Hullbridge Village History
It was never a dull moment in Hullbridge.
Bedloes, Rawreth and Battlesbridge.
I was born at Bedloes Corner, Rawreth in 1951.
My father had returned from military action in Italy,North Africa and Poland a few years earlier, and was working at The Maltings, Battlesbridge as a maltster. He was one of three men working as a maltster. All three men enjoyed playing cards but there are not many non gambling games that could be played by three so they invented a form of cribbage to be played 3 handed.
Dad normally cycled to work, rain or shine. In the summer he worked after work for local farmers, helping to get the harvest in.
He grew fruit and vegetables in our garden. Mum worked with my granddad (who lived with us) at Garwood Lodge in Church Road for a family called Kohring. Granddad was their gardener and mum cooked and cleaned. In the school holidays, I was taken along too and sometimes earned money pulling dandelion heads out of the lawn.
My schooling started at Rawreth C of E Primary School, also in Church Road. I started in Class 1
with Miss Mann whom I had for 2 years then 2 years in Class 2 with Miss Baron, and 2 years in
Class 3 with Mrs Burge ( my favourite). I remember Mrs Peters was school meals lady, although
I rarely had school dinners as we only lived a five minute walk away. Mrs Burge lived at
Shotgate and was married to a former colonel in the army. She collected any type of model
giraffes. Her car was a little cornflower blue Austin, a bit like "Noddy's" car.
Having 3 women teachers meant that we had few sports lessons. Whilst I was there, the total school was made up of 48 children. This meant that the teachers not only knew the children's older siblings, but the parents as well.
School summer fete was when mum made coconut ice and donated it to the school to sell. It was the only time in the year when I had coconut ice. I remember going to fetes at Rettendon also.
Swimming lessons were initially at Battlesbridge pool, and after that closed we were taken by coach to Rayleigh Glebe School for swimming.
I passed the 11 plus exam and went to Rayleigh Sweyne Grammar School and for the first 2
years the school seemed extremely strict and disciplined. Part of the school uniform was
the compulsory cap which you had to wear when out of lessons. Breaking this rule, along
with any others resulted in being awarded "Order Marks". An offence usually resulted in
1 or 2 order marks. Upon tooting up 8 order marks you would be given school detention on
a Friday after school with Mr Circus, during detention we were made to add up rows of numbers
without a calculator until you got the total correct.
Sport was good at Sweyne, except that we were not allowed to play football until the 4th year! "Grammar Schools played rugby" so thought our head master.
I loved sport and was included in the school rugby, cricket, athletics, swimming and cross-country teams. In bad weather in the winter, we did a cross-country run, which was really a road race. This meant out of Pearsons Drive, left along the Southend Road, left into Downhall Road. At the end of Downhall Road we turned left and then left into Rawreth Lane. At Bedloes Corner, you turned left onto the Chelmsford Road, down to The Carpenters Arms and left onto Southend Road and back to school. In my case it was catch the bus at the Travellers Joy and get off at Bedloes Corner, go into my home for a cup of tea, watch the leaders go past and then join in about half way through the list of runners. As far as I know we only nearly got caught once, by the PE teacher who drove round the course in his car. He parked outside my house ticking the boys off as they passed, We were indoors and had to concoct a way to get back out without him seeing us.
Another time, instead of going on the course a few of us went and watched the girls at Fitzwymarc doing netball . We could not understand how we got found out and the following day when we were all slippered. Nobody had told us that our PE teacher was married to the Fitz girls PE mistress ! A sore way to find out !
The school arranged several holidays and one year a group of my friends and I were not allowed to go on the Sweyne Lake District Youth Hostel Holiday, so we organised our own trip. Neil Mackay, Vernon Turnbull, John Andrews and I were "the guilty ones". We walked 10 miles a day on the 10 day holiday, and stayed at 10 different hostels. The main advantage of our own trip was that we did not have to wear school uniform on the train on the way up north, but the official school party did.
I found that woodwork and metalwork were not my forte, so ended up doing "o" level cookery, and got my best grade in that subject. This stood me in good stead when I decided in a career in catering.
Every evening apart from during Winter was spent at the local park playing football or cricket. We arranged a league with Rawreth v Battlesbridge. The ages of the children playing ranged from around 6 to 18 but it did not matter, and we would play until it got dark, with scores of 9-7 not being unusual.
