Photographs with a Purpose

Below is a series of undated photographs that possibly may have been taken on the same day.  Noticing the two men wearing straw boaters, it would seem the pictures were ‘staged’, perhaps for a particular purpose.

A few clues may help with solving the date and reason.  The driver of the ambulance and the two motorcycle riders outside the Crown Hotel are wearing army uniforms.  It is thought the two motorcycles are Douglas 2¾ HP or Douglas 350cc (exact model to be confirmed).  This particular type of machine was used by dispatch riders during WW1.  This would seem to indicate the photos were taken between 1914 and 1918.

The men in straw boaters maybe estate/land agents advertising the attraction of living in Langdon Hills. Pointing out the shops, places of worship, bungalows and larger dwellings, post office and other local amenities in a desirable rural setting. A young couple perhaps having arrived at Laindon Station carrying bags, being shown up to the hotel for maybe an overnight stay.  A member of the hotel staff, perhaps the landlady, being invited to appear in the photos, at the front of the hotel and on the bowling green.

All supposition of course, but food for thought.

The photographs are extremely good quality, an indication they were taken by a professional, although there is nothing on them to say so.

Starting from Nightingale Parade, they provide a nostalgic visual memory of the long walk up the steep hill to reach the Crown Hotel and the lovely bluebells woods that lay beyond.

Note:  Photographs supplied by Barry Ellerby, text added by Nina Humphrey.

Nightingale Parade
Barry Ellerby
Fleetwood Lodge on the left, Primrose Lodge in the distance.
Barry Ellerby
Barry Ellerby
Nightingale Avenue. White Cottage on the right followed by St. Felix, Oak Lodge, Woodside, Dora Villa, The Gables, Mildmay, Milton House and Edith Villa.
Barry Ellerby
The Post Office
Barry Ellerby
The Post Office. with the Police Houses in the background.
Barry Ellerby
Barry Ellerby
The Crown Hotel
Barry Ellerby
The Bowling Green, Laindon Hotel.
Barry Ellerby
St. Mary's Church, High Road, Langdon Hills.
Barry Ellerby

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  • I was born at a house called ‘Josephine’ Langdon Hills Essex in 1946, my grandparents Mr and Mrs Simpson lived there. It was one of the last lot of houses on the right a semi – detached, before the final part of the hill where the Crown Hotel was at the top on the left and a shop on the right. The houses were knocked down to make way for new buildings. Does anyone have any photographs of those houses? I would love to show my family.

    By Penny Gibson 12/7/22 (12/07/2022)
  • Good to see those photos. My great uncle Harry McDonnell lived in Mimi Villa with his family. After he died it was bought by his son Donald.

    By Janet Harper née McDonnell (05/03/2020)
  • To the editor. How did you get such great photos so clear and bright. Great job.

    Editor. The originals were very good quality, all I had to do was publish them.

    By Mel lake (22/02/2020)
  • I used to drink at the Crown Hotel in the late 60s. A great photo.

    By Mel Lake (22/02/2020)
  • I noticed Mimie Villa mentioned. I had relatives who lived there.

    By Janet Harper (née McDonnell) ' (21/02/2020)
  • Hi. Is the house “Valcasta” in any of the photos? It was my grandparents house, Doris and Percy Holmes.
    Thanks, Alex.

    Editor:- Although the house ‘Valcasta’ was in Nightingale Avenue – unfortunately it isn’t shown in these photos.

    By Alex (31/08/2018)
  • What lovely photos.  I was born in Laindon in 1953 when Laindon was a lovely place to live.  There’s not much left now of ‘old’ Laindon.  It would be lovely to have it back as it used to be.  Thanks for posting such memorable photos.

    By Judy Webb (02/04/2015)
  • Nina what wonderful photos, I can’t believe there have been no comments so far.

    Whoever thought so much written and photographic history was  stored away in peoples’ homes.  Thank goodness they saved it.

    I wonder if you have any knowledge as to when the properties were built in Nightingale Avenue?  Six of the properties were made up of three semi detached houses? Edwardian style.

    Woodside, Mr & Mrs Webb, Dora Villa, Mr & Mrs Cousins, Mildmay, Mr & Mrs Grover, Milton House, Mr & Mrs Markin.

    Then there was another whose name is not listed and then the other half of that semi was Dora Villa, Mr & Mrs Nicholls.

    Mr and Mrs Donovan lived in the one not named.

    Once again thank you to all the people submitting these items.

    By Ellen English nee Burr (19/03/2015)
  • Hi Ellen.  I’m really pleased you liked the photos.  As I put them in order, going up the hill, I felt I wanted a time machine so I could jump into the picture and go on the walk and see Langdon Hills as it was back then.

    I only named the homes that I thought were in the photo.  The Donovan family lived in “Aisthorpe Villa.  Other places were:  Mimi Villa, Hillside, Valcasta, Hilda, Ty-ddewi, James Villa, Emily, Fairview, Dartmoor, View, Mandeville, Soloum, Minerva, Jubilee, Loreto and The Roost.

    Incidentally, Frederick Jobson’s brother Francis Jobson had lived in “Fairview”.

    I would think a few of the houses in Nightingale Avenue were built early last century.  (Maybe by the builder/devoloper Henry Foulger).  The 1918 Electoral Register shows at least five dwellings plus Nightingale Farm:  Mary and Henry Finch – “Edith Villa”.  Henry Gray – “Oak Lodge”.  Alice and Arthur Scrivens – “Mildmay”.  Gertrude Wallace – “Woodside”.  Jessie and William Grove – “Nightingale Farm”.  Kate and Walter Coleman – “Baswood Hall”.    

    Miss Patience Fothergill (Headmistress of Langdon Hills School) was shown living in Nightingale Avenue at that time although the name of her home isn’t given.   Two other couples also lived in Nightingale Avenue at that time but their homes aren’t named.  Edith and Robert Skaife and Alice and Frank Stillwell.

    By 1929 the names of the other houses/bungalows that are mentioned in the article appear on the list, indicating they were built in the twenties.

    By Nina Humphrey(née Burton) (19/03/2015)
  • I’d like to say thank you to Nina and Colin for putting this article together for me.  It’s a wonderful job.  And yes Ellen they are wonderful photos.  I’ve had the glass negatives for around 20 years and only recently decided to do something with them.  I’m so pleased with the end result.  My favorite one is Nightingale Avenue.

    By Barry Ellerby (19/03/2015)
  • Agreed. Really first class quality photographs. One further speculation. To the right of the ambulance and the motor cycles outside the Crown Hotel is a partially obscured lorry with part of the signage visible. Romford. It occurs to me that this is probably a delivery lorry from Ind Coope’s Romford Brewery. In its day this brewery was the largest in the world.

    By Alan Davies (19/03/2015)

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