My Early Life in Laindon
By Brian Baylis
I entered into this world, in the original 6, Tyler Avenue, Laindon, as the eldest son of Sybil and Frank Baylis, now sadly both deceased. Tyler Avenue was then classed as an unmade road in those days as it was mainly rubble, as can be seen in a photograph in the Peter Lucas book ‘Birth of a City – Basildon’ and shows the very edge of the house in which I was born, but now sadly demolished and with a car park where the back garden had been.
My earliest memories of shops I remember at Laindon are from the station going towards the ‘Fortune of War’ pub also now ripped down and flats built. I will give the names of those I can remember, but they are very few name-wise. I am fortunate to hold copies of some photographs taken before Laindon was as I refer to it, Ripped Apart and rebuilt.
Going from opposite Station Approach, there were two shops on stilts as I recall. One I do believe was an Estate Agent, while the other was a Photographic Studio, and have a photo of my sister Marlene and I taken in there, even to remembering the colour of the suit I wore. On the same side as Station Approach, were Churchill Johnson’s, the Timber and Builders Merchants. In fact, to this day, I can still recall the layout in the right hand shop window. On the opposite side of Northumberland Avenue and at the junction with Winston Hill (After The Club) that still stands to this day no doubt. I have just one memory of going in there for a small bottle of lemonade. On the opposite corner and of the High Road itself, stood Kentex the Cleaners. Across from these and the opposite side of the High Road, stood Townsends the Greengrocers.
Just going back and down Northumberland Avenue a short distance for a moment, the Salvation Army had their little church where Marlene, our brother Barry and I attended for Sunday School. Each time we attended, we would get a star stamped in a little book to say we had actually attended and paid our 1d or 2d, into the collection. One man I will always remember and since deceased, was Norman Shelley, who would keep saying ‘Amen’ during the prayers and before they were actually finished. When he got married to, I seem to recall, Shirley, we all went to the Wedding and on leaving for their honeymoon, they walked to the railway station, where the train driver was given a tip and he blew the ‘Wedding Special’ sound on the whistle of the locomotive, to inform other passengers, that a couple of Newlyweds had just boarded.
From Kentex Cleaners and on the same side, I remember the Library, followed by Gem’s sweet shop, where Dad once asked Barry to go in an ask how much their penny licquorices were? Then I believe it was Glenny’s another Estate Agent. I have reason to believe there were another couple of shops and a gap with like stalls in and a gate across, where a hardware company sold their wares. Then I believe Cole’s fish shop stood, where you could get fish and chips in paper for about 4d (2p today). I can’t recall what was directly next, but perhaps a butchers and Williamson’s?
A little further down, stood a small office where G. W. Jeakins Taxi’s operated from. Then there was a ramp going up beside a Restaurant that access was gained by walking up some steps, as there were to Blackwell’s Newsagent next door. I am still in touch on the odd occassion, with an original member of staff from this same newsagent. Next to Blackwell’s, stood an Electrical shop that appeared to be on stilts as I recall, and remember when Dad used to have the accumulator for the radio charged up before we had electricity installed, paying I believe 6d for the pleasure.
Next to this shop and back on the pavement, I recall a secondhand furniture shop, where the old boy running it, always stood at the door, hoping for customers to enter. How true it is, I don’t know, but I seem to recall one day he failed to open as usual, and the Police, the station then at the corner of High Road & Victoria Road, broke in to find him dead at the back of the shop. Next to him came Henbests, with 2, possibly 3 shops in one, where Mum bless her, always bought her stockings from. Beyond there, I recall a fence and Bata’s the shoe shop, who had a factory in Tilbury. I drove my parents mad for a pair of Basketball shoes at 6/6d a pair. I can’t recall the shop directly next door, but do remember Tommy Card’s fishmongers, with live eels wriggling in a square metal container, that to this day, I can still visualise. Next to Tommy’s, were I recall Gibsons the greengrocers, then Cramphorns, and Cottis’s, followed by the sorting and post office.
After the above, there was a bungalow and a house that later became the Berry Boys & Boxing Club, run by the late Fred Nunn. I eventually joined it, but not to take up boxing. Next to there was the Primrose sweet shop and many kids back then were scared of the lady behind the counter, but I can’t recall exactly why? I do have an original postcard bearing this same shop on it.
Please correct me if I am wrong, but I recall Harris’s the barbers where I went once and against Dad’s instructions. Dad claimed they were always too dear, and more than Bert Upton in Langdon Hills where we had to go every 2, or 3 weeks, depending on my brother Barry’s hair needing cutting. From what memory I have, I believe there was a Grocers such as the Co-op next to Harris’s, then a gap and another sweet shop. From here, there was another clothing shop and footwear shop, then Essex Road, and Carey’s across from this, followed by their yard and a set of Public Conveniences, and eventually, the start of Laindon Link, which may well have been wasteland before, I simply don’t remember.
Going back to Townsends Corner as local people knew it, there was a field fenced off, followed by Laindon’s first Post Office, then later Barclays Bank(?) when the new Post Office eventually opened, followed by another shop I can’t recall what they sold. Next to here though, was Denbigh Road, then there if I am right, was T. E. Collins another hardware shop. I know they also sold paraffin that we needed for heating in place of coal, that was becoming more expensive by the day as Mum would say, whether from Charrington’s, or even Hall’s, who we used most.
Following this were a series of shops, I can’t recall what they sold, apart from a model railway and bike shop, followed by another Greengrocers and Moorcrofts wool shop. I can recall there was a Plumbers, followed by I feel very strongly was Reid’s Newsagents, where I got the last ever of Laindon Postcards for 6d each, and to this day still have, even to being offered £50 for without seeing them, some years ago at a Flea-Market. These are NOT for sale by me. Next to Reid’s were what eventually became Keymarkets, followed by Somerfields and what was then Green’s Stores.
Then came Durham Road where a couple of rag shops were found, giving pennies for old clothing and Mum ALWAYS used the last one for more money. Back into the High Road, we had Charlesley’s shoe shop and a cafe for all it was worth, followed by D. C. Jeakins secondhand furniture shop, then a driveway into D. C. Jeakins Removals, followed by their house and the the ‘Laindon Hotel’ behind where Laindon United played at home on most Saturdays.