Hullbridge Village History
Hullbridge in the late 50's 60's!
Born in Hullbridge.
We moved to Hullbridge in Jan 1953, when I was less than a year old. We had been living at the Dome caravan park – along the Lower Road in Hockley, but were flooded out from there by the February 1953 East Anglian flood, and so moved to the Crouch Caravan Park along Pooles Lane. Apparently the steeper river bank at Hullbridge made it drier.
My memories of the caravan park is that, back then, it had a large pond towards Pooles Lane – where as a very small child we went and fed the goldfish, with which it was stocked. Later the lake was filled in as less lake meant more rentable caravan space. I had several friends and we would often play around the caravans.
My maternal grandparents then lived in East London, and I can remember going to visit them on Saturdays, which meant taking the bus from the Anchor to Rayleigh station and then going up to London by steam train as the line was not then electrified. Coming back from there in the winter meant walking down Pooles Lanes in the dark, so my parents would always takes torches with them for the unlit walk.
About that time we moved to a bungalow at the bottom of Coventry Hill. My early memories there are first of power cuts, the electricity supply was very variable and we often spent evenings in candlelight. Coventry Hill was steeper back then and in winter cars would have difficulty climbing it – so I remember my father and others going out to push cars in snowy or icy conditions – certainly the bad winter of 1963 among other times. The other major road hazard down at that end of the village was Watery Lane. Back then the stream ran right down the road at the Hullbridge end so the road was often under water and because of that very potholed. This meant that the occasional brave soul in a Bond or Reliant three wheeler would ge t stuck in a pot hole and need recovering. One year the whole stream overflowed all the way along the Lower Road to Coventry Corner and the only vehicles that could get in and out of the village were the buses. This only lasted a day or two though, and drainage and pumping station improvements eventually eliminated such issues.
Right across from our house were open fields, which is where I and our dog Trixie spent most of our free time. My friend Michael Wilkinson lived over that way too and we would explore the fields and the streams. There were some derelict barns, which I tended to avoid as we had encountered Adders there, and I was always scared of Trixie getting bitten.
The village was very dependent back then on its bus service – car ownership still a growing trend. Originally the Hullbridge Bus came from Leigh on Sea, and my mother and I (and later my sister) would go there in the summer for the beach. If you wanted to go to Southend you had to change in Rayleigh and catch the 251 which came all the way from London or the 11 from Chelmsford. We did however get an odd bus (number 13) on Thursdays only (Rochford market day) which went up Coventry Hill and then via Canewdon, Stambridge and Rochford into Southend. This bus stopped right outside our house, and so it was a convenient if lengthy alternative, which my mother seemed to prefer. In ones later teenage years you got to know the times of the last buses from Rayleigh and Southend pretty well – as to miss them meant walking. There was always a convivial atmosphere on the last bus home amongst the “lads” of their village describing their adventures of the evening.
Another early memory from Hullbridge school, is that this was before they built their own pool, so we would be bundled aboard a rickety old coach and taken to Battlebridge ( I think the old coach avoided Watery Lane and went via Rawreth) which had a public pool down the little road past the” Hawk”. I presume that this actually filled from the river, anyhow it never did my swimming abilities much good, but I remember the highlight as being given money to buy an Eccles cake afterwards. My mother would actually swim in the Crouch, at Hullbridge, from a little beach that the caravan park owners created.
Growing up in the village I belonged to both the cubs and the scouts, Bill Trower being the scout leader. The recreation ground was the centre for impromptu football – with Andy and Stevie Polley and others. We followed the Hullbridge Sports matches, and eventually formed our own sort of junior team travelling in the fish and chip shop van. One day while hanging around the recreation ground – Keith Whittaker prevailed upon me to play for the cricket team (I presume a player had failed to turn up) and I played with them for two seasons before going to University. That first season – every game catches would come my way and seemed to mostly stick – so I ended up with the most catches other then the wicketkeeper. I suspect however that my skills were more highly valued as scorer rather than player, and that is what I was doing when we won the knockout contest pictured on the website Gallery Cricketersand received the trophy from the then Essex captain Brian Taylor.
So happy memories of growing up in Hullbridge. I am just amazed to read others contributions and remember people from those times, many of whom I knew, but some of which I never knew that they had a Hullbridge connection.