Baigent Works

Late 50s early 60s

As I read the memories of old Laindoners on this site I see the Baigent Works in the High Road mentioned by a few people, so I thought it would be interesting to record my memories of it and maybe other people would like to add to it with theirs.

Mine begin in approx 1956 when my mother became a partner in a dressmaking business there with a Mr Raphel Hymas Jacobs, her name was Violet Sewell. They at first made mens trousers and then they won some contracts with Lewis’s and Chelsea Girl. It was a very busy little place, there were about 20 sewing machines and they all ran off the same motor at the end of the line, so when one machine belt broke everyone stopped while it was being repaired.

The girls sat in two rows opposite each other machining, I will never forget the noise they all made when they were all working. In the middle of the factory was a big old iron stove that had to be topped up all day as this was the only form of heating for the factory. As you came in the front door there was a small office on the left and then there were three or four ironing boards, two big Hoffman pressers, then the stove and then the two rows of machinist. No way would any of it pass health and safety today, but I do recall the girls there were a jolly bunch and the radio blared out all day mostly Elvis.

On the left of the stove were some wooden stairs leading to what was called the finishing room, it contained approx four overlockers, a buttonhole and button machine and two felling machines. Out the back door was a long garage type building, this was the cutting room Mr Jacobs always cut his own work to make sure he got every inch of cloth used. The better he cut it the more “cabbage” he got which means when the customer sent say four rolls of cloth to make say 100 garments and you got 110 out of it 10 was your “cabbage”, nice one.

He was so funny he never let any of the girls buy any garments from there, his idea was that if he sold them to you and you wore it for work he wouldn’t know if you had pinched it or not, strange man but then it takes all sorts, he was very good to my mother, but I can remember her working 24 hrs some days to get an order out. Lunch times the girls would get chips from the chippy next door, I think it was Card’s can’t be too sure on that one. The little general stores opposite where the girls got the milk coffee etc. was called Steer’s and my mother used to get the girls wages from Lloyds Bank which was also opposite.

I worked there for a short time after I got married, I will never forget I was expecting my first son and as my husband was in the army I used to go there to help where I could to pass the time. One day a lady called Ivy said to me what’s wrong Gloria you keep flinching I keep getting these pains I said. Then the whole factory stopped, everyone’s watches came out and yes I was in labour that night at 12:20 I gave birth to my first son, now that’s what they call working till the end. I really wish I could remember the names of more of the ladies that worked for my mother, I do recall they were a great lot. I hope this article will jog some memories and some one will record some more memories of Baigent Works.

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  • I went through secondary school at LHR with Geoffrey Schroder who used to live in Manor Road. I believe he was the younger brother of Peter mentioned in previous posts. I also seem to recall the car sales known as Laindon Autodrome being linked to the family until the business became Longmans Motors eventually moving to Long Riding in Basildon. 

    By Donald Joy (01/09/2015)
  • Hi Gloria, I was showing my nan this site today and we came across your post regarding my nan Rosa Strickland and my late grandad Peter Shroder. She has asked me to reply on her behalf and thank you for the best wishes. 

    She has moved back to Laindon in the last year and is enjoying spotting some old friends that are still around Laindon. She said it’s bringing back lots of lovely memories from school etc, in fact her garden backs on to what used to be Laindon High Road School. 

    She’s asked me to ask anyone that remembers her and Peter to pass any messages on to me and I can show her 🙂 best wishes to you Gloria from both me and my nan x

    By Sherrie Comer (10/04/2013)
  • Hallo Gloria, I am sorry to disagree with you in respect of Henbest’s shops were just to the south of Carey’s Timber yard there was a small road running east from the High Road, this was named High Street and Henbest mens tailor stood on the south corner of the junction and Maud Henbest’s ladies shop stood almost opposite on the west side of the High Road. I have a copy of the Laindon and Pitsea Recorder for 1934 which advertises Henbest tailors at No.1 High Street on the the corner and Henbest’s ladies shop as The Blue shops, Laindon High Road.

