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Hullbridge Village History

Crabbe family of Hullbridge.

The memories of Kim Crabbe

Crouch Stores

Hi, there is so much to tell so I will do so in installments and hope I keep you interested along the way. Two of my cousins have already written their memories:-Rosemary O'Daye and Peter Rogers.

My Grandfather Crabbe was Alfred Martin and his brother Arthur William, they were both born in Kensington in the late 1800's. Grandfather married Emily Selina Day whose family came from Stondon Massey, Essex. Gran Emily Selina was very important to me in my lifetime. Grandad Mac and my father built a bungalow with a small shop on the front. It was built almost on the land where the Mission hall had been. They called it Crouch Stores,it was here that Grandad and Grandma lived with Grandma's father, Charles William Day when he returned from Canada in 1935. The stores was taken over later by Mr Short. advert for Crouch Storesbut the name remained. I understand the stores changed hands a number of times and has now been knocked down and replaced by houses. Grandfather was in The Royal Marines and RNAS before and during WW1, after he built boats and one was sunk in the Crouch after being hit by a corn laden barge, the remains were still on the mudbank opposite where Jock Wallace's houseboat was moored.

Jock was a naval friend of my grandfather Mac.

Just up the road my uncle and his family had a bungalow "Vinnsmead". Uncle Arthur and Aunt Jenny (Sarah Jane) had a daughter Hilda who caught Polio as a child. I'm sure many of the older villagers will remember cousin Hilda as she was the school's secretary for a number of years and she also got around the village on her invalid bugggy which had a motor and was long and black, no roof just a rainproof canvas type cover over the front of her with a bycycle chain type drive that she turned by the pedals up high where the steering wheel would have been. 2 bycycle wheels on tyres at the back and a low small wheel at the front which was the chain drive.

The Norman's of Pooles Lane.

My Mother's maiden name was Winifred Amelia Norman and the family lived down Pooles Lane. Her parents were Charles William Norman, an Army Cavalry officer and Rose Bruff. Mum was born in Walthamstow as was her sisters Elaine, Gladys, the twins Doris and Lily who was cousin Peter Rogers' mum. The family moved to Pooles Lane, Hullbridge and they had twins Doris and Lillian (Peter Roger's mum), then they came to Hullbridge and Ernest Charles their only son was born there in 1926. Unfortunately he died in 1927 of Meningitis. He and my Granddad, Charles Norman, are both buried in the churchyard of St Peter and St Paul, Hockley. They lived at what was then 4 Pooles Lane (The Brick Cottages). Grandad Norman had a sister, Aunt Mill (Millicent Joselin) who lived next door. Gran Norman had a brother James Henry Bruff who owned the Nurseries in Rawreth Lane. This was later taken over by the Reed family who later sold the land for housing development.

Mum and her sisters went to Hullbridge school and Mrs Ida Street taught her as she did my sisters, brothers and I some years later. Mum left school at 14 and went to work in a laundry and was often ill so my Grandma employed her at Crouch Stores which was how she met my father, she being 17 and he 31.

Central Avenue.

In the bitter winter of 1946/7 we lived with Auntie Mill (Millicent Norman Pooles Lane) while dad was negiotiating the purchase of the land and 4 Central Avenue (2 different sellers). I had a Golden Cocker Spaniel, Jimmy, that my dad bought for me when I was born and he dug a hole in Auntie Mill’s feather quilt and mattress one afternoon when he had been left alone, she was so mad she almost threw us all out in the pond opposite. Jimmy died aged 13 yo and is buried somewhere near to the left of the entrance gate of the 5 acrestogether with several cats and kittens. Mum and dad purchased 4 Central Avenue along with 5 acres of land opposite Central Avenue on Lower Road (Wyncote Farm). I along with my siblings Mary, Brian aka Billy then Bill, Kathleeen aka Kate were born at 4 Central Avenue, Pamela aka Pam was actually born in the ambulance ON Battlesbridge 13th Dec 1948 and John Alfred AKA Jac was born in St John's Hospital Chelmsford. I was named Elizabeth and back then all the kids called me “Lizzie dripping” which I hated, loathed and detested. My Grandma came to the rescue when she came to live with us and said my name would be Kim and told me the story of the Kimberley Diamond mine in South Africa and so I have been Kim ever since. I like the girls of my age and especially the friends of my sister Mary ( like Heather ?? who lived at 6 Central Ave and married I believe a Terry Patching from the village!!) but I got one very well with the boys especially those from farming families.

