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Hullbridge Village History

The History of 133, Ferry Road. Ordnance Survey Grid Ref (TQ 809 947)

High Elms Farm.

In 1843 when the tithe map was drawn up this was part of High Elms Farm which was owned by the Trustees of William Tunsten and occupied by James Harvey.

Village Hall

1956/7 (The beginning.)

Hullbridge had long yearned for its own Village Hall where social functions could be held without any restrictions. A village hall did exist at the Free Church but came with several restrictions about music, noise, dancing and days and times of use, so it was not really suited for that use.
The village started a collection and as Bill Trower recalls in his memories Around 1956 people were raising funds to build a village hall by selling a brick. This was very succesful, especially as more and more development was happening around the village bringing in new people. The hall was just about to be built when the Treasurer absconded with the funds, and it had to be started all over again. . In 1957 the village had collected sufficient funds and instructed C Schofield to undertake the construction with the help of donations of materials from various villagers.
On Oct 26th 1957 Sir Bernard Braine opened the Hullbridge Village Hall. An account of the opening can be read by CLICKING HERE .
Peter McLaren recalled on the HMH Facebook group My Grandfather Harry McLaren helped build the village Hall and his wife Winifred is in the photo cliiping of the hall opening.
Danny Gatehouse also recalled on the HMH Facebook group The building was built by the community and my dad helped to contruct it.

Clipping from Southend Standard dd 8th Aug 1957 showing the nearly completed but totally unfurnished Village Hall.
 Clipping from Southend Standard dd 31st Oct 1957 showing the opening ceremony of the Village Hall. Some of the people in the picture are:-
On stage FRONT ROW Left to Right:1) Mr ? , 2) Mr ? , 3) Mr ? , 4) Mrs ? , 5) Mr Bernard Braine, 6) Mr Ernie Long 7) Mr E Gregory (Chairman of RDC), 8) Miss Ann Marks, 9) Rev M B Morgan,
BACK ROW Left to Right: 10) Mr ? , 11) Mr ? , 12) Mrs ? , 13) Mrs ? , 14) Mr ? , 15) Mr ? , 16) Mrs ? , 17) Mr ? , 18) Mr Bill Trower, 19) Mr ? , 20) Mrs ? , 21) Mr ? ,22) Mrs ?, 23) Mr ? ,
IN the Audience Front Row: 1) Mrs ?, 2) Mrs ?, 3) Mrs ?.
Next Row: 4) Mrs ?, 5) Mrs ? ,6) Mrs ? 7) Miss ? 8) Mrs ? .
Next Row: 9) Mr ? , 10) Mrs ? , 11) Mrs ? , 12) Mrs ? , 13) Mrs ? , 14) Mrs ? , 15) Mr ? .
Next Row: 16) Mrs Winifred McLaren, 17) Mrs ? , 18) Mr ? , 19) Mrs ? , 20) Master ? , 21) Mrs ? , 22) Mrs ? ,


NEW YEARS DANCE: It was reported in the Southend Standard dd 2 Jan 1958
Power break plunged Hullbridge into darkness Hullbridge witnessed the New Year in by candlelight, a breakdown left the village without electricity for 8 hours. Parts of Rayleigh were also affected.
In Hullbridge Village Hall 150 dancers were in darkness when the lights failed at 9:15 p.m.
The Village Hall Committee were all prepared and candles were brought out of store.
Late comers brought their own candles and torches were arranged all round the hall, and the dance continued.
There were no grubles about the breakdown in the hall. Said Coun E. W. Long:"IN fact everyone enjoyed it far more by candlelight the atmosphere was very friendly and romantic."
The cause of the breakdown was a faulty Transformer in Pooles Lane area. Engineers working all night managed to get most of the supply restored by 4 a.m. but a small area was not connected until just before 10 a.m. on Wednesday.

YOUTH CLUB: From the outset there was a tremendous demand for the hall. The majority of the village's meeting and functions were held there. Jan Withers recalls in his memories
During my teens I had been going to the Youth Club meetings on Monday and Thursday nights along with Colin Hodson. The club was run by Eric and Bob and met at the Village Hall and offered us Snooker, Table Tennis, Bar Billiards and a place to play our music. We could buy soft drinks there but no alcohol!?
Susan Cole posted on HMH Facebook forum:-
Do remember Guides and Brownies in the Village hall and then the dances when I was in my teens run by Fred - only soft drinks, good local groups, lots of fun and no trouble! Mind you Fred was enormous, so not likely to have trouble!

