Northumberland Avenue

Early Years by Fred Taylor. Born 25/9/1929

I came to Laindon with my parents when I was about six months old in the early 1930s. We lived in a bungalow called “Clovelly” in Northumberland Avenue.

It was of timber construction which later was rough cast during my younger days. You might say it looked like an early plotland  bungalow the type that was built in the pre 1920s.

The property was situated about 300 yards from Laindon High Road where Northumberland Avenue meet at the junction of Windsor Road and Laindon High Road. On the south eastern corner of the cross roads was the “Winston Club”.

Whats left of Northumberland AvenueLooking towards the railway. Now Hatterill

On the south western corner of this junction was “Churchill Johnson’s” – Builders Merchants.

The original Northumberland Avenue was about three quarters of a mile long and ran parallel with the Fenchurch to Southend railway line. The road was not so close to the railway as the link road now called Hatterill is built.

Some notable places I remember close to our house were the Salvation Army Citadel and dwellings that were made from converted railway carriages stood further down the avenue on the south side of the roadway and opposite our bungalow was an extended storage yard (mostly timber) that stretched a couple of hundred yards on land that belonged to Churchill Johnson’s.

Lots of people kept chickens and rabbits in those days and of course every one grew some vegetables and fruit. With plenty of home grown produce we were never hard up for jobs to do, cleaning out chicken sheds and picking fruit and vegetables etc.

To start with we had gas supplied to the houses in our road and this included the street lights, a kitchen range was used for heating and cooking but later we had a gas cooker. There was no central heating of course in those days, it was tough during really hard winters an there were a few back then.

The strange thing was we were always on main water, a tap in the scullery and a toilet just outside by the back door. Boy, was that toilet cold in the winter, you did not dwell longer in there than was absolutely necessary!!!!!

The railway being quite close it was always noisy and busy. Around 4 o’clock in the morning you would be awakened by the shunting of coal and goods wagons back and forth in the railway yard. It’s amazing how we managed to sleep though the noise. Most goods would come long distances by rail in those days and of course people would use the trains for pleasure as well as commuting to work daily. It was the most important mode of transport at this time.

Like many other roads around the area Northumberland Avenue was unmade initially, it just had a narrow concrete path. The coal merchant would use horses to pull their heavy carts through the mud, this being quite often up to their axles in winter time. A concrete road was put down eventually in the mid 1930s and extended to Barkers Stores at the junction with Church Lane. From then on the road became Elizabeth Drive going eastwards. See map

At this junction as Church Lane extended northwards towards Markham’s Chase the level crossing went south over the railway lines to Primrose Hill and Estate.

The only sign of the old level crossings that still exist along Northumberland Avenue is the small  white gate next to the railway near the lay-by in. I believe a water tower existed here for many years. Today this site is about 150 yards from the traffic lights near to the station.

From this crossing you could gain access to the old Salisbury Avenue south of the railway which ran parallel to Northumberland Avenue. Almost directly opposite the crossing and intersecting with Salisbury Avenue was Gladstone Road which lead up towards Langdon Hills.

There used to be a St Michaels Church in Salisbury Avenue but eventually moved to a new site in Church Lane almost behind Barkers Stores at the end of Northumberland Avenue. If you refer to the map, St Michaels Church is located on the route of Church Lane  which then lead onto Markham’s Chase, then to the crossroad with Nicholas Lane then up Church Hill to St Nicholas Church.

As a boy I attended both of these churches and became a reluctant member of the choir at St Michaels. How the heck I managed to graduate from the choir to serving at St Nicholas I will never know. At that time the church minister was Rev Hickson then Rev Reyolds took over the ministry into the 1940s when Rev Hickson moved to St Mary’s in Langdon Hills.

My first school was the old Langdon Hills Primary School in the High Road on the left hand side going up the hill. This is one of the very few old buildings still existing in the High Road today. I remember being dragged and terrified by the teachers like Miss O’ Brian and the Headmaster (can’t remember his name).

Sports days were always held on the recreation ground at the end of New Avenue off Berry Lane because there was no playing field for games at the school. I always felt that a lot of people came to watch the sports, or was it my imagination? This recreation ground still exists today for people to enjoy just as we did all that time ago.

Holidays, special occasions or days out would be invariably a train ride to Southend and then the long walk to the sea front. I say “long walk” because my father worked in the coal unloading jetty of the North Thames Gas Board east of the pier, quite a trek for little legs. We always had to see dad or be seen by him on the beach near the jetty. These trips usually consisted of three generations since my grandparents lived on Primrose Estate near to our home so they would come along with us on our outings to the seaside.

September 1939 saw the out break of World War II. I was on summer holiday from school, dad was working and I recall mum was terrified!!!!!! —-     To be continued.

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  • In reply to Janet Tucker formerly Clark.
    Hello Janet, good to see your name mentioned after all these years. I hope you are keeping well.