    By W.H.Diment (16/09/2012)
  • Gloria’s contribution of the 15/03/12 has clarified some of the confusion I had in respect of the Country clubs, as she states that the club next to Dirty Bills was a hall built on the side and opened in 1957.

    The Laindon Park Country Club next to Parkinsons was a substantial two-story building, as can be seen in the photograph of the Arterial Road and was open in the early 1930’s.  It seems to have disappeared after the war, but I cannot put a date to it.

     However, I have reservations that the club next to Dirty Bills was called the Essex Country Club because in 1957 the club in Basildon Road , of which I was a member was called the Essex Country Club; it was also the home of the Laindon C.C.

    By W.H.Diment (15/03/2012)
  • Hello William, Yes, you could well be right on this one. I don’t know and hopefully the researchers could also help. My memories of Baigents late 50s early 60s was coming from St. Nicholas Lane after the chip shop, Labour exchange etc was Baigents then standing on its own a little further up past just a small amount of shrubland was Henbest not a very big shop I think it was mostly ladies ware? Then there was a longer stretch of more shrubland indeed opposite Co-op, hardware, Buckenhams etc then some houses including Dr Chowdharys and so on. 

    When were the toilets built William that stood where the Laindon Link was built opposite Parkinson’s? I remember using them end of 60s don’t ask me how this date sticks in my mind that would be telling a girl has to have some secrets. After that I recall was Morris’s outfitters I loved that shop and its models, out of my reach but I recall wandering through the front entrances in awe of all its wares. 

    Fred Penson, later to become one of Laindon’s bobbies, lived at the back of the shops there I would go there to visit him and his sister Pearl, who like me, loved to dance and sing. Fred was in my class at school his sister Pearl was in my brothers, think I got that right. I also feel almost sure as well, that the Income Support office was also along there opposite the Laindon Hotel early 60s maybe where the big Post Office later was. Please forgive if I am not spot on it is 50 years ago and I am asking my grey cells to come together on all this.

    Next to Laindon Hotel going towards the station I am sure Derek Jenkins had a furniture shop I remember buying a second hand 3 piece there when I first married 1960. 

    As William said I am also willing to be corrected due to many exciting happenings over the last 50 odd years.

    Editor: This will be moved to a new section on the High Road soon.

    By Gloria Sewell (15/03/2012)
  • I have had a DVD made up from around 20 short Super 8 films from 70s mostly of my children but what a lovely surprise to see lots of the people mentioned on this site Especially Chris and Andrea Ash who thanks to this site I have got back in touch with after losing touch for nearly 30 years I will bring the film with me for a Memory Day in case there are places that no longer exist on it Ian could use on site.

    Gloria: We could use it with pleasure.

    By Gloria Sewell (15/03/2012)
  • Reading Gloria’s memories of Baigents, dated 27/08/11. I agree that it was situated opposite Manor Rd with a fishmongers and the Labour Exchange separating it from the corner of St Nicholas Lane but suggest going south along the High Rd it was a long way to Henbests. There was a long strip of scrubland stretching to opposite the Co-op and then several houses including Dr Chowdhary’s and Butlers funeral directors, then Carey’s timber yard, then Charsleys or Curtis’s shoe shop, although I cannot remember in which order they occupied the shop, then Mr Henbest’s shop, Mrs Henbest’s was on the other side of the road. The model shop which has already been featured was adjacent to Henbests. 

    This is how I remember it, but I may be corrected as I have no records of old Laindon and being more than two decades past my allocated sell by date the researchers who subscribe to the archives may have more accurate information.

