Hullbridge Village History
My complicated family
Gran and Granddad (Fanny/Francis Ransom and Henry Robert Low)
The complexity of my family's story all starts with the marriage in 1897 of Fanny Ransom to Henry Robert Low, both were born in 1878 in the district of West Ham and according to the 1901 Census lived at 22, Katherine Street, Silvertown and in the 1911 Census at 11 Arthur Street, Silvertown right opposite the Chemical Works. These are my Grand Parents.
I have been told fairly recently by my aunts that Henry Roberts first wife, my father's mother was called Francis
and that she was killed by a direct hit from a German bomb and that she had nine children (8 boys and 1 girl also called Francis who died young).
Grandfather worked on the docks.
I have since found out via Gary Congram that the explosion was not as a result of a German bomb but most likely as a result of a fire breaking out in the melt-pot room.
Click here to read an account of the 1917 Silvertown explosion
In the 1911 Census it listed Henry Robert and Fanny as having exactly as my aunts stated, 9 children one of which had died. There were 7 boys Henry Thomas aged 13, George David aged 10 (my father), John Edward aged 9, William Albert aged 7,the twins Tom Ransom and Frederick James aged 5 and Albert Charles aged 1. The daughter was called Frances Eliza aged 11. There were three other children yet to be born one was in 1911 a son Sidney R, 1914 a daughter Lille S who died in 1919 and Robert J who was born at the beginning of 1917.
Gary has also highlighted to me some interesting facts they are:-
In 1881 Fanny's first home was at 21 Katherine Street aged 3 the daughter of Henry and Eliza who both came from Cambridge. This was just across the road from where she would set up home with Henry Robert in 1901.
In 1891 Fanny (although written as Jenny) was living with her parents and siblings at 11 Arthur Street the same place as she was at in 1911.
Fanny's death was registered in 3rd quarter 1918 in the District of West Ham.
Henry Robert's occupation was Gas Pipe Fitters Labourer at the Rubber Works. The Rubber Works where converted to the Chemical Works.
Aunts and Uncles
In 1916 the first of several deaths of my fathers siblings occurred when Frances Eliza died, followed by William Albert 1921, John Edward 1922. All three I have been informed by the family died of TB.
Dad's youngest brother was Robert, Malcolm's dad and he served in the 2nd World War in Egypt and he met my aunt Eileen in Grantham in Lincolnshire and they got married. They moved into the village and lived in the bungalow down Pooles Lane. When Malcolm was born dad, put me under his mac like he did when he took me to see the football, I hated football ! and took me down to see him. Aunt Eileen had these very small Japanese coffee cups they obviously made a huge impact on me as I can still picture them now. They had another son Jeffrey before they moved out to Lincolnshire because of Uncle Bob's job where they stayed with Aunt Eileen's parents. Her father lived to he was over 90 and when his wife died he lived in a caravan that was on my aunt and Uncle's land up at the top of Central Avenue. You can read Aunt Eileen's memories here.
Step Gran and Granddad (Elizabeth Ann Moles /Abbs and Henry Robert Low)
Samuel Abbs in 1911 was a Labourer at the Rubber Works and lived at 39 Barge House Road, Woolwich. He was married to Elizabeth Ann Abbs (nee Moles) in 1904 and they had
4 children: Sophia aged 6, Samuel aged 4, Bertram aged 2, Reginald aged less than 1 month.
Step Gran was supposedly married before this and had a son, Frederick aged 13 but her so called husband was a biggamist, so she was not married. Frederick adopted the Abbs name when his mum married Samuel.
In 1918 Samuel passed away and in early 1920 Widower and widow Henry Robert Low and Elizabeth Ann Abbs married.
My Step-Grandmother, after she lost her husband, Samuel Abbs, bought a Drapers shop where she met my Grandfather who had also had recently lost his wife and they got married.
Between 1922 and 1930 Step-Gran and Granddad moved to Hullbridge. It seems between 1928 and 1930 they were at both addresses as dad's eldest sibling Henry Thomas
died in 1928 in Rochford but dad was born in West Ham in 1930.
Gran sold the Drapers shop and with the money she got bought the piece of land off of Mrs Charlton in 1940 and my Grandfather built Anne's Cottage on it. The land came with a large pond that my Granddad had a boat on. We used to row from one side to the other in order to go and pick Blackberries. The pond went from near Malyons Lane to the back of the Village Hall. They also had a conservatory on the end as can be seen in one of the photos below. Another photo shows my brother Alan holding our little pup called "Spotty" that we bought off of Mr Warren who was a famer down Pooles Lane. Unfortunately my Gran spilt a pot of hot tea on its back when it was very young and he nearly died. Then Spotty got bitten by an Adder and George had to suck the poison out and he survived that. Sadly though he was not meant to have a full life and he got run over in Ferry Road whilst chasing a cat. My brother was heartbroken. We had bought him from down Pooles Lane when I was about 7 or 8 and Gran and Granddad had given us som emoney to buy him.
Granddad died in 1953 and Step-Gran lived till 5th Feb 1960.
|Kathy with brothers George and Alan and cousin George at their Gran and Granddad's cottage.||Gran Eliza Anne with Alan Low standing in Elm Grove. Alan is holding xx in the background is the small abode that was next to the first Downes family home.The owner was a bit of an eccentric old man.||Gran Eliza Anne outside a shed in the garden at Anne's cottage.|
Step Aunts and Uncles
Uncle Sidney (Low) married Doris Rogers (Aunt Dol) in 1937 and they had Donald in 1945 Jennifer in 1957 and Mary.
Funny how genes work regarding hair and eye colouring. Uncle Sid and dark hair, Aunt Doll had mousey coloured hair and their daughter Mary had bright red hair and none of the colours came out of a bottle.
Uncle Reg (Abbs) married Florence Rogers (Aunt Floss / Peggy) who was Aunt Doll's sister and they had Brian, Dennis, Wendy, Jackie, Jill and Roy.
Both families lived at 104 Ferry Road then called "Melrose".
I remember my Gran ranting to me several times that Aunt Floss and Doll's parents would come down from London to visit at Christmas time and she would go on about the parents having "Bloody German" in them. This would have been just after the 2nd World War, so you can imagine how and why she felt the way she did, but she always made me laugh because she would go on to tell me that they took my brother for walks and gave him Nits and Fleas, not sure that they did, but it was just another way to have a dig at them.
The families fell out with each other and my Uncle Sid and family moved first to Wickford then back to London.
My Aunt Floss and Uncle Reg carried on living there but one day my Uncle Reg had a fatal accident. He was an electrician
and climbed up a ladder and instead of shifting it along he reached over fell and hit his head, he was unconscious for a very long time.
Aunt Eileen and Malcolm's dad sat with him for months and he had his eyes open which made it more horrifying, but eventually he died.
Mum and Dad
In 1929 David George Low, my father married Sophia E Abbs his step-sister.
Dad was born in 1901 and mum in Jan 1904. Dad was tall and mum medium height. Dad was a foreman for a local building firm that built the council houses in the village,Rydal and Conniston Villas, which is how he came to get my home. Behind the house was a thicket in which there was an oak tree about three foot tall and which is now a very large and mature tree. The ground at the back was owned by Len Bush who was a good friend of my husband and brothers. He used to keep Turkeys on a bit of ground he rented off the council before the bungalows were built.
Mum and Dad had 5 children, myself and my 2 brothers who I write about below, but like most families around that time there was also baby Doris May who was born and died in 1931 and Arthur Harold born and died 1946. Mum used to speak about them both. Mum died in 1956 quite young by todays standards and shared the same gravestone as Gran up at St Paul's Church, Hockley.
Originally my husband's parents lived up Grasmere having come from Poplar. My mother-in-law used to play the piano down at the Anchor when the coach trips used
to come down from London.
They had xx children: George, my husband: Florence my brother George's wife. Flo recently passed away and I would think many of the old villagers will remember her as the lady with the bright red lipstick. She was such an easy going lady, in-offensive. She told me she was named after her mum's sister. Living in Poplar they loved their Pie and Mash and especially their Jellied Eels.
|My In-laws, Mr and Mrs Chapman outside their home in Grasmere Avenue.|
I have a brother George Samuel H, 10 years older than me who was born in West Ham in 1930. When I was growing up he went into the Army. Whilst in the army he started courting and later married Florence Chapman my husband's sister. They married in 1950 and had George (2 June 1951), Glenn (16 May 1952), Wendy (14 June 1954) and Lorraine (1963). Flo always used to come round and visit my Grandparents when George was with the Army and we used to walk her home. Rydal Villas were at the time being built as we used to walk past them on the way to Grasmere which is where Flo was living with her parents and my future husband.
|Brother George at Gran's cottage whilst in the Army||Brother George's children Glen, George and Wendy with their dog Blackie at my home when I was looking after them whilst I was pregnant with Nelson and Flo was working down the Mousery.||Brother George and Flo Chapman.|
I also have another brother Alan who is one year older than me.
