Photo Album

They kept the Community in touch but who, why and when?

I was recently shown a small, undated album containing eleven photographs of Laindon postmen and women, a telegram boy, a policeman and a young man on a motorbike.  There are no names or information given about the people shown. 

The album was given to Denise Rowling, former manager of Laindon library, by an unknown woman who no longer wanted it. Denise lent it to me, as she knows my Grandfather (who we called Nanpa) had been a Laindon Postman for 25 years (1928 – 1952).  I was delighted when I spotted him at the back of a group (No. 1). 

My Grandfather’s name was Henry Richard Devine, although for some unknown reason, he sometimes used the name Richard Gardner and did so throughout his service at Laindon Sorting Office, his delivery round being Laindon and Langdon Hills, on foot in all weathers, including the TB sanatorium in Dry Street (now Wootton House Kennels), where he was often given cucumbers from one of the estates large greenhouses to take home.

I didn’t recognise anybody else in the photographs, so I e-mailed a few of them to my older sister Anne, to see if she recognised anyone.  She did – one of the post women is her late mother-in-law, Phyllis Peters who worked at Laindon Sorting Office and delivered the post.  Phyllis lived in a bungalow called Phylbert in Dunton Road, Laindon, near the blacksmiths, close to the beginning of Noak Hill Road.  I hadn’t recognised her, because I had only known her in her later years.

We estimated the photos had been taken around 1944.  However, as we could read the number 306 on the Policeman’s helmet, we e-mailed a copy of it to the Essex Police Museum. They got back to us very quickly with the following information.  That style of uniform came in at the end of the thirties and the Constable was most probably William Bird who served until 1941, although he was never based in Laindon, his last posting being in Grays.  Therefore, the album is probably from around 1940.

I attach the photos below and would be most interested if anybody recognises any people or places in the pictures or has any information whatsoever as to who took them.  For instance, was there a special occasion at the Laindon Sorting Office when the group pictures were taken?   Who is the young man on the motorbike and where is that promenade?

I look forward to hearing – Nina

No 1.    Seven women and only two men in this picture, hardly surprising as it was war time.  What we thought at first were birds on the top left side of the picture, are in fact buddleia flowers.  In John Bathurst’s article – “Main Post Offices of Laindon”, under / Discover Our Community / The areas of Our Community / Laindon, added 27.05.2011 he describes the Laindon sorting office as ‘a large barn like shed’, the building behind the group in this photograph would seem to fit his description.  However the building in photographs 4 and 7 is a far more substantial structure so some further research is needed here.

No. 3.  The postman next to Phyllis has pips on the shoulder of his jacket, making us think he was probably the supervisor or head postman.  We understand the bike to the right of the photo would have been painted red.

No. 4.  We couldn’t help chuckling at the the varied range of footware being worn in this picture, maybe an indication of the different areas they covered on their individual rounds. 

No. 5.  A better view of the buddleia and the rustic bench.

No. 7.  A telegram boy (this confirms John Bathurst’s comment in his article about Laindon Post Offices). Note the child’s scooter leaning against the wall, it looks home made. 

No 12.  A 1938 map of Laindon.  The Post Office and Sorting Office were almost in the centre of the map, between The High Road and Denbigh Road.  

No. 4 Left to right. Mrs Annie Higgs. Reginald Ferguson. Lily Page. ? Mr Davis.
Denise Rowling
N0 12 Laindon map 1938
Ordnance Survey Office
From left to right. ? Henry Devine(my Grandfather). Ivy Jobson. Phyllis Peters. ? ? ? ? Lily Page.
Denise Rowling
No. 2 Left to right. ? Phyllis Peters. Charles Harsant. Reginald Ferguson.
Denise Rowling
No. 3 Left to right. Phyllis Peters. ? Reginald Ferguson. Charles Harsant. Ivy Jobson.
Denise Rowling
Ivy Jobson
Denise Rowling
Ivy Jobson
Denise Rowling
No. 7 Unknown telegram boy
Denise Rowling
No. 8 PC 306 - possibly William Bird
Denise Rowling
No. 9 Unknown
Denise Rowling
No. 10 Unknown
Denise Rowling
No. 11 Unknown
Denise Rowling

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  • Hi Nina.  What a small world! As I said Len was my mum’s first boy friend.  Sadly Maureen’s twin brother died a few years back.  When we see Val on the 16th,  I will tell her I have been in touch with you. xx

    By Alan Taylor (03/12/2013)
  • Hi Alan.  Yes, Leonard May did live in Mellow Mead.  His wife Lilian stayed on there after he died in 1986.  (My husband Colin, fixed her TV for her a couple of times). She passed away in 1996.