    By W.H.Diment (13/03/2012)
  • The letter of Gloria referring to the danger of a broken ankle from a souped up m/cycle reminded me of an incident before the war when my brother and a friend decided to carry out a similar upgrading which they did by grinding down the cylinder head and replacing the gasket with very thin brown paper and gold size to increase compression. When finished the running push start took place and the moment the clutch was let in, there was a huge bang and a cloud of ‘steam’ enveloped the bike. The inner core of the sparking plug had blown out and entered the petrol tank, fortunately, it did not penetrate the top of the tank otherwise the rider may have been shot. It shows that such modifications are best left to experts.

    By W.H.Diment (11/03/2012)
  • Hello William, I can relate to what you said about the big bang when the bikes started, I remember it well but luckily it never blew the plugs but I do remember head gaskets being replaced often (perhaps Brian Cordell can tell us why) and being replaced by one David had cut himself from a thin sheet of aluminium; hence as I have previously said I got used to motorbike engines and tins of Gunk and Swarfega on the kitchen floor.

    Nutty you are quite right Dirty Bills was “Mmmm”, dirty but we always drank cans of drink.  In defence of this man, he never turned us away and provided us with a regular hangout.  He was so tolerant of us all, standing there in his old brown overall and dirty old flat cap, his blond wife Pat with a ciggy hanging from her mouth. They were a kind old couple who I do believed loved our company or I suppose he would have shut early but he always stayed open as long as we were in there. Do you remember the beautiful wooden organ that stood floor to ceiling in the right hand corner of the café; he would start it up for us sometimes, it played by rolls of paper going round a drum and little spikes making the tune. Sorry to anyone who knows about organs but I can’t describe it any other way. I know the cafe burnt down, I do hope that beautiful organ was saved.

    About the club, yes it was next door to Dirty Bills but don’t worry William you are both correct and may be excused a little name mistake after so many years. The Essex Country club, later named The Irish Club was indeed in Basildon Road, William, just a little down from Laindon Park School. The club next door to Dirty Bills was a kind of hall built on the side and reopened about 1957 as a drinking establishment that could have been called The Essex Club, I am not too sure which. Yes it was very popular with local people and the young soldiers from the camp, in fact I got under age intoxicated on 2 Cherry Bs there and had to be marched home by my mother (still never taught me a lesson though). I seem to recall that lots of people from London began to use it and we stopped going there.

    Sorry don’t know why or when Mr & Mrs James sold The Laindon Service station on the London bound side of the A127. It was turned into a restaurant and bar, I can remember using it in the 70s and they did a fantastic T Bone. Did you sing in there? I know they had a few local acts perform there.

    We sometimes used a café further down the road called Wayletts, it would have been about where the Fords Dunton Research Centre is but on the Southend bound side.

    I now live in Suffolk and have had a small amount of contact with David; he talks to our son Tony though. Ray Nuth I have not heard of since I moved here 28 years ago but nice to see you on the site Nutty.

    By Gloria Sewell (11/03/2012)
  • I suggest that Nutty Keeble is somewhat confused as to the location of Dirty Bills cafe and his coment that the next building west of Parkinsons garage on the A127 was the Laindon Park Country Club. Another subscriber to the archives suggested this later became Dirty Bills. 

    Whether or not this is correct I do not know, but I do know that that the Essex Country Club which later became the Irish Club, although previously known as the Basildon Country Club and before that the Laindon Park Country club was nowhere near this area being located in Basildon Rd near the junction of School Lane (Church Rd) and there was never a cafe in that vicinity.

    By W.H.Diment (10/03/2012)
  • Hi Gloria, I do remember dirty Bills cafe, the name of the cafe was an understatement. I used to drink in the club next door it was called the Essex Country Club and then changed to the Irish Club.  I drank in there with Ray Nuth and some other friends, it was great.

    Do you still live local and do you know the whereabouts of David your ex, or Ray Nuth, please keep in touch.

    By Nutty Keeble (09/03/2012)
  • Hi there, Yes you are quite right, David was the one with the fast bike he was my husband, but is no longer. He had a 350 BSA Gold Star DBD32 I think, Brian Cordell will correct me if I am wrong. 