He married Denise Trew in 1964 and they had three children Victoria, David and Samantha. My younger brother committed suicide, but you can read more about that on my nephew's (David Low's memories).
Alan got himself a job doing car body repair work down Rawreth Lane, he was working with Tony Cracknell. In front of where they worked was a field in which we would go pea picking and we would see them working. Later Flo's son George worked down there till it shut.
My 2 brothers were always up at the Salt Marsh just beyond Brandy Hole, they used to go duck shooting. As they got older they got to know Bill Springwater from Rayleigh, who eventually moved to up Plumberow Mount. Bill married a woman that had moved down here, Patricia. She had two daughters from her previous marriage Beverly and Ann both were Carnival Queens and both cut hair in their mum's hairdressers called "Patricia's". Pat left her husband and re married and had two sons, Graham and Stephen Hutton. Graham still lives up Central Avenue. Any way she re married again this time to Bill and they moved up to Norfolk and eventually to Wales were she died. After her death Bill moved back to Plumberow Mount and he used to come and see me and my sister-in-law, Georgie and Glen's mum. Every Christmas he would bring us a box of biscuits. Bill was a proper genuine poacher.
In the 60's COMMENT:"It was in 1967" the Foot and Mouth outbreak arrived and my brothers went up to Cambridge with Bill Springwell and Bernie Peche that lived up Hambro Hill, to kill chickens and deal with the other effected animals. My Brother could never eat or stand the cooking of lamb after that as he could always see the carcasses being pushed with a forklift to be burnt and the smell of burning lamb thick in the air .
My eldest brother George often went down the farm and climbed the trees that were there to gather the silver strips the Germans had dropped to foil the radar.
One day my eldest brother and my husband who went to school together came back with an incendiary bomb and they took it into Mrs Carr who was an Air-raid Warden and she chased them out of the shop and gave them a bucket, so they then filled it up with water and stuck it in that !!
My father was an Air-raid Warden with a white enamel plaque with blue lettering on it. He used to go out at night round the village making sure there was no light escaping from anywhere.
He was never allowed to join the army as a result of some burns he received as a young man when he was a stoker.
I remember the "Doodlebugs" coming over, I was a toddler and my grandfather when he built the bungalow also built a dug-out and he rigged something up so that he could hear the engines flying overhead. I was often be in bed with my brother and gran and granddad listening to them coming over.
My Gran kept a couple of tins on the shelf in her kitchen and it was full of pieces of shrapnel.
In the grounds of the bungalow was a large pond and there were ducks and geese on it and a row boat that Granddad would used to go Blackberry picking. Next to the bungalow was some waste ground, where the Village Hall was erected and further down at the back of the Post Office was a little stream with a bridge over it. When I was a kid near the bridge were a load of rotting boats and I was told that during the war these boats were put there in case the Germans came along and used them ?
I was born in 1941 in Rochford Hospital and when the family was at what was then 4 Rydal Villas, then Rydal Close. Now we have had a letter
from the council saying it is 189 Ferry Road. I was actually born at Rochford Hospital. I married my husband George Chapman at Southend Registry Office 29th March 1952 but we already had a family with Pete and Julie then came along Nelson. Being honest
about it we got married for the tax rebate, it was quite a fair amount in those times. All three of our children went down the road to school but Pete and Julie
went to Greensward while Nelson went to Park.
BUSY MID WIFES
Mona (nee Moore) Pinkerton's brother lived in one of the semi bungalows by White Post Bridge on Lower Road. He had a wife and two daughters Sylvie and Jean Moore.
Jean went out with my brother Alan for a while and Sylvie married Bob Medynski and they had three boys David, Graham and Robert.
When I was having Peter in 1952, Sylvie was having Graham and we both had Mavis Watkins as our mid wife. Graham was born one day earlier that my Peter on 23rd Feb 1960. Sylvie and I used to like reading romantic novels and she would hand the ones she had read to the midwife to give to me.
I did not know till Gary Congram informed me that Mavis Watkins was related to the Medynski family. As it happened the Medynski family lived next door to the Watkins family in a semi detached bungalow going up Coventry Hill on the left half way up, where the telephone exchange is today.
My Aunt Florrie , Malcolm Low's mum did not know I was pregnant and it turned out she was also pregnant and had Malcolm's brother Trevor on 9th March 1960.
I went to Hullbridge School and it was run by Mrs Smith, she was a really big built lady who had a little boy and she lived in the school house next door to the school. There was a Mrs Street she taught Maths and ?. I went to school with Eileen Pepper, Susan Richardson, Lenny Towers, David Wells, Bernie Peche, Betty White, Jan Withers, Peter Cracknell, George Boul jnr. Georgina Cuckow, Mary Saunders, Jan Withers.
Looking at some of the old photos of the school I do not remember there be a Maypole there in my time but I do remember the Willow tree.When I was at school I was so skinny that my ankle sock could never stay up they always fell into my shoes under my heels and it was not for the want of any elastic in the tops.
Coming home from school entailed going different routes. One of these if we were going home to Malyons was to go up Grasmere a little and where Rydal Villas is was thicket and a field which we would cut across into Windermere which also had a thicket along Ferry Road where the Medical Centre is today cut across that into Windermere where there was another thicket into the corner where Lee Adger lived.(next door to medical centre). At that time Lee's home was owned by Mr Hen who kept rabbits and my brother used to spend most of his time round there because he loved rabbits. Mr Hen got into Flemish Giants and Chinchilla's.
Life at school away from Hullbridge.
|Me aged 4 on first day at Hullbridge school and skinny!||Fyfield School|
When my mother had her bad nerves and she had to go away into Runwell, I was about 9 or 10, Alan and I had to go to a boarding school
in Fyfield, Ongar for 18 months to 2 years and our elder brother, who is 10 years older than me never wrote to us once to see how we were getting on
being away from home. Our friend Maureen Wren also went there the same time as us.
I was heartbroken when we had to go and I thought it was hundreds of miles away from home, if I had realised it was near Ongar I would have tried to walk home.
Mum got better, thankfully, and we were due to come home when Alan caught "Mumps", so I came home whilst he stayed with his new pals who also had caught "Mumps". They were isolated in a hut in an orchard, he loved it ! Even though it seemed at first we were 100 miles away from home it turned out to be a wonderful school where they were so kind to us, even the Lord Mayor of London came to see us. We were let home at Christmas and Alan lost two of his front teeth there when he fell on the playground whilst skating. Dad was a labourer, very hard working and he didn't earn a lot of money he kept us in food and that, we had second hand clothes. My Mum and Grandmother used to get things off of Coopers at Rochford just off of the square a big old house. It was a big store with an upstairs just like the store in "Are you being served", it had a great big long counter. My mum would get my father's hobnail boots, grey flannels and flat caps and my grandfather's long johns from there.
I was so upset on the day we were coming home because Mrs Ward had an Antique and second hand clothes shop by Coventry Corner and my mum bought a coat there for me, I guess it was a nice coat but I took an instant dislike to it. I remember it being beige and green with little flecks in it and I had to go to the school in it and at the school they put all our stuff away and they issued you with some clothes so that everybody was the same, we wore silk slips, thick black stockings with suspenders and stays, people today do not know what stays are, they were an undergarment where you clipped your suspenders onto to. And to keep us extra warm we had coloured wooly ankle socks and 2 drill slips a thick winter coat and gloves and in the summer the girls got a box of two dresses and sandals in the winter we got winter shoes. Nightdresses and pyjamas. The dormitory had highly polished wooden floors and we had woolen bed socks which were great for sliding over the floor. The doors to all the rooms were left wide open even though they were push button opening including the front door and the sparrows used to fly in and sit on the rafters and poop on your bed or you if you were unlucky. Every day the Matron made sure you had this tablet, never knew what it was for we would line up with our tongues out and she would come round put it on your tongue and made sure you swallowed it, she also checked behind your ears and that to make sure you had a good wash. We had a shower once a week. There was a young Irish woman there, a Miss Smith and she had this tall slim boyfriend and like Matron and the Sister she lived in and he would visit her at the school. She was a real cow ! she used to get this girl who could not help wetting the bed, and if she had she would turn her round and slap her hard as she could on her backside over and over again, really evil!. My friend Maureen Wren and I would help Matron and clean her room for her and she would give us a bowl of grapes and evaporated milk, which I thought was lovely. On time she took us to Brentwood to see a film with Glynnis Johns as a "Thank You".