    I remember the Venner family who lived in King Edward Road, I walked past their house every day.  I also remember Maureen Willets and her twin brother at school.     

    By Nina Humphrey(née Burton) (01/12/2013)
  • Hi Nina, yes you are right Val is my cousin. We meet up every 4 to 5 weeks for a meal with Peter Venner who is married Maureen Willetts. Did you know her? Peters mum was Mabel Saltmarsh. xxx

    By Alan Taylor (28/11/2013)
  • Hi Nina, did Leonard May end his days at Mellow Mead as my mum lived next door to them, Rose lived there as well & their brother Ern, Len was my mums first boy friend. xx

    By Alan Taylor (28/11/2013)
  • Hi Nina, yes I did know Bertie. I can place Phyllis did she die a long time before Bertie? I did not see Bertie ride his penny fathing up Crown Hill but my mum used to say he did ride his bike up Crown Hill. My mum knew them she was Marjorie  Saltmarsh (Taylor) we lived in Martindale Ave. She lived at No. 6 Railway Cottages. 

    By Alan Taylor (26/11/2013)
  • Hi Alan. Yes you are right, Phyllis died in 1971 and Bertie died in 1980.  I hope you liked the photos of Bertie on his ‘penny-farthing’ that I put on the website.   My sister Anne married their son Claude.

    I believe you are a cousin of Valerie Theobald.  Your mum and Valerie’s mum were ‘Saltmarsh’ sisters.  Valerie and I were in the same class at school.  It was lovely to meet up with her a couple of times this year after such a long time.  I vaguely remember you from school and recognised you on the long school photo.  Kindest regards.      

    By Nina Humphrey(née Burton) (26/11/2013)
  • Hallo Nina, I apologise for having expressed myself badly. I did not mean that the young constable was not named William Bird, but simply that the William Bird who lived at the Broadway was never a member of the police and the photograph was not of him.

    By W.H.Diment (29/10/2013)
  • Further to the original submission of Nina who identifies the young policeman as William Bird and that of John Bathurst of 16/08/11 who suggests that a William Bird who lived at the Broadway, Laindon may have been the policeman in question. I can say quite definitely that this William Bird was never a member of the Police. John also mentions a Lillian Bird, there were in fact two, mother and daughter.

    By W.H.Diment (28/10/2013)
  • William. Thank you for confirming the policeman in the photograph is not William Bird. His name was suggested to me by somebody who picked him out as a possible suspect in this case. I can now eliminate him from my enquiries. Best wishes.

    By Nina Humphrey(née Burton) (28/10/2013)
  • May I be permitted to answer Alan’s query of the 26/10/13 Yes the bungalow named Phylbert was located just on the west side of the stream and almost opposite the only house on the north side of Dunton Rd. for some distance which is called Barefields and was occupied by Donny Coleman..

    By W.H.Diment (27/10/2013)
  • Hi Alan Yes, my in-laws, Bertie and Phyllis Peters lived in the white bungalow on the left just over the bridge on Dunton Road. Did you know them?

    By Anne Burton (27/10/2013)
  • Hi Anne did your in-laws live in Dunton Road the Old Fortune of War end by the stream?

