Growing up in Langdon Hills

What memories this site has re-awakened. There are a few old faces that I remember in some of the photos as well, not many, but a few. That probably says more about the state of my memory than anything else.

I was born in November 1948 in Orsett hospital to a recently arrived German woman – Traudel Wulf was her maiden name, and Thomas Colbear jr., who had not that long returned from being stationed in Germany as part of the army of occupation. Traudel had arrived in England already pregnant and had little time to come to terms with her new environment before the baby (me!) was due. When I decided that it was time to put in an appearance she was taken to St. Andrew’s Hospital at Billericay, but after several days of non-productive labour, she was transferred to Orsett hospital, being the nearest maternity unit with cesarean facilities. Unfortunately my mother did not survive the birth, so after a few weeks I was taken home to grow up with my grandparents, Thomas Colbear snr. and his wife, Daisy (also known by some as Nellie) in their bungalow in Salisbury Avenue, next to Laindon railway station.

I went to Langdon Hills Primary and Junior school from 1953 until 1960, and remember many of the teacher’s names mentioned by others – Mrs Baker, Miss Nichols, Miss Wilkinson, Miss O’Brien, Mr Huggit, Mrs Hayball, Mrs Brooks and Mr Walker. From there I went on to Palmer’s Girl’s School at Grays Thurrock and stayed there until 1965.

As a young adult I would commute to London daily from Laindon station, where my grandmother’s brother, Bert Martin, worked. He, and his wife Win, plus three daughters, Joyce, Vera and Doris lived in the Railway cottages just over the other side of the line to us. Apparently – from reading various posts on this site, there were also two brothers, Ray and Robert, but they must have already left home by the time I was growing up, as I have no memory of them.

My grandparents had two other children apart from my father Tom – the eldest daughter Margery married Charlie Marchant and had twins, Mary and Michael, whom I have also seen mentioned in various posts. The youngest daughter Pam married George Hemsley, and they had a son Stephen. Pam was very well known locally as she worked for many years in the Tudor Stores grocery shop (owned by Dennis and Joan Morris) in Langdon Hills and later on in the Co-op pharmacy in the new shopping centre in Laindon.

The names that still stick in my memories from school and adolescence are Steven and Heather Beckett, Tony Trudgett, Pam Mesnard, Andrew Henbest, Patricia Stewart, Rachel Koppit, Marion Chappell, Brian Cordell, Gordon Wright, Peter and Carole Bassett, Janet & Pat McDonald, Beverly and Brenda King and our next-door neighbour Mrs Stacey’s grandson, Johnny Curtin. 

I left Essex 40-odd years ago and have lived in various places in the UK as well as abroad in the Middle East and mainland Europe. For the past 11+ years I have lived in SW France, and do not get back to the UK very frequently. If there is anyone that remembers me or other members of my family, it would be nice to hear from them. There are lots of ‘holes’ in my history that would be nice to fill, as well as catching up with some of those early aquaintances and school friends. 

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  • Ronnie Theobald our milkman as I recall in Pound Lane was named Theobald. Do you have a sister Rita who I know lived on the King Edward Estate ?

    By Donjoysmith (20/03/2018)
  • I knew the Martins very well, my grand parents Emily and Ted Saltmarsh lived next door but one to them, next to Mrs Hymas with Uncle Ern and Aunt Dot. I also remember Charlie Clark. With my brother Tony we used to play there with my cousins Ray, Derek, Peter and Terry Venner and Alan Taylor. I was born in 1941 at ‘West View’, Sandringham Road. Then to make way for Basildon was moved to the King Edward Estate. Went to Markhams Chase and Laindon High Road Schools. A time when we were all potless, no mobile phones or ipads, hardly any cars, bliss! Some names I recall Derek Chapman, Roy Webster, Doris Ford, Brian White, Harry Briley, Brian Scott, Colin Smith, Terry Simmons, Mickey Hopper, Alfie Morris, Cyril Cox and loads more.

    By Ronnie Theobald (15/03/2018)
  • Hello, Peg and Alf were my grandparents. Teresa is my mother.

    By Jacqueline Fenton-Wilde (31/12/2017)
  • Hello Jean. The Peg and Alf you mentioned were my aunt and uncle. Their surname was Atkinson. My grandad, Thomas Pyner, owned Lyndhurst, the house they lived in. Peg and Alf had 3 children. Teresa, Geoffrey (now deceased) and Rodney. My other cousins lived in that big old house too and later moved to East Horndon.

    They were Sandra, Kay (now deceased) and Maureen Ewers. Their Mum was Hilda (also known as Bunt). Their Dad was a railway porter.