6:5 SPECIAL DANCE: On the 1st March a 6.5 SPecial Dance was held at the Village Hall and in the Southend Standard dd 6 March 1958 a photo clipping of the event was printed


Jan Withers recalls in his memories
At the same time that I was at work myself and Derek Chapman took an interest in the Village Hall's potential and we started contacting agencies about booking artists to play there. We charged people 3s 6d per entry ticket and added a little on top of the cost of the drinks. I was making more than I was earning up town ! Some of the acts we booked were:- Dave Chancellor and the Exchequers, Screaming Lord Sutch and Rickie Rain and the Raindrops, such wonderful names !


In the Local Review dd 4 April it stated 19th March 1962 The Hullbridge W.I. held a meeting at the Village Hall and a talk on Essex Seafaring Tales was given bt Mrs Barrelett with the help of picture slides,places like Chelmsford and Colchester were very prominent. The vote of thanks was given by Mrs Caton. The competition for a bowl of Daffodils was won by Mrs Martin. Tea was served by Mrs Biddell and helpers the social half hour followed and was presided over by Mrs Pittaway.
It was announced with deep regrets the death of Mrs Morris a very active member of the W.I. and well loved member of the Drama Group.
In the Local Review dd 4 April it stated:30th March 1962 the Hullbridge Pensioners Fellowship held a meeting at the Village Hall with an attendance of 103. Entertainment was provided by "The Merrimites"
Birthday Greeting were sung to Mrs Larkin and the football winner was Mr Dee. The trip called "The Mystery Coach Tour" was deemed a successand took in many interesting places in Essex.
A Communion Service is to be held at the Village Hall on Sunday 1st April at 9 a.m.
dated 4th April stated It was decided at the 1st Hullbridge Scout Group meeting dd 29 March to hold the St George's Day Parade in the Village Hall on 29th April.


The people in this clip are Front Left to Right:-
Back Left to Right:
The people in this clip are Front Left to Right:-


Newspaper clipping from Local Review Dec 1964 of the Hullbridge Young Mums Christmas Party. The people in the clipping are:-
Please click on image to see a larger version.
Photo courtesy of Margaret Day of the 1966 Young Mums Christmas Party held in the Village Hall. The people in this photo are:-
Left to Right:- 1) ? , 2) Peter Day, 3) ? (Father Christmas), 4) Alison Stewart, 5) ? , 6) Andrew Day, PLease click on the image to see a larger version

In the Local Review dd Dec 1964 (see above) it showed a photo of the Young Mums group in the Village Hall for their Christmas Party organized by Local Health worker Miss Slaughter. On the HMH Facebook Forum the following posts were made re the Young Mums.:-
Margaret Day
We held the weekley clinic here on Wed afternoons it was for Mother and Baby, Miss Slaughter was the the heath visitor.I used to work at the clinic as a helper booking mums and new babies in The club was started by Miss Slaughter, Barbara Stewart, Jean Bassett and and myself in the school kitchens, about 1962,. We decided to get up a petition to get a proper clinic, we walked miles with our little ones in there prams and at last we got it , it was a wonderful opening , I cant remember who did the honors but all the ladies of the Mothers club were there and Doc Kendel, Miss Slaughter the heath visitor and Dr Beaver who was the clinic Doctor , he was on crutches as he, had the polio as a child, this would be about 1963. Peter my son used to run around with the other children in the clinic, it was a lovely friendly place , not quite the same once we moved into the proper clinic it had to become formal, but we all missed the old VILLAGE HALL.
We used to weigh all babies with their cloths on as it was too cold to undress them, I used to take the names and fill the cards in and when a new Mum came I used to take all her details etc.,
In Monksford Drive and Abbey Road there were 75 babies born in three years, Dr Kendel said we were hard work. Well we were all very young hardly any buses, nothing to do dark nights, no money, new home, new baby! lol!

Sharon Rackham
My mum was a member of Hullbridge Mothers club, we had some great days out with them in the 6 week summer holidays!
Margaret Day
Yes we did and once left someone behind at the ZOO !


The people in this clipping are:- Left to Right 1) Master ? , 2) Miss ? , 3) Miss ?, 4) Mr ? , 5) Mrs ? , 6) Master ? , 7) Miss ? , 8) Billy Walker (boxer)

Hazel Denton recalled on the HMH Facebook forum 25/3/2014
Just had a thought re village hall when the Aberfan disaster happened we had a sale maybe "Jumble" but can't remember to raise money for the families. I think it was 1966 because I was pregnant when I went to it, amazing how these little memories come back after all that time.
Peter McLaren also recalled on the same.
So did I Hazel at the old Village hall..!!
The boxer Billy Walker attended the event having recently beaten Jose Menno of Argentina and was about to fight Ray Patterson of U.S.A. (brother of the famous Floyd Patterson) on 6th Dec both were victories for Billy. Billy was know as the "golden boy" and was a big boxing hope for England, beofer "Our 'enry" , but was prone to cut easily. This was a quite an event for the village to get such a celebrity to visit.