In the summer holidays before I was old enough to get a summer job, I would go with a friend or 2, and a transistor radio over the fields where we would lie on the grass listening to Radio Caroline or Radio London. At night it was Radio Luxembourg.
Never a dull moment in Hullbridge.
Being born in Rawreth meant I have closer links to Battlesbridge than Hullbridge
in my early days.
I played football for Battlesbridge Youth Team c1966 .
When I was 14, I got a summer and Saturday job at Tucks Mouse and rat farm in Watery Lane, working with Malcolm Low and Ray Dundas to name but two from Hullbridge.
I joined "The Motive" pop group while at Rayleigh Sweyne.
Most of the other members also attended Sweyne ( Andy Wade, Paul Metcalf and
Peter Rowden), our lead guitarist was older ( Steve Sallis) and had left school.
We formed around 1967 and played standards like" Route 66 " and " Roll Over Beethoven "
and also covers of Stones, Beatles, Who, and Young Rascals tracks.
I was 15 and we rehearsed at Hullbridge Primary School in one of the classrooms on a Tuesday or a Thursday evening. In return for the use of the classroom, we had to play once a month in the Hullbridge Village Hall for members of the Youth Club and their friends. It was fun trying to sing while people were playing table tennis in front of you.
While we rehearsed in one of the classrooms, another group of older boys ( The Strangers) practiced next door. One week, they did not turn up, but their drummer whose name was Mick, came and offered to be our manager, for a percentage of our earnings. He had a van, which he used to transport our gear around, He also arranged for us to take over the HP on the Strangers equipment, which then became ours.
We played all round Essex and London, but often appeared at Hullbridge Village Hall. We were there once, second on the bill to an unheard of group called "The Love Affair". We were double booked and were due to play at a wedding reception at Hadleigh. We set our gear at the reception, and waited at Hullbridge for the other group to turn up. We explained our problem, and they agreed for us to use their equipment at the Hullbridge Hall and changed the times of our "sets" so we could go and play at the wedding. About 3 months after that gig, The Love Affair got to number One in the charts with "Everlasting Love"
Another band member and I went out with young ladies from Hullbridge.
People looking at me today would most likely find it hard to believe that I was once a good
footballer, but I was ! and I was picked many times for the schools district team along with
the likes of Peter Taylor (ex Tottenham player and England U-21 Manager), Tony Maynard etc.,
The team was extremely successful and only lost one game to an East London team that included
Frank Lampard senior. Although we lost heavily it was mainly down to three boys not turning
up at Canvey due to being given the wrong information. My next involvement with Hullbridge
was playing football for Hullbridge Sports Sunday Team. I do not remember quite how this came
about but I guess I was looking for a Sunday team to play for and I heard about a newly
founded team playing at Hullbridge so I thought I would give them a try. I was pleasantly
surprised to see that an old football friend, Tony Maynard, was already playing for them.
Others in the team were Andy Polley, Steve Oakman, Pat Hayes, Ronnie Moore (whom I introduced
to the club), Pete Botley, Malcolm Low ,Terry Wise and others .We won promotion 1971 and 1972.
Pictures of us are on the Gallery Football on this site.
I am shocked to hear of the early death of Tony Maynard !
Two things I remember about playing football at Pooles Lane, firstly the Sunday pitch was near the river wall and it could get very windy there and very wet. The Rec sloped down towards the river so the surface water would flow down to the wall and go no further, so there was often a huge amount of water near the furthest touchline. On windy days the ball was quite often blown over into the huge puddle or even worse over the wall were it had to be retrieved by one of the spectators or players, the club didn't have too many "match balls" and the second, the abundance of dog dirt on the pitch, there was no law about dog fouling in those days and the Rec was obviously a popular spot for villagers to let their dogs run free. So making slide tackles was a "no no". I sliced my knee open one Sunday in a cup match in the snow at Pooles Lane, but this time we were playing on the top pitch because ours was unplayable.
A few years later, in my capacity as part owner of Essex Catering Services, we were catering for a wedding at the village hall, and as we were opening the champagne for the toasts, the cork shot out of the bottle and shattered one of the fluorescent tubes on the ceiling, covering us with glass and dust.
It was never a dull moment in Hullbridge!