A Laindoner's memories by Ted Bruley

From left to right: Mrs Weedon Snr, Ivy Powell, Joan Weedon, David Weedon.

This archive has stirred many memories of my years living at Laindon so I thought I would add a few.  Great site – well done!

I came to Laindon (23 Basildon Drive) in 1937 with my parents when I was one year old from Shoreditch, London. The bungalow was very small with no bathroom. Bath time for my elder brother (Ken) and I was the proverbial galvanized bath (once a week) in front of the kitchen range. Here, I add, we called the main living room “the kitchen” and the kitchen “the scullery”. In the winter ice formed on the inside of the windows.

Basildon Drive was unmade until much later and I remember playing football across the road with a friend, John Higgs (he lived at no. 38), using our opposite gates as goals. A car was a rarity. I can just remember the “Garden of Roses” at the junction of Basildon Drive and St Nicholas Lane being talked about but I think it had disappeared by the outbreak of the Second World War.

Much of our everyday shopping was done at the store in Basildon Drive, situated opposite Dickens Drive. It was first called Greggs and later Emery’s.

I attended Sunday School in St Nicholas Church Hall, just up from Pound Lane.

My grandmother lived in a small timber bungalow called “Daisybank” on the north side of the level crossing in Northumberland Avenue. We called the path to it ‘The Glade’. She had no electricity and the water supply was filtered from the roof.

I went to Markham’s Chase School 1940/41. The headmistress was Miss Duke.  Other teachers were, Mrs Mears my first teacher, Miss Balls, Miss Ayers and indeed Miss Cock who drove a Morris Car. My last teacher in class one was Mr Gorham. I played football for the school team, playing in green and yellow colours.

Funny how I can recall many of the pupils in that class but not what I had for lunch yesterday! Victor Basset, Michael Bathhurst, Brian Burford, Alan Watson, Brenda and Barbara Tice, Pat Shepard, Carol Pigram, Pat Bolton, Albert Catton and Bernard Sibthorpe who has subscribed to this website.

During the war two bombs and a V2 rocket fell nearby, taking out our windows and removing roof tiles. This would have been around 1942/3/4. I know I had to go into Billericay Hospital while repairs were carried out, a scary time for my mother with two boys, our father being in the army. I also remember going to the air raid shelter when the siren went while at school.

I can remember playing among the weekend bungalows (as we called them) and helping ourselves from the fruit trees. Scrumping – in other words.  We also had great fun with toboggans down St Nicholas Hill especially during the winter of 1947.

In 1948 I left Markham’s Chase School and went to the Laindon High School. Mr Woodward had just taken over as headmaster and my brother had just left. Teachers I remember here are Mr Giffiths, Mr Reece, Mr Cluff, Miss Pearce and Mr Bear.

I remember the Pound Lane estate, as we called it, being built during the 1950s. Kathleen Ferrier Crescent ran alongside my parent’s house.  We did not like it because it took away our rural aspect.

I joined the Air Training Corp which operated from the Memorial Hall. Officers being Mr White and Mr Ferris, Warrant Officer, Carnnel took us for drill etc, his wife providing refreshments – great people.  I was to go in to the RAF for my National Service and this served me well.

I joined up in January 1955 with initial training at RAF Hednesford, then on to RAF Yatesbury Radar School to train as a Radar Operator. I was then posted to RAF Wildenrath (Germany) to work on a Ground Controlled Interception Unit. I had reached the grand rank of Senior Aircraftsman by the time my service ended in January 1957.

I trained as a printer at Smith and Greenfield in Durham Road. Jim Gardener who frequented the Laindon Hotel worked there too. I started up my own printing business from smaller work that Smith and Greenfield passed on to me.

I closed down my print shop in the late 1960s when I took a job with Perivan Press in Southend. I stayed in the business until I retired in 2000.

I got married in 1960, renting rooms in Basildon Drive (2 James Villas) until buying property in Tavistock  Road (Grangewood). My son and daughter were born here – Happy days!

Laindon had a good array of shops and builders merchants in the High Road and I can remember most of them from Weedon’s newsagent (I did a paper round here) at the north end (of the High Road), to Churchill Johnsons near the railway station.

However in 1972 I felt that Laindon was deteriorating and moved nearer my job at Leigh on Sea.

