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.

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  • My friend who lived in that part of Church Road always called the factory in Wraysbury Drive, Susan Smalls.  That was back in the 70s.

    By Barry Ellerby (22/11/2014)
  • Hello

    I have enjoyed reading the memories on this website and wonder if anyone can tell me the name of the blouse factory that used to be in Wraysbury Drive.

    Thank you

    By Donna Clark-Tickner (21/11/2014)
  • Thalians, the eve is nigh! From a fellow Thespian….break a leg….and “May God bless us! Every one!”

    By Alan Davies (05/12/2013)
  • I’ve revisited the Electoral Register, this time for year 1965.  Here I found Sid Farmer living in ‘Rayberi’, Wraysbury Drive.  So it seems he moved from ‘Bermond’ in the south part of Church Road sometime after 1956.

    The Electoral Register is a very useful record for tracing people and places, however some roads are split between two or three different Electoral areas making it difficult to determine where the road actually starts and finishes.  No wonder confusion sometimes occurs, particularly to anyone less familiar with the area.  Thankfully somebody usually comes up with the answer.     

    By Nina Humphrey(née Burton) (02/12/2013)
  • I believe that Keith Nock has now resolved that my memory that Sid Farmer did not live in the half of Church Rd. north of the A127 as being correct, as Keith while not living in Church Rd. lived close enough to have thrown a stone into the gardens of the  semis said to have been occupied by him.  I must admit to some carelessness as I notice on reading back that Alan said near the blouse factory which was never in Church Rd. but in Wraysbury Drive and could have resolved the matter earlier.  It would seem that I was correct in thinking that Sid moved from the south of Church Rd. direct into Wraysbury drive never having lived in the northern half of Church Rd.

    By W.H.Diment (30/11/2013)
  • Hi Guys.  Miss Marple here.  Sid Farmer did indeed name his house in Church Road after his children Beryl and Raymond.  But it was “Bermond” and not “Rayberi.  According to the 1956 Electoral Register, the first house was ‘St. Leonards’ (Betty & Ronald Stigant), then came ‘St. Peter’s (Renee & Harold Thompson), then ‘Bermond’ (Eva and Sidney Farmer), next came ‘Glencroft’ (Hilda & Eric Pollard).   I believe the ‘Crowe’ family may have been previous neighbours – in 1951 Olive and William Crowe were living at No 2 Church Road.  I hope this helps.  P.S. In 1949 Sid and Eva Farmer lived at No 16 King Edward Road.      

    By Nina Humphrey(née Burton) (29/11/2013)
  • Hallo Nina, Thank you for your comments but they tend to further confuse the situation. You are obviously referring to the whole of Church Rd.  Whereas the subject was of Church Rd. north of the A127 the houses you name were south of the A127. St.Leonards and St.Peters were the first two houses on the corner of the A127.It was in St.Peters that Eldred Buckenham committed suicide.

    Then as you say there was Bermond, the home of Eva and Sid Farmer which was with its garages situated some way back into the fields in rear of the Gordon Swift shop and could well have been in what was known as the Brackenmount area although the entrance drive was in Church Rd. and would account for the CPO. It seems all the other premises named south of the A127 with the possible exception of Mr.and Mrs Crowe as being at No,2. 

    The strange thing is that as Nina states from the electoral register that St.Leonards and St. Peters were the first two houses yet they were in fact in the middle, only being the first two south of the A127.  Thus Mr.& Mrs Crowe could have been considered living in No.2 of the half going north of the A127 as the two semi detached houses were the only premises on the east of this portion of the road apart from the two black huts and I can only remember the Crowe’s and the Sullivan family living in this pair, but not the Farmers and it is why I suggest that Keith Knock or Gloria O’Sullivan can supply the answer.

    The numbering of houses in Church Rd. has always been a shambles and that the first house near the school and the first house on the corner of Wash Rd. have at one time both been concurrently numbered as No 1  The house I live in has had four different addresses.   Sorry Alan, but the problem is still yet to be finalised.

    By W.H.Diment (29/11/2013)
  • Hi, I remember Sid Farmer’s taxis, they lived in Wraysbury Drive off Church Rd, his son Ray lived next door in a bungalow with their names on the gate. My uncle Albert Bull lived across the road in Rosevilla.

    By Keith Nock (29/11/2013)
  • My memory is slightly different from that of Bill Diment. At the time I knew Sid’s son, Ray (circa 1950 to 1955) the family lived in the first semi detached house in Church Road north of the A127 on the east side of the street. Sid had named the house Rayberi, after his two children Ray and Beryl. The other half of the semi detached two story brick house was occupied by the Crowe family. There were two daughters, Betty and Pam. Pam was in my class at Chelmsford Tech.

    Having said all that, Bill Diment has such prodigous recall that perhaps my memory plays me false.

    By alan davies (28/11/2013)
  • Alan’s letter regarding Sid Farmer has certainly caused me to search my memory, yet I cannot recall Sid actually living in Church Rd. itself north of the A127 where I lived at the time (and still do). Perhaps old age is taking its toll.  In my memory the ‘first ‘ semi detached house on the eastern side was  I believe the only house on the eastern side, apart from Buckenhams two black hut cottages.  While  I remember the Crow family I can only remember the other half of the semi being occupied by the Sullivan family. I notice that Gloria O’Sullivan who has recently written to the archives from Ireland and who was the daughter of Mr.&Mrs. Sullivan may shed some light on this.