    I lived in the bungalow next door, which happened to be in Radcliffe Road.  I can’t remember the name of the previous family in the bungalow opposite. Think the bungalow was called Nigella. I can remember Mrs Stacey being there with her son and grandson.

    In the bungalow next door to us lived the Collier family – Em and George, Ron and Alan. Alan was just a few months older than me. His Mum’s father, Grandad Atkinson, lived with them until his death. He used to lean on the front gate in the afternoons until we were home from Langdon Hills school. Alan’s Mum was the sister of Peg’s husband Alf, so my cousins were their cousins too.

    I was at school with Teresa O’Neill. We very often  played in the field at the back of our bungalow (where the annual bonfire was built). We also played out quite often on the grassy area outside your grandparents bungalow. Old Mrs Saltmarsh had the house opposite you. She had the loveliest cottage garden.

    We also climbed trees and played in the field opposite grandad’s house. 

    Considering I was brought up in wartime,  we had quite a bit of freedom. 

    There were quite a few German brides in our area. I mentioned Jutta Lowis to you. I was bridesmaid to your auntie Pam.

    I also remember the bottom of Salisbury Avenue freezing over where huge puddles lay in the grass.  It made a terrific slide.

    We too, used to walk up to St Nicholas Churchyard to put flowers on my grandparents graves. We walked past Markhams Chase school or across the fields of Bluehouse farm.

    I do sometimes look at your posts on FB but I’m not really au fait with the workings of it.

    I’ve only just come back to this site again. I’ve missed so many updates.

    Do you remember Mr And Mrs Levell and their son, John, in Salisbury Avenue. Also there was a Peter Woods and Auntie Maud.

    I think I’d better come back to this site another time.

    I can picture the Martin girls quite clearly. It was their Mum that my Mum was friendly with – maybe through the Women’s Own meeting that was held at Laindon Baptist Church. 

    By Janet Harper (McDonnell) (10/05/2015)
  • Hello again Janet – yes, it’s nice to drop in here from time to time and see the updates – your’s was especially interesting, mentioning a lot of names that I remember from my early years in Salisbury Avenue, plus a few that I have forgotten. I somehow doubt that I will be returning to the UK in the foreseeable future, and even when I do, my family’s location takes me elsewhere. Keep in touch when you can – I enjoy hearing from you from time to time.

    By Jean Colbear (10/05/2015)
  • Hello Jean. Thanks for your reply. Strangely enough I used to know Coleen O’Neil, she was a school friend of mine. They lived at the top end of Salisbury Avenue, station end.  I seem to remember she had a sister called Marie.

    Do you remember school sports day on the field opposite the crown pub? I keep remembering things. I saw my mum and dad today and they remember your dad and your grandparents. They knew about your mother. It’s a small word. Take care. Judy.

    By Judy Webb (22/02/2015)
  • Hello Jean. Just seen my sister Linda. She does remember you. She seems sure she went to see Freddie and the Dreamers with you but if you left Laindon when you were 16 may be not. She is 64 today 21st Feb.  My mum and dad, Fred and Ivy Ranson and me, Linda and my brother Richard all lived at Whitethorn, Salisbury Avenue.  Do you remember the fireworks every year at the bottom of the railway crossing?  Take care. Judy

    By Judy (21/02/2015)
  • Judy – strangely enough, I DID go and see Freddie and the Dreamers – but it’s a complete blank as to who with (dear, oh dear !!!) Although I did leave Laindon at 16 – I worked in Europe as an ‘au pair’ for a year, then came back to Laindon for a short while before leaving to go to college in London as a residential student.

    Life was busy, busy, busy back then, so some details have obviously been stored way in some deep dark recesses of my memory – I don’t remember the fireworks either. Here’s hoping the memory doesn’t get any worse. Apologise to your sister, please, if it was her, and I’ve forgotten.

    By Jean Colbear (21/02/2015)
  • My family also lived in Salisbury Avenue near to the railway crossing.  Our bungalow was called ‘Whitethorn’.  I remember the name Colbear.  My sister Linda Ranson had a friend with the name Colbear.

    I am sure I have a photo somewhere of one of my sister’s birthday parties with her friends in.  My sister was born in 1951 and I was born in 1953.  We also both went to Langdon Hills Primary and Junior School.   We lived in Salisbury Avenue until 1964 when we moved to the King Edward Estate.

    By Judy Webb (20/02/2015)
  • Judy – a lot of my early recollections are hazy (it was a long time ago!) but I do vaguely remember the name Ransom. You and your sister were just that little bit younger than me, and as I left Laindon when I was 16, those early years and names are not something clear in my head any more.