I have enjoyed writing these few words that have triggered even more memories, not all good ones, but I can say I am glad I had those years in Laindon and to this day still consider myself a Laindoner.

If anyone wishes to make contact, please contact the Editor.

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  • I had a paper-round during 1968/9, delivering to the then Plotlands sites up the hill from the Railway Station, I recall working for a Mr Peperell, but seeing the entries on Churchill Johnson I am doubting my memory.

    By Jeff Allen (20/08/2021)
  • I don’t recall a “V2” Rocket that landed close to Basildon Drive, but I seem to remember something about a “Doodle Bug” that actually landed in the corner of the playing field of Laindon Park Primary School (bottom R/H corner as one looks from the school) must have been at the back end of the war, cos’ I didn’t go there untill 1945, it was never filled in, became a pond, and we used to fish for tiddlers and newts for years until I grew too old for such childish pastimes (I discovered girls were much more fun). J.B.

    By Mr.J.W.Birch (27/11/2018)
  • I also have memories of Basildon Drive, our family lived at No. 44 from 1950 until 1955. I remember the street party we had for the Queen’s Coronation. We migrated to New Zealand in January 1956. My brother Brian and I both went to Markham’s Chase Primary School and Laindon High Road School.

    By David Wakelam (14/02/2016)
  • As W.H.Diment states, Weedon’s shop was one of three or four separated by a field from Buckenham’s butchers next to Parkinson’s garage by A127 roundabout, my old stamping ground.

    By L.Miller (08/03/2015)
  • I agree with Bill Diment that dormant memories are often stirred by coming across a name long forgotten.

    I also knew Tony Williams. He was a year ahead of me at Langdon Hills School and, as a child, lived somewhere in Samuel Road.

    I find Bill’s tales of his cricketing career interesting. My own cricketing days were largely spent in the USA. A group of us founded the Savannah Cricket Club and we played visiting British and commonwealth ships when they were tied up for the weekend unloading and loading cargo. Prior to containerisation loading and unloading cargo often took several days. The longshoremen did not work on the weekend anyway so if a ship docked on a Thursday or Friday they would most likely not leave until the next Monday or Tuesday. Time for a weekend’s cricket and partying on board ship.

    Our semi-annual big match was against the Atlanta Cricket Club whose players were drawn largely from the various consulate personnel in Atlanta and a group of English engineers transferred to Atlanta by the Lockheed-Martin aircraft company.

    Annually, over Labor Day weekend, a combined Atlanta and Savannah team would travel up to Williamsburg (the historic capital of Virginia founded in 1632). Williamsburg would re-enact its colonial past with costumes, marching bands, parades, the lot. Several thousand tourists visited the city whose normal population was about fifteen thousand. We were considered part of the weekend festivities and played a two day match on the ancient village green. Our opponents were the British Commonwealth Cricket Club of Washington. Their team was drawn from the various embassy,consulate, and diplomatic personnel stationed in Washington.

    I did play one match in the UK which stands out in my memory. I played for the Tea Trade against the Rubber Trade at the Hurlingham Club in west London. Hurlingham displays a lifestyle to which one could become accustomed very quickly!

    My final match was in the UK. With my wife and children I had rented a holiday cottage for a month in the little village of Sandy Lane near Devizes in Wiltshire. We frequented our local pub, the George, and became friendly with the Spye Park Cricket Club players who celebrated at the George every Saturday or Sunday. Win or lose. They kindly asked me if I would like to play for them. Indeed I would. Most definitely! I still have the Spye Park Cricket Club tie.

    By Alan Davies (28/04/2014)
  • I find it fascinating that contributors who name old Laindoners also stir up those memories  which had lain dormant.

    Ann Rugg names the gentleman in the Weedon photo as Dave, but I did not recognise him even though I had known David a couple of decades or so earlier than the date given for the photo. As I recall he was a keen m/cyclist.

    However, Ann also mentions a Keith Cullis. He came from a large family and I knew his father Ken from the late 1940’s when he was the manager of the Costain football team.  In later years, Keith as a youth would watch Laindon CC at the country club and later became a very good player with them.

    There were a couple of other young lads in this category, Tony Williams who become a good fast bowler.  As years went by and I stopped playing but became an umpire, Laindon CC had a very hard hitting batsman by the name of Mark Williams, the son of Tony who himself had also retired.