After Fyfield I came back to the primary school for a short time and then went to senior school at Fitzwymarc in Rayleigh. They gave us children a bus pass to get to school. Our music teacher Miss Woodward she had
a big fat ruddy face, tons of makeup and one day when we were coming home from school on the bus going down Crown Hill some of the boys saw her and started
shouting out the window "Yahoo Vera!!", she had them on the carpet the next morning.
My friend Betty White and I used to like a couple of boys that were on Hambro Hill so we would walk home that way cutting across the brickfields that was there. There was loads of beautiful wild marigolds growing there. Of course I was a "Gooseberry", I was so thin that no boys looked at me, they were more interested in girls with big chests, and they thought I was too young so I was always tagging along like a gooseberry. My friends tried to pare me off with a boy called Roy Stock , but I was not having any of it. Mr Croft kept bees at the school and we was in the playground playing when they swarmed and the teachers locked the doors and windows as the kids were running in with them stick to their clothes, Betty White had a cardigan so she put it over her head, I didn't have one so I ended up with six stings in my head and they called the doctor to get them out, I was hysterical and screaming "Get them out!"
One lunch time we had Ham pie and my first lesson after lunch was needlework, well I came over so ill, I told my friend who was sitting next to me and she went up to the teacher and told her and was then promptly told to go and sit down, eventually teacher told her to take me to the washroom. Well when I got there I could not believe it there were 8 hand bowls full of sick where other girls had also been ill. They let my go and lie down and at home time the conductor let me stand on the platform and just as well as I was sick on the way home and in a right mess. I like a load of other girls had food poisoning most likely from the pie.
There was a Maypole at Fitz and I remember the one time my friend and I were selected to take part and there was a practice called. My friend and I decided not to turn up which meant two of the ribbons not being taken up so that had to cancel the practice. We were not popular the next day !
One day Mr Eddie offered myself, my cousin and Joyce Larner a lift but I refused to get in and went home and told my parents that someone had carted my cousin and Joyce off.
MY WORKING LIFE
At 15 I went to work down the "Mousery" in Watery Lane then I left and had my eldest son Pete, I was unmarried and when I eventually married my sister-in-law Flo's
brother I had two more children and they grew up with me working on the fields for Mr Beckwith picking potatoes. Whilst working down the Mousery Sandra Allen
was with me and come pay day we would go to Martin and Forbes to buy our clothes. Pencil skirts were all the rage at the time and the smallest size available was a 21,
but this was too big so I had to get them taken in at the sides.
Later on Mr Tuck provided transport for us workers in the village. I was doing my second stint down there when the children were more grown up. There were a number of drivers who would pick up at Coventry Corner. They included cousin Malcolm Low, Ray White. They also went to a coffin makers in Rayleigh and collected all the shavings which was then used as bedding for the mice.
Then myself, my two sister-in-laws and a friend
got a job with Bob Pinkerton at Hawkwell for a few years. Then I worked for Johnny Thorpe and Alan Thorpe picking potatoes and
and Roger Smith over at Carpenters Arms.
Alan Thorpe farmed over at Sheepcoats and its was always a joint thing with John helping Alan and Alan helping John. One wintery day we working in the field picking Mangels when one of the farm workers Mr Webb, who lived in one of the bungalows on Coventry Corner, threw a small Mangel over and it hit my sister-in-law on the head and her legs just buckled and she was nearly knocked out. Mangels were full of water and in the winter this turns to ice so it was like a rock hitting her. They also took us on the trailer behind the tractor over to the farm they had at Shotgate, because Johnny Thorpe's first wife's parents either owned or rented a farm over there.
Each farmer we worked for gave us different ways of collecting them. For Ken Beckwith we could do what we wanted so my mother-in-law and one of my sister in laws would tie a sack around their waist, I would use a plastic basket type thing that Ken and others provided then a tractor would come round to collect what you had picked so you had to be quick otherwise you missed the opportunity to offload and your picking would get heavier. When we went to work for Roger Smith it was really hard as we had to put them into large wooden crates, this meant instead of the farmer coming to us we had to go to the crates with our haul drop them in and walk all the way back again which could mean walking the length of a field. I did that for two days and doing that work was like the straw breaking the camels back.
The tractor would come round to pick up the pickings in the crates and I was finding I was not picking enough. I was not able to keep up with the rest of the pickers I was normally quite quick but I was feeling so ill there was no way I could carry on.
I had been told I had an under active thyroid about a year before and I was finding I had less and less energy. Then one day I went to Patricia's to have my hair done
along with my daughter who was 13 at the time and Patricia happened to comment that I was looking Jaundiced and that my hair was falling out.
Even now I am surprised that Dr Hume Kendall did not diagnose my problem earlier, he kept telling me I was anemic. Still he was suffering himself at the time as he was having to go on a
dialysis machine in his surgery twice a week.
My illness got so bad I could not walk in a straight line and I was covered in bruises. I had read articles about Leukemia and my symptoms seem a good match so I thought, stupidly, that I had Leukemia. I had been getting blood tests done regularly and on this Christmas Eve I went to Dr Kendall for the result of the last test and he said "Sit down Mrs Chapman, you have to take tablets for the rest of your life", well I was devastated, this in my mind confirmed I had Leukemia! My mind was racing away now, I was going to die, what do I need to do to help my husband and children whilst I'm still here. Dr Kendall said something like "you will feel better once they get into your system" but I was not listening properly, my mind was elsewhere. I left the surgery with my mind a mess. I went home and taught my children how to use the washing machine etc., because I honestly thought my days were numbered. My poor husband was having to do the cooking, housework and having to go to work, bless him ! I had no energy and just used to lie around waiting for it to happen. This went on for a while then I went round and saw Dr Kendall and said "I've got Leukemia, how long have I got ?", by this time I was a sorry state. He shouted at me "Kathy, you do not have Leukemia!!!" he banged his desk and spilt his cup of coffee. Well you couldn't stop me after that.
Another place I worked at was at the Dave Pinkerton's doing piece work at the Mushroom farm on the Hullbridge Road. At first it was great the ladies were wonderful,
then things changed, so much so I had to pack up working there. Just my luck 6 months after I left they were all made redundant
and received got £4,000 each. I still see David about the village.
Curly, he lived on the farm and was married to Ethel, they had a son Raymond and I went to his funeral few years ago. David Andrew and Andrew's wife Eileen Dave's wife Carol sister Mary. Jim Pinkerton owned the farm and come the summer there would be quite a number of us girls working in the fields in our summer attire. There was one girl there who had two children and was single with red ringlets right down a pretty girl. Any way Jim ran off with her and I heard they bought a farm in Cornwall. The day after he left Mona Pinkerton came down to see us girls, she was in tears and telling us how he had left her. From that moment on David and Andrew ran the farms.
I also worked for the Mr and Mrs Baker in Lovedown Farm, Lower Road when I was trying to get over the Thyroid problem. Mr and Mrs Baker originally had a plantation in India
which they sold but kept the house which they went back to several times. They had two grown up sons Howard and Martin and a daughter Paulette. Paulette lived and worked in
London. The boys looked after the farm with Mr Baker and when they were away I used to look after things for them. Mr Baker always had the Farmers Weekly and either the
Daily Telegraph or Daily Mail which I would pick up at Martins the Newsagents in the village as it was at the time, with Mr Long retiring, and take them to him.
One time just before they went to India she asked me whether I could cook, to which I replied yes she then asked if I would make them from time to time and apple pie and cook
for them a Gammon joint. I used to do so on every Tuesday and Thursday as well as cleaning the house for them. Then whilst talking to her I let slip that I loved gardening
so I ended up doing that as well for them. It was very hard work ! The home had a very large hall that led into an office and the floor was all mosaic tiled. The living room had
French doors from the hall that led to the raised patio. There were so many windows to clean. In the Dining Room was a beautiful but large dinning table which she told
me she bought at an auction. I had to clean that with Vinegar, water and lots of elbow grease.
