Memories of Dry Street

William Moxley in the garden of 'The Cottage', Dry Street. (Date unknown).
The 1939 Register showing the Moxley family in residence at 'The Cottage'. Dry Street.

It is strange how a simple task can lead to a sequence of events. Currently I am planning a trip back to the UK in May/June/July which is taking me to several parts of the UK. While looking on Google for a suitable venue to have a lunch date with old school friends in the Wickford area, I happened upon your website which I now realise has several links to a lot of information about Wootton House and the sanatorium days. I am not sure that my little contribution will add any more information other than Dry Street Cottage was home to my grandparents, William and Annie Moxley for many, many years, with my grandfather working at the sanatorium until he retired in 1951. The surnames Siggers and Partridge are familiar and I am sure my elderly auntie Vi had contact with her Partridge friends until recently. She will be 97 in July.

So my little piece below is just a small excerpt from my ‘book’ for want of a better word (written about 2012) – my account of everything I have found out about my ancestors and their lives.
During a visit to UK in 2009, we took a drive down Dry Street and I found the cottage much extended and renovated but I think the photo of my grandfather outside the original cottage is interesting. Included is a copy of the 1939 Register showing my grandparents and auntie living at The Cottage in Dry Street. My mother, also Annie, was away ‘in service’.

Congratulations on your website and good luck with further research.

“But we now go back to the parents of Will, Annie and Violet. I am sad to say that I do not know too much about my Moxley grandparents’ early lives together. I know that after they had all their children they must have moved to Langdon Hills in Essex. As a child, I remember going to stay with my grandparents at a little cottage in Dry Street and I remember distinctly feeling very happy that my Grandma allowed me to have some chewing gum – something I would not normally have. I must have gone to bed still chewing the gum because next morning I distinctly remember finding the vest I was wearing was stuck to my back with a blob of gum. And I do not remember being told off about it either.

My Granddad worked at the Sanatorium Hospital located just a bit further up Dry Street from The Cottage where they lived. I believe he was a ‘boiler attendant’ at the sanatorium and later a handyman. I have a recollection of walking up Dry Street towards the sanatorium with my Grandma on a warm sunny day, whether it was to deliver his lunch or not, I cannot remember, but I do remember stopping to look at a horse, the flies buzzing around it being a part of that memory. I remember an orchard and horse radish growing in the field at the back of the house. And I also recall a big scullery, a grandfather clock and a curved narrow staircase that led to bedrooms upstairs.

After a little research recently, I discovered that the “West Ham Sanitorium”, a purpose-built sanatorium for children suffering from tuberculosis opened on 27th October, 1927 in Dry Street, Langdon Hills. The opening ceremony was performed by the Mayor of West Ham, Alderman Ernest Reed, whose council had purchased the 100 acre site including a large farm house for £12,800. I believe this is possibly when my grandparents and their children moved from the east end of London and took up residence in the cottage in Dry Street, the house being part of the job package. Not a bad move really when you think of the two locations, moving from a house next door to the pub in Canning Town to a cottage in a lovely country lane in Essex. My Mum would have been 9 in 1927 and my auntie Vi would have been 5 years old.

The construction of the sanatorium was one of a number of initiatives carried out by the West Ham Borough Council aimed at fighting the scourge of Tuberculosis – TB, a communicable disease that was most prevalent at that time. The borough’s own Tuberculosis Dispensary had opened in Balaam Street, Plaistow in 1914 for the diagnosis of suspected cases, and it was no doubt from there that many of the Langdon Hills patients had come. Various buildings, including a schoolroom and accommodation blocks, were erected in the grounds and the farm house was adapted to provide living quarters for the matron and nursing sisters. Around forty children of mixed sex up to the age of 16 were accommodated, with intake mainly coming from the East End of London. In 1948 it fell under the control of South East Essex Management Committee who converted it to an adult male intake in 1950.

The sanatorium continued as a TB hospital until closure in December 1957. Following the closure, the grounds were at one time considered as a possible site for the future Basildon Hospital. It is now in private ownership.

Grandad would have turned 65 in 1951 and I believe that was when he and Grandma came to live with us (their daughter Ann, her husband Jack, me and my sister) in Elmway, Grays, Essex.  As he retired from his job at the sanatorium they would have had to vacate the accommodation at the cottage which incidentally still exists today. I t looks to be a lovely residence now called Cherry Tree Cottage and much renovated.”

