Holiday Memories from the Fifties.

The following article was submitted by Colin Bristow:-

I have some fond memories of happy, carefree holidays from way back in the 1950s in Langdon Hills and would like to share them with you and your readers/members.

I was born in Aldershot in 1945 and still live here. I had relatives who lived
in Clapton E5 who owned a dear little three roomed holiday bungalow in Wheaton Avenue appropriately named “The Retreat”.  My relatives had a large family, so the bungalow was a very popular retreat at weekends and holidays.

To get to Laindon was something of an adventure for a five year old boy, my Mum, Dad and me would travel by train from Aldershot to Waterloo then catch a steam train from Fenchurch Street to Laindon.  Having arrived at Laindon we would then have what seemed a very long walk to the bungalow high up in Langdon Hills; I can remember a long narrow path that seemed to go on forever.

When we arrived at the bungalow it seemed sheer bliss, no noise, no traffic, freedom to wander and play as we pleased.  We would often walk to The Crown in the evening and I would be treated to a bottle of pop and a packet of real crisps. On the return journey we would often see glow worms “glowing” in the grass.

At the bungalow I can remember milk was delivered by horse and cart from someone who lived further along Wheaton Avenue. On one occasion a school friend of mine had joined us for a holiday, we both went out to see the horse when for no apparent reason the horse decided to stand on my friend’s foot and didn’t want to budge until the owner convinced the horse to move on.

Accommodation at the bungalow was rather limited but was increased by a very sturdy home-made shed in the garden which contained comfy beds for three people. I would often sleep in the shed and thought it was a rather exciting part of the holiday.  I can also remember the outside loo in the garden with a small paraffin lamp for night time use and a collection of various spiders who thought they owned the place!

Of course if any supplies, groceries etc., were required, it involved the long walk down to the shops in Laindon.  My uncle had built a very useful two wheeled truck to convey the shopping back home again.  I also remember playing in The Rec on many occasions and splashing about in the paddling pool with various cousins.

Sometimes we would catch a train from Laindon to Southend and enjoy a walk on the famous pier; perhaps walk one way and catch the little pier train back again. Another time we found ourselves sampling cockles from the cockle sheds on the shore at either Leigh-on-Sea or Benfleet, my memory fades at times.

As you can see, I have held many fond memories of Laindon and Langdon Hills all my life and would love to return at some point, I know that all the houses and bungalows in Langdon Hills have long since gone and the area is now parkland. Perhaps I should retain and enjoy the memories I have, we can often become disappointed when we return to places from our childhood and see the changes that have taken place.

Thank you, I do hope someone will find this article to be of interest.

Kind regards: Colin Bristow

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