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Hullbridge Village History

Hullbridge Childhood.

The memories of Lesley Brown nee Whittaker

Abbey Road.

This may be a bit "all over the place", but once you start to remember things, it all wants to come flooding out!

I will begin with Abbey Road. We, mum dad and younger brother Gary, lived in a semi-detached house at No. 73 on the border of Abbey Close and Abbey Road, almost opposite the entrance of Abbey Road into Ferry Road. On our left the neighbours were Rita and Terry Land with their daughters Geraldin and Janine. On our right was Margaret and Tony Reid with their son David and their two daughters.

Opposite us on the corner was a bungalow in which lived a young couple, the lady Chris was a hairdresser and I use to baby sit for them quite a bit. Next door at No.70 was a bungalow lived Mr and Mrs Tranter with their daughter and her three girls - Janet, Mandy and Hilary Howe. Next door to them in another bungalow No. 68 lived Mr and Mrs Wilson who had a son Paul. Its funny how things change, before I was a teenager I never got on with Paul, but that changed as we grew up and became teenagers. He became quite handsome and because I became quite good friends with one of his friends "Taz" - I think his real name was Matthew Shaw, he has a sister called Bernice, we got on much better. Matthew lived 4 doors down from me at No.61, between a German lady called Geisla? and Mr and Mrs Jarvis. Next door to Paul's family lived Bill Searle at No. 66 he started his own taxi company, "Searles Taxi's".

In the next semi down from me lived Mini and Tony Snelling and their daughters Kendall and Kerry they had an old English Sheepdog called Kansee and a cat called Kootie.


In those days we used to let Skip, our dog, have the freedom of Hullbridge. When he wanted to have a walk he would head down Abbey Road he would always cross over by the Wilson's and on the way back by the Shaw's. Kansee had gone for him a few times and he was not going to take any chances.

Skip was a very well known character in the village. We only ever locked our back door when we went away on holiday and Skip could open it and go on his travels. He had an in built alarm clock that would tell him to go and meet my Mum off the bus, No 22, as she came home from work. People have told my mum that if she was not there, then he would get on the bus which where like old Routemasters and look for her and get off again outside Ted Rose's shop.

Apparently, I was told, Ted had a sign in the door that said "No dogs, except Skip". I can well believe it to be true. He would also go to Vic and Jean Horton, Denis and Hilda Brain, Tony and Janet (as was) and Milly and Dennis to find mum. My mum really should have told my dog that she was going shopping in Rayleigh !!!

Quite often he would follow me to school but not let me know he was there until I got in the classroom and then my teacher woudl make me walk him all the way home. He was Black and Tan short haired with a tail that curled over towards his head and was a lovely natured dog. All the kids loved him. He lived to a good old age of 16 and left his legacy of quite a few dogs that may have been his offspring around the village.

One of my best friends, who I still keep in contact with is Sandra Lay, she lived at No.10 Monksford Drive. She had an older brother Kevin and a younger sister called Julie.

Down the road further at No.56 lived another friend Debbie Congram and her elder brother Gary. Just before them was a little detached bungalow in which an old lady, Mrs Adams, lived.

I was also friendly with Catherine Monks and Susan Allen and can still recall the time we three were allowed to go and have a sausage roll, chips and a can of Pepsi on a Friday evening in Ted Rose's chip shop. We felt very grown up being able to eat in the restaurant on our own. Catherine lived in a bungalow in Ferry Road but their back garden went all the way across Abbey Close and her dad had all the chickens. Susan Allen lived in the bungalow next door. It was at the far end of the close on the right in the corner of Abbey Close.

When Gary and I were very young and mum and dad went out to play sports etc., Barbara Botley would baby sit us and because we liked her a lot, Gary and I never played up.

Primary School

I remember all my teachers at Hullbridge:-

I threw Mrs Fairbrass's orange out the window once as the class dared me to. When she asked who had done it - to my horror most of the class grassed me up. She was going to punish me with the ruler but I was one up on her and the ruler went out the window with the orange!!!
I also remember when she was on playground duty and slipped in the snow, her false teeth fell out and she broke her arm. I think that was justice for all the children she terrified or made them wet themselves by not letting us go to the loo.

Hullbridge Sports Club

Mum and dad used to play table tennis competitively in teams for Hullbridge and dad was the club captain for cricket. I remember all the cricket players as I spent most of my weekends at the Rec., and also went to a lot of the away games too. Mum was on the cricket tea rota and over the years must have made enough teas to feed several armies, not that I can remember ever getting any of it ! At one point in time my dad was captain for both Saturday and Sunday teams, so my mum said it was the only way we could see our dad at the weekend was to go along. Gary C mentioned in his memories the netting down the Rec, where the cricketers would practice, well one Sunday afternoon all the kids were playing in them and the wicket not the normal wooden stumps, it was a large concrete block with stumps drawn on. I am not sure how it happened, but it toppled over and knocked me down and had my leg pinned underneath. I gave out the loudest scream and stopped play of the cricket match that was going on at the time. Two of the nearest cricketers rushed over and tried to lift it off but could not manage it, all of a sudden one of the cricketers wives got this inner strength and moved it all by herself. This was in the summer just before I started my very first day at school. So on my first day I turned up with my leg in plaster.