The boys used to go down the river and do water-skiing, they kept the boat and equipment in the garage. Often when their parents were away they would have their girlfirends staying overnight, and many a time on a Tuesday I would have to knock on the bedroom door and ask for the rubbish bin.
Harry Wright was such a lovely man, he used to work with us in the fields. One wet miserable day my two sister-in-laws and I were picking Mangel's for Mr Johnny Thorpe we were standing under one of the sheds eating our lunch and Harry was eating his and I think it was Janet one of my friends made some fun of him because he had his sandwiches wrapped in newspaper, love him! He was a really polite, old gentleman he went out of his way to help us with our sacks of potatoes. I was told he was related to Johnny Thorpe.
Nelson spent many hours with his cousin David as they had a lot in common especially their love of Nature. David loves his birds as did Nelson. Nelson used to keep and train various birds. He had a Sparrowhawk that he tamed and flew on Jeff Warren's field. I think he called it "Kes", you know like in the famous film. I always found it fascinating that he could release the bird and it would come back onto his wrist. He used to go to the Craft Fairs like the Essex Show and Billericay Steam Rally and talk to exhibitors of Falconry and picked up tips and was taught how to handle the bird. The most amazing thing for me though was when he raised a Crow from the time it was a chick to the day it died. He trained it to act just like his Sparrowhawk. He would release it in the garden and watch it fly all over the fields at the back of Keswick and it would fly back over the house and he would call it and it came back to him and landed on his wrist.
|David and Nelson on a lower tier of Southend Pier.||Nelson with his trained Sparrowhawk||Nelson fishing at Southend Pier.|
|Nelson at Ray Mears camp in Kent.||Pete with Moss and their caught rabbit||Pete at Southend Pier with his catch.|
Pete, Nelson and David were keen anglers and spent many hours under the end of the old Southend Pier near the old lifeboat station, sea-fishing. The public were not meant to be there but somehow they always managed to be there and not get caught. Sometimes they would go out and spend a day on a charter boat sea-fishing and then bring their catch home gut and clean it ready for cooking.
As you have read my two brothers loved hunting and Pete and Nelson took after their uncles. Pete used to have 2 Lurcher dogs, Moss and Lass we also had Friz a little Jack Russell. Pete would take the dogs rabbiting and come home with his catch.
|Abel to leap tall fences in one bound Moss the super dog!||Lass in the Salt Marsh grass||Rose waiting for her mistress at the begining of the "Flats"|
Nelson spent two weeks with Ray Mears somewhere in Kent learning "Bushcraft and Woodlore". He was in his element learning all sorts of things that he later put to good use especially setting up a Bivouac. He did also already know many things. He told me how it rained this day and Ray Mears showed them how to light a fire using natural resources. Loads tried and failed but Nelson knew that a certain fungus and bracken were the best kindling and so he got a fire lighted pretty quick.
Nelson worked for the Environment Agency and would often see Jeff Warren and David Pinkerton when he was local.
The Half Moon and Country music.
George loved Country Music and so he was often seen in the Half Moon pub in Rayleigh High Street. There was one particular Irish folk song "An Irish Country Home"
that he particularly liked and he played it a lot on our cassette player. One night after George had died I thought I would play the song but unfortunately
the cassette player was hungry and not tuneful and chewed up the cassette. I was devastated. I hunted loads of records shops trying to buy another copy of the cassette
but with no luck. Then I came across a photo of George at the Half Moon and I wondered whether they had a copy of the cassette so I took the photo to the pub.
No sooner had I shown them they photo they said "That's Breda and George !" So I explained George was my husband and what had happened to the cassette.
They asked me to sing the tune which I did after a few drinks at the bar ! It went something like this........
. George and I used to play some wonderful music ! Pat Smith who lives up Mayfield also loved Country music and she bought in to Flo and I a cassette by Johnny Marks, not a well known artist. He used to do all the holiday camps which is where Pat got her cassette from, she also would tell us how she danced with him. She promised Flo and I she would give us a copy but it wasn't Pat that gave me the cassette that got chewed up.
|George in the Half Moon with Breda, Billy Andrews|
THE SHOPS ON FERRY ROAD
The Anchor Inn was run by a Mr Moss who had a daughter Vi Moss a son and a grandson Ronnie. Ronnie's younger brother was one of the many to drown in the River Crouch. Mr Moss used to keep racing pigeons in a hut where the Car Park joins the Anchor today. In the summer time Charabancs would come down full of holiday makers from the East End of London and in the Anchor was a piano that my future mother in law played and everybody would be singing along with her playing. And Teddy Lee used to sell cockles and prawns from outside the Anchor near the Public Bar.
The Smugglers Den All us village children went to the Coronation celebration in the "Smugglers" and we all got either a handkerchief or a mug.
The Smugglers at that time was owned by Mrs Hurdle who had two identical twin sons Michael and David. One of them stupidly got himself killed when he climbed up an electric pylon and got electrocuted. Arthur Townsend, Rob Warren and Ray White were regulars at the Smugglers. They were close friends.
Devon Tea Gardens which was on the corner of the lane that goes to the Smugglers was run by Mrs Collard.
Hullbridge Anchor Tea Rooms Nell Boul might have run this in the first place but during my time it was run by Micky Collins' sisters Kit and Rose. It was just a small place with railings around it.
George Boul's Garage
Nell and George Boul had two son's Micky and George. George was in my class, really intelligent and as my brother was never happier than when he had his
head under a car's bonnet or flat on his back looking up at the underside of a car, he was really good friends with Mr Boul so he was always next door to
the Wayfarers in Mr Boul's garage.
Nell Boul ran a dressmakers down there. It was a little building situated round the back behind George's garage. You had to walk between the Wayfarers and the garage to get to it.
When it was the Queens coronation in 1953, my aunt took me down to Nell so I could be measured. The dress was a beautiful check of red, navy and white with a classic Peter Pan white collar. On the way back from the measuring we pooped into Mrs Gatehouse's to have a cup of tea down Pooles Lane. They lived down their with some of the other old families, Lee's, Butcher's and Polley's.
Later George divorced Nell and married Mrs Hurdle.
The Wayfarers Cafe As a teenager I would go into the "Wayfarers Cafe" quite a bit. There were a couple of Irish men Patrick and John lodging in there once they were the workers who put the sewers in down Ferry Road in the 50's 60's.
The Newsagents was along the road from here near the corner of Ambleside. Mrs Carr who was an air-raid warden and Mr Launder owned it. Mrs Carr's daughter Beattie also lived there. She was a dwarf little girl and eventually went to work in the Post Office. Mrs Carr and Mr Launder sold up to Mr and Mrs Elliott. Mrs Elliott sadly died an Mr Elliott re-married and his wife came from Cornwall and she already had a daughter. When I started work down the Mousery Dad bought me a pushbike. He bought that bike off of Mr Elliott, it was his step daughters.
The Post Office was run by Mr Brown, he was a little man who wore a brown tweed jacket and brown tweed flat cap. He was there when I was very small.
Then came Vi and John Palmer when little Beattie worked for them.
John used to have a sister that came down from Wembley and she had a daughter and son. The son was called Chris Dance and had red hair. Chris often stayed with his Aunt and Uncle and used to hang around Lee Adger's Uncle Danny Adger who lived in Elm Grove. Nice boy was Chris.
Vi was Vi Moss before she married John Palmer in 1927. I remember Vi and John used to have cream cakes come in on Saturday. Cousin Mary and I used to get a big tray of cakes and bring them back so there was a cake for everybody on a Saturday, cream cakes, lovely ! I can remember Mary would not eat meat, they used to force her by not letting her get down from the Sunday table till she had eaten it. I used to sit there waiting for her to come out to play and she'd be sitting at the table staring at the meat!
When I was really small the police station on Ferry Road did not exist it was just a piece of waste ground on which the boys played football on. The Police Station was built around mid 50's if not before. My brother was into cars and sold to my husband, before we were married, a big green and red car with a running board and a red shade right down. My husband used to drive it up the road to have a drink. One night P.C. Pearce who was on his bike stopped him and put his foot on the running board and my husband just pulled away with him hanging on. Mr Simmonds he saved one young lad from drowning, because when I worked up the mushroom farm for Bob Pinkerton there was a women there Sylvie who had a son who went with her husband and one of his mates down to the river and they were cut off by the tide and P.C. Simmonds saved her son but could not save the son's mate.