    By Alan Taylor (26/10/2013)
  • I have only just read the comment about Bertie Peters and his penny-farthing cycle. He was my father-in-law. When he and my mother-in-law Phyllis moved to Norfolk in 1964 he took the cycle with him and was often to be seen riding the roads of Methwold, and creating a great deal of interest. A certain schoolboy saw him one morning and couldn’t believe his eyes as he had never heard of a penny-farthing. When he got to school he drew a picture of it for his teacher who pinned it up on the wall. I am not so sure if it was the penny-farthing that Bertie rode backwards up Crown Hill; it was more probably an ordinary cycle, but this was eventually stopped because of road safety. I think riding a penny-farthing backwards would be nigh-on impossible. I am fairly certain on picture 3 the postie next to my mother-in-law Phyllis is Charles Harsant.

    By Anne Burton (21/10/2013)
  • Hi, Thank you for all the work you have done. I am looking for a property that used to be called The Rosary Hotwater Lane. If you have any map that would help or even an indication of where it might be that would be such a help Thank you so much Marianne

    By Marianne Baddiley (20/10/2013)
  • Marianne. Hot Water Lane ran east from Lee Chapel North towards Basildon Town Centre, where the Towngate Theatre now stands. To see a 1950 map, use the following website.

    By Nina Humphrey(née Burton) (20/10/2013)
  • Hi there about Bertie Peters he used to ride a penny fathing back wards up Crown Hill. I think it was every Easter time.

    By Alan Taylor (10/02/2013)
  • Some of the things that you learn through this site are so sad, but because of people like Tom Wicking we are all able to enjoy a better life, so we will always be so grateful to all those who fought in the war and survived and those who lost their lives during the war fighting for their country.

    By Joan Baterip (02/12/2012)
  • We had a BLACK EDGED Telegram delivered to ‘Peace Haven’, Pembroke Ave; early am (1955 on my birthday). WHY, all the crying & howling? (I hid under bedclothes and prayed for this to go away).

    My brother, Tony Wicking an RAF METEOR PILOT had died in operation: “Carte Blanche”. The Mk4 ejecter seat parachute failed to deploy at 500ft above a German airfield. He died on ground. 

    The RAF refused to allow the family to see body, (22 killed in same operation). 

    Tony was flight sergeant in 2243 ATC. Reg Ferris was his CO, flight lieutenant navigator RAF. 

    He had a full military funeral, guns salutes and last post. Photos were taken by RAF and are harrowing today still.

    Tony got his Wings at RAF Feltwell. His last Xmas present to me was a Kienze watch & card, I treasure with regrets.

    By Roger Wicking (01/12/2012)
  • Just been reading through all these articles: I remember Mary Luton from school and the surname Saunderson – I believe there was a Victor Saunderson at Laindon High Road School – was he a relative? 

    And Mr Bathurst, regarding Denbigh Road, I was born in number 1 in 1943, remember the Cysters at number 5 and many other neighbours. 

    The fair was Preslands and living right opposite the field, I absolutely loved their visits. 

    At the back of that field and to the left hand side of Turners big house, was a long, low building; I believe a family called Cullums lived in there, but it seems no-one recalls them?

    By Andrea (nee Pinnell) (27/09/2012)
  • Gloria, so sorry, but just seen your question about Jean Byron, but regret to say, we lost touch with the family long ago. In my wallet, I carry a photo of a group taken at Maldon back in the 1950s, and I am pretty certain Jean is one of those in the group. I was pretty soft on her, but not the other way round.

    By Brian Baylis (16/04/2012)
  • William, Phyllis Peters was my sister’s mother-in-law. Originally the bungalow in Dunton Road was called ‘Elmbridge’ but was later changed to ‘Phylbert’. 

    Here is the timeline: Phyllis married Bertie Peters in 1927. They had two children, Claude and Barbara. Phyllis died at the end of 1971. Her husband Bertie Peters married Lilian Ridgwell at the end of 1972. Bertie died in 1980. Lilian married Leonard May in 1982. Leonard died 1986. Lilian died 1996. Best wishes.

    By Nina Humphrey(née Burton) (10/02/2012)
  • I remember Phylis Peters from pre-war days when she lived in Dunton Rd., close to the bridge. Her husband worked as a bus driver for the City Coach Company. She must have died in the post war years and her husband re-married a widow, Mrs Ridgewell, who lived in the Old Fortune cottages. 

