The Laindon Hotel 1941-1942

Laindon Hotel Darts Team

I was born in 1924 in Custom House, Albert Docks, East London. In 1938, when I was 14 years old I was working as a apprentice in cabinet making earning ten shillings a week in Hackney. My father was an inspector of arms. The Woolwich Arsenal was bombed (making it dangerous to live in London) so a friend of my father got me a job at the Laindon Hotel in 1941, I was 17 years of age.

I was given free meals and free lodging and a small wage. My main job was setting up the tables but I also worked behind the bar serving drinks, should not have done because I was under age.

The Laindon Hotel had only a few rooms available for guests to stay, it was more a club with a bar where people would meet. Concerts were regularly held there they became know locally as Sods Operas. The room held about 80 people who would be entertained by comedians, dancers, musicians and various cabaret acts.

Jack Holman was the governor and held regular ‘meetings’ round a large table. Local shopkeepers would attend, among them was Mr Toomey and his 2 sons (they owned a small garage) and Mr Bassett, who had a hardware shop nearby that would sell various things.

The Freemasons held meetings on the first floor about once a month.

I only worked at the hotel for about 9 months to a year before leaving to join the Navy in late 1942 when I was 18.

After coming out of the Navy, I secured a job on ten shillings a week as a carpenter in Hackney, later I would travel down to Basildon with the building firm and worked on many of the new houses being built. I also remember working on one of the New Schools to be built ‘Swan Mead’.

Soon afterwards in 1951 my wife (Iris) and I were given a house in Redgrave Road, Vange. We were the 23rd family to move in and we are still there today.

I then got a job at Carreras, while working there I used to return to the Laindon Hotel with a couple of colleagues who use to play the Drums and Piano and I would sing Ballads. I appeared in a play at the Towngate theatre called Boerthals Hill, the old Anglo Saxon name for Basildon, in celebration of the 40th anniversary of the new town.

The hotel fell into ruin and was later destroyed by fire. 

Additional Notes – by Ken Porter

Laindon Hotel was built in 1896 at a cost of £3310 and the architect was a T.T.Matthews of London. It was part of the plan to having a thriving racecourse at Laindon. Though it appears that a course was laid out with a fence round it only a few races actually took place and when the proprietor of the Hotel, Alfred Paul, died in the early 1900s the course disappeared.

However, the Laindon Hotel became a hive of activity with fairs, School sports and football, all competing on the ground at the rear of the Hotel.

Bowls were played at the side of the hotel. It finally fell empty in the late 1980s and was demolished in 1991 after a number of arson attacks.

Laindon Lodge (Freemason) was officially formed at a meeting that took place in the Laindon Hotel on the 1st February 1930. There were initially 12 founder members, Jack Holman being one of them.

By the third meeting at the Hotel, three further founder members were added and the Lodge motto “Dante Qui Je Puis” (As much as I can I will) was adopted. By the time of the October meeting they had received their warrant and their number 5230.

The lodge now meet at the Orsett Masonic Centre, Rectory Road, Orsett.

Note by Editor:  Plans were in hand to refurbish Laindon Hotel prior to the fire, but were abandoned as a result of the arson attack, that made the costs inhibitive. 

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  • I always wondered what sort of overnight guests stayed at the Laindon Hotel. Tourists? Surely not! Not in that era and what did Laindon have to offer tourists? Salesmen? What businesses were large enough to attract a salesman who entailed the expense of staying overnight? Particularly with the railway so close to take any salesman back home the same day. The only thing I can think of was the anticipated crowds from the hoped for race track who, perhaps coming from afar, would stay overnight. Which never materialized. So who did stay there? Anyone? Are there any records or guest lists remaining which might shed some light on the question?

    By Alan Davies (12/07/2020)
  • My uncle David Ellerby unfortunately has passed away, lovely to hear his name mentioned.

    By Michelle Johnson (11/07/2020)
  • Hi Margaret

    We would love to hear your mother’s stories, if you can remember them…and do you have any photographs we can share?

    By Kenneth Porter (30/07/2019)
  • I was so pleased to read this, as Jack Holman, mentioned in the article, was my great uncle and I have been trying to find out more about him and the hotel for ages. My mother (Ena Holman, as she was then) used to stay at the Laindon and had a fund of stories about it. Featuring large were the fancy dress parties, sports days and the cleaning lady who was discovered hiding stolen bottles of spirits in her cleaning pail!

    By Margaret Grey (30/07/2019)
  • Did anyone know a Dinese Foley?