My Father bred pigs on the 5 acres and grew vegetables that we used to sell from the field gate, also chickens, eggs, along with fruit from the garden. That was a hard life trying to make ends meet, so we were not wealthy, in fact we were quite poor. If things weren't bad enough we had “Colorado beetle strike’ on the potato crop one year. Another year thieves came just before Xmas and stole all the chickens that Father would sell locally. This was one of the good earners we hard for the poultry meat and eggs. He bred “Essex Saddlebacks and Large Whites”...the best for breeding and the rest for pork or bacon.... I was told by Father that after the war for every pig killed the Govt. took a compulsory half for a pittance. The pigs he had slaughtered were to get pork and bacon which was salted in the loft...no freezer back then. The 5 acre field is still there and unbuilt on, with the same buildings my Father put up or they were in 2009 when I last visited. The one thing I hated then were the rats that came into the pighouse. I have a fear like no other even to this day and I have seen some sights in my life but cannot even cope with seeing a rat on the TV nor in a newspaper, book or magazine.

We had a skewbald pony called Poppy that the Gypsys ‘broke’ and sold to us. They used to come to camp on our land every year to help with the work, Father gave them a chicken every weekend and plenty of veg. They never stole even an egg from us and the sight where they pitched their caravan, was as clean as a new pin when they left. The same family returned every year and were very welcome.

We used to go to Wickford market via Watery Lane and Battlesbridge on Poppy and her cart to buy fencing, grain, animal feed, Welly boots and clothing and to sell some of our home produce things too.

I left Hockley to go to live with my Fathers sister Nellie Terry in Sussex where I went to a private college for a couple of years and then joined the WRAF 1959. I lived with my mouth wide open in this huge new world as you can not imagine how different it was from getting up at the crack of dawn for my delivery of newspapers which had to be collected from the Mr Long's newsagency shop half way down the Ferry road and then ride all the way back again to the Dome Caravan site on Lower Road, rush home often cold and wet in winter to wash, eat and get changed into uniform , then walk down to Coventry Corner to catch the bus to school in Rayleigh. Rayleigh Technical as it was then called had a uniform that was scarlet and silver grey in summer and navy in winter. I got run over by a workman's coach one dark morning when the Council were doing road works on the road from Coventry Corner it reversed right over my bike which was badly damaged and my life was saved by a workman who heard me cry out.. STOP, PLEASE STOP !! .

My life seemed to be constant work. Work morning and work after school, weekends and more work except for the Summer holidays when I was allowed to go to stay with my Grandmother Emily Selina Crabbe in Boscombe, Hampshire by the sea. Mind you this all gave me a good base that I used when I started out on my own for renovating old stone built farmhouses, 2 in Devon and one here in La Pays de la Loire in France where I have lived for the past 20 years. .

I actually left home about 2 days after I left school which would have been summer 1956 but I think my family stayed there until about 1959/60. I know they moved and forgot to write to tell me as I was in Munchen Gladbach, Germany then.

Things aren't aren't what they used to be.

Many of my family are buried in St.Peter and St.Paul churchyard, Hockley. I visited Central Ave and the churchyard in mi-1980’s and again in 2009. I couldn’t find my Great Grandfather nor Grandmothers grave and I didn’t recognize Hullbridge. I am certain they levelled out Coventry Hill...no more water running along the side of Watery Lane and my Dad’s Farm aka Wyncote Farm all overgrown. The sale of 4 Central Avenue happened while I was in the WRAF so I dont know the details although I believe he didn’t sell the land until later as he had always hoped to build a bungalow on the land for the family and then when planning was refused he gave up hope but he told me he had retained the frontage in case permission was given as he was convinced it was only a matter of time before Hullbridge and Hockley would expand and small plots like his would be granted permission. I have no evidence of this and when I last visited I asked a lady living in a house opposite the field about the owners she said it was a bother and sister with horse who had fallen out and the horse taken away. Long Lane was just a mud track back in the 50’s and the corner where there are builings now was where the Gypsies used to camp next to a pond.

I also remember Jock living on the half submerged houseboat as he was a friend of my grandfather and taught me to row a dinghy, sail, swim and where was the best place to go finding winkles. PS....Just found an official document of my G/Grandfather Charles William Day dated February 1937 and the adress is Crouch House, Ferry Lane, Hullbridge