Again when I was a toddler there was a green grocers, where Barclays Bank was once, this was owned by Mr and Mrs Britain whose
son went to school with my eldest brother. Then Mrs Barnes bought it whose daughter was Mrs Ford who lived across the road.
When Mrs Barnes bought it she sold wool and haberdashery then she moved across the road to the bungalow
next to Mr Longs where again she sold wool and later antiques and Knick knacks.
When Mrs Barnes died her daughter sold the bungalow. Mrs Barnes was a lovely and understanding lady
who let you have things "on tick".
The Butchers was Mr Wortley. When he first came to the village he had a little butchers shop where the hairdressers is today. Then he built and opened up a bigger shop just up the road from his first one. He had a son Neville who grew up and got married but split from his wife and he got killed in an electrical accident or something.
My Aunt was in the butchers one day when Neville Wortley was a little boy and he said something really rude to her, she was fuming and she told Jack Wortley that he should teach his kid some manners.
My husband worked for John in the Fish and Chip Shop near the Village Hall, he used to prepare the fish for him and he told me how kids would at night climb through a flap in the back door and pinch the sweets and stuff.
Next to Patricia's Hairdressing salon was Harris Turf Accountants, my husband was up there every day, I used to go in there to put his bets on.
As you turned into Ferry Road from Lower Road, on the left side was Tomlinson's Dairy. Husband George worked there for a while.
Around the village
Malyons Lane, Elm Grove and Farm
We used to have the time of our lives up at the barn because Pam Beckwith used to have a three wheeled bike and when it rained we used to get up there
and ride it round and round to see who could get nearest to the edge because there was a big drop by the door at the top and they had a big funnel
where the grain came through and Ray White used to milk the cows in there where the grain came down.
Ray's father Harry used to go up to Rayleigh market with his horse and cart and collect the ducks and chickens that people had bought and bring them home for them.
My brother was 12 when he got his first bike from a shop in Rayleigh, it was brand new and Harry brought that home in the cart. On that same day I got a doll which is
why I remember that, as I got a gift when it was not my birthday.
Ray was a bit if a character, always mucking around with us. He used to get us to do cartwheels and when he was milking the cows he would call us in and then squirt us from the cows udders. We used to think it was all good fun and giggled a lot about him.
Mr Beckwith, Bonner as he was known didn't like us climbing his either, but we did behind his back. I used to love it when I'd hear the sound of the threshing machine coming down Malyons Lane, a big red piece of farming equipment. We used to watch all the straw going up on the prong things, men at the top stacking the sheaths into haystacks and dropping them onto the ground below where we would run in between them. If Mr Beckwith saw us he'd shout at us to stop in case the stacks fell over onto us. They stored the stacks for animal feed and cover them with Green tarpaulins. We would climb to the top and jump down onto the straw below, fabulous fun. Another thing, Ken would drive my brother an me in the old van across the fields with Mangel-wurzel's in the back which we would throw out to feed the cattle.
Mr Beckwith had a large tank full of water which was for the cows, but it was also full of Goldfish. They also always had a Chow dog on the farm and one in particular
had killed 13 cats, according to Villy Beckwith. Villy (Violet) was the eldest of "Bonners'" children, but her mum was Bonner's first wife.
One day I climbed up into the top of the Cart lodge and fell through the boards and landed on my back. Fotunately I was just winded and could not talk. Some thought that was a blessing!
Granny Fielder lived in a beautiful cottage where Ken and Hazel Beckwith had their bungalow built. The cottage had and a proper cottage garden with a brick tiled windy path that led to a wooden latched door and all the typical cottage flowers. When she died a young couple moved in and Pam and I would baby sit.The husband I believe work on the farm. After they moved out the Wells family moved in. They had son Ronnie, Lol, David and Ivan. Ivan had something wrong with him. I used to go to school with David at Rayleigh. Ronnie Wells used to work with my brother George and he would come down the lane and pick him up and they would go and work for Willet a building business in Thundersley. They left there and got a job laying cables for Jackson and Faulkner.
Mr Davis lived down Malyons Lane with his wife, they had no children but they had a monkey and they lived in a caravan on a piece of land that cornered
the land of Jack Monk and Mr Beckwith. They had a goldfish pond with a bridge over it and loads of Pampas Grass.
One day when I was very young I said to my brother "I'll show how to chop wood" so I grabs the axe and started chopping, getting carried away, I lifted the axe one time and caught my head, there was blood everywhere. Gran rushed me down to Mrs Davis, not sure quite why, maybe because she did first aid as she patched me up.
There caravan was lovely but they moved down to a houseboat and lived off of that for a while. Unfortunately living on a houseboat for a monkey was not ideal and I believe the monkey drowned down there.
Next door to the Davis family was the Curry family. They had two daughters Violet and June who went to school with my sister-in-law.
Elm Grove Nursery
I became friends with Barbara Downes who moved down here from North Weald after the war and lived along Elm Grove in a small hut and tent. They were not in it for long.
The elder children slept in the tent as there was only two rooms in the hut. Mrs Downes used to do a lovely tea and would invite me and my brother.
When Barbara and her parents moved in there had been an old eccentric man who stayed in the wood hut and in the Summer would often sit outside
with a white handkerchief tied at the four corners and placed on his head. In between Elm Grove and Ferry Road ran a stream that was bridged at the
back of the Post Office. As kids we would walk by the ditch to cross the bridge and go to the Post Office. The old man did not like this and
he'd get his gun out and threaten to shoot us. Mrs Downes even sent for the police once. A photo of the old hut can be seen above with Gran and Alan in it.
I liked Mr Downes he was a real gentleman and he had several sons Alan, Brian, Clifford, Michael and Leslie, the youngest. Barbara used to say that her cousin Peter lived at the Nursery that was in Elm Grove. This was to become the Downes' home when their relation rented it to them. Barbara would also say that the relations were "coming down that weekend". At the Nursery Mr Downes grew cucumbers in the greenhouses and vegetables outside.
In the ground where their old hut was there were loads of strawberries growing and my friend Doris Simpson and I used to nip over and pick them. On the corner of Malyons Lane and Elm Grove opposite Gran and Granddad's was a field that was part of the Nursery. Before Mr and Mrs Downes moved in, the Nursery was owned by the Baker family and they grew Chrysanths., in the field. Between the Nursery and the Chrysanth field was a little hut and holiday makers would come down and stay in there.
After the Downes family at the Nursery lived the Steers family and they had a son who had a monkey.
Next door to the Nursery was a bungalow that was owned by Mr and Mrs King, This was taken over by the Owens family and then it was the home of the Allen family.
The Allen family had a daughter, a dear friend of mine Sandra Allen. I think their home was called "Sandbar" and her father was George Allen. She had a brother whom we called "Howdie"(Howard), another brother "Berkley (Edward). When my husband was ill and needed a carer to come in it was Sandra who came, obviously I was thrilled to see her but wished it was under better circumstances.
Next door to the Allens was Mr Allens sister who had a crippled daughter in a wheelchair. Elm Grove was always in a poor state so getting about in a wheelchair was virtually impossible. All the bungalows along Elm Grove had verandas.
Next to the Allen family's home was a path through some sloe hedges and then a couple of bungalows. An old lady lived in the last one and sold eggs, she was practically in Ambleside. I can't remember that lady's name.
Gran and Granddad's home was a fabulous place for us kids and we spent lots of time there. My friend and neighbour Doris Simpson were always round there. The garden was full of animals and wild flowers. There was also a hut there in which we could play when it rained, but it never had any heating in it so I used to go to the Post Office to get a pint of paraffin to put in a little lamp. My cousins Geoffrey and Malcolm had just returned back to the village from Lincolnshire and were living with my Grandparents and Doris and I taught the pair of them . Doris taught Malcolm and I taught Geoffrey and I taught Geoffrey how to spell his name. We used to have an old Orange mirror that had come off a piece of furniture which was brilliant for chalking on. We would draw a line down the middle I would have one half and he would have the other. We also had a curtain down the middle of the hut, just like the classroom at the school. When I got any pocket money I would go to Newsagents then owned by the Elliots and buy some chalks, pencils and pens etc.,
At the side of the bungalow Elm Grove side was a ditch and a really old and tall Elm tree that had pigeons nest at the top. I used to climb it all the way to the nests. It was so big at the bottom that there was no place to pull yourself up from so I banged some nails in it to get me started. When I got near to the top one time I saw my Mum and Nan and shouted out to them, when they saw me and how high I was they went mad and screamed at me to get down. When the Davis's moved out of their caravan the Crockshell family moved in. The father played football with my dad and the son played with us. The son Carl, climbed the Elm tree one day and slipped and fell into the ditch which was full of think black mud. Just as well as no telling what sort of injury he would have had.