    My late wife was a great friend of hers and attended the small wedding party, but I was unable to attend due to work. My youngest son who attended managed to drink a quantity of spirits while no-one was watching and was brought home very sick. Although he is now grown up and retired, he has never in his adult life been able to contemplate drinking spirits. A lesson learned the hard way.

    By W.H.Diment (08/02/2012)
  • It was Bill Byron who had the shop at the top of Windsor Hill and a bungalow at the back, keeping chickens in the garden with his son Johnny, while Ernie Snr & Dolly lived in the large white house in Sandringham Road, at the junction with Rutland Road. My parents were friends with them for many years. It was Ernie Jnr, that got me interested in what was then Stock Car, but now known as Banger racing. Now my eldest son races.

    By Brian Baylis (13/12/2011)
  • Thanks for that Brian, I was not too sure if they had a shop. What I do recall is their back room we were always made welcome in. I also went racing with Ernie a couple of times, Romford I think, were Ronnie Hurbert and Freddy Rand the other one’s that used to go with Ernie. Ernie’s sister Jean and I went to Cornwall for a holiday in our teens, is Jean still in Laindon do you know? 

    Editor: Gloria just read it through please.

    By Gloria Sewell (13/12/2011)
  • Terry my mother Violet Sewell was always good friends with Freddy Pearman and his wife Molly. Molly became ill at one time, a problem with her brain I believe, I can recall my mother being very worried about her. Do you know if Freddy and Molly were Bobbies mum and dad?

    By Gloria Sewell (13/12/2011)
  • Just seen the last comments concerning the Devonshire Road and have lived on the road all my life and was a friend of Linda and my dad, Les Rumsey, was a pal of Lin’s dad Bobby. Also my mum Terry worked with Lin’s Mum June at Ford’s Dunton. Devonshire Road was a lovely place to grow up as everyone knew everyone and many of the original families still live there.

    By Sue Rumsey (12/12/2011)
  • When we first moved into the freshly built Devonshire Close in 64. There was a very old couple Mr and Mrs Clegg living at no 16, they had a son, who was a bit slow, called Steven Clegg. They were there into the 70s, I believe. I can find out for sure, as the young couple who moved in, had a sister who I am still in contact with, so I may be able to find out exactly when the Cleggs left.

    I remember Linda Pearman, as I was pals with her younger brother Bob!!!

    By Terry Steward (24/11/2011)
  • Many of the foregoing submissions refer to Harold Clegg. My oldest sister Violet, now long departed was married to his nephew Stanley, who lived opposite the cinema in the funeral directors. In early 1940, I had a 24hr. pass to attend the wedding. They moved to Hendon and had three children and seven grandchildren who were far scattered and I only met them at weddings and funerals.

    By W.H.Diment (11/10/2011)
  • Aha! I’m being a bit of a Miss Marples now after reading the article, ‘My Family Life’, by Joyce Bakhshi (nee Higgs), the daughter of Annie Higgs, one of the Laindon postwomen in the photographs. Joyce states that she moved to Laindon with her parents in 1941. Therefore, this would date the photograph from around 1941 or slightly later and not 1940 as I had estimated (my guess wasn’t far out however). It’s so fascinating to see little bits of information being gathered in. Let’s hope more of the Laindon postmen and women in the photographs will eventually be identified. Laindon postman Harold Clegg, a colleague of my grandfather was mentioned in earlier comments. I have been able to trace through the GPO records that he was appointed to the GPO Postal Service in September 1947 Laindon/Romford and Dagenham section, a few years after those photographs were taken. Another Laindon postman who I remember clearly in the fifties was Charles Lambert, known as ‘Waggy’. He was appointed in October 1954 to ‘Basildon’ section. Another of our regular postmen who I remember well during those times was known as ‘Bing’ because he was always singing. Unfortunately, I never knew his real name. I have been unable to trace Annie Higgs or Phyllis Peters in the appointments records. Maybe the ladies were taken on as casuals or temporary staff due to the war years and therefore not listed amongst the permanent staff in the records. i.e. – Occupational Records – Postal Service Appointment Books 1737 – 1969.

