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Hullbridge Village History

Hullbridge Memories.

The memories of Harry R. Wright captured by Jenny Howard 1985

Harry loves Cake !

Harry lives in Rose Cottage at the end of Ferry Road by the river. He has kindly agreed to tell me his memories from his childhood providing I bring the cake to have with our tea. Here is what he told me:-

Hullbridge Chapel

The ruins stood in the grounds of Mrs Smith's cottage and very near to the roadside. The ruins stood quite high, about as high as the 1st floor windows of Wharfdale, shaped with the apex remaining on the gable end. The stone pulpit remained and as a child he and his friends used to dress up and pretend at election times to be candidates giving public addresses from the pulpit, just like the proper candidates did.

People used to always hurry past the ruins at night, perhaps it was because older boys of the village used to make turnip lanterns with candles in that were placed on stakes in the ruins, trying to scare people in the dark.

1st bus to Hullbridge.

One day the headmaster announced to the school that around 3.30 the 1st bus to run to Hullbridge would be coming past the schhol. When he made the announcement it was the first time Harry had seen the headmaster smile (except when he was canning someone !).
At 3.30 the Headmaster blew a whistle and all the children stood on their desks, looked out of the windows and waved Union Jack flags as the bus passed by.

The Barges.

Harry's father worked on the barges in particular the "Daisy Maud", and he states that the river traffic of these boats was considerable, so much so that the only way he knew his father was back home was when he saw the red hand "Bob" flying from the mast. The barges came to Hullbridge primarily carrying coal and cobbles and flint for road making. Harry reckoned there was about 1 foot of cobbles on his end of Ferry Road.
When the barges berthed at the wharf two men were used to unload them. They would get in the hold of the barge and load the goods into a large basket and then carry it out and onto the wharf. They used to place the basket on their heads which were protected by a band or hood of woven straw. Sometimes they would tip the contents directly into a waiting horse and cart. The strain on these men's bodies were incredible and Harry recalls his brother being one of these workers until he found his legs kept giving way.
The Bargees heading for Battlesbridge, knowing villagers were not too well off would kick, on purpose, pieces of coal overboard as they passed Hullbridge so that when the tide went out the villagers could collect the coal to dry out and use on their fires.

The Old Anchor Pub

Next to where Harry lives today were two buildings, one the river side was a general store/ and on the other side was the Anchor Inn. Opposite the Inn was a tobacco sweet shop.
Behind the old Inn was a barn with a loft with steps leading up to a balcony, this was where the new Anchor now is. The barn was where the then ferryman Mr Gunn, who lived in a cottage next to the "Snuggery" (the barn / cowshed that is now the Smugglers Den), would rest when his services was not required. He would tie up his oars securely and leave them outside the loft entrance. He relied on Harry and his brothers to give him a shout when someone needed to use the ferry.

The pub shut at 10 p.m. and anyone found out after 11 p.m. would be stopped by the police. This happened to Harry's father. One morning he left a house at Coventry Corner at 1.30 a.m. and was stopped 4 times whilst returning home down Ferry Road.

The brick workers were so poor and badly dressed that they were not allowed into the Anchor Inn. Harry used to go and get their beer and take it to them

The River.

The river in Harry's time was not polluted and was a main source of food for many with shellfish, dabs, eels etc., in an abundance. Harry recalls that he saw 9 porpoise in the river at the same time.

Work.

Mr Smith lived in Montague House (what is now Simla Restaurant) and as well as having an orchard alongside , the produce from which he and Mrs Smith sold outside their property, they had a large garden that they got Harry to tend, paying him with stale cake.