The following was advertised events in the March Local Review.


The Hullbridge Community Association Pre School formed and started here in 1972 run by Jackie Tester.For the history of the school CLICK HERE



John Lay and Kerry Churcher celebrating. Kerry work with her mum in the kitchen of the Village Hall.
Photo courtesy of Julie Choat
John Lay on the mike, with the old stage behind him. John Lay and ? at a Cockney Evening. The sequined suit was made by his partner Jenny.
Photo courtesy of Julie Lay
In front of the kitchen serving counter stands John Lay in his Cockney suit and Kerry Churcher and Julie Lay, John's daughter. The tall gentleman behind is ?.
This photo is courtesy of Julie Choat
John Lay with ? inside the village hall.
Photo courtesy of Julie Choat
John Lay and Beattie Carr near the old village hall stage
Photo courtesy of Julie Choat
Inside the kitchen at the village hall are Julie Lay, Helen ? (John's partner), and John Lay.
Photo courtesy of Julie Choat
Kitty Chucher helping out behind the kitchen counter at the village hall.
Photo courtesy of Julie Choat

John Lay heard that the Village Hall was to be sold and thought it was a good opportunity for him and so he purchased it. In the photos above it is in the early days and the stage area has not been altered. John would put on shows at the weekends for the villagers and would employ local bands, one of them was "The Barry Glenn Duo".

Mark Hale posted on HMH Facebook Forum
I remember the decks etc,. Being up on the stage and the hatch by the door selling Sweets and drinks, in those days the drinks were mainly plastic cups with sealed on lids I can still remember the smell if the hall, a combination of old wood and damp and a little hint of vomit for a reason I can't explain!

Shani Sewell posted on HMH Facebook Group on 27 Jan 2014 "In the 1970s my husband ran the first disco in Hullbridge village hall. He and Pete were called "Konto Froh", they were the talk of the village for us teenagers. The disco became a monthly event for some years. We believe it was the parish council who owned the property, a couple who lived in Hullbridge were caretakers and they dealt with everything.
Cash was used in those days.The discos were on Saturday nights only, we had a tuck shop with yes, soft drinks only and a band of helpers from Hockley (where the D.Js came from. They began in 1972 or 3. The whole area was plastered in posters so everyone knew about it and came in droves.
The name was basically made up, Konto means "nothing" and Froh is a German word, Malcolm was into German bands and had a German car,no more exciting than that. The discos were for all secondary school age with about 15 being the most popular age. We ran them for about 3 years with Sheik Mohammed coming along about half way through, so we shared monthly bookings with him. The cost to come in was only about 25p. My husband and Pete also ran a heavy music club in Westcliff at the old Queens hotel bottom of Hamlet Ct Rd. The Kursall had a live music venue as well and occasionally they were booked to do a disco set while the band had a break."

This was a disco run for the younger generation 10/11's.


Around this time Henry Dunmow started up Roller Skating at the Village Hall. He had acquired some old roller skates from a previous venture he did in Southend. For the children and teenagers of Hullbridge this was a whole new experiance, especially roller skating in doors and with music playing. On the HMH Facebook forum the following were posted:-
Mark Hale
I can remember skating there, I had 'Jaco' skates which strapped and laced over your shoes and had a tendency to come off at the toe and flip round offing into your leg on rough ground, skating indoors was much smoother on the wooden floor.
Trudi Holloway
My son Chris Holloway and his friends used to skate there on a Friday night. Henry was brilliant with the kids.
Charlotte Debbage
Hi! I used to go and roller skate at the village hall as well. Used to love it. Always had music as well.
Mandy Wooley
I remember skating in the hall around this time with similar skates to Mark, singing along to Classic Abba hits!! Great times..


A group of girls dressed up for the Old Time Variety Night celebration dance 15th August. They are Left to Right:
1) Julie Bewers (Yellow dress) 2) Kerry Luke, 3) Tracy Garms (Red dress), 4) ? , 5) Maxine Hughes (Blue dress).
Photo courtesy of Julie Choat
The new stage curtain with Julie Knot and Kerry Luke in front.
Photo courtesy of Julie Choat
The new stage and lights.Notice the Disco oil slide projector above the stage.
An extended group of girls who took part in the Old Time Variety Night. They are Left to Right:
Front Row: 1) Maxine Hughes, 2) Julie Bewers, 3) Tracy Garms
Next Row: 4) ? , 5) Kerry Luke, 6) ? , and Back Row : 7) ? .
Photo courtesy of Julie Choat

As can be seen in the photo above a celebration Old Time Variety Night and Dance was held on Saturday 16th August to celebrate the new stage and lights with dancing to the Barry Glenn Duo.
Julie Choat (nee Lay) posted on HMH Facebook Group dd 5th March 2014 "Dad (John Lay) had the hall in the 70's but for how long and exact years I can't remember! I do remember when Dad had the hall he recreated the stage area to resemble the coloured lit squares from Saturday night fever!! Also remember him having spiritual evenings on Sundays quite spooky it was too!!
He was so proud of 'his' stage! i remember sitting in the little kitchen/tuck area during the spirutual evenings with all the lights dimmed!!!
They held a spiritual night in remembrance of Dad I'll never forget it! I've got goosebumps thinking of it now!"