    By Nina Humphrey (nee Burton) (08/10/2011)
  • Yes June, we were at school together and I do remember the Byron children Ernie and Jean in fact I went on holiday with Jean and another lady mentioned on site lately Beryl Pasco. Mrs Byron made every one welcome in her house we would all go round there after school, it always seemed to be full of lots of things, to do with the shop I suppose. It was always very welcoming.

    By Gloria Sewell (01/09/2011)
  • Hi Gloria, I think that I remember you being in my class at Markham’s Chase about 1952/53. I was in class 1 but I cannot remember the name of the teacher. He left in 53 to be head master at Langdon Hills school. Mr Devine was the class 2 teacher. I was also taught by Miss Pike who loved to throw things at you if you did not pay attention and also Miss Balls.

    Annie Higgs, the post lady in picture 4 was my mother-in law. She delivered mail in Langdon Hills and also telegrams during the war. She lived in Basildon Drive which is one of the very few Laindon roads that still remain. 

    As a child I lived in Buckingham Road which was at the top of Windsor Hill and walked to school through Blue House Farm. Buckingham Road was between Tylers Avenue and Cumberland Road on the map. At the top of the road was Byron’s Stores. He lived in nearby Sandringham Road with his family.

    By June Higgs (Ferguson) (29/08/2011)
  • I’m not related to Freddy Pearman. My dad is Bob Pearman. He is quite well known for being a good dart player in his younger days.

    By Linda Hopcroft (maiden name Pearman) (17/08/2011)
  • The person on the left of photograph 4 is my late Nan Annie Higgs who was a postwoman in the second world war. Great photos.

    By Linda Hopcroft (maiden name Pearman) (16/08/2011)
  • A further historical comment or two might be of interest. Firstly concerning the photograph of the police constable who may have been identified as William Bird. Bird is a fairly common surname and by the end of WW2 or soon after there were some fifteen families in the area using that surname. However, amongst this lot there was only one William and he and Lillian Bird lived at number 6, the Broadway, High Road, Laindon. Could this be the police constable based at Grays but resident at Laindon? We know there were fairly strong connections between Laindon and Grays Thurrock as will be referred to in the next paragraph. 

    Regarding Harold ‘Harry’ Clegg the postman. He and Betsy his wife lived in Tavistock Road in a bungalow named “Hedley”. Hedley was a few doors away from “Romansleigh”, the residence of the Miller family. William Miller, the paterfamilias, when first I met him, was the “Bacon” Manager at J. W. Pigg at Grays. Pigg’s was at the time, apart from the Grays Co-op, the largest grocery retail business in Thurrock with a number of shops in the area. Its main premises were at the corner of Southend Road and Lodge Lane, Socketts Heath, which was, and probably still is, known as “Piggs Corner” It was here that Bill Miller worked, travelling to Grays from Laindon to do so. You may be surprised to learn that, even at the height of severe wartime rationing during WW2, some Laindon residents, the majority of whom were “registered” for their rations with local traders, continued to be supplied by Piggs who, because the firm had no shop in the area, continued the weekly delivery service they had assiduously built up in the decades before the war, petrol rationing not withstanding. Bill Miller, wearied of travelling to Grays during the Blitz, and managed to secure the position of Manager in the grocery department of the Laindon branch of the Grays Co-op. Being a large, bluff man, with plenty of just the right sort of chatter (in appearance he fitted in well with the traditional ”Dusty Miller” image of the forebears who had supplied his surname) and collecting one’s rations at the branch was always a bit of a laugh when he was around! Unfortunately, his impressive bulk did not serve him well and his death, in his early fifties, was sudden and unexpected.

    By John Bathurst (16/08/2011)
  • Linda; may I ask you if you are related to Freddy Pearman, a well known Laindon man.

    By Gloria Sewell (16/08/2011)
  • John. Postman Harold Clegg had indeed been a friend and colleague of my Grandfather. ‘Nanpa’ as we called him, died in January 1961 but Harold and his wife Betsy continued to visit my nan Jessica Devine regularly in the seventies when she lived in sheltered accommondation in Cromer Avenue. I agree that Harold doesn’t appear in the photos as I am sure I would have recognised him. Harold and Betsy had twin daughters, Jennifer and Janeen born around in 1940 and a son, Stephen who was born in 1944.