    There was another young lad who graduated from being a spectator to being a very good player for the club before moving on to a more prominent team.  His name was Kenneth Porter. 

    By W.H.Diment (27/04/2014)
  • Great to see Weedon’s shop appear on site. I was given a copy of this photo a while back and was given the names as well. From left to right Mrs.Weedon senior – Ivy Powell – Joan Weedon – Dave Weedon.

    I had done a paper round from there around the mid 50’s and at that time Keith Cullis was working there especially marking up the papers for the rounds to go out. We know from Nina that decimal coins came out in  early 1971 and I would imagine the stocking sale was probably in the run up to the store closing and guessing that to be in the mid 70’s when Joan and Dave moved off to run another store up in Norfolk (Cley next the Sea I believe ).

    One final point – think the 15 with the small tights could have been the denier rating rather than a price.

    By Ann Rugg (25/04/2014)
  • Ann.  Thank you for supplying the names of the people in the photograph taken outside Weedon’s shop.  Agree the photograph was probably taken between 1971 and approx. 1975/6.  Had also considered the ‘15’ after the word tights may have referred to denier.  Pity it isn’t marked.  Tend to think it was pence though as the ‘denier’ of the stockings isn’t shown.

    Alan.  Sorry I’m unable to answer your question re wages of the shop assistants.  My mother worked in Greene’s Stores in the High Road between  approx. 1959 and 1965/6 and Wilsons the Chemist from around 1965/6 to approx. 1969 and I don’t even know how much she was paid or how.  Best wishes.

    By Nina Humphrey(née Burton) (25/04/2014)
  • Nina, any idea how these shop assistants were paid? And how much? Not simply at Willy Weedon’s but throughout the High Road? I suspect it was straight cash with no trail for the tax man to follow.

    It seems unlikely to me that Willy would involve himself in employment records and reporting, PAYE withholding etc. These withholdings would have increased Willy’s cost of wages by 25-50% and required him to hire a professional in the field to make the appropriate calculations and returns to the government. Altogether a substantial additional cost.

    Similarly the shop assistants had no reporting or taxes to pay. Perhaps it was all part of the vast underground economy.

    By Alan Davies (24/04/2014)
  • Very interesting.  I’ve also made a few observations and apparently this photograph may not be as old as it looks.

    Upon enlarging the photograph I can’t see the word ‘Special’ only ‘Sale’.  The sign for Crestmont stockings reads 10p pair and not 10d. Decimalisation came in on 15th February 1971. The sign underneath reads Small Tights 15.  

    Tights became available around 1965/66 to coincide with the arrival of the mini skirt.  Previous to that, we females wore stockings and suspender belts.   During my last year at school 1961/1962, each Saturday I bought a pair of stockings for 5/- which had to last me all week, with or without ladders.  If a suspender broke, a coin rolled in the stocking top and fixed into the suspender would temporarily solve the problem.    

    I started a job in Billericay in 1966 a month before my 20th birthday just as the mini shirt started to make an appearance.  The first tights I remember being available were from Woolworths in the High Street there and they weren’t cheap.  The original design was a pair of panties in various colours with stocking legs attached to them.  This evolved until the complete garment was made of stocking material.

    I caught the bus each morning near Weedons throughout the late sixties, firstly popping in to the shop to buy various things including a pop magazine called ‘Fabulous’. I remember it being quite busy in there with other people buying papers, magazines, cigarettes etc., before heading off to work.  There were various shops assistants.

    So, it would seem this photo may have been taken sometime from 1971 onwards.  I guess the stockings were being sold cheaply because they were no longer popular, tights having taken over.  The ‘small’ size tights were being sold off cheaply because most of us bought medium size.

    The most up-to-date Electoral Register I have is 1968 and shows Winifred and David R Weedon living at School Parade, High Road.  I will try to find out the exact year Weedon’s shop closed. 

    By Nina Humphrey(née Burton) (23/04/2014)
  • Willy Weedon looks younger in this photograph than when I knew him. Who are the other three people. One, presumably, is a younger Mrs Willy but the other two? Shop assistants? Really!! Did Willy Weedon possibly make enough money to pay shop assistants? I find it difficult to believe.