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  • Hi Lee

    There is a new development in Dry Street Langdon Hills, and the roads are name after veterans of the various conflicts …one of them is named after Siggers…if you go into search and put in ‘road names’ you will come up with a photograph with a short comment. Also if you get a copy of the Book ‘Laindon in the Great War’ there is a short write-up on George Siggers. Cheers Ken

    By Kenneth F Porter (29/09/2023)
  • Lee Siggers, I knew your dad from the high road school and Laindon football in general. Also was part of the first ever meeting of the new town Basildon on the Twinning with Helingushause in Germany where we played in the first ever matches to celebrate the twinning. Your Dad was always a happy soul and had that infectious chuckle. So sad he is no longer with us but we have the memories.

    By Trevor Reynolds (25/09/2023)
  • Hello Lee, I remember very well where your grandad,
    Dad and uncle George lived. They lived with your great grandmother Lottie[Charlotte] nee Burr my Grt aunt, sister of my grandad.
    Up to 1936 your grt grandad George Burr, aunt Lotties father lived with them after he was widowed .
    If you go onto Archive website and enter Crown Christmas Party,scroll down to 3rd picture you will see your dad and uncle George there.
    It was 1949 and your dad is 6th from the rt front row, my sister Lynda is next to him 7th from rt.
    I am 4th from rt front row.
    Your uncle George is 1st from rt 3rd row.
    We used to see them usually in summer months up the Crown obviously outside with our lemonades and crisps or arrowroot biscuits.

    I have a CD recording of your grandad talking about his childhood and life in Dry street that I was given some time ago, I am very happy to pass it on to you as it more related to you.
    The Burr family all lived quite close and aunt Lotties sister Florence lived opposite the turning for One Tree Hill, her brother Tom lived in Well Cottage and her other brother Edwin my grandfather lived in 2 Council Cottages

    I live in Laindon near to the station and would be happy for the editor to pass you my e-mail address if you want to contact me.

    Editor: Hi Ellen, I have added below a link to the’Crown Christmas Party’ article.

    By ellen english (05/06/2023)
  • My father, Ernest Siggers was born in Dry Street in 1944 and lived with his brother George and father George. I remember spending a lot of time at the allotment with my Grandad in the late 70’s but despite various re-visits. I can’t place the location of his little cottage or the allotment opposite. If anyone can assist it would be appreciated. I also had an uncle Leonard Siggers who lived in a very small bungalow next to The Chase.

    By Lee Siggers (03/06/2023)
  • I only just found the Laindon history site a few months ago and I was saddened to see that St Meachard, Dry Street had burned down. My sadness is because my family owned St Meachard and I was born there in 1954.
    My great nan, Charlotte Newby bought the house with my grandparents, Gladys and Phillip Basden in the late 1940’s.
    We lived there until 1966, when my Dad, Don Blackford of Laindon, was ordained an Anglican priest and we moved to Chelmsford. My Nan sold St Meachard and eventually we all emigrated to Western Australia, (I have a photo, if there’s a site to load it onto). I have a lot of happy childhood memories of living in Dry Street. My husband and I visited the house back in 2012.

    By Diana Lunn (29/10/2022)
  • My stepmum lived in that cottage in the 1980’s I’m the reason it caught fire when I was a baby. I was trying to find the news article on it as it had pictures of me, my dad and the firemen that helped us; the fire was an accident.

    By Kerry Binks (08/02/2022)
  • Hi Anthony,
    You may find these links to the Basildon History website of interest, they show images from the sanatorium and memories from one of the boys who spent time there.

    By Colin Humphrey (12/06/2021)
  • I have been trying to trace my grandfather, and I do know that he suffered with tb. I’m pretty sure that someone from my family, many years ago, mentioned a tb hospital, related to East Ham. Sadly he passed away around 1937, when my father was ten. Is there any way that records will show him being there? I do not know his full name, only surname. ABBOTT. I think he may of been there a few years leading up to his death.

    By anthony abbott (11/06/2021)
  • My grandmother Ethel Smith worked in the Sanatorium in the 1950’s when it was for men with TB. Her daughter Mavis Reed (nee Smith) tells me it became a dogs kennels. ?

    By Karen Cowen (26/02/2021)

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