Lovely Laindon (Part 8) (7 of 9)

(Chapter 7: The Hard Bit)

If getting the new shed to Laindon was the easy part, the hard work was to follow. Making a  concrete base for it to be re-erected on involved getting cement from Laindon High Road, together with the ballast to create the mix, turned three times dry and three times wet, water fetched from the standpipe at the junction of Sandringham Road and Tyler Avenue and all the turning done by hand. Only when fully set could the base be worked on and the shed erected.  As the original kiosk had open sides to give access to benches inside upon which pamphlets and the like had been made available at the Exhibition, two second hand and ready glazed windows were bought for a modest sum from La’ Plain and Sons, Building Material Dealers of High Road, Laindon (near the Coop Stores) who, as their adverts said, supplied all kinds of second hand building materials. They were, it was explained, only open on Saturdays, but their chief depot was at Woodford. Over the following year or so, Stanley Bathurst was a frequent visitor in their yard at the junction of High Road and Worthing Road.

The plan of what was to follow having arrived, the nature of Stan’s task ahead changed. He had to turn to the matter of preparing the ground and digging the footings for the bungalow he intended to build on the two plots. The bungalow was to be named “Cranford”, Lillian’s choice when, the matter was first discussed with Bebington when he had made his offer to act in an architectural capacity. A properly prepared plan had been drawn up (unfortunately no copy survives) which had received the approval of the Billericay Rural District Council. What was illustrated was a two bedroomed bungalow constructed with 9” brick walls, containing a small entrance hall, a scullery or kitchen forming one section, with a separate wing, at right angles, forming a drawing or living room. The fundamental “L” shaped plan, which had followed Stan’s original rough outline, was fine. Where it fell down was in the roof style.  Asked initially about this by Bebington, Stan had suggested a hipped roof. What he had had in mind with such a construct, was that it gave a clear or better head room in the attic, and could easily be converted to living space by being changed to a mansard roof with the addition of a dormer window or two.  Bebington must have misunderstood Stan’s idea; the plan was drawn up with what can only be described as some kind of reverse hipped roof. This, the plan indicated, was to be constructed with the lower half of the roof set at 45% angled pitch to the walls but the upper half rising to a 60% pitch to the ridge line. It looked ridiculous and, as young Tom Vickery, who was employed to use his joinery skills to, eventually, set the roof out, pointed out was an expense waste of timber. When the time came, in the end the bungalow’s roof was set at the traditional 45% pitch with three gable ends.

Putting the roof on was still a long time in the future. It took the best part of two years of toing and froing from Wembley to get the bulk of the construction work done. Stan had managed to secure a mortgage from the London Cooperative Society at Stratford to cover the cost of those building materials he was compelled to pay full price for or which he could not scrounge.  It was, in the end, surprising just how much of “Cranford” was actually composed of recycled material, for Stan was a real expert in finding his way around the problems that his and Lillian’s cash shortage caused. When finished, every casement window in Cranford was composed of square leaded lights which he had been able to obtain cheaply as a job lot somewhere along the line. Despite Stan having followed a make do and mend policy in building “Cranford”, when completed there was no illusion of it being a conversion of any kind: no converted railway coach or van, for example, as had been employed elsewhere in the district.

The Vickery family did their best to help their future son or brother in law whenever they could, making the terms of their (usually) weekend visits to “Allwood” to see what progress was being made, but, in the end, the bulk of the work fell on Stan’s shoulders. Building “Cranford” was a complete labour of love because, although she did as much as she could, acting as Stan’s labourer, Lillian was anxious to start a family and it was no good being too impatient waiting for her new home to be completed.  In 1928 she and Stan got married at Wembley Register Office.

7 of 9

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