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.