    I well remember Barker’s Stores – all those sacks of potatoes and other commodities just inside the door and old Rover dozing in the sun in the middle of the road.

    I hope your sister and brothers are all well.

    Perhaps the Editor could pass my email address onto you so that we could catch-up.

    Editor: Delighted to Andrew.

    By Andrew Greenaway (24/03/2023)
  • My Grandparents, Mr and Mrs Barker built the Stores in Northumberland Avenue. They also had a shop (the original store ) in Elizabeth Drive Called :Rayleigh)
    My uncles travelled to London for Stock, and collected bread daily from Cottis the Baker.
    As children we all helped in the shop.

    By Janet Tucker formerly Clark (23/03/2023)
  • Hello everyone,
    I am currently producing my family tree and have discovered that my Great, great grandma’s place of death was Charlesville, Northumberland Avenue. I typed this address into the internet and came across this page. Wonderful to hear the history of the area. Sad that it no longer exists.
    Any stories, photographs or information about Emily Ada (Emma) Dackombe would be greatly received.

    Thank you.

    By G Hogan (15/04/2020)
  • I used the level crossing at the water tower, it was the shortest way to High Road but was only a stile not a gate on Salisbury Avenue side.  Distinct memories of bunching up my wedding dress to climb over stile to the waiting wedding car to church.  My father cut all the hedges back along our path to the stile so it did not damage.  Cecil Savage who lived at Dunromin opposite the school was my intended,  1951 St Mary’s, Langdon Hills.

    By Thelma Oliver (16/03/2014)
  • Hi Fred, My grandparents lived in Northumberland Avenue in a bungalow called “Grangevilla”, their names were Rosina & William (Bill) Brown, they kept a few chickens and a goat (which did not like me). My brother and myself had some good school holidays there. My grandmother had a sister who lived in the same road, her name was Ada who also had a small smallholding. My grandfather and sister lived there right up to the end of the time, and given a council house in Basildon which he hated. If there is anybody out there who can remember the Ebenzer? Hall – I would appreciate more info on this as I was christened there but can’t find any information i.e. as to owned it or what happened to it?

    By Rosina Cole 6/07/2013

    By Rosina Cole (nee Yems) (06/08/2013)
  • John Bathurst in his posting dated 18/08/2011 mentions the Salvation Army, referring to their meeting places as “citadels” and wonders if that has gone out of style. I have not lived in the UK for many years but I would imagine this militaristic style of Christianity has all but disappeared. It belonged to an earlier jingoistic age where the white man’s burden was ours to carry, where the adherents of the Salvation Army wore quasi-military uniforms, carried flags and banners, and enjoyed military ranks. The founder was General Booth and George Bernard Shaw’s “Major Barbara” focuses on the seemingly unlikely alliance of Salvation Army adherents and the suffragettes. Their very music “onward Christian soldiers marching as to war, with the cross of Jesus going on before” is redolent of the days of empire and carrying the word of Jesus to the poor benighted natives in far off lands. I doubt that there is much of this ethic that exists today.

    By Alan Davies (06/08/2013)
  • The name of the headmaster at Langdon Hills Primary School escapes Fred Taylor’s memory. I would suggest it was Mr Hall, the proud owner of the bushiest pair of eyebrows this young lad had ever seen. Fred Taylor mentions being terrified of Miss O’Brian. My memory is identical. What a redoubtable woman. It seems that she terrified an entire generation.

    By Alan Davies (06/08/2013)
  • Although Fred Taylor provides us with a useful map of Northumberland Avenue he omits to indicate where, in that road, Tom and Beatty’s bungalow (“Clovelly”) stood. It was on the seventh plot or so counting from the Laindon High Road end and on the North side.

    As Fred will no doubt remember, a further seven or so plots further down was “The Homestead” on the corner of Hertford Road, virtually opposite what was and still is known in railway parlance as “Water Tower” crossing, but I am sure that Fred will be adding more of the character of the community in his future articles. 

    I have added some of the historic detail in my article on Northumberland Avenue.

    By John Bathurst (18/08/2011)
  • Hello Fred, it was lovely to read your memories as my mother and her family lived in Eliabeth Drive when they first moved from Plaistow and I can recall some of the things they used to tell me about everything coal etc having to be taken there by horse and cart.

    They were the Davies Family, Jack and Daisy, I think they had seven of their eight children there, my mother was Violet, Bobby and Betty were your age. Later my aunty Eileen after she was married to one of the Jones (Joe) also lived in a very long bungalow in Northumberland Avenue she lived with them there.

    I can recall being fasinated by the railway carriages people used to live in there, some more memories please Fred.

    By Gloria Sewell (18/08/2011)
  • Regarding the caption under the picture “The Salvation Army Hall” The “Sally” Army used to call their meeting places “Citadels” in accordance to their militaristic associations. Is this idea gone out of fashion?

    Editor correction made

    By John Bathurst (18/08/2011)

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