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Hullbridge Village History

Guided to Hullbridge.

The memories of Sylvia Wortley

Married into the Wortley family.

Sylvia was brought up in Leigh-on-Sea, and when asked how she met her Husband Dick she recalled that her father was a bus driver for the Westcliff Motor Bus Company whose bus terminated in Rayleigh. During his stops in Rayleigh Mr ?? would visit the local shops and became friendly with many of the shop owners who would often offer him a cup of tea.

At this time Rayleigh was blessed with many fine Butchers one of which was Parrs the "Pork" Butchers. They were situated in the High street just before the Square as you came down the hill from Trinity Church, they were later to move to new premises just before the Crown Inn, almost opposite where the buses stopped.
The Parr's had a son Derek who worked in the shop and one day in conversation over a cup of tea, Sylvia's father happened to mention about his daughter being roughly Derek's age and Mr Parr suggested that Sylvia should come over some time so they could meet her. Sylvia did find the time to go with her dad and meet and become friends with the Parr family.

One of the Parr's closest friends was the Carr-Jones family who lived in a big house up Hockley Road. They also had a son, Michael who was friendly through school with Dick Wortley. The Carr-Jones family had a large garden and often had garden parties to which Sylvia was invited. It was at these parties that Sylvia and Dick got to know and like one another. It was not long before they were going out on dates and one of their favourite haunts was the Regal Cinema in Rayleigh. Love overcomes many boundaries and the couple would often cycle between Leigh and Rayleigh in order to see each other.

Sylvia recalls that Dicks family started of with a Butchers near Chelmsford owned by his father Harry. Whilst the family where there they were blessed with two children, a son Jack and a daughter May. The family eventually moved to Rayleigh where they were further blessed with 4 other children, Dick, Rob, Roy and Iris.

Their Butchers shop was situated at ?? High Street. The shop had its own stable in the backyard which is where they kept their horse and trap which was used for making deliveries and commuting. Harry was on good terms with the landlord of the Anchor Inn in Hullbridge, Mr Alf Moss and would often ride down to the village on Sundays for a ale or two and some local banter with the villagers and landlord. Harry despite living above the shop in the High Street purchased a bungalow in Highfield Crescent, Rayleigh as an investment for his children.

Dick and Sylvia's was a war-time romance. Sylvia was at this time working as a clerk at the Coal Exchange in Thames Street near London Bridge and was making daily commutes by train into Fenchurch Street Station. When she started work Sylvia was only fourteen and a half years old and so the large building made a huge impression on her and she recalls that it had Roman Baths in the basement and a large domed glass roof.

A drawing of the opening of the Coal Exchange around 1849 by the Prince Consort. A lithograph drawing approx., 1849 of the dome inside the Coal Exchange. The building is 4 storeys high
							and stands on a corner. The corner of the building that is facing the artist has a 3 tiered tower
							culminating with a coned roof with a ball on the point. The first tier is as high as the second storey
							and has thre arches The second tier is less wide but goes one storey higher than the roof of the
							building A Photograph approx., 1949 of the dome inside the Coal Exchange.

Sylvia recalled that going up to London during the war left you wondering each day whether it would be a completely different place you came back to the following day. Sometimes Dick would say to Sylvia let's meet down in Southend and would still be there at 9 o'clock at night still waiting patiently for Sylvia's train to pull into Southend Central Station. During the war not many trains ran on time. When Sylvia eventually arrived they had just enough time to have a tea or coffee in Rossi's which was situated on the corner of Clifftown Road, near the station. Dicks eldest brother was first to be called up by the Army the others being too young at the time. Eventually Dick was called up into the army and was sent to India as a Corporal and a Butcher. Bob joined and was sent to Germany.

There was often little suggestions from Harry Wortley that Dick and Sylvia should get married and thereby stop all the cycling between Rayleigh and Leigh and it was on VJ-Day that Dick proposed to Sylvia amid the celebrations being held in Rayleigh High Street. The couple set a date and were married at Trinity Church, Rayleigh on a Monday afternoon in 1946, the Monday was traditionally the Butchers half day.

During the war Harry Wortley was forced to allow the bungalow in Highfield Crescent to be occupied and so an old couple moved in. After the war the bungalow was returned to Harry, but the occupiers had not taken good care of it so when Dick and Sylvia, who had been living with Dick's parents above the shop, were allowed to move into the bungalow. They had their work cut out to bring it back to its former glory. The bungalow was a happy home for them both and soon Sylvia was expecting her first child who was born in 1951 a daughter Janet and in 1955 they had a son Anthony.

Whilst Dick and Sylvia were living in Rayleigh both were helping out in the shop. Sylvia learnt to drive and remembers that not soon after passing her test she found herself being asked to deliver some meat to a family in Fountain Lane, she finds it very amusing nowadays when she thinks of the pickle she got herself into trying to get the van down the lane, she could not see how she could get the van down either Fountain or Folly Lane and so she gave up and returned to Dick with apologies and told him he would have to deliver the meat.

Sylvia also recalls the time the "Whalehide" shop next door whose business was making pots caught fire around 1958. On this day Dick was taking back Sylvia's mother to her home in Leigh, leaving Sylvia with Janet and Anthony in the shop. She heard a commotion and was later told that the fire had been alight in the building for some time and then just ignited even more. She remembers being concerned about what Dick might think when he saw the flames as he traveled back down the Arterial Road.