    I too can remember a young Ray Farmer from when he joined the Laindon Cricket Club, but he worked in the city and not as a taxi driver for his father as has previously been suggested in the archive.  Also Ray is said in these columns to be still around as a  veteran table tennis player and perhaps could be contacted to give some clarification.  Also I remember that Keith Knock who regularly contributes to these columns and lived close by (although not actually in Church Rd.) could shed some light on the subject.

    By W.H.Diment (28/11/2013)
  • I can add, or confirm, a few points made in Bill Diment’s posting of 28/11/13. Yes, I remember Ray playing for the Laindon Cricket Club. One memory I have is of Ray playing on the ground behind the Basildon Country Club, fielding at square leg, and unfortunately dropping a routine catch. Quite unusual as Ray was a good player. I played him regularly at both tennis and table tennis. I can confirm that Ray continued playing table tennis competitively and only a few short years ago was over sixty five champion in the Rochford and District League.

    Since Bill cannot remember the family living in Church Road perhaps I have the wrong street. Could it have been Pound Lane? I definitely remember the name of their house Raybery and their neighbours the Crowe family. Ray’s sister, Beryl, still lives somewhere in the Laindon area I believe.

    It is perfectly true that Ray worked in the city but he also moonlighted for his father on occasion driving taxis during the evening or week end.

    By Alan Davies (28/11/2013)
  • Perhaps our local sleuth, Nina Humphrey, can use her Sherlockian talents to sort this out.

    By Alan Davies (28/11/2013)
  • Alan Taylor is only partially correct as to where Sid Farmer lived, in regards to the Church Rd., area.  His house and garages were on the south side of the A127, set back behind the shop of Gordon Swift. 

    He was unfortunate in receiving a CPO on the premises and moved north of the A127 into Wraysbury Drive, (near the blouse factory).  It is said that lightning never strikes twice, but Sid received another CPO for part of his garden to enable the Noak Hill Rd. to be extended as far as Church Rd.  I am not sure if this included his living quarters, but it seems Sid had enough hassle and emigrated to Leigh.

    By W.H.Diment (27/11/2013)
  • Sid Farmer did live in the Church Road area near the blouse factory. He has got a daughter called Beryl, who used to drive taxes. She still lives in Basildon  

    By Alan Taylor (26/11/2013)
  • We moved to Laindon in 1951 and moved away in 1956, we lived in Sylvan Road..actually in Sylvan Glen. We bought the bungalow off Mr and Mrs Gough. Next door was Mrs Turner and her two daughters Sylvia and Mavis, her third daughter lived just across the road. Next garden to us the other side was the Warrens, Mary I think may have been a bit older than me. Alfie did up cars and motor bikes…my dads included, which was sold by him I believe but we never heard anything more.!  Very disappointing as my dad had a near fatal motor cycle accident a year or two earlier. Across from us were the Feldwicks..they had a lovely garden that ran the length of the footpath. I recall Mrs Sears and the Davis’s and of course Lungleys shop! I used to walk to Langdon Hills Primary School along the footpath that ran along side the railway. I LOVED living there and the village had all of the shops and entertainment you would need…plus we had the bus and railway station. Oh happy memories ….

    By Sandra Springall (21/08/2013)
  • Given the history of the High Rd businesses and the mention of Churchill & Johnson at Station Corner, it seems to have been forgotten that this was the scene of Laindon’s largest fire. Once the timber and storage sheds caught, the blaze was so intense that the firemen and those arriving home from work might have thought they were in a war zone. The heat caused tiles to be projected like shrapnel, but insofar as I am aware no one was injured. I don’t think anyone attempted to get into the Winston Club that night.

    By W.H.Diment (29/10/2011)
  • I remember Sid Farmer who had a taxi business his son Raymond also drove for him and reading this entry obviously his wife did too but I don’t remember that. At weekends my Dad (Ron Cuttler) did part time driving for them to earn money for our holidays. They owned several cars I believe they were Austins they also had a “black cab” which was often hired for weddings as it was popular with the brides as there was plenty of room for their dresses. Sid and his family lived in King Edward Road as we did, he later moved to the Pound Lane area I think.

    By Janet Gadd (21/07/2011)
  • There was also a taxi company called Farmers Taxis please give information on them

    By Mrs T Summers (29/06/2011)
  • What Brian calls “Townsend’s Corner” opposite Churchill-Johnson or Kentex at the dog-leg (now straightened out) where Laindon High Road led up to the railway bridge at Laindon station was known, to older residents, as “Cyster’s Field”. Its owner, Alfred Cyster, lived in Denbigh Terrace in Denbigh Road which, in those days, was linked to the High Road between the grocers (later a bank) and the Laindon Post Office run by the Andrews. Walter Townsend, who took over Cyster’s greengrocery businesses in the High Road between Denbigh Road and Durham Road (next to Clark’s cycle shop) and that right at the corner on Cyster’s Field was a comparatively newcomer to the area. Shortly before the outbreak of WW2 he bought “Liberty Hall” in Pound Lane, virtually on the very edge of both Basildon and Vange. He came from one of the southern counties of England, Hampshire? Dorset? He did tell me but the memory is faulty. I expect his grandson in St Martin’s Square, Basildon, will know. Mr Townsend aimed to grow veg etc for sale on a smallholding at Liberty Hall. The irony is that, Liberty Hall stood where now stands The Basildon Centre!

    By John Bathurst (16/05/2011)

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