    You may remember the only way it started was with a bump because of the very high compression and the risk of a kick back (broken ankle). It was not unusual to see me pushing him across the playground and then me running behind and jumping on while it ticked over with the delicious smell of Castrol R in our wake as we clutch slipped down the High Road. 0 to 60 in a few seconds fantastic!

    Freddy was always the comedian of the two a really popular guy he married a dark girl called Sandy, unfortunately Fred has now passed away.

    I still talk occasionally to David Ray Nuth who was another one who played the guitar, he was often seen on the back of a bike with his guitar on his back. 

    Do you also recall Dirty Bills round the corner on the A127 going towards London and Hatters a bit further up. 

    My brother Fred Sewell had a V8 Pilot amongst other cars. Hope this helps some of your grey cells, my main hope is to hear more from you Nutty.

    By Gloria Sewell (06/03/2012)
  • Hi Chris, its lovely to indulge in this amazing technology, it’s better than carrier pigeon and smoke signals how things have changed.

    Getting to you myself, Dallas and Mathews we could call ourselves the fabulous four or the terrible tackers, but Chris you were definitely the best mainly because you always did under the stairs and I always pulled the baton off. 

    I remember the nights in the Fortune of War such lovely memories, I have tried cutting a record but my knife wasn’t sharp enough, joking aside I have done a couple of CDs on karaoke over the last five years. 

    I would love to meet you again, maybe you could come to the Q.Ball near the Gala Bingo we are there most Sunday nights, fabulous karaoke, lovely club and great bar manager never any trouble, not like the Fortune. We are there most Sundays, it would be so nice to see you again. 

    By Nutty Keeble (05/03/2012)
  • Thats it! Nutler Keeble, the correct name just as I remember it. Say Mama can I go out tonight, say mama would it be alright……how appropriate for those days, 14 years old and out with the big boys, quiffed hair, Tru-gel, the motor bikes standing in LHR play ground and rock music coming from the assembly hall. All my mates in there, all the girls dolled up, what fantastic days, never to return. Well done Nutler for going onto the stage and taking over, they used to end up with What’d I Say as I remember, who was the group, big tall blond singer with quiff?

    By Richard Haines (04/03/2012)
  • Nutty Keeble – well this is a big hi from my other half you would know as Chrissy Ash – he says you had a really good voice! He would love a line from you. You had some great laughs together him, you, Dallas and Matthews, all Laindon lads. Richard – About Gene Vincent’s Say Mama – we’ve got that record – still love it.

    By Andrea (02/03/2012)
  • It’s so nice to hear from friends after such a long time and to be able to talk about the past, but it seems like only yesterday. 

    There is so much to talk about but I will need to be asked questions. I do remember Dave and Freddy Rand, who went to Laindon High Road school with me. One of them had a powerful motorbike, I believe it was a Vincent, please prompt me to say more.

    I also remember the words to Hey Mama by Gene Vincent.

    Does anyone remember the railway carriage in the woods in between the A127 and Holst Avenue that someone lived in?

    By Nutty Keeble (01/03/2012)
  • Nutty Keeble, can you still remember the words to Say Mama by Gene Vincent? You were a legend mate.

    By Richard Haines (29/02/2012)
  • Hi Bob! Long time no hear you. Just for the record, I remember you were both Nutty and Nutla! You were really the resident singer down at the Fortune, I guess you were “Acting unpaid” then!

    Do you remember when sometimes people off the coaches used to try their luck at singing in the Saloon bar, we were quiet and polite until they finished when we used to chant “We want Nutla!” until they got the message! Really miss those nights. Did you ever try cutting a record?

    By Colin Clarke (29/02/2012)
  • Hello it’s Nutty Keeble here still going strong and still singing.

    Editor: Can we please have your side of the story

    By Nutty Keeble (28/02/2012)
  • Wow! A blast from the past, hope you can remember some of us? You were a little older than me, I think. Do you recall David and Freddy Rand? I hope you’r going to tell some of your memories to add to ours, look foward to it.

