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Hullbridge Village History

Hullbridge Memories.

The memories of Mrs F Low and son Malcolm.

in Hullbridge.

I was born in 1916 Florence Eileen King in Yorkshire.
My husband, Bob and I were married in 1940 in Lincoln.
Bob, was born in Silvertown he was the youngest of nine boys. His mother (Kate) was one of the 73 people killed in the Silvertown explosion on the 19th Jan 1917 at the munitions factory. A family account of the event was that she was at home with the children and the explosion ripped out the windows and the force and shock of the explosion killed her. An account of this Silvertown explosion can be read at
Bob went to school at Hullbridge and left when he was 14. The husband of a lady in Grasmere got Bob then 14 a job working for Newton Chambers who were steel constructors. His first job was building a gas storage tank behind Rayleigh Station and with them he went around the country building gas storage tanks.
Black and White Photo showing steam train arriveing at Rayleigh Station with the Gas 
						  storage tanks behind

Bob got called up to for the war and was placed with the Royal Artillery, Middlesex Regiment. He was in Scunthorpe and at that time I was working on the buses either as a conductress or driver and I used to see him reguarly. We became friends etc., and eventually got married.
For a while we went up to Rugby for a year whilst he helped build chambers there. I had 4 boys, Malcolm, Geoffrey,Graham and Trevor. Malcolm and Geoffrey were born whilst we were in Pooles Lane, Graeme was born in 1951 when we were up at Rugby. Trevor and Malcolm still live here in the village.
When we moved here there were two big families the Butchers and the Lees. Today there is only a few of the family left in the village, Eadie Butcher and Mrs Joyce Maynard (nee Butcher) (COMMENT: Unfortunately Mrs Maynard and Mrs Butcher passed away after this interview in 2012) Eadies daughter Patsy, and Ricky Lee.


Malcolm was born in 1947 and went to Hullbridge Primary in April 1952 where his teacher was Mrs Longthorn who had a class room in the green annex behind the main school building. She lived in Rayleigh where her husband ran a shop.
I took a look at the punishment book of the school on this site just to make sure none of my children were in there and I was relieved to see they were not and that brought back a memory of one time I had a set too with Mr Hardy. He had just set about teaching some of the kids how to play the accordian amd other instruments and you can imagine the row it created in the street outside. Not as much as when one of the boys, Gary Lane of Central Avenue, borrowed some money out his Nan's purse, as kids did in those days.It was a ten bob note, and he went into Mr Long's and got it changed, he then handed out some of the change amongst his friends. Anyhow Trevor came home upset and in a temper from school because Mr Hardy had had some of the boys including him up on the stage in front of the school and accused them of having the money. Trevor told me he had been offered the money but he and two others refused to take it. As a parent you tend to know when your child is lying and in this instance I knew he was telling the truth, so I went and saw Mr Hardy and told him I was not happy that he accused my son and that I wanted him put Trevor and the two other boys on the stage and to point out that they were not to guilty. At first he refused until I threatened to go to the school authorities in Rayleigh and explain what had taken place. The next day Trevor and the two boys were exhonerated of any wrong doing in front of the school.
Some of the children's names in the punishment book brought back memories:-
Jack Reed was a taxi driver who lived on Coventry Corner.
Martin Webb drives the tractors for Pinkerton's Farm.
Pete McLaren who married Edna Carter's daughter, Alison in 1985. Unfortunately they are no longer together.
George Low, Malcolm's cousin who can be seen riding his bike through the village collecting his shopping.

The Hullbridge Day Centre

Joannie Clark and I were part of the group of villagers who instigated its creation. Funds for its creation were raised by selling tickets for £1.00. On the plot of land that it now stands on was a house in which one of Mr and Mrs Hymas's family lived.

