My Life Story (3 of 4)

Chapter 3 - Outside interests

Winifred Archibald with her two younger sisters, Joan and Vanessa, on the merry go around
Winifred Archibald (centre) is bridesmaid for the first time, at the wedding of her sister Jeanne in October 195
Girl Covenanter's at the Manor Mission on Manor Road

With my two younger sisters, Joan and Vanessa, summer months would be enjoyed playing in the recreation ground at the top end of Victoria Road. I do remember the prefabs being there and they were very much admired by all who lived in them. There were bungalows along Devonshire Road at the top of Buller Road, where there were delightful fruit trees. Despite our garden being full of fruit trees of all varieties, those in the front gardens of others proved to be much more attractive and we rejoiced in ‘scrumping’ apples from them.

We had a large garden in which to play, tennis and putting on shows being a couple of our favourites. Therefore, our wanderings at this stage did not take us very far afield. There were always some errands to do for Mum who did not have the best of health. On the way home from school I would stop at Slopers, the dairy at the corner of Victoria Road, to collect shopping. I was also called upon to take the weekly grocery list to the Co-op for it to be delivered by the errand boy later in the week – by bicycle! We also had little jobs around the house, washing-up and drying, turning the handle of the mangle on washing days, even chopping wood for the fire when I was old enough.

Around this time I was becoming conscious of how I looked, and wearing NHS glasses to strengthen my weak eye did not improve my appearance, so I stopped wearing them. At my next optician’s appointment (in Hornchurch), having tested my eyes, he asked what I had been doing over the previous six months. Under my mother’s glare, I confessed to not wearing the spectacles all of the time. I was then given the wonderful news that, from now on, there would be no need to, as my weak left eye had regained full strength. This was a great help to me when I was a bridesmaid for the first time, at the wedding of my sister Jeanne. The groom was Tony Davies, a lovely man, but a rough football player, as I had discovered earlier! This was in October 1954, just over a year after my eldest sister Olive was married at St. Nicholas Church, to Bryan Jones, whom she’d met in London, soon after leaving school.

Outside of school I was very friendly with Brenda, the only daughter of Mr. & Mrs. Andrews who ran the newsagent’s shop at Blackwell’s, in the High Road, not far from the railway Station. We had met through our mutual friend, Ruth Pasco, who lived in Essex Road. Brenda and Ruth travelled together to Grays where they were at school, Brenda at the Palmers School for Girls, and Ruth at the Technical School.

Brenda and I did paper rounds together in Laindon and Langdon Hills, and together with Ruth, arranged many cycle trips, to Southend, Billericay and Tilbury, only once needing rescuing by her father when we got a puncture. We also enjoyed going up to London to watch football matches, Tottenham Hotspur or Arsenal I believe. Brenda’s parents attended Military Tattoos held at the White City in London. I was always invited to go with them to keep Brenda company. They also took me on holiday once to Brixham in Devon for the same reason. However, I left school at the age of fifteen and subsequently lost touch with her.

Ruth and I were both very involved with Brownies, Guides, Sunday School and Girl Covenanter’s (pictured right) at the Manor Mission on Manor Road. Freda (?) was in charge of most of these groups, I cannot remember her surname, but she lived on a road half-way up the hill of Nicholas Lane, behind St. Peter’s church. Other girls I remember are Kathleen Rowe, twins Janine and Jennifer Clegg, Myrtle (?), Dorothy Matthews, Joan Powell, Rosemary Grainger, Olive Sawyer and my friend from Laindon High Road School Pat Hutchins.

3 of 4

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  • Hello to Daphne, Gloria and Anne, in fact, all of you who have added comments on my story (so far!). Daphne, Vanessa says she doesn’t remember going to school with you, so perhaps it was Joan, who is in between Vanessa and I. Gloria, yes, the name Valerie Tanswell does now ring a bell, but I can’t put a face to her and Anne, yes, I should remember you, but again, can’t recall your face. It would have been my sisters Jeanne and June who performed the sketches, as Olive was a pianist, not a singer. Jeanne still sings in her church choir even now! June lives in Australia and, up to her retirement was still very active in the theatre in Townsville, North Queensland. Archibald Terrace has no connection with my father, but a local councillor – Dad would much rather have a pub named after him than a terrace!

    By Wendy Groves (07/12/2011)
  • Hello Wendy I remember you very well. I didn’t start school until 1945 at the age of 6, some 2 years after you; I have no explanation for this. I can remember seeing your sisters Olive and June performing in a review circa 1954/5 at the High Road School. Olive sang beautifully and June was in a couple of sketches, one with your father. I was in the youth club choir, who also performed. You must have known my cousin Marion Devine (Toni). Her father (my mum’s brother) was a teacher at Markhams Chase. I was pleased to receive your comments on my second article on the site. A fascinating story of your early life, thankyou. Your family was well known and I have wondered if Archibald Terrace was named after your father.

    By Anne Burton (29/11/2011)
  • Winifred how lovely to read your story and how so many lives ran parallel then, we had the same teachers in the A classes, I played Goal Keeper in the school netball, Iwasalso in the guides etc. 

    The fun and freedom of being young living in Laindon in the 40s to 60s Your sister Joan was in the same year as me and I remember her well.

    Do you remember Valerie Tanswell she was a good runner too, I think her father was a Councillor or something like that. Please keep writing.

    By Gloria Sewell (26/11/2011)
  • I like two bits of this the best, firstly the bus turning over near the Hiawatha, sounds pretty horrific, I wonder if it made much noise!! The slope was quite steep there as I recall, obviously not to be forgotten for Winifred. The other bit I liked was Winifred’s run against all the others when she left them all standing – fantastic feeling that must have been.

    By Richard Haines (25/11/2011)
  • Wow! I lived at Western Villa just down the road from you and your sisters, I remember the unmade road so well. I am sure Vanessa used to take me to Markham’s Chase sometimes. She was supposed to hold my hand all the way, but neither of us was very keen on that, so gave up as soon as we were out of sight. I remember your bungalow, and all those sisters!

    By Daphne Rowbotham (née Churms) (25/11/2011)
  • Well done Winifred another wonderful story told of the life and times of Laindon post war years in true old Laindoner fashion. Between all of us we would make a great T.V. series.

    By Gloria Sewell (24/11/2011)
  • I absolutely loved your story. You were born in the same year as my sister Anne, so no doubt you knew each other. I wasn’t born until 1946 but so much of what you write is very familiar to me. I remember some children taking the short cut across the cornfield from St Nicholas Lane to Markhams Chase (now the playing fields at the back of James Hornby School. I also remember watching Mr Daniels dropping children off at Markham’s Chase school gates from his pony and trap. He would sometimes overtake us when I travelled to school in a little seat on the back of my dad’s pushbike. Your description of Victoria Road and the prefabs, Buller Road and Tattenham Road with their little bungalows all surrounded by fruit trees, conjured up some vivid memories. A brother-in-law of mine lives in Buller Road, probably quite close to where your family home used to be. We occasionally visit there and it’s still a very pleasant area. Best wishes.

    By Nina Burton (24/11/2011)
  • A lovely story, so well told; beautiful photos. Can’t wait for next chapter!

    By Andrea Ash (nee Pinnell) (23/11/2011)

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