Lynn P Mullane posted on HMH Facebook group
I remember the was the best disco. I also remember the spiritual nights and asking for a reading but they said I was too young!

Hullbridge dance girls they are Left to Right:
1) ?? (being carried), 2) Helen Valentine, 3)Julie Dear, 4) Toni Olley, 5) Tracy Munson, 6) Julie Burfield, 7) Joanne Latter.
Photo courtesy of Julie Choat
Hullbridge dance girls they are Left to Right:
1) Tracy Munson, 2) Joanne Latter, 3)Joanne Latter, 4) Julie Burfield, 5) Toni Olley.
The man in the background is John Lay
Photo courtesy of Julie Choat
Hullbridge dance girls they are Left to Right:
1) Julie Burfield, 2) Helen Valentine, 3) Joanne Latter.
Julie lived down The Avenue, Helen lived down The Drive and Joanne down Riverview Gardens.
Photo courtesy of Julie Choat

John Lay encourage the youth off the street and to go to the village hall. A group of girl friends took advantage of his kind hospitality and follow their dreams and mutual interest, putting on Dance shows. These girls were:- Helen Valentine, Julie Dear, Toni Olley, Tracy Munson, Julie Burfield and Joanne Latter.The above photos were posted on HMH facebook Forum by Julie Choat and they provided the following responses from the girls
Helen Valentine posted on HMH Facebook forum 17 Mar 2014
OMG I was just thinking about the Mexican Hat Dance that we did and here is the proof! Girl in blue shorts i think is Toni Olly, Julie Burfield in floral dress and Jo Latter in the Dutch girl outfit. Not sure who is next to me or who I am holding and can't remember name of cowgirl at the mo.
I think at a guess I'd say we were all about 13-14 so around 1980 or 1981. This was part of a show we put on at the hall. I remember doing a dance to the Bolero music too but not sure it was this particular time? I was dance mad and also very bossy (still am btw on both those things!) so was often choreographing dances with the girls... I am sure John just let us get on with it!
Toni Barker nee Olley posted
They were good days I remember the shiny trousers I had to lay down to zip them up me and Julie used to do robot dancing not sure if we did any in the show. I think we did 2 or 3 shows but I don't think we had a name. Helen you have not changed one bit. I remember John he used to let us get on with it. He kept us youngsters at the time off the streets Friday nights were the highlight of the week.



On Monday 29th April R &J's Teenage Leisure Centre was opend by Ron and Jean Hilliard, offering the teenagers of the village a place to eat and drink soft drinks listen or dance to popular music of that time or play Pool, Pinball or video game machines. When the weather was warm seating was also provided on the forecourt in front, as can be seen in the photo of Karen Wilkes Cornhill above. On HMH facebook forum some of the villagers posted their memories of the they tried to beat each other at.
Graham Bevis posted
Need a pic of us standing over "1942" trying to beat the high score Skinner ! It was one of many arcade machines down R &J's that kept us kids amused for sometime. Others included "Bubble Bobble", Indiana Jones and Kung Fu. £2 off me mum was a cheese burger and a few hours out of her hair.!
Martin Sale posted
Dont forget "Rygar" and "Street Fighter" Karen Wilkes nee Cornhill posted
Used to love playing Pool down there and loved the Juke Box with the big screen. Those were the days! Kevin Redders posted
Remember my Ma and Pa owning it. Having my birthdays in there clocking up free credits on the machines.
Opening up in the morning and having a go of Bubble Booble before school. Good times.!

R & J's used to have themed nights and one such night was the Punk theme. Below are some photos of people from the village dressed for the event.

Karen Cornhill Wilkes recall on HMH Facebook forum
R & J's punk night. Didn't go in the end though. I loved the Cure, Toyah Wilcox, Susie and the Bandshees. I didn't go as I felt too embarrassed to walk down the road like it.
Julie Jen Rice and her friend Sarah Goodliffe all dressed up for R and J's event evenings as Punks and secondly Vicars and Tarts
R and J held a Snooker competition which was won by Tim Rose, who beat Mark Morgan 5-2 in the final and they received winnings of £25.00 and £13.00 respectively.The photo above courtesy of Jean Sleap is taken from the local press.