Oh what an enjoyable afternoon we had walking in and around Victoria Park. Once again we were blessed with a wonderful warm sunny day when five of us met at 2 pm. Colin, Denise and myself were joined by cousins Trevor Hart and Anita Tibbles (née Smith) who told us they were both born in a bungalow called ‘Oakdene’ in Sandringham Road. Anita in 1942, Trevor in 1943, (Anita added “it was probably in the same bed”). Trevor’s mother and Anita’s father were sister and brother. They obviously both know Laindon very well, particularly from their childhoods and 2¾ hours of constant chatter, memories and stories followed.
We explored the former Alexandra Road area, then headed south through Victoria Park, guessing that this was possibly where the ‘Onion Field’ had once been. We stopped and admired the allotments that had recently been created at the expense of several large old oak trees that had been removed under much protest. Many of the allotments are well used but one or two looked neglected. Turning to the west, we discovered a ditch and bank amongst some trees which we felt must be the boundary of a former field or road.
We walked back through the park and then wondered around the area where an extension of Bourne Close had been built over the garden of my family’s former home ‘Spion Kop’. We also visited the spot where the last of the original trees (an Oak) had been removed a couple of years ago. We returned to the car park, still chatting away merrily and then realised it was 4:45. Time flies when you are enjoying yourselves in good company. Anita had lived in Worthing Road, Trevor in various parts of Laindon, but now both live on Canvey with fond memories of Laindon. I invited them to come along to one of our ‘Memory Days’ at the library, so hopefully we might see them again before too long.
The following day, with the aid of an over-lay map on Google Earth, we were able to confirm that the bank we had found was the south-west boundary of the Onion Field. A large part of that field has been built on but the southernmost end is now part of Victoria Park. In fact there are a few children’s climbing frames there. With so many changes having taken place in the area, it is quite easy to lose one’s bearings in Laindon, but these Memory Walks together with the use of old and new maps, make it possible to re-establish where everything had once been.
A few days later, Sue Ranford told us she had arrived after we had set off and although she searched the area, she wasn’t able to find us. So sorry Sue, we won’t start without you next time.