Wortley Butchers comes to Hullbridge.

Many of the villagers in Hullbridge traveled into Rayleigh to purchase their meat and they either went to Webster's, Blacksall's or Wortley's. Mr Wortley saw an opportunity to corner the market in Hullbridge and leased a small "lockup" shop at 139 Ferry Road, next door to a hardware merchants. Sylvia being an experienced cyclist was often called upon to take meat from the shop in Rayleigh and deliver it to the shop in Hullbridge which was being run by Jack Wortley at the time. The shop was named H. Wortley Family Butcher.

A Photograph donated by Sylvia Wortley of Harry Wortley's first shop in Hullbridge

Harry had purchased some land in Hullbridge, using Mr Little, who was his preferred local Estate Agent. Upon his return from the Army Jack moved into Station Road, Rayleigh and started work in the "lockup shop" in Hullbridge, at the same time work had started on a new shop with living accommodation above in Hullbridge, next to the Village Hall. Upon its completion Jack and his family moved in.

A photograph donated by Sylvia Wortley of Harry Wortley's 2nd shop to be run by Jack and Dick Wortley A Photograph donated by Sylvia Wortley of Jack Wortley in his new car outside the new Butchers premises.

Around 1960 Dick, Sylvia, Janet and Anthony moved from Rayleigh into No.?? Abbey Road. At that time Abbey Road was still in development, there was no Monksford Drive and Priories, all around there were pegs in grounds laying out the foundations of properties to be developed. The concrete road stopped 100 yards further on from Dick and Sylvia's new home and recommenced a further 300 yards onwards. An orchard separated the two parts of Abbey Road.

Anthony would walk out the back garden and traipse across the field behind and walk down to his friends Barry and Ruben Woods who lived in the first bungalow as you entered the village. Their father ran a tree felling business.

When the family moved to Abbey Road Janet was around 9 an important age with regard to someone's education, she was nearing the all important 11 plus exam. So as not to disrupt her education Janet carried on going to school at Love Lane which meant a daily bus trip whilst Anthony being much younger attended Hullbridge Primary. When Janet was 11 she wanted to go to the same school as her friends which was Fitzwymarc. Unfortunately Hockley Secondary Modern had recently opened and to ensure sufficient number of pupils attended the new school the council arranged for coaches to ferry children to and from Hullbridge and Hockley including those that had started going to Fitzwymarc. There was no way the council was going to let any children from Hullbridge go to any school other than Sweyne in Rayleigh. Dick and Sylvia tried their best to convince the council that it would be best for her to go to Fitzwymarc, offering arguments that she could go to her Grandparents at lunch time and when it was time to go home and as he was working there he could look after her. No matter what argument they could put before them the council would not budge and so it was with an initial reluctance that Janet joined the children from Hullbridge that went to Hockley.

As the family were moving into Abbey Road so Harry Wortley had work started on building a bungalow next to the Butchers in Ferry Road. Upon its completion Harry allowed his son Bob and his wife June to move in. Bob's heart was not in the Butcher trade and he eventually moved out and started a mushrooming business North of the River Crouch. Dick's other brother Roy took over the business in Rayleigh and was helped by his wife June and Mrs Messenger who was already the cashier, and when the business was bought out by Byfords some years later she was still employed by Byfords as their cashier.

A drawing by Bob Wortley of the bungalow before it was converted into a shop.

With Dick and Sylvia living in Hullbridge, Dick started working with his brother Jack in the Hullbridge shop which had a name change to H Wortley and Sons.

Clipping from 1968 Local Review Newspaper showing Jack and Dick working in the Butchers Shop in Hullbridge.

When Bob and June moved out of the bungalow Dick, Sylvia and the family moved in. Dick was ambitious he had purchased a Butchers in Springfield and wanted to provide Sylvia with a business of her own and they decided that the village needed a Dry Cleaners. They started going about converting the front of the bungalow into a shop. The conversion was a flat roof extension added to the front of the bungalow which was to be the shop windows and entrance, then the two front bedrooms where knocked through into the extension thereby providing the shop. The two bedrooms that were lost were recovered by building into the roof and the lounge which was lost because of the stairs was recovered by extending the back.

Dick was in great demand, what with his own butchers shop and Sylvia's Cleaning business he was also asked by the new Butcher's in the village, the Taber family to help them out. Sylvia still finds things at that time very strange and everything seemed to "Tie in" as an uncle of Vic and Tony Taber use to have a wholesale haberdashery at Southend and it was there that Dick and Sylvia would do their shopping for Sylvia's business.

With Anthony joining the Scouts Dick started helping Bill Trower and Alex White when the the troop went away at weekends. Sylvia recalled that she would always look forward to Easter when the Scouts would always be going away, She would shut up the shop and would be able to get a millions things done that she would not normally be able to get done when Dick and Anthony were around.

Bill Trower was involved in Hullbridge's Philatelic Club along with Brian Morris. Dick also had a love of stamps and he also joined. The club started off at Sweyne School and when Dick died Sylvia carried on the membership and is still an active member today.

Hullbridge's cycle shop was originally on the corner Ambleside in a newly built red brick shop, this was later taken over by Hullbridge Ceramics and then converted to flats.

When Jack decided to sell the business he sold it to Lynn and Keith Griffiths around 197?

Dick and Sylvia both helped out St Thomas's Church and Syvlia became the Church's Warden.