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Hullbridge Village History

Hullbridge Youth.

The memories of Brian T Sangwin

62 years and still love it.

Having moved to the village 62years ago in 1948, I have seen many changes, not that I remember much about the early years as it was 2 days before my 1st birthday.

I lived in a Bungalow in Hillcrest Avenue with my mum, dad and older brother Doug.
Hillcrest along with almost every other road was unmade to the point when at times it was only accessible by foot. As I got older I remember my parents making a footpath through the trees to Oakleigh Avenue with ashes from our old grey boiler, and coal fire in our lounge. This was the only form of heat as at the time we had no electric, our lighting was from gas lights sticking out the walls, I can remember the mantles glowing, holes burning in them, reminding dad that they needed to be changed.

Not sure of the dates, but my dad Tom, was an electrician, and he wired our bungalow ready for the immanent supply of Electricity coming from the Eastern Electricity Board. The work parties slowly came down the road with big drills on the back of a lorry, making holes for the poles which would eventually have the wires attached to bring the supply. The smell of the creosote coating the poles was so memorable. It was amazing when we were actually able to just switch on a light!

We still only had a wireless for entertainment, although my mum Jessie, did play the piano, which was in our Lounge. Mum actually played from time to time in the Mayfield Country Club, which was run by Earnie, and Peggy Swinscoe. As for the wireless, it was as big as tea chest, it had to be big to house the battery, which was like a car battery, it had to be charged every now and then, and before we had electric we had to carry it down to Mr Chamberlain who had a radio shop which was where the Hairdressers next to the fish shop is now.
We had an outside toilet at the end of a path at the back of the house. My dad had to bury the contents every week in the garden. No wonder we had so much fruit from our trees !

My mum would shop at what is now Onestop, we called it the "Post Office" run by Vi Palmer, with Beattie Carr standing on a box at the counter on the Post office side. There was always a telephone box outside which I remember having 2 buttons, push buttons A, and B if you wanted your money back. The number I can't remember, but it was 23 something, 3 numbers as did all the others that the luckier people had with private phones.

Opposite the Trunlies run a pig farm, which is now Mapledene. Down the Ferry Road a bit was the Mayfield Club, and behind the club a room was used as the Doctors Surgery, the waiting room was a conservatory, Dr Jolliff if I remember correctly, later to be the Kendals who eventually had a new surgery built opposite.
Directly opposite was a sweet shop, run by Mr Elliot, later taken over by councilor Earnie Long, who eventually had Long lane named after him for his contributions to the village.

Down Ferry Road further towards the River was a Greengrocer opposite the School, this was run by the Tower family, who also had a pick farm on the ground where Wallis close is now.

The School then only had 4 glass rooms, the 2 middle rooms had a divider which was opened to make one big room for assembly days. The end class to the right was knocked down to make a road to the back of the school for more class rooms. I remember all the kids and mums would go to the door on the side of that room for their first visit. The Weeping willow tree at the front of the school was planted by my brothers class, I think to commemorate the Coronation. Nice to see its still going strong long after my brothers death in 2000.
I used to look after, with others, the Rabbits at the School, and I remember this gave us access to do a bit of scrumping. The crab apples were really good. Talking of crabs, there was a Miss Crabb who had a really high club shoe, and 2 old fashion crutches, which went under her arms, and were made of wood, she I think was the School secretary.

In the summer holidays one of the attractions was to go to near Pevensey Gardens, actually on the field opposite the scrap yard which was then owned by Mick Mellia. It's now the car breakers, but then, every summer hay stacks would be built there, and at threshing time we would go armed with sticks, and our trousers tied at the ankle. The reason to kill as many mice as we could. Very cruel thinking of it now.

As a young boy both me and my brother would always take part in the Village Carnivals, dressing our bikes with crape paper, which my mum had sewn up on her machine to make them crinkly. My mum was a member of the W.I. who also entered floats, there was always a number marching bands, and I recall a man called Jonny Foyle, who dressed almost like the Loan Ranger on his horse. In later years my dad would take the boot lid off his mark 1 Ford Cortina, and put the Carnival Queen in it.

Dread the thought now, but we used to go down to the River, and ask old Jock, who lived on a house boat on the river in front of what is now the Up River Yacht Club, and ask if he had any dinghies we could go for a row in. He used to look after several for yacht owners while they were away, some times a shilling would persuade him.

At the top of the hill on Ferry Road opposite Jack Wortleys the butchers, was Thorpdene Ave although you wouldn't know it as any type of road. We would go to the end of it where there was some sort of wide trench full of water, it was full of all sorts of newts, which we would take home in a bucket. No houses there then.

Moving on some years when we went to school at Rayleigh Secondary Modern, when it had rained I had to go to the bottom of Oakleigh Ave in wellies as it was always very muddy, and leave them under a bush until I come home. The bus would go along the Hullbridge Road, and sometimes when another bus came the other way it would have to go onto the verge to enable them to pass, and on the odd occasion actually went into the ditch !

The evening meeting places were the Youth Club at the Village Hall, (now the Gold Lion takeaway), and later the Wayfarers Cafe, which had pinball machines, this is now the Simla. I can still picture Derek who ran it with his wife Ann.

As you can imagine having lived in the village for over 61 years I have seen all the trees which lined Ferry Road disappear, All the houses built in Abbey Road, Keswick, and Thorpdene, and the population rise from 600 to over 6000. In my time I have been involved with the Community Centre for some years along with Chris Morgan and others, and am now heavily involved with the Sports Club, and have loved nearly every minute.

I look forward to many more memories.

All the above is based on my personal recollections, I hope that others may remember the same things.