Crouch Stores and St Lievens

Crouch Stores was where the Mission Hall stood, next to Shell Cottage near Pooles Lane. It was once owned by Mick Downes and it became a hardware store and was owned by a very nice gentleman in a wheelchair whose name escapes me.
The Towers family used to own the greengrocers where the butchers (Tabers) are today. I remember two days after we moved into the bungalow (St Levens) down Pooles Lane I needed to get some potatoes so I went along and was served by Mrs Towers, I asked for half a stone of potatoes. She looked at me a bit funny and went outside and spoke to her husband and came back with the potatoes which I duly paid for and went home to the bungalow. Two days later I had run out and went back to the shop. I walked in and Mrs Towers said "Oh! so you're back again, are you a refugee ?" to which I replied "No, but I had just come from Yorkshire and we have just moved into the bungalow in Pooles Lane" she then said "thats why you talk funny, only you came in the other day and asked for half a stone of potatoes and I had to go and see the old man in the back to ask how many lbs in half a stone, you totally threw me asking for half a stone !"
Despite what several people think we did not build the bungalow in Pooles Lane, we moved into "Black Cottage", as it was previously called, having bought it. I must say that ever since I have been here I have been very fortunate to never have had to have a mortgage not that we could have got one because of how the houses were built.
We re-neamed the bungalow St Lievens as that was the place Bob was stationed at in Belgium during the war.

Malyons Lane and our neighbours the Beckwiths

On the way back from the school towards Keswick there used to be a small holding that is now a bungalow with horse heads outside. This was owned by the Lock family and I hear from them every Christmas. They are related to the Beckwith family, another old name of the village. We knew Ken's dad as "Bonny" and he was married twice. It was Bonny's 2nd wife who was Ken's mum. The photo shows a large leylandii hedge to the front and left of a white wrought iron gated drive with the gates drawn back. The drive
						    leads to a converted bungalow which is red brick base with cream pargetting above the front piece has a large broad leaf tree design between two windoes
						    . The property has red brick wall to the right and the drive entrance pillars have white horses heads on whilst the pillars in the red brick wall have
						    white acorn pillar caps.

We came back from Rugby in 1952 and no longer had a home, having sold the cottage in Pooles Lane so we had to move in with granny and granddad on the corner of Malyons lane. Nowadays there are three bungalows in Malyons and three bungalows in Elm Grove where their bungalow used to be, quite a large plot of land! (COMMENT:It was actually the bungalow on the corner of Elm Grove and Malyons and the next 2 bungalows down in Malyons Lane).
Bob had a step-mother who inherited the bungalow when his dad died. When she died she passed it on to her family instead of the Low family, she did however pass on money to Bob's siblings Kath,George and Alan (the eldest brother). Alan who lived in Pevensey Gardens died tragically . This is a black and white photo showing a narrow s bend
						    road with a bungalow on the far end of the S. To the left is a banked hedgerow and to the right an entrance to a field.

The property in Malyons Lane had a gated entrance and Ken Beckwith often came down and called in but never opened the gate he always leapt it ! We have always had a great friendship with Ken's family which still continues today with Maureen (Malcolm's wife) working for them and Malcolm collects and delivers their papers for them.

Other friends in the village

Down Pooles Lane lived Len Ford who had a son Ian with whom Malcolm used to go to school. Len ran a pig farm and he would keep his boar at his home and would transport it around in the back of his trailer so that he could have a good time with the sows. Len's property eventually became the site of the Hullbridge Yacht Club.
Next to the Wayfarers Cafe (now the Simla) was George Boules garage and his wife ran a coffee shop opposite in what is todays the Anchor's top car park space. She also was a taxi driver and it was her that used to take me to Hockley to the doctors when I was pregnant my Malcolm, Graham and Trevor. At that time we did not have a doctors in the village.

