Laindon Libraries - The beginning
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.