    By Gloria Sewell (28/02/2012)
  • Richard the boys nickname was Nutty Keeble and yes I recall going to the dances about 1959 before I had my first son. The group, sorry can’t recall the regular one but I think The Dave Clark 5 played there once. 

    Oh! yes I do remember the souped-up cars, most of them needed a push start and they never stopped well because nobody ever thought of upgrading the brakes to go with the engines.

    The motor bikes also needed bump starts, I recall many times pushing one of the boys bikes and running and jumping on the back. Some bikes had racing seats which were not to cumfy either. I didn’t care I was always in love with the boy with the fastest bike, thats when I wasn’t with David hum, hum. 

    Yes, I can just about recall the Brentwood boys, nasty! if I remember rightly Dave Flashman had a Land Rover and we all went to Brentwood after them, so I suppose even in those days we all had our bad times, but it was against each other not the whole world and always quickly forgotten too many other things to do.

    By Gloria Sewell (20/09/2011)
  • Gloria, the Friday night dances I can remember from about 1961 onward but they may have been running earlier than that. There was a rock band there every week live, I wish I could recall their name. That was my first sight of real Fender guitars and Premier drums, all glittering, fantastic. There was a local guy who would get up and join in some of the Gene Vincent songs, I think he was called Nuttler Keeble. I was only 14 then so that makes it 50 years ago. 

    So you had a Lotus Cortina, the holy grail. Brilliant, my cousin in Dagenham had a yellow Anglia, lowered with a 1600GT engine which was quite pokey as well. Trouble was we were always having to push start it in cold weather as the battery was never man enough to turn the engine over.

    Back to the dances do you remember the Brentwood boys invading our territory?

    By Richard Haines (14/09/2011)
  • I have written the article Richard just waiting to be published. Yes, I do remember clearly the Friday night hops at the school great fun, who used to run them? I don’t think it was the school itself, was it. I know I had left by then.

    Gosh yes, the Mini was great and fast but with my son growing up our next car was a bright red Lotus Cortina. I used to get lots of looks driving that, not many women did then, not in Laindon anyway. I don’t know if you recall Fred’s white souped-up Ford Anglia number plate “1 WK”, worth a bomb today.

    When Baigents moved to Stacys corner I used to deliver the outdoor work approx, 1973. I drove one of the first produced Escort vans, memories, memories, not enough time to write them all. 

    I must just add I am selling my people carrier, guess what I am looking for to purchase? Yep a mini but not a Cooper, I know I am only 69 but best leave them for the younger youngsters. Ha Ha

    By Gloria Sewell (09/09/2011)
  • Gloria, good to hear you remember Hatters garage, I bet the Mini Cooper S was nice. By 1964 I had left Laindon but later on I bought a 1969 Cooper S privately from someone in East Mersea when I was at Colchester college. Mine was white with a black roof and had one of the first Sony radios. That car was seriously fast.

    About Laindon Service Station, this was opposite Hatters and had a juke box where I first heard Three Steps to Heaven by Eddie Cochran, I always liked him. 

    I’ll look forward to your next article, I’m curious what you got up to in the motor bike gang. Do you remember the Friday night dances at Laindon High Road School?

    By Richard Haines (08/09/2011)
  • Richard; Oh! my goodness another memory you have bought back to me, appox 1964, my husband bought a brand new Mini Cooper S from this very garage British racing green part of the registration number I recall was NOO —–. It was supposed to be for me as I had just passed my test but I never ever got it as he didn’t trust me to drive it. I got the little Mini van used for work, never mind I loved it to bits including its little push button starter on the floor. Hatters also had a cafe on the side, the Motor bike crowd used in fact it was there that my husband carried me into after we had a spill on the Fortune roundabout. I can’t remember the lady that worked in there but I recall that night she was very kind to me and insisted I drink a cup of weak tea she made me. I was at the time expecting my first son so this would have been 1960. Whether I worked there for a little while or just helped out I cannot remember, but I seem to recall serving petrol there.