Going along Elm Grove from Gran and Granddad's there was a old bungalow next door that was once the home of Mr and Mrs Cook who used to take me to Speedway at Rayleigh Weir. After the Cook family Reg Polley and his wife, who was a Turnbull lived there. They moved out and it became the home of a sweet old lady who lived previously with her sister in 138 Ferry Road. Her sister died and she moved to the bungalow with her black dog "Jet". It was "Jet" that bit my mother in the arm. She had just been round to Jack Wortley's to buy some liver which she was carrying, as she walked past the bungalow the dog came out tried to snatch the liver and attacked her. She had to have stitches all up her arm. I was about 12 at the time.
Next to there was a field with the wooden hut which I have already talked about and following that was another bungalow in which Jack the Postman lived.
My Grandfather would say "I'm going to blow this whistle in a minute and Jack will come and get the post". Eventually the Adger family bought the bungalow.
Next to the Adgers was Mr and Mrs Scott. Mrs Scott was my Godmother and Mr Scott played an organ. Mrs Scott owned a large plot of land that went from Elm Grove to Ferry Road. It was a wonderful garden with a large fishpond full of fish. Their son Jack built the bungalow on the land Ferry Road side. It's the bungalow that has just had windows put into the roof in between what was Bijou's and Dr's Kendall's home.
On Ferry Road next to the bungalow was were "Queenie" lived, she was a little crackers in her old age. Next to her was a field, where the Library is today. Then is just had a horse on it. Then going up Ambleside Library side was a bungalow called "Berberis" and next to that lived Mr and Miss Hodges. They were brother and sister. Granddad was best pals with Mr Hodges who had a boat down at the river, they often spent time together down on the boat. Miss Hodges was a very, very smart lady, expensive clothes, very prim and proper, she hardly ever spoke to anyone. Her garden was on the corner of Ambleside and Elm Grove and as you can imagine immaculate.
Opposite the bungalow called "Berberis" lived Great Uncle George and Great Aunt Lowell and they kept a talking parrot and grew Sunflowers in the garden so they could feed the parrot. Great Uncle George was my Grandfather's brother. He also had a piece of land up Malyons Lane. Great Uncle died when I was very little and his grave is up at Hockley Church Cemetery. I think it was about 1945. When their bungalow was sold it was bought by Jack Worltey who had the current house built for his son Neville and his family. Neville's marriage did not last and he ended up divorced and even more tragic just like in our family Neville died tragically.
Further up Ambleside lived my Aunt Poll and Uncle Jack Moles. Uncle Jack was Step Gran's brother. Aunt Polly was diabetic. They moved from Ambleside into Windermere Ave.,
Two doors up from Great Uncle George was a little old man "Pop" everyone called him and he lived well into his nineties. He worked in the Post Office as an odd job man, sweeping and tidying up. He loved going down the Anchor and having a pint. His Granddaughter was Jacqueline Pickett who I went to school with.
On the corner of Mayfield Avenue was a really old Oak tree, opposite the Mayfield Club. The club was always owned by Mr and Mrs Swinscoe, Ernie and Peggy, they had three daughters Sandra the eldest, Evelyne and Patricia who went to school with my neice. Lots of the villagers would drink in there at night. There was originally no shop but French Windows on the front and you could see everyone inside making merry! Then they opened the sweet shop and later they had freezers in there as I remember my brother sending me across to but some Tiger Prawns.
In between Oakleigh Avenue and High Elms Road are three distinct sets of houses, plain red brick at either end and a set of cream coloured rendered set further
back and in-between. These were owned by the council and known as Conniston Villas.
Before they were built, when I was about 14, it was a thicket with some beautiful large old Oak, Horse Chestnut and Elm trees. There was a very big Oak tree on the corner of Oakleigh which could be how it came to get its name. There were large Oak trees all along Ferry Road down to Coventry Corner. Come Autumn we were never short of Acorns and Conkers.
Living next to us at that time was Mrs Simpson and her daughter Doris. Doris was a good friend of mine. They lived one time up Grasmere, close to my husband's family along with the Hodges and Betty White's mum and dad. Doris and I had a wonderful time playing on the ground where Conniston Villas are especially when they were clearing the site. They had chopped all the big trees, cleared the bushes and set fire to them, we loved clambering over the fallen trees. Criminal now when you think back. My Mother-in-law, Mrs Chapman went to live in Conniston Villas in the second red house near High where the red brick ones are, the second one.
When I was 15 one of her daughter Flo was already married to my brother and her youngest daughter Elma and I would cycle to and back from work down Watery Lane to the "Mousery".
The lady who lived next door to my mother-in-law used to play the piano and her husband got badly burnt so she was having to look after her three children on her own, a little baby girl, a boy of 12 and another child. She was a well dressed lady and sometimes the young boy would often knock on my mother-in-law's door and ask if she had a shilling for the gas or a bit of sugar or something. Unfortunately she took to drink to ease all her problems.
One day it looked like they had all gone away the curtains were drawn and there was no noise coming from the house. Further along in those houses lived Alfie Wise, who had a son Terry daughter Doreen and another son who still lived in the family home Johnny. He had said he had seen her at Rayleigh Station waiting for a train, so it all fitted together. On the other side of this lady lived a wealthfare officer and she came home one night and shone her torch light into the home but could not see anything. It was not till a couple of weeks later that they found the family all lying in the house dead. She had murdered them all and taken her own life but I have no idea how. The rumor was that she switched the gas on without lighting it.
Also living in the Villas was the Legget and Demead families. Micky Denmead was a milkman for the village, he reminded me of Buddy Holly with his glasses and hair.
When I was young Thorpedene Ave was just a sandy track, hence the name we gave it was Sandy Road. At the end were some wonderful Blackberry bushes and in the winter a pond would form. Around 1957 Thorpedene Ave was named but was just a dirt track, not even a grass road like other roads in the village at that time, In between a semi detached bungalow and a semi detached house. The semi detached house was where 11 of my relations lived and next door was to become the vicarage. There was no houses along it and at the end across a field was Broom Road, Burnham Road and Skewpath. Where the farmer had cut of the road was where water congregated and it created a natural pond where we would go catching newts and there was always these beautiful red and black butterflies, not Red Admirals.
My Mother-in-law lived in Conniston Villas near where the turning for Abbey Road is today. In the 1950's there was no turning for Abbey Road instead there was a little bungalow set right back and Terry Short lived in there for a while. Then there was a lady you could buy goat's milk from. Further down opposite High Elms on the opposite side of Ferry Road lived Mr and Mrs Harvey. They came home and as they opened their front door they heard a disturbance inside and then saw someone running out the back and across the fields. Later on a Mr and Mrs Parnell lived there. I went to school with one of their sons David. They had three sons and one of them emigrated to Australia. Behind most of the properties on that side of Ferry Road was Jack Monk's orchard.
The Families of the village
Alongside the Smugglers were two cottages and in one lived Mr Alexander and he grew wonderful Roses and Hollyhocks it was a beautiful cottage garden with a wonderful view of the river. Sadly these cottages were pulled down.
The BRIGHT family Teddy and Lucy Bright lived up Windermere in the first bungalow next to a field.
Mrs CAREY Mrs Carey lived in the bungalow on the corner of what is today Keswick Ave, after the Prestons. Mrs Carey had a daughter that I went to school with who had plaits,
The CATON family Another family living near the river was the Caton family. There was Billy and David and their mum and dad owned the peanut factory what was once the brickworks. I met Billy only the other day in Martins in Rayleigh. He told his son Will is in Scarborough and that David is still ok.
The CHAPMAN family These were no direct relations to my husband's family but he did know them. I knew Barbara Chapman from school but she was quite a bit younger than me and later Derek Chapman. Looking at the school punishment book click here to see he must have had a backside made of leather, he was canned so many times! I don't think they had a father. Barbara used to have these wonderful plats and I really envied her.
The CHARLTON family
Mrs Charlton lived in High Elms Farm House which backed onto Gran and Granddads cottage, where Budgens used to be and the Co op is today.
She was a Sunday school teacher. Not sure how or if she was related to Mr Jones who was the farmer of High Elms
She sold a piece of her land to the Garden Association for a very small fee. She had a sister and moved in with her when she became a bit doddery.