Mr Hardy asked Janet Wright, who lived at Elm Lodge, Pooles Lane, to protect me. She also had two sisters Hazel and Linda and her mum Nora was married to George who was the founder of Hullbridge Cricket Club. Janet and I are still very close and send each other birthday cards etc., We spent nearly every weekend together and either stayed at her house or mine on a Saturday night. Her sister would buy all the latest Tamla Motown hits and we would be dancing and singing all night. Her Mum and Dad also took me to France with them for two weeks and we stayed in a villa on the beach. What a special time that was ! Sadly, Norah passed away a few years ago but George is still alive an I believe he lives in Bournemouth?

Mum and dad became very good friends, through the Cricket and Table Tennis, with Milly and Dennis Page and are still very close today, in fact Dennis and Milly are the god parents to my daughter. They still live in Keswick Avenue and are both, I am pleased to say, in good health.

Some of the other families we became very friendly through the sports club were :- Vic and Jean Horton who lived in Monksford Drive, Denis and Hilda Brain who lived in a large bungalow in Ferry Road opposite Waxwell road. Very often mum would phone Hilda to see if she would pop outside to see if my brother Gary was coming home from school, he was always late! One time she phoned my mum back and said he could be sometime, as he was walking all the way home backwards !!!

Another cricket and table tennis couple Janet and Tony Mead also became very friendly with mum and dad, so much so that mum married Tony and dad married Janet after both couples had divorced amicably as shown when both couples got married at the same time. As you can imagine this certainly started the gossipers in the village when it all happened around 1970/71 !

Dad and Janet lived in Broom Road, just off Waxwell Rd. Sadly dad died recently (2013). They lived for a time next too Brian Hughes's brother and Sister in law Alan and Sylvia Hughes. Sadly Alan died a couple of years ago after a motorcycle accident near their home in Lincolnshire. They now live to another old cricketer George and Gwen Shepherd. Dad and Janet had two daughters Zoe and Annalee whilst mum and Tony had a daughter Katie at 73 Abbey Road. When I was 19/20 mum, Tony, Gary, Kate and I moved to a brand new house at the very end of Grasmere. Sadly we were only there for a year when mum and Tony decided to split, then mum, Gary, Kate and I moved to Witham along with my boyfriend and future husband Ken.

Ken and I married in 1981, moved house to just across the road from mum and we have two children Gary born 1984 and Gemma born 1986. We now have a gorgeous grandson Jack.

Memory Snippets

I did go to the Elizabeth School of Dancing but this was cut short when I broke my leg down the Rec., Mum said that it was probably just as well, as I was charging around like a fairy elephant. You can always rely on your mum to tell the truth.

I used to go to Sunday Mass, like a good Catholic girl at the Village Hall. I hated it and gave my Mum hell. I was the only one in the family that had to go and it was early, boring and to make matters even worse, the teacher that I hated most of all, Mrs Fairbrass was there. Needless to say, I got my way in the end.

I went to Grensward instead of the Catholic school and I think it put me off religion for life.

I also went to the Village Hall for Judo lessons, which was great on a week night but not so good on Sunday morning. My Mum and Dad would not buy me the proper attire but they did for Gary, as he was happy to go at anytime. I gave that up too, and realized that I was not an early morning person.

The next memory I have was great, and stiull recall special moments. It was a disco and I remember all my friends being there, my boyfriend at that time, Kevin Collins and dancing with him with Donny Osmond's "Puppy Love" coming out of the speakers. Not sure of the year but it was when that hit was released (1972). I was not an Osmonds fan but always favoured the Jackson Five.

I did join the Brownies and we held our meetings in the school hall of the new infant school that just been built. I did enjoy going but always got told off for talking too much. I did not join the Guides, as I found I wanted to talk all the time and did not want to keep getting told off. At this point in my life I realized that I liked to socialize.

I used to buy my sweets mainly from a shop called Jarvis's, which was in the parade of shops opposite the school. You could get a mix of Black Jacks, Fruit Salad, Flying Saucers, Pink Shrimps and my favourite was the Chocolate Tools. At the weekend we would have a treat and Mum and Tony, Gary and myself would choose one item each out of the jars at Mayfields abnd then share them out. Mmmm.... Chocolate toffee brittle !!

I remember going to Saturday morning pictures at the old "Flea Pit", the Regal, in Rayleigh. We used to get off the bus stop near the Travellers Joy pub and walk up Rayleigh Mount, which came out at the back of the cinema and went home that way too. This enabled us to save some bus fare and buy ourselves a hotdog instead. Kids could be so smart when they needed to be. Never really what we saw but it was three or more films. I used to go with Malcolm Booty's daughter, I think her name was Gillian ? By the way her dad had the very first colour TV that I had ever seen. It was very Orange !! We used to watch Captain Scarlet and Thunderbirds when we got back from the cinema.

I have lived in Witham for 27 years, so it is now longer than I was in Hullbridge but I always consider myself to be from Hullbridge. Maybe it is because, as a child, you have happy memories and how true it is that in the summer holidays, it was always sunny.

I remember all the shops Gary C has in his memories and also a tiny sweet shop near the turning for Pooles Lane called Crouch Stores. It was very tiny but you could get ice lollies for a penny. I think they made them and they were spearmint flavour. I must confess with a reddened face through shame that I did once steal a Mars bar from there, but justice was done as it tasted horrible because it was out of date. They must have seen me coming !

Another quick memory is when I went with my brother and the twins Catherine and Andrew Monk to the river. I can't remember how old we were but we set off past the Smugglers to make our way to Battlesbridge. We decided to go and look for crabs or anything interesting whilst the tide was out. Unfortunately we all got stuck in sinking mud and had to be rescued by a man passing by. Gary and I came home with one shoe each and needless to say, we were in trouble with Mum. We had been told many times not to go down on the mud but.........