    By Norrie Fleming (05/09/2018)
  • I have a relative that I found in the 1939 list working as a barman. He was William G Lawrence. He was described as a barman (heavy worker). Those who have done bar work will know it is and probably was very hard then. I am out on a limb here to see if anyone has a photo or remembers him?

    By David Parker (11/03/2016)
  • I can remember sitting in the overcrowded waiting room at Daisybank as a child, waiting to see Dr Chowdhary. He had been up all night (duty at Billericay Hospital?) He put his head round the door and said to the oldtimers in the corner “You go down and see Jack Holman at the Laindon Hotel. He can give you something that will do you more good than my medicine!”

    Half a dozen old men got to their feet shame faced and left. They had only come in for a sit down!

    By Mary Cole (30/08/2014)
  • Thanks to everybody for sharing your memories. My uncle was Roy Holman, probably the son of Jack Holman. I remember my childhood summer holidays with Roy and his wife Margaret.

    By Frank Carman (29/05/2014)
  • I will have to find the photo of dad and King having a pint at the Shepherd and Dog, I remember one of my brothers telling me that dad had lost his licence opps! So the only way to get the pub was via horse lol, he was nothing if not inventive! :). I can’t be positive but the first horse he rode to lead the carnival was called ‘Jane’, she was more slender looking than King, he came along later and was a star in his own right. The lion was ‘ Rema ‘ I believe.

    Editor: In another comment from Anne, she informs us that the pools win was £65,000 not £75,000

    By Anne Foyle (22/05/2013)
  • Hello everyone, I would just like to say that in the darts team photo front left, Bill Furlong is my uncle, my dad Charlie Furlong also used to play for the darts team. great to find some history in Laindon.

    By Paul Furlong (28/04/2013)
  • Hi Anne, so good to read and see the clip of uncle Bill and King. I am a daughter of one of your dad’s sisters! Can’t believe I have found you after all these years!

    By Lynn Eleftheriades (10/01/2013)
  • I played for Laindon United on the Hotel Ground – in goal when I was 16. I recall end of the season games in the Victoria Trophy against other local teams, when up to a thousand people would pack into the ground for the Final. 

    I remember Bill Foyle – he won £75,000 (this should be £65,000 see Anne Foyle’s comments) on the Pools – and I used to knock around with his son Billy. I last saw Billy when he had the lion at his place near Crays Hill. 

    I remember John Shipley. A couple of names I remember playing with for Laindon United are Frankie Gammon, and Dave Ellerby and Ronnie Webb as he neared the end of his playing days. Bill Mills was the Club Secretary

    By David Harrison (07/03/2012)
  • Hello everyone, you are right dad did have a Palamino called ‘King’. I have a photo of my dad and King having a pint at the Shepherd and Dog at the top of Crays Hill. He used to lead both the Laindon and Wickford carnival. 

    By Anne Foyle (Bill's daughter) (06/03/2012)
  • Anne. Have you seen the Pathe news feature film from 1966, featuring your father and his horse King that I put on this website a few weeks ago. You can find it under Memories, Community Memories and is entitled ‘King and the Laindon Hotel’. Best wishes.

    By Nina Humphrey(née Burton) (06/03/2012)
  • While I did not know Ernie Hawkins, being from a different age group, I knew his mother quite well as Winnie Oakley and his uncle Billy whio lived in a bungalow called ‘Llanberis’ on the corner of Church Rd. and the A127 only a short distance from Keith Knock’s mother Joyce Bull’s house on the A127. They were both very old Laindon families and although my memories only date back to the 1920s, their ancestors must have played a part in the history of Laindon.

    By W.H.Diment (29/10/2011)
  • William; Ernie as I remember him was quite character, my second husband Jim Muir and he were best pals along with another contributer to the site Andrea Ashe’s husband Chris Ash. The three of them keep the Laindon hotels profits well up, along with another Laindon character Johny Shipley, as you walked in the front door any night you could guarantee there they would be holding up the bar. But what a great crowd they were in the 1970s. Ernie I recall was well known as a good plasterer, he re-plastered my kitchen for me when Artex was the rage.

    I also Ernie was my jiving partner as we both danced with the same style. One of the songs I remember dancing with Ernie was “I see a bad moon rising” performed by Clearwater, I do believe. If your out there Ernie give us a few words we would love to hear from you.

    By Gloria Sewell (29/10/2011)
  • Yes Gloria it was Brian Shortish, I am trying to remember his wife’s name. I remember the disco and Ernie Hawkins he lived in Royston Ave., with his mum next door to Nightingales.