Living in Central Avenue

For a time (32 years) we lived in Central Avenue "Eleanor". It was a typical bungalow of Hullbridge at that time made with lots of asbestos and wood so we could only get the contents of the property insured. It had a large green space at the side in which there was a donkey and a horse and a football pitch. On "Bonfire Night" lots of the kids from the village came up to us because we used to have fireworks as not many people in the village had them because lots of the properties were still wooden.
Opposite us on the corner was a big pond,now filled in, and a road that led to Burlington Gardens, this was not part of Shepherds Farm which was owned by Mr Morrant. He had a son David was at school the same time as Malcolm. Its funny but Mrs Eileen Morrant's maiden nam was King, the same as mine and we were good friends. On her wedding day I gave them a set of tea towels and I put on it "from the first Mrs Eileen King to Eileen King of now".
To get to the heart of the village or go to school we would take the path opposite Pevensey Gardens and walk across fields and what is today Long Lane to old Florie Enderson's which was at the end. That path was known as Skewpath and it still exists as a Public Footpath, but a bit overgrown I would imagine. This was a better walk than going down Burham Road, which tells you the state that road was in.
1937 Ordnance Survey Map of skewpath

Florie owned quite a bit of land and allowed people to build on it, she never received any money for the land but she did get a new bungalow.
Another walk the boys would often make was across the road over Burlington Gardens and down the hill to the old barns in Kingsway (COMMENT:These were part of Hannover Farm)a great place to play.
We were in Central till 1984 and then moved to my current address. Sadly my Bob passed away in 1987.
Today there is lots of discussion going around the village about bus passes for the children to go to school in Rayleigh. In my boys time we had bus passes to go to the primary school in the village. The boys would go to Coventry Corner and catch a bus there, that is 2.5 miles which was the distance needed to qualify.
On the corner of Coventry Hill was a shop, tea rooms and taxis. Mr Reeve who lived opposite was also a taxi driver and kept like us Turkeys. When I used to come down Coventry Hill with the pram I often left it in their front garden.
Jim Downes who lives down the road from here, married the lady that owned the tea shop on Lower Road. Opposite where Budgens is today was at one point George Boules garage, a hairdresser and timber yard.
Ann Nichols has something to do with Mr Smith's Coventry Corner stores but I can for the life of me remember what, perhaps someone else reading this can.
Along Ferry Road next to where the One Stop / Post Office is today was a field in which the Trunley family had their pigs, eventually they built a hardware shop there "Bijou's". Today they are flats.

The Ferrymen.

Two of the largest characters for me were Dick Hymas and Jock, the Ferrymen at the Anchor. Dick was the first I knew follwed by Jock. It was Jock and Bob's dad who tokk me down to the river and taught me how to catch eels with a piece of wood. We had a square piece of wood with a potato sack netting over the end with a hole in it, we would go down to the river when the tides was going out and place in the river, we would take them home and Granny used to cook them after I had gutted them. The Ferry used to cost me half a crown (2s 6d) one way and we did that to go to the club on the other bank. Its now a yacht club. In the summer we would walk across and they would row us back, taht was our Saturday night out.
Bob once told me that when he was a boy at the school the Ferry stopped becaus ethe river was so iced over, this meant the children from South Woodham that were attending Hullbridge school could not attend, but it did not stop them cover over to play !


Long way for education.

When Malcolm had to leave Hullbridge Primary school, the only schooling options to him was a trip into Rayleigh for Fitzwymarc or Sweyne Schools depending on how you did in your leaving exams (11+), Jeff passed his exams and went to Sweyne whilst Malcolm went to Fitz., later coaches were put on when Greensward School was opened and Graham and Trevor went there.

The development of Hullbridge.

When we moved to the village from Coventry Corner to the estate agents just over the hill was nothing but trees, then they built the council houses "Conniston and Ryedale Villas" about 1950 and Mr Little the estate agent lived in one of the Conniston council houses. I know Mrs Gatehouse lived in one of those houses and her eldest son worked on Ryedale.

Hullbridge United

I can not write my memories and not mention Hullbridge United, the villages football club. The village used to go all over the place to watch them play. When they were first formed thay played in Green and Gold squares , the colours being those of a flag flown outside the Anchor Inn, the place where the team always met, surprise ! surprise! The village would hire coaches to go to the matches amd the home games were played down Pooles Lane on what is now the Shangri la Caravan Site.