    By Gloria Sewell (31/08/2011)
  • The car dealers mentioned above at Manor Road was called Laindon Autodrome. Bit of a bomb-site dealers as I remember. Loads of post-war motors with sawdust in their gear boxes to make them quieter. 

    For the best bargains Mr. Hatter on the A127 (Regent Garage) had a superb selection when I was there in 1963 manning the pumps with Kathy Hymas. We had all the latest BMC cars coming in to our showrooms including the first Mini Coopers and the Austin Healey Sprites.

    By Richard Haines (30/08/2011)
  • Thank you Andrea hope to hear soon x

    By Gloria Sewell (28/08/2011)
  • I think the car sales place was run by the Schroders

    By Eric Pasco (27/08/2011)
  • Eric, you could well be right on that one because Mrs Shroder worked for my mother in Baigents and they lived in the bungalow in Manor Road. I went to school with their son Peter who used to drive taxis in Laindon and was tragically killed driveing one, I think along Cranes Farm Road. I would like to send my best wishes to his wife whom I also went to school with, I think her name was Rosie. Please forgive me if I am wrong.

    By Gloria Sewell (27/08/2011)
  • Yes Gloria, Rosie Strickland?

    By Andrea (27/08/2011)
  • Hi Brian, No, Baigents was further down the High Road going towards the Fortune of War. I seemed to think it was opposite the Police Station, but it’s so long ago, maybe I’m wrong. I’m sure someone will remember where it was. It definitely wasn’t on Windsor Hill, at least where mum worked wasn’t, and I know there was a tie factory on Windsor Hill whether that was a branch of the same factory I couldn’t tell you.

    By Joan Baterip (26/08/2011)
  • Hello Brian; My mother was the manager of Baigent works in the late fifties early sixties, as I have said above, until it was bought out by the Corporation.  They then relocated to Stacey’s Corner, at that time there was no connection to the tie factory in Windsor Road. 

    The works were situated opposite Manor Road, just before Henbest’s shop and just after a fish shop. Opposite going towards the Fortune was Steers grocers, LLoyds bank and I think Dollond and Aitchison’s opticians and then New Century Road, hope this helps a bit. 

    I think at sometime there was a car dealer on the opposite corner of Manor Road but this is a distant memory so may not be correct.

    By Gloria Sewell (26/08/2011)
  • Hi Joan, I can vaguely recall your mum, but not exactly where this factory was. Can you please enlighten me? I know there was a ‘Factory’ on Windsor Hill, so was this their main entrance?

    By Brian Baylis (25/08/2011)
  • Hello again Gloria, My mum Edith Sarfas worked in Baigents for a while I am not sure of the dates but I am pretty sure it would have been late 50’s. She was a finisher, and all in all I think she enjoyed the company of the other ladies in the factory. Kind regards Joan Baterip (nee Sarfas)

    By Joan Baterip (04/08/2011)
  • Yes Joan I can recall a lady, would she have been known as Edie not Edith. I was a finisher too, another trimmer I remember was called Betty. The man that used to do the Hoffman press, I can’t think of his name at the moment, he was a very big man I can see his face but not his name. Did your mother move with the factory to Stacys corner after the Corporation bought them out. I worked for my mother there but I did the driving and delivered to the outdoor works. Two other girls names I have just remembered are Susan and —-? Billington, I know they lived in Devonshire Rd.

    The lady who used to come and make the tea and clean lived opposite and was called Lou Shroder, she had a son called Peter whom I went to school with. Gloria

    By Gloria Sewell (04/08/2011)
  • Yes Gloria, My mum was called Edie, but we moved from Laindon to Collier Row in Romford when the Basildon Corporation put a compulsory purchase order on our bungalow, so she wouldn’t have worked at Stacys corner. It’s nice that you remembered her though. Kind Regards Joan

    By Joan Baterip (04/08/2011)

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