    By Keith Nock (17/10/2011)
  • Yes Keith, he did and he was one of Laindon’s best plasterers (Ernie Hawkins), I wonder if he is still around? A little funny story Ernie was going out with one if my friends June they had a falling out and he bought her some chocolates which she threw at him, he promply left we looked at each other, she said, “too nice to waste” upon which we started to pick them up and eat them so funny at the time.

    By Gloria Sewell (17/10/2011)
  • Ernie is still well and lives in Brentwood now. Tony and Val Matthews lives in Ernie’s old bungalow in Royston Avenue.

    By Andrea (17/10/2011)
  • Hi Keith, round about 1970 it was a very busy pub then, we used to have a disco downstairs. I worked in the evening Earnie Hawkins, John Shipley, Jim Muir, Pat Burr were regulars. We were one of the first pubs to have the push button pumps, I could do 4 pints at least at a time. I also worked at the Railway in Pitsea for a little while Joe was the manager there, a very big man. I think the Joker’s manager was Brian Shortish with dark hair, sorry can’t be clearer it will all pop up one night when I’m sitting here then I will tell you more.

    By Gloria Sewell (16/10/2011)
  • Hi Gloria, what years did you work in Joker I was regular in Joker I remember barmaids called Rose and Rita. The manager at that time was Brian.

    By Keith Nock (15/10/2011)
  • While we are on Public Houses in Laindon does anyone remember me working in the Joker pub when it first opened. I in fact won the best barmaid for the South East Region, I can’t recall which brewers awarded it but I didn’t win the national award ahhhh:(

    By Gloria Sewell (14/10/2011)
  • Hallo Gloria, of course you are right, Billy Foyle whom I knew well did lead the carnival on King many times, my comment was actually in response of the white horse drinking a pint of beer beer which might have been either, or both and was no reflection on the veracity of your memories.

    By W.H.Diment (13/10/2011)
  • Hallo Gloria, of course you are right, Billy Foyle whom I knew well did lead the carnival on King many times, my comment was actually in response of the white horse drinking a pint of beer beer which might have been either, or both and was no reflection on the veracity of your memories.

    By W.H.Diment (13/10/2011)
  • Hello Keith, of course I knew your mum worked for Lionel Hyatt at the P.o.W. in later years and looking at the photo of the pram races, I think the lady standing back in the doorway may have been Joyce. I do not think it was Frances, as she had much lighter hair.

    By W.H.Diment (13/10/2011)
  • Hi Bill, I am not sure if its mum. The man standing by Lionel Hyatt is Ricky Minns, I worked with him. I remember you singing in Prince of Wales saloon bar, Bill and Arthur Mason used to give a song.

    By Keith Nock (13/10/2011)
  • Hello William, I can’t be sure of the year but Billy Foyle definitely led the carnival on his Palamino horse with his white hat on and Mr Hillburn haulage co provided a lot of the floats. I think that on the Basildon History site there is a picture of him leading the carnival from the Evening Echo, can’t be sure of dates though perhaps someone else can help on this.

    By Gloria Sewell (12/10/2011)
  • Hi Bill, yes you are right mum worked in the Laindon Hotel and Prince of Wales when Lionel Hyatt was the owner

    By Keith Nock (12/10/2011)
  • Further to Gloria Sewel’s recollection of the white horse, in 1952 the Laindon Carnival was led by another gentleman on a large white horse. He was a Mr. A.Mitchell, a baker from Vange.

    By W.H.Diment (11/10/2011)
  • Keith Nock is correct, the dart player he mentioned was Bill Furlong. He also mentioned his uncles, but is he aware that his mum used to work there when she was a young girl. Aso Gloria Sewell is also probably correct in indentifying the horse as Billy Foyle’s King but luckily, he never brought his lion Rema out for a drink .

    By W.H.Diment (06/10/2011)
  • Hello again Ken I think the horse you may be talking about was a palomino white mane and tail owned by Billy Foil and this was most likely after one of the carnivals as the parade used to go to the back of the Laindon Hotel for judging, Billy Foyle used to lead the carnival on his horse. Gloria

    By Gloria Sewell (29/07/2011)
  • Wasn’t there a story and photos of a big white horse having a pint in the bar there one day, possbly late 50s early 60s, anyone remember?

    By Ken Page (26/07/2011)
  • I remember my uncle telling me they used to get up and sing, also at one time they had bunny girls there.  Also I am sure the man on bottom row left in darts team is William Furlong

    By Keith Nock (19/07/2011)

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