Hullbridge Village History
"Beattie worked in the Post Office and she was often to be seen delivering items on her bike, which was a children's bike. Many people will remember her cycling through the snow on such missions. She was very interested in the Garden Association. Each year she presented one of the cups for them.
When she was born, her mother was told she'd only live three weeks. She rather outdid that!
Many times people would go into the Post Office and find it empty. Suddenly she'd stand on a step behind the counter so she could deal with them."
"She was a wonderful little character, much loved in Hullbridge and beyond. She knew everybody and took great interest in the life of the village, and I got to know her very well when I was MP for the area. I met her on all sorts of occasions when I visited the village. She set a great example and I think that was why she was greatly loved. We also had a common interest in horticulture. I shall never forget her."
"Beattie was the daughter of Mrs Carr and was born in Mile End at the Mother's Laying In Hospital,
Glamis Road, Shadwell. From there she was transferred to Great Ormond Street where as Chris has
captured it was thought she would not live beyond three weeks. How wrong they were !
Whilst still a youngster Beattie and her Mum moved down to Rayleigh at Tryn de Hayes and life was extremely hard with food in short supply, perhaps it was this period that made her appreciate the food she had, very rarely did she leave any waste.
In 1926 Mr Eddie started developing Hullbridge Garden Estate on what is today Lower Road. Around that time Beattie's mum met Mr Launder and they ran a shop "Coventry Stores" which was a Newsagents and Tea Rooms, as seen in the picture above. A few years on and Mrs Carr and Beattie moved from these premises and ran a Newsagents at 167 Ferry Road which was eventually taken over by Mr Elliott and then Mr Long. It is believed that Mrs Carr swapped the shop for a wooden bungalow in Windermere Ave and the assurance that Beattie would always be able to work in the shop, which she did for both Mr Elliott and Long. She was the first to do the same job I eventually would do for Mr Long around 1967, getting up at the crack of dawn to mark up the papers and magazines for delivery and then hand deliver them around the village. This often meant being up at 5:30.
Beattie's mum was well known in the village, always like her daughter, to be found riding her bike. She suffered from dementia in her later years, which was a hard time for Beattie. Her Mum passed away in he 60s which meant she was looking after her most of the day. The local Post Mistress Vi Palmer offered Beattie a job with training as a counter clerk which is how lots of people got to know her. She was doing both jobs for a while but eventually had to leave the paper round, thankfully on my part, otherwise I would not have been able to buy things with my paper round money. Beattie lasted in the Post Office longer than Mrs Palmer and eventually retired when she was around 63.
Beattie was of restricted growth, a condition known as Achondroplasia - a form of dwarfism and stood just 3ft 6 ins tall. I remember for first encounter with Beattie, I was new to the village having come from North London age 10 and whilst I was on my way to the Rec., down Pooles Lane with some of my friends I saw this small girl approaching us on a juniors bike, as she got nearer I realized she was not a little girl she was a lady and I started to feel very uncomfortable with her appearance. As she passed us by she called out "Hello!" in a deep and husky voice which made me even more uncomfortable. To ease my discomfort after she had passed us by I started to laugh and make fun about her only to be told off by my friends because they knew her and liked her a lot. They proceeded to tell me how nice a person she was. She knew most of the children by their Christian name and normally would stop and have a chat. From that moment on I saw her in a different light and never again felt uncomfortable by her presence and she and I have chatted many times about the Scouts, Guides, Football and Stamps. I became, like my friends, very protective about our Beattie and would make sure nobody disrespected her as she went past.
Beattie was a pillar of the Hullbridge Community participating in most of the events and was a member of many of the organizations, she was a member of the Essex Guiders for the Disabled and regularly attended summer camp with them in the Chignal area of Chelmsford until age prevented her.
Three events come to mind which shows the feelings of the villagers about her:-
In the summer of 1966 her bungalow in Windermere Avenue that she had be renovating caught fire and burnt down. Once the word got around Beattie was inundated with offers of help including Mr Braine MP. As a result of some help from an insurance actuary, who was a friend of hers, she was able to complete the necessary forms and receive compensation which allowed her to have a 22 ft caravan placed on the site. She lived there till she was 75 !
Another time some idiot stole her bike, however it was soon recovered somewhere in the village. I remember the shock and disgust felt by most of us in the village and I would not have wanted to be in the persons shoes who stole it. It might well have been Hullbridge's first lynching. Well almost!"
The third time was when she appeared on a TV program produced by Lord Snowdon. Quite a number of the villagers remember Lord Snowdon coming into the village to see her and we all felt ever so proud about our Beattie getting some recognition and at how she tried put across her attempt to live a life like everyone else despite her handicap. That's our Beattie !!"
The last 6 years of her life found her living in sheltered accomodation in Hockley, but her heart was always in Hullbridge and with the help of friends would on most sundays come back for the Sunday service at the church she was later to have her funeral service at.
I have a lot to be thankful of Beattie, she was responsible for my parents marriage. She had borrowed an umbrella from my grandmother in Rayleigh (they had moved) with whom she was friends. Beattie took my mum along to return the brolly and my dad was off work with a bad finger. His mother insisted he walk my mum to the bus stop - well the rest is history - 3 generations later.
The following are posts on the Hullbridge Memories and History Facebook Forum between 4th and 5th Feb., 2014:-
Heather Favell "Everybody remembers Beattie always had time for you and always lovely with it xxx"
Diane Hills "I loved Beattie !"
Hazel Denton "She was really lovely always friendly."
Mark Hale "She lived in a caravan on the corner of West Avenue."
Charlotte Debbage "Lovely lady. Used to love seeing her riding her little red bike."
Jackie Morley "Yes ! remember her watching us as we moved in opposite the pensioners club in Windermere. She liked to keep up with new residents, lol. Very nice lady!"
Jay Evans Remember her bike getting nicked , made the echo lol"
Susan Cole "Very nice lady, remember her in the post office!" Julia Budd "She was always chatting to everyone, always had time for all and loved children. Shame she couldn't have any, she'd have been a wonderful caring Mum.Loved her x"
Kendal Avevor "Beattie was one of the characters that made Hullbridge so interesting
On behalf of many many villagers "Thank You Beattie!
You may not have realized the impact you had on many of us children in the village, but you showed us how to be nice people, neighbours and that no matter what our problems, hurts it does not harm us to be friendly to others in fact it eases the troubles.
You were a small Lady with a massive heart who rode her bike through all our lives. I hope you will be remembered for eternity and are riding your bike through Heaven! God Bless! you are very much missed."