    By Nina Humphrey (14/08/2011)
  • The Photographs: One of the postmen employed at the Andrews’ Laindon Post Office was a Mr. Clegg, first name not known but either Harold, or Norman or William is offered. If Mr. Clegg is included in any of the photographs is not certain. 

    It is good to have confirmation of the fact that telegrams were received at the Laindon sorting office and were delivered to recipients from there. Receiving a telegram was a very rare event and always led to a worried debate as to whether the “telegraph boy” should be given a tip or not for his trouble. The usual tip was 6 old pence (2½ pence). The fact that messages may have arrived at Laindon via the new-fangled teleprinter system is not clear, most probably they were telephoned because as far as I can remember they were always handwritten. I can only remember one such in 1945 when my mother’s eldest sister sent a message from Ommen in the Netherlands to say that she and her husband and my four cousins were on their way to Laindon after the German Army had been forced to relinquish their occupation, thus ending several years of anxiety for my grandparents and the rest of our family. 

    The Map: The bulk of the map is of the south of the parish of Little Burstead, the parish boundary being shown as the series of dots visible in the High Road, although by 1938 this had become irrelevant since all or most of the area on the map was now part of the “Laindon West” ward of the Billericay Urban District Council, parish councils having been abolished earlier in the decade. In the earlier Ordnance Survey map of 1898, to a similar scale, Denbigh Road and the much truncated Durham Road were the only roads shown as having been “set out” to the west of Laindon High Road, most of the new intended roads being to the east of that thoroughfare. Denbigh Road, as can be seen, was then a turning off the High Road, It was never made-up and only the east end consisted of a gravel drive to a point just west of the sorting office. It is now totally absorbed into the Durham Road Industrial Estate with access only possible from Durham Road itself. 

    On the map illustrated, the first building on the left was an attractive bungalow built in the late 20s or early 30s called “Conway”. This was the boyhood home of the Rev. Arthur Dunlop, sometime curate of St. Nicholas parish church, Laindon-cum-Basildon under the late Rev. Reynolds before Arthur’s appointment as the Rural Dean of Maldon, Essex. By 1949, “Conway” was in the possession of Charlie Markham, whose dairy business was further north off the map, on the west side of the High Road. 

    The group of habitations at the turn of the crescent that was Denbigh Road was numbers 1 to 5 “Denbigh Terrace”, perhaps the then oldest surviving habitations of the ”plotlands” era. At number 5 lived Alf Cyster whose greengrocer business was in the High Road between the Post Office and Green’s Grocery store on the corner of Durham Road (now incorrectly known as “Parkinson’s corner”) In 1938 Cyster the Greengrocer was taken over by the Townsend family of “Liberty Hall”, Hot Water Lane, Lee Chapel who expanded the business by opening a stall on the corner of the High Road, opposite Churchill-Johnson’s and the, then, Windsor Club. This new stall was situated on what was then known as “Cyster’s Field”: the Townsend Family remain in business in St. Martin’s Square, Basildon. 

    Behind the Post Office (west of) on the north side of Denbigh Road can be seen, on the map, an undeveloped area or small field opposite “Conway”; this was sometimes used as an alternative site to the playing field at the rear of the Laindon Hotel for visiting fairground showmen. The setting up of a fair, thus, at either site in the middle of the “village”, was not considered all that popular by many because of the noise that accompanied its presence late into the evening. This lack of popularity may, in fact, have concealed a resentment that the fairground people were in a position to generate their own electricity while until the late 1930s most of Laindon had to make-do with either gas or oil lamps!

    By John Bathurst (13/08/2011)
  • Nina, the fascinating thing for me is the map – have any of our correspondents got more coverage of this OS Map 1938? I would like to see the whole of the village at this level of detail – thanks Richard.

    Watch this space Editor

    By Richard Haines (12/08/2011)
  • Hello Richard. Yes, my husband Colin and I have the whole map. We are in contact with Ian Mott about it and will make it available. Nina

    By Nina Humphrey (12/08/2011)

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