    Several pages in these archives say there were over a hundred shops in the High Road and Patsy Mott claims there were a hundred and fifty between the Crown and the Fortune. So Willy had an innumerable number of competitors. Boons and Peperill and the station kiosk come immediately to mind as newsagent and tobacconist competitors but there must have been several others. Pelhams and a host of others would have competed in the area of confectionary.

    Just how much money is there to be made on a penny newspaper; Wizard, Hotspur and other weekly boys magazines at threepence; and Woman’s Own and similar weeklies none of which could have sold for more than sixpence. Cigarettes were more expensive. Perhaps three and six for twenty Players and on down to ten Craven ‘A’ and eventually five Woodbines. However, almost all of this was tax. Confectionary was largely a pennies worth of sweets up to a sixpenny Cadbury bar. So how much profit was possible with so many competitors? Lease on the shop, lights and heating, insurance. What could be left over? It boggles the mind.

    A sign on the window advertises a special on Crestmont stockings. The sign is a little confusing. Does it read ten shillings a pair. Presumably silk stockings? This would seem to be a little up market and expensive for Willy to stock which probably explains the sign and the ‘special.’

    By Alan Davies (23/04/2014)
  • I remember Churchill Johnsons because of the lovely smell of timber.

    By Thelma Oliver (22/04/2014)
  • Hi Ted.  As far as I am aware, I am not related to the Burton family of The Winston Club.  I have done lots of research into my family history over the years but haven’t found any connection.  Thank you for asking.

    By Nina Humphrey(née Burton) (21/04/2014)
  • Nina has mentioned “Casablanca” in her comment. I of course remember this well–it was owned by Steve & Jean Quinton, our neighbours and was later demolished to make way for some new builds on its quite large plot.

    I converted “Grangewood” from a bungalow to a chalet in 1970. It’s since been extended again. Originally built in 1924 by a Tavistock Road resident I believe.

    Incidentally Nina are you related to Ted Burton who I knew slightly as a roofer and later went on to run the Winston Club?

    By Ted Bruley (19/04/2014)
  • I am somewhat bewildered by the comment of Ted Bruley as to the location of shops in the High Road.  I cannot remember a Weedon’s shop to the north of Churchill and Johnsons, only the station corner of the High Road.

    Opposite on the other side of the road was Cysters’ field with a small wooden hut on stilts and another wooden shop in the High Road, selling greengrocery, (may have been Townsend) although I am not to sure of this.

    Ted stated he did a paper round for Weedon’s, which given his age would have been post war which I believe would have been from the shop near to the A127.

    By W.H.Diment (18/04/2014)
  • I read it as Ted referring to Weeden’s at the north end of the High Road, all the way along to Churchill Johnsons near the station rather than ‘to the north of Churchill Johnsons’.

    By Nina Humphrey(née Burton) (18/04/2014)
  • Superbly written article here from Ted Bruley with no frills, just pure fact – brilliant. Fancy moving from Shoreditch to Laindon, an entirely different world. Ted’s Laindon was ahead of mine by 20 years (his family came in 1937, we arrived in 1957). He was sledging down St Nicholas hill in 1947, the same year I was born in Barking.

    Fascinating for him to remember the Pound Lane Estate being built and his rural scene being disturbed. For me it was where many of my friends lived. Strange also to think that his teachers, Mr Rees, Mr Bear and Mr Cluff, with JHJ Woodward as headmaster were the same for me in 1958 as they were for him in 1948. I too remember Weedon’s paper shop with its hard to reach gentlemen’s magazines on the high rack, my favourite at age 15 was Escapade as I recall.

    Fascinating too, his recollection of a V2 rocket landing somewhere near enough to Basildon Drive for the windows to be blown out- how scary. Then finally, the familiar moving away because of deteriorating Laindon, for Ted, Leigh on Sea, for my own family it was Tiptree near Colchester.

    I am now wondering where the property Grangewood was in Tavistock Road, I’ll probably be scanning the OS maps for that one, more memories to come I hope.

    By Richard Haines (18/04/2014)
  • ‘Grangewood’ was at the northern end of Tavistock Road, just around the bend where it turned westward towards the High Road.  On the 1949 survey map (shown on Ken Porter’s article ‘Laindon Greyhound Track’), Grangewood is shown as plot No 87, not far from ‘Casablanca’ which was plot No 90. 

    By Nina Humphrey(née Burton) (18/04/2014)

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