents here by the construction company, A&E Elkins [who were working on her building]. They gave her cards and flowers.”
Eliza – better known as Lylie throughout her life – is starting to suffer from dementia, but her family say she “still comes out with all sorts from when she was young”.
She was born in the now non-existent Eltham Street in SE17 in a house with eight siblings.
Lylie married twice, but had no children, which her grandniece Ashley Richards suggested is why she has lived so long.
“She has worked since she was fourteen,” Marilyn said. “She would go out at 4am to work at a local fish fry. And she would go to the baths after work in Manor Place.”
Lylie retired in her sixties, but carried on working at Esther’s Haberdashery Stall in the East Street Market.
Marilyn added that among her favourite places to go in Southwark were Abba’s Fish Shop and Arments Pie and Mash, both of which she used to visit twice a week.
She was an expert knitter, and would make scarfs and hats emblazoned with the Millwall badge. The last things she knitted was a tea cosy just last year.
Marilyn said Lylie’s father was a fruit and veg seller with a cart that he walked around Walworth and Bermondsey.
“Auntie would have remember going with her dad to the old horse stables in Elephant and Castle,” she said.
*Do you know anyone in Southwark older than Eliza? Call the newsdesk on 020 7231 5258.