Laindon Libraries - The beginning

The second generation of early readers, my niece Patsy in America
Mary Cole
Laindon's first library after the School Library next to Kentex the cleaners.

I can’t remember learning to read, but I could from an early age. Long before I went to school I would wander around the house, with a Nursery Rhyme book under my arm, declaring that it was my library book.

In the end Mother gave in and told my sisters to take me to be enrolled at the local library. At this time the Laindon Library consisted of two book cases in the hall of the Laindon High Road School which was opened for two hours every Monday. It was presided over by Mrs Jenkins(?) the Guide Captain.

When they asked for a library ticket for me, she asked my age. When told that I was four, she refused saying that I couldn’t join, as I would not learn to read until I went to school at the age of five. Hearing this, I reached up and took an adult book off the table, and began to read. She gave in; I got my ticket and was told that children’s books were on the bottom two shelves.

By the time I was six I was allowed to walk to the library with Pam from next door. In the black-out we were very proud of our torches, which had ground glass covers so they gave out very little light. I don’t think I would like to do that walk in a blackout today!

By this time I had read all the books on the children’s shelves. They were mostly very thin books, which I could finish in one evening, leaving six more days before I could get a new book. One day I reached up and took the thickest book I could get. Mrs Jenkins was too busy gossiping to notice which book I had picked. When I got home Dad was furious. I can’t remember the title of the book; it was either Forever Amber or Gone with the Wind, which were the shockers of the day. Hardly suitable for a six year old.

By the time I was a teenager Laindon had a “proper” library, open every day, and the junior section was TWO WHOLE BOOKCASES! The library had taken over a shop in a parade of shops near the station. Absolute bliss all those books to browse through.

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  • “Essex County Libraries”

    I worked at the Laindon Library in the late 1950’s.  There were three other branch libraries in the group, namely Billericay, Wickford and Pitsea (Vange)  I did stints in all four during my time there.  The Librarian was a Miss Cohen, based at Billericay.

    By Anne Burton (08/02/2015)
  • Hi Derek.  Great to hear from you and I am keeping well. Cricket yes after 57 years I played my last game this year. I also coached for other 30 years….for me there was only one sport, the rest were there to keep me fit for cricket.

    Are you still in the area, if so please note we are having our annual photographic event on the 21st March at the Manor Mission Hall, Laindon.

    The question I always ask of old Laindon people do you have any photographs.

    I hope you are also keeping well.

    Cheers, Ken

    By Ken Porter (07/02/2015)
  • Hi Ken.  Thank you for putting photograph of the library next to Kentex. I can remember as a small boy going into the library with my mother and taking books from the shelves to look at the pictures while waiting for my mother to select books for herself and Dad. It was of course a good meeting place for her to catch up with local gossip.

    Do you still play cricket I seem to remember you were good at it at school.

    I hope you are keeping well. Derek 

    By Derek Brasier (06/02/2015)
  • There was a branch of Foyles library located about seventy five yards north of the Primrose Cafe. A long narrow little store with what I remember as many racks of books stacked to the ceiling, with aisles too narrow for people to squeeze by each other. I know my mother borrowed books there so it was certainly in existence prior to WW2. Whether it predated the public library referred to in the High Road school I know not.

    By Alan Davies (06/02/2015)
  • I am wondering if this photo was taken before Townsends Greengrocers stall was on the left, as I can’t see it? I well remember that library.

    By Brian Baylis (01/02/2012)
  • Mary, I loved reading your article. I also loved reading as a child, my thirst for knowledge was also insatiable and still is. As a child we had the library come round to us can’t remember too much about it though. I am sure someone will remind me!! 

    I can recall reading Dickens at an early age at Markhams Chase School. I was quite a dreamer as a child and found no trouble getting lost in the stories I read.

    I still love to read, in fact in defence of libraries, which seem to be closing down everywhere I was asked if I would like a, “Kindle” reading pad which holds hundreds of books, if you want it to. I refused because I love the feel of the paper when I read, it puts me so much more in touch with the author and the meaning of the story radiates through the paper, for me anyway.

    By Gloria Sewell (30/01/2012)
  • The picture is of the second generation of early readers, my niece Patsy in America

    By Mary Cole (26/01/2012)

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