When she sold the farm house she used the money to buy one of the bungalows opposite the Post Office which is where she died. Her garden at the farmhouse was
fantastic like a country estate, that was when she could tend it. She had a little dog called Dodger
, when Doris and I were pulling bits of deadwood from the ditches she would be watching us all along the ditch. Sometimes Gran would say to me "Go and ask Mrs Charlton to
lend us a shilling for the gas". So I would walk upto her White gate, open it and walk up the path quickly, knock on her door and quickly retreat before her
geese an dog came round after us.
My husband George told me several times that whilst he was working for Mr Tomlinson, delivering milk Mrs Charlton would deliberately leave half a crown lying on the step waiting for him to pick it up. He never did.
My brother was living in a caravan on Gran and Granddads and one day Mrs Charlton accused him wrongly of nicking the lead of her roof.
The COLLIS family The Collis family had a parrot in their shop "Coventry Corner Stores". My Nan used to give me the money to go and get a Telfords Beef and Onion pie and bread pudding and we would walk down there with my Uncle who used to love talking to the parrot. The parrot was not kept in a cage it was perched between a large hoop. You could sit outside the store and have a cup of tea of coffee.
The CRACKNELL family
Where the Sproxton family lived the Cracknell family moved in, not the Cracknell family from the farm. My brother Aaron went to school with Tony Cracknell and together they worked as mechanics down Rawreth Lane. He had a three brothers. David who was the really handsome one of them all, Peter who was in my class at school we called him "Pudden" as he was big and Robert who was a bit of a rogue and he also had a stutter. Mr Arthur Tuck who owned the "Mousery" also stuttered and Robert was down there one day fishing when he shouldn't have been, in the pond that was behind the Mousery. Mr Tuck caught him and asked what he was doing, Robert being all anxious at being caught replied but stuttered, to which Mr Tuck said "Don't you take the P*** out of me !" I was standing there watching this all going on and I could not stop myself from laughing and had to explain to Mr Tuck that Robert also stuttered. Robert once took me to the Anchor Gardens tea room which was just before the Anchor in an area that was known as the Anchor Gardens and was fenced off with iron railings. The little tea rooms was run by Micky Collins's sisters Kit and Rosie, and we would buy ice-cream there.
The DOWSE family The family owned the "Fish and Chip" Shop in the bungalow on the corner of Wellington Avenue and Lower Road, next to where the bike shop is today. They had a son Gordon.
The GOODING family The family owned the piece of waste ground on the corner of Windermere and Ferry Road, where the library is today. The family lived up Grasmere Avenue and there was Ronnie, Charlie, Tommy and Neil. Tommy once asked my husband to build a house on it and it got as far as the footings but was then stopped because of the trees were in the way. Tommy used to drink with my brothers and everone knew Tommy Gooding. They had a relation called May (Mable) who was mentally ill, she wore a black beret and cloak and would go down Beckwith's fields chopping wood and us kids who lived up Malyons Lane would see her coming and hide in a ditch and start shouting at her when she came near. She had even climbed up some of the trees because you could see where she had chopped off some of the branches.
The HARRISON family Mr and Mrs Harrison had a bungalow built on the corner of Grasmere. They had one daughter Mandy and a son Kenneth and they were also well off. They were reportedly the first people in Hullbridge to have a television and they would invite all the kids who were Mandy and Kenneth's friends, round to watch their television. As you can imagine they had lots and lots of friends!
The BERT HARRISON family
Bert used to live down by the school near where Joyce Maynard In High Elms Cottages next to the school house.
Bert used to take illegal bets and my grandfather was one of his customers. You called also give him your accumulator to be charged up. He had loads of children Sally, Susan, Nicholas and Sheila and living next door in No 1 was an old man my mother never liked, she used to call him "A dirty old man". Whenever I took a bet down or the accumulator for Granddad I would knock on the door and out would come all the children, like they were escaping from school. He eventually bought a bungalow on the corner of South Avenue and Ferry Road and his son died in a climbing accident.
The HODSON family Mr Hodson did TV and Radio repairs in the village and lived with his family at the top end of the Drive in Creekview.
The HYMAS family
Dick Hymas was the Ferryman at the Anchor for many years and he was married to Ada Binder and lived down Pooles Lane in one of the brickmakers (Hobmans) cottages.
George Hymas was Teddy Bright's uncle and married Rosie (Florence) Lee. I think Rosie died of TB a common disease at that time.
The LEE family This was an old family in the village and so many of the family are mentioned under other families.
The LOCK family
It was Villy (Violet) Beckwith who married Alf Lock and I remember them getting married, I was just a little girl at the time. They had two daughters Dianne and Margaret and the family sold eggs, fruit and vegetables from their shop that was just down the side of the bungalow. They also had an orchard at the back. Before they moved into that building most of the bungalows were open fields behind a hedgerow, all the way down to the school. Alongside the Villy's bungalow was a footpath sign that said "Skewpath" that went all the way up the hill to near Pevensey Gardens. At that time Keswick hardly existed it just had a couple of huts on it and it was a dirt track.
The LOUSE family Barney lived in a bungalow next to the Monks family on Ferry Road.
The MONKS family
Halfway up the hill on Ferry Road where they have recently built two new detached houses lived Jack and Jo Monks lived there. They originally owned quite a bit
of land where their house was, some of it was an orchard. They sold it and Abbey Close was built. Before they sold it we used to creep down Mr Beckwith's field climb
the fence into the orchard and scrump for apples another trick we had was when Mr Beckwith lit a fire to burn the hedgerow cuttings and left it to burn itself out
we would grab some potatoes from the field and go and put them on the edge of the fire to cook them.
Jack and Jo had twins Andrew and Catherine. About 8 years ago they sold their property so that they could be near to their daughter as her son, who was a Life Guard, died in a surfing accident. Very sad !
The NEWELL family
Rita Newell was great friends with Margaret Simmance, they were so close we often thought they were joined at the hip. Rita's mum lived in a
Black and White bungalow on the corner of the Drive on the left side from Ferry Road end. Just up from them was the alleyway that is still there today.
Next to the alleyway was a small run down shack that had wonderful Old English roses in it and which were still there but going wild when the place was falling down.
I never knew who lived in there.
Rita's mum was related to George Boul.
The OAKMAN family Mrs Joyce Oakman was a Winn before her marriage to Alf Oakman. She had a sister Rita and 2 brothers Kenny and ??. Alf's mum was Mrs Oakman and her husband was also called Alf. She had another son Bert who was rather portly and never got married. Joyce and Alf lived in "Melrose" at 140 Ferry Road where my family once lived. Joyce and Alf had two children Janice and Stephen. Unfortunately Joyce got knocked over and killed trying to cross Ferry Road near her home.
The O'DAYE family Across the road from school was a young girl my age called Rosemary O'Daye, really pretty girl with brown curly hair. She lived with her grandmother and I was close friends with her. A bit further down was a big old gentleman and his daughter was crippled and she wore a big boot on one of her feet and she used to have a wheelchair, one of those that you turned the handle in front of you to get about. She used to help out at the school teaching needlework. Her name was Miss Crabbe.
The PEPPER family I knew from school, Eileen and Clive Pepper. Eileen was my age and Clive a little bit younger. Clive was burnt when he was young. I seem to recall my brother telling me that a bomb landed near the shop of their Gran and Grandad Mr and Mrs Collins and it did not go off.
The POLLEY family
The Polley family lived down Pooles Lane in the "Brickmakers Cottages". Bill Polley worked on Bob White's farm. His brother Reg lived opposite the Post Office in a
bungalow, he worked with my son Pete on the River board which is now the Environment Agency before he died, he also played darts with my husband and brother in the
Anchor. Reg was the best darts player in Hullbridge.
Fred Polley lived up the top of Pevensey Gardens in one of the bungalows with his wife Nora and his daughters June and Gwen. June went to school with my cousin Mary. They also had another daughter Bessie who caught meningitis and died very young. When I worked down the "Mouseries" for the second time, Nora was there with me and I was told by Ida Cant who lived at the top of Coventry Hill that when she popped round to see Nora, she would be slaving away cooking Fred's tea and she would always have a fag in her mouth the whole time she was there. Fred also worked down the "Mouseries" when I did. Fred and Reg also played football and dad would take me down to watch them. They played on some land that was opposite where Kingsman Farm is and is now a caravan site.
The PRESTON family The Preston family lived in the bungalow on the corner of what is today Kewswick Avenue but in their time was just a dirt track. Flo was friends with their daughter Irene. I think they were related to Flo.
