A few weeks ago we were contacted by Susan Bass who told us about her and her brothers memories of family homes in Hilltop Road Laindon. Susan very kindly made a train journey from her home on the outskirts of London to join us at one of the LDCA Memory Day’s at Laindon Library. Susan has provided photographs along with personal memories from herself and her brother, these are printed below.
Memories of Laindon by Susan Bass
I was born in May 1952 in Woodford Bridge (then in Essex and now part of the London Borough of Redbridge) and for the first 10 years of my life almost every Sunday involved spending the day in Laindon at my maternal grandmother’s home called Cosinook in Hilltop Road until she died when I was 10 years old.
Although I do not know the exact year when my grandparents purchased Cosinook I think it was almost certainly in the 1930s and the plot was a double one. My grandparents lived in Hackney Wick and the family initially only visited at weekends. However their home was bombed during World War 2 and they then moved to Cosinook permanently and never moved back to Hackney.
Before my father bought our first car in the 1950s the journey between Woodford Bridge and Laindon involved travelling on four different buses each way, getting off the bus at the stop after the Fortune of War roundabout and then crossing the dual carriageway of the A127 and walking along Church Road past Coopers small grocery store (now a semi-detached bungalow) before walking up Basildon Road to the left of the primary school and turning left into Hilltop Road at the top of the hill from which you could see Cosinook. Sometimes other family members would come and we would enjoy a large family tea with games in the back garden. The back garden was quite large with an outside toilet; several fruit trees and a vegetable plot. There was also a small chalet in the back garden where my one of my aunts and her husband lived during the war with their young daughter.
In the late 1930s my parents bought a small bungalow in Hilltop Road close to Cosinook which was called Ahoye. I imagine that their vendor had connections with sea in some way which explains the name. My parents were married at St Nicholas Church, Laindon in 1940 and my brother was born in Cosinook in 1945. My parents and brother lived in Ahoye until 1948 when they moved to Woodford Bridge.
During some of the summer school holidays my brother, two cousins and I stayed at Cosinook. This was during the 1950s and early 1960s when Basildon new town was being built. It was absolute paradise. We explored the land around Cosinook, went blackberrying, made trolleys with small wheels and plants of wood and raced them up and down the nearby hill. There was a particular tree which my brother and one of my cousins used to climb which has long gone. When it rained there were comics to read in the chalet as well as almost certainly some card and board games. In other words we made our own amusement which cost absolutely nothing and kept us healthy and happy.
However my grandmother came to stay with us during Christmas 1962 at the start of the 1962/1963 winter which was a particularly harsh one. Sadly she died in February 1963. The bungalow was sold to Basildon Corporation and subsequently demolished. However Cosinook and Laindon will always have a special place in my heart.
Memories of Laindon Plotland by Roger Bass
Fred and Janet Moxhay of Hackney Wick, London bought a double plot (120 ft x 40 ft) of land in Hilltop Road (off Basildon Rise and Church Road) Laindon in the early 1930s. Fred built a 4 room bungalow about 20 ft x 20 ft called “Cosinook” similar to those advertised by Albert’s of Brixton Hill. The double plot cost £10. A pre-fabricated bungalow of the type he built cost about £100 delivered. I was born in this bungalow in 1945 although my mother and father lived (when he was on leave) in “Ahoye”, a bungalow about 18 ft x 18 ft they had bought in the late 1930s about 200 yards west along Hilltop Road.
There was no main drainage (only an Elsan and a hole in the garden). Mains water was from a brick enclosed standpipe and no gas or electricity . My grandparents and parents moved to these bungalows permanently in in 1939 at the outbreak of the War in Europe. During the War my grandparents, two aunts and uncles and two children all lived at “Cosinook’ and my cousins attended the school at the bottom of Basildon Rise until the aunts and uncles left for the London suburbs in 1947.During the late 1940s gas, electricity and mains water were laid on.
One or two concrete electricity poles were still standing on my visit in June 2022 along with a concrete pedestrian path at the side of the then, and still, very much unmade Basildon Rise. I couldn’t see any other evidence of any of the bungalows’ existence.
My parents moved to Woodford in Essex in 1948 and “Ahoye” was sold but we would visit my grandparents at ‘Cosinook” very regularly. It must have been an enormous change for my parents to move from the plotlands to a modern semi-detached house with two flush lavatories and hot running water etc just as it had been a great change to move from Hackney Wick to the open fields of Laindon.
I can remember catching the 2A bus from Romford Market when it still had cattle sales and knowing we were nearly there when we got to the Fortune of War.
It was a wonderful childhood in the plotlands. My cousins and I would roam the fields in the early 1950s over to the railway line and no sign of the soon to emerge Basildon New Town. We would camp in the garden in an old army tent and make go-karts out of pram wheels, axles and off-cuts of wood. A great sense of freedom!
By the mid 50s many of the plotland’s huts and tents around Hilltop Road had been abandoned and bought up by Basildon UDC as they did not have permanent residence status. Cosinook was finally purchased by Basildon UDC in 1962. My grandfather had died in 1948 and my grandmother lived there alone until she moved in with us in 1962. She died in 1963.
Life in the plotlands was certainly primitive by modern standards but the dwellings were at least detached and the openness and fresh air were a great relief from the crowded and polluted Hackney Wick of the 1930’s. All in all Happy Days!