    I do remember playing with a girl called ‘Marie O’Neil’ who lived just a few houses down from us, plus our next door neighbour’s children, but apart from that it’s mostly my contemporaries at school that I can recall. Thank-you for your comment, though. 


    By Jean Colbear (20/02/2015)
  • Hi Jean.  Thanks for your reply.   What’s your town in France?  I’m often touring there in my camping car, no I’m not looking for a camp site.

    Do you remember Jenny Wright who went to California?   She was also a friend of Sally’s, wondered if you had any contact with her as she was a good friend of my wife.   She would like to make contact.  Just a long shot, you never know. All the best. Brian

    By Brian cordell (28/11/2014)
  • Hi Brian, I live in the Creuse Department (23) of the Limousin region. We are in the top NW corner of that Department, not far off of the A20 – one of the main North-South autoroutes linking Paris and Toulouse. My commune is called Bazelat, and I live in a small rural hamlet there. The nearest largish town is La Souterraine – about 17kms south of us, and we are also 75 kms north of Limoges, famous for its pottery, of course. 

    The name Jenny Wright doesn’t immediately ring bells, but having moved a lot around the world, that’s not surprising (the memory is getting full to capacity – especially having to communicate in 3 languages as well, LOL). If she’s on FB, that would be a great way to link up, maybe a photo would jog my memory. 

    By Jean Colbear (28/11/2014)
  • Hello Jean, I do remember Mrs O’Neil but not many more.  I have put a lot of my memories on this site and you may find them interesting under the name of Thelma Oliver and my son under name Trevor Savage.  Glad you have found lots of contacts.   I go back such a long way in time look forward to further comments.

    By Thelma Oliver (27/11/2014)
  • Jean, I thought you might like to know I was great friends with a German lady Christine who married John Mitchell of Salisbury Avenue, their baby was named Tony.  I wonder if the two ladies met up  at any time!

    By Thelma Oliver (27/11/2014)
  • Hi Jean,  Doris Martin is my sister-in law, she married my brother Dave in 1956 in Laindon and they still live in Laindon today.  I have in the past put some photos on the site of Wilson’s Chemist where Doris once worked and she and her sister Vera are in some of the pictures and also in my memories of Laindon I mention her.

    I’m finding it harder to find my way round the site now, but I’m sure while you are browsing you will find bits and pieces.  I used to live near Heather and Stephen Beckett and spent many happy hours in their house, and was also a friend of Tony Trudgett, so your memories were lovely to read.

    I am on Facebook under my maiden name Joan Sarfas if you want to message me at all, it would be nice to hear from you,  kind regards Joan.

    By Joan Baterip (26/11/2014)
  • How pleasant to have not one, but two replies so quickly. I used to pop down to Essex until 25 or so years ago, especially to meet up with an old friend from school – Sally Collett, who has sadly passed on, but haven’t had any news from the bunch I ‘hung out’ with in my teens and early twenties for donkey’s years.

    Brian, do please pass on my regards to Gordon, Pete B. and Peter K when you see them. It may only be the latter that remembers me for obvious reasons, LOL.

    Thelma – forgive me, but I don’t remember you, maybe because of the twenty years age difference? Perhaps you could jog my memory? I’m in touch with Janet from time to time on FB and as a result had some revealing conversations about my mother, whom I never met, of course.  My father, Aunt Marge and Pam have all gone, so I don’t have anyone to ask for information any more.

    Do you remember any other residents of Salisbury Avenue? I vaguely remember Alf and Peggy Piner and their children Teresa, Geoffrey and a younger brother who lived over the road, plus a Mrs O’Neill further down, but that’s about it.

    We used to walk down as far as the level crossing every week on our way to St Nicholas cemetery to tend both my mum and grandad’s graves. I was briefly in contact with Joan White for a while via Friends Reunited, as well.  Jean xx

    By Jean Colbear (26/11/2014)
  • I remember Jean Colbear very clearly and her Grandparents as I lived at the end if Salisbury Avenue. As I am now 84 I do not know school friends but remember Janet McDonald my cousin Nova White and Joan White were close friends.  My maiden name Waters.

    By Thelma (25/11/2014)
  • Hi Jean.  Nice to hear from you.  I  remember you, we were near neighbours in Langdon Hills as were  Peter Bassett  and Gordon Wright, Gordon living in Berry Lane, still see them and Peter Kettle? I hope I’ve filled some empty spaces for you all the best to you. Brian.

    By Brian Cordell (25/11/2014)

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