The SPEARS family Another family that bought a monkey was Mr Spears. It is no wonder that lots of us kids were fond of climbing trees and monkeying around !
The SPROXTON family
Coming back up the village where the bungalows are opposite the Drive. This was originally teh small holding of Mr Sproxton and he kept Turkeys and Chickens on all that land from the school to the detached bungalow that Mr Beckwith's daughter once owned. COMMENT: see Lock family..
Also across the road from the school was a Mr Towers and he owned quite a bit of land which included a pig farm, grocery store with a vegetable stall along with a horse and cart. Today the land is Wallace Close, the parade of shops and the building housing the flats.
His son-in-law Sam Lyndsey used to deliver the fruit and vegetables around the village using the horse and cart whilst Mr Towers sold the vegetables outside and the groceries inside the shop. It was Mr Towers' daughter Millie who married Sam and they had two children Lenny and ? . Mr Towers had another daughter Evelyn that married a Canadian and she two or three children and as far as I know she is still alive. Millie ran the family shop for her father. Mr and Mrs Towers lived in a low bungalow on the opposite side of their shop near Pooles Lane.
The TRUNLEY family
On Ferry Road originally lived the Larner family, where the large white semi bungalow opposite the Post Office is. They had a pig farm there till they emigrated to Australia. It was then taken over by Mr and Mrs Trunley. The Trunleys moved across the road and built BIJOU's the shop. I think it was already called Bijou's. They had a nephew Jeff who I went out with a few times. Sadly he is no longer with us. Next door to them was the Scott family. This is where my godmother lived.
The WARREN family The family lived next door to the Moore family on Lower Road. They had two daughters Pauline and Valerie.
The WARREN family of Pickerills Not related to the Warrens of Lower Road. Rob Warren owned Pickerills Farm down Watery Lane. He was Bob White's neighbour. Rob didi not marry till later in his life and they had one son Jeff who was a good friend of my Nelson. Jeff and his wife Louise are still at Pickerills trying to make a business out of the farm by creating stables etc., Jeff's mum used to live in the little bungalow on the S bend. The one that constantly floods. Even when I was young I could not go down Watery Lane because it was flooded in the winter and so had to get caked in mud walking through Rob Warren's fields to come out by the side of Boxes Farm to get to Hylands Farm. Never did understand why they built the bungalow there knowing what they did about the flooding.
The WEEKES family
Years after I got married, Mrs Weekes lived across the road in the first chalet, she was a school teacher teaching needlework, and she moved with her two sons Neil and ?. They were sods, when we (my husband, children and me) went swimming down at Padgett's Bay on the river they would be there with their rod and reels fishing, instead of moving further up the riverbank. Just want to say that I did not learn to swim till I was married and with children and it was not here but at Bradwell-on-Sea that my husband took us to. We were told that we should not swim down the river as it was too dangerous but Georgie and Glenn always went down there despite the one time George looked down and saw what he thought was seaweed till he realised it was Glenn's black hair. He was face down in the river. This was in the early years when Glenn could not swim. Thankfully George pulled him out and saved him. Having said this I did go in the river in my swimming costume and because I was small and slim when I came out of the water it was hanging off my body.
The WHITE family Hylands Farm
I went to school with Betty White, her grandfather was Harry White and her father was Bob White and her mother was Jessie who sadly died a couple of years ago. Jessie was a lovely lovely well mannered lady
and a brilliant cook. Bob's parents lived up Grasmere Ave., and Betty has a yonger sister Pauline who would occaisionaly hang around with us.
In the summer when Betty and I came back from secondary school in Rayleigh, Betty amd I would go and see her Gran up Grasmere who was with her Uncle Ray because her Betty's Grandfather
had died. At the end of Grasmere was a field with a gate and it was part of "Hylands Farm" which was owned by the Hurst family of Rochford and was being farmed as a Tennant
by Betty's dad. We would walk up to the end of Grasemere Avenue open and close and lock the gate and walk through the fields which was full of "Pares",
(Loosen a tiny blue pea like flower used as fodder) and sheep to the corner and then along a cart track to the farm.
Sometimes we would change into our swimming costumes in her bedroom which was upstairs in the old farmhouse building. It was a proper old farmhouse, with loads of farmyard animals in the yard. Unfortunately it got pulled down. The family used to keep their bikes in the kitchen, the house was made of wood and had low beams and white walls. The roof and walls of her bedroom sloped so much we were all bending over and could only walk through the middle of the room.
From the farmhouse we would go across more fields to get to the river to go swimming or in my case paddling.
On the farm was a big pond and Betty had a fishing rod and we would break into dung heaps to find worms to use for fishing for eels in there.
Betty's dad had two dapple Grey Shire horses, Betsy and Daisy they were enormous. He also grew wheat, peas and potatoes. I remember one time he he got Betty to ask me if I would I like to go over on Saturday and help "glean" the fields, the potatoes had been pulled up and there was still some in the ground. So I thought yes I could do with a bit more money, so over I went happy with the thought of earning a few pennies in my mind. Anyway we cleaned the field and didn't get a halfpenny!!! Still he was a tennant farmer and they didn't get a lot of money and Betty and I had fun. Bob and was very strict, he never let us climb the haystacks in case of accidents. What with him being a tennant farmer and any problems could mean his family losing the tenancy. Betty went on to marry Bob Stammers of Rayleigh who lived down Queens Road, Rayleigh and their family goes back a long way. Bob had a borther Bill who lived in the cottages over at Battelsbridge. My sopn Pete and I would walk to Battlesbridge and go along the railway line with Pete's metal detector, can you believe that ? I'm surprised we picked up the things we did. There was another reason for going over there and nearly getting mowed down by the trains and that there was some fabulous Apple and Pear tees alongside the line. We used to come back with bags or sacks full of cooking or eating apples.
Betty's dad eventually gave up on the farming and went to work for the Environment Agency and my son Peter joined and worked with him there.
Ray and Bob White had a sister Pam White who was Bettie's Aunt although being roughly the same age. Pam married Reggie Wood and they had two sons Ruben and Barry. Barry lives up Grasmere and carries on his father's tree felling business in the village whilst Ruben does it for Rayleigh.
One year I went with my son and his girlfriend to a Steam Engine Rally at Barleylands near Billericay and I saw Pam behind one of the stalls along with Reg. At the time he was making model caravans out of matchsticks and he was selling them on their stall. They were beautiful models, but quite expensive to buy. I see this handsome man sitting in the back of the tent and Pam told me it was her son Barry, the first time I had ever seen him since he had grown up.
Betty married Bob Stammers? who came from Rayleigh and he had a brother Phil ? I only met them when I used to go in the pub when I was 15, me and Betty we used go in when we were 15, you could drink then, well you could in the "Crown". My brother said to me one time "I know you go to the Crown, never mind your father if ever I catch you in there I'll kick your A**** all the way home!" and I found out later from my husband that he remembered us being in the Public Bar when he was in the Saloon Bar.
The WHITE family of Flanders Mrs Doris White lived in a house called Flanders on Coventry Hill, she had two daughters Sandra and Julie. Julie was 2 years younger than me.
The WITHERS family
There was a pond up behind the garage on Coventry Hill and it was owned by Pop Withers, we used to go fishing there and he would chase us if he saw us.
The WREN family
Also living up Grasmere was a dear friend of mine who I have mentioned previously, Maureen Wren. Her father worked down the mousery when I was there. He looked after the Guinea Pigs. There was a funny incident one time involving Maureen's mum. My brother Alan was cleaning the chimney when the brush got stuck and he had to clamber onto the roof to try and pull it out. Whilst up there Maureen's mum walked past and nearly fell over and she did a double take when she saw Alan sitting on the roof, she had never seen that before. Maureen's mum was a cousin to my mother-in-law.
FUN and GAMES
We used to make the most of the old hollowed out trees when we played our version of hide and seek. One of us would throw an old can somewhere where it would take a bit of time to recover, the seeker would go to retrieve it whilst the rest of us hid, for a while a hollowed tree was ideal. We could play games in the streets and roads all day and night because there was hardly any traffic around.
I found some old photos of the 1960's carnival when my friend Jean Moore was Carnival Queen. Alan drove her in the parade in his Red and Green Ford V8 Coupe Convertible with running board. He later sold this car to my husband. In one of the photos you can just make out another friend of mine Maureen Wren who was Jean's princess. You can see the photos on